Hamstead Soundworks Comet Interstellar Driver: What is it?
The EQ pedal might lack the cult appeal of the fuzz, overdrive or delay pedals on our pedalboards, perhaps because it feels a little utilitarian. And yet we all know that it can be your ‘board’s MVP, the missing link between good tone and great.
They come in all shapes and sizes, but if you are looking for a high-quality EQ solution in a compact stompbox form, the Source Audio EQ2 Programmable EQ has a lot to offer. This being a Source Audio product, the EQ2 leans on its digital architecture to perform a wide range of EQ tasks.
It is a 10-band EQ, with each band fully adjustable to any frequency between 20Hz and 20kHz, a graphic and parametric equaliser that can apply +/-18dB of boost/cut to each band. It supports stereo or mono operation, has an onboard guitar tuner, and can store up to 128 presets.
If transparent dive is too passé – after all, everyone is doing that these days – swap the EQ and drive section over and it’ll give you a bit more wallop, a juicer sound that can tickle the speaker with fuzz.
It is not just the Comet’s EQ section that has some power behind it; the Level control is deserving of respect, with up to 30dB of boost on it. Go gently at first, cautions Hamstead.
The Comet is powered by a 9-12v DC power supply and has silent optical switching and a GigRig Optokick footswitch. If you are of a mind to go poking around for additional features under the hood, you’ll find an internal trim pot, you’ll find a hi-cut pot to fine-tune the high frequencies, plus a hi/lo gain switch. The Comet is set at lo-gain when it leaves the shop floor.
Hamstead Soundworks Comet Interstellar Driver: Performance and verdict
The drive-before-EQ mode is as good a place to start as any. Set the EQ flat and you will find the Comet transparent as advertised, with that Level control capable of rousing your amp from its slumber, with warm dynamic drive on tap. Engage the EQ and more possibilities come online. You can easily brighten up a dull amp by going heavy on the Treble.
• Hamstead Soundworks Odyssey
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• Browne Amplification Protein Dual Overdrive
The Protein's ‘blue mode’ is musical and addictive, with an amp-like drive that compresses as you crank it up, while the ‘green mode’ is the consummate low-gain overdrive, ideal for subtly adding heat to your signal, or a little more texture.
Even when set at halfway, dialling the Bass control down to its minimum offers a considerable amount of weight relief on that drive, giving open chords that give crunch like stepping on a pile of desiccated leaves.
The EQ flat and the Gain at three o’clock brings forth what is often described in the trade as ‘raunchiness’, which is to say those transitional late ‘70s hard rock guitar tones. But even at noon, the Gain control yields a nice amount of heat.
Run the EQ into the drive section and it’s like a different pedal. This is where you can really find some more aggressively shaped sounds. When the Gain is maxed out there is enough hair on it to be confused with a polite fuzz, a little woolly without altogether losing its shape.
The range of the EQ is sure to make the Comet pair well with a variety of rigs and suitable for a host of different musical deployments. At those low-gain, transparent drive-through-EQ settings, it could well be the missing link in your signal chain, the box that gets the best out of your guitar and amp. But at the flick of a toggle switch you’ve got options.
MusicRadar verdict: The Comet Interstellar Driver is an amp-flattering overdrive that's easy to use, top-quality and offers a remarkable degree of versatility from a compact and simple format.
Hamstead Soundworks Comet Interstellar Driver: The web says
“As it stands, this pedal can get pretty raucous, but it can actually go even further by using the internal switch to usher in a Hi Gain mode. This shifts everything up a gear and yields an increased level of saturation – great for those players who are looking to coax heavier distortions from their drive pedal.”
Hamstead Soundworks Comet Interstellar Driver: Hands-on demos
Living Room Gear Demos
Hamstead Soundworks Comet Interstellar Driver: Specifications
- PRICE: $259 / £199
- ORIGIN: UK
- TYPE: Drive pedal
- FEATURES: Buffered bypass, optokick footswitch
- CONTROLS: Level, Bass, Treble, Gain, EQ/Drive switch, internal global hi-cut trim pot, internal hi-gain switch, internal ‘power up’ mode switch, bypass footswitch
- CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard output
- POWER: 9V-12V DC adaptor (not supplied) 65mA
- DIMENSIONS: 70 (w) x 130 (d) x 65 mm (h)
- CONTACT: Hamstead Soundworks