First Impression Roger Mayer Metalloid Dual Path Distortion

September 28, 2009

Ever since the dawn of the distortion pedal, manufacturers have taken a single-path approach to the job of generating filth. Meanwhile, in the studio, producers and engineers have long used dual-path techniques to record big guitar tones: the signal is split to two amps, or one amp and one DI, where different frequency ranges are EQ’d and treated independently before being blended back together to create the desired tone. Inspired by his days in the studio with Jimi Hendrix in the ’60s, as well as his work as a designer of high-end recording systems in the years that followed, Roger Mayer has applied this dual-path approach to a first in the pedal world, the UK-made Metalloid Dual Path Distortion ($319 retail/$269 street).

In short, this rectangular black metal box contains two entirely independent distortion circuits that are fed by an internal splitter that separates them into high and low frequency bands; after their individual distortion treatment, the two bands are mixed back together at the output, to the user’s taste. On the top face of the Metalliod, each band has its own Drive control to govern the distortion content, and an EQ control that’s individually tailored for its frequency range, and which determines the tonal emphasis within the band. The front edge of the enclosure carries controls for Mix and Output level. Here we also find the input jack, one jack for hard-wired (true bypass) output, two for buffered outputs, and a jack for 9V converter input, while a sliding panel on the driver’s-side edge conceals the easy-access battery compartment.

How do we approach this new concept in distortion generation? Mayer tells us, “Look at the Metalloid as two distinct distortion units side by side, acting on different parts of the guitar’s notes, then mixing them back together to form one sound. For example, the Low Band can control the bass string riffs for a tighter cleaner sound, while the High Band can be set for solo work as you move up the neck.” Tested with a Stratocaster, a Telecaster, and a Les Paul into a TopHat Club Royale MkII, I found the Metalloid worked brilliantly at doing exactly this: creating a big heavy-rock sound with firm, piano-like lows with just a hint of hair, married to sizzling, saturated highs. Reversing the settings makes for grungy low riffs with clear, jangling top strings, and there are countless gradations in between. Also, however you set each band, the balance between them that you select with the Mix control adds a further stage of tone shaping. At higher Drive settings the distortion character is gnarly and filthy, with a jagged, asymmetrical edge that really cuts through. With this knob anywhere past two o’clock it’s not for timid souls, but lower settings reveal a pedal that easily crafts blues and classic-rock lead tones in addition to its heavier distortion (the user’s manual suggests several starting points for different styles). All in all, the Metalloid demands extended experimentation if you hope to discover all that it can do, but it achieves mammoth metal distortion with ease, and there’s plenty more potential here once you plumb its dirty depths. —Dave Hunter

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