Have you ever heard the name of Bob Bradshaw? I know I have. He is a mastermind behind countless legendary rigs and pedalboard. He is the founder of Custom Audio Electronics that creates effects pedals only for special clients. The experience of Bob shines through each product since their sonic content relies on his knowledge. When they decided to expand the line of their pedals and make them accessible to the larger crowd, they collaborated with Dunlop, and namely MXR. One of the brightest members of those joined forces is MC401 Boost/Line Driver. This pedal is a wonderful option if you are picky with your sound and want something that screams quality from each and every side. This baby is reasonably priced, and if professional performance is what you care about, then it is definitely worth every penny. MC401 is a simple booster and line driver that will find its place on your pedalboard, I am not even doubting that. And when Bob Bradshaw decides to put his name on it, that means that this stompbox is something ethereal. Let’s continue this article by breaking down all of its properties and scrutinize together what is so special about this one. Shall we get started?
When geniuses of musical world collaborate with each other only the best products can be expected. MXR and Bob Bradshaw make up a team that cannot go wrong in terms of sound and quality. MC401 Boost/Line Driver is a perfect example of that. It features durable, rugged enclosure that acts as a protective barrier for the interior. The latter itself is comprised of top-notch components, adding up to the reliability and consistency of the unit. This bad boy has very attractive appearance with its stripy black enclosure and white writings on top. The design is topped with the sleek logo of Custom Audio Electronics and as a result we have a fine-looking fella over here. MC401 Boost/Line Driver has a circuitry that offers noiseless operation. It also has a true bypass footswitch that makes sure your tone doesn’t get sucked. The line driver feature adds on top of that, making sure that your sound is not compromised when utilizing long chains and cables. It offers up to 20dB of clean boost and regardless of simplicity, still gives you quite a wide range to work with. MC401 Boost/Line Driver can be powered either by a single 9V battery or an adapter to make it easier to use. When you mix all these usable properties together you understand that you are dealing with a capable pedal. It delivers wonderful performance no matter what and to be honest that is the whole point of purchasing effects pedals.
If we were to nitpick and find a flaw with MC401 Boost/Line Driver, it would be the fact that it does not offer a full control over your tone. In fact, it doesn’t offer anything other than a single knob. If you are someone who loves refining their sound, then you might lack equalizing or some other encoders that would give you a bit more. But in defense of MC401 Boost/Line Driver I can say that such layout is common among booster pedals, because the effect itself doesn’t require sophisticated switches. Anyway, to tweak this baby you will have to mess around with Boost. You might be surprised to hear this but it adds boost to your sound. It ranges from 0 to 20dB which is more than enough to amplify your signal to the desired level. Of course there is a footswitch that lets you turn on the boost whenever needed, including the middle of performance. The versatility of this one falls on the shoulders of application methods: depending on its place in your rig, it will give you different results. And since you don’t have that much to tweak, you have plenty of time to move it around and see where it shines the most in your particular setup. And that’s it.
As far as the sound goes, I have already underlined couple of times that MC401 Boost/Line Driver has wonderful quality. That does say something but it doesn’t describe the full character of this one. It is transparent and clean when utilized with a direct signal of your guitar. It will make it so much louder that you will hardly ever crank it up to the fullest. The Line Driver feature means that it will bring life back to the lackluster sound you get after long cables and chains. Yeah, all those layers of effects are good but they can sometimes work to your disadvantages. Every circuit treats your sound in its unique way and when it passes through so many of them, it is only natural that some of the qualities are lost (as if it were playing Broken Telephone). That can be avoided by utilizing the Line Driver feature of this pedal. MC401 Boost/Line Driver can be employed to overdrive an amplifier and bring back the level of the pedals that drop volume. You can utilize it in any way imaginable and it will still deliver what you wanted. There is one thing you should keep in mind, though: it might color your tone just a bit when used with wet signal. But that isn’t a deal-breaker by any means. After all, MC401 Boost/Line Driver has too many virtues to complain such a small flaw.
All in all, it doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the collaboration between Bob Bradshaw and MXR brought to life such a capable pedal. MC401 Boost/Line Driver is one of the best boost pedals out there without any exaggeration. Though it is not the most versatile thing in the world, it excels at the job it has and we cannot ask anything else from it. What I am about to say should be applied to the majority of boost pedals, but this one will unleash its full potential once you experiment with different setups. Good luck!
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