TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion
TC Electronic is quite up-front about the sound they’re going for with the new Dark Matter distortion: their website proclaims that it is designed to give you the sound of an early Plexi amp. Sounds good to me! So do they nail it? Let’s have a look.
The Dark Matter is a very robust stomper with a no-nonsense control array consisting of Treble, Bass, Gain and Level pots and a Voice switch (which shifts the bass response). It’s made from high-grade components, and is built into the same basic ‘hammerhead’ rugged die-cast aluminium chassis as TC’s excellent TonePrint pedals and the revolutionary PolyTune tuner. Its pedalboard footprint is pretty minimal so it’s unlikely that the jacks will cause too much of a space problem. There’s an input, an output, a True Bypass switch, a really quite bright red LED to indicate that the effect is on, and a 9v DC supply jack. Battery access is through a handy little turn screw on the bottom which you can easily turn with a guitar pick or a coin. The pedal runs on an 9v battery or a power supply.
I plugged the Dark Matter into my Marshall DSL50′s clean channel and let ‘er rip. First I set everything to around 12 o’clock and riffed about for a while with my Ibanez UV777BK seven-string. The tone was fat and woolly, with a bit more bottom end and fuzz than a Plexi, (a notoriously punchy-sounding amp). Higher excursions of the Treble control brought out more Plexi rasp, while stronger gain levels roughed up the hair considerably, creating a very fat, harmonically rich lead distortion with a quite decent amount of midrange and great saturation. It kinda reminded me of Jason Becker’s tone on David Lee Roth’s “A Little Aint Enough” single: clear but pushy, thick but not overwhelmingly so.
The Dark Matter is also great for chunky modern rock rhythms and Gary Moore-like blues soloing, largely thanks to its incredible sense of dynamics. TC achieves this by increasing the voltage to more than three or four times the amount of typical drive pedals, and the impact on the headroom is not just noticeable, it’s addictive. If you’re the kind of player who likes to really explore the difference in sound and volume created by varying levels of pick attack, you’ll love this. The effect is strong whether you crank the Gain control or stay at lower, more AC/DC-like levels.
The Dark Matter aims to sound like a Plexi, and it does offer a very cool take on that tone, but to my ears it can also be made to sound more like a Plexi that’s being pushed over the edge with a good overdrive or boost pedal, rather than simply a cranked Plexi on its own. The overall voice is more than good enough to be your main distortion sound for an entire set of rock, or it would be a killer lead-only sound to kick in for solos.
LINK: TC Electronic