As a strictly non Bass Guitar owner/player I rarely feature specifically Bass gear, and when I do - it is typically from Darkglass as I really admire what they do - in terms of their signal processing, aesthetics, and smart modern technology and interfaces.
I have not seen any guitar demos of this unit yet - I don’t believe any are official yet, while Darkglass say it’s great for Guitars too - but this was obviously developed very specifically for Nolly - for his own preferred Bass Guitar tones. Everything on this pedal has been honed to Nolly’s specific requirements - including the 3 default presets, Drive/Distortion Voicings and onboard IR Cabs.
It’s quite evident that the ADAM (Aggressively Distorting Advanced Machine) borrows quite a lot from its cousin the Quad Cortex - as made by Sister company Neural DSP. I believe it shares the same format of IR’s for instance, and the ADAM is just the second pedal to make use of those exclusive smart rotary-actuator footswitches. which were developed for the Quad Cortex - and which I’m still trying to champions / coin as ’RotoStomp’! It also very much has Bluetooth connectivity too - which I believe should really be standard on all these sorts of pedals by now.
The ADAM combines Compression with Drive/Distortion, Dry-Blend, 6-Band Graphic EQ, and CAB Simulation / Impulse Responses. It has 3 presets - as activated by each of those 3 Footswitches - which also double up as rotary mode selectors for Compression Ration [A], Distortion Mode [B], and Cab Sim / IR’s [C]. There are also some smart combination presses on those footswitches in that A+B is the On/Off/Bypass, A+C is Interface Lock, and B+C activates a Chromatic Tuner - which utilises the 6-Band EQ Touch-Sensitive Display.
I will break this pedal down into its 7 main functional Sections/Areas here - while I have of course made the above visual as self-explanatory as possible, as is usually my way :
Essentially we have 2 controls for Compression - The ’Compression’ Knob determines Degree, while the Rotary Actuator on Footswitch [A] allows you to select 5 Compression Ratios - 4:1 | 8:1 | 12:1 | 20:1 | All In - if you keep rotating, all the LEDs will go out meaning Compression is then bypassed - same as per the other two actuators. Obviously there are more parameters to Compression - speed of attack/release etc - these are all set in the back-end as such and can be access via the Darkglass Suite App - configurable by Bluetooth.
DRIVE / DISTORTION
There are 3 Controls for the Drive element - including also the stand-alone ’Character’ knob which determines brightness of effect. You obviously have a Drive knob to set Degree of Distortion - and then 5 different Distortion Modes courtesy of RotoStomp [B]. Those Distortion Modes are all uniquely crafted by Nolly and not taken from or based on any other pedal. They essentially ascend in gain structure from Mild to fully Wild.
A classic Dry/Wet Mix Control which all Bass Players have to have / use to get the right degree of definition and articulation.
6 really smart Touch-Sensitive virtual sliders give you ±12dB across 6 frequency bands - Low Shelf | 250Hz | 500Hz | 1.5kHz | 3.0kHz | High Shelf. Those 6 LED Displays are also used for the B+C Tuner.
CABINET SIMULATION / IMPULSE RESPONSES
As with the Distortion Modes, Nolly has crafted his own 5 preferred Cab Settings - applied across those 5 settings available on RotoStomp [C]. You can obviously load your own IR’s here, and I believe those are fully compatible in format with the Quad Cortex ones - so in theory you can bring those directly across if you have worked on some previously.
As befits the theme - the ADAM comes loaded with Nolly’s 3 favourite Presets - which are selected via stomping on RotoStomps A | B | C as appropriate. The 5 top knobs have LED illuminations which indicate where the preset is currently set. You can of course ’Audition’ changes by tweaking the controls - if you want to save the new settings - you simply Press+Hold on the appropriate RotoStomp Footswitch.
BLUETOOTH / APP
A significant bonus is core Bluetooth connectivity - just like with the Quad Cortex. Here you connect with the Darkglass Suite App - which allows you to access all those settings in a highly user-friendly fashion - along with a whole number of parameters that cannot be accessed via the surface controls on the pedal. You need this to load IR’s and the like - while there is also a USB-C connection on the rear of the pedal.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
The ADAM retails for the following approximate values across Europe, USA and UK - €509 / $499 / £469. Several dealers have them in stock already - while for others stock seems to be imminent - so generally available already I would say.
This is actually a pretty incredible box in what it delivers and how it delivers - while it is of course almost entirely DSP which may not be to everyone's liking. Obviously a close cousin to sister brand Neural DSP's Quad Cortex - and borrows a fair amount of goodies from there.
I see this as an amazing all-in-one Bass Preamp - as the core of an essential Bass Fly-Rig. There is so much smart functionality here - the only downside really is in the area of back-end additional parameters and functions - many of which can only be set on the Darkglass Suite App which sort of process I've historically had problems with - and the Box actually has a pretty substantial footprint - making it the central and core component of a rig rather than an add-on or auxiliary.
There's no doubting Nolly's mastery of this area - both from his days in Periphery, and his extensive Studio Productions - this is one guy that really knows his way around Bass. In fact if I was thinking of taking up Bass - I would undoubtedly plump for one of Nolly's Signature Dingwalls - my favourite Basses - even though I never have and never might.
So for Bass Players who admire Nolly's Tones - this is a perfect box of magic on that theme. While it might also fall a little foul in being overly slanted towards the one player - which a lot of signature devices can be guilty of.
I think this could work really well as a Guitar Preamp too - but you would need to change out the defaults and presets to something which is more honed towards those higher Guitar frequencies. I feel to do it proper justice Darkglass will need to have both Bass and Guitar editions - with the appropriate tones and presets for each.
What say all of you?