I will start the preamble by saying I’m a touch disappointed I wasn’t in on the launch run of this pedal as I was one of the first to produce a detailed overview of the original RevivalDRIVE Custom version. It was all due to happen at one stage but possibly my day job got in the way of the main pre-launch briefing event. In any case I already voiced some opinions and concerns on the likely final format of the RevivalDRIVE Compact - way back on the 11th of February (soon after the Winter NAMM reveal) - where I visualized my own ideal version of this pedal - which Simon then indicated was somewhat impractical at that enclosure size!
It was always going to be a significantly paired down variation - and it has ended up staying very true to its ’Vintage’ roots, while for me at least losing quite a bit of the flexibility and verve that makes the original Custom version such a joy to deploy. In terms of voicing, Simon reports that this all-new circuit is voiced midway between the solid-state rectifier and a GZ34 rectifier valve channels of the original. In listening to Rabea’s superbly detailed demo below - it sounds somewhat closer to the Grey Silicon Rectifier side (Fender/Marshall) than the Orange Valve Rectifier side (Vox) - which makes the visual choice of the Orange rectifier side knobs somewhat interesting - obviously more for stylistic reasons.
The most significant difference is the introduction of a ’Highs’ control knob in place of the PreAmp, Bright Cap, Hi Shelf and Bright Cap Cut controls of the original - this simplification is a significant innovation here. Also the ’Volume’ knob of the former has been renamed to a more universally understood ’Gain’. But we’ve lost the Ghost Note Effect and Mids controls along the way.
The Ghost Note was one of the most unique things about the original pedal - but many did not fully understand or appreciate it, even though I really love it - and besides, it was a whole separate circuit which would have taken up too much real estate and that meant it was pretty much impossible to be included in the compact version - so probably not a significant loss overall.
The loss of Mids control though is likely more impactful, as it precludes your obtaining those more mid-pushed modern tones from this pedal - as hinted by Rabea in his demo/review. The core mission in any case was to replicate those older Vintage Amps which mostly did not have that ability either. For some players this may be a significant thing, for others it will matter a lot less - there is still a tonne of tones on-tap here.
The major 3-way EQ-tuning toggle-switch is still in place with the ever-so-useful ADJ / EQ Shift Adjustment dial - and this is certainly an essential part of the RevivalDRIVE for me - both to Tune the pedal to your amp/s - but also just to set the core character and tonality - whether you want it slightly brighter or darker by default.
In terms of the core Tone and Character here, Simon has done a great job of maintaining that ever so satisfyingly rich and complex tone of the original - so by default this pedal sounds wonderfully organic and nuanced. It’s a fairly pricey proposition at $385 | €369 | £315 - but obviously significantly less than the $649 | €649 | £559 of the Custom edition - which still remains my preferred choice here.
I feel for many players this paired down format will be the perfect choice - particularly if they lean more towards the vintage side of things. While for my own purposes the ’Compact’ does not capture all the essential aspects which make the Custom edition so essential for me.
I think there is much to recommend this new version - while I’m still doing the mind-maths on how much use I would get out of this variation versus my original. I obviously have the additional footswitch too - which means I instantly get 6 different voicings - 3 per channel out of the original, while only a single voicing here on the compact version. Certainly the flavour here is unique enough to warrant a compact edition if your pedalboard real estate is tight, but on further consideration and right now, I’m not sure I would get that much use out of the smaller version - versus my preferred deployment of the Custom. Therefore probably more suitable overall for those who balked at the large size and price tag of the original.