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Sinvertek Delivers the most amazing, most fully-featured amp-like Compact Drive/Distortion/PreAmp Pedal in the shape of the Drive N5 Plus

AmpsBoostBoost and OverdriveBrown Sound DistortionDistortionDriveMarshall Style DistortionMetal DistortionMulti-DriveOCD Style OverdriveOverdrivePreAmpSinvertek+-
2019GPXSinvertekDriveN5PlusMarkUp700.jpg

I’ve been a huge fan of the Sinvertek ’5’ series distortion pedals - owning all three in succession - the No.5 Distortion, the N5 Drive and now the N5 Drive Plus - in all its 7-knobs and 5-toggle-switches glory. This was actually my last pedal to arrive last year - in that it arrived just before Christmas. I had been chasing it since its June Summer NAMM announcement - but it wasn’t released until December of last year.

 

I’ve been patiently waiting for some sound clips / demos to arrive, and while there is nothing on YouTube yet - we finally have something on Instagram - as below. I will vouch that this is the most exceptionally dynamic and amp-like pedal and really is a proper PreAmp in this incredible compact form form factor. I’ve noticed lots of disparaging comments about this pedal on various messageboards - people saying it’s too complicated, and there must be something wrong with this pedal if it needs so many controls - but just think of this more as a super highly-featured amp - you know those amps which have additional toggle switches to give you extra brightness or more bass in line with whatever guitar / pickups and rig combination you are using.

 

I took it upon myself to do a proper infographic of the pedal (above) as I feel that Sinvertek’s online guide does not do it adequate service.

 

You start at the top of the pedal with a 3-way Gain Structure Switch :

 

GAIN STRUCTURE

  • Vintage = Crunch
  • Modern = Tight High Gain
  • Ultra = Fat High Gain

VOLUME = Output Level
GAIN = Distortion / Saturation

 

BASS = Low End Frequency Control
> Supplemented by 3-way LOW END EQ Toggle :

  • M = Medium Amount
  • T = Tight
  • H = Heavy

MID = Middle Frequency Control
> Supplemented by 3-way MID RANGE Frequency Toggle :

  • M = Mid
  • L = Low
  • H = High Mid

TREBLE = High Frequency Control
> Supplemented by TOP END Attack Toggle :

  • P1 = Adds/Boosts Mid & High Frequencies
  • N = Off
  • P2 = Adds/Boosts High Frequency

RESONANCE = Increase output level of lower frequencies

PRESENCE = Increase output level of higher frequencies

 

GAIN SATURATION = Move Toggle upwards to alternate between RED High Saturation and GREEN Low Saturation modes

 

TONE INDESTITY (Tone/Frequency Profile / EQ Tilt / EQ Inversion) = Move Toggle downwards to alternate between BLUE HIGH END Frequency Focus and YELLOW (Amber really) LOW END Frequency Focus

 

The N5 Plus relegates the excellent double-click / double-press Boost Mode feature found on its predecessors - but considering all the extra features that’s kind of understandable - that function would have required yet another toggle switch! I still kinda want it though!

 

I only have two tiny niggles with this pedal - the order of the Tone Toggle Switches does not seem to be ergonomically correct - I would have placed them as Top End > Mid Range > Low End from top-to-bottom or even Top End > Low End > Mid Range - while the current format seems non-optimal, but maybe that’s just me. Also there seems to be a lot of confusion about ’TONE INDESTITY’ which I am pretty sure is a made up word as I have checked dozens of electronic dictionaries and search engines to try to resolve that one - the function it quite simple to explain really - like a Dark/Bright switch of sorts - and is intended to deal with different rigs in terms of EQ Tilt - whether the shift is more towards High End or Low End frequencies (Humbuckers vs Single Coils, and Dark, Boomy and Bright Skinny Amps) - of course you will get different results with each, but I believe they are intended as a sort of master Tilt EQ to align the pedal with particular guitars/amps/rigs.

 

This is largely a High Gain pedal, but works really well too at low level of breakup in Vintage Crunch Mode - which is where I have it largely set at the moment.

 

The range of this pedal is just enormous and all those little knobs and switches do very obvious things once you come to using it - it’s really not that complicated at all. I look upon it as a sort of Mini RevivalDRIVE - if you recall just how many switches that unit has. In fact I was intiially expecting the Compact RevivalDRIVE to me more along these lines.

 

What you have here is an incredible technical and engineering achievement - using top quality components - and with unique milled aluminium knobs throughout - this is a proper thoroughbred pedal. I’m now actually starting to think it could do with presets - such is the range of different tones onboard - all of which are easily arrived at.

 

Pete Thorn is supposed to have one of these for review (since early December) - and I have been waiting for the longest time to share that particular Demo - but it has not materialised yet. This pedal is finely crafted and hand-made in Hong Kong by a very talented pedal-maker. If you were looking for a Crunch > High Gain PreAmp pedal in the most compact elegant format - then this is certainly the droid you were looking for. It was one of my Pedals of the year for 2019 - and should have been one of the stars of the NAMM 2020 show - but seems to have gone very largely under the radar - which is a real shame as it deserves to do really well!

 

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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