As a huge fan of Xotic Effects guitar pedals, I was excited to finally get my hands on the new Soul Driven Boost. Released late last year in collaboration with Allen Hines, the Soul Driven is based on Xotic's highly popular AC-Comp Booster, albeit with enough tweaks to give it an entirely different feel. After putting the Soul Driven for a long drive, I can say that this is a unique little guitar pedal, made to deliver a customized experience that you won't get from a typical booster, compressor or overdrive.
While it might share a few similarities with the AC Comp Booster this stompbox is a unique pedal in its own right. Yes, the Volume and Gain knobs are still there and perform similarly, but gone are Treble and Bass. Instead, the Soul Driven replaces them with Tone and Mid Boost controls. It might not seem like much but those differences alone create two completely different tonal experiences (more on that below). Knobs aside, other features of the Soul Driven include a bass boost dipswitch -- which is accessible by removing the backplate -- a blue LED indicator and true bypass switching.
While Xotic Effects pedals aren't known for their creative or unique designs, the lustrous chrome finish on the Soul Driven is actually pretty nice. Think of the same reflective shine that you'd see on a silver trophy, and you'll have a good idea of what this pedal looks like in person. On a pedalboard, the metallic shine really makes it stand out.
As far as the build goes, the Soul Driven is a solid pedal. The metal chassis feels tough enough to stand years of abuse and has a nice amount of weight, despite being on the smaller size. The knobs themselves have just the right amount of give, another sign of a quality pedal. As for power, the Soul Driven requires a 9-volt battery or equivalent AC adapter. Overall, the Soul Driven is a well-built pedal, exactly what you should expect from Xotic Effects gear.
The Soul Driven pedal adds "soul" to your sound by producing creamy boost and overdrive tones with just the right amount of compression. The pedal is equipped with incredibly flexible tone shaping options to help customize your sound while preserving your guitar's tone. The "mid boost" knob pushes the mid-range frequencies creating rich dynamics and the "tone" knob (not just your ordinary tone circuit) can be set from a super-tight bottom end to "in your face" highs. Soul Driven will help you dial in the "sweet spot" every time.
By now, you might be asking yourself, what type of effect is the Soul Driven, exactly? If you're familiar with the AC Booster or AC Comp Booster, imagine something in the same ballpark but with a lower gain range and a much more open sound. If you're not familiar with either of those pedals, you can think of it as a combination of a booster, compressor, and overdrive. But instead of simply combining those three effects and calling it a day, it offers precise amounts of each, just enough to keep everything sounding great without ever going overboard.
For example, the Soul Driven might not have the same amount of push as a traditional booster, but it has more than enough to send a tube amp into overdrive; the Gain knob might never give you heavy distortion or a crazy amount of fuzz, but it has more than enough to deliver a wide variety of rich, saturated overdrive tones perfect for modern rock, classic rock, blues and more. And finally, the compression it does offer might not be much, but enough to deliver rich sustain and smooth harmonics without ever sounding flat or lifeless.
While the description above might give you the impression that the pedal is limited in its tonal range, that couldn't be farther from the truth. Truth be told, the fact that the pedal never goes overboard actually made it tough to find a set of settings that were completely unusable. With everything set to the mid position, I was getting a nice, creamy overdrive sound with plenty of rich harmonics and smooth sustain. If I needed a slightly brighter sound, I'd cut the Mid Boost. If I wanted a thicker sound, I'd turn up the Tone knob. Even more bass or boost? The internal dipswitch took care of that.
Clean and bright or thick and overdriven plus a whole lot more, the Soul Driven has it in spades and sounds great while doing it. But instead of simply taking my word for it, do yourself a favor and hear it in action in the video below:
If you're the type of player that is looking for a stompbox that delivers unseemly amounts of boost, super heavy compression or enough crunch to make a metal player blush, this pedal is not for you. But if you're the type of guitarist that spends a good amount of time searching for that tonal sweet spot, that precise mix of boost, compression, and overdrive, look no further than the Xotic Effects Soul Driven.
If you have any questions regarding the purchase of the pedal above or any other piece of gear we carry, don't hesitate to chat with one of our friendly PAL pros by using the live chat feature below or by calling us toll-free at 1 877-671-2200!
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