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Biyang OD-8 "Changeable Chip Set" Overdrive

1 rating: 5.0
Musical Instruments

This is a great Overdrive in their new line and an AWESOME upgrade on the orignal OD-7 for Biyang in the stomp series. Can certainly compete with more well known (and much more expensive) new or vintage rivals. In the 70s, Maxon used the JRC4558 chipset … see full wiki

1 review about Biyang OD-8 "Changeable Chip Set" Overdrive

The Tube Screamer reincarnated - and on a budget. Great product.

  • Dec 4, 2010
  • by
This is a superb product, particularly for the price.

To be clear: this pedal is designed to emulate the sound of a mildly, naturally overdriven tube amplifier. It isn't a distortion pedal, so if Slayer is your thing, you'd be better looking elsewhere. If you're a Stevie Ray Vaughan fan, on the other hand, this will really juice you. The overdrive is sweet and warm, and much richer than the some what mid-rangey Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer, which is what I bought this as a replacement for.

It is no mouse, on the other hand: I wasn't happy with the dirty channel on a Marshall JCM800 2205 I rented last Thursday, and my OD-8 was able to do the job instead, providing a richer and more focused drive than the amp - I have never relied on an overdrive pedal to do that before (usally I use them as a more gentle gain boost for less overdriven sounds).

The Biyang OD-8 is, more or less, functionally the same as the celebrated Ibanez TS-808 Tube Screamer pedal (most famously used by one S. R. Vaughan), but with a couple of additional advantages. In order to get to those, and explain that it really is more or less the equivalent item. I need to descend into a level of spoddery that offends most people I know, and makes me feel decidedly off colour.

Nevertheless: the "secret sauce" to the TS-808 is, so the purists say, the "operational amplifier", a 25c chip soldered onto the circuit board. The TS808 used a JRC4558 chip, and these have been discontinued, although they're still available. Later versions of the tube screamer (including the TS-9, which was on my board until it died) used a supposedly higher fidelity Toshiba Op Amp Chip, the TA75558, but common consent is that it didn't sound nearly as smooth or warm.

Enough snobbery: with the Biyang X-Drive you get the choice (in the pack) of three different Op Amps, including an original 4558. So you can achieve the main aspects of the TS808 tone (there are some certain diodes which apparently make a difference, but I gather it is mainly down to the Op Amp). Somewhat excitingly, the chips can be removed and replaced by hand from an extra panel at the back (usually they're soldered in) in a matter of minutes. But BE CAREFUL - they're delicate little things and the legs are easily bent).

The OD-8 really does sound cool, particularly through an open-backed Fender style guitar amplifier, and I would concur it is a marked improvement on my old TS9 (which I struggled to get the best out of). It also has three settings, "TS", "Bright" and "Warm", though I'm blowed if I could tell what the difference was, except that "Bright" seemed considerably louder than the other two.

Other observations: the "drive" dial is very subtly graduated: at minimum it certainly is cleaner than at max, but unlike the TS9 or a Boss OD-2, a quarter turn doesn't make a marked difference.

If I had a complaint it would be that the the green battery power light is unbelievably bright - it casts a sickly greenish glow and actually glares so much that, in low light, you can't make out the controls on the pedal!

I will try to post a video review as well.

Olly Buxton

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