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I ran into an issue when I stacked my TS-808 and my Ross Distortion that I really never noticed until I got my Tube Amp, (Fender HRD Series III 40). I have always loved the full and very deep tone the Ross produced, but when inline with my TS, I would loose tons of the low end.  Dub-T-123 educated me quite well about how the TS, (and many other OD's) work, and how they are purposefully built/designed to push mids and highs. It's not that they actually cut freqs below a certain level (Hz), it's just that those low freqs are not amplified like the mids and the highs. 

So began my quest for a pedal that could function as an OD, which would still allow me to achieve the screaming harmonics my TS excelled at, without sacrificing the chunky lows I love. (And be able to stack well with my Ross).  After reading tons of reviews and researching specs, (functional frequency ranges the pedal(s) are capable of producing), I came across one that seemed to fit my needs.

The Zoar® Dynamic Audio Grinder, by EarthQuakerDevices, is what I picked up. 

"Zoar is a medium-high gain discrete distortion (using only transistors; no opamps or diodes in here!) that has that touch sensitive amp-like quality to it that everyone craves. It has been finely tuned to create a highly tweakable hi-fi and modern sounding distortion, but with the ghosts of old school circuitry to deliver a grind that is both instantly familiar and delightfully unique. Want that defined sparkle and tightness of an overdrive? This has it. Want that low-medium gain fuzz that’s perfect for drop tuned guitars and basses? This has it. Want to be able to dial in and control every nuance of your tone from jangly on-the-verge of break up to blowing the walls out heavy saturation? Then this is the pedal for you."

 

"This meticulously crafted box has six knobs that allow you to truly customize your sound with the Level, Weight, Gain, Bass, Middle, and Treble controls. The red LED light indicates when the distortion is activated by the Flexi-Switch® enabled footswitch.

The Gain control on Zoar goes from the edge of break up all the way over the cliff into the crunchy, grinding abyss. The character of the distortion is heavily dependent on the setting of the Weight control as well as your guitar’s pickup type, and it is further fine-tuned by the EQ section.

Touch-Sensitive Controls
While having its roots in a very familiar past, the passive 3-band EQ has been finely tuned for modern tones. While this style of tone shaping seems simple on the surface, it is deceptively complex and highly interactive. 

The 3-band EQ and Gain controls give you nearly unlimited options with great focus and sensitive precision, but the real powerhouse of Zoar is the Weight control. This control dictates the amount of low end that is passed into the circuit, thus controlling the entire character of the pedal. From a mere clean boost to a high gain distortion to overdrive to the crispy Hi-Fi fuzz territory, this function gives you everything.

The Level control hits unity gain around noon, but this is dependent on where the other controls are set. In addition to controlling the output volume, it also plays a small part in the controlling the voice of Zoar. By adjusting the Level control with any combination of EQ (boosting the frequency bands and cutting the output volume), you can achieve drastically different curves that have the feel of the more traditional low pass filter type tone control."

"Running Zoar at 18v
Want to elevate your sonic spirit to a higher level? Try running Zoar at higher voltage! Zoar can handle power up to 18v DC. Higher voltages will yield a different frequency response with more defined dynamics and a faster response. When powered at 18v, the range of clean tones are widened, dirty tones become punchier with better note articulation, low frequencies are tightened, the Treble control will cover a broader spectrum without becoming harsh and the output volume nearly doubles! The experience is not unlike plugging into a wall of high wattage tube amplifiers!"

Unfortunately, the Zoar has no option to run off a 9v battery, nor does it come with a power supply. Thankfully I purchased the pedal specific 18v power supply. (The EQD's web site, nor any other vender I searched, stated one way or another, if a 9v or an 18v power supply was included. And, yes, the Zoar can run off of a 9v power supply, but 9v will limit the Zoar's potential.)  From what I was able to determine, the Zoar has a 0Hz (1Hz) to 18k Hz frequency range. (It could be 18.5K Hz).  It also is designed to boost low end freqs via the "Weight" knob, The 3 "band" EQ further defines it's tone. 

After playing with it for a couple of hours, I found it to be extremely flexible with a full rich tone if and/or when needed. Just as advertised, it's output characteristics change depending on where the each of the setting knobs are in relation to each other, and this includes the "Level" setting. You're probably are thinking, "Duh! What did you expect?",  but this pedal behaves far differently than what I'm used to. I'm used to a "Level" setting merely increasing/decreasing the volume/amplitude of the pedal's output tone/timbre/effect that is dialed in via it's other setting knobs. (Yes, the "level" can effect how your individual amp reproduces said pedal effect based on your amps settings, but this is different.). I'm still making notes to myself so I will be able to remember where each knob was set, which created tonal outputs emulating my specific and differing stylistic needs. Just as EQD stated, different guitars/pickups can and will create differing outputs despite the Zoar settings being exactly the same. These differences are not subtle, btw. This means your guitar pot settings play a massive roll in manipulating tonal/effect characteristics in combination with the settings on the Zoar. (e.g. to achieve the same exact tonal/effect output from the Zoar, on different guitars, ALL of your guitars settings AND the Zoar's settings will likely be different for each guitar used. The more dissimilar the guitars/pickups are, the more variation of ALL Zoar/guitar settings needed to achieve sonic syncope). This may be a negative aspect of the Zoar for gigging musicians who break a string mid set, and have to use their "back-up"/other guitar, which is not similar to the one with the broken string. (Think SSS Strat vs. an active pickup shredder.)  Using a Zoar in that situation would require far more settings adjustments to emulate the previous guitars characteristics, than if using a different pedal. However, this guitar to guitar variation does expand the output capabilities of the Zoar for those with a wide variety of guitars which employ a wide variety of pickup types.

I have yet to stack my Ross with the Zoar, as I am still running it through it's paces and learning how it behaves. I am very happy with how it sounds in every setting combination (and guitar combination) I've played it in, so far. It's far more versatile than either my Ross or my TS.  I picked it up for $129.00 + tax (free 2 day shipping) on Amazon. (The 18v pedal specific power supply was $14.00 + tax and free shipping). Not a bad price for a frugal guy like me.

Zoar-Dynamic-Audio-Grinder.jpg?format=15

Edited by Sheepdog1969
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