For a while now I have been searching for a way to get Peter Steele's high gain, almost synthesizer like tone without breaking the bank. Steele did use a DS-1; these can be had for cheap, but he also ran stereo. For someone like me, I needed a pedal that had the DS-1 tone but had some way to retain low end as the DS-1 tended to suck out anything resembling bass frequencies (it is, after all, a guitar pedal). I've looked at a few options: the DS-1X, which has an EQ but is way too expensive, the Mooer Ultra Drive (itself a clone of Keely modded DS-1s), the Vox Saturator (which got the tone but suffered from the same tone suckage the DS-1 has), and the MXR Distortion+. It wasn't until I stumbled upon the MD-2 that I thought maybe there is something here that I can use. It didn't have a blend, but it had a low end control which helps for bass and it had the same synth like tone the DS-1 had, and then some. I also noticed Behringer had a clone of the MD-2 for much less. So why not kill two birds with one stone and write a review that more or less covers both. That said, this review is broken up into two parts: the tone (which can cover the MD-2) and the build construction (which is really only for the Behringer clone).
First, the tone; this might as well cover the MD-2 the HD300 is based on for what it's worth. Yep, it's high gain, super fizzy, smooth, and pairs well with chorus. Exactly what I wanted. To be frank, this is not a versatile distortion in the least. The fizzyness will be a turnoff to most, and while I like the synth like aspect, it can get into the "can of bees" territory that plagues the Boss Metal Zone and to a lesser extent the Danelectro Fabtone. I found that it reaches cranked DS-1 territory with the distortion set around 11 to noon; anything past that just adds saturation (which might work) and unwanted noise. If you do plan on cranking the distortion, consider getting a noise filter or gate. The gain boost is interesting; it's more of an overdrive and in conjunction with the distortion setting you can get a convincing cranked DS-1 tone without unnecessary noise.
The distortion is actually quite punchy and not harsh, but as stated, does get fizzy. My preferred setting is tone set around 11, distortion around noon, gain boost at 3, and bottom at 3. Paired with a chorus and you get a swirling, damp mass of sound. Dialed in right it is glorious:
This pedal can also pass for fuzz tones in a pinch; I actually prefer this type of tone compared to normal fuzzes as those can suffocate the tone. However, if you're looking for a cheap fuzz, consider an EHX Bass Big Muff Pi.
Now the build quality (this only concerns the HD300). Yeah, it's cheap. Very cheap. The pedal is completely made of plastic. I can see why people worry about reliability when it comes to Behringer pedals. There's a real chance that stepping on the pedal too hard will cause it to break, though the pedal is better made than I was expecting. There's a good amount of weight to the pedal, and while it certainly is worse than pedals made of metal, it feels better constructed than the Danelectro Fab series of pedals, which isn't saying much granted. The power jack is on the right side of the pedal for whatever reason; I'd figure it'd be cost but even the Danelectro Fab series has the jack on top of the pedal like everyone else. The knobs are also surprisingly stiff; I am guessing this is one of the symptoms of the cheap build quality, though the silver lining here is that the knobs won't move around easily. And then there is value; this is a $25 pedal. This on the face of it is great, but actual used MD-2s can be had for as low as $30. For some pedals, the Behringer clones make sense ($25 for an HM300 vs $150+ for a Boss HM-2, $25 for an FZ300 vs $200+ for a Boss FZ-2), but here this isn't the case. When this pedal does eventually crap out, I am replacing it with a genuine MD-2.
Overall, this pedal is good for really only one thing. However, it does that one thing incredibly well. However, if you are looking for a cheap distortion that is more versatile, look elsewhere. For $10 more, you can get a Joyo Ultimate Drive (a clone of the Fulltone OCD), which can get downright nasty on its own and has more usable tones. Spend a bit more and your options can range from the DOD Gunslinger (which on sale can go as low as $40), the IdiotBox Blower Box, the Boss ODB-3 (which has a Behringer knock off, the BOD400), the EBS Multidrive, and so on. But if you want that tone for almost nothing, this is the way to go.
Behringer Hd300 Heavy Distortion
Behringer clone of the Boss MD-2 Mega Distortion