This review is for the non Studio Edition of this pedal. For the Studio Edition, please refer to Ebs Multidrive Se.
EBS's Multidrive overdrive pedal for me is a bit of a quandary. The tones it provides are solid, but at the same time lacking. While it does its job as an overdrive, I feel that there are many instances of where this pedal can be improved in order for it to be a truly terrific pedal.
First, build quality. EBS is known for their durable pedals and this one is no exception. The pedal seems to be made from pretty thick aluminum, and the potentiometers feel nicely weighted and while they do provide resistance, they do not feel scratchy. The foot switch is the typical silver button found on more boutique pedals, and it clicks rather firmly. EBS also provides a DB pad for active instruments; press the button on the side marked appropriately, and the pedal will reduce output accordingly. Designwise I feel that having the DB pad on the side rather than the face of the pedal is a bit of a fail, especially if you mount pedals close together. I suspect this is done to reduce cost.
Tones though are a mixed bag. They're all fine, but not too groundbreaking or world changing. Controls are minimal, with 2 knobs for drive amount and volume, plus a three way switch that goes from "Tubesim" (which seems to reduce highs and high mids a bit), "Standard" (which doesn't reduce any highs and high mids), and "Flat" (which seems to boost all frequencies). I find the "Flat" mode to be completely useless. The Multidrive does get a bit fuzz like but it's unpleasant and I could not find a place anywhere to use it. In short, if I wanted a fuzz sound, I'd use a fuzz pedal, or a more appropriately voiced distortion pedal. Tubesim is a bit more usable, though for what I play I don't tend to use it. I guess for more blues oriented playing it would be handy. Personally, I leave it in "Standard", which makes the pedal act like a normal drive. In my testing, I found that this pedal works best by either fattening up my normal tone and by boosting other drive pedals. I am sure this pedal can also goose tube amps; however, I do not own any tube amps, so I cannot confirm this. Turning off the DB pad does increase gain, at least with the active basses I am using (which is why the DB pad is there in the first place). This can be helpful if you are using active basses and want to coax out a bit more brawn from the pedal.
The downfall though is the lack of any sort of EQ or tone control. EBS designed the Multidrive to fit within their usual form factor; a small, two knob box that also includes a switch. This, I suspect, is to reduce cost, but given the price new I wonder why they even did that in the first place. In any case, the lack of tone shaping is a severe detriment to this pedal. Pretty much any other bass OD pedal will have some sort of tone shaping, but here, it's not present. Given the price of this pedal new, it seems a bit silly such a feature would not be present.
This comes down to the value section of this review. Put short, new, this pedal is a terrible proposition. The cheapest I have seen this new so far is around $160, with most hovering around $190->$200+. That is well within Darkglass and Aguilar territory, and for that sort of money I'd rather go Darkglass. Cheaper new options would be the EHX Nano Battalion, the Boss ODB-3, Ibanez TS9B Bass Tube Screamer, and so on. Used, this pedal starts making some sense. I bought mine for $60, though personally I wouldn't pay more than $85 for it. EBS is a more boutique brand, but it does not offer the options that its boutique competitors in Aguilar, Catalinbread, Darkglass, and countless others have.
Ultimately I cannot recommend getting this pedal new. The Multidrive's lack of tone shaping is a bit of a joke compared to competitors at its price point, and while it may make sense used, again, there are more enticing options. Will I keep this on my board? Certainly; the Multidrive fills its role as a boost well, though a TS9B or ODB-3 might make more sense currently. EBS might have some great products; this, while not terrible, is not one of those products.