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Dave Hall Amps VT-1-HP-Bass Review

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by TaySte_2000, Oct 28, 2005.

  1. TaySte_2000


    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    DHA VT-1 Review

    Now after much controversy here it is a real and impartial review of the DHA VT-1.

    Now I’m starting with a clean slate here ignore everything I’ve said about these pedals before.

    This pedal is really well built, I mean solid, the pots fell great the knobs are the same as on my Ashdown ABM amp, the switches feel solid and the jacks are securely fitted to the case, all in all its fantastic. I do think the pain could chip quite easily and could maybe do with some sort of glossy sealer, as the case feels well not rough but painted. It’s not as smooth as most production pedals, which is fine because this isn’t most production pedals.

    Here is a picture of it on my board to give a decent size reference, it’s a big pedal but not a huge pedal it’s slightly bigger than most of my others, so to me not really an issue





    Now I thought it looked kind of ugly on the Internet but it’s not, its no beauty queen buts it does has the “I’m a proper boutique pedal” look to it, there are a few paint runs but end of the day it’s a pedal only I will see it on my board and it looks fine, it’s the sounds we are interested in.

    Power supply:
    Again I thought it would be huge I know the older models came with a much bigger power supply the new one is a single wall wart and a small one at the, it is pictured here next to the one spot power adaptor. This links to the pedal in a single cable with a boss style jack end


    So overall initial impressions were that this is a solid well built pedal, not heavy, not overly big and doesn’t have an odd power supply so were off to a good start here.

    Customer Service
    First class, since Dave sent me this pedal to review he has been easy to get in touch with, I have not shown him my review before posting it, as it wouldn’t matter if he hated what I wrote I’d post it anyway as you all deserve to know what I think and have some decent sound clips. He has answered all my questions quickly and included some really old tubes with the pedal for me to try out as well (which I’m looking forward to)

    Now this pedal is packed with features, as we all know it is a tube overdrive pedal, it also has a boost switch but don’t be fooled into thinking this is a 2 channel pedal, it is a single channel pedal with lots of extras now the boost isn’t really viable in a live situation just to flick on the controls are to interactive and you’d have to go about changing the settings. This is not a problem as you would set the pedal to either boost or not boost depending what you prefer tone wise if you want a 2 channel pedal you’re looking at the wrong thing (I think Dave does a 2 channel one anyway) The boost switch switches in an op-amp and then all three controls work for the pedal (basically giving you gain and 2 volumes) but it would allow you to be much louder than if you weren’t using the boost circuit.

    Next there is a 3 way switch labelled si ge to the left is si, centre is normal and to the right is ge, these give various tone options. The are volume jumps and drops when switching between them but as said before this is not a 2 channel pedal so you pick a mode that suits you tonally and stick with it. Over all you have a lot of combinations with make it very useful in various situations

    Now Dave Hall has supplied me with 4 tubes, I have only recorded the tube that comes standard in this pedal, more sound clips will come at a later date, including a few through various preamps and effects.

    First to get a reference point I recorded clean with no effects just bass – cable – computer.

    I am using a MIM 60’s RI Fender Jazz with a couple of mods but still stock pickups and still passive, with planet wave cables and then into an Apple G4 Ibook running Garageband with a M-Audio MobilePre USB audio interface. (This is the same setup I have used for most of my previous sound clips)

    Here is my clean sound to give you a reference point.
    As you can hear no hum as such and quite a clean signal.

    I instantly had a problem with this pedal sound wise when I plugged it in, now it is true bypass and I did test it work with no power, the signal passes through perfectly which is why I can’t understand what is happening when I plug the power in. Even bypassed the pedal hums, quite a lot you will hear this in the sound clips as I start off clean through the pedal and then turn it on.

    I had great difficulty getting a good sound until…… I flicked the boost switch and no not to the off position as soon as I turned the boost circuit on (I knew it was on as the boost control was working and it isn’t the other way) the pedal went silent, and I mean studio quiet I could only get it to hum and I mean slightly hum when I cranked the gain and volume and boost up (which generally makes for lots of hum in most pedals)

    But even in boost mode the pedal still hums when bypassed, now I leave this open to Dave to maybe explain or trouble shoot, as I can’t understand how a boost circuit makes the hum less (common knowledge you boost something everything gets louder even hum) now it is great that it doesn’t hum not even a bit but I still found it a little odd. One thing I am thinking is there might be a problem with the tube so as soon as I can I will swap it out for one of the others Dave sent me. So don’t condemn this pedal yet, as there could be a simple explanation.

    Right now on to sound clips.

    This clip is low gain in normal mode with the gain at about 10 o clock with like I said the boost switch on to kill all the hum and the volume and boost controlled set to give an even volume change between pedal off and pedal on. First section is pedal bypassed (you will hear this hum I explained about) and then you will hear the pedal turn on.

    Now the tone here is really good if not great, bit fuller not much grit and generally nice, I think there is an improvement over the clean tone (we will not mention the hum)

    Next clip this is on medium gain with it set about 1-2 o clock (there is a lot of range in these knobs)
    Now it’s getting more gritty but there is still plenty of note definition and added harmonics and such to the sound making it sound fuller

    Now here is the pedal cranked and on full blast I had to adjust the volume accordingly of course but there was plenty of head room left both the boost and volume were less than 50% so you could make it much louder if you wished.

    Next clips involve the other modes, this on is the Si mode on the 3 way switch in the instruction manual Dave describes it as “Two Silicon diodes across the signal path to produce a harder fuzz style clipping” Now there is a volume drop between the different modes, normal being the loudest, I asked Dave about this and he got back to me within the hour (good customer support) that the other 2 modes run at lower voltages so there is a difference in volume. This isn’t a problem as you would set the pedal to one of these modes and then turn it on and off, you are unlikely to bend down mid song or even mid set to flick the switch. (Similar thing is found on the Fulltone Bass Drive there are massive volume changes between there 3 way switch)

    The various tones are quite similar but they have enough differences to justify them so it’s basically a case of pick which mode you like most and leave it on that. Like I said earlier this pedal is not a 2 channel pedal it is a single channel pedal with lots of extra’s


    and here is GE mode which is described as “4 Germanium Diodes across the signal path this is a much softer clipping.” Again there was a change in volume from the normal setting


    Overall I think this pedal is ok not great but most certainly not bad. If I am just using the boost circuit and not turning the pedal on and off therefore not getting no hum this pedal is up there with some of the best od pedals I have tried, I couldn’t stop my self playing on it, even with the gain cranked the notes were clear and punchy and I’d give it like an 8 or 9 out of 10. The problem as stated when not using the boost circuit or the pedal is bypassed there is masses of hum, I hope Dave can offer some suggestions as I’m hoping it the tube and this can be fixed because if it can I will probably own one of these. Yes you read right I WOULD OWN ONE OF THESE.

    Other features I would like added would be a tone control personally I didn’t need it right now but it would have been a nice feature. If I was to own one currently I’d have the boost circuit hard-wired in so it was always on, change the boost knob for a tone control, and I’d probably leave it on or stick it in a loooper. I know plenty of people that will make up for a bypass on a pedal with a loooper as such, I would happily do that with this pedal again it is that good, at least in my initial tests.

    Please Bare in mind this review will be on going and more and more sound clips and opinions will be added.

    Also do not consider the hum at the moment a problem until Dave has commented and I have had a chance to mess around with it, as it could be something simple I haven’t thought of yet.

    I do know that it isn’t my bass, the cables, the power supply it is part of the circuit as it doesn’t hum at all in boost mode as you can all hear, and it doesn’t hum when no power is supplied to the unit and your signal still passes through it clear as day.

    I will be doing various tests with the tubes, and some preamps seeing what it sounds like with other pedals, might throw in the odd chorus and od and octaver thing to see how well it works with other pedals. I will also be trying it out with my band see what they think and how it holds up in a live situation

    I hope this comes across as an honest and impartial review because it is. I look forward to trying more of Dave’s Products and I hope this gives you a better testimonial for any one looking at them

    I have posted this review on other forums, I have now solved the hum problem, it was an earth issue with my using balanced inputs on my audio interface the next clips will be via my amp so it will be grounded.

    So please IGNORE all my comments on hum as this pedal is very quiet

  2. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    Great review. I found the clips very helpful. How much does this pedal cost?

    Did you find that it was kept the low end intact?
  3. TaySte_2000


    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    A better question would be from the clips did you think it kept low end in tacked.

    They are £100 more or less.
  4. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    Well yes the clips seemed solid, but like most people I can't hear very low frequencies on my PC speakers. Everything below 100 hz could be gone for all I can tell.

    Can they be bought in the states?
  5. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    That's cool of you, Tay. I studied the clips carefully!

    I LIKE that Ge sound.

    Are you sure that you weren't 'augmenting' the distortion with your input device in a couple spots?

    Like you said - you can't complain about interactive controls, especially when you consider that a lot of pedal makers would offer 'model-A' with ONLY the Si-option, 'model-B' with ONLY the Ge-option, etc. -- and everything else exactly the same between the several models. That's cool of him to offer the versatility.

    Thanks for the review and clips -

  6. DHA

    DHA Dave Hall Amps

    Oct 20, 2005
    Hi TaySte,

    Thank you for the review it was a lot of work and I know it is still ongoing.

    I am glad we sorted out the hum problem, you had me worried for a while.

    For general info, I have sold several valvetone pedals into the States and you just need to buy a US power supply over there as the UK one has the wrong mains voltage. I have an ebay shop where you can check out all the range of pedals including this one and the 2 valve models.


    Dave :)
  7. TaySte_2000


    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    No the clips are fine, there are a few moments where when I changed settings on the SI and GE clips where it was to loud but the majority of the clips are right and even when not quite spot on there isn't really any added distortion from my input device.

    Hope this helps.

    As I feel these clips really do reflect the pedal
  8. TaySte_2000


    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    DHA VT-1 Follow up review

    Now firstly I have solved the hum problem that I discussed earlier Dave mentioned about grounding and it turns out my sound card isn’t grounded, so for the following review and sound clips I ran the pedal into my ashdown abm head and then xlr’d into my soundcard. There is a little bit of eq on it added by the amp but personally this just adds to the realism as you wouldn’t be running with no eq. Again all sound clips recorded with my Modded MIM fender 60’s RI Jazz tuned DGCF into the DHA into the abm amp and then into the audio interface connected to an applie ibook running garageband.

    PLEASE NOTE: You will not have a problem with hum running this into an amp or PA, it’s just when recording you might want to use an xlr out of another di after it, but you all do this anyway ;) right?

    Now I covered practically everything in my last review so here are some further points I’ve noticed. At certain settings there is a pop when the pedal is turned on this might be heard on some of the sound clips, when in certain low gain modes such as GE with the gain at say 9 o clock position, you have to engage the boost circuit so that you have enough volume to match it to your original signal, the volume knob on it’s own just falls short of matching, the good thing is engaging the boost circuit doesn’t seem to add any additional noise, there is a pop when switching between the modes SI/Normal/GE and also on the boost, this isn’t a problem as you wouldn’t be switching live during a song, just bare in mind if you have your amp quite loud when changing one of these settings you could damage a speaker (it’s a quite loud pop)

    Now for some sound clips. The following are the 3 modes with the gain being increased throughout and the volume dropped to compensate and match it all up. The clips start off clean then the pedal is turned on with the gain at about 9 o clock, then increased to 12 then 3 then full on which is about 5 o clock, all the clips follow this pattern. (The boost circuit was used on the very low gain SI/GE clips as I had to match the volume to my clean sound)


    GE Mode

    SI Mode


    Now Dave sent me 3 extra tubes to test in this pedal, I wasn’t sure how different it would make the pedal sound, but I gave it a go anyway. The main differences are depending on the tube are you might get more clarity, more gain at high settings and at high gain settings a more woolly bottom end.

    I’ll let Dave chime in here and explain each tube that he sent me but I’ll identify them from what was printed on them




    I’m not sure what I liked the most it was either the JAN or the Fender just seemed a little bit more sweeter and nicer clarity over the original EHX tube inside and the JJ

    On another note the JJ got very hot in the short time it was in this pedal and it broke up in sound a lot quicker and overall I didn’t like it’s tonal character. But all in all a useful experiment. It is quite difficult to change the tubes quite a bit of fiddling, but I guess its only going to be done a couple of times and most tube guys know what they like already and will find it a breeze to change it out, but as a novice tube use I found it hard, so you might to :p

    Now I like this pedal a lot, has a few issues but nothing that would majorly bother me, when I tried it with my band I thought it was a bit muffled and could have benefited from some eq (When I say muffled I mean like when you roll your tone back, not I’m playing under 7 blankets) but I did get some added clarity with the fender and Phillips tubes. Overall the pedal is smoother in sound than my Barber LTD but doesn’t have as much smooth gain if that makes sense.

    Basically the DHA starts of smoother but the LTD stays smoother for longer. I did try this pedal with an active bass and it was fine, if you really dig in and have a really, really hot output (hotter than my 18v Aggie obp-1) then it starts to clips and its sort of cuts out, there is a noticeable drop in volume while playing and clipping this pedal.

    If you are leaving the pedal on all the time you can compensate and this won’t become a problem, it’s just that currently I use a clean boost into a od pedal to give me 2 gain settings with out a change in volume and if I was to do this with the DHA it would probably clip. So overall I like the pedal, it’s well built, sounds good, will give you that tube tone much better than any other overdrive pedal I’ve tried recently, it is also capable of distortion but that boarders on average compared to dedicated distortion pedals. It does need some sort of eq and if you could run it on 9v power supply I’d probably have one on my board, but I’ll be buying one of these the next time I have to go into the studio and record a lot as the tone is superb and just gives you that little bit extra, but it’s not something I my self would use live but that’s mainly due to the power supply I can’t justify 2 power supplies for my board, especially when sharing a stage with 4 other bands (This isn’t a problem obviously if the DHA is the only pedal you are using)

    Toasted will be next inline to get this pedal. Look out for his review.