MXR M-80? NO! MXR-M80!!

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by BigWig Will, Mar 23, 2002.

  1. I was thinking about getting a distortion pedal for my effects line. I tried out a couple of of pedals and wasn't very impressed with them, though the Danelectro Fab Tone wasn't that bad.
    I read in BP about the preamp/DI/dist. pedal MXR M-80 and I was thinking maybe I should get one, seeing as they gave it a good review (even though BP's reviews can be dubious). Also, my effects chain is getting a little long, and since I'm playing with a passive bass for the time being, it would might be a good idea to get a preamp to boost the signal. I thought the M-80 could solve both of these problems, plus if I ever wanted/needed a DI....

    Basically my question is, would the M-80 be good being used solely as a Dist. pedal? Or is the dist. more of an add-on and I should only get it if I am need of an outboard preamp/DI? Also, about my signal loss, would getting the M-80 be the better solution, or should I just get an active bass or just shorten my effects chain? Any help would be nice, thanks.
  2. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I think the M-80 was developed to compete with the SABDDI, adding a few of the bells and whistles we all wish Tech 21 would put in the SABDDI. I don't think either box is intended to be used as a disto pedal, although you can get a bit of an overdriven sound out of them.

    For real disto, I'd look at the EBS and Boss units.

    Note: I didn't count how many disto threads are currently up, so I hope you get a chance to read this before it gets deleted. If we're lucky, this is the only one up right now.
  3. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    I think we're cool, Munji. J "the distortion nazi" R has left the throne in favour of the peace-loving and caring Bigfeet. All hail Bigfeet the Great! :D


    Sep 26, 2001
    in the sun
    O.k. here's the deal, at least with me anyway, I was looking for a distortion pedal that gave me awsome distortion and extreme flexability, and I haven't been able to find one untill the M-80. why you ask? because if you don't need a preamp. the whole eq section of the thing can be used as a shaping tool for the distortion. The Distortion resembles more of a light fuzz pedal, other than the organic tube type. (Sans amp) but it does have a Blend knob, and a drive as well as separate volume for the distortion channel, and of course all the eq goodie's. As for the quality of the distortion , And keep in mind that this is the 5th mind you :eek: distortion pedal ive tried, and for 130 beans, I don't think you can even beat it. I mean hey I bought and returned a PD7, Budda phat Bass, Fulltone overdrive, EBS Multidrive, before buying this. And I don't for-see myself selling this anytime soon. The reason is that although uncolored Distortion sound isn't what every bass player dreams about, and can't seem to find when he or she wakes up, it definatly has enough potental to shape with the eq section to get you there.

    Although if I read your post right your also looking to buy a preamp as well. That may pose a problem because I haven't used the m-80 for that pourpose. Although I think it is,if not more feaseable to get a good sounding bass sound, and distortion sound out of the M-80 because the Distortion channel is totally separate from the preamp section. if of course your using it for both. as the Sansamp has only one funtion ALL off or all On. So unless you play constantly with distortion I wouln't consider the Sans amp.

    As for your cable runs I would say disconnect and get rid of anything you don't use, although it looks cool Effect unit's take away from your tone even when they are in bypass unless of course you have a bypass switching pedal, or really expensive hard bypass pedals. if you want to boost your signal through your pedal runs you can also consider getting the TC Electronlic SCF. if you don't already have a chorus pedal it's one of the best and it has a really hot boost knob to drive your cable runs.

    Just some food for thought :D :)
  5. lol

    All hail the era of Envelope filters!

    :D :D
  6. Just received my M80 this weekend. What a piece of gold! $115USD well spent!

    Infinitely tweakable, it also gives you 2 pedals in one - one channel with EQ voicing, the other with distortion.

    What's the distortion like? It's nice and crunchy (not quite as warm as a SansAmp). The combination of controls make it easy to dial in any kinda noise you want, apart from doom-metal-buzz. The 3-band EQ (esp. the Mid) is GREAT, the Gate can be setup so that soft playing gates the treble, giving a nice warm growly fuzz - dig in and it all comes to life!

    In short, I was looking for a new pedal that would give me the sound of my old Rat, but with no low-end loss and with no potential of uncontrolled feedback at high levels. The M80 gives me that, and then some. Gig report next Friday!
  7. you said its two channels... can you set up two levels of overdrive/distortion??? that would be great.
  8. Nah, unfortunately not...this is what I mean:

    The first footswitch engages the effect, which without distortion includes Volume, the 3-band EQ, and the Color switch (a mid-scoop).

    The second switch engages the Distortion, but only when the effect (1st switch) is on. Distortion shares the same EQ options as Clean (although the Color switch is permanently on in this mode), but adds it's own Volume, Blend, Gain and the Gate function.

    So, you can effectively get 3 different sounds - original signal, "colored" signal, distorted signal. Setup correctly and the Clean/colored channel can be used as a volume or EQ boost when Distortion isn't required.

    As a side-note, i'm sure that there are plenty of boutique pedals out there that can do better or more, but for the $$ this is the bomb. But, we don't have anywhere close to the selection that you (USA) guys have - even finding a SansAmp BDDI box (RRP here of ~$650NZD!) is kinda tricky...
  9. pudgefactor


    Mar 28, 2002
    I've been having these same questions for myself lately. IMO, the Sansamp BDDI is a much better direct box than the M-80. The distortion on the M-80 was cool, but not the sound I was looking for. Obviously get what you like best, but I recommend the Sansamp BDDI (good overdrive) and a seperate distortion pedal for that heavy crunch.
  10. This is resurrection of frankenstein-like proportions, but I'm getting one of these units in a couple weeks, and I have a question - what's it like when run with another distortion pedal? I love my PD7, but the lack of a mid control irks me, and admittedly it's only good for full on distortion. I don't like the disparity between my ultra-clean Pino Palladino-esque chorused, octaved clean sound and my massively dirty distorted, sub-octave thick sound. The octaver and chorus make a beautiful clean sound and a massive distorted sound at the click of a distortion pedal, which is too much of a contrast for a metal band. I want the MXR to be an intermediate distortion perhaps, run full on as my 'clean sound' then stamping on my PD7 for the extra mental parts. Having distortion of some kind all the time will also make my wah more noticeable, without being a one trick pony it is when my PD7 is on. It tends to get lost on my lower clean notes, but not the distorted lower notes. With the MXR I can have lots of options:

    1. MXR - Lots of clean blend but lots of gain, left in distortion mode all time - PD7 used for heavier parts.

    2. Low gain but even mix between clean and dirty on MXR(perhaps favouring dirty even?), PD7 used for heavy bits.

    3. Three levels of sound - ultra clean(MXR off, PD7 off), use MXR distortion channel for majority of passages, PD7 used to highlight certain sections/solos etc.

    4. Same as 3, but MXR & PD7 reverse roles(not sure if this will work due to PD7's inherent(aggressiveness).

    5. Same as 3&4, except MXR set to massive level and PD7 set to massive level - two 'flavours' of distortion - possible disparity between cleans and distorted sounds?

    6. MXR so good that PD7 gets thrown away(not likely for me, but possible).

    So, any info on the best uses of this box are appreciated. The MXR will be at the end of my signal chain(noise gate & D.I. more useful this way).


  11. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    My buddy brought one by muy house and I hooked it up to a Ric and B.C. Rich both passive. I loved the thing, it made both basses thicker in tone and the dist was great. I liked the pedal because you can get a diverse tone out of it too. For the 100.00 and some change why not.
  12. You've summed them up pretty well. Until I switched to a Tri-AC, I was pushing the front end of the MXR with a Rat 2 for mega-distortion, which worked quite nicely (I still feed the Rat into my Tri-AC at times for the same kinda deal). I wasn't too fond of the M80's distortion out-of-the-box, but paired with a good pedal in front and it sang.

    As for signal chain, it's a hard one IMO...distortion should really be 2nd or 3rd in the chain (after envelope and octave effects), but the fact that the M80 has a good DI means it should ideally live at the end of the chain (which also means any mute effect such as a tuner needs to sit in front of the M80). Your call, try different places in the chain and see how it sounds.

    Because I was using the DI from my amp, my M80 sat early in the chain.
  13. Well my PD7 is after my tuner, limiter and octaver but before my wah and chorus. One of the reasons I bought the MXR is because of the D.I. - unless it's at least Avalon, M-80 or SABDDI it sucks IME as an engineer. The Behringer D.I.'s I use are better than most built-in D.I.'s, and they suck mostly. Plus I wanted a noise gate!

    The reason I listed those options is because I ahve no idea which will work best. Obviously, some will(subjectively) sound better than others, but I don't really know enough about the unit to know how it will sound in any of the given situations above. Could you please tell me which of the above yielded the best results?


  14. At the end of my using an M80, my chain looked like this:

    DOD FX25B envelope filter
    Rat 2
    MXR M80
    Boss OC-2 octave
    TC Electronic b/k phaser
    Boss TU-2 tuner

    The TU-2 was set at the end of the chain so that I could completely mute (stage and FOH) when required (tuning, abrupt stops, etc). My DI comes from the back of my Eden, which sounds pretty good IMO. Sometimes the M80 moved it's place in the chain, but always had the Rat immediately preceding it.

    The M80 was setup as more of a slightly-crunchy preamp (SVT-like voicing) on the distortion channel instead of a pure distortion machine.
    The Rat's gain was set relatively low too.

    This way I had 6 distinct tones:

    - unaffected bass tone (M80 and Rat both off)
    - M80 clean channel with mid-scoop on for smoother numbers (Rat off)
    - M80 distortion channel (I generally had this on all the time)
    - Rat on, M80 off for "milder" distortion
    - Rat on, M80 clean on for a little more scooped mild distortion
    - Rat on, M80 distortion on for heavy stuff

    This way worked really well, and running the two pedals together gave me a much richer, less brittle sound.

    I had intended to use the M80 as a sole disto pedal, but had more success this way. Either pedal used on it's own sounded a little cold, but making the Rat push the M80 makes the M80 behave a little like a tube amp with some great tones.

    I sometimes do the same deal now that i'm running a Tri-AC (sounds even nicer), but mostly the 3 channels of the Tri have been giving me the sound i've been after.

    Hope that helps! :)
  15. I like the signal chain, its totally different to what I've seen done before, and according to 'theory' it shouldn't work. I'll run mine this way:

    Boss TU-2 - Tuner
    Boss LMB-3 - Limiter/Compressor
    Boss OC-2 - Octaver
    Ibanez PD7 - Heavy distortion
    Dunlop 105Q - Wah
    Boss CEB-3 - Chorus
    MXR M-80 - 'Clean' Distortion, D.I.

    TU-2 does the same thing - my bass is muted before it gets to anything. The limiter helps the octave track better. My PD7 at the moment is at full-on metal duty. The wah is very noticeable when using distortion, not so much on clean, and my chorus fattens everything up.

    It's looking more like I won't turn the M-80 off, leaving it on slightly crunchy all the time and hitting the PD7 when I need real heaviness. My tone when distorted is great, but I want mid control over it and the ability to have a different type of gain - dual gain stages are essential to good distortion. Also, I'm essential parallel mixing the distortions with the MXR's blend knob, and this always seems to yield the best results tonally in full-range distortion. I'm sure my PD7 has a cutoff point in the low range, meaning I get clean bottom end out of it. My lows remain intact when I click it on, so even the double gain won't hurt my lows.

    I also like how heavy the dual bass distortion thing sounds, I just want to make sure I retain clarity as possible. The fact that I get a D.I. and noise gate thrown in just sweetens the deal. I might have to lower the gain on my PD7(it's only at 10 o'clock now) but the MXR is supposed to be hi-fi enough to not destroy my distorted signal.

    I'll have the same six sounds as you did, but I'll probably only use two and get the best out of each box that I can. I don't mind using my boxes as one-trick ponies. Hell, pedalboard is getting crammed now anyway and reaching that relatively small MXR distortion channel button will be hard, seeing as its on the opposite side, facing away from me :D
  16. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    I bought this pedal from SMASH, who has tried out a number of similar pre's, DIs, etc and can probably give you as good a review as anybody. I mainly bought it for its DI/preamp capability, but I found that it is as good as the Boss Bass ODB, which I just traded to Flatwound.

    If you're looking for a good bass distortion, in my limited experience, this is as good as any I've found.
  17. Yeah, it's a little odd. I don't tend to use compression (maybe a bit on my amp at times when picking), but my Ric triggers the OC2 perfectly anywhere in the chain (well, before chorus-y FX). I found the OC2 before distortion to be a little weak, so I flipped around the other way.

    I run the TU2 at the end so that any inherent noise from pedals through the chain (phasers, and esp. from the Rat) doesn't creep in when i'm muted (also good when my pickups pick up power cycle hum!).

    Now the chain I run is:

    (sometimes Rat 2)
    Sansamp Tri-AC
    Boss bass chorus
    EH smallstone phaser
    EH deluxe electric mistress
    Korg dynamic echo
    Boss TU2

    So far, so good! :D
  18. That's why I want the M-80's noise gate at the end of my chain :D

    I'll have my new rig by this saturday - I'm going planting some more cash down on it today.
  19. Test that noise gate function before committing your $$...I found it to be near-useless, esp. with noisy pedals before it in the chain.

    Setting it to filter out noise from the Rat, etc, caused a loss of definition when playing (as the gate kept flickering). I finally found a reasonable balance, but even then a finger tap on the body of the bass would trigger it.

    I was using a Boss NF-1 (?) Noise Gate previously - much better, but I hate the pop you get when it turns off on the initial attack of a note (my wireless does that too). These day's i'd rather have control over muting (I like the fact that using the TU-2 I can get a decent abrupt ending to a passage).
  20. Well you said it best - reasonable balance. My PD7 ain't all that noisy, I'd just like the noise gate there to clean things up a little. The Hartke head I'm buying at the same time is pretty transparent, so I don't want to feed it too much noise.

    I should be picking up my new rig this Saturday(17th Jan), so not only do I get to mess with the MXR, I have to work out new 10-band EQ settings and crossover points on a 500W bi-amped rig.

    Had an idea though, gonna use the crossover sweep on the head to see if I can find where my PD7 crossover point is. Once that's found, I can use the MXR as a slightly dirty fullrange sound, but set the crossover so that my 4x10" only gets the PD7's distortion while the 15" keeps the MXR driven sound. 250W for just distortion? Now THAT'S something I like the idea of :D