Electro-Harmonix’s Bass Metaphors: Its a preamp, a DI box, an EQ, a compressor, a distortion unit but will it rock our world?
The BM is a mini multi-effects unit for bass sporting a two-band EQ, distortion and compression. It can also be used simply as a preamp or as a DI unit with EQ. Six black plastic knobs sit in line: on the right, Dry controls the blend of clean and juiced signal; on the left, Volume adjusts the overall output. The Distortion control adjusts level only and the remaining three deal with tone shaping, with Treble and Bass controls married to an EQ Level dial. There’s also a simple on-or-off compressor controlled by a mini toggle switch, two stomp switches (one for distortion, one for bypass), various in/out jack sockets, and a balanced DI XLR Out. The BM does not run on batteries but the power supply comes as standard.
The bad news is that the compression is preset, not controllable, and although it offers increased clarity there’s a price to pay – a noticeably squeezed sound with hardly any dynamic headroom. Stamping on the Distortion button kicks in the BM’s fuzz-type circuitry: it’s controllable via the Dry (blend) knob, but at anywhere above halfway you’ll lose the audible clean signal. In distortion mode the EQ doesn’t really accomplish a great deal but on non-distortion settings it offers good, practical variations from moderate boom to washy thud on the Bass knob and crisp, natural-sounding highs from the Treble control.
A lack of control over compression and distortion limits this box's worth. The Bass Metaphor's saving grace is a useable, high-quality EQ section, letting you change your tone without recourse to your amp.