Review and opinion:
The Hotone “Djent” pedal was recommended to me to demo and review. Luckily, I was able to come across one on loan and decided to give it a shot. I guess you could call this pedal a specialized distortion pedal for electric guitars when playing a more modern style of metal. Spec wise, the pedal is in a metal enclosure which stands at a measly three inches. This pedal is very small and weighs less than seven ounces. Pedalboard real estate would not be an issue here. In addition to the standard input/output jacks, 9v power adaptor slot (the pedal does not take batteries), and true bypass switch, there is a Force knob to control the volume, a Saber knob to control the tone, a Gain knob on the top of the pedal, and a three-way mini toggle switch to switch between the different modes. The Gain knob at the top will light up blue when the pedal is engaged. Overall construction looks pretty solid for such a small pedal. Now, how does the pedal sound? Let’s start with all of the ways I tried to get a good sound out of this pedal. Using my Ibanez RG927 Premium loaded with stock Dimarzio/IBZ pickups to tone test, I plugged straight into the pedal and proceeded to put the pedal through various amps and signal paths to get the best sound possible. I stuck the pedal in front of the clean channel on a Peavey Classic 20MH, ran it through the effects loop return of the Peavey Classic 20MH, stuck it in front of the clean channel on a Mesa Boogie F30 Combo, ran it through the effects loop return of the Mesa Boogie F30 Combo, stuck it in front of the clean channel on a Joyo Zombie II, ran it through the effects loop return of the Joyo Zombie 11, struck it in front of the clean channel on a Boss Katana Mini, ran it directly into a cab IR loader pedal…I tried a lot of things, but the only useable sounds came from sticking the pedal in front of the clean channel of my BluGuitar Amp 1. The Amp 1 is connected straight to my audio interface via the Rec Out, which is a cab emulated out. All of the signal paths and amp choices aside from the Amp 1 produced either searing brittle noise or dingy soggy flub. I found that the pedal is just loud enough when the Force knob (Volume) is up all of the way, could use a little more head room. The Saber knob (Tone) seems to get pretty shrill when it’s all the way over to the right and pretty muddy when it’s all the way over to the left. Around 1 o’clock to 2 o’clock is right around where I found an acceptable tone. This pedal has plenty of gain, might be too much for some. I found that I only needed to set it around 3 to 3.5 before the sound got too saturated and indistinguishable. The toggle switch will select between an Aggressive mode, a Neutral mode, and a Smoother mode. I found the Neutral and Smoother modes unusable. There was just not enough presence or clarity to the tone in these modes. The Aggressive mode will have the clarity and appears to be the only mode that can somewhat tighten up in the low end without completely killing it. But as you can hear from the isolated guitar tracks, the best tone that I was able to muster out of the pedal is a bit too fuzzy and plastic sounding – for me at least. I wish the mids were warming and richer, they are a bit too harsh for my taste. Does the “Djent” pedal actually djent? Simply put, no. If you got an overdrive, two noise gates, and some post EQ, you might be able to get this thing to djent. But as it stands alone, it does not djent. If you’re in a pinch, you could definitely get away with using the pedal in a full mix for a demo. For the money, I believe you can get a better value from amp modeling plugins. Although I had fun messing around with the pedal and putting together a demo track for it, I personally would not recommend the Hotone “Djent” pedal.