MXR Super Badass Dynamic Overdrive Review
A top-flight OCD alternative that sings at a very accessible price.
Wide range of overdrive and boost tones. Exciting higher gain tones. Clear but robust boost textures. Very forgiving to use.
Might sound a touch meaty for humbucker users chasing near-clarity in boost situations.
MXR Super Badass Dynamic Overdrive
The OCD, a hard-clipping MOSFET, op-amp-driven overdrive, was a success for Fulltone. It was also a great value, which may be why some larger manufacturers held off on building their own affordable versions. It’s unclear if MXR had an inkling that Fulltone would go on hiatus as a company. But with news that Fulltone would close up shop for the foreseeable future, the release of MXR’s excellent OCD-inspired stomp, the Super Badass Dynamic Overdrive, looks impeccably well timed. And for players that now face the inevitable price gouging that goes with Fulltone’s absence, the 129 bucks they’ll pay for this very capable OCD alternative looks like a pretty great deal. Best of all, it’s a very flexible overdrive that can sound and feel genuinely thrilling.
Anyone that has had a go with an OCD will be at home using the Super Badass Dynamic OD. Obviously, the controls differ little from a zillion other overdrives. And functionally speaking, the primary difference between the MXR, or any other OCD homage, and simpler overdrives is the midrange boost toggle, which here moves between boost and cut positions.
The clean, economical circuit is laid out on a through-hole circuit board, which is home to a Texas Instruments TL082 op-amp like that which powered many OCD units. As with the original OCD, however, the MXR’s secret sauce lives not in the gain stage but in the clipping section, where the MOSFETs perform the cool trick of generating hard clipping that is also exceptionally smooth.
Riding With the Tone Ranger
In terms of dynamics, the Super Badass Dynamic Overdrive works as advertised. Relaxing or increasing pick attack intensity yields many shades of sparkling-to-dirty tonalities. The MXR also registers tone shifts from picking position relative to the bridge with accuracy and sensitivity I don’t encounter in a ton of affordable drive pedals. Guitar volume attenuation also yields lovely results. The reduced output still sounds awake, robust, and alive with high-mid and high-frequency content. This is a real treat if you use single-coils without a treble bleed circuit and have grown accustomed to losing top-end definition at lower guitar volume.
The MXR is dynamic and flexible in other ways, too. The wide range in the pedal’s tone control, for instance, is an additional asset if you use guitar volume attenuation aggressively. It enables you to retain extra sparkle and high end in clean tones at low volume, and wails when you return to full volume without ripping your ears off. There is treble to spare here, but it tends to be of the smooth, singing variety, rather than the painful sort.
As a clean boost, the MXR’s output is full of body and adds little in the way of extraneous color to a fundamental guitar voice. It’s nearly as transparent in this context as a Klon or good klone, which are arguably the standard bearers for transparent boost/overdrives. But I actually preferred how the MXR sounded compared to my favorite klone in “clean boost” settings, because of the compression and extra mass in the low midrange that the MXR adds to my guitar’s voice. It’s not a truly transparent voice, perhaps. But frankly, what is? And I’d venture that the Super Badass Dynamic OD will be the ideal solution for a lot of players that think they want near-total clarity in a boost, but actually long for a thicker variation on their basic guitar sound.
The Super Badass Dynamic Overdrive is a very flexible way to add attitude, body, and color to any guitar and amp combination. Its rangy drive and tone controls and super-useful midrange boost/cut toggle make it easy to adapt to unfamiliar backlines or navigate switches between single-coils and humbuckers. To my ears it’s an especially dreamy match for a black- or silver-panel Fender amplifier. But I can imagine that the versatility afforded by the control set would make it a sweet pairing for British amp voices as well.
Single-coil pickups shine in its company. I loved how the MXR made the bridge pickup in a Telecaster sound like a more robust and meatier, yet still very lean and articulate, version of itself. And while humbuckers, predictably, tend to coax a more rockist accent from the MXR, the ample and smooth extra high end you can summon from the pedal makes more muscular tones pop with clarity that rarely gets bogged down in low-midrange mud. I suppose that transparency hunters might find the MXR’s voice a bit charged with gain. But I found that the Super Badass Dynamic OD walked the borders between clarity, body, and aggression with an unusual grace. Given the high quality and very accessible price, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend finding out for yourself how it fits into your world.
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