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Origin Effects DCX Bass Review

Origin Effects DCX Bass Review

Superb preamp and drive tones combine in a bass utility knife that’s built to last.

Versatile as preamp or overdrive. Built like a tank and feels indestructible. Quiet operation. Very easy to dial in sounds.

Slightly heavy. Could benefit from an XLR out.


Origin Effects Bass DCX


Origin Effects grabbed the attention of the bass community when they launched their Cali76 compressor, which is now widely acknowledged as an industry standard. Last year the company made another splash among bass players with the release of their BASSRIG Super Vintage and BASSRIG ’64 Black Panel pedals—recreating vintage tube bass tones with impressive accuracy. In a time when much of the musical instrument industry is going digital and embracing the potential of programmability and lighter, more compact products, Origin’s offerings remain stubbornly analog and vintage in look and feel. That’s certainly the case with the DCX Bass, a preamp that’s inspired by the legendary Universal Audio 610 recording console. Though some brave manufacturers admirably emulate the UA 610 in digital form, Origin didn’t seek to imitate the 610 down to the last detail. Instead, they used the 610 as a jumping-off point to create this preamp, EQ, and drive optimized for bass.

A Preamp of Many Hats

Like the UA 610 preamp, the DCX Bass adds color to a signal as well as precise control over level and EQ. It also enhances playing dynamics. Like many other Origin pedals, the DCX Bass is both simple and feature-rich. Four knobs regulate output level, drive, and low-frequency and high-frequency bands, and between those controls you’ll find two switches. A mode switch changes the function of the pedal from EQ mode to overdrive mode. The voice switch lets the user choose from dark, flat, and medium settings. It’s pretty straightforward on the surface. But when you plug in you realize the options and combinations add up to much more than meets the eye.

Cleaning Up in the Studio

Most bass players are accustomed to using straight-to-console tones without effects. But that rarely means your signal sees just a DI. There is almost always some compression and a slight, barely audible harmonic saturation from the desk that makes the low end sound magical. In my own studio work, I use this sound 80 to 90 percent of the time, so I’m pretty used to the way a good board preamp affects my basic tone. Eager to hear how the DCX approximated that sound, I plugged in a Yamaha bass with just a P-style pickup engaged, put the pedal in EQ mode, the voice switch in dark mode, set the drive at 11 o’clock, and both EQ controls at 2 o’clock.

“With the drive knob all the way up and the voice switch set to flat, I was rewarded with a thick overdrive tone with pronounced upper transients that are not at all harsh.”

In this setting, the DCX Bass added perceptible extra warmth. I didn’t hear extra low end, exactly, but I sensed a slower attack that made the bass feel just a little bigger and a bit more like clean ’70s direct tones. When I was moving across the frets on a bass with fresh strings, the fret noises sounded slightly more musical and less harsh—something I always appreciate in tube-driven studio gear. I was very pleased to feel that same sensation from a non-tube-equipped pedal.

Through the Gearbox, Into Overdrive

Flipping the mode switch over to OD transforms the DCX Bass into a roaring rock monster. With the drive knob all the way up and the voice switch set flat, I heard thick overdrive tone with pronounced upper transients that were not at all harsh. And even though the pedal doesn’t have a blend control, the low end remains solid when you use the pedal as a pure drive. To my ears, the drive tone lands squarely in the middle between a darker fuzz and a very bright distortion, like you might hear from Billy Sheehan. When I ran this extreme setting through an amp at a show, it just sounded gloriously like vintage indie rock, and my bandmates shot me smiles of approval.

Middle Ground

One task that can be difficult for many bass overdrives is generating a convincing “barely there,” kind of low-gain drive—the feeling that you get when 10" speakers are just starting to break up a little. I use this tone frequently. And by picking an Epiphone Viola Bass with flatwounds, I got it by switching the mode back to EQ, reducing the drive, and boosting the high frequency to give extra life to the flatwound tone. A palm-muted groove helped generate just the right amount of subtle dirt on the attack. In some ways, it’s the kind of tonality that can be felt by a player as much as heard. It guides you into different playing spaces, and it both sounds and feels great.

The Verdict

Origin’s DCX Bass is supremely usable in a day-to-day, professional playing environment. It’s quiet and free of extraneous noise. Even the most extreme settings never feel exaggerated or redundant, and the clean, warm sounds can make you play like you’re riding in the bench seat of an old Cadillac, going on a slow Sunday drive, without a care for who is behind you honking. The construction inspires confidence and roadworthiness. And whether you decide to use it as an always-on preamp or an engage-when-needed drive pedal, it is a capable tone-shaping piece—especially in a live setting, where rackmount, vintage studio gear is not an option.