MOD Dwarf: Review

The MOD Dwarf occupies a unique area when it comes to multi-effects processing. It combines software containing vast effects options and capabilities with portable and durable hardware, resulting in a tool with plenty of potential for use on stage and recording.

The unit is designed to comfortably fit on a pedalboard but, when connected to the browser-based web interface, you can create intricate effects chains from your computer that can be recalled on the Dwarf in an instant.

Effects-wise the Dwarf contains all that one could want, with many more effects available to purchase or download from MOD’s plugin store which is frequently updated.

Thanks to the new assignable control system, it’s also relatively easy to edit and save assigned parameters from the device itself meaning you can take it out and edit sounds without having to connect to a computer.

Most of the effects seem to be aimed at guitarists and are based on familiar stomp boxes. There are plenty of options for distortion, dynamic effects (such as compression and noise gates), filters, some great reverbs, delays, and lots of modulation effects.

There are also utility plugins which include a metronome, gain meters and A/B switches. You can get more plugins from the plugin store and if you’re into coding you can even write your own plugins and make them available online for other MOD users to download.

In terms of quality sounds, the Dwarf has some gems; many of the distortion plugins hit the mark regarding the original pedals they’re imitating. Reverbs and delays such as the Open AV Roomy and Shiro Modulay sound excellent and amp sims like the Veja Onyx are also convincing.

Using the MOD interface is relatively simple once you get your head round it, though I would highly recommend visiting the MOD Dwarf wiki page before trying to use this device.

To connect the Dwarf to your computer you can run a USB cable between them or connect via Wi-Fi which can be less responsive. If this doesn’t work automatically you can easily download a driver from the MOD website.

Creating pedalboards is quite intuitive; you simply drag the plugins at the bottom of the page and patch them together with one click. Each plugin has visible parameters from the pedalboard, but most have additional controls that are accessible by clicking on the Settings icon above each plugin.

The best way to switch between different sounds quickly is by creating ‘snapshots’ which are accessible in the top right corner of the screen.

In terms of quality sounds, the Dwarf has some gems.

With the Dwarf, the software has received some updates, the main one being a file manager to which you can upload audio, MIDI and impulse response files. The impulse response files can be used for profiling and there are plugins available that allow you to make your own profiles.

Having had some previous experience with the MOD Duo, I was keen to see how the Dwarf would perform. MOD had hinted that the Dwarf would allow you to create new pedalboards using the controls on the device, and while this isn’t the case (yet), it has far more flexibility than the Duo.

There are two modes for using the Dwarf: snapshot mode and control mode. In snapshot mode you use foot switches B and C to scroll up and down the list of saved snapshots for a given pedalboard; this is the quickest way to switch between varying sounds.

In control mode you can assign any parameter on the pedalboard to a knob or switch on the front of the Dwarf.

The three endless knobs are all assignable and can be used as switches; footswitches B and C are also assignable. The three buttons underneath the knobs represent different subpages and footswitch A flicks between these optional pages.

There are eight pages available meaning that in total there are 88 potential controls available to assign for each pedalboard.

When it comes to hardware, the Dwarf seems robust and road-worthy. It also doesn’t seem out of place next to other guitar pedals looks-wise, certainly when compared to the Duo and Duo X. The controls respond well although not everything is accessible by foot, especially when wearing shoes.

A downside is the lack of expression pedal input which renders most wah-wah or whammy style plugins as pretty useless; this is probably due to MOD’s plans to release an expression pedal that plugs into the control chain port along with additional assignable footswitches which can be daisy-chained together.

It’s definitely possible to use the Dwarf on the fly but it does become difficult if you have multiple pages of effects; flicking between pages could put a damper on the spontaneity of a jam.

Another downside is that the current power supply that is provided with the Dwarf is quite noisy although this has allegedly been rendered and future power supplies will not have this issue.

I love the concept of this device and I think it has tons of potential, but there are still a few teething issues that are holding it back. I would however recommend this to anyone who is into patching many effects together or who is keen to integrate a large variety of sounds into their recording and live rig.

I can certainly see myself using this in the future and I’m keen to see how the future of MOD devices pans out.