Review: MOD Dwarf

mod devices mod dwarf
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

Koala Audio | Enquire for pricing

MOD Devices are a reasonably new company on the stompbox scene. Their concept, however, is a forward-thinking and technologically advanced look into the future of sound and music gear. Where amp modellers have dipped their toe into the waters of storing settings in the cloud, and downloadable and exchangeable ‘rigs’, MOD Devices’ model is an open-source forum for plugin development and programming.

With an ever-growing collection of effects, amps, and processing tools available, the MOD Dwarf brings this technology to the stage. Designed as a 3-switch stompbox unit that serves as a host for the hundreds of MOD plugins, as well as being open to third-party plugin developers. At a very high level, the MOD Dwarf is able to toggle between settings via ‘Banks’ that contain pedalboards, which then contain snapshots – all of which are storing your settings for different sounds, and are accessible via some tap dancing on the three main switches. The MOD Dwarf works standalone and straight out of the box, but also features USB connectivity for uploading, downloading, and tweaking effects on a computer.

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The concept of emulating amplifiers is not new, but MOD Dwarf have managed to create an ecosystem that supports both developers and players alike. They have a forum that’s open to ideas, suggestions, and feedback, and in recent years have announced they have a dedicated team of developers implementing your changes! The MOD ecosystem, including the Dwarf, is not limited to just plugin switching. They can also be used to hit playback of a backing track, start sequencers or other similar, transport based functions. This means that regardless of what gear you may be upgrading, replacing or moving around to make space for the Dwarf, it can absolutely do everything those other pedals can – and more! Because of the flexible nature of the hardware itself, as well as MOD’s ever-growing, evolving, and expanding technology, the MOD Dwarf is more than just a guitar tone emulator.

The MOD Dwarf can serve as the backbone of your tone, a controller for your live show, or a quick and easy way to lay down great sounding demos direct to your mixer or audio interface.

The MOD Dwarf is a standalone audio processor designed for guitar and bass. It features two 1⁄4-inch instrument inputs, MIDI in and out, ethernet for their ‘Control Chain’ system/protocol, USB (your choice of USB A or USB B), two 1⁄4-inch instrument outputs as well as a headphone output. The Dwarf comes stocked with amps, cabinets and effects, and you can quickly begin using them to shape tones and build snapshots for live shows. The ‘Snapshots’ change instantaneously while the pedalboards take a moment to load. The Dwarf is designed to be used like you would a pedalboard, switching effects on and off during songs, but pedalboards may be toggled between songs unless you can time your switching just right. 

What’s more, the MOD Dwarf is open to continuous improvements, updates, and changes that are available on the MOD Dwarf ecosystem. The MOD Dwarf can be integrated into an existing pedalboard, used as an entire rig, or anything in between. The dual lineouts can be routed direct to a DI Box or mixer and sent to FOH and monitors for a tidy stage set-up. The controls will feel familiar to pedal users, as will the tones produced. While some digital amplifiers can sound tinny, thin or lifeless, the MOD Dwarf’s plugins retain the character of your sound while adding crunch, fuzz, delay or modulation where it’s needed.

Amplifiers, effects, pedals, and MIDI switches are great, don’t get me wrong, but they can be a lot of stuff. The MOD Dwarf collates all of this stuff into one tidy pedal, and with the growing MOD ecosystem, you can have even more gear without extra cabling, speaker cabinets, pedal boards or switchers on stage, in your backpack, or wired into your studio. Amp emulators are great for demos, re-amping, and playing live, especially when it is all in the one unit without needing to upload and download patches across different systems. 

The Dwarf is small enough to fit on a pedalboard or be used as a standalone music maker onstage. There’s handy routing options for different types of time-based or modulating pedals, as well as stereo in and out for space and width. The plugins themselves respond in a super familiar way, so they can be integrated into signal chains with other pedals and amps if you’re so inclined. While the MOD Dwarf doesn’t mean you have to do away with all of your other gear, it’s difficult to justify lugging around anything more than this unit after some quick set-up and a browse through the list of available sounds, effects, and uses for the pedal. 

As either a standalone pedal board or a sequencer, the MOD Dwarf is worth the price you’ll pay – but for both? Now that’s an easy decision. The beauty of the Dwarf is while there’s literally limitless possibilities, it allows you to quickly save and store effects so you can build your board and stick with it, gig after gig.

Head to MOD Devices’ website for more information. For local enquiries, get in touch with Koala Audio.