Review: Nobels ODR-mini

The Nobels ODR-1 might be the most famous overdrive you’ve never heard of – and now it’s gone mini.

Nobels ODR Mini feature

Despite appearances, this is not a green overdrive pedal. Well, it clearly is – but anyone who translates that as ‘yet another wannabe Tube Screamer’ is in for a surprise. Nobels has been making the ODR-1 since 1985, when Tube Screamers were around, but the only thing most people associated with the colour green was a frog called Kermit.

Designed in Germany, the original ODR-1 is known for its warm and natural drive, with a wide gain range and none of the bass roll-off or upper-mid pushiness of a Tube Screamer-type overdrive. But it’s always been more of a secret weapon for session players than an all-round object of desire – so can this new titchy version help Nobels go mainstream?

Nobels ODR Mini knobs

In use

With drive at 10 o’clock, the ODR-mini growls into life with a sweet-sounding low-gain tone. There’s a fair amount of compression involved, giving it the soft-edged feel of a TS9 or a Boss SD-1 – but, crucially, without the same coloration of tone. If anything, in fact, the low end here has a tendency towards chubbiness.

As promised, the drive dial takes us all the way from mild crunch to roaring hard rock… with a little help from that intriguingly named Spectrum control. This is supposed to be more flexible than a standard tone knob – and while we can’t quite get our heads around what it’s actually doing, it certainly works. Increasing it adds brightness and gain without harshness, while dialling it back softens the top end for darker, more subdued textures. We can definitely conclude that this thing is smarter than the average green overdrive.

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Nobels ODR Mini top

Key features

  • PRICE £95
  • DESCRIPTION Overdrive pedal. Made in China
  • CONTROLS Drive, level, spectrum (tone)
  • FEATURES True bypass; powered by 9-volt mains supply only (not included)
  • DIMENSIONS 93 x 53 x 48mm
  • CONTACT Nobels nobels.de
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