Review: Becos TS8-MS Overdrive Midi Switcher
Constanta City in Romania is home to Becos FX, a small consortium of self-confessed technical geeks with a passion for intricate, hand-assembled pedals made with high quality components.
Becos follows a design ethos that leans towards heavy duty functionality rather than bejewelled boxes and the new TS8-MS – a high performance, silicon diode-based ’Screamer with MIDI switching capabilities – features a rugged black Hammond 1590B aluminium case with clearly printed white labelling.
It may not be pretty, but it’s obvious from the off that this is more than just another TS clone – despite its small size, the TS8-MS is bristling with knobs and switches with yet more on the inside!
At the heart of the pedal is an 808-style analogue circuit with gain, tone and level controls and a mini-toggle switch offering a choice of three different overdrive voices: classic asymmetric and custom. We tune up a Telecaster and plug in.
With all the knobs at noon and the classic voice engaged we kickstart the TS8-MS, revealing one of the most expressive and musical 808 sounds we’ve heard for some time. Chewy and aggressive with a powerful midrange, this would be worth the price of entry on its own.
It’s a wonderful overdrive voice, as good as some vintage units we’ve encountered. However, there’s yet more to explore as we flick the awkwardly placed mini-toggle switch and add gain and air with the asymmetric setting. Becos recommends this for higher-gain amps – the difference is subtle but noticeable, especially with higher output pickups and will certainly push grumbling tubes into outright fury.
Finally, we have the custom mode. While Becos has loaded the TS8-MS with its own LEDs, it has also provided sockets for customisation and actively encourages experimentation with different germanium and/or silicon diodes. An unusual and forward-thinking approach!
On the top of the pedal we find a five-pin MIDI in/out socket and a jack output for external switching. Reassuringly, the MIDI side of this pedal has been handled with the same attention to detail as the excellent analogue overdrive. Even for a MIDI neophyte the TS8-MS is well laid out and setting it up to control amp channel switching or to work with a MIDI control board is quick and painless.
The pedal responds to MIDI program change and MIDI control change for all of its switching capabilities, both bypass and external, and it performs in both MIDI receive and MIDI transmit mode. You can even use it as a MIDI controller.
The manual gives some further suggestions as to how you might like to press it into service. There is even a tiny multi-function rotary switch inside the pedal which can take the headaches out of more exotic routing solutions.
The TS8-MS is a fascinating pedal from a new company that is already gaining a reputation for innovative design and exceptional performance. There is a high degree of functionality at play here – you may not need all of it yet, but when you do, then look no further!
DESCRIPTION Multi-voiced Overdrive pedal with MIDI switching, made in Romania
CONTROLS Gain, tone, level, 3-way mini-toggle for overdrive voice, internal MIDI rotary control
FEATURES MIDI switching, buffered or true bypass footswitch, external switching, MIDI in/out
DIMENSIONS 120 x 61 x 31 mm
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