Gear review | Kmise - Ultimate Drive Distortion pedal



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Posted September 23, 2020, and last updated September 23, 2020 by Chuck Miller 


This will be my last Kmise guitar pedal review for a while. I'll also wrap up this blog entry and my short tenure as a Kmise pedal reviewer with my final thoughts about the guitar effects boxes I've reviewed for them. This has been a great opportunity for me to test various effects, and I'm much more knowledgeable about guitar pedals because of it. I'd like to thank Kmise for giving me the opportunity and trust that I'd do reliable and honest reviews of their products. It has been pleasantly instructive for me to be given the opportunity to audition several different pedals in such a short time. I still have plenty to learn, so maybe I'll get back to reviewing again at a later time.


Kmise, which sells their products though lotmusic Store on Amazon and other places, was kind enough to provide this KM-02 Distortion pedal to me without charge and has asked me to write an honest review of the product. Recently, they've asked me if I could do video reviews, but I'm just not up to doing that. It's much too time consuming for me now, and I'd rather have the time to play guitar instead of spending time making and editing videos.


About the product at hand -- The KM-02 Ultimate Drive Distortion effect. Generally, I'm not a huge distortion pedal user. I prefer overdrive or softer clipping sounds, although I do like certain fuzz produced tones.


Of all the distortion units I have had the opportunity to utilize or review recently, I had the highest hopes for the Kmise Ultimate Drive. I did some research, and several players believe it's a Fulltone OCD clone. That pedal is generally held in high regard. Perhaps they believe it's a replica because the Ultimate Drive has that high/low toggle switch on it like the OCD. I don't have the OCD, so I can't compare them for this review.


Almost as soon as I plugged my guitar into this pedal and turned the volume up on the amp, I knew it was good, but probably not my-just-exactly-perfect distortion device. However, the more I play with it, the more I like it. I grow fonder of the US Dream pedal the more I use it, too, and I really like that one now.


Coincidently, I also bought a used Boss DS-1 distortion device recently. Boss has sold over one million of them. Every electric guitar player has either heard of it or used it, and my first impression is that I don't like it as much as this pedal. It probably sounds great for what many players use it for, a lead boost, but that sound just isn't right for me. I can't dial the distortion out of the Boss pedal as I can with this one or even my project fuzz pedal. The DS-1 gets screechy and tinny where the Kmise effect is almost always nice and smooth. I have already looked into how to mod and  tame the DS-1, so that may be a future project for me.


The last session I had with the Ultimate Drive, I was able to get a good Chuck Berry tone out of it. That was nice because I love playing that style of music. Just for comparison's sake, I also tried it against the fuzz pedal I built. My pedal doesn't have as many options for modifying its overall sound, but my pedal still holds up pretty well against the KM-02. Like the other Kmise pedals I've tried, there is plenty of variability in sounds just by twisting those knobs. The tone control on the KM-02 goes from raunchy, dirty, in-the-mud lows to clear and articulate highs. The level control is not as smooth for dialing in the perfect setting for me as the tone knob is. It also has a high/low switch that I haven't figured out exactly how to make the best use of. Right now, it's just one more variable that makes this device really good but probably not my "ultimate drive" pedal.


I've reviewed four Kmise pedals to date, and this is my third favorite pick of them all. That's no fault of Kmise, by the way. I have to say, though, the pedal works perfectly: it looks nice, it's very inexpensive, and it doesn't take up much space on my pedal board. The true bypass design and the toggle switch make it more versatile than a lot of distortion pedals on the market. I'm not going to give up on this one. I'll continue to use it with my Line 6 Flextone III modeling amp to see if it sounds better going into one of the many head unit or cabinet simulations that amp offers.


In general, I've found Kmise a very good company to work with. I receive prompt replies when I have questions for them. They deliver the pedals quickly and most of them work perfectly. Their guitar effects are built to last, and the prices are very agreeable. If they come out with reverb or booster pedals, I'll buy them. The only other pedal they currently offer that interests me is the Analog Chorus. I'll most likely try that one in the future. I already have plenty of ways to dirty up my guitar sound with the devices I currently own, so it's no more distortion pedals for me now.


There is one nagging thing with that Kmise Vintage Phase I wrote about at the beginning of September. I still hear faint RF interference noise from it. It's the only pedal I own that exhibits that annoying problem. Again, it may be the pairing with my old Line 6 Flextone III solid state amp, but I don't use that pedal any more because of the RF issue. That pedal is my least favorite of the bunch. But I do have to say, the phase effect itself sounds very nice when that radio interference is not heard in the background.


The US Dream pedal I bought on eBay based on another product review I read is my favorite of the Kmise offerings. It produces more of the vintage type of distortion I like to hear. It can be shaped to respond more like a boost box, too, which makes it more versatile for me. It's the pedal that prompted me to contact Kmise about reviewing their products. The Digital Delay they sent me is also a solid effect, and I'll continue to use it until I can afford a programmable delay.


What's next for me and the blog? Maybe a hiatus. I really want to get back to playing guitar. I feel like I've been spending too much time writing, and that's not my passion. The thing that's made me most happy lately is that Sweet Little Diode Fuzz project -- I love that pedal! For me, it's got a great growl to it. I'd like to have a switchable buffer pedal someday, so that may be my next endeavor, building one of those. If I do that or have anything else relevant to discuss, I'll post about it here. Until then...


Visit the official Kmise website

Follow this link to get more information or to purchase the Kmise Ultimate Drive pedal on Amazon