Hello there and welcome back to yet another gear review for you! This time, we will be looking at possibly one of the most overlooked guitar pedals, MXR 10 Band EQ. In this MXR 10 Band EQ review, I will do my best to provide all the details that you may need to know about this EQ pedal and also an in-depth review along with a test video.
What is an EQ Pedal?
As you may already know, EQ stands for equalisation and is possibly the most overlooked guitar pedal/effect. The audible frequencies we can hear can be found in a pretty wide spectrum. Human ears can identify frequencies from 20Hz to 20kHz.
EQ pedal simply is a tool to manipulate the frequencies by cutting (decreasing) or boosting (increasing) found in your guitar or any other instruments and sounds.
EQ as an effect can be found in many formats such as guitar stomp boxes, racks, built-in circuits or digital plugins. So actually EQ is not a guitar effect but a very powerful sound-sculpting tool.
Graphic EQ vs Parametric EQ
Depending on the design of any particular EQ, you may have graphic or parametric EQ. Graphic EQ features a set of sliders that are predefined to control certain frequencies and the number of sliders may vary depending on the design.
As the subject of this article, MXR 10 Band EQ features 10 bands of frequencies that you can control. There are also EQ units in rack formats that feature up to 31 bands.
There are also parametric EQ pedals and units. Just imagine the basic EQ controls on your amps, you can apply parametric curves to certain frequency groups by turning the knobs instead using the sliders. Of course, there are also design principles that make these two EQ types different. But hey, let’s keep it simple here. 🙂
It is not so wise to say one is better than the other as what kind of EQ would be applied to the audio depends on the design of each particular unit.
Generally speaking, we can classify the frequency ranges or zones as below.
From 30Hz to 200Hz range is usually considered bass or low-end frequency range while 200Hz to 800Hz is a mid-frequency range and lastly 800Hz to 12.8kHz is treble, high or high-end frequency range.
Why Do You Need an EQ Pedal?
It’s simply because you want or need more control on top of your audio gear, amp or preamp. As I have been featuring my gear here, I have been using my ENGL E570 all-tube preamp for a while.
Recently, I also got an Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini pedal to boost the front end of the E570 and get more tight and aggressive tones.
However, I don’t think the built-in EQ can do surgical operations on my guitar tone. Especially, when you have many guitar types such as Strat style, Les Paul style or extended range guitars, it gets pretty limited and you can not control the full spectrum with extreme sensitivity.
EQ in FX Loop or Front?
Placing the EQ pedal is basically up to what results you are aiming for. However, it’s good to know what kind of sonic and functional differences these options will provide.
EQ In Front of an Amp or a Preamp
When an EQ pedal is placed in front of an amp or a preamp will yield results which are similar to a boost pedal, or just like turning your volume down on your guitar. This approach has a more significant impact on the response of your amp or preamp.
EQ In Effects Loop of an Amp or a Preamp
When an EQ pedal is placed in the effects loop of an amp or a preamp, it acts like post-EQ and allows you to tweak and precisely adjust your overall tone.
Based on my research on the internet for quite some time, I have found out that most guitar players are die-hard fans of EQ pedals in the loop. So initially purchased an MXR 10 Band EQ pedal to use in the FX loop of my ENGL E570 preamp.
MXR 10 Band EQ
When it comes to EQ pedals, you have not so many but quite a few good options out there. However, MXR is probably one of the most popular and sought-after brands when guitar players are hunting for an EQ pedal.
MXR 10 Band EQ features a lightweight aluminium chassis, extremely bright (!) blue LEDs, true bypass switching and dual outputs.
With 10 Bands, you can control all the frequencies of your guitars easily. As some of you may already know, there was a previous version of MXR 10 Band EQ.
It was also a big success for the company. However, with this new silver version, they have upgraded the noise-reduction circuitry, true-bypass witching and a second output. You have also a volume, gain control and 10 sliders to boost or cut certain frequencies.
With the volume control, you can control the overall volume of the EQ effect and with the gain control, you can adjust the amount of the gain boost.
EQ sliders on the MXR 10 Band EQ provide you with ±18dB boost or cut! Before I provide you with my review and the MXR 10 Band EQ test video, I would like to share the tech specs here below.
MXR 10 Band EQ Tech Specs
|Input Impedance||470 kΩ|
|Output Impedance||5 kΩ|
|Max Input Level All Sliders at 0 dB||+14 dBV @ 1 kHz|
|Max Output Level All Sliders at 0 dB||+14 dBV @ 1 kHz|
|Frequency Response||±1 dB, 20 Hz to 20 kHz|
|Filtering ±12db @||±12dB shelf @ 16kHz|
|31.25, 62.5, 125, 50, 500, 1k, 2k, 4k, 8kHz|
|Switching||True Bypass Hardwire|
|Power Supply (Included)||18 Volts DC|
|Current Draw||48 mA|
MXR 10 Band EQ Review
As you can see, it’s a pretty basic EQ pedal with some outstanding features. It features 10 Band EQ which is in most cases overkill. You have so many angles to hit your guitar tone and completely manipulate it.
One of the things I immediately noticed with MXR Ten Band EQ is that it’s extremely sensitive!
Even the slightest changes make a massive difference in your guitar tone thanks to its design that gives you 18dB headroom. If you look at other EQ pedals in the market, you will notice that most of them operate with a 9V power supply.
But MXR Ten Band EQ operates with an 18V power supply which is included in the box. When combined with a nice amp or preamp, you can change the characteristics of your amp significantly.
Before I bought my MXR 10 Band EQ, I did a lot of research and noticed that people were big fans of EQ pedals in general and they claimed that EQ pedals change the characteristics of their amp so effectively.
At first, I thought they were exaggerating and just justifying their purchases. But seriously, it’s one of the best purchasing decisions I have ever made recently.
About the noise issues that some people mentioned, I haven’t had any noise issues whatsoever. Not sure what they are talking about really. It’s pretty quiet and it sounds excellent.
For those who are curious about where this pedal is made, it’s made in China! That was a bit surprising for me as I thought at this price range, it could be US made pedal. As it’s just an EQ pedal, I think you could justify the European price tag which is around €200.
But it’s made in China. Because it comes with an 18V power supply, you could still justify the price tag if you force yourself a bit. However, I believe the correct pricing would be around €150 to €160.
But I understand the strategy behind this pricing. There are a lot more complex, DSP-based EQ pedals on the market and they cost a lot more than an MXR 10 Band EQ. So they kinda positioned them in between these products and some of the more generic and simpler EQ pedals.
As this is an EQ pedal, it doesn’t make sense to talk about how a +4dB boost @ 125Hz sounds like, right? 🙂 So I am trying to include the other aspects of a product in my review, please understand.
The experience I had with the product generally was pretty good, but with some of the things I noticed, I was a bit disappointed.
The Box Content!
It comes with a really cool and pretty big black box. You have also a smaller box for the power supply. On top of that, you have a nice MXR sticker and 2 pairs of 3M pads that you can stick to the bottom of your pedal for better stability.
I also had a quick guide which has 70-something pages of basic guidance. However, MXR 10 Band EQ was not even mentioned in this guide! Pretty weird as it gives the impression that they did not spend so much time on the MXR 10 Band EQ manual.
I mean, I wouldn’t expect pages of information about an EQ pedal, but at least provide some basic information within the box content and maybe some guidance regarding possible presets and approaches.
If you want to check out the official MXR 10 Band EQ manual, please click here and visit the Jim Dunlop/MXR website.
Brightest Blue LEDs Ever!
This is something you may come across in customer reviews online. As you can see for yourself, even on the official Jim Dunlop website, this was mentioned as an upgrade! I’m completely lost with their logic and can not understand why on earth someone put the brightest blue LEDs on this pedal!
Especially, when combined with a silver/grey chassis colour and black letters and numbers, it’s impossible to read. Maybe I should change this sentence a bit, it’s impossible to look at it!
This similar issue also exists on my ENGL Cabloader, and I must say it’s tiring to look at this combination. However, I have to admit that MXR 10 Band EQ with these brightest blue LEDs have set the bar so high! 🙂
My eyes are sore every time I look at my pedal. One can suggest that it’s a set-and-forget pedal, but at the same time, it gives you a massive amount of tone-shaping possibilities and you need to sit down and spend time with it. In other words, you have to look at your pedal constantly!
Fortunately, there are a couple of quick and not-so-quick methods to replace the LEDs on the MXR 10 Band EQ. I recently purchased dimmer, red colour LEDs and already replaced them.
MXR 10 Band EQ LED Mod
Even though it’s extremely annoying and in my opinion, a design failure, replacing these bright blue LEDs is a piece of cake. When it comes to solving this bright blue LED problem, you may find a variety of options online.
The most obvious one is to remove all these LEDs and end up with a completely dead-looking pedal! 🙂 This is pretty practical but you would not be able to distinguish if your pedal is on.
There’s also another approach to dim these LEDs. This method consists of getting (I believe) resistors with higher K values and simply replacing them. However, this also requires you to have the skills and tools ready. In my case, I did not want to alter the circuit as I would have to buy a soldering iron and all essential tools to remove the existing resistors without damaging the unit.
I think the easiest method to solve this problem is to simply buy dimmer LEDs and just go for it!
I bought my replacement LEDs from TME Electronic Components company and I recommend anyone considering replacing the LEDs on the MXR 10 Band EQ. My package arrived instantly and the overall cost was 7-8 EUR.
To remove the blue LEDs, you need a pair of tweezers or similar tools. I used the pliers that I got from Lidl. 🙂 You also need to cut the legs of the replacement LEDs as they feature pretty long legs.
The only thing you need to be careful with is to place the longer leg facing the footswitch direction and also not to attempt any operation when the unit is connected to a power supply.
MXR 10 Band EQ LED Replacement Video
I recorded the whole thing in a video and wanted to also share it with you. Please pay attention to the comparison section at the end and you will see how bright these blue LEDs were!
MXR 10 Band EQ Review & Sound Demo (no talking)
As I mentioned, talking about how an EQ pedal sounds all day long does not make sense to me as you will have different results with different guitars, amps, speakers or IRs. So instead, I just prepared a brief video to show you my favourite setting.
I use my MXR 10 Band EQ in the FX loop of my ENGL E570 tube preamp and simply control the FX loop switch with my ENGL Z12 MIDI controller.
I used my Ibanez AR300, Ibanez RG565 and Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini and recorded directly using OwnHammer IRs (Fender Twin and Marshall 1960).
In my opinion, it makes my setup and guitars sound way better without adding any noise. In combination with carefully selected impulse responses, I can get a lot of different sounds using my current setup.
For those who are seeking new gear to get the tone that you think you don’t have now, I say just stop for a while and consider getting an MXR 10 Band EQ. It not only sounds great but also cures one’s G.A.S. for good! 🙂
I hope you find this MXR 10 Band EQ review honest and insightful! Thanks for visiting my blog and supporting me so far! I will hopefully see you in the next review here!
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