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SOUND:

Overall this pedal has great sound; a boutique-quality pedal developed by an amplifier company, which says a lot. The tones it produces are wide and varied, due to the range of both the Drive control and the EQ. If keeping the EQ flat and Drive all the way down, the MTN-10 is a literal clean boost. Most supposed ‘clean boosts’ on the market tend to add a bit of gain or color in the signal, but the MTN-10 all the way down does not, which is impressive. With the Drive a touch up and toward 9-o’clock there is a nasty bit of hair in the signal, that dirty overdriven tone ideal for vintage Rock and Rockabilly. Once around 10-o’clock and upward of 12-noon and there is a solid crunch gain tone. When turning the Drive to 1-o’clock and beyond that overdriven sound has more of a distortion quality – a fine grain that cuts well through the mix. The EQ knobs are touch-sensitive and vary greatly (particularly the treble). Back off the midrange slightly with a hint more bass and treble and you get a great sounding scooped tone. Crank up the midrange and it becomes very heavy and modern. Overall, this is one pedal that has a bigger range than most – from an actual clean boost to Bluesy swamp rock to punchy high-gain tones that lives in the realm of Stoner Rock and Doom Metal. Best of all, the MTN-10 is rather responsive to playing dynamics, and also very transparent as it brings to life an amp’s underlying characteristics (which means this pedal will sound different with different platforms).



BASIC OPERATION:

To achieve a truly clean boost, simply set the Drive all the way down and the Volume around 12-noon (this may have to be increased or decreased, depending on your amp’s setting and how the MTN-10 behaves with your amp). The EQ likely will all be turned to 12-noon or possibly a bit of tweaking (depending on the boost sound and tone coloring desired). How much Drive you want to add to the mix depends on what sound you want, but also whether working with a clean or dirty amp. The MTN-10 has an aggressive Drive when low to moderate, and so combining it with a dirty amp likely will not require anything more than the pedal’s Drive set at 10-o’clock (and I suspect less with truly high-gain amps). With a clean amp there is far more flexibility, with some modest dirt at low settings, crunchy Rock toward the middle and more high-gain distortion (almost thick fuzz-like at full bore) thereafter. The EQ knobs make a big difference with just a slight turn in any direction, ideal for finding your signature sound or to accommodate short-comings of your gear. Begin with everything at 12-noon and adjust from there.


OVERALL IMPRESSION:

Karma is known for hand-wired amplifiers, and with such craftsmanship remaking and improving a classic pedal from the 80s (the Ibanez Mostortion), you’re in for several surprises. True bypass, the MTN-10 utilizes the original CA3260 chip, albeit with upgraded parts throughout. Unbelievably flexible, the MTN-10 delivers clean boost, gritty Rock tones and even fat Metal distortion. The wide-ranging EQ may be useful for sculpting some very unique and varied tones, but also serves to brighten up dark amps/pickups or to tame bright, harsh ones. At $199 USD this is a typically priced pedal (neither low-budget nor boutique ridiculous) and you get a lot of tones and quality at that price. Seriously the MTN-10 works for Country music as well as Hard Rock… and beyond, and I suspect Karma Guitar Amplifiers wanted it that way and to accommodate guitar players from different walks of life and different music genres.
 

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I posted a circuit analysis of the original MT-10 on Zac Child's "Ask Zac" YT channel. Although it does use a different sort of op-amp than most other TS-9-derived drives (which is what it is), it's not clear to me how much of its tone comes from that op-amp in particular, versus all the other circuit tweaks it includes; not the least of which is the diode complement similar to what the Timmy uses. I have one of those op-amps in my parts bin; bought specifically to make myself an MT-10 clone. When I do finally get around to making one, I'll be sure to install a socket so that chips can be swapped in and out, so I can assess how crucial that chip is to the sound.
 

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Brian's review is spot-on.

I'm currently using my Karma MTN-10 last in my gain/boost chain (before 'verb and delay) to "dirty up" my amp. I'm using an old Traynor Bass Mate at fairly low volume, and the Karma truly makes it sound like a much bigger, more aggressive amp. It's an always on pedal into which I run my other drives.
The EQ is extremely powerful and each knob has a huge sweep. I can shape my amp's overall character far better from the Karma than I can on the amp itself.
The only negative I feel it has is a result of the original circuit -a bit too much bass. I cut a lot of bass out earlier in my chain and that works like a charm. A tube screamer really benefits from the MTN-10.
The build quality is absolutely top notch and the pedal is quite small - smaller than the original, and far more rugged
It's got me eyeing Karma's amps. 😇
 

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Finished my MT10 clone a few days ago, and I like it a lot. Unfortunately, while I thought there was a CA3260 among the 50 or so dual op-amps in that parts drawer, I either used it for something else or else mistook the CA3240 I had for a 3260. In any event, I used an IC socket for the board, so if I ever come across a 3260 somewhere, I can plug it in. In the meantime, I'm using the 3240, which also has a MOSFET input but is mostly bipolar throughout the rest of its internals, compared to the 3260 which is about 90% MOSFET throughout. What difference this actually makes remains to be seen. Specs-wise, the two chips don't seem to differ much, with respect to the usual things pertaining to audio. That said, I'll reserve judgment on how much the specific chip contributes to the sound of the circuit and pedal, compared to the other aspects of the design that make it pleasingly flexible.

I have to pop an LM1458 in there and try it out. A local forum member brought his Timmy pedal over a few years ago, because he had read somewhere that replacing the stock op-amp with a 1458 (normally a much less desirable chip because of its limitations) "improved" it. We spent a few hours taste-testing various op-amps, and both came to the independent conclusion that we preferred the 1458, because it seemed to smooth out some of the edges of the tone. (As with the importance of an LM308 for the Rat, sometimes a "lesser" op-amp is precisely what you want for a clipping circuit.) The MT10 shares a certain amount in common with the Timmy, albeit with a vastly better EQ section, so maybe a 1458 would sound good in there as well. Again, we don't know how much the 3260 contributes to the tone, relative to the other aspects of the circuit. To be clear, I'm not suggesting that it doesn't. But if it accounts for 20% of the sound, then that also implies that the same circuit with a different chip-chice will get you 80% of the way there.

But it's a nice smooth overdrive, that I find can even make my mediocre Fender Champion 110 sound decent. If Karma has done a decent job resurrecting it - and it appears they have - this is a nice thing to own.
 
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