The Andromeda Natural Overdrive is a recreation of the Nobels ODR-1, a somewhat obscure pedal from Germany that nonetheless is considered a “secret weapon” among Nashville studio musicians.
The overwhelming complaint of the ODR-1 is that it has way too much bass with no way to dial it out. To that end, the Andromeda incorporates a variable bass control inspired by the Timmy and Zendrive. The stock tones are still there with the knob all the way up, but now you have the option to dial it back.
Looking at the schematic, you can see a stark difference with Japanese-designed pedals (i.e. most Ibanez or Boss circuits). This is German engineering at its finest—tons of odd-value resistors and capacitors forming very precise filters and signal shaping. This is not a particularly simple build, but it’s very rewarding and well worth the effort.
Nobels is a German company that’s not very well-known in the United States. The ODR-1 Natural Overdrive was first released in in 1992. In 2002, a silver “tenth anniversary” reissue was released, which was the standard for a long time until circa 2011 when the green version was rereleased.
The circuit has never changed and all versions are identical, except for some of the silver versions—the initial run of these had the Drive and Volume pots mistakenly switched during production, so Drive was 50k and Volume was 250k. This severely limited the pedal’s maximum gain. Later productions had this corrected, but many owners had to take out the soldering iron and switch the pots around to correct the factory error.
Their circuits are very original and well-designed, but their build quality and durability leaves something to be desired, not unlike Behringer. The high marks for the pedal’s sound quality were balanced by skepticism about its roadworthiness. This created a pretty decent market for clones. The Visual Sound Open Road was the most accurate and certainly the most affordable, but is no longer in production (though the left side of the newer Truetone VS-XO is apparently based on the Open Road). The Rockett Chicken Soup was another one, now out of production as well, although they tweaked the circuit from the original and the general consensus is that it’s not an improvement.
Nobels sold a variant called the ODR-1 Plus that included a boost switch. This switch adds an additional 3rd filter from the op-amp feedback stage to ground which extends the range of the gain knob and changes the EQ slightly.
The ODR-1 also has a cousin called the Overdrive Special ODR-S, which features a three-band tonestack in place of the ODR-1’s Spectrum control. The circuits share a lot in common, but the tonestack is completely different, and most people still prefer the ODR-1 despite the added flexibility of the ODR-S. There’s something unique about the Spectrum control that the 3-band tonestack doesn’t capture.
In 2019, the original designer of the ODR-1 released a boutique, hand-made “custom” version with three extra controls for bass, mids and clipping diodes. The Nordland ODR-C is a marvelously-engineered pedal that occupies the far end of the spectrum from the original ODR-1 and its budget build quality .