Hilton Volume Pedal Review

I received the new Hilton lightweight aluminum pedal about two weeks ago. The price I paid for it was full retail and it arrived in perfect condition (thank you Fred Justice!). Included in the box is a power supply and owner's manual.

There's a bunch of things that struck me right away about this pedal, keeping in mind that my frame of reference is the Goodrich 120 standard pot pedal and the Goodrich LDR2:

  • This thing is super light weight! It weighs only 2.03 pounds versus 3.04 pounds for the Goodrich 120
  • The power supply is really tiny, super light at 4.34 ounces and it easily detaches from the pedal
  • I expected to hear the sterile sound of an electonic pedal, but the tone is quite warm, without the harshness of my LDR2

Well how about hearing it? Yeh, I know, there's a lot of variables in any sound setup, but here's where my sound is at now. The following was recorded on my Yamaha AW-2400 at 16 bits and converted to a .wma file at a fixed 192 kbps. The signal chain is: MSA Legend, Hilton pedal, Guyatone MD-3 (switched off), Boss RV-5, Fender Steel King mic'd with a Shure SM57. It's a medley of Merle Haggard's "Big City" and "Strangers".

For you electonics buffs, the power supply is a 24 volt DC switching supply with input plugs that can be swapped out for different primary power sources (100 - 240 VAC, 50-60 Hz, 0.625 amps at 24 VDC). You can peruse the power supply's label on it by clicking on one of the pictures below, one of which shows the wall plug removed.

You can see in the pics below how the Hilton and the Goodrich 120 stack up mechanically. I measured the Hilton stroke from full off to full on at 13.4 degress and the Goodrich at 15.9 degrees. So the Hilton has a little less stroke in terms of degrees and actual travel. Based on this and the taper of the Hilton, it is similar in action to the Goodrich but acts a little quicker. I found it somewhat easier to do volume gutting with the Hilton but at the same time, the Hilton was not radically different from the Goodrich in terms of smoothness, taper or stroke. Both pedals are excellent in this regard. One of the diagrams below shows the layout and math I used to determine the degrees of travel (arctan of opposite/adjacent triangle sides, simple algebra). Overall, the Hilton has a slightly lower profile than the Goodrich. The Hilton was 1/4" lower than the Goodrich in the front and 3/4" lower in the rear in the full on position. In the full off position the Hilton was 5/8" lower than the Goodrich in the front and 3/4" lower in the rear. Study the diagram below a bit and you can see that the Goodrich top platform is nearly level in the full on position whereas the Hilton is tipped back slightly. In the full off position, both pedals are at about the same angle. For me, the standard Goodrich 120 pedal height is OK but a little higher than I like. The reduced height of the Hilton gives me a little more clearance when wearing my shoes. It does this without sacrificing the comfortable pedal travel I was used to in the Goodrich.

Sound is a very subjective thing but what review is complete without an opinion about the "sound"? I really love the tone I can achieve with my pot pedal and with high quality conductive plastic pots now available, the reliability of a pot pedal is of no concern whatsoever. My first experience with an electronic volume pedal was the Goodrich LDR2. While extremely well constructed, I could not get a warm, lively tone out of the LDR2. The sound, to my ears. was always sterile and compressed sounding. With this new Hilton pedal I am getting a tone which is quite warm and very pleasing, not at all harsh. In fact, at this point, I would be happy plugging into either the new Hilton pedal or my "pot" pedal. With the factory presets. the Hilton has a little bit more gain than a 500K pot pedal at any given pedal position. It also has a little sharper tone. Both of these are adjustable but I left the gain as is and backed about 1/4 turn off the Hilton tone control to roll off the highs a bit. Maybe I would be better off leaving the Hilton at full tone and adjusting the EQ at the amp. At any rate the Hilton has a very pleasing tone in my setup and does not severely alter the tone to the extent that many low impedance buffer amps do. For reference, here's a pdf copy of the Hilton user manual where you can read about all the adjustments.

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