Keeley HYDRA Review

Reverb and tremolo, two classic effects sharing space in a compact pedal, what could be better?

The team at Keeley Electronics have crafted another winner of a pedal with the HYDRA. In true Keeley fashion, the HYDRA is a state of the art, thoughtfully crafted device for delivering on high-fidelity, true stereo effect tones. The reverb and tremolo effects equipped in the HYDRA are certainly not to be missed, especially by players looking to take a step further into vibrant, high-fidelity effects.

Outright, the HYDRA features an interface that is deep, intuitive, and ready to get any player along their way into quality effect territory. The straightest route with the HYDRA involves some quick dial turns, footswitch clicks, and preset slot saves. From the very beginning, the HYDRA will produce reverb and tremolo effects of the highest quality to get the ball rolling before getting into more advanced features.

The three reverb types, room, plate, and spring are all familiar and responsive to lay down some quick reverb onto a signal. From surfy to spacious, the reverb voices of the HYDRA are sure to cover plenty of bases for a wide variety of musical styles. To match the quick, reverberated voices that can be picked up from the get-go, the tremolo tones of the HYDRA are far from an afterthought. Three tremolo types are also equipped with the HYDRA with sine, harmonic, and vibrato types. Traditional tremolo tones to quirky vibrato tones can both be dialed in just as easily to take off with expressive, wavering rhythms with plenty of movement and character.

Already an exceptional pedal from first strum, the HYDRA features a second layer of controls to begin to craft a variety of completely unique voices. By pressing on the Color knob, the HYDRA will tap into another assortment of effect parameters. Reverb brightness, wet/dry mix, and alternative reverb voicings can be adjusted when tapping into the pedal's secondary parameter controls. Using the Color knob, a tremolo panning feature can be accessed to give the player control over the effect from a traditional tremolo fade, to a back-and-forth stereo mix fade, to an isolated, one-side fade. These controls are perfect for adding an element of imbalance or quirkiness to color the tremolo canvas in interesting ways. Additional controls to explore the capabilities of the HYDRA even further include a tap tempo and an infinite reverb function to send the HYDRA into the deepest recesses of reverberated space.

Keeley Hydra Conclusions

Letting loose with the HYDRA is incredibly tempting and greatly rewarding. The HYDRA and its combination of effects are sure to inspire extensive tweaking and tinkering to either land in a precise effect position with pinpoint accuracy or endlessly refine a far-reaching and spacious soundscape. The small footprint of the HYDRA is deceptive, as the lush, sparkling, and massive reverb spaces it can create are usually reserved for pedals with much larger sizes and more complex designs. Even so, though the HYDRA can rocket into bursts of lush reverb with plenty of tremolo to keep things interesting, it is also easy to reel in to fit smaller jobs with quick plate reverbs or more subtle tremolo undercurrents. The HYDRA is a colorful pedal capable of complementing overdrives, delays, and a variety of other preamps or modulations. Altogether, the HYDRA equips players with plenty of tools to get lost in tones without getting lost in controls.

Keeley’s effect pedal brilliance shines through the HYDRA to get players on their way to explore new effect frontiers.