Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘vox’

Click on the picture to see an enlarged view.

VOX Time Machine Delay Pedal


Summary: If you’re looking for a super-quiet, dynamic and versatile delay that will cover a lot of territory, look no further. The Time Machine rocks!

Pros: Absolutely quiet, with no line noise at all. It is so easy to dial in great delay sounds with the Time Machine, it’s almost scary. I like the fact that it has more features than a basic delay pedal, but not so many that you spend all your time tweaking. Oh yeah… It sounds absolutely fantastic!

Cons:None.

Features:

  • Controls:  Level, Delay Range, Time, Feedback, ON SW, Tap & Modern/Vintage SW, Hi-Fi/Lo-Fi SW
  • In/Outputs: 1 x  INPUT, 1 x OUTPUT, 1 x DRY OUT, 1 x DC9V
  • Max Delay Time: 5800 milliseconds via Tap-Tempo, 1000 milliseconds via Delay control
  • Input Impedance: 1M-ohms
  • Output Impedance : 1k-ohms
  • Power Supply:  9V alkaline battery(6LF22/6LR61) or AC adapter(sold separately)
  • Current Consumption: 60mA
  • Dimensions: 143(W) x 121(D) x 58(H) mm / 5.63”(W) x 4.76”(D) x 2.28”(H)
  • Weight: 600g /1.32 lbs (without batteries)
  • Included Items: 9V alkaline battery (included)
  • Options: 9V AC adapter (not included)

Price: $199 street

Tone Bone Score: 5.0 ~ This pedal has ended my search for a delay. It really is as good as it’s advertised.

I tend to be a little wary of “signature” pedals because I’m really not one who wants to sound like someone else; besides, I’m not nearly as capable on the guitar as said artists. But now and then, I come across signature gear that forces me to take a good, long look: Not just because of the name behind it, but simply because it’s just a great piece of gear! Such was the case with the VOX Time Machine. When it first came to market, I have to admit that I was excited because I know that Joe Satriani is a real tone freak, and I figured that any kind of gear in which he has design input is bound to be pretty good. But the flip side of that is that I’ve had experience with other signature pedals that were really geared towards the artist and their playing style specifically, and frankly, that stuff has left me frowning. Not so with the Time Machine, which took me completely by surprise!

I’ve been in the market for a delay for almost a couple of years, when I gave away my crappy Boss DD-5 that had such perfect and precise delay that it just felt processed. It was nothing like my former DD-3 that actually sounded pretty good, but I lost that pedal after playing in an orchestra for a musical theatre gig (I didn’t have a board at the time, and only carried a couple of pedals). Needless to say, during that time, I’ve evaluated several delays, but none have really caught my fancy. They were either too dark sounding, as in the case of most analog delays, or they sucked tone, as in the case of many digital delays I’ve tried. My surprise with the Time Machine is that in either mode, modern or vintage, my basic tone was retained! But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

In my search, I came up with some criteria that had to be fufilled 100% before I’d even consider buying one. Here they are:

  • First, I wanted Tap Tempo. I’ve always hated having to bend over to tweak knobs; but moreover, I wanted to be able to match tempos with my drummer on the fly.
  • Secondly – and I know this is purely subjective – I wanted a good balance between tweakable settings and ease-of use. In other words, I wanted to have the flexibility to dial in a number of delay settings but not have so many that I’d be spending all my time tweaking knobs.
  • Thirdly, I didn’t want to ever have to refer to a reference manual to make sure I was using the pedal correctly. The “don’t make me think” rule had to apply. I should be able to dial in great tones in a matter of a few minutes, if not earlier.
  • Finally, and most importantly, the pedal could not suck tone, and had to be reasonably transparent. In most cases, I don’t mind a pedal putting an emphasis on a particular EQ range (like my Kasha overdrive does), but it should never remove a range or “feel” like it narrows the bandwidth of the signal.

There are lots of delay pedals I’ve evaluated that were particularly good in most areas, but none until I played the Time Machine ever fulfilled all four criteria. That’s how great this pedal is!

It’s Mean When It’s Green

I love the shiny, green apple finish of the Time Machine. Of course, the paint job doesn’t make the pedal. But the Time Machine is built like a tank, and is certainly gig-worthy. I imagine that JS had that in mind when providing his design input. The chicken head knobs give the pedal a cool vintage vibe, but not only that make it very easy to see where you’re at with your settings. The stomp switches are nice and smooth, and the pedal engages without producing any noise.

How I Did My Evaluation

I didn’t just test the Time Machine in isolation. I’ve learned that one of the best ways to evaluate pedals is to do A/B tests against other pedals of like kind to make a comparison. So I compared the Time Machine against a Way Huge Aqua Puss and a TC Electronic Nova Repeater at my favorite shop, Gelb Music in Redwood City, CA. My thought was to compare it against an analog and another digital delay. Sorry, but no clips because I was in a shop.

All my tests in the shop were done with a Fender Custom Shop Tele, plugged into the pedals (hooked together so I could quickly make a comparison without swapping), and into an absolutely superb-sounding and -looking Dr. Z Maz 38 with draped in blonde tolex. Mm mm good. 🙂 I chose a midrange wattage amp because I wasn’t interested in creating grind. I’ve never been one to use delay with overdrive – maybe a little. But in this case, I wanted to have an ample amount of clean headroom to work with, and the Maz 38 worked perfectly for that (for the record I REALLY want a Dr. Z Remedy).

Aqua Puss and Nova Repeater

I will most likely have reviews on the Way Huge Aqua Puss and TC Electronic Nova Repeater in the near future, but I’ll give you a quick run-down of the pedals. If you’re looking for a dark, swampy, blues delay. The Aqua Puss delivers that in spades. It has this certain ethereal quality that made me think of drifting on a boat in the middle of the Everglades. I actually really liked the pedal, but I was after something else entirely with my delay search – much more versatility – and the Aqua Puss was a one-trick pony. It does what it does exceptionally well, but don’t ask for much in terms of usability in a variety of styles.

I was very sadly disappointed with the Nova Repeater. It packs a TON of features in its box, but for me, I was a little concerned that were just too many features. But despite that, it was easy to get a usable delay tone almost right away. The folks at TC Group certainly know how to pack in features, but they make them readily accessible, and very easy to understand. I actually had my heart set on getting this pedal after reading many reviews and listening to clips and watching video; and I almost purchased it a couple weeks ago. But I’m glad I compared it head-to-head with the Time Machine.

The Time Machine may not have all the features as the Nova Repeater, but out of the box, it wins hands-down in the tone department. The Nova Repeater sounded bland and dry – processed – when played in an A/B test between it and the Time Machine. And I detected a distinct loss in both highs and lows; in other words, bandwidth narrowing. That was not at all pleasing. That said though, the Repeater is still a great pedal, and apparently there’s an internal pot to calibrate the tone to your rig, so that’s a plus. But frankly, I’m not one to tweak that deeply. I probably would’ve still bought it if I didn’t do the A/B test. The tone is usable and really not as bad as I may have painted it, but it’s not as good as the Time Machine’s tone in my opinion.

Playability

If it’s any area where the Time Machine simply shined above the other pedals was how absolutely responsive it was to picking dynamics. Play lightly, and the delay is super-subtle; you almost feel as if it’s not there. Dig in a bit, and the pedal responds. I did a few lead lines to experiment with this, and was totally blown away. I set the Level control so I’d really have to dig in to get the delay effect, but for most runs, picked or legato, what I got was a more ambient effect – almost like reverb. Wow! That kind of pick response is probably what sold me the most.

In addition to dynamics, I just loved how easy it was to dial in various settings. The knobs are very nicely NOT over-sensitive, so moving a knob doesn’t result in dramatic changes in the effect. The net result is that you can get into a general area on the sweep of a particular knob, and make a couple of slight changes to zero in. How many pedals have we played where just turning a knob ever-so-slightly drastically changed the effect? It’s probably why I’ve liked my Boss CE-5 chorus for so long, and even though I’m currently bidding on a CE-2 on EBay, if I don’t win the auction, all won’t be lost because the CE-5 has a nice, consistent sweep on its knobs.

How It Sounds

Like I mentioned, the Time Machine is simply transparent. The Modern mode is truly transparent – at least to my ears – while the Vintage mode darkens the tone ever so slightly and adds some subtle modulation (it’s chorus-like) like you’d expect with an analog delay. But unlike many analog delays that I’ve played, the darkening with the Time Machine does more of a lower-mids EQ emphasis, whereas I’ve felt that analog delays cut highs. The Aqua Puss certainly felt like it was cutting highs, though it definitely compensated for it with some overall great tone. Back to the Time Machine, the net result is that in vintage mode, the tone becomes slightly more rich and lush.

I liked both modes equally well, though I’d probably tend to use the Vintage mode when playing absolutely clean, as it also adds a tiny bit of hair to the signal. It’s almost imperceptible, but it’s there. I loved doing some simple chord comps up on the neck in Vintage mode.

Modern mode, on the other hand, is like the Swiss Army Knife of the Time Machine, making it capable of fitting into any style of playing, from syncopated rhythms ala The Edge, to heavy chunk where you want to have a bit of slap-back.

The Time Machine also has a toggle switch for Lo-Fi and Hi-Fi modes, in addition to the Modern and Vintage modes. Hi-Fi apparently maintains tonal transparency, whereas Lo-Fi includes High- and Lo-cut filters. The difference between the two fidelity modes was subtle at best. I didn’t detect much of a cut in either highs or lows when engaging Lo-Fi; the EQ changes ever so slightly, but the bandwidth didn’t change at all. Again, I feel like it’s more of an EQ emphasis rather than a removal of portions.

Overall Impressions

I’m glad I took so much time to find a new delay pedal. As you can tell from my review, I love the Time Machine. It fulfilled all my criteria for what I wanted in a delay pedal. To me, it has enough adjustable settings to keep any tweaker happy, but it’s also super-easy to quickly dial in the right amount of effect. But not only that, it just sounds damn good!

Read Full Post »

4.75 Tone Bones - Almost perfect but not quitevoxac4tv VOX AC4TV Amplifier

 

Summary: For what it brings to the table, this is a great little amp. While it’s mainly touted as a practice amp, you can easily gig with this at small venues, or attach an external cab to it, and you could easily keep up with a drummer!

Pros: Classic VOX ACx cleans, and nice, warm overdrive via the Class A EL4 power section.

Cons: 1/4 Watt setting really narrows the bandwidth. The amp sounds pretty lifeless at this level, but that’s why I have a great attenuator. I would play this at 4 Watts all the time. No need to ever use the built-in attenuator.

Features:

  • Controls: Tone, Volume, OP Level (4W, 1W, ¼ W)
  • In/Out Jacks: Input, External Speaker Jack (¼’)
  • Output: 4 Watt RMS 16-Ohm
  • Speakers: AC4TV – 1 x 10″ 16-Ohm Celestion VX10 custom speaker;
  • Valve/Tube Complement: 1 x 12AX7 (pre) / 1 x EL84 (power)
  • AC4TV Dimensions: 13.78″ (W) x 8.46″ (D) x 14.76″ (H);
  • AC4TV Weight: 19.84 lbs.;
  • Power cable included

Price: ~$249 street

Tone Bone Score: 4.75 – I was very surprised by this little amp. The 10″ Celestion speaker really packs a nice punch, and the controls are dead simple. I would easily add this to my growing stable of amps!

I’ve been on this low wattage amp craze for awhile, and it’s wonderful to see all these great low wattage amps entering the market! Orange has the Tiny Terror, and VOX also has the Night Train. Those amps just mentioned are all pretty much modern styling, but I should qualify my craze. I love the old vintage styled low wattage amps.

It all started out with the Fender Champ 600, which I reviewed awhile ago here. I was looking for a low wattage tube amp that I could get some serious overdrive tone from without making my ears bleed. I immediately fell in love with that amp, and since I’ve had it have only made some minor changes, like putting in NOS tubes. But other than that, this amp has served me quite well, both in the studio and even in small venue gigs (using a 1 X 12 of course).

So it was a very nice surprise to encounter the VOX AC4TV in a store yesterday. This is a sweet looking little amp, with the classic TV type of box harkening back to yesteryear. The blonde vinyl is a very nice touch!

How it sounds…

The AC4TV is little tone monster. This single-ended amp packs quite a punch, despite its diminutive size and 10″ speaker. Surprisingly great tones are to be had with this amp, from your classic VOX EL84 cleans to some very nice crunch and grind when you push it. As a single-ended amp, it’s simple as expected, just a volume and tone knob, plus a selector switch for choosing 4, 1 and 1/4 watt output.

At 4 Watts, the amp puts out a great clean tone. With a Strat it starts mildly breaking up at about noon on the volume knob, and at about 10 o’clock with a humbucker – for that, I used a gorgeous sunburst finish Gibby ES-335 – damn I wish I hadn’t sold mine! Cleans with the ES-335 were incredibly lush as expected from that semi-hollowbody, yet they were also very chimey due to the natural character of the EL84 power tubes. It was a very good combination!

Going into grind, you get that classic EL84 crunch, but it’s obvious VOX must’ve installed a filter cap to prevent the power tubes from over-saturating and creating a compressed, squishy mush. The overdrive remains nice and open, with great dynamics and touch sensitivity.

At 1 Watt, the amp still retains a very nice tone, though the tone bandwidth is slightly narrowed. It’s not bad at all, and at this power setting you can crank the amp up (but keep in mind that sonically, 1 Watt is still pretty loud), but the volume will be fairly reasonable.

The 1/4 Watt setting was not really pleasing at all, though in a pinch, if you really have to be quiet, it’ll do as a reference point for practicing. At this setting, the tone gets muddy and the dynamics are abysmal. Were I to get one of these, I’d get the head and cabinet version so I could use a proper attenuator with this, and keep the amp in its 4 Watt mode to get all the gorgeous tones that the full power setting has to offer.

I any case folks, this is classic VOX tone. The EL84 are bright and chimey as expected, and when pushed, the amp doesn’t produce over-the-top overdrive. It’s nicely controlled and surprisingly smooth.

Overall Impressions

The rating says it all. I love the tones that this amp produces, and I love that classic blonde look. At a street price of $249, it’s a very nicely priced amp to boot! You can use this for practice or, with an external cab, there’s no reason it will not fit right in at a small venue gig. The custom power transformer has a lot to do with the power handling here, and it helps the amp produce a big voice for such a small package. Definitely a thumbs up for the VOX AC4TV!

Here’s a great demo video of the AC4TV from VOX:

Read Full Post »

VOX Time MachineCan’t believe I missed the announcement of its release – I’m usually good about keeping on top of new gear – especially since VOX has been coming out with some pretty awesome stuff as of late. But here it is, the VOX Time Machine Delay. As with the other pedals of this VOX line, this pedal is the result of a very close collaboration between VOX and Professor Satchfunkilus (Joe Satriani). This pedal completes the three pedal line.

The Time Machine Delay features two delay modes (Modern and Vintage) and two EQ modes (Hi-Fi and Lo-Fi). The Modern delay mode provides a transparent delay to retain your orginal tone, while the vintage mode mimicks a vintage analog tape delay. The Hi-Fi/Lo-Fi switch does something similar to the delay modes. Hi-Fi retains your tonal color, while the Lo-Fi mode delivers a “distinctive EQ, combining both high-pass and low-pass filters” to blend better in a mix.

But the thing that I think is pretty incredible is that the pedal has up to 5600 milliseconds of delay – that’s almost 6 seconds! With that you could really do a nice lead loop that you can play over! Damn! Six seconds is a LOT of time. There are lots of layering possibilities with that! That length of delay alone compels me to try the pedal out!

While there are several demos, there aren’t a lot of reviews. Reviews on Harmony Central are mixed. Sound-wise it gets high marks, but one user did point out that the switches seemed a little “rattly,” with no click. Hmmm…. that could be a potential problem. But so far, I haven’t seen any quality issues – but the pedal’s new, so that remains to be seen.

The pedal ain’t cheap, coming it a $199 street, but it has some really great features that definitely worth consideration. Me? I’m really leaning towards the TC Electronic Nova Repeater, mainly because it’s no frills and the tap tempo function using the strum of your guitar is friggin’ awesome – it’s also only $150 street. And based upon the venerable, Nova Delay, it’s a known quantity. However, to be fair, I’m going to have to an A/B to see how the two pedals stack up.

For more information, go to the VOX Time Machine web page.

Read Full Post »

VOX Tonelab ST

VOX Tonelab ST

I got my first introduction to VOX Tonelab boards when I saw a dude playing one direct into his PA at a casino a couple of years back. I was amazed at how awesome it sounded, and completely changed my opinion of using models in a live situation. Since then, I’ve played with some of the Tonelab series boards and Valvetronix amps, and have generally been pleased with them. But with the Tonelab SE, I think I’m going to take a really good look at this new offering from Vox.

  • First off, it’s nice and compact. It’s their smallest footprint yet!
  • 50 Presets and 50 User programs.
  • 33 amps and a 11 cabinets – more than you’ll ever need to customize your sound.
  • I’ve always dug the fact that it has an on-board expression pedal to adjust a bunch of different parameters – but most of all, to use as a wah (the wah is actually pretty sweet on these units).
  • Finally, at $199 (street), there’s tons of value in this little unit!

For more information, check out the VOX Tonelabe page.

Read Full Post »

JamVOX Front View

JamVOX Front View

JamVOX User Interface

JamVOX User Interface

Even though I have some patterns and scales that I practice, I usually end up jamming to jam tracks that I either write myself or download. But I also like to jam to music from popular bands. The only problem with this is that the guitar parts are already printed, and it’s tough to jam over recorded stuff.

But VOX has just come out with the JamVOX, a jam and practice tool consisting of softare and a mini practice amp to play along with any MP3. The software apparently extracts the guitar part from any MP3, and you can rip away! I don’t think this is the first of its kind, but compared to the solutions I’ve seen in the past, this looks like it is the most well-integrated software/hardware solution to date. I’m definitely going to check it out as soon as I can! Here are the features from the VOX site!

  • Revolutionary new GXT (Guitar XTracktion) function lets you cancel or extract the guitar part of an existing song.
  • 19 famous guitar amps and 54 effect units ranging from vintage to modern are provided as software.
  • Easy-to-use “drag and drop” interface enables guitarists to create their “dream guitar rig” without any advanced knowledge of amps or effects. Sound famous fast!
  • A music player feature with convenient functions for jam sessions or practice.
  • Import music files to jam along with from your favorite CDs, music library or MP3 player.
  • A dedicated USB monitor speaker is included, and there’s no need for complex wiring or specialized knowledge of computer music.
  • Two guitar play-along CDs containing 28 famous rock classics.

Check out a few videos:

After watching the videos, I’m REALLY stoked about JamVOX!!! And at $249.00, it’s a great deal!!! Can’t wait to give it a whirl!

Read Full Post »

Ran across these demos on YouTube, and thought I’d share them here. This first one is from VOX at the NAMM show, and sound quality stinks, but the dude’s explanation of the differences between the two different voices (British or American):

This next clip comes from someone apparently in Japan, where the pedal was recently released. The sound quality is much better, and he inserted little conversation bubbles to show his settings. Picture quality isn’t that great but the quality of the sound makes up for it. Plus, it’s kind of amazing that this dude has such clever and articulate feet that he can make all the adjustments with his toes! HA! He’s not bad at guitar either! Check it out!

Especially after viewing the second clip (despite Mr. Clever Toes), this is definitely my next pedal – at least until after I try it out for myself. 🙂

Read Full Post »

Big Bad Wah by VOX and Joe Satriani

Big Bad Wah by VOX and Joe Satriani

Ever since I tried out the VOX Satchurator a few months ago, I’ve been waiting for the this wah pedal to arrive. If it is anything close to the quality of sound that the Satchurator produces, I know that this is going to be a great pedal. The pedal features two modes: Mode 1 is classic VOX wah; while Mode 2 features the ability to variably adjust the gain and voicing profiles of the wah to dial in a variety of tonal possibilities.

One thing I take note of when evaluating pedals is if I can reproduce the manufacturer’s or endorser’s claims about a particular feature. For instance, when Satch touted the “More” switch on the Satchurator, during my tests, I was expecting more volume when my amp was clean, and more balls when my tubes were saturated. The pedal definitely lived up to that claim.

With the Big Bad Wah, VOX states, “Designed to Joe Satriani’s custom specs is the design of the pedal pot itself, delivering a smooth, musical tone throughout the entire sweep of the pedal.” This is huge, because I’ve found in my evaluations of different kinds of wah pedals that when you back off the pedal, your output becomes a bit muddy, so you end up never fully backing off because the wah will just suck your tone. Or seemingly to protect against this, manufacturers will narrow the sweep range, so the wah becomes much less dramatic. I found this to be the case with Morley Steve Vai Bad Horsie, which was very musical throughout its sweep range, but overall, didn’t have that dramatic of a sweep as compared to others I tried. So I ended up just getting a Dunlop Cry Baby, and despite its shortcomings, I’ve come to love it.

But I’ve always loved Satch’s wah tone, not because I want to necessarily sound like him, but because it’s just a killer tone, and highly expressive. And as with the Satchurator, Joe was involved in every aspect of the design process, so the Big Bad Wah promises to be of the exacting standards for which Professor Satchifunkilus is known. Once the Big Bad Wah is available in stores, which should be soon, considering the announcement of its release was made at NAMM, you can be assured I’ll be running down to the local shop to try one out!

Some online retailers like Sweetwater, are doing pre-orders for $219. That’s not a bad price to pay, especially for a signature pedal. And I dig the fact that Joe really wanted all his signature pedals to be affordable and within the reach of a wide range of people. In any case, all this combined makes for me taking a serious look at the Big Bad Wah

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »