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Xvive Micro Effect Analog Series Pedals

Tiny Bodies with Massive Voices

 

by Chris Loeffler

 

 

We recently received a mysterious box at our review office from Xvive that contained six tiny pedals, four gain-type pedals, a phaser, and a chromatic tuner. Packed together in a brick, they were collectively about the size of a single Boss pedal box. We flipped a coin, I won, so I was the one to get some some hands-on time with them.

 

Call this less of an Expert Review than an Overview, if you will. These pedals were designed to do a very specific function very well, and none is deeper than three controls. While there are enough colors within each box to satisfy a diverse group of players looking for certain sounds, these pedals really position themselves by being small, great sounding, and affordable, so it’s a question of what sound a playerwants.

 

As part of the Xvive Micro Effect series, all the pedals reviewed below share the following attributes:

 

  • Housed in mini-metal enclosures
  • Are true-bypass
  • Powered via a standard, Boss-style 9v adaptor.
  • All-analog circuitry
  • Designed in the USA by a roster of storied circuit designers with an impressive list of legendary effects attributed to them

 

Xvive V1 Classic Rock

 

The Classic Rock is the lowest gain pedal of the group I reviewed, straddling the line between overdrive and distortion, and features Gain, Volume, and Tone controls. Rat-like in its gain structure with a greater scoop in the mids, the Classic Rock is most comfortable chunking through chords, but there are plenty of interesting lead tones to be had as well. There's a surprising amount of touch response available, making for expressive strumming and picking and a more amp-like experience than the amount of gain available would imply. With plenty of volume on tap, the Tone control offers a nice, usable range for honing the EQ without dramatically changing the sound, and the Gain goes from clean to cranked Marshall. Crunch and Chunk.

 

 

 

 

Xvive V4 Fuzz Screamer

 

The Fuzz Screamer, to answer the question of “Fuzz or OD?,” is a bit of both. For application purposes, it fits closest into the camp of a standard overdrive in that it adds focus (and mid-range) and excels at lead tones, but there’s more hair on the notes and it’s slightly looser in its gain structure. The Fuzz Screamer features Volume, Sustain, and Bite controls. Volume is self-explanatory and can easily exceed unity gain around noon. The Sustain control dials in the gain saturation from light breakup with a lo-fi tinge to saturated, almost-in-Muff-territory wooly gain. The Bite control adjusts the treble presence, and adds quite a bit of sizzle past 3:00, while below 10:00 the tone is relatively mellow and rolled. The Fuzz Screamer is certainly well positioned for swampy blues and garage-rock style shenanigans, where its rough edges and primitve-fuzz-meets-TS vibe would be most appreciated.

 

 

Xvive V2 Distortion

 

The Distortion essentially starts around the 2/3 gain sweep of the Classic Rock and ends about half-way into the gain sweep of the Metal Head. It too features Volume, Gain, and Tone controls, and a similar gain crunch and touch sensitivity to the Classic Rock, but retains more of its mid presence for a slightly more vintage “heavy” tone. Harmonically rich, the Distortion is easy to pull out upper octave harmonics. The added mid-range gave thicker solo tones a 70s and 80s rock and metal feel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Xvive V12 Metal Head

 

The Metal Head is the most saturated of the gang, with crunch and sizzle being the name of the game. The lowest gain settings can yield raggedy lo-fi distortion and the max gain settings sound like a squadron of cyborg bees attacking. From 9:00-3:00 is where most players will find their metal tone. While the Gain and Tone controls are standard operation, the Metal Head swaps the traditional volume control with a Blend knob, which lets you blend in some unaffected signal to add a little backbone and definition to the saturated pedal gain. Even more interesting tonal opportunities exist when running an overdrive or distortion pedal in front of the Metal Head, at which point the blend is mixing two different distortion tones together. While I thought the lack of a Volume control would be a limitation, I quickly conceded that pushing much beyond unity using this level of gain in front of an amp would only result in mush. Into a clean amp, the distortion certainly stands out and adds a touch of volume, and an amp that’s already distorting incorporates the Metal Head’s gain into it’s own for a richer sound.

 

 

Xvive V6 Phaser King

 

The Phaser King is a lush analog phaser pedal with Sweep (depth), Speed, and Feedback controls over the phasing effect. Evaluating the core tone of the Phaser King, I found it to be closer to a vintage Small Stone than, say, a Phase 90; the tone is slightly dark and rounded and “wave” feels a more appropriate descriptor than “sweep” in how it modulates. The Speed control goes from multi-second wave cycles that subtly animate your tone to the seasick cycling of a half dozen waves per second for a classic B3 Leslie tone. The Feedback knob dials in a chewy resonance that adds a vocal-sounding filter effect, which can take the effect anywhere from subtle shimmer to almost overcome by the effect. The Sweep control sets how deep the modulation cycle is, a more subtle way than the Feedback control for setting how present and extreme the effect it.

 

 

 

Xvive PT-03 Chromatic Tuner

 

OK… what’s there to say about a tuner? It’s necessary but unsexy. Xvivie’s Chromatic Tuner seems to be designed with this in mind, and does its best to serve the function without being intrusive. Small form-factor means you can cram another pedal on the floor, +/- 1 cent accuracy is a must (why have a tuner, otherwise), and the internal lithium battery means you can power the pedal up before a show and then free up a precious power cable for another pedal without worrying about replacing a battery. The Chromatic Tuner responded quickly and was accurate (verified by a Peterson Strobostomp).

 

Conclusion

 

In a world of 14 mode delay pedals, $450 overdrive pedals powered by unicorn love, and crystal lattices, Xvive is clearly aiming at the entry-to-mid level gear enthusiast (note I didn’t say player) who wants great, if specific, tones.There wasn’t a pedal that didn’t accomplish exactly what I expected of it, and their small form factor and well-below normal street prices make them no-brainers for nailing the tones they were crafted to make.

 

Resources

 Join the discussion over on the HC Effects and Processors forum

Xvive Official Website

 

Buy Xvive Micro Pedals from:

Amazon

Guitar Center

Musician's Friend

 

__________________________________

 

Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer. 

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