Harmony Central Forums
Announcement Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

9740264

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse









X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • VOX TONELAB LE (GUITAR MULTI-EFFECTS PROCESSOR)

    VOX TONELAB LE

    A Multi-effects Unit with Tube Sound, Evolved Technology, and a Classic Pedigree



    Vox Amplification are known for their classic amps of yore, including the venerable AC30, plus the newer Valvetronix series that incorporate a hybrid technology of tubes, and analog and digital circuitry. Vox has also used this technology, dubbed “Valve Reactor,” in their ToneLab multi-effects series, beginning with the original ToneLab (tabletop version) and continuing through the ToneLab SE, which included two onboard expression pedals.



    Now Vox has released the ToneLab LE (http://www.voxamps.co.uk/tonelab/tonelab_le.asp), a full-featured multi-effects processor that uses the same analog/digital hybrid Valve Reactor sound engine, but with improved 24-bit processing for a smoother sound. And, as with any upgrade on a product using microprocessor technology, a whole host of other improvements have been added as well. But the improvements aren’t just limited to the digital bits: Vox has listened to players who worked with previous generations of the ToneLab series and has redesigned the LE to hone in and expand on the important features while carving away at the weight, footprint, lesser-used features, and price. As well, they’ve steadfastly adhered to the analog, tube-driven sound of a 12AX7 that has been the ToneLabs’ engine since the get-go. For guitarists looking for an evolved-by-generations tube-driven multi-effects unit, and one that sports the pedigree of a classic amp manufacturer, the ToneLab LE is the ticket.



    Jon Chappell
    Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jon_chappell
    Check out my website: http://jonchappell.com

  • #2
    Let’s take a quick look to see how Vox begat their latest incarnation in the ToneLab family. The ToneLab LE is the successor to Vox’s previous high-end effects unit, the ToneLab SE, which was the “stage edition” of the original tabletop ToneLab (both now out of production). Many guitarists latched onto the original and the SE, but the LE improves on the SE in several ways, making it a lean, mean processing machine. Here’s a quick look at the list of the differences between the LE and its immediate predecessor, the SE.



    LE Features Compared to the SE

    • Smaller footprint, lighter weight

    • One expression pedal vs. two

    • 24-bit processing vs. 20-bit

    • All new presets

    • Enhanced recording options (including digital optical output)

    • Five-mode amp/line-out modes

    • Master EQ section added

    • Acoustic guitar simulator included

    • Lower street price ($399 vs. $499)



    The only obvious difference — one you wouldn’t expect from a newer piece of technology succeeding an older one — is the reduction of two pedals to one. Vox decided that the trade-off between reduced size, weight, and cost versus a second onboard pedal was worth it, based on their market research. Personally, I agree with this choice, because I don’t ever use two pedals simultaneously, though I have programmable pedals that change function (wah to volume, reverb depth to tap tempo rate, digital whammy to mod depth/speed, etc.) depending on the preset. If you’re a guitarist who loves having, say, a dedicated volume pedal alongside a programmable one (and you want them both contained within your multi-effects unit), this could be an issue. But Vox is betting it isn’t, at least for most guitarists, anyway. (And of course, you can always strap on your favorite external pedal through the ToneLab’s Insert Effect capability — which we’ll discuss later.)
    Jon Chappell
    Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jon_chappell
    Check out my website: http://jonchappell.com

    Comment


    • #3
      The design and layout of the LE is similar to the SE and the original, except for the color scheme (the original and SE were blue with yellow lettering), and some switches have changed locations or their functions absorbed by other controls to help get the LE to its smaller footprint. The back panels are virtually identical, except that the LE adds a digital output in the form of an optical S/PDIF jack. (Even Vox’s curious use of the word “Standby” to mean “Off” on the power switch remains.) Speaking of power, the LE uses a heavy-duty “line lump” supply, which is much preferred over the dreaded, outlet-hogging wall wart. Nice!





      Jon Chappell
      Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jon_chappell
      Check out my website: http://jonchappell.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Remember, part of the idea of Harmony Central’s Pro Review format is to present first impressions and discoveries, as the reviewer experiences them. In this blog-like fashion, you can see what the reviewer’s initial reactions are, and how they change over time. You can also interject comments in real (or nearly so) time. So following are some out-of-the-box reactions to this newly available unit.



        Vox has adopted a black-on-brushed-silver-gray motif, which provides a more sober, professional look as compared to the previous ToneLabs’ yellow-on-blue scheme. (The brushed-gray texture also keeps the light reflectivity down.) Coming out of the shipping carton, the ToneLab LE is heavy and ruggedly well built (all that metal), but not a behemoth, considering it sports a large display, a built-in pedal (with that classy Vox logo), and housing for a 12AX7 vacuum tube (or “valve,” to our friends across the pond). At just under 20 inches wide, the LE is shorter and less plank-like than the SE, so it’s a lot easier to wrangle, and stuff into a carrying bag. It’s nice and low-slung, too (rising to just 2 inches off the floor at its highest point), angling upward at the back, which makes for a good eyeballing attitude.



        The sliver-gray faceplate has a no-nonsense, workman-like look to it, augmented by black chicken-head discrete selector knobs, heavy knurled chrome continuous-controller knobs, translucent white switches that light up (solid when on, blinking when in edit mode), black menu-navigating buttons, green LED status lights on the footswitches, red LEDs in the effects matrix, and black and sliver lettering. When rattling them off here, it sounds like a wide array of different interface styles, but it’s all very well integrated, intuitive, and quickly grokkable. There’s some cross-reinforcement, too: When the ToneLab LE is in “stompbox mode” (more on this later), the on/off-status footswitch LEDs will light up along with their corresponding white switches in the model-editing section above. Either switch activates the other, like having two light switches on either side of a big room.



        I noticed right away that there was a lot of text labels on the modeling controls, as each of the detents in the 16- and 11-position encoders was descriptively labeled (“Tweed 4x10,” “AC30TB,” “Classic Flanger,” Multi Tap Chorus,” etc. This makes it very clear what the model choices are, and though it looks like they might be difficult to read at a distance, you won’t be using these settings for on-the-fly performance decisions. So I’m glad they squeezed this text onto the faceplate; it allows you to see all your options at a glance, rather than having to step through incrementally and reading a display. But again, in the interest of cross-reinforcement, selecting a model activates the editing mode and throws the parameter up in the display section in bold backlit lettering.



        Jon Chappell
        Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jon_chappell
        Check out my website: http://jonchappell.com

        Comment


        • #5
          The ToneLab LE powers up in bank/program mode, which means that stepping on the footswitches changes either the bank or the program within the bank. (You can put the ToneLab LE into stompbox mode, where you can turn individual effects on and off, by pressing and holding the bank up switch.) Since the ToneLab LE is capable of operating in five signal-path scenarios (three settings for going into an amp, two for a mixer or recorder), I followed the manual’s Quick Start advice, and dialed up the setting most appropriate to my amp, in this case, a Matchless Spitfire (hey, I’m trying to stay within that Vox vibe, ya know?).



          The ToneLab LE has 30 banks and four programs within each bank, for a total of 120 storable sounds. Vox chose to factory-program only 40 programs (banks 1-10) and just repeat these sounds in banks 11-20 and 21-30. It’s a simple process to just edit the programs in banks 11-30 and keep the factory sounds in 1-10. Or you can edit all of them and rely on the factory restore option, should you ever want to start over.



          At first, 40 presets out of a possible 120 might seem meager, but I actually found it refreshing that the ToneLab LE wasn’t crammed with a bunch of useless over-the-top stuff, just to fill up the slots. Forty sounds is more than enough for me to use for templates, or jumping off points to edit, create, and store my own sounds.



          Before I got into the effects and the routing possibilities, I wanted to get into the ToneLab’s sound engine, the Valve Reactor sound engine. Here’s a schematic of the way it works, and you can download a pdf of the manual here: http://www.voxamps.co.uk/downloads/P...0LE_Manual.pdf



          Jon Chappell
          Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jon_chappell
          Check out my website: http://jonchappell.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Speaking of downloads, check out the audio files of some of the LE’s sounds, put together by the Vox guys. These are large files, so I suggest you save them to disk first (right-click/control click) first.



            Flash Fusion by David Spann http://www.voxamps.co.uk/downloads/a...lashFusion.mp3



            Muletone by David Spann http://www.voxamps.co.uk/downloads/a...E-Muletone.mp3



            AC30TB by David Spann http://www.voxamps.co.uk/downloads/a...bLE-AC30TB.mp3



            AC30 Driven 1 by Rob Math http://www.voxamps.co.uk/downloads/a...C30Driven1.mp3



            Filter 1 by Rob Math http://www.voxamps.co.uk/downloads/a...LE_Fliter1.mp3



            Octave Crunch by Rob Math http://www.voxamps.co.uk/downloads/a...taveCrunch.mp3



            US Modern Wah by Rob Math http://www.voxamps.co.uk/downloads/a...SModernWah.mp3



            VH78 by Rob Math http://www.voxamps.co.uk/downloads/a...20_78_%202.mp3
            Jon Chappell
            Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jon_chappell
            Check out my website: http://jonchappell.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Looks like a big step backwards to me. I used a Tonelab SE live for about a year. A dedicated volume pedal was one of its most useful features. You can get any sound at any volume really easily. I can't for the life of me understand how anybody could think taking that away is a good thing.



              The other serious limitation in what effects could be combined together is still there. That, IMHO is the most seriously fault with the unit. OD, wah and Univibe are mutually exclusive for example. What's a Trower or Hendrix fan supposed to do?

              Comment


              • #8
                BALLS!



                i've only had mine for a few months. and now this new one!



                DAMN.

                ______



                although the removal of the volume pedal is sad.



                although it took up room, it helped a lot.



                damn.



                i dont know.



                i mean, i really love what i have now, but i guess i can try the new one, and if anything, just sell mine.
                Originally Posted by 2manband


                That's going on my list of things not to try, right after "Smack polar bear in her whore mouth"









                Originally Posted by Jimmy James


                You guys need to cheer up with some hot asian coeds. Life is too short to be a sad sack.




                My poetry:
                New Wave Saint

                Comment


                • #9
                  Won't be trading in my SE for sure.
                  MFPOMFS

                  ♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♪♫♪♫♪ ♪♫♪♫♪♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪ ♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪ ♫♪♫♪♫♪

                  Comment


                  • #10






                    Quote Originally Posted by GCDEF
                    View Post

                    Looks like a big step backwards to me. I used a Tonelab SE live for about a year. A dedicated volume pedal was one of its most useful features. You can get any sound at any volume really easily. I can't for the life of me understand how anybody could think taking that away is a good thing.



                    The other serious limitation in what effects could be combined together is still there. That, IMHO is the most seriously fault with the unit. OD, wah and Univibe are mutually exclusive for example. What's a Trower or Hendrix fan supposed to do?






                    I find that hard to believe anyone would overlook that. Its probably that you have to program them all in and then the group would be footswitchable. Actually, that could be kind of convenient.
                    Originally Posted by SLO Rogue


                    I'm outraged about.....something!!!!!

                    Comment


                    • #11






                      Quote Originally Posted by jeverist
                      View Post

                      I find that hard to believe anyone would overlook that. Its probably that you have to program them all in and then the group would be footswitchable. Actually, that could be kind of convenient.




                      I played it for a year. I know how it worked. There are four groups of effects. What they call "pedal", modulation, delay and reverb. One and only one from each group can be active at a time.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I had the first Tonelab - I returned it after testing because it had extremely nasty digital aliasing on every tone - clean, distorted, didn't matter. Worst aliasing I've heard on any modeler (like a high freq. ripping, or tearing sound esp. on the attacks). Is that taken care of in this new model?

                        Comment


                        • #13






                          Quote Originally Posted by BenJammin62
                          View Post

                          I had the first Tonelab - I returned it after testing because it had extremely nasty digital aliasing on every tone - clean, distorted, didn't matter. Worst aliasing I've heard on any modeler (like a high freq. ripping, or tearing sound esp. on the attacks). Is that taken care of in this new model?




                          No, there's absolutely no audible aliasing (or other digital artifacts) here. The processing is smooth and clean. From your description, it sounds like you might have had a bad unit, an anomaly. I've not heard that complaint about any member of the TL family.



                          This iteration of the ToneLab is actually cheaper than the previous version, the SE. They've not only reduced the footprint (by eliminating a pedal), but they've lowered the price while keeping the same basic architecture. So, the "one modulation effect per program" paradigm has been kept, which was the same as its predecessors, but the digital processing has been updgraded, and to my ears, sounds smoother. As I said, if you want two pedals and multiple mod effects, you can still strap on your own -- the ToneLab LE provides an Insert Effect point, as shown here:



                          Jon Chappell
                          Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jon_chappell
                          Check out my website: http://jonchappell.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thanks for the review John. I'm also a big fan of the TLSE nowadays (simple, good tone, plenty of mojo). From all the first impressions I've been reading, it appears that Vox has taken several baby steps in the right direction - AS WELL AS a few in the wrong direction.



                            I hope to get my hands on one in the near future so I can check it out first hand. I hope the improved processing and output options are "all that".
                            Blessings
                            ~A~
                            TheStompBox.Net Website!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I appreciate this review. I've been using the SE for gigging for several years now.



                              I am a bit disappointed, though. Like the previous poster, the dedicated volume pedal is pretty much a must for me. If they had included an external jack for another expression pedal, and added the capability to move the location of the insert point around, I would probably order one today.



                              Oh, well.
                              Originally Posted by requiem156


                              Dokken has no album called Storm of Dragons. If they did, the songs would all be about this one dragon who got his heart broken by a mean female dragon. The riffs and solos would be killing, though.

                              Comment



                              Working...
                              X