UG Team, on march 02, 2007 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Ease of Use: The Utopia is laid out pretty clearly. With four knobs on the front panel (Preset Select, Parameter Adjust, Parameter Select, and Function Select), you can easily access and adjust any one of a multitude of settings for each preset. You can add or subtract a compressor, phase, flange, chorus, tremolo, delay, reverb, speaker simulator, wah, pitch shift and Hush noise reduction with just a few knob twists. The volume style pedal on the right can be easily assigned to adjust almost any parameter, and the default setting is volume for most presets.
Preset changes are made by selecting a patch with the Up or Down buttons, then pressing Recall. It is a slight drawback that two buttons must be pressed to get to a different preset, but at least you don't have to change presets one at a time to get to the one you're looking for. It would be a bit more useful to have, say, bank up and down buttons, but this system is relatively useful given the small footprint of the pedal. // 8
Sound: Sorry, I'm just a bit of a tube snob these days. In my experience, the realism of direct-inject pedals like this drops significantly as the distortion increases, and the Utopia falls victim to this trend as well. The Clean channel can convincingly do any sound from crystal-clean to a Bassman with a bit of hair on it. The Texas Distortion channel steps it up a bit and the British channel gets into JCM800 territory. The Mega channel is a sound in and of itself, very distorted and very edgy. The British channel sounded a bit muddy when I got the distortion to the level I wanted, and I couldn't seem to get enough chunk and thickness out of the Mega channel.
The effects, however, are stellar. The chorus and flange are wide and lush, the reverb is spacious and warm and the phaser is ultra-thick. The speaker simulator is pretty natural sounding, and gives you the option of speaker size and mic placement. The Hush is easy to use and whisper-quiet. It is quick and simple to get a setting that keeps it quiet and doesn't chop the end off your notes. Also included is a global function to raise or lower the setting for all presets. I didn't get a chance to plug the Utopia into my power amp and 4x12 cabinets, so this rating is based on the direct signal alone. // 6
Reliability & Durability: Rocktron is known for their high-quality products, and the Utopia is no exception. Build quality was very good overall, and I experienced no problems at all with the unit. I have owned a Chameleon for eight years and counting now, and it has never let me down. // 9
Overall Impression: As a stand-alone unit, I just wasn't able to get the Utopia distortion to sound the way I wanted it to. I really missed the separate pre- and post- distortion EQ (both parametric) that is in my Chameleon, and I think this would have helped me get a tone I like from the Utopia. As a practice or backup recording/performance solution, it is a great combination of features for the price. I think if I used it long-term I would use a separate pedal in front of it for my distortion tones, and only use the Utopia's sweet effects.
Also, the lack of a USB port and GUI computer editor hurt my impression a bit. These features are available on similarly-priced products by other manufacturers, and can make preset editing much easier than scrolling through menus while kneeling on the floor. However, at $199 street price, the Utopia is undeniably a great buy. Thanks to Rocktron tech guru Jim Chowning and www.geartree.com for help with this review. // 7
tedguitar88, on june 04, 2008 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Price paid: $ 300
Purchased from: Local store
Ease of Use: Fisrt of all it took some time to get used to the small amount of knobs on the panel, with just three knobs one can think that it can't do many things. But it sure takes some time to tweak patches to your like. Editing patches gets easier with time, and when you get to know the unit its all much faster. Manual is fairly good. It is very new so no firmware upgrades yet. // 8
Sound: I'm using an Ibanez RG370 with DiMarzio's, and I also have an LTD for dropped D tuning. Then to a Randall 2x12 100w tube amp. It has a very unique type of distortion in it, the Mega channel is the one that really stands out. Also Clean channel is good, adding some reverb or delay to it and you get a good clean rythmn sound. As with the majority of multi effects pedals and processors, a real all-tube head can blow this unit anytime, but you can get a really good distortion sound out of it, and the Variac Switch it has really helps shaping the sound.. The effects themselves are really good, specially chorus, delay, and the reverb. You have the three normal EQ controls, treble, bass and middle, with the addition of a presence, and a bright Switch for clean and a scoop one for the mega channel, with the latter you can get a really good Death Metal sound. About modeling any artists sound, I dont recomend you to get this, if you want to model a Mustaine lead or rythmn sound, you can get about a 60% to it, but talking about that thick massive Cannibal Corpse sound, forget it. And the last thing that really stands out on this unit is the hush noise reducer, it really is the best I have heard on a multi effects. // 9
Reliability & Durability: I've been gigging with it for some months now, never failed, one thing that I don't like at all is that it only has three foot switches, and that it doesn't automatically changes the patches, you have to push the up/down button and then the recall button to call the preset you want. That is really uninspiring when using it in a Live situation. Other aspect I don't like is the inexistence of a tuner, a must have for any guitarist. Now, onto the MAJOR problem, and the reason I'm getting rid of it, is that a couple weeks ago it started acting strange, when I power it up, starts changing patches in a non-stop way, from the one I use all the way to the last one, and that keeps on going forever, and nothing can stop it, even if you turn any of the knobs it won't stop doing that. I just got sick of that, and I'm waiting to have some money and get a POD 2.0 or a Johnson J-Station, I hope it's soon. // 4
Overall Impression: I play metal, heavy/death/brutal, in a band. The unit stands really well in the band, and I can get a good Death Metal tone out of it. I've been playing for 11 years so I think I know enough to compare this unit in my experience. I've gigged with it and it has not given me any trouble, just the preset changing issue I cited above. I've played through Marshall half stacks, Randalls, even a Behringer half stack, and PA systems, it always sounds good. // 7
unregistered, on july 09, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Price paid: $ 175
Ease of Use: It was a simple setup to get sound out. Plug and play. Presets were easy to get to. But the down fall was trying to get one effect to come through at a time. The interface takes a lot of work and is not intuitive at all. I spent two hours working with it (manual in hand) before I gave up. The manual is not very good at explaining in a concise way how to work this thing. There are no examples either in the manual or online. I spent part of my time rereading sections trying to understand what it said I should do rather than doing it. // 1
Sound: Sound was good. My uses were not for nearly as much as this thing could do. If you are into distortion and other such noises, then I'm sure it sounded good. There were no issues that I could detect with quality of sound. All in all, I'm sure you could emulate or cover a famous artist with this pedal (if you can figure it out). Personally, that wasn't my goal. I play like me, not like Slash. // 3
Reliability & Durability: Built well and heavy as a brick. It would probably stand up to being dropped out of a moving vehicle... The knobs didn't seem all that rugged, but what effects pedal does these days? The expression pedal seemed to be able to hold up to some abuse, but I couldn't really get it to do what I wanted so it was hard to tell. // 8
Overall Impression: I mostly play jazz on my electric and got this for playing in a musical. I typically don't need a lot of effects but occasionally a musical will call for something. I hoped this would keep me from collecting pedals I only use once in a while. But, since it won't do what I need it to do, it is worthless to me. If you are looking for a quick setup, easy to use, easy to customize multi-effects pedal, this isn't a good choice. If you like spending more time tinkering with buttons in hopes of sounding like your favorite Rocker instead of learning to play music, then by all means waste your money. In all seriousness, this isn't a good product for most of us. // 1