Price paid: $ 500
Purchased from: Guitar Center Online
Sound — 10
I use predominantly Gibson Les Pauls of various types outfitted with Suhr Aldrich Humbuckers as well as my own Warmoth creations to suit my needs on the guitar end and on the amp side of things it's all of a modified Marshall JVM410H head and Marshall 1960BV 412 that I loaded with Celestion Greenback 25 Watt Speakers. Keep in mind that you need to add a Wah with this unit as well as an expression pedal to control effects like the built in Whammy. For a Wah I use a Dunlop EVH Van Halen Signature Wah and the Expression Pedal is from Boss. The only other pedal I use is a Dunlop Rotovibe. I just love what it does and you can't find anything that sounds like it anywhere. I run the Wah and Rotovibe into the front of the head and the Nova System is in the loop. Keep in mind that the Nova System comes with a pretty cool sounding Overdrive unit. While not distortion it is very warm and very analog sounding which surprised me, but it only works when you connect the unit to the front of your amp only. Being that I own the flagship Marshall head that can give me any tone I want I had no need for this. And besides, I wanted the Nova System purely for the quality effects that were in it, most of which are the same as what you find in the flagship G System that is more than double the price. If you can get away without the three pedal loops in the G System and the amp routing in the G System as well you basically have everything else in the Nova System at your disposal. Since I don't need the loops and I have my amp floor controller for the JVM and my head is Midi capable, I just couldn't see spending another grand on a built in switcher. But anyway you want to know about the sound! In one word I sum it up as pristine. This is studio quality all the way. I absolutely LOVE the fact that the Dynamic Delay holds the delay repeats off while I am playing and once I lift my hands from the strings I hear the delay repeats. Since I have a decent digital reverb built into my amp I wasn't looking for that in the Nova System but what is there is awesome. The Chorus is everything I imagined a Chorus to be. What I really like is the Detune. I use this ever so subtle to create a fatter guitar tone. It's not a Chorus sound but it just makes things bigger. The Octave and the pitch harmonizer track flawless and both sound great. I also use the Parametric EQ to help shape my sound on specific frequencies. The Expression Pedal is a great tool with this as well. I use it for the Whammy which sounds just like the Original DigiTech units from back in the day. I am hard pressed to find something I have yet to dislike about the unit. You have to remember, I was a pedal guy that had three pedals hitting the front of my amp, 6 more in the loop, it was noisy and not only that but God forbid something happened where I lost my signal live it would be a real problem finding the culprit if it was a cable fault problem despite the fact that my pedals were all true bypass. If something happened with the Nova System I just disengage the FX Loop from my Marshall Channel Switcher and keep on playing. I still have the Wah and Rotovibe to use as effects then and can always get delay live from the FOH monitors. This unit just flat out shines!
Overall Impression — 10
In all my years of playing I wish that something like this was available back in the 80's when I was hauling around my huge 20 plus space rack and then now with my amp and huge pedalboard. It does it all and does it better than anything out there at about a third of the price of everything else and has replaced everything but two pedals on my Pedaltrain Pro. Plus add up what is in there and when you price each effect out individually you are into thousands of dollars in gear. Being that you can route the effects front of amp or effects loop and also you can change the routing from Serial to Semi Parallel or full Parallel and everything is studio quality what more could you ask for? This was one of the smartest buys I have ever made in gear and one that sounds incredible. Check it out if you ever see one. Mine I had to buy special order never hearing it at all. I took the chance and am glad I did. You won't be disappointed.
Reliability & Durability — 9
It's built like a tank. Metal Chassis and all. Yes I can gig it without a backup.
Ease of Use — 8
It was a bit nerve wrecking at first looking at this one unit and trying to fathom that all my pedals (and then some) were in there and then having to learn how to get into all the effects, manipulate them, change things around and then form my own user patches. Once I read the short manual that gets right to the heart of the matter within everything on this unit it was just like my pedals. You change things the same way once you get there but instead of seeing a line on a knob move to a certain level you see digital numbers instead. Editing patches once you get the hang of it and forming your own patches is a breeze! I have yet to learn so much more about the unit and what it really can do.