Price paid: £ 240
Sound — 9
The sound of the TLEX is, without any doubt, the single greatest reason I would recommend it to anyone. I bought mine primarily to simplify my effects rig. My intention was to use the TLEX solely for effects and leave my Vox VT100 to provide the preamp. When I first used it, I was so surprised by the sound of the amp models on the TLEX that I quickly realised I sounded better through that than I did through my VT100. I now run my TLEX through the effects return of my VT100, essentially using it as a preamp. Overall, the impression you get from the sound of the TLEX is that it is very natural and dynamic. In terms of specific amp models, the standout sounds come from the Vox and Fender models. Being primarily a blues-rock player, these sounds give me everything I need. When I need to dirty things up a bit, there are plenty of great sounding Marshall models waiting there along with the heavier Peavey and Mesa models. They really do sound good, but don't tend to fit in with my kind of music. What I like best about the sound of the TLEX is that Vox have clearly given just as much, if not more, attention to the clean and crunch sounds as they have to the dirty and distorted. I find most of the other major multi-fx producers tend to showcase the latter and forget the former to some degree. The effects are all very good, some excellent (such as the wah, distortion stomp-boxes, tremolo and chorus), but would have benefited from the inclusion of an effects level control.
Overall Impression — 9
For a blues-rock guitarist, this multi-fx is the best I have used and I really can't see myself getting anything else for some time. The combination of the TLEX and my VT100 is perfect, so long as it is ran through the effects return. Modelling amps such as the VT100 don't take too kindly to having modelling multi-fx ran in front of them. Pros? The simplicity and the sound, and these are big pros indeed. The price is a big plus too. 250GBP? That is serious value when you consider the DigiTech RP1000 goes for 370GBP and the Line 6 HD500 goes for 410GBP. I rate the TLEX as better than both of these units, if sound and simplicity is your only concern. If you are looking only for effects, the only other multi-fx I would consider is the Boss ME-70, for about the same price. If you are looking for amp modelling, the TLEX is the best choice, in my opinion. Cons? Lack of effects level control and the issue I had with the expression pedal. Overall, a great piece of kit which is versatile, has a great sound, is a cake-walk to operate and represents brilliant value.
Reliability & Durability — 8
The TLEX is a sturdy block of metal. Nothing wobbles, nothing feels cheap, everything is well made. I had no issues with my TLEX until very recently when the expression pedal stopped working. I had a quick look under the hood and there really wasn't any sign of damage. The rest of the unit worked perfectly, however, so it was not an issue which would have wrecked a gig. I have sent the unit back for a repair under warranty, anyway. Despite this issue, I have great confidence in the build quality and reliability of the TLEX.
Ease of Use — 9
The Tonelab EX is about as simple as you could wish for. All the controls do exactly what they say. It's really hard to imagine a multi-fx getting much simpler than this, especially considering the amount of features the TLEX has. If anything, the design is a little too simple and I feel a few extra features have been sacrificed to ensure the simplicity. For example, as far as I'm aware, there is no way of editing the mix level of many of the modulation effects, such as the chorus. This doesn't bother me massively because I think the effects sound great anyway, but it would have been nice to have that option. As it is, the simplicity of the TLEX is such that I would confidently say an absolute beginner could get a really good sound very quickly indeed.