ToneLab EX review by Vox

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  • Ease of Use: 3
  • Sound: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.3 Good
  • Users' score: 8.6 (23 votes)
Vox: ToneLab EX

Price paid: $ 320

Purchased from: Divine Music India

Ease of Use — 3
I bought this unit around two years ago and initially I was fairly disappointed. The factory presets were really bad, not balanced and needed a lot of changes. I was about to replace it but it couldn't be possible. Plus at that time I couldn't afford a new unit either. But this situation was a blessing in disguise for me. I discovered that this unit works really well tube amps. I tried it with some solid state stack amps (Marshall HcFX). Whatever patches I made were sounding substantially different on different amps, which is tolerable as there was not a huge amount of tweaking I had to do with it. The amp models are great only if you know what you want. They need a lot of tweaking and a little bit of work, but its totally worth it. 

The overdrives and distortions are superb, its probably the 12AX7 tube that does the work, I'm not sure. The tubescreamer in this is amazing, really compliments the amp models, very warm and realistic. A major problem in this unit is that some effects are clubbed into one single knob which can be assigned to only one effect at a time, no simultaneous use. For example, you cant use the compressor and one of the wah at the same time coz both of them are on the same knob. (there is another wah is there on the other knob but it adds a little crunch to the sound which you may not want).

An other problem is that there is no volume adjustment for the overdrive sound in the stompbox mode. When you engage the drive, there is a substantial amount of increase in the overall volume. This makes the stompbox mode pretty impractical to use live. Manual is very helpful though, stuff is given in detail and no ambiguity in there. The software which is a free download from the Vox amps site is also pretty handy when it comes to saving patches.

Sound — 8
I play jazz fusion and a little amount of metal and this unit works really well (after huge amount of tweaking of course). The best part about this unit is that more emphasis is given to the crunch tones rather than all those typical high gain digital crap tones. There are variety of amps models and cabinet simulators to choose from. The distortions, overdrives are fantastic, that's probably the best thing about this unit. 
This unit is also great for high gain sounds. Does fairly decent when it comes to Mesa-ish high gain patches.

This unit works really nice when you use the lineout option. Usually when I use it, I connect it directly to the mixer and the P.A system via a D.I box. Otherwise I use it with a Marshall combo amp. The amp models are good, effects are warm. Don't judge this unit by the stock presets, make your own. You may take a while but you shall get what you are looking for.

Reliability & Durability — 10
The hardware and buttons were really rugged and very hard to damage. All metal casing ensures durability. Ironically, the power supply adapter is really weak. It looks like a cellphone charger and is very fragile plus the cable is pretty short. That can be an issue sometimes. I might get a better power supply soon if I come across a better option. This thing has a lot of lights on it and they are bright enough for you to see in sunlight as well. I can very well depend on it, it is a crucial part of my gear and never screws up. I have used it on various gigs without backup and it has never disappointed.

Overall Impression — 8
I play a lot of jazz fusion and a little bit of heavy progressive rock/metal and have been playing for around 8-9 years. This works really great when it comes to the crunchy blues sounds. I love the overdrives. I have played a Squier Classic Vibe '60s Strat and a Jackson JS32 7Q through this unit and they both sound great. 

I wish it had a volume control knob for the overdrive section like the usual analog pedals have, that would have made sense into the stompbox mode of it. It's a very good sounding option for those who don't want or cant afford a fully analog rig, it comes very close to the real thing. If it was stolen, I would probably buy a smaller version of it, the Tonelab ST, coz I would like to use only the overdrives of it. Other effects, Il add up better options in the signal chain. Again, I wish it had a volume control knob for the overdrive.

1 comment sorted by best / new / date

    Hello everyone I'm having a hard time choosing this Tonelab EX or a Zoom G9.2TT?? Please help me.