Price paid: $ 349
Purchased from: Ebay.com
Sound — 10
Trying to make this pedal sound good without a lot of experience with what I was doing was hard but I was eventually rewarded with the correct tone I wanted for playing and covering Dream Theater's "Pull Me Under". Using this as an example, I was quite satisfied with the tones it gave using it with my Schecter Sunset going straight into a Creative Elite-Pro via a 1/4 jack. Not the highest end of recording equipment, but I was happy with the results. In making this tone, I noticed that the pedal for the most part was very low-feedback even with high gain... that is, until you put on some distortion pedals. I usually keep it around 2-3 which gives me a great amount of chug while still remaining relatively quite. Anything over that and I get a good amount of feedback but the Tonelab was nice enough to feature a noise gate which cuts the feedback quite a bit. The effects on the pedal are very impressive for an all-in-one deal. Usually I will need independent pedals for things like chorus, delay, etc. but this pedal does a nice job with them. After I finished polishing this tone, I was quite happy with it. I moved on to make tones emulating Paul Gilbert's Racer X days, Van Halen (With the help of a famous guitarist Kent Carlevi), and even some more thrashier stuff such as Megadeth. Overall, this pedal impresses me to the fullest. The amps and heads are very nice sounding and the effects are no push overs. The Vox Wah effect is also very nice and it was quite convincing in the solo when I played Pull Me Under. The two pedals really allowed me easier access to things like volume and whatever other effect I put there such as the wah.
Overall Impression — 9
My overall impression is that this pedal works and it works well. I play a lot of metal but recently I have taken up a more freestyle fusion playing and this pedal can make light distortion Satriani-esque sounds just as well as it can heavy distortion Dream Theater-esque tones. The only thing that isn't versatile in my setup is the fact that my primary guitar has EMG's in them. Other than that, this pedal can do everything. After I make a sound and want to record with it, I might just put it through an EQ to shape it a bit. Other than that, I don't see what this pedal can't do. If this pedal were to be lost or broken, I would go out of my way to dig up another one. Because they are out of production, the only real way to get one is by getting one second hand but it is definitely worth it. I don't have much to say however when it comes to competing against pedals from companies such as Boss or Line 6. I feel they are all great pedals with their own advantages but after testing each one, the Tonelab had the best sound for my needs at the time and it still never fails to impress me. I love the sounds I get from it and I still find handy features I never knew the device had (Thanks to my negligence of reading the manual in depth). The only thing keeping me from giving this a 10 instead of a 9 is due to the fact the device is somewhat hard to master when you first make tones and it is very heavy to move around.
Reliability & Durability — 10
As for reliability, I was nervous when I found out that the pedal came with a built in tube but the worry soon passed. After banging it about maybe 40-50 times now these past few months, I realized the thing was a tank. I worried more about ripping up the guitar cables in the carry case pocket than I did the actual pedal. The tube is behind its own thick case and is relatively stable. The pedal itself feels like it is made out of a very very thick plastic and the metal knobs are extremely sturdy and withstood countless stomping. The pedals work fine and are not wearing at all. The power cable is also reliable. Some people don't think about this much but the AC adapter for some of my pedals have snapped on me before but this is pretty well built as well. I would use this for a gig without a backup. Why? Well, past experience leads me to believe so. I have used it quite a while, gigs, practices and all.
Ease of Use — 8
First off, setting up the pedal was very simple and despite all the options it gave you, it wasn't hard to figure out what all the knobs and buttons did. As for getting a nice sound out of it, it definitely took some getting used to before achieving a nice tone. Once you found out the right combination of amps, cabs, settings, and effects however, everything was easy going from there as you could easily make multiple different sounds and map them to the numerous banks it had. For editing patches, Vox offered their own ToneLab software which allows you to hook up your pedal to the computer via MIDI. Things got ten times more simpler with this as making sounds and tweaking them were much easier to understand and do. Saving them and editing sounds were also much easier using this software. The manual I had gotten with it was pretty straightforward and I didn't need it for anything except for some of the knobs and buttons which I weren't sure of or if they served a dual purpose. Other than that, it is pretty much the usual. My pedal has had its Original Electro-Harmonix tube replaced with a better 12AX7 beforehand so I don't know how different it sounds compared to the Original tube. Judging from people who looked more into this however, the tube had a slight impact in tone particularly in warmness and gain. This difference however is purely up to the user and I can assure you that no matter what tube you have installed, the pedal will put out great tones.