ToneLab SE Review

manufacturer: Vox date: 11/01/2011 category: Guitar Effects
Vox: ToneLab SE
From clean sounds to extreme high-gain distortion, this model cover a wide range of tonal possibilities.
 Sound: 9.7
 Overall Impression: 9.7
 Reliability & Durability: 9.7
 Ease of Use: 9
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
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reviews (6) pictures (1) 11 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 10
ToneLab SE Reviewed by: unregistered, on november 29, 2005
8 of 8 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 600

Purchased from: North Coast Music

Ease of Use: The Tonelab SE is extremely easy to use: you just rotate the dials to choose an amp, cabinet, modulation, delay, and reverb type. Nothing could be simpler. The best part is when you hook your Tonelab up to your PC with MIDI cables and the free Vox software. You can then control all knobs on the Tonelab thru your PC and see the exact knob positions on your monitor. I've had a Boss GT3 and GT6 and DigiTech products and the problem with those is the knobs on the pedalboard don't match what you are hearing once you change presets. It would be too expensive to put little motors on each knob on the pedalboard to make them rotate to the correct position when you change presets. So the Vox solution of MIDI-ing up the Tonelab SE to your computer so you can see a virtual pedalboard on your monitor with the correct knob positions as you switch presets is a tremendous feature. Plus, you can save an infinite number of your new tone creations on your PC and then download up to 96 of them at a time to the Tonelab SE to use at gigs. With my Boss GT6, once the memory was full, that was it. You had to erase something to create a new tone. With my Tonelab SE I've already created thousands of tones whose settings are stored on my PC. And it's important to realize these computer files are not "modeling" files; all they are is a record of the position of the knobs on the Tonelab SE when you saved the file. // 10

Sound: The Tonelab SE's sound is pure, true tube power amp tone. The technology is unbelievable. I play the Tonelabe straight thru the sound board, and at any volume you have awesome real tube tone. The days of lugging a 4x12 cabinet to gigs and cranking a 100 watt head to get the tubes to glow and and then using a Power Brake to get the volume down to an acceptable level are long gone. // 10

Reliability & Durability: The Tonelab SE is rock solid all steel construction and quite heavy. It is also painted in a the beautiful Vox blue. The two Vox expression pedals are rock solid too. The Tonelab uses a real 12AX7 vacuum tube, so you will have to replace that every once in awhile, but a 12AX7 only costs about $15 so that's no big deal. I've been using a Ruby tube for over six months now and it still sounds fine. // 10

Overall Impression: I've had my Tonelab SE for 15 months now and I'm still in love with it. It's the best guitar product I've ever used, and the setup at gigs is now under two minutes. I will never use an amp head and cabinet again. That's ancient technology. I play everything from Van Halen to classical and the Tonelab can nail every sound. Plus, you can match amp heads and cabinets that in real life would be next to impossible because of impedance and power issues. With the Tonelab SE you can have any tone you want. I plan on getting a second Tonelab SE and MIDI-ing the two together to change presets in unison and running them both into the soundboard to get the Keith Richards "two different amps with different settings at once" stereo sound. // 10

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overall: 9.8
ToneLab SE Reviewed by: jmac72187, on september 09, 2006
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Ease of Use: I have to say that this unit was pretty easy to get a good sound out of. I tend not to like the presets that come with effects or processors, so I just skipped playing with those and began making my own. Editing patches is simple. You simply get all the setting to your liking, then hit "write" and choose the bank and preset you want and then hit "write" again. The manual was pretty good. It is written by another guitarist, so they know what they are talking about. It pretty much explains everything in detail. You probably won't need the manual much though. I have only referred to it once or twice. I gave this category a rating of 9 because there is no USB connection like the PODXT. This is not that big of a deal, but it comes in handy. // 9

Sound: I am using this with my Epiphone Les Paul and plugging it into the front of of my B-52 AT-100. You can set it up to go into the front of an amp or into the power amp. I prefer the setting for power amps into the front of my amp. It is a lot louder and sounds like a real amp and not just a processor. The unit has a build in Noise Suppressor, so you don't have to worry about noise at all. I haven't tried this at super high volumes, but when I set it my amp to about 3 or 4(I set it at 5 for shows) I can eliminate all of the static sound with it. The effects sound great. There are multiple reverbs, delays and modulations effects and they all sound great to me. You can adjust just about every setting of each effect. Also there are pedals in the front of the amp modeling. You can choose wah's, overdrives, distortion pedals, etc. The second expression pedal can be used to control these effects. You can set it to control how much gain the Tubesreamer models has. I think that is great. All of the effects are switchable by foot. I haven't found any bad effects yet. So far, I have made my basic settings that I use often. These include clean, acoustic, Overdrive, high gain, high gain lead and then settings for Metallica's Fade to Black lead and acoustic settings. They all sound great. You can get close to them pretty quickly and then with a little time equaliziing, you are there. I gave this a 10 because compared to the other processors I have tried, including the POD 2.0, PODXT and Korg, the sound is amazing. I usually prefer amp distortion, but this thing can get brutal. Cleans are great too. // 10

Reliability & Durability: I have not owned it long enough to rate this yet. I would definetly gig with this unit though. Everything is solid metal. Footswitches are sturdy and the same can be said about the expression pedals. It even included a gig bad for the unit. This was a great surprise. I didn't know this was included at first. I must choose a rating, so based on the build of this, I will give it an 10. This is only by the build and not by actual use at gigs yet. // 10

Overall Impression: I play pretty much any rock. I like to play anything from Metallica to Oasis to Saves the Day to Hardcore. This covers every style I could possibly want. I have been playing about 2 years. If it were stolen or lost, I would buy another if I had the money. I would be pretty pissed because this is an expensive piece of gear. I love the fact that this includes all the models, effects and features I can use. I also like the 2 expression pedals. I cannot really say there there are any things that I hate. The only thing missing is easy connectivity through the computer. You can use midi, but that requires midi on your computer. I compared this to the PODXT Live and Boss GT-8. I chose this because the overall sound was better and it was probably the most user friendly out of the three. Overall, I am amazingly happy with this. I thought after I got rid of the PODXT that I was modeling and multi effects just weren't the way to go, but this has proven me wrong. // 10

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overall: 9
ToneLab SE Reviewed by: crazytjeuh, on november 01, 2011
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 250

Purchased from: 2nd hand

Ease of Use: This pedal may be quite difficult for beginners, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't buy it. The manual explains everything very well so no problems at all! // 9

Sound: I use this pedal through a Blackstar HT1R combo together with a Cort G254 and a MusicMan Wolfgang (cheaper model!) and they both sound good through it, the guy I bought it from had a Fender Tele and Jazzmaster and you still could hear that Tele twang and Jazzmaster sound. Effects sound great and very analog! The sound is just so warm because of the tube that's inside of it! Vox really took the cake with this one! Here's some explanation of the features: You get 24 banks and within each bank you can store 4 sounds, but it goes even further than that! With the control switch you can assign it to put a certain effect/pedal on or off, tap delay, tap the modulation speed; etc... With the A/B switch it's like having a 2 channel amp within 1 sound! You keep the same effects/pedal for both channels but you can change the amp/cab you want for each channel. You have 2 expression pedals which you can assign to your pedal effect (there is a pedal called "Vox Wah" so this is your Wah Wah pedal) or delay input, modulation input (so there's no effect when the pedal is out and full effect when the pedal is pressed in). Tuner: Very quick and easy tuning, if you hold the button for 1 second you can hear the guitar while tuning, but hold it for 2 seconds and the guitar gets muted, so silent tuning! FX ON/OFF: you can use this to get control over all the effects within one sound. You can store the sound with for example a chorus and reverb, but if you're playing on that sound and would like to add a delay and Wah Wah pedal you can press this button and then engage the delay and pedal switch. I would also like to mention that there seems pretty much people saying this unit can't do metal, DON'T LISTEN TO THEM! They don't know how to set up a good sound! The amps on their own have lots of gain but don't sound tight, you can fix this by using the TUBE OD or SUPER OD pedal and setting level to 10, gain to 0 and tone from 6-10. This gives you amazing tones. The possibilities on this unit are endless! // 8

Reliability & Durability: You can depend on this unit! Build like a tank as they say. The guy I bought it from gigged alot with it, he was selling it because he plays alot more acoustic now. // 10

Overall Impression: I play blues, hard rock, melodic metal and some early trashy stuff. This is a good match because the unit can do anything, you just need to know HOW a good tone is made. I love the fact that you can take this pedal to a rehearsal/gig, plug it into the board and play. I compared this unit to the Boss ME 70, GT10 and Line 6 Pod HD series. I liked this one better because the first time I heard the flawless, warm sounds this can produce I was immediately sold. Then I looked up The Internet to get it cheaper and I couldn't be happier right now! So far haven't found any flaws in it! Just give it a try any time you see it in the shop! // 9

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overall: 10
ToneLab SE Reviewed by: StoleN GuitaR, on august 09, 2004
0 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 650

Purchased from: Weirs Music Store(Hamilton, New Zealand)

Ease of Use: Basic to use, Many effects but pretty straight forward, you have 24 banks, each bank has 4 effect slots. Editing is a Breeze, and very easy to do with many controls just to edit one sound to prefect it. The manual tells you everything you would need to know. // 10

Sound: I use a B.C. Rich Platinum Pro Series Beast. My amp is the TB100H and TB412A 100w head and cab package. It has many Preset artist sounds such as: Joe Satriani, Van Halen, S R V and many other ones which I don' know the name of, but have been told (I'm hopeless.) All effects are great, the preset wah sound needed a little bit more gain in to but it was great other than that. // 10

Reliability & Durability: This is very dependable and durable, it is easy to adjust the tension of the wah and volume pedals by putting a screwdriver in the holes pre-cut to tighten or loosen the tension. // 10

Overall Impression: Playing for 5 Years and would reccomend this to all guitarists. If this was stolen would get insurance to get me another. sadly I would loose all of my sounds and patches I have made. I would reccomend this over any Zoom pedal. It's at least 100 pedals in 1. // 10

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overall: 9
ToneLab SE Reviewed by: lemenz70, on july 20, 2005
0 of 3 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 592.5

Purchased from: Metronomie

Ease of Use: I bought this baby 3 weeks ago and I haven't figured out how it completely works cause this is too amazing to spend time on editing sounds and reading manuals. // 8

Sound: I use an Epiphone Gothic Les Paul through a crappy 15 watt Peavey amp. Toonelab SE gives me whatever I want from a vintage old classical sound to warm bluesy tones. Some people say it's not made to play metal but that's false. The compagny settings are not bad but I'll need to edit them to fit with my style. // 10

Reliability & Durability: It seems to be solid but this is a little big and when I carry it out I often hit it in the doors, anyway it's rough and though. // 8

Overall Impression: It suits every style of music Metallica, Jimi Hendrix. You can get everything out of it. I compared it to Boss gt7 and I really prefer the Tonelab SE. Boss GT7 sounds digital and Tonelab SE sounds like tube amps. For really special effects I would have considered GT7 but for a real good distortion and a tube amp sound I choosed Tonelab SE. If it was stolen I would replace it for sure. // 10

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overall: 9.3
ToneLab SE Reviewed by: SirKillsalot, on june 30, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 349

Purchased from:

Ease of Use: 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. // 8

Sound: 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. // 10

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 10

Overall Impression: 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. // 9

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