ToneLab ST review by Vox

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Ease of Use: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 6.6 (65 votes)
Vox: ToneLab ST
7

Price paid: $ 199

Purchased from: MusiciansFriend.com

Sound — 9
The Vox Tonelab ST has a very warm organic sound thanks to the tube power amp running a single 12AX7 vacuum tube. I played with this Vox Tonelab ST with the following setups: ran directly to my computer using a G&L Tribute S-500 (basically a strat with extras), an Ibanez Artcore AXD83P, an Ibanez RG350EX, a Behringer MetAlien. I ran this from the G&L Tribute S-500 to a Blackheart Little Giant 1x12 half stack, and then the same setup but with the Ibanez Artcore AXD83P. I am probably most familiar with the Ibanez Artcore AXD83P so I did a lot of experimenting there, and I was really surprised at what I got out of this pedal. Just to be upfront, this will not replace analog pedals in tone the two effects that were really impressive were the Vox Wah and the digital delay. I think they sound as good as any analog pedal I've used, but when you get into the other effects they probably rival some lower end to mid level analog pedals, but just barely. You can't expect to spend 200 dollars and seriously have several thousand dollars worth of effects at the same quality, but it really is close when you take into account that this is a multi-effects pedal. I haven't heard a multi-effects pedal that does a better job than the Vox. Some of the high gain amp models and presets are loud. I was able to work on the noise gate and greatly reduce this on the few I messed with. I play a lot of different types of music. I play anything from outlaw country (i.e. Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings) to thrash metal (i.e. Megadeth) and I was able to get some good tones for just about everything. I probably play more in the way of overdriven blues than anything, and the blues tones available are endless. Also, there is not really any of the LAG you experience with some other multi-effects pedals when changing presets. Of the 50 factory presets, 20 of these are actual song presets and they sound good. I was surprised because I expected them to really stink, but I was pleasantly surprised after actually listening to them to discover they accurately caught a close approximation of the tone of the songs. Also, there is an Acoustic effect that was really mind blowing to me it really stood out on the S-500 on the neck pickup. Of course, no effect is really going to make an electric sound like an acoustic, but I really like where this effect got me in their effort. A really nice balanced clean tone that sounded nice with subtle overdrive. I was really happy overall with the Vox Tonelab ST. I bought this pedal for just a few of the effects it has, and wanted to have the option to play around with effects I wouldn't necessarily use every day. I have a budget, so it was this pedal instead of a dozen analog pedals. Comparing this to other multi-effects pedals in its price range this really shines in regards to the tone it can produce, and I will give this a rating of a 9 as I was truly impressed with the tone vs. price.

Overall Impression — 8
The Vox Tonelab ST really suits the music I play. The great thing is, it is so versatile it can handle virtually any musical genre. I play mostly overdriven blues (think Robin Trower) and this thing really stomps as far as good blues tones go. I did get several good thrash metal tones, and this pedal is able to kick out a lot of distortion without getting muddy, and I was very impressed with that. Again, I would have liked to see a gain knob that was functional separately from the amp and cab models, but this is a really small gripe in the bigger picture of the great unexpected warm tone this unit gives at such a great price. If this were lost, then I would absolutely buy it again and that is why I give it a rating of 8 for my Overall Impression.

Reliability & Durability — 8
The Vox Tonelab ST is heavy and feels sturdy. The knobs are responsive and the casing is tough. On the other hand, this has a tube power amp, and there is always the possibility of a tube going bad. I don't gig I jam with friends or with myself but I think you can depend on this pedal for gigging. I would want to probably spend more time with it and know exactly where my presets are, and be comfortable reprogramming a preset from the unit itself before I gigged with it, but I would feel that way about any multi-effects pedal. The key to gigging with the Vox Tonelab ST is knowing what tones you are going to need ahead of time and knowing how to get to them as quickly as possible. A bonus is, in theory you could hook this up straight to a PA system and not need an amplifier. I would give this a rating of 8 for Reliability & Durability because it seems awesomely sturdy.

Ease of Use — 7
Please visit www.voxamps.com for a list of features and specs. The Vox Tonelab ST immediately puts good base tones in your hands. While the 50 factory presets aren't all things that I will use every day, it isn't a matter of the quality of the preset, it is a matter of taste and the music that I play. I ran through the presets and jotted down the numbers of the ones that would be the most useful to me. It is easy to dial in the amp model and effects that you want to use when making your own patches, but I believe it would be easier when setting all of the parameters to use the Valvetronix librarian software. The instruction manual is very clear and easy to understand, and covers everything you need to know to get started. Features I like: You can assign almost any effect parameter to the expression pedal. You can produce some really interesting sounds with this. You can turn off the amp and cab modeling and strictly use the Vox Tonelab ST for the effects. The Vox Wah sounds really great. The reverb is a separate effect. You don't have to use an amplifier at all with this pedal. You can hook this directly to a cab or to your PC. The built in tuner is great, and gives you two options one to tune without muting and a second option to mute all sound while tuning. This pedal is running through a tube power amp that really seems to warm up the tone and doesn't sound digital like most multi-effects pedals. I don't understand how it works, but my ears say that it does indeed work. Features I don't like: The expression pedal is a little undersized, and I would prefer it to be scaled to match stand alone Wah pedals. The noise gate doesn't work as well as I would like on some of the patches, but this can be edited via the librarian software. The volume on the factory presets is not consistent, and this is a problem with multi-effects pedals in general, but it really gets on my nerves. The gain knob can't be used if you are not using the amp or cab models. I would like for the gain to be functional whether I am using the amp/cab models or not. I've had experience with the Behringer V-Amp 2, and I can say that the Vox Tonelab ST sounds much better to me and is much easier to use. I was able to get good tones out of this pedal immediately and was able to tweak knobs to get specific sounds I was looking for, but I was disappointed about the gain knob only being active with the amp/cab models.

23 comments sorted by best / new / date

    SGofawesome
    Not much diversity on the pedal. A lot of the settings are the same. Just get a high quality amp and don't even worry about a pedal.
    XtremesWolf
    Charlie4 wrote: I have the Tonelab LE and I would say this review was very good/accurate. SGofawesome wrote: Not much diversity on the pedal. A lot of the settings are the same. Just get a high quality amp and don't even worry about a pedal. The reason people buy multi-fx units is because they don't have thousands to spend on boutique pedals/amps.
    well here in Quebec ,you can get a nice 60 watts combo 6505+ for 499$ Canadian dollar, i would go for the amp before the pedal for sure
    Dan_5893
    TechnicolorType wrote: Charlie4 wrote: I have the Tonelab LE and I would say this review was very good/accurate. SGofawesome wrote: Not much diversity on the pedal. A lot of the settings are the same. Just get a high quality amp and don't even worry about a pedal. The reason people buy multi-fx units is because they don't have thousands to spend on boutique pedals/amps. Lol, no. There's plenty of multi-effects pedals that cost like 500 dollars. You can easily get a decent tube amp for that. Heck, I've seen used 6505s for 400-500. I'd take that over a multi effects any day. People just obsess over their horrible digital tones.
    "HI guys I need a new chorus pedal" "What you really need is a new amp" Errm, no. Multi-effects have their uses. If you dont have 200 odd dollars to spend on every stompbox you buy, buying a decent Multifx for 500 is an economical way of obtaining the effects you want. Sure, they won't be great, but they'll do the job.
    TechnicolorType
    Charlie4 wrote: I have the Tonelab LE and I would say this review was very good/accurate. SGofawesome wrote: Not much diversity on the pedal. A lot of the settings are the same. Just get a high quality amp and don't even worry about a pedal. The reason people buy multi-fx units is because they don't have thousands to spend on boutique pedals/amps.
    Lol, no. There's plenty of multi-effects pedals that cost like 500 dollars. You can easily get a decent tube amp for that. Heck, I've seen used 6505s for 400-500. I'd take that over a multi effects any day. People just obsess over their horrible digital tones.
    Hells.Mascot
    swordsofplague wrote: TechnicolorType wrote: Charlie4 wrote: I have the Tonelab LE and I would say this review was very good/accurate. SGofawesome wrote: Not much diversity on the pedal. A lot of the settings are the same. Just get a high quality amp and don't even worry about a pedal. The reason people buy multi-fx units is because they don't have thousands to spend on boutique pedals/amps. Lol, no. There's plenty of multi-effects pedals that cost like 500 dollars. You can easily get a decent tube amp for that. Heck, I've seen used 6505s for 400-500. I'd take that over a multi effects any day. People just obsess over their horrible digital tones. So I say "forget the pedal, I'm gonna go get myself a nice shiny used 6505!" Cool! I have a slammin' metal tone now! But what if I wanna play jazz or country as well? Now I'm screwed. The beautiful thing about modeling/multi-fx is that it's a jack of all trades. Not a master of any, but the good ones will do everything to a passable level.
    In The Mist
    I find the 6505 to be a pretty weak amp TBH. I find that with almost every band that uses them the guitar has a tendency to get buried in the mix, especially under the bass drum. The only exception to this I can think of is Gojira.
    In The Mist
    I fid the 6505 to be a pretty weak amp TBH. I find that with almost every band that uses them the guitar has a tendency to get buried in the mix, especially under the bass drum. The only exception to this rule I can think of is Gojira.
    mkhiary
    Got a month ago and i really like it, i swapped the EH tube with a Tung-sol 12ax7 and it really enhance the tone
    dave_dve
    Plan009 wrote: Have it. Love it. Use it everytime I play. The interface on the computer is great to, gives easy access to superb tone if you know how to find it. I wouldn't recomend it to a beginner who doesn't know gear that well, they would use only presets and put the potential of this pedal to waste.
    er.. and i am that beginner i think.. i bought it and still didn't sound good with it.. hope will find it one day =]
    Plan009
    Have it. Love it. Use it everytime I play. The interface on the computer is great to, gives easy access to superb tone if you know how to find it. I wouldn't recomend it to a beginner who doesn't know gear that well, they would use only presets and put the potential of this pedal to waste.
    r0ckth3d34n
    I think Mult-FX pedals have their uses. I have an RP355, and it really (flame me, go for it.) made my Line6 Spider III sound waaaaay better, but it clipped pretty bad sometimes. Then I got a Peavey Bandit 112. I never use my RP355 anymore, except for seldom recording. Sometimes I wonder if I should have gotten the ToneLab instead, but I was really looking for most bang for the buck back then.
    swordsofplague
    TechnicolorType wrote: Charlie4 wrote: I have the Tonelab LE and I would say this review was very good/accurate. SGofawesome wrote: Not much diversity on the pedal. A lot of the settings are the same. Just get a high quality amp and don't even worry about a pedal. The reason people buy multi-fx units is because they don't have thousands to spend on boutique pedals/amps. Lol, no. There's plenty of multi-effects pedals that cost like 500 dollars. You can easily get a decent tube amp for that. Heck, I've seen used 6505s for 400-500. I'd take that over a multi effects any day. People just obsess over their horrible digital tones.
    So I say "forget the pedal, I'm gonna go get myself a nice shiny used 6505!" Cool! I have a slammin' metal tone now! But what if I wanna play jazz or country as well? Now I'm screwed. The beautiful thing about modeling/multi-fx is that it's a jack of all trades. Not a master of any, but the good ones will do everything to a passable level.
    Guitar Dude 7
    I own this pedal and like it a lot. I bought it quite a while ago and then returned it to get a Boss ME-70 mainly because it had more pedals and was easier to switch between presets, etc. I recently went and bought this pedal again. The main reason I got it was for the sounds. The guy at Guitar Center where I bought it said it people had bought it and returned it because it didn't sound good, but I think it sounds better than most of my other pedals. I really love the 20 song presets. They sound great. A lot of multi-effects pedals throw too many effects on their presets to show you what they can do and then you have to spend a ton of time editing them. The size of it doesn't bother me because I am using it on my desk and it fits on the slide-out keyboard drawer. I should note that I am strictly using it plugged into small studio monitors (about the $150 for a pair kind). I think it sounds excellent like this. If you want something with more functionality they have a new model out called the Tonelab EX which has more buttons which allow easier switching between presets and it also has 50 famous song presets versus the 20 on this one. There are some other additional features as well. You can check it out at www.voxamps.com/us. Peace.
    TechnicolorType
    Or you could just get a great tube amp that can suit any genre for the same price. Anyone with a developed style can make an amp work for any style they want to play. If you're a great jazz player then you don't need some amazing jazz amp to play jazz. Lmfao.
    TheWizard42
    I have no regrets with this baby. Its great for its price, and will serve for years to come
    Charlie4
    I have the Tonelab LE and I would say this review was very good/accurate.
    SGofawesome wrote: Not much diversity on the pedal. A lot of the settings are the same. Just get a high quality amp and don't even worry about a pedal.
    The reason people buy multi-fx units is because they don't have thousands to spend on boutique pedals/amps.
    ProgJazzMath
    I feel like I should have purchased this over the POD X3 due to the tube in this one. I'm sure it sounds like gold because even Vox combo amps manage to sound great and those are solid state.
    Pippers
    I've got quite a few modeling amps, but I keep going back to this. They just sound really well done. I can dial in some fantastic bluesy tones with not much effort and it doesn't sound modeled. Nothing is muddy.
    SG_FITZ_09
    Great pedal, some quality sounds on it. I link straight into a PA and get great sound out of it. 9 out of 10
    Sechter
    Got it, LOVE it. Lets me chug till im bored then lets me play some jazzy blues without changing guitars. the delay is a tad weak for my liking but the expression pedal made up for it a 100 times over The review theorizes the possible direct PA option... it really DOES work awesomely but it takes a mixing guru to get it to go in the mix properly :/
    rog1234
    Got it, like it. It's still just a multi-effect and it has flaws of a multi-effect, but it lets me record some nice quality stuff, from thrash and groove metal to stoner rock directly with an USB cable, and that's comfort, but also plays great with a tube amp, really does not dominate if you set the volume a little bit lower. Also, adjusting efects with the expression pedal is great, I love to vary the ammount of delay with it
    rdtapt
    Excellent bang for your buck, for sure. I was hesitant to buy a digital effects pedal so was pleasantly surprised when I plugged it in. Its $200 people, not $500. Personally, I will never buy peavey again after my last experience with their products.