ToneLab ST review by Vox

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Ease of Use: 4
  • Reviewer's score: 7 Good
  • Users' score: 6.6 (65 votes)
Vox: ToneLab ST

Purchased from: GallinsMPS

Sound — 8
I use a Vox Valvetronix and a Behringer Bugera Quad Box. My guitars are a mix of Strats and custom made guitars with DiMarzio PAF Pros. I also record a lot and use a Lexicon Omega and Reaper (DAW). The unit is noisy but the noise gate is quite effective. Some forums have compared this unit to the Korg AX1500G. However, the sounds cannot be compared - only the features. Obviously, as all units try to emulate a Marshall sound, the closer it gets to the Marshall, the more similar the units will sound. But I can say that after comparing the Korg and Vox side by side, the Korg sounds the least like a Marshall. In fact, the Vox is more like a Mesa Boogie crossed with a Hughes & Kettner Cream Machine. I say this because it has a creamier, smoother sound than the Korg or Marshall and the bass tones are very compressed (even when turning the Compressor off). The E and A strings are not defined enough for my taste. The Korg does better and sounds tighter in this space. The Wah pedal, albeit small, sounds and feels great. The chorus, on the other hand, is undefined and wishy-washy. The various cabinets and amp simulations work well and I could get very bluesy to heavy, screaming rock sounds. The only drawback, when you increase gain, is that the bass tones get flabbier and flabbier, regardless of the amp type chosen. The clean and acoustic sounds are good, and in this instance, sound similar to the Korg. Above the amp simulator rotary dial is a button that gives additional amp variations and the AMP button at the back of the unit provides line and filtered outputs for PA, amplifier or recording. This feature is very useful. The reverb and delays are OK. But they are not as good as the Korg or individual effect pedals. I don't use the other sounds (e.g. Filtron, Phaser or pitch shifter). Another point to make is that the Vox has a constant 'aww' open vowel sound. It is always there and can be reduced by selecting a different cabinet.

Overall Impression — 8
Overall, I like this unit for what it is and the low price that I paid for it. It sounds good! I can live with the fact that I won't be recording via USB with this device as I can go straight into the DA converter. But Vox needs to get the software sorted for all operating systems and DAWS. The unit complements my Korg and I will use them both live for a mix of sounds. The Korg vs Vox, well, one isn't better than the other. They are just different and both have strengths and weaknesses. The Korg, however, will remain my main unit.

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Reliability & Durability — 8
Ask me this question in a couple of years. I've only had the unit for a week in my studio. But it does look sturdy. The chassis is made of metal and the buttons look strong. The pots are high quality and don't crackle or resist. The Wah pedal is a bit of a concern. But then again, there are people who can and will break anything. If you're an occasional Wah user, the pedal should be fine. But if you're Jimi Hendrix or Slash, I'd say bring a back-up pedal. You won't fit your 70's clogs on this pedal.

Ease of Use — 4
The presets are shocking and don't do this unit justice (then again, that could just be my taste). The software that allows the unit to be connected to a computer had to be downloaded. This was not a problem, however, I have not been able to get Reaper (DAW) to recognize the ToneLab. Editing sounds on the computer also does not work although the Tonelab is recognized under Devices in Windows 7. Programming the unit is a bit fiddly at first, but as with all things nowadays, you have to accept that one button will have multiple functions. The manual is very poor and does not actually explain the unit particularly well. The manual is useless. Vox, get your act together! Big disappointment was a stereo output so that I have to get a special cable to go into my recording desk for stereo recording. A separate L and R output would have been better.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    has anyone used the Tonelab to reproduce that clean reverb echo Hank Marvin sound?
    Have anyone tried to record into a computer with this how about the sound quality when you record?