What If Size Reducing Was The Real Challenge?

Wow, the Sarssi dude just blown a fuze with this non-sensical title!! Wait, it does actually mean something…

Biological evolution is fascinating because its direction is a priori unpredictable. Only a look on the result might help you to reconstruct a logic pattern (where the hell am I goin’ with that?). Tech evolution is less random than biology… Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it is totally predictible but some trends are easily detectable. Guitars (I know… I’m desperately obsessed), violins, brass or pianos didn’t spectacularly evolved over the years, except some variations on materials, shapes or onboard electronics. But when these instruments evolve, it is often in a totally unexpected way. On the contrary, some accessories evolve following a very predictable pattern.

That’s the case of multi-effects pedals for guitar (and bass) which all evolved toward modelling processors for computer recording. And not like our daily spammers, manufacturers are just about reducing sizes.362-big-un-pedalier-vox-tonelab-se-lumineux

I daily use a Vox Tonelab SE at home which was one of the first modelling processors (if not the first one) with an onboard 12951_image_med_vox-tonelab-stAX7 valve. I am pretty satisfied with the tone quality and the robustness of this solid piece of gear. However, I sometimes feel like I wanna take it and throw it out the window to buy a modelling unit that won’t occupy all my vital space… Man the Tonelab SE is huge. Unfortunately, even Vox is now on the race to the smallest modelling unit in the market, and even better the Tonelab is evolving toward a machine designed for computer recording. For the last few years, Vox moved from the huge Tonelab SE to the smaller Tonelab LE, and now they are releasing their brand new Tonelab ST unit. And the cherry on top is that Vox is now competing with Line 6 and Zoom on the field of modelling units for computer recording, as they implemented a USB connector to plug it straight to the computer.

Oulala… Honey, could you take my visa card and hide it please?

I didn’t try this new Tonelab yet (it seems already available), but I would say that the main strength of the Tonelab SE and LE, were:

  • The intuitive and easy navigation through the presets.
  • The A/B channel switching which allows you to change the amplifier configuration while you keep your effects set up.
  • The flexible effect switching.

On this Tonelab ST, Vox engineers had to sacrifice the original Tonelab flexibility to reduce the size of the unit. So I guess the ST is mainly designed for computer recording rather than live use… You can’t always get what you want! As a matter of fact, I think they should have kept on developping the Tonelab DE (desktop version of the Tonelab, the first one released) which was rather good for a  home-studio use, as the foot controller is not a necessity in computer recording. I think that’s the main strength of Line 6 compared to Vox because they kept on optimizing and releasing both floor-pedal and desktop versions of the Pod.

Seriously honey… Would you please hide my visa card?

Spotted on Music Radar.

About Sem

I am the founder of Muzicosphere (that also exists in a French version). In 2011, I also created Guitar Fail, the Guitar LOL place to be. And before that I created GAS a GoGo, a gear giveaways blog in French.


  1. En ce qui me concerne je ne suis pas un fan de la réduction infinie : il y a un moment ou l’ergonomie ne suit plus.

    Voici prés de 15 ans que je fais dans les pédaliers et… je regrette mon vieux zoom 4040 pour une fonctionnalité que l’on ne trouve plus sur les nouveaux haut de gamme : 2 pédales d’expression, un master volume et une autre assignable à l’effet de son choix.

    Au menu c’est ou l’un ou l’autre faute place.

    Idem avec les petits boutons multifonction, souvent une ligne de gros rotocontacteurs est bien plus intuitive et agréable a manipuler…. mais je suis un vieux.

  2. @ Ol’man: Et bien tu sais quoi… Je te rejoins sur ce point!! A force de faire si petit mon 44 fillette finira par ne plus pouvoir actionner aucun bouton…

  3. @Sarssipius : faudrat que tu travail la préhemption (pas les préamplification) des orteils !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Scroll To Top