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NMFXD - new multi-fx day!


bobmeyrick
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While I have quite a few indiviual effects pedals, I have a soft spot for multi-fx units and often used a TC Electronics Nova system on gigs. A good sounding and versatile unit, and I also have a few of their individual pedals - Corona Chorus, Flashback Delay, Hall of Fame Reverb, Ditto Looper. So when they announced the Plethora X5 last year I was intrigued, but not enough to buy one, as it was retailing at around £350 - £400.

However... Andertons were doing a great Black Friday deal, and at £249 my resolve weakened, and I ordered one. It arrived today and I've had a quick play with it, and I can see it will be a very useful tool. There are lots of videos demonstrating it, but briefly this is how it works.

There are five slots into which any of the Toneprint pedals can be loaded, if you want five chorus pedals you can have them! In response to user feedback the latest firmware added the Helix Phaser, Viscous Vibe and a basic looper, plus various tweeks and improvements. I checked the firmware version and upgraded it, which was an easy process. It comes with a bunch of presets which are very easy to change. One nice touch is that when you've changed the the settings in edit mode, your changes are saved automatically when you switch back to play mode. There's an effect loop which can be inserted between any of the blocks and made switchable if needed. Stereo or mono in/out, input for an expression pedal, MIDI... a lot to take in, but a lot of potential. The footswitches are "Mash" enabled, which means you can use them to change effects parameters by pressing on them. For example, with the Viscous Vibe pressing on the footswitch ramps up the speed, releasing slows it back down.

There's no overdrive/distortion, but the thinking behind this is that people will have their own favourite OD pedals, which would be analogue in any case, and the Plethora is a digital device. Ah, the possibilities... This chap has gone deep into it.

 

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while I haven't seen this, since joining a cover/jam band, I've thought about switching up to a full multi-effects system that includes amps.  Then I'd plug into the effects loop of my actual amp and simply use it as a power amp.

With a wide variety of songs and genres, having the versatility of a multi-effect is more appealing than ever.

I've had a Digitech RP-250/300/500 units in the past.

Not sure if I want to continue down that rabbit hole since I'm so invested in pedals...

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I have no problem with digital FX and have been using them for years. I can get pretty spot on for both feel and sound with them. I have a Helix rack, plus a Line 6 FX FX for smaller gigs. I don't use the modeled amps except in emergency situations (two different times they saved my ass....) but the FX are great. I have an old Ibanez UE-400 with theTube Screamer built in and I can get it pretty spot on with the Helix stuff. same goes for delays and Verbs. I would love to try the TC stuff but.....well.....maybe I just will!

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've had the Plethora X5 for a month. so here's a brief update. The 'board' I've settled on for most purposes has the Brainwaves Pitchshifter in slot 1, set to give a 4th below, Viscous Vibe with the 'Vintage Vibe' toneprint in slot 2, Corona Chorus with the 'Trichorus 2' toneprint in slot 3, Flashback delay with the '2290' setting in slot 4, and the Hall of Fame reverb set to 'Dark Hall'. An old Schaller volume pedal, modified with a stereo jack on the side, is connected to the Expression jack and used as a volume pedal placed between slot 3 (chorus) and slot 4 (delay).

I've used the 'Hot Knobz' facility to give knob 2 control of delay time and knob 3 control of delay feedback, so I can mess with these parameteres in real time. The MASH switches are useful too. Pressing and holding the Viscous Vibe switch ramps up the vibe speed, while the Corona Chorus speed can be increased in the same way. Releasing the switch returns the speed to its original value. Pressing the switch on the delay holds the repeat, allowing me to noodle away over the top.

As for connections, the signal from guitar/wah/OD pedals goes in to the Plethora's input. The Plethora's insert loop 'send' goes to the amp input, the amp's FX loop 'send' goes to the insert loop's 'return', and the Plethora's output goes to the FX loop return. For the 'board' described above, I have the insert loop set between slots 1 and 2, so any drive from the amp's preamp is before the modulation effects.

Another fun setup I've played with has a delay > a reverse delay > reverb > looper. Frippertronics ahoy!

20220101_113359 small.jpg

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Hi Bob,

I also picked up the Plethora when Sweetwater was running the same  promotion that Anderton's ran. As I said earlier, I have a few Line 6 products (HX FX, Helix Rack, HX Stomp) which I like a lot except for their reverbs which are lacking. The Plethora is far superior in that department. I also love the TC compressors too....well, I love all of the FX they have on board. It is a lot easier on the Helix stuff to change boards. I am considering running the Plethora in one of the loops on the Helix which means that I could use all of the distortions ahead of the amp and then into the loop for the Helix and then into another loop for the Plethora reverbs, etc. I can also use the Plethora when I need a really simple set up for a gig where I don't need a lot of FX. 

I had trouble with the new firmware as I could not unzip the file. They finally sent me an unzipped file which worked right away. I read on some forums that I am not the first person with a Mac to have this trouble. Another issue I have had with the TC folks is their forums n musictribe.com. It is hard to find much on the plethora unit and when I have asked questions I have not received an answer. A couple of times the questions just disappeared. I hope they get it together as it is a pretty nice product.

I remember that Digitech had something similar to the Toneprint idea. It was called iStomp and you could take a pedal and download different FX for the Pedal. They blew it on their dealings with Mac OS and then were almost giving the pedals away with all of the downloads going for free. I have four of the pedals and all of the FX on an old iPad still and plan on using one of their very excellent distortions in front of the Plethora. I am hoping that sooner or later TC puts some distortions on their toneprint platform.

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2 hours ago, rwinking said:

Hi Bob,

I also picked up the Plethora when Sweetwater was running the same  promotion that Anderton's ran. As I said earlier, I have a few Line 6 products (HX FX, Helix Rack, HX Stomp) which I like a lot except for their reverbs which are lacking. The Plethora is far superior in that department. I also love the TC compressors too....well, I love all of the FX they have on board. It is a lot easier on the Helix stuff to change boards. I am considering running the Plethora in one of the loops on the Helix which means that I could use all of the distortions ahead of the amp and then into the loop for the Helix and then into another loop for the Plethora reverbs, etc. I can also use the Plethora when I need a really simple set up for a gig where I don't need a lot of FX. 

I had trouble with the new firmware as I could not unzip the file. They finally sent me an unzipped file which worked right away. I read on some forums that I am not the first person with a Mac to have this trouble. Another issue I have had with the TC folks is their forums n musictribe.com. It is hard to find much on the plethora unit and when I have asked questions I have not received an answer. A couple of times the questions just disappeared. I hope they get it together as it is a pretty nice product.

I remember that Digitech had something similar to the Toneprint idea. It was called iStomp and you could take a pedal and download different FX for the Pedal. They blew it on their dealings with Mac OS and then were almost giving the pedals away with all of the downloads going for free. I have four of the pedals and all of the FX on an old iPad still and plan on using one of their very excellent distortions in front of the Plethora. I am hoping that sooner or later TC puts some distortions on their toneprint platform.

Hmm... I updated the firmware using a 2019 Macbook Pro runnng Catalina with no problems unzipping the fle. As for changing boards, I tried using a Rolls MP128 Midi Buddy, which worked fine, and would give instant access to ten boards without changing banks. To be honest, I doubt whether I'd need to access ten boards in the course of a gig - when I've used the Nova System the three presets in one bank proved more than enough.

I don't think TC could have toneprints for their overdrive/distortion pedals, as they are analog and my understanding is that toneprints only work for digital effects.

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54 minutes ago, bobmeyrick said:

I don't think TC could have toneprints for their overdrive/distortion pedals, as they are analog and my understanding is that toneprints only work for digital effects.

I get that. It would be nice if they came out with some digital Distortions. Line 6, Digitech and others have come out with some killer models. It would be nice to have that option. Are you saying that you use a MIDI pedal to go between boards? I don't have one around that would work. I know that you can set FS 1/2 for a three tap thing that puts you in a mode where you can scroll the boards up/dn. For some reason mine works in that mode but then resets itself. I have not figured out what I am doing to lose it or how to save it as it should save through the settings. Same goes for FS5 and the tuner.

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11 hours ago, rwinking said:

 Are you saying that you use a MIDI pedal to go between boards?

Yes, though I was only seeing if it worked, which it did. It's not instant, maybe takes half a second, I've also used a Rocktron Midimate to change boards, so I assume pretty much any midi pedal could be used. I wonder if the effect parameters cold be changed via midi - both the Midibuddy and the Midimate have an expression pedal input? I'm not sure if I would use it on a gig, as the band I play with (when we had gigs!) doesn't need much in the way of effects. As for the tuner, I found it easier to press the Toneprint button with my foot - stamping not required...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Quick update. TC have released v1.3 fo the firmware, which adds the Alter Ego vintage echo pedal among other improvements and tweaks. They also responded to user feedback in adding the facility to reverse the order of the pedals. By default the pedals in the Plethora are arranged in order from left to right, while separate pedals go from right to left. Now you can arrange the Plethora's  pedals as you would as if they were separate pedals.

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Cool! I hope I don't have the same trouble downloading the new firmware as I did the last. When did they release it?

I will get on it today and thanks for the update!

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53 minutes ago, rwinking said:

When did they release it?

Yesterday - there was a post on Facebook with a video describing the update. This time I updated the firmware using a Windows 10 machine, again with no problems.

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I am on a mac and last time there were some problems that seemed to be fairly common. Whatever the bug, they must have fixed it as it went smoothly in minutes this time. I have a question for you or anyone else with the Plethora. I s it true that I can only use TonePrints for the FX I have on the Plethora? I noticed that they have a new TonePrint sustainer pedal and was wondering if that is available for the Plethora or we wait and see? It is a cool pedal and it would be great to have.

Maybe I mentioned this in the past, but I have a shit ton of Line 6 stuff and am generally really happy with their FX. However their reverbs leave a lot to be desired. Putting the plethora in the loop will make a big difference! Thanks for the heads up about the sale last month, Bob. I am not regretting getting one at all.

rick

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11 hours ago, rwinking said:

Is it true that I can only use TonePrints for the FX I have on the Plethora? I noticed that they have a new TonePrint sustainer pedal and was wondering if that is available for the Plethora or we wait and see?

Since the Plethora is based around the Toneprint system, I'd answer yes to the first question, but bear in mind that you can use the Toneprint app to create your own. Then again, there are so many Toneprints already loaded into the Plethora you have plenty to choose from. Also the "Hot Knobz" facility is worth investigating, since it can give you real time control over whichever parameter you choose. I've set up one of the delays so that the middle three knobs control delay time, feedback and mix.

Given that the Infinity Sustainer has only just been released, I'd expect it would take a while before it's available for the Plethora. However TC seem like a company that listens to user feedback - hence the ability to reverse the order of the pedals. I expect even now folks are emailing them with requests to add it!

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