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It’s about the same size as a standard 1-button stomp box, albeit much thinner, with six low profile control knobs. Connect it like a standard effects pedal, and download the app to a smartphone or tablet. It will connect to your device via Bluetooth. The app has a plethora of virtual pedals that can be loaded to it: distortions, filters, EQ, modulations, reverbs, delays, cabinet emulators, as well as amp models. Select a model to load to the pedal, and it’s there. It works on Android and iOS devices, and with a USB connection on the back they can also be loaded using a Mac or PC. Various color LEDs light up whatever controls are active in the selected pedal model, while the app tells you which knob does what. Very handy and flexible.
The models are amazingly accurate; we were able to compare the RAT model to an original, and it’s spot on. There are some unique/rare/hard to obtain pedals in there as well, such as the Arion Chorus, and Marshall’s Guvnor Distortion. Sound-wise, they nail it across the board. It even dives into the flavors of boutique pedals, not just the mass-produced ones. The analog choruses and delays have that analog feel and response.
A great effect that’s included is the step filter that works a bit like a ZVex Seek Wah. It’s a rare effect, and expensive especially considering it might get used for only one song in a set. So, load it up for that one song, and then re-assign it to some other effect for the next song. Simple. For pedal geeks who may not want to put that ultra-rare pedal from their collection on their road board, this will fill that hole easily.
There are amp sim models loaded in there, and for the most part are really good. A couple of the high gain versions are a bit hissy, and over the top, but the classic Vox, Fender and Marshall versions are fantastic. Just connect it to a DAW and say goodbye to system-hogging plug-ins. Cabinet emulation is also available, with pretty much every variation. Put your fave dirt box (or entire pedalboard) in front of it. Depending upon what’s running in front of it, the responses vary, but the overall results are more than respectable.
The pedal is buffered bypass, but individual pedals can be selected to be either true bypass or buffered bypass. Bass players might want to consider this, too, as there are plenty of bass fuzzes, overdrives, choruses and filters tailored specifically for that instrument.
Worried that these models might end up being out of date? Well, Hotone has been releasing new downloads at no cost since its inception, and there’s no sign of them slowing down.
Excellent selection, flexibility and great sounds.