TEST - Vintage Revolution PedalPro & Pedalino Perfect Marriage Seemingly from out of nowhere, the PedalPro has appeared: a multi-effect, but this time analogue. By Steven Faber New company Vintage Revolution, established by Italians Max de Iulis and Davide Amadei, set themselves a goal in 2007 to develop an analogue multieffect that offered the ease of use associated with digital gear. Why analogue? Because many of us agree that analogue effects sound better or more natural then their digital counterparts. Why not come up with some standard analogue stompboxes, as many companies are doing in the boutique market? Because then you don’t have the ease of use of a digital device that lets you edit and save presets, including all your meticulously-tweaked parameters. The result is the PedalPro, a 19-inch device of 2U height, that is controlled by the Pedalino, a foot controller that is as revolutionary as it is flat. The PedalPro contains no AD/DA convertors or DSPs between input and output, only analogue components, which form ten effects, switched by relays. When an effect is off, it is taken completely out of the signal chain by one of the 25 relays. The ten onboard effects should satisfy most guitar players: they include a compressor, distortion, noise gate, panner/tremolo, phaser, two filters, chorus, flanger and delay as well as a preamp/booster and volume controls. If you want to incorporate a favorite stompbox or rack unit that can be done using the mono pre- of the stereo postloop. Design The front panel consists of a screen surrounded by the various buttons needed to navigate the menus, change settings, edit presets and save presets. On the left there are additional switches for mute and for bypass, which route the signal straight to the output when engaged. Under the logo are the input connector for the Pedalino and a USB connector that enables preset management and software upgrading using a computer. At the time of the test the specially developed PedalManager software was only available for Mac, but a PC version is due shortly. The rear panel has stereo outputs, the pre- and post effect loops, a MIDI Out for controlling outboard equipment, and the instrument input. It’s a suprise to find the input on the rear, but it was done to prevent interference of the digital control section with the incoming guitar signal. As mentioned earlier, the PedalPro can be remotely controlled by the Pedalino foot controller. There is no other option as both units make use of the ADES (Advanced effect DEScriptor) protocol developed by Vintage Revolution, and not, for instance, MIDI. In regards to this, Vintage Revolution says: ‘’MIDI was developed in the 70’s for handling simple, mono-directional data traffic. For our purpose we needed a more flexible bidirectional communication protocol. In addition, ADES has a much higher resolution. This avoids uneven control, which can happen using MIDI.” This is not the only special feature of the Pedalino, because the thick, plated-steel floor pedal has no moving parts for control, not even foot switches. The four, square rubber pads that function as switches have only a pressure sensor beneath them. This construction enables three different selections for each pad, depending on how hard you push. You can even set the pressure limits that enable a certain selection. How hard you push, and therefore which level is selected, is displayed by three LEDs. The left pad is for bypass and mute. When the mute function is activated from the Pedalino, a tuner appears immediately on the display of the foot controller. Handy! Pads two and four are used to scroll through presets in steps of 1, 10 or 50 (there are 500 presets in total). Pad 3 activates a selected preset and engages the solo setting, which makes it possible to switch, within a preset, separate effects on or off, as you would do using a regular pedalboard. This function was not yet available at the time of the test, but will be introduced later in the form of a firmware update. Around the screen of the foot controller there’s a few buttons for making adjustments and settings directly from the Pedalino. You can also choose to select eighteen favourite presets from the total of 500 and place these favourites in a chosen order. To engage these favourites, press the favourites button on the Pedalino. This way, the left pad switches banks, and the other three pads directly activate the preset of choice. The Pedalino does not come with its own expression pedal, however it will work with any expression pedal available on the market. Use and Sound Regarding connectivity possibilities, the PedalPro is quite flexible. The effects chain within the PedalPro is globally fixed, after the input comes the compressor, the pre-effect loop, distortion and booster, panner/tremolo, phaser, post-effectloop, chorus/ flanger/vibe, delay, volume control and noise-gate. The two filters are the only effects that can be placed at various places in the chain. In the preeffect loop you can always put a stompbox, but it will also take a pre-amp. It would be even better if the distortion could be placed before a preamp, but that’s not possible. The first 200 presets have been created by Vintage Revolution and have been locked. The other 300 are empty and user-editable. User-defined presets can also be locked, and the other way around; the pre-made presets can be unlocked and overwritten. The factory presets incorporate a lot of usable sounds as well as patches that you’ll probably not use in every song, but will still give you a good idea of what is possible, like an arpeggiated flanger. The sound is very good over the whole spectrum and the analogue character is attractive. Don’t confuse analogue with lo-fi, because the PedalPro is not that. No, these are high-end effects, which can be heard in the lovely chorus, which retains its punch at every setting. As soon as you start working it becomes apparent that the range of possibilities - also for each single effect - is very wide. For instance, the compressor has three modes ranging from an almost inaudibly active ‘studio compressor’ to the more extreme sound of a Dynacomp. The overdrive/distortion uses an FET to get as close as possible to the sound of tube overdrive. Extra setting options are provided in the form of a boost- and bright switch, as well as a 3-level low- pass filter that controls how much high frequencies are retained in the signal. To further shape the eq, or as a wah effect, a filter can be placed in front of the overdrive. Or behind it, or both, as there are 2 filters available with nine (!) routing possibilities for the signal chain. One filter is based on an inductor, like a wah pedal, the other works with transistors and can also function as a low- or band-pass filter. Both filters can work in three different ways: auto, manual or envelope. In the auto setting, the sweep will go as fast as you’ve set it, manual is for use with an expression pedal, and the envelope setting can function both as positive or negative. All the modulating effects (tremolo, phaser, chorus and flanger) give a choice of different waveforms, including sinus, shelf and squarewave. The delay has a maximum of 614 ms and the repeats can be modulated. Too bad there is no rhythmic division possible, like dotted eights. Finally, we should point out the noisegate with its special sustain function. When this is activated, the noisegate will only kick in when your note has completely rung out, thus getting rid of the unnatural feeling often experienced from noisegating. All in all there is a wealth of possibilities. Because of this, it will take some time to get through all the features, but once the system is mastered, the programming itself is quite easy. The Pedalino has a jack input for an expression pedal that can be assigned to a parameter of choice per preset. For this you can choose from 66 different parameters, so think of something wild and it will be available for under-the-foot stepless control. It takes some getting used to working with the three-level pads, but you’ll notice that you feel at home with the Pedalino quickly. It’s nice to be able to custom-set the pressure levels, even if it’s hard to select level 3 from a sitting down position even at the lightest setting. The pedal is clearly made for use when standing up. Conclusions Vintage Revolution delivers an impressive first product with the PedalPro. A good sounding analogue multi-effect is already something in itself, but what makes it special is the marriage between the analogue effects and the digital control which not only gives a lot of possibilities, but also completely new possibilities. That’s not all: the Pedalino foot controller is a revolutionary construction. To get these two to work together, the trodden path has been avoided and a new, effortlessly functioning protocol has been created. The sound of the effects, one by one, is very good and will not disappoint in any setting (practice, live playing, studiowork). Both the PedalPro and the Pedalino are easy to handle and very sturdy. It’s obvious then that we’re talking about a highquality device made for professional use. Yes, that comes with a matching pricetag. 2000 euros is a big amount of money for an effects unit, but if you were to buy the same effects with the same capabilities separately, you’d probably end up spending more money. And that’s without taking into account the digital control and the included Pedalino. In our view the price is certainly realistic. TEST RESULTS VINTAGE REVOLUTION PedalPro Construction VINTAGE REVOLUTION PEDALPRO Price: 1999,- Euro (including Pedalino) Country of origin: The Netherlands Type: analogue multi-effect Size: 2U 19-inch rack format Weight: 5,8 kg Housing: steel with aluminum front Effects: compressor, distortion and preamp, noisegate, panner/tremolo, phaser, 2 filters, volume, chorus/vibe, flanger, delay Extra features: mono pre-effect loop, stereo posteffect loop Controls: switches for mute, bypass and on/off. 4 soft switches, 4 navigation buttons, + and - buttons, parameter dial, edit/save, enter/load and exit/USB Connections: MIDI out, stereo send&return, stereo output, mono effect loop, guitar input, Pedalino connector (ADES), USB port Distribution: Vintage Revolution, firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.vintage-revolution.com Features VINTAGE REVOLUTION PEDALINO Sound As PedalPro, except: Type: foot controller for PedalPro Size: 445 x 212 x 27 mm (w x d x h) Weight: 3,2 kg Housing: steel Controls: ADES on/off, favourites, menubuttons (+, -, menu, set, exit), expression pedal mode switcher, power. Connections: ADES, expression pedal, power (9 volts), USB. Price/Quality Total Rating WE LIKED: Sound; endless possibilities; ease of use; construction. WE DID NOT LIKE: No subdivision available on the delay; pre-effects loop placement in signal chain can not be changed. TEST RESULTS VINTAGE REVOLUTION Pedalino Construction Features Interface Total Rating WE LIKED: Very sturdy construction without moving parts; compact. WE DID NOT LIKE: Third level is difficult to select while sitting down, no other remote control of the PedalPro possible.