Customer Reviews: Vox ToneLab ST Guitar Multi-Effects Processor Pedal
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style: ToneLab ST Modeling Effect Processor|Change
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on August 14, 2010
I A/B'd this extensively with the POD X3 before purchasing it. I went with this because it gave a much more convincing emulation of a tube amp, particularly played clean. It just had a body and sparkle to the sound I could never get out of the POD. The problem, I have discovered over time, is that it acts like a single-channel amp that is not easily switchable between a good clean sound and a good overdriven sound at anywhere near the same volume. This is because it only sounds really good with the master volume cranked all the way up. With the master volume all the way up, a good low-gain sound is going to be way quieter than a good high-gain sound. This can be compensated for with the power level knob on the back of the unit, but this knob is not programmable, making it impossible to switch directly between clean and overdriven without a huge volume jump - you'd have to adjust the power level knob every time, or live with an anemic overdriven sound if you lower the master volume. The built-in distortion/overdrive effects are not tweakable enough to really make up for this, either. Also, its capabilities as an audio/recording interface are minimal compared to the POD. So, in summary: much better tube amp emulation than the POD, but only within a very particular range of adjustability, making it a cool practice tool but not really practical for live performance.
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on January 5, 2012
All of these multi-effects units basically offer the same thing: various degrees of distortion with delay/chorus/yadda yadda and minimal reverb and a pedal. So the advantage of this one is that you can get one pretty cheaply, especially used (some dude decides to "upgrade"). In addition it functions as a USB audio interface with a passable ASIO driver. There's a librarian app, but no patch editor.

I purchased, and returned, several Boss units that all sounded like zzzzz fuzzboxes. Granted, a GT10 is much more flexible in routing and programming, but it always sounds metallic-transistor-fuzz. The Vox units sound more like tubes, the sound is pleasing and fat and warmer than most, though in reality I doubt that glowing 12AX7 really plays much of a role in this. The range of possible effects and "models" is good. This unit is a cost-effective way to get those overdrive and effected sounds. The tuner can be useful live, but doesn't have much of a display. There are lots of clever little things here, like stereo adjustable output, and different EQ curves for different boxes you'll plug it into. It's a live stomp box that's pretty studio-savvy in good ways.

The big on-stage problem is that the only way to change sounds live is to step through presets. THAT's pretty useless, as you can't get to your #13 preset without stepping through 9,10,11,12, and you get big jumps in level on the way. Try going from 3 to 38. There's a way to step by 10s, but it requires holding down tiny switches. And try remembering what patches 77, 78, 79 are. You get the picture. If you assign the pedal to volume you can get around the level shifts, and at least quiet it while you step, step, step, but then if you want to assign the pedal to a parameter, you lose the volume control. OK, it doesn't have everything.

But this is a great unit for practice, studio work, and maybe an occasional gig, though for real live work, you do need something with at least individually switchable effect sections. A detail is that the ST expects an electric guitar input. With piezo pickups the presets sound completely different, rather anemic.

So why 4 stars? After trying units costing up to several hundred, I concluded that ALL of these were about the same, the differences are effectively cosmetic, and this one sounds actually more than just OK - so why spend more?

EDIT: it took me about a year to realize that the most important thing in evaluating a modeler is to ignore the factory presets and start clean with just the amp models, and understand how they react to dynamics. By 2013 the modeling technology is getting much better.
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on March 27, 2012
When bought this pedal, I had enough for a couple boss pedals. But I took a look at this and though it would be a much better deal, and though maybe a couple things would lack due to it being an all in one pedal. When I picked it up I was surprised at how heavy this beast was, all the nobs were solid after opening. Everything just seems set up for a beating, so to those who play on the road and stomp pedals to death, this is an awesome pick. It has a ridiculous amount of options, and surprisingly, really, really good options to boot. The only thing some people may complain about is the fact that it's a tube effects pedal. Not I, I enjoyed this fact, gives my emg pickups a deep satisfying tone. So it having the tube makes the palm muting and the distortion a tad weak, but that is what I have my metal zone for. Everything else is sitting in this versatile, heavy duty, reasonably priced beastie. Buy it and be blown away.
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on January 30, 2010
I bought the VOX Valvetronix Tonelab ST about 2 months ago and love it. I'm primarily a keys player who backs up the lead guitarist occasionally on guitar, so I needed a unit with plenty of preloaded, great guitar sounds: clean, chunky and downright screaming. I plug directly into the mixer board, so having the fatter tube sound is perfect. The unit is compact enough to sit on the corner of my keyboard, allowing quick adjustments with the knobs. I play out every weekend with three bands (80's stuff to current) and every band is impressed with the new addition; we're learning more "guitar driven" tunage just because of the Tonelab! And roadworthy???? A couple weeks ago, I backed over my gig bag (Tonelab taking the brunt of it) with my TRUCK... besides being a little compressed on one side, it still works great!! Way to go VOX!!
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on March 26, 2011

this unit is technologically MORE advanced than Line 6, it has a real power tube amp,
which surprisingly 'reconfigures' itself according to what amp model you choose (hey I am a tube amp addict, so bear with me).

For example, the old Vox amps didn't have negative feedback, so when I select the AC models on the Tonelab,the power amp AUTOMATICALLY
RECONFIGURES ITSELF for no negative feedback. Then, if I select 'UK Rock', which is a Marshall modelling, (but not mentioned on the ST
because of copyright) the power amp in the ST reconfigures itself for NEGATIVE FEEDBACK, as on a real Marshall!

The Tonelab is a VERY sophisticated modelling machine, while Line 6 models it with DIGITAL DISTORTION, the Tonelab not only models it
with a REAL TUBE, but also with a complete POWER AMP. Yes not many will understand what I am writing here. Vox actually simplified the jargon
on the ST compared to the old Tonelab, for example the '68 plexi model is simply called 'UK Rock', and the ST manual doesn't mention the technical
amp tech detail mentioned in the manual of the old Tonelab, in fact, to understand the ST better, I have studied both manuals.

What it all adds up to is this: no other modelling device, hardware or software, does what the Tonelab does!
Line 6, Amplitube, etc, they all model out of digital distortion, the Tonelab is analog real tube tone, hello ?

More authentic and organic tones than the Line 6 units
excellent build quality (roadworthy)
very good value for money
wide range of quality, realistic tube sounds
quality effects and preamps

even doubles up as an ASIO soundcard for your pc, you can record with the tonelab right into Reaper with NO FREAKING LATENCY!!


noise reductor not as good as on my Ibanez TK999 pedal, it is just passable,

I wish the Tonelab had a tube preamp too, beside the tube power amp (which is great).

Conclusion: not perfect, but still the BEST amp modeller out there, in my opinion far more organic and natural sounding than Line 6, and especially better than Guitar Rig and Amplitube and I am a tube amp maniac so I know what sounds good and what doesn't.
The Tonelab produces surprisingly dynamic overdrive, and you can feel the tube power amp (it has a tube POWER amp!) changing character with different presets, just as explained in the manual. On some presets the attack of the pick completely changes and becomes squashed, reminded me of a tone that George Lynch was using in a guitar book, very warm and mushy, but really really musical and responsive, perfect for fast picking, and he was using a Marshall stack. On some other sounds, the pick attack becomes very tight, hard and less sweet. It's very difficult to explain all that with words. The Tonelab is the most impressive pedalboard I came across, and I never liked any before.

Recommended buy!


Update: I have had this little ace for 1 year now and I just love it. It gives me the sounds I'll ever need, honestly I am not even bothering about amps anymore. Just today I dialled a spectacular Angus Young / early Malmsteen tone from the UK ROCK amp model, by using the Tube OD and boosting it slightly with a Boss pre-eq. FANTASTIC! With this setting, there's also a lot less background noise (and the Tonelab ST is not super-quiet, because the noise suppressor is not very usable if set over one third -it will cut the note's tail- but hey, I am not bitching, this gadget is pretty amazing. )

Honest, it blows all the other modellers out of the water, both software and hardware, and it offers a wealth of tonal variety for recording, the ST inspires you to use more variety in your sound. With an amp, you only dial up your usual two or three sounds. The Tonelab goes BEYOND. Winner on all fronts.
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on January 12, 2012
I looked at the reviews on youtube, this one made me take the decision [...], i was interested on getting a classic sound to play led zeppelin, acdc, iron maiden, etc, this pedal works great for that type of sound, it have presets already programed for back in black, black dog, enter sadman, message in the bottle, the trooper, all along the watchtower, man in the box, etc. This have exactly what you need if you want that vintage sound, i tested a line 6 pod plus that a friend got, not recomended at all, i have a digitech bp80 for my bass and i had a digitech RP355 that i sold because the sound was too midi, like the sound you get from your guitar pro, that one was not good. The expression pedal of this Vox tonelab st its awesome, you can have a wha, whammy and volume pedal that works great, i was afraid that the expression pedal could be fragile and that is going to break easily, but this one is great, by the way, this pedal is not made of plastic, its metal. The only problem i had so far is to program the effects, i hate to do it manually, when y plugged the unit to the pc, was detected really fast by windows 7, y opened the tone lab software and it allows you to navigate all the effects with a single click, but then i openened the editor software, i was able to edit two delays options and then the software stoped detecting the pedal, i try deleting the software and installing it again, that didnt work, i tryied it on my laptop running xp and that didnt work either, i went to a forum and i discovered that all people is having this problem. After all for a pedal that cost $199.00 this is the best option, if youre looking for led zeppeling, iron maiden, black sabbath, deep purple, jimmy hendrix, acdc sound, this is the pedal for you, if you want something for megadeth, pantera, metallica, ozzy osburne, sepultura .... dont buy this one, just spend like $100 more and get the Boss ME 70, the best pedal for that sound.
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on November 17, 2014
I am an avid "sound guy" kind of dude in the band. I care HIGHLY of guitar guitar tone and whatnot. I've dealt with amplitube, guitar rig, and other vsts for guitar tone. The poulin legion VST is my favorite. But all the VST plugins in the world are no match for this BEAST. It's perhaps the best preamp you could get if you're into VST plugins as well. It will offer a nice tube sound to whatever your rig is, as long as this is a primary distortion or pre-gain type setup.
The effects can't be run simultaneously, but you can go around that on the computer if you know how to do such things. With the price, and the QUALITY of the amp models and distortion drives, it has a full five stars. I'm sure it just doesn't have enough processing power to run many effects at once, so you'll have to live with ONLY chorus, or ONLY flangers, or chorus/delay effect, etc.
It sounds phenomenal though. I was going to buy better pickups, but this is what my sound needed. I may still get better pickups since I have stock though.
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on April 5, 2011
I've just unpacked my tonelab st and is just great. Full of options that I will be discovering with time not matter if I've read the manual several times before I got it.
The only problem (little compared with the product) is the ugliest web page to register your article at VOX. If you are a registered user, you login and go to the registration page and it looks like it was made by a first month web master... is just impossible to make it.

For the rest, I was looking at the BOSS ME-25 and others but I decided for this one as it has tube which makes a huge difference in sound which is at the end what you are looking for.

The product presentation is fantastic I loved the classic presentation of the buttons, layout, etc.

There's been almost two weeks since I've got the TONELAB ST and I discovered new sounds, new effects, new ways to play my guitar, new challenges, more motivation to improve. Stop thinking, analyzing, comparing; make the decision and buy this one. You will never be happier.

Don't think that you are just a newbie and therefore is better to wait until you get more experienced to buy a multieffects pedal; go ahead and buy it as you will have lots of fun and inspiration to continue improving.

I just love this product.

PD My family as well as the headphones output is great quality!!
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on May 15, 2011
The VOX Tonelab ST multi-effects processing unit is a hot little device packed with features. Being my first effects hardware purchase in five years of guitar playing, I browsed the market for weeks before ultimately choosing what I discerned to be the best available product for my limited budget, and I was not disappointed. The preset Amp Models are organic and authentic, and the Cabinet Models can be used to create an enormous variety of sounds. To complement this already impressive library of sound, the hugely malleable inbuilt effects make the Tonelab's potential virtually boundless. The only issue which detracts from the quality of the device is the lack of any other kind of indicator screen than the two-digit display which denotes what number effect is being used. However, this is a minuscule issue easily overshadowed by the incredible tonal variety and quality the ST has to offer.
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on May 19, 2016
BUYER BEWARE - Two stars because, WHEN IT FUNCTIONS, it can sound amazing. Mine has an issue losing volume, sputtering out, sounding distorted as though it's losing signal somewhere, "swinging" volume in which it goes up and down like I'm rocking a volume pedal, and of course the first thing to go was the integrated tuner which I shouldn't have ignored because I have handheld and said "whatever" because it still sounded good on a consistent basis.

Soon after I bought this, the tuner quit working and developed a mind of it's own. I ignored it, because I have a separate tuner and this thing can really roar.... but not long after the tuner 'died' the entire unit started sputtering and having volume/static issues that destroyed my enjoyment of playing forcing me to go back to my solid state amp.
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