Review: Hotone Ampero II

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Review: Hotone Ampero II

hotone ampero ii
Words by Bridgette Baini

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The Ampero II Stomp by Hotone is an exciting new iteration of their much-loved amplifier modelling and effect processing pedal line, but it is so much more than just a simple update. 

Hotone have gone above and beyond this time around, curating an impressive array of tones and sounds that are both customisable and easy to tweak, resulting in one of the finest amp modelling experiences out there.

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Loaded with improved conversion technology such as the much lauded AD/DA from ESS Sabre Series which is a high-tech digital to analogue converter, and has up to 2048 IR sampling points – which is twice as many as the original Ampero. Not only this, but Hotone has collaborated with Celestion to provide 20 impulse responses that are tuned to a range of classics like the Blue, Anniversary, Creamback, and Vintage speakers. 

Encased in a compact, road-ready, light-weight aluminium chassis is a plethora of amp, cab, preamp, and pedal models. The Ampero II Stomp has 87 amps, 68 cabs, over 100 “legendary pedal models”, and more than 60 Hotone original effects, along with an 8 in 8 out USB audio interface. It has a max 127dB (DA) dynamic range, a new generation tri-core DSP platform as opposed to the earlier Dual DSP platform, 24v internal voltage, and a dual – rather than single – effects chain with multiple serial and parallel signal routing support which blasts open the realms of opportunities to customise a sound that goes beyond the expectations of digital emulation. 

It has 218 more effects types with a total of 460, 23 more amp models (total of 87), 68 cab models, and a whopping 50 third-party IR models – 30 more than previous models. Its looper function is now stereo 60 seconds with an undo/redo function, another very welcomed upgrade. It’s intended to be used in live settings though, so you can’t pre-record the loops then take them to a performance. However, the function in itself has a lot of really cool customisation options, for instance, you have the options for half-speed, reverse, easy loop-clearing, and you can set your record and loop levels. You can choose whether you want the loop to be pre-signal chain or post, and you can also select which signal chain.

There’s a lot going on within this stomp box, yet it weighs 1050g, 358g lighter than the Ampero I. The omission of the expression pedal is an excellent change, giving pedalboard curators the freedom to place the Ampero II in more nooks and crannies than before with the dimensions 185mmx145mmx58mm. Not to worry though, you can still plug in your choice of expression pedal. By just selecting the control/expression dialogue and ‘EXP settings’, you can calibrate the pedal and set the range through the Ampero II.

The touch screen was an awesome inclusion and  is incredibly easy to navigate which is something that can’t always be said with Modelling pedals like this one. While the presets are awesome, the edit window is where all the fun happens. There, you can edit your tempo, volume output, signal path, edit any of the 12 customisable modules, and move it around in the signal chain by simply selecting and dragging. If you want to delete it, just click and drag into the bin.

Truly, I cannot stress enough the ease of use-it’s off the charts. Simply click on a module to edit the pre-set, the parameters and such. A bar pops up from below to show you your options instead of having to dip in and out of screens. Its signal path options are a very notable feature with the choice of parallel, split to mix, A/B to Y, Y to A/B, and serial. Yes, a built-in A/B Y function for massive heavies! Parallel mode for two completely different signal chains so you get two in one, but also get some cool stereophonic effects! There’s not much Hotone hasn’t considered.

The rotary encoder to the right of the screen doubles for easy selection on the fly and a lock button if you’re worried about fiddling with a touch screen in live situations! The footswitches are customisable and assigning their functions is as simple as the turn of a knob. The global EQ is applied to the output of the Ampero II. Again, another extremely user-friendly function that comes with a reset button if you’ve found your tweaks have gotten a little out of hand.

As far as software goes, it is definitely worth mentioning the improved editor software. Any one of its settings and parameters can be adjusted through this on your computer or laptop. This is definitely where you want to be for creating your presets especially, even though the touchscreen on the stomp is great, this is even better.  

For anyone considering moving to digital amp simulation but might be apprehensive, the Ampero II will have you wondering why you didn’t make the switch sooner. The consideration that has gone into this pedal is obvious, with organic playing qualities that really do influence your performance in terms of haptic feel. The speed of the processing, ease of navigation and quality of the audio engine all combine for an extremely intuitive and natural playing experience. The plethora of instrument, mic, and line level inputs, on board effects and awesome CDCM HD and F.I.R.E audio engine combine for a thoroughly enjoyable playing experience, in sound, setup and feel. 

This little Hotone Ampero II Stomp is a breath of fresh air with its user-friendly interface, array of sound combinations, hifi DAC, customisable mic position options for cab sims, compact size, and versatility. As far as its function as a digital amp emulation, with all the parameters you can tweak, it’ll be highly unlikely that you won’t find a tone you absolutely love. Kudos to Hotone, this one’s a ripper!

Head to Hotone’s website for more.