Yamaha Music Australia | Expect to pay: $299 each
Key Features: Announced back in October of last year, the Valvenergy effects pedal range sees Vox set out to redefine what players expect from an overdrive unit, fusing a NuTube into the signal path and providing options for it to function as both a DI with speaker cab sim and a versatile line preamp.
The launch marks a sophisticated step forward for the long-standing British amp wizards, with four different pedals – the Copperhead Drive, Mystic Edge, Cutting Edge and Silk Drive – offering unique circuit emulations and a fancy OLED display that’s even complete with an oscilloscope.
The NuTube, a miniature valve contraption developed and primarily used by Korg, is a futuristic take on a 12Ax7 valve that outputs a warmth comparable to that of a vintage guitar amplifier, despite being 30% smaller and using less than 2% of the power required to run a typical tube. This correlates with the oscilloscopic OLED display atop of each unit, which provides a visual waveform depiction of your signal and makes for one hell of a fun time in action.
Each pedal in the Valvenergy range bears its own distinctive sonic flavour, and it’s clear that Vox have aimed to please all parties with their curations. The Copperhead Drive resembles the thick dynamics of a cranked Marshall stack, while the Silk Drive replicates a slightly-less-crunchy amplifier from a renowned boutique American brand.
Meanwhile, the Cutting Edge offers full-bore gain tones reminiscent of a Mesa-Boogie, and finally, the Mystic Edge sees Vox pay tribute to the top-heavy jangle of their most important contribution to music to date: the AC30.
All pedals feature controls for Volume, Gain and a three-band EQ (the Mystic Edge, however, substitutes the mid-range in favour the AC30’s classic Tone Cut dial), with all pedals except the Cutting Edge also boasting a Bright toggle-switch.
Going the extra mile, the Valvenergy pedal range can also be entirely linked via an array of 3.5mm TRS cables, which allow the user to create sophisticated bypass and activation networks between each pedal.
Additionally, a switch on the top of each pedal alternates between Standard, Preamp and Cab modes, with Preamp mode facilitating for those players who like to toy with line-level instruments or other preamps, and Cab mode catering for those looking to plug in and go DI.
All pedals are powered by a 9v DC port located alongside the top-mounted jacks and are sturdily clad in sleek, brushed steel enclosures, each one even bearing its own unique colour scheme.
Mixdown Says: The tantalising prospect of the Valvenergy’s feature set certainly doesn’t disappoint in operation. These four pedals could prove to lay the blueprint of what an overdrive ought to be: they’re wonderfully versatile, cater for a diverse range of players (and not just guitarists) and are priced at a point that simply ticks all the boxes necessary for them to succeed.
Every pedal in the series provides an authentic emulation of their original inspirations and are capable of producing a myriad of tones, while the NuTube is sure to warm up any other synth, keyboard or line source you feed it while in Preamp mode.
The Mystic Edge is particularly tasty for jangly leads and crunchy rhythms and the Silk Drive proves to be rather impressive for scooped blues and fusion, whereas the Cutting Edge and Copperhead such each satisfy your inner riff-pig.
It’s been reported that the Cab Sim section of the pedal seems to have irked some users in the past, but in action, we felt reasonably happy with how they sounded when recorded DI, and if there were any sounds that felt a little spiky, it wasn’t anything a few subtle EQ tweaks inside a DAW couldn’t fix.
Overall: A big step into a new niche for Vox, and one that has definitely got the potential to bear fruit for the amplifier icons. These devices are brilliantly designed and priced quite accordingly for the average multi-instrumentalist, and the NuTube technology really puts them in a class of their own.
Find out more about the Valvenergy range via Vox today.