WINNER: Kemper Profiler Stage
With the wealth of profiles onboard the Kemper Profiler Stage, the almost limitless number available for download and the ability to make your own, it’s nigh-on impossible not to stumble upon a sound that will inspire you. If you haven’t yet been convinced to make the jump from analogue to digital, the ease of transition this unit offers – not to mention the compact and practical form factor – means there’s never been a better time to embrace modernity. Like countless others, you are unlikely to regret it.
WE SAID Switch from a crystal-clean Fender-style tone to a screaming hot Dual Rectifier without even a momentary dropout.
The relatively compact Mooer GE300 and small control panel belie the sheer number of features onboard, including a huge array of effects, amps, speaker cabinet models, a third-party impulse-response loader, a synth module, a looper and even the ability to use Mooer’s Tone Capture tech to take a Kemper-esque snapshot of your own equipment.
With 108 amp models and 164 effects, the palette of sounds available run the full tonal gamut, catering for every stylistic requirement. We’re drawn to our favourite classic Marshall and Fender-type tones and they indeed prove to be worthy recreations.
WE SAID There is a wonderful depth of tone to this model and its dynamic responsiveness adds to the illusion we’re playing through a real amp.
Tremolo and reverb combine in this Fender stompbox. On the ‘Tre’ side, the choice is between optical, bias and harmonic tremolo and they all sound spot-on. The ‘Verb’ half of the pedal offers a choice between Brownface and Blackface spring reverbs, plus a plate type. The difference between the two springs is subtle – ’63 is a touch bolder than ’65 – but the plate sound ditches the wobbles for something much more pure and even.
WE SAID A handy pairing of two tasty effects with plenty of tweakability. A modern soundscaper as well as a vintage mojo machine.
Keeley Electronics DDR Drive Delay Reverb
With the DDR, Robert Keeley has united both the wet and dry ends of the signal chain in just one box, with a cunning mix of overdrive and reverb, or delay.
The drive side of the DDR has spank and snarl, but refined and expressive even as we dial in more volume and drive. A quick flick of the style switch unleashes a seriously good Tube Screamer-style lead tone, which breaks up beautifully and widens out the low mids. On the wet side of the pedal, the DDR serves up a vintage spring-reverb sound which is extremely pleasing. While it won’t ‘drip’, it is warm and inviting without getting blurry. The analogue delay is just as good as the reverb; the repeats degrade beautifully and it is more than wet enough on its own.
WE SAID Impressive amount of functionality for its size, which saves you the trouble of reaching for a full multi-effects unit.
Electro-Harmonix Grand Canyon
With its 12 delay modes plus looper, each with its own parameters adjusted by the two mini knobs at top-right, this is one complex little unit. The quality of these delays is just as good as we’ve come to expect in 2019. ‘Tape’ does the wobbly thing in fine style, ‘reverse’ makes a decent stab at responding to your playing to avoid glitchy cutoffs and ‘DMM’ sounds a lot like a real Deluxe Memory Man, but without the scratchy noises. The Echorec-inspired multi-head drum setting is a worthy addition, while the pitch and shimmer modes are suitably ethereal, especially in stereo.
WE SAID Impressive how EHX’s designers have managed to squeeze so many features into such a pedalboard-friendly enclosure, but the multi-function controls can get confusing.
Check out all the Gear Of The Year 2019 categories here.