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Quobalt 11/29/2016

Two Notes Audio Engineering Le Clean : Quobalt's user review

"LE preamp... but a bit too well-behaved, perhaps?"
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Value For Money : Correct Audience: Advanced Users
I use it for computer music, straight from XLR into the mixer with the amp emulation on, into presonus monitors. Various guitars, from dirty hbs to the thin clean sound of a Telecaster. A Zoom G3 is in the fx loop, only for its modulations. Before the Le Clean, I often use various ODs/distortions: boss, tube screamer, MI audio...

I’d been looking for a way to listen to my favourite pedals on my computer music setup. I tried many "emulated output" tube pedals hoping to get the typical tube sound to accompany a backtrack from Youtube, all this without having to turn the tube amp on which would wake the neighbours, wife and baby up.

AMT ss 11, blackstar, vox, and many others… so when i saw this brand (a leader in amp emulation) that started a pedal line, I went for it, that was exactly what I was looking for. Plus, it has a real 12ax7 inside? Oh joy! The Holy Grail of tube sound was taking shape in my dreams.

Really tempting : an FX loop, Fenderish clean sound, MIDI, yeehoo ! GAS, here we go again, I bought it straight away!

After a few days and leaving behind the euphoria of having a newly bought toy, here’s my review.

First it’s NOT a pedal to be put in a pedalboard. It’s not made for it. Fans of Fenderish bluesy overdrives, go look somewhere else! A tube won’t turn your amp into a Fender Super Reverb! Even in the fx loop it doesn’t have the impact it would have on a music-dedicated computer.

But, it becomes the perfect tiny amp for the computer musician. Clean sounds are so detailed – it’s just exceptional.

Crystal-clean sounds. Add a bit of reverb, a tape echo and you’re there ! With it, I got clean sounds I didn’t expect from a Les Paul. With a Tele, you get such a rich, defined clean note sound that no DAW or basic recorder can render.

But as I announced it, the biggest cons I can find it is its gain. Barely do you push a Fender amp that the note gets a little dirtier, so you push it to get a bluesy sound but no more – otherwise it becomes a really dirty distortion.

Her, you even wonder why two channels. The first is so well-behaved that even pushed to its limit you keep a (Le) Clean sound!

The second one is heavier, thickier, but again you hardly find how it’s supposed to resemble the Fender that supposedly inspired it. Too well-behaved again.

And, there’s the fusion mode.

The A & B channels can be mixed together, in series or parallel. And the hot fusion (A+B) finally starts to sound a bit like a Fender.

I only use it this way, playing on the gain and volume settings (both those of the pedal and guitar). This mode deserves all due respect, even if it’s still hard to find the delicious harmonics of a tube amp.

Now let’s talk about what most makes me fall for it, either in bypass or A channel: the addition of pedals.

I keep on adding OD/distos to it, and I’m surprised to find exactly what I like. Without an amp, just on presonus monitoring speakers.

i discover the proper character of each pedal with a great pleasure. The typical tube screamer, the SD1, the super crunch box, and even a really dirty fuzz deserve to be heard through this pedal, or should I say this “musical re-routing tool for computer music” should I say.

Tube pedal lovers, don’t look this way ; but computer musicians, there’s a real chance this is what you’re looking for.

PS:

I’ve never had a technical problem with mine, the LED, contacts and tube are alright even after transporting it in a backpack – no problem.

edit on Aug 7, 16 :

after a while i decided to change the tube, as i was growing frustrated with the lack of gain and personality of the pedal. I didn’t take just anything, I chose a… 1959 phillips miniwatt 12ax7 which was in an old radio from my grandpa in the attic.

Changing the tube is very easy, just unscrew the 4 screws in the back and there’s enough room to tweak the 12ax7 (the original one is a ruby) so as to take it out. Easier than on a Blackstar.

Real MADNESS ! The A channel has become a vintage Fender amp. The notes’ depth and reactions are unbelievable, it sounded so beautiful I couldn’t believe my ears! Lively. Reactive. I barely touch the strings, the sound is only slightly dirtied and I’m in it, its identity keeps getting heard with a gain the Stones wouldn’t disapprove of.

Alas, a lightning when I started it indicated a problem: the preamp stayed mute on the B channel, and even more in A+B mode.

For security reasons and in order top spare the components, I took the Philips out and put a Tung Sol instead. It clearly has less character, but it’s still better than the original ruby ECC83 – which to me is a very bad choice.

I’m only telling you that to encourage this pedal’s owners to change the original tube for another at your taste, which proves the quality of this model. Really astounding and realistic, amp-worthy if you find the tube that suits you. As for me, I’ll go after a NOS 12ax7… or loot among the old radios scattered around in my attic – you never know! :mrgreen: