In addition to producing traditional tube amps that use conventional vacuum tubes, the good people at VOX have also been developing revolutionary amplifiers that use Nutube. Taking advantage of the technology obtained through the research of these amps, VOX has now developed a line of pedals: the VOX Valvenergy series. Sam Bell reviews the VOX Silk Drive and Mystic Edge Overdrive Pedals
Vox are perhaps most well known for their brilliant valve amps, the AC15 and AC30 have been a mainstay for guitarists for decades. It's great to see VOX moving in new directions as well, and their new Valve Energy series of Overdrive pedals brings a new twist to the Overdrive Market.
In this review I'm taking a look at two of the four available new Valve Energy pedals, the Mystic Edge – A classic drive based on the classic AC tone and the Silk Drive – A smooth, warm crunch style drive which really blooms. Before I discuss the attributes of each pedal, I'd like to discuss what makes the Valve Energy series of pedals unique. Each pedal is equipped with a 'link' feature, a ¼ inch headphone jack can connect any of the 4 valve energy pedals together which means you can switch between them like channels on an amp (rather than turning one on and the other off, you can momentarily switch between the two) If this wasn't enough, each pedal has its own switchable Speaker Cab Emulation if you want to send the signal out to a DAW or Mixer at Line Level. OR if you're into using your own Impulse Responses or CAB Emulations, you can switch the pedal to 'Pre' mode which gives you just the pre-amp of the drive sound so you can run it into whichever speaker simulation situation you desire. Super useful for those home recording or wanting to make a direct rig (or what I like to call the 'analogue multi-fx/amp modeller' pedalboard)
Let's take a look at the attributes of each pedal, for those interested in the other two pedals from the Valve Energy series; Nick Jennison has taken a look at the Copperhead Drive and the Cutting Edge – Copperhead being a more Marshal style drive and the Cutting Edge being a more modern high gain option. It's important to point out that these pedals are using Vox's 'NutTube' technology which gives a valve like response, here's what Vox say on their website about NuTube;
"Nutube is a new vacuum tube that was developed by KORG Corporation in conjunction with Noritake Itron Corporation as an application of vacuum fluorescent display technology. Like a conventional vacuum tube, a Nutubehas an anode grid filament structure and operates as a complete triode tube. It provides the same rich overtones and responses that are distinctive of conventional vacuum tubes."
The Silk Drive:
The Silk Drive is a very 'clean' style overdrive, not too harsh, however with the bright switch set to ON you can add upper range harmonic tones to your drive signal, great for crunchy 'clean' sounds that bloom from the speaker and really respond to pick dynamic, getting more driven the louder you play. At extreme settings the Silk Drive gives a nice broken amp kind of response, almost fuzz like in its nature, notes are given size and sustain without losing too much definition.
The Mystic Edge:
This pedal is based on VOX's classic AC30 style drive, a sound as Guitarist's we have all heard on many classic rock records! This drive has tones of bite and sustain; it's a pleasure to play through. Instead of a mid-range control like the Silk Drive, this features a 'Tone Cut' control much like the VOX amps, this changes the upper mid-range character of the sound, helping you really dial in a lush sustaining classic overdrive sound.
I'm very impressed with these two pedals, the emulation and link features are also a nice addition alongside the cool OLED display showing your signal and how the drive interacts with the signal. As a Speaker Emulator user, I love the 'pre' feature, the Silk Drive would make an AWESOME pre-amp style drive on people who want a pedal platform direct rig. And the Mystic Edge is just hair raising to play through, both are highly desirable pedals. Check them out!