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This article was originally published in issue #54
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Available at a very competitive price point, and with a tiny footprint, the Mooer Radar is already proving a very popular pedal with guitarists clued up on their tech.
Great cab and power amp emulation at a competitive price
Fussy power requirements (300ma @12vdc).
The included power adaptor is bigger than the pedal itself!
Mooer continues to amaze by fitting a fully functioning speaker cab simulator into the neat package we have come to expect from their stompboxes. But is it any good? Nick Jennison tries the Mooer Radar out for size.
Whether it’s stadium-filling juggernauts like Metallica going directly to the front of house, touring bands travelling light or small studios and prominent vloggers/YouTubers recording without a speaker cab, the impulse response (IR) is here to stay. For anyone who might not know, IRs are essentially digital snapshots of a physical thing; commonly a space (as in convolution reverbs), but sometimes a circuit, or in this case a mic’d up speaker cab.
Guitarists have been using IRs in the studio for some time now, alleviating the need to meticulously mic a great cab in a great room. More recently, the latest generation of high-end modellers have used IRs to vastly improve the direct-to-PA playing. But perhaps most interesting development in the IR story is what some people are calling the “hybrid” rig. Tech savvy guitarists are connecting their favourite analogue pedals (and in some cases, valve amps) to IR loading stompboxes and rack units to preserve their carefully crafted tones without the weight, bulk or volume of a speaker cabinet.
This is where Mooer come in. One of the companies behind the rise of the “mini pedal”, It’s only appropriate that Mooer should bring out what is (to my knowing at the time of writing) the smallest fully-featured IR pedal on the market. Boasting a single combination rotary control/button and a surprisingly large colour LCD screen, it’s arcade game looks ride high on the current wave of 80s nostalgia. Make no mistake though; this is not a toy, it’s a serious bit of kit.
Hooking it up is pretty simple - connect your pedals to the input of the Radar, and connect your headphones/mixer/audio interface to the appropriate output and you’re good to go. Understandably for a unit this tiny, there is no internal load box, so please do NOT connect your valve amp’s speaker out to this pedal unless you have a burning desire (pun intended) to desert your amp, this pedal, your mental wellbeing and possibly your house. You have been warned!
Once you’re rigged up, you’ll find a vast selection of cabs ranging from tiny 1x8s (!) to the full-throated roar of oversized German and American 4x12s, with a few 4x10s and alnico 2x12s for good measure. Additionally, each cab loads up with a carefully matched power amp model and tasteful EQ settings, and it’s these features that really set it apart from all but the most expensive competition. Of course, if you find you aren’t digging any of the included cab models, you can load your own third-party IRs via the USB socket and pair them up with the Radar’s EQ and power amp models for a truly bespoke tone.
All of that is lovely, but there’s only one question that really matters: how does it sound? In a word, good! We used a Boss ES-8 to split the signal of a Mesa/Boogie Mark IV at the FX send, pitting the Mooer’s power amp modelling, EQ and cab IRs against the Boogie’s actual power amp and graphic EQ through our V30-loaded Blackstar 4x12. The results aren’t identical (how could they be?), but they’re certainly comparable. Listening back to the test clips, the Radar has slightly less high-end “air”, but this could be remedied with the EQ. In the room, the difference was almost imperceptible. Impressive stuff! Scrolling through the included IR library, the general quality is very high, with the Alnico 2x12 sounding particularly convincing.
Available at a very competitive price point, and with a tiny footprint, the Mooer Radar is already proving a very popular pedal with guitarists clued up on their tech. I expect we’ll start seeing these on the boards of pros and pedal enthusiasts alike, and will probably be of particular interest to the P&W crowd; known as they are for their massive boutique pedalboards and low stage volumes.
30 different speaker cab models
11 mic models
4 power amp models
Connect to PC editor via USB