With over 100 classic effect simulations, 80 amp simulations, and 50 cabinet simulations—Donner's Arena2000 multi-effect unit provides an extensive range of guitar tones, and that's just the start. With 40 drum rhythms on board and a looper feature, the Arena2000 can easily help you capture those demo ideas or perform them live. It's also equipped with a headphone output for late-night creation/practice. Here's Nick Jennison to tell us more.
For many guitarists, an affordable multi-FX pedal is their first foray into the wonderful world of guitar tone. For me, it was a Zoom 505—a unit that sounded terrible in hindsight, but for me, it was Pandora's box. Through this inexpensive little pedal, I explored guitar signal chains in agonising detail. The relationship between "amp" and "pedal" gain. The difference between flanger, phaser and chorus. Reverb and delay types and how they mix. A terrifying 26 years later, it's easy to take these things for granted, but it's hard to overstate how many doors this little pedal opened for me.
Of course, times have changed, and as technology becomes more powerful and cheaper to produce, the capabilities of these affordable multi-FX pedals have grown exponentially. Exemplifying this is the Donner Arena 2000.
Coming in at comfortably under £300, this pedal boasts a metal enclosure, an on-board expression pedal, a very comprehensive I/O and an absolute slew of amp models, effects and drum loops. You'll be VERY hard-pressed to find this much functionality for less money.
The first thing you'll notice with this pedal is the user interface. With a large, full-colour screen and a touch-sensitive front panel, this is a huge cut above the clunk menus and buttons found on so many products at this price point. To edit an effect "block", you touch its name on the front panel, and you're presented with the parameters on-screen, mapped to the rotary controls immediately below. To switch a block on or off, it's a double tap. It's simple and very pleasant to use, which makes a big difference, particularly if you're new to the world of multi-FX.
In terms of I/O, the Arena 2000 is unusually full-featured. It has a stereo jack and XLR outputs, headphones out, aux in, and a USB C socket for editing presets and loading IRs (yes, you can load your own IRs!) - it's a pro-level I/O on an entry-level unit!
Of course, all of this is nice, but what about the tones? Well, you're not about to sell your Axe-FX for a Donner Arena 2000, but that's not the point of a unit like this. Are the amp and effect models the best I've ever heard? No. Are they good enough to play live and record with? Yes! Are they fun to explore and play around with? Absolutely! And that, for me, is the beauty of a unit like this - you can have your "go-to" sounds that you've carefully crafted for recording, rehearsing and performing, but you also have near-endless sonic possibilities to explore.
The Donner Arena 2000 is a very well-built and very affordable multi-FX that's a pleasure to use, thanks to a great UI. It comes with a bunch of great practising tools like drum loops and an onboard metronome, and there are a huge number of tones under the hood. If you're taking your first step into guitar tone or just want a reliable muti-FX to play around with, the Arena 2000 is a fine choice.
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