Hands-On Review:Yamaha Magicstomp
Yamaha's new brain child with mondo musical muscleBy Louis Lamphere
Building on the best of Yamaha's DG, AG, and UD-Stomp effects; DG amps; and SPX processors, the Magicstomp delivers astoundingly high-quality effects and amp simulations with an interface you can control with one foot. 32-bit DSP combined with a 24-bit A/D converter adds up to breathtaking clarity, punch, and definition while a cross-platform USB-based editor gives you deep control from your computer and lets you download new patches from the Web.
Buy this box!
I'm sorry but I just can't wait till the end of the review to deliver the punch line—this thing totally ROCKS! I plugged it in with my amp on a clean setting and began to play. I stepped on the "+" button and was amazed over and over as I clicked through 99 incredibly well-designed presets. Two hours later I was still playing, still spellbound.
The Magicstomp is among the best high-end effects boxes I've played and is by far the best multi-effect floor unit. I guessed the cost to be about half a G and decided it was well worth that. Then I got online to check the price and was truly floored. Here's a stomp box that outperforms most of the pro rack units on the market for the price of a boutique single-effect pedal.
Yamaha has clearly grasped the only solid solution for the high-tech vs. easy operation dilemma—presets. And they don't make you become an engineer to get 'em. The presets right out of the box are obviously created by pro players with golden ears. In fact, some of the world's hottest guitarists were recruited for the job. We're talking about players like Allan Holdsworth, Michael "Fish" Herring, Amir Derakh, and Tim Pierce. Every preset on this unit is quite usable as it is with no tweaking. And there's a preset for just about every sound you could want plus a whole bunch of wild effects you won't believe!
The quality of the distortion sounds is truly topnotch with everything from lo-fi stompbox sounds to the full, rich sustain of cascading tubes. The reverbs are definitely studio quality and presented in a wide range of options. The mod and delay effects are brilliantly tweaked and integrated with other effects to make very complete and musical presets. The bread-and-butter effects are as subtle as they should be while the high-tech effects built around the Magicstomp's pitch-shifting, ring mod, and rotary capabilities provide plenty of weird textures for ambient washes and eerie intros.
There are also a number of presets designed especially for acoustic-electric guitars. The nylon string preset gave my steel string acoustic a gorgeous Spanish guitar tone. And many of the reverbs and chorus effects sound great with acoustic guitar.
My appreciation for the presets only expanded when I loaded up the Sound Editor for Magicstomp
on my Mac. A simple USB hookup with the included cable gives you realtime control over the unit—a whole LOT of realtime control. Some of the presets have 8 pages of different effects working simultaneously. The super-simple graphic interface lets you control every parameter on each of these pages. And you can create up to eight pages of your own effects settings to be saved as a patch.
This is very cool. You just click on a page and a screen full of empty knobs appears. Pop up a menu of 63 effects types and select one, whereupon the knobs will be assigned to effect parameters. Tweak to your heart's desire and move on. Then save the whole patch and name it whatever you want.
You can change three pre-assigned parameters on each effect using the physical knobs on the top of the Magicstomp. The Sound Editor lets you assign these knobs to any parameter you want for changes on the fly. You can also arrange your user presets in any order. Since the 99 user presets come with the factory presets duped into them, I just picked the ones I knew I would use most and put them together at the front of the list so I could click between them easily.
Just using the stomp buttons, you can set the unit up so that each of the three buttons becomes an on/off switch for one of three consecutive effects. You can collect the effects you use in each song into groups of three and switch to a different group for each song. You can also add different presets from the included patch library.
The powerful sound editor doesn't mean you need a computer to edit your presets. The main parameters can be edited and saved with a "Store" button right on the face of the unit. You can assign your new patch to any position in the patch menu and even change its name.
Connectivity and convenience
An accurate-but-not-finicky tuner comes up if you hold the "On/Off" button down for a few seconds. With the Magicstomp's
large, brightly lit LCD display, this is a real boon in stage or studio situations.
At Yamaha's dedicated Magicstomp Web site, www.magicstomp.com, you can download new patches from an extensive Yamaha patch library, in addition to a load of killer presets by the above-mentioned guitar monsters, plus Adrian Legg, Steve Lukather, Chris Poland, Jason Slater, and more. Or upload your own patches for trading with other Magicstomp users; the data bank is growing constantly. You'll also find FAQs, advanced user instructions, and necessary drivers. It's an important resource that means this hot little stomp box is going to keep getting better for years to come.
Features & Specs:
1. Overdrive, Distortion
2. Modulation 1
3. Modulation 2
4. Delay, Reverb
5. Special Effects
6. Acoustic, Compressor
When you buy your Magicstomp from Musician's Friend, you'll enjoy our dual guarantee: the best price you'll find anywhere and full satisfaction or your money back.