This article first appeared in the July 1997 issue of "Sound On Stage", and is subject to copyright restrictions. If you wish to use any part of this article for any purpose, please contact the author, Steve Cobham, via e-mail. Address all requests to:
This latest box of tricks from Korg is the successor to the original Pandora, which impressed a lot of people with its compact, but feature-packed form. So, what does this new multi-processor have to offer, and can gigging musicians find a place in their gig-bags for it?
About the size and shape of a mini cassette recorder, the unit has an aluminium fascia, small LCD screen and black plastic control buttons. Wheres the footswitch....? Well, the Pandora is primarily designed as a personal standalone effects unit, but with added features that distinguish it from predecessors like the venerable Rockman, or even the first Pandora.
The PX2 runs on twin AA batteries, giving you about eleven hours deafness, or a 9-volt PSU (not supplied). There is a dual-impedance jack for guitar, and a mini stereo jack for an external sound source. A low-impedance jack is provided for headphones such as the Walkman variety.
Effects are grouped into five sections which can be accessed simultaneously, although certain programs will only chain four effects when reverb or pitch shift are combined with modulation. Drive will give you a compressor and eight types of dirt from crunch to high-gain scoop.Tone comprises a simple 2-band EQ. Look for the usual culprits in Modulation, but also other goodies such as auto-wah, tremolo and a random step filter amongst the 24 processes available. Reverb, delay and pitch shift are found in the 17 Ambient parameters, and, finally, Cabinet Resonator enables you to simulate a combo or stack with varying resonant points. All these effects can have noise reduction applied.
There are 38 editable user programs, although some of their parameters are rather limited. This does have the advantage of making the whole editing procedure very easy and the display window is effective in spite of its small size. The input buttons are, by necessity, also small, although the ones you use to move through the presets and parameter increments are, sensibly, larger.
The line-source jack allows you to play along with a CD player or tape deck although there is no in level for this. Other features of the Pandora2 include an onboard tuner, a display backlight, and a metronome.
DEPPING FOR THE SPICE GIRLS!
Readers familiar with the original Pandora may well be expriencing deja-vu at this point, but, not content with the kitchen sink, Korg have also provided the PX2 with 31 rhythm patterns ranging from a simple 8-beat to a pattern called Rosanna! I guess were not in Kansas any more, Toto. But wait, theres more! Also included in the deal is a centre-cancelling facility so that you too can be Shred Spice playing along to Wannabe! Also provided is pitch shift for the sound source signal, which avoids having to make adjustments to your tuning but, as with centre-cancel, reduces Mel & Co to mono.
So, whats it like to use? A quick canter through the presets yields bizarre names such as Filth and Monsta, with a lot of emphasis on lively overdriven sounds. Editing them is very easy, although some of the buttons involved are fiddly and their embossed symbols difficult to read. However, after a few practise patches, no problem. I found that once I deviated from the factory presets and aimed for more subtle effects, the PX2s somewhat artificial sound could be tamed, although the EQ was too elementary for my tastes. The opportunity to fire several famous axe-stranglers and play in their place was extremely entertaining, and great for practising parts. Abandoning headphones, I put the wee beastie through an amp, mono only, although stereo is an option, but was unimpressed with the rather lifeless sound. D.I.d into a 4-track, the unit performed rather better, but, yet again, I had to really struggle with its EQ. Apart from this gripe, its a very useful little demo tool.
Is this tiny silver box a viable proposition for gigs? Well, you could use it between guitar and amp, but youd be missing the point. Its a great practice aid, being both private and portable, as well as boasting a wide range of effects. If I gigged with it though, I can just imagine struggling with those little buttons between numbers. Nightmare! Id want something with big LEDs and a footswitch. Yet, with practice being such a vital part of musical performance, the PX2 seems hard to beat, although it might be a purchase you might make later, rather than sooner. If you want giggable multi-effects there are more practical options to be explored first. However, in terms of personal guitar effects, its a bit like the TARDIS and the sonic screwdriver rolled into one!
PROS Extremely compact.
Very wide range of effects.
Line source centre-cancelling and pitch shift useful for practice.
CONS Basic EQ.
SUMMARY The PX2 is not very appropriate for gigging, but could become indispensible at home.