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56inc TubeStation XTC Tube Preamp

Discussion in 'Reviews of Pedals and Effects' started by Diogrus, Jul 14, 2017.

  1. Diogrus

    Diogrus Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    PRELIMINAR REVIEW - First impressions

    Here's a brief review of the 56inc TubeStation XTC preamp (from Brazil) with my first impressions after using it for about three weeks (yea, I'm still in the honeymoon period)! In the meantime I performed a gig (with the britrock band) and some rehearsals (with the classic/hard rock band)...

    Preamp: 56Inc TubeStation XTC
    Power: Laney TI15 (2x EL84)

    João (the guy behind 56inc) has been in the business for a while, and already knows many of the problems that could affect it. Although the package appeared to have suffered a bit during the ride (the box arrived with the corners half damaged), the pedal came VERY well packed in a cardboard box with several styrofoam pieces "shaped" for the pedal. In the box, besides the preamp (which comes inside a transparent plastic), there is also a cable with a new brazilian-standard plug, the manual, four self-adhesive feet and two pins. The pedal is robust, comes in "water green" painting (well, I'm "great" with color palette) with black labels, white knobs, white valve's protective grids, and three ECC83 / 12AX7 from JJ.



    The pedal has two channels with separate volume and gain controls, with shared three-band EQ. For the gain channel, there are still a Full and an Structure controls (both installed on push/pull knobs, respectively HIGH and LOW), to change structure and response of the gain. Two footswitches are responsible to switch between the channels (left switch) and bypass (right switch). However, it is possible to control the switching of channels remotely with a mono 1-way foot controller (like the Laney FS-1, that is the one I'm using). Also, there is a built-in speaker simulator (V30) for direct use on consoles and audio interfaces. The channels are based on the green and red channels of the Bogner XTC.


    I'm using it as follows:
    - Clean (Green) with the gain at 11h
    - Drive (Red) with the gain maxed, with the Full and the Structure active
    - EQ High (11h) / Mid (03h) / Low (01h)

    The green (clean) channel is very Plexi-like, has a good amount of gain in tap and has a slight "sand" in the sound, and still is quite defined. By slightly lowering the volume of the guitar, the tone cleans up (the "sand" goes away)! This channel accepts pedals very well! With different drive pedals, I get different layers of crunch, which, besides sounding beautiful and well musical, facilitates the transition from clean to higain, which occurs in a very smooth way, by activating one of these for the crunch and dosing in the volume on the guitar, until finally trigger the gain channel...

    The red channel (drive), even with Full (an extra stage) and Structure (different gain structure) activated and giving the maximum possible gain, has a beautiful and well defined higain! The definition of notes, amount of noise and gain level, compared to the internal preamp of the Laney TI15 (which is the reference I have here), are considerable improvements! Both have that darker voicing, more drawn to the british side, but I feel like they are at different levels! Not that the TI15 isn't a good amplifier, but this preamp is marvelous!

    I also use the following pedals:
    - Boss GE-7: (modded) after the preamp (as if in the FX loop), to change the voicing post-gain, serving on both channels;
    - Deep Trip Muffasaur: (Muff-alike) initially more in the green channel, since the red channel already is well saturated, and ends up sounding a bit undefined;
    - Dr Scientist Cleanness: one of the first of the board, to change the voicing pre-gain, sounds great on both channels;
    - Favoretti's Yellow Cab: the best low-mid gain crunch on the green channel, and also goes well as a booster in the dirty channel;
    - Mesa Tone Burst: full time on, last pedal before the preamp, to balance the sound after the "long signal traffic" on the board;
    - MXR Fuzz Face Bonamassa: in the green channel, it sounds thin, since it's stated that it was designed for use in dirty amps, but in the dirty channel, WOW;
    - Ohmless Lorena: (Klon-alike) full time on, giving a full bodied sound to both channels, without adding almost nothing of dirt;
    - PaulC Timmy: it's set to open the sound a bit, but on the green channel it got a bit "harsh", so I'm only using it with the drive channel;
    - Stomp Audio Amp: treble booster that goes pretty cool with the dirty channel;
    - VFE Alpha Dog: (modded RAT) very good also, especially in the green channel, but also it goes in the red channel, but with different knob positions;
    - Wampler Sovereign: another who goes very well on the green channel, but due to the amount of gain of the red channel and the pedal, it got a little undefined too.

    Final Considerations
    Extremely well built pedal, beautiful, and with fairly consistent tones. In addition to having a more complex and defined sonority, plus a little more gain, it still opened up my range of possibilities compared to the Laney TI15, which was extremely capable of producing crunch and drive in generous quantities, but it lacked the inability to produce clean sounds. I haven't had the possibility to test with other poweramps, but in this small combo it already showed some personality! And we're talking about a 15W 1x12 combo, with two EL84, and a "generic" speaker (the TI15's original)... I still want to see what this preamp is capable of when connected in more powerful rig, that is, with greater output, with a bigger cabinet (at least 2x12) and with better speakers (Celestion or Eminence I think they would already be a good upgrade).

    Well... I pretend to update as I get more into it!

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