Yesterday, I received my Misha Mansoor Variable Attack Overdrive pedal from Protone.
I've ordered on Saturday, then it was shipped on Monday from South Carolina, and received in France the next week on Wednesday. No custom fees. Pretty happy with that.
I was a little concern about their bad reputation but took a chance with this batch with no lead time and wanted to see if all the hype around their products was deserved.
A lot of people are bashing Protone, while others seems to be glad about their pedals... maybe because it's expensive and rare or/and they don't want to devalue their product for a potential resale.
Personally, I have mixed feelings about it...
So now it's time for pictures.
Nice graphics on the box but it feels really cheap. Fortunately, it's taped on the side so the box would not opened itself during shipment.
Here is the pedal. The finish is not perfect. There is some dust under the coat at some place, but no drama. The graphics looks like they were printed on a cheap inkjet printer though.
Oddly enough, they didn't think it was worth labeling the input and output... so right is the input and left the output. The output jack is loose compared to the input jack. It might need some adjustment inside the box.
So I opened the box and here is what's inside. Seems like clean work to me but not worth $300 IMO.
The location of the pots is not really well designed and they are not perfectly align and spaced. The output jack has to be in this exact position or the tip of the jack will make contact with the low cut pot or a pin with the enclosure. If it were me, I would have put the pots in a different position. The inputs and outputs were not firmly screwed.
And here it is with the Two Notes Torpedo CAB both plugged in the Axe Fx II.
Now, time to speak about the sound.
I was interested to see if I could find a similar OD in the Drive block of the Axe Fx II and tweak it to make it sounds like the Protone. I spent a few hours trying to find the closest OD and match it the the Protone but this seems complicated. The fact is, this Protone Overdrive really have a sonic signature that can't be 100% matched in the Axe Fx II. I will spend more time trying to find a way to do it (I'll share the result if I succeed).
This OD sounds really bright and so f***ing tight. It sounds so much different than any stock OD in the Axe Fx II but I have no experience with real OD pedals. It's almost like there is some sort of gate in it. And I'm just talking about the normal mode. The overdrive brings a nice gain to the sound, more than I thought it would, while retaining a lot of characteristics from the raw signal. At first, it sounded almost like a mix of raw and wet signals.
The Attack mode brings the gain down and boost some mid frequencies. I'll be honest, I've not been heavily impressed with the Attack Mode. While it can be useful in some situation (and for this, the variable attack frequency cut is really handy), I don't see myself using this mode as much as I thought I would. But I only had a few hours with this new toy so I will probably change my mind later when I will update my preset correctly.
So overall, I'm pretty happy with this pedal. This thing is clearly overpriced and overhyped. The finish is not perfect (you can see it in the pictures, no drama but I didn't buy a blemish), the built inside is clean but it looks like a cool DIY project to me.
It's clearly not worth $300 of components but I must say the pedal itself sounds really great and will help a lot to tame the low end on my Ibanez RGD2127z and M80M. That's what I was expecting (even though, I was expecting more). So, I'm pretty happy sound-wise. Not sure if you can find similar result with another specific OD...