Jul 3, 2022
Should or Shouldn’t… hmm, it depends on your needs I guess.
For me, the answer was “should”, but I didn’t know for sure until I actually got one and played with it. I really like my Plethora X3. I used to have several TC mini pedals (Hall of Fame 2 reverb, Flashback 2 delay, a few others), and I liked those a lot. That’s all I needed as I like simple, small pedals and I don’t like spending too much time adjusting knobs or scrolling through deep menus. In my case I wasn’t comparing the Plethora against other brands or other multi-pedals – I didn’t want to go down the road of comparing brand X with brand Y (despite how fun but time-consuming that can be :)), since I was already satisfied with the TC pedals I was using.
So when the Plethora X3 came out and offered a small footprint, a single power connection, quick onboard access to TonePrints, and access to many other TC pedals at the same time, it was a no-brainer for me. Honestly, I didn’t really need it, but I wanted one to play with. One benefit for me is that selecting or changing toneprints through the Plethora’s menu system is easier than beaming sounds through a guitar pickup to the standalone pedals. The beaming thing (for TC’s standalone pedals) is actually pretty easy and neat, but does take a little time and effort each time to launch and scroll through the phone app when you want to try a different toneprint. With the Plethora I don’t need to use the phone app for this, since so many toneprints are already loaded on the Plethora itself.
When my X3 arrived I was impressed with the quality of the product: how solid it feels, and how solidly it works - no bugs, no issues, and nothing unexpectedly disappointing. If you watch many online demos like I did, you pretty much know what you are getting. A big thank you to all the content creators who put reviews and demos online, some of whom I’ve noticed here! :) Your videos really helped.
One very minor thing to note when comparing the Plethora to standalone pedals which I didn’t think about: turning the unit on (plugging it in) does feel as if you are switching on a computer as opposed to just plugging in a pedal. It takes about 15 seconds to boot up and there’s even a little initialization screen as if you were turning on your laptop and waiting for the OS to load. By comparison, the standalone pedals I’m used to are pretty much plug in and go. Like I said, this is not a big deal, but does put you in the mindset of “mini computer vs pedal” when using a Plethora.
Similarly, with simple independent pedals like Hall of Fame 2 Reverb, you don’t need to look at a display screen to adjust sounds, you just twist knobs for the most part. I love simple, easy pedals that sound great and don’t need much thinking about. With a Plethora, you need to look at screens to setup and adjust sounds and boards. Yes, you are still twisting knobs on the Plethora to adjust sounds, but you have to look at display screens to know what each knob is assigned to for each pedal, since the function of each knob changes based on whatever pedal is selected. I’m sure this gets easier over time as you learn how the pedal works and get into habits, so this is not a big deal, especially in modern times where display screens and touchscreens are everywhere and a part of life. Just something to note.
If your eyesight is not great, some of the display screens may be difficult to read. The screen is nice and bright but some of the fonts may be too small for some people: For example, the way the display is designed, you can easily see that a pedal is set to Reverb, say, but to see whether it’s set to “Hall” or “Plate” or “Room With A View” or some other TonePrint, you may need to get up close to the display or put on some glasses if your vision is bad. (Maybe TC can consider a future firmware upgrade of something like “Big Visuals” or “Easy Read Mode” where the UI text is simplified and easier to read with bigger fonts – “EZ FONTZ”? a la the “HOT KNOBZ” menu :)). Needless to say, the tradeoff with using display screens for controlling the pedal is the incredible flexibility you get with the Plethora.
Now I mostly use the Plethora X3 by itself without any other pedals or effects (I don’t need drive/distortion and wouldn’t want those on the Plethora unless they were really very good). If I had to pick one more pedal to go alongside the Plethora, having a separate looper pedal could be handy, since the Plethora “Tape Deck Looper” is very basic and limited in length, and it’s potentially a waste of a pedal slot on any particular X3’s board just for adding the looper. In my case, I don’t use the looper much except for occasional solo practice, so it works fine for me.
I don’t regret the purchase at all, although waiting for any sales later this year (Black Friday, maybe?) could have saved me some money, if that ends up happening. But then I wouldn’t have enjoyed it all this time and wouldn’t have been able to write this post. :)