TC Electronic The Dreamscape
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The first-ever artist signature pedal from TC Electronic bears the signature of Dream Theater’s legendary guitarist, John Petrucci. In case you’ve seen the recent marketing blitz and are thinking this is just some sell-out, gimmicky promotion, we’ll cut right to the chase and let you know that this is a great sounding modulation pedal, packed with a variety of useful chorus, flanger, and vibrato effects sonically tweaked by the guitar guru himself.
TC Electronic’s TonePrint series of pedals have proved extremely popular with guitarists for good reason: they sound great, and you can download artist “signature” sounds into each of them for an ever-expanding palette of tones. If you haven’t used a TonePrint pedal, it’s important to understand just what makes the TonePrint concept different from other pedals on the market. It is not simply saving the position of the knobs on the face of the pedal.
What makes one company’s chorus pedal sound different from another? Even if two companies start with the same bucket brigade chips, for example, their pedals will contain different circuits (with different capacitors, resistors, and op amps), have a different frequency response or EQ curve, and they will be tweaked to accentuate certain frequencies or other sound-shaping features differently than each other. Because TonePrint pedals rely on digital effects technology, subtle (or not-so-subtle) differences among pedal designs can be meticulously customized via software, thus an artist can sit down with an engineer from TC Electronic and completely customize the characteristics of a pedal design to suit their personal sonic preference. There may be anywhere from a dozen to hundreds of parameters that can be factory tweaked with the artist to customize the sound of a TonePrint effect pedal. The end result of an artist-customized pedal gets saved as a TonePrint and is then easily downloaded into the pedal to give guitarists an effect setting that has significantly different characteristics than the default tones otherwise determined by TC Electronic to be the “sound” of the pedal.
While The Dreamscape offers six great-sounding effects, the entire pedal is artist-specific, so you don’t have quite the same versatility for sound design as you would get with individual TonePrint pedals such as the Vortex Flanger, Corona Chorus, and Shaker Vibrato (or any other brand of pedal, for that matter). Here, all six effects were designed with John Petrucci to his personal taste, which leans towards clean, traditional, bread-and-butter stuff (fresh baked by a master chef, of course). If you crave wild, obnoxious flanger tones, for example, you might be better served by a dedicated flanger pedal because John doesn’t really gravitate towards those kinds of sound effects.Whether you love the sound of John Petrucci’s clean tones or his heavy tones with modulation effects, The Dreamscape won’t disappoint. It sounds great and is a very useful pedal to stick on your pedalboard. If you are currently in need of a lush sounding chorus pedal, or you like flangers that can pull double duty as chorus-like effects, picking up The Dreamscape is a no brainer, and the vibrato effect plus TonePrint feature is just a bonus on top of it all.
The Dreamscape pedal is a modulation effects pedal housed in a rugged metal enclosure that offers two chorus effects, two flanger effects, two vibrato effects, and the ability to download an additional TonePrint setting.
John optimized the effects for use on clean tones as well as on his crunch sounds, thus the pedal contains two difference chorus, flanger, and vibrato TonePrints each, described as follows:
Chorus 1: Based on the TC Electronic Tri-Chorus sound, creates a lush chorus tone.
So, Chorus 1, Flanger 1, and Vibrato 1 for clean tones, and Chorus 2, Flanger 2, and Vibrato 2 for your crunch sounds. But that’s just John’s idea. Do whatever makes you feel special.
The Dreamscape relies on digital signal processing technology to create effects, and it shares the TonePrint pedal series’ sample-rate specs of 48 kHz/24-bit. The pedal ships configured for true bypass operation, but a dipswitch setting inside the housing can be switched to provide a buffered signal path. Another dipswitch provides a Kill Dry function, handy if you’d like to stick this pedal in a parallel effects loop.
Four knobs provide familiar modulation controls: Speed, Depth, FX Level, and one that selects between the six effect algorithms and TonePrint settings.
You can load TonePrints from the Corona Chorus pedal into The Dreamscape.
A mini toggle switch provides overall tone shaping control: Bright, Normal, and Dark. These settings aren’t quite what their names suggest, however, as they are not global EQ tweaks. Bright makes the selected effect more pronounced, whereas the Dark setting renders all effects even more subtle.
For those of you with rigs more complex than a typical mono 1x12 combo, The Dreamscape offers true stereo operation, with stereo inputs in addition to the expected stereo output. The full stereo operation also makes The Dreamscape a useful modulation pedal for keyboard players.
Like other TonePrint pedals, The Dreamscape relies on standard 9V power. Having recently looked at many high-powered pedals that are more like rack gear in a box than actual pedals, it’s refreshing to find something we can just plug into our favorite power supply without any special voltage considerations. For those of you foolish enough to throw your money out the window and add to the landfill problems, you can of course use 9-Volt batteries.
Having a separate control for the effects level, independent of the Depth control, made it very easy to balance the level of our effected tone with our bypassed tone.
Loading new TonePrints from the Corona Chorus should be an easy process, but we were unsuccessful in our repeated attempts to load new TonePrints into the pedal using both the USB connection method as well via the free Android and iOS apps from a pair of mobile phones. Hopefully a firmware update in the near future will resolve this situation.
Almost every one of John Petrucci’s rigs has included either the TC Electronic 1210 rack chorus or the SCF Stereo Chorus Flanger pedal, so it comes as no surprise that his signature TC Electronic pedal cops the familiar sound of these landmark modulation effects.
For our testing purposes, we used The Dreamscape primarily with an ENGL Powerball II and Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier Road King II rig, and compared the tone with modulation effects from both a TC Electronic G-Major 2 and our own, beloved TC Electronic SCF Stereo Chorus Flanger pedal.
The first thing we noticed about all of the sounds was the lack of noise. Some players love their vintage gear, but we’re happy with the modern implementation of these effects: the noise floor is virtually unnoticeable on clean tones, and still extremely quiet on high-gain tones.
Chorus 1, based on the classic TC Electronic Tri-Chorus sound, delivers a great, lush chorus sound that is barely distinguishable from the classic SCF pedal. This tone may be reason enough to purchase the pedal. But Chorus 2 proves useful with high-gain tones, delivering a more subtle effect that layers easily with dry guitar tones while not robbing the tone of its attack.
On an interesting note, the documentation mentions that most of John Petrucci’s default sounds in these pedals involve having the Speed and Depth knobs set at 12:00. This was contrary to our typical chorus settings involving a very slow speed setting (9:00-ish) and big depth (3:00), but we gave it a try and were pleasantly surprised by just how nice those default settings sounded, especially when playing through the Piezo acoustic output of our Music Man JPXI guitar. We easily copped “classic Petrucci clean tone.”
The flanger effects were excellent as well. Flanger 1 is the more subtle of the two, and worked great for creating subdued, chorus-like effects from the flanger algorithm without the familiar swooshing sound of more obvious flanger effects (like the next setting).
John Petrucci is a big fan of the classic Eddie Van Halen flanger tone — his rigs often include an MXR EVH Flanger pedal, and thus it comes as no surprise that he designed his high-gain Flanger 2 tone in the style of an MXR flanger. In this regard, The Dreamscape easily delivered Van Halen-style flanger tone, assuming you’re playing heavy riffs in that particular genre of hard rock. It has the classic swooshing sound, but without getting too soupy or muddy. On clean tones, this flanger setting was great for getting that classic Cars rock sound a la Elliot Easton. Compared with old flanger pedals, the Flanger 2 tone is much quieter, and the mix control made it very easy to ensure that it didn’t completely engulf our sound (unless we wanted it to). If you’re looking for a heavy, jet plane-style flanger, though, you’ll need to look elsewhere for that extreme effect.
The vibrato effects were very usable, though we didn’t find much difference between the two in practical use. We were able to generate sounds ranging from classic rock to Nirvana-eque grunge here, and thankfully, with a low noise floor.
No matter how we dialed in the sounds, a listener never would have guessed that this pedal wasn’t analog. We’ve played many digital effect pedals that sounded, well, digital, but as modulation pedals go, The Dreamscape stood up great alongside some of our classic analog pedals — even a few pricey boutique models.
If you have used other modulation effects from TC Electronic, either in pedal or rack gear form, you’ll be right at home with the output from this pedal. If you need modulation on your pedalboard, it’s easily worth making some room for The DreamScape.
However, the documentation needs to do a better job explaining how to load TonePrints into the pedal via USB or the TonePrint mobile app. Instead, it refers you to the TonePrint page on the TC Electronic website for additional details, but then the website doesn’t provide the additional details in any obvious way. We eventually had to search the support section of the website for troubleshooting tips.
To purchase The Dreamscape directly from GuitarCenter.com, click here.
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