Rocktron HUSH Pro and Patchmate Loop 8 Oxford MS

Noise reduction is one thing, but tone reductiondue to problematic pedals or combinations of pedals is another thing entirely. One way around the problem is to isolate individualpedals using loops, and then switch themin and out of the signal chain as they are needed.

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Rocktron HUSH Pro and Patchmate Loop 8

NON-MUSICAL NOISE IS THE MUSICIAN’Snemesis, and amp hum and hiss can spoil beautifulguitar tones, particularly when recording.Rocktron has been in the noise-eliminationgame since 1983, and the HUSH Pro StereoNoise Exterminator ($329 retail/$249 street)represents the company’s latest technology ina sleek, professional-grade package. The unit’s+4/-10 Reference Level switch and balancedXLR and unbalanced 1/4" inputs and outputslet you connect it to just about anything, whileits two-knob interface makes it easier to usethan most effects pedals.

gp1009_gear0338.jpgThe HUSH Pro does two things: The HUSHsection’s dynamically controlled low-pass filter(1kHz-40kHz) detects the input signal’scurrent highest frequency and filters out thefrequencies above it, while a downwardexpander provides up to 50dB of automatic volumereduction. The Gate section works in conjunctionwith the downward expander toeliminate all sound when the input signal dropsbelow the threshold set with the Gate Thresholdcontrol.

I tested the Hush Pro in stereo using a FractalAudio Axe-Fx Ultra, and in mono withinthe effects loop of a Rivera Venus 6 1x12 comboamp. In both cases, I dialed in amp settingsranging from typical to gain-crazy, and threwin a super-noisy early-’70s Electro-HarmonixBig Muff just for grins.

gp1009_gear_0339.jpgThe Gate section may be used independently,so I tried that first. After fine-tuning there sponse, the gate followed the decay of single notes and chords admirably, smoothlyfading them out at the very end like a goodengineer. The HUSH circuit worked equallywell, dramatically reducing—though, of course,not entirely eliminating—hiss and hum. Combiningthe two functions tamed even the nastiestdin, and squelched all sound when I wasn’tplaying. In short: the HUSH Pro performed brilliantly. My only gripe is the large and relatively heavy “lump-in-the-line” power supply,though Rocktron has good reasons for usingan external supply.

SWITCHEROO

Noise reduction is one thing, but tone reductiondue to problematic pedals or combinations of pedals is another thing entirely. Oneway around the problem is to isolate individual pedals using loops, and then switch themin and out of the signal chain as they are needed.This can be done simply by using a mechanicalswitching system with dedicated footswitchesfor each pedal/loop, but that stillleaves you tap dancing if you want to turn morethan one effect on or off at the same time.

The solution to that problem is a system that allows you to program groups of pedals/loops into presets, so that various combinations may be switched in or out simultaneously with the press of a single switch. And most professional switching systems—such as those designed and built by rack guru Bob Bradshaw—employ MIDI for that purpose. Rocktronintroduced the first factory produced Bradshaw switching system 20 years ago, andthe Patchmate Loop 8 ($549 retail/$389 street)is a direct descendent of that technology. TheLoop 8 sports 128 presets organized into groupsof eight (corresponding to the front p...

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