Seeing the Big Picture – HeadRush Pedalboard Nails the Signs, Sound and Feel Trifecta

Seeing the Big Picture –

HeadRush Nails the Sight, Sound, and Feel Trifecta

<<video review below>>

I’m a pretty simple guy. While I love having a closet full of pedals, an RV full of guitars, and a storage locker full of amps, I often pursue the path that will achieve the tone I’m seeking with the least amount of hassle. And when I do want to experiment, I want to be able to build the rig in my head as quickly and easily as possible.

Amp and rig modeling has broken enormous amounts of ground when it comes to flexibility, convenience, and, most importantly, tone. But for all the power these units possess, the learning curves that they possess make relatively straight forward operations, like swapping effects in and out, needlessly complicated. I have an older model unit that sounds great, but relies on a lot of scrolling and “hot keying” just to build a simple preset that might only have one effect. And that’s before I’ve even gotten around to naming and saving the thing. I want to harness this new, awesome power that is changing the industry, but why can’t it be as simple as, say, a smart phone?

Well, the good folk at HeadRush must have a mindreader on staff…..

A Sight For Sore…Fingers?

During our R&D phase, we noticed that many other guitar effects and amp modelers had very steep learning curves. They seemed like they would be more familiar for recording engineers, instead of the guitar players that actually use them.,’ said Carlton Cobb, from HeadRush. “We knew that we wanted to improve on this, and we decided on using a touch screen because there’s a familiarity there that people already have from the touch gestures that they use every day on their cell phones.

Ultimately, we wanted to save the user time, and let them just concentrate on creating the sound that they’re looking for in their head without getting distracted and having to read a manual to do so,” Cobb continued.

It makes absolutely perfect sense on a number of fronts. Playing guitar is a very tactile act. Cursors and soft keys are great for certain applications, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that most guitar players like to guide their tweaking with a meaningful touch (wasn’t “Meaningful Touch” a Genesis song?). We like to turn knobs, stomp switches, delicately guide treadles, and experience that immediate reaction in our gear, not feel like we’re looking for an old spreadsheet on a computer. This is what makes the introduction of a touch screen to an all-in-one platform like the HeadRush so exciting.

The HeadRush’s groundbreaking approach to visual interface also extends to the stomp switch labeling. Instead of static numbered switchers, a screen changes according to the HeadRush mode in use or active presets.

Head-spinning Sounds.

Of course, we all get that it has to sound good. And here the HeadRush doesn’t disappoint. To keep every element of the system ticking along, HeadRush implemented a custom quad-core DSP that pushes the envelope even further with respect to model definition and realism.

Our custom-designed quad-core DSP system was designed from the ground up for efficiency so that we could have the fastest and most possible processing power for our modeling technology, all while running a touch UI along with other features like the looper with 20 minutes of record time,” Cobb notes.  “It’s really exciting because it’s the most powerful DSP that has ever been available in a product like this.”

This custom processor is fed by software based on the highly renowned Eleven Rack and software, well known and well-regarded among studio rats, pros, and working musicians alike.

The HeadRush features 33 amp models that can be paired with 15 different cabs, 10 virtual microphones, six distortion types, eleven modulation-based effects, seven reverbs/delays, five dynamic/EQ treatments, five expression-controlled effects, and a whopping eight rotary effects so you can leave your Leslies and Rovers at home.

Being able to build off of the Eleven Rack and software legacy was a huge treat,” Cobb said.

Previous Eleven users are especially going to be excited about the gapless preset switching, reverb/delay tail spill over, the ability to import custom third party impulse responses, having new alternate signal chain routing capabilities, and much more.”

HeadRush also makes use of impulse response (IR) technology from none other than Celestion, perhaps the biggest name in guitar speaker-dom.  More than simply an EQ process, IR mimics the phasing, reflections, and other nuances imparted on the sounds coming out of an amplifier miked up in a particular environment, say a dynamic mic being used in a small club. You’re not simply modeling an amp or a rig in isolation, you’re using a simulated live environment to give your sound even further depth and detail.

We announced the HeadRush Pedalboard around the same time Celestion announced their Celestion Plus impulse responses. We immediately knew we wanted to partner with Celestion because of their history, but also because of the quality of the IRs that they have put out,” Cobb noted. The HeadRush comes with an IR derived from a Celestion Creamback speaker, with room to add more.

They’ve done an amazing job, and I highly recommend checking out their whole library, not just the ones we include! They’re a great way to add even more great tones to your HeadRush Pedalboard,” Cobb said. The HeadRush has room to add up to two GBs of IR (that’s a lot!) and some developers, like Joey Sturgis Tones, are offering free IRs specifically for HeadRush owners.

The Bottom Line

In TTK’s extensive demonstration (click here or watch below), he shows us how easy HeadRush has made it to harness the power of a custom processor driven by robust software through a piece of technology that has become a part of normal life: the touchscreen.  With it, our eyes are also “hearing” our signal chain, and enabling us to make changes quicker and more efficiently and get down to the business of making music with inspiring, head=turning tone, which is what it’s all about. That’s what great pieces of gear enable us as musicians to do; with HeadRush upping the modeling game, we can up our own game.


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