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Unread 05-18-2008, 06:27 PM   #1
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The Rocktron Preamps Thread

We've had a lot of people on the board the past few weeks bringing up the good old rocktron gear, and i thought it'd be a good idea to get a real thread going about the different preamps and what their strengths are. Just a disclaimer, this is all my opinion from my experiences, how these amps work for you is for you to decide.

The most important period for Rocktron was the mid-late 90s IMO. The preamps they had at the time were:




The Rocktron Gainiac: a low cost introduction to rack preamps. Not the best sound in the world, but if you'd been using DOD pedals before this, chances are this was a step up. Definitely NOT pro gear, but nice for beginners. There's also no MIDI compatibility.




The Rocktron Chameleon (original blackface): This preamp was undersold by Rocktron. I say that because if you just plugged into one in a guitar shop, you'd probably think it sucked. Most people did. The fact is the initial presets Rocktron programmed into this unit were total ass and did not showcase the unit's true potential. It's a shame too, because this unit is a particular favorite of mine. I still use it to this day and I own two of them. They can do just about anything tonally with one exception. If you're looking for a tube-style tone with a clean sound that just breaks up a little, this is NOT the amp for you. The cleans are crystal clear, think live Metallica cleans or early Joe Satriani, while the heavy sound can be literally ANYTHING you want it to be. The heavy sounds can be as punchy as AC/DC or as hot as any death metal. I personally think the sweet spot on the amp is pretty much in the range I play, which is in that Dream Theater to Fear Factory kind of sound. The effects on it are solid too, but if you have a discerning ear you'll probably want to pick up a rack effects unit to go with it. The Wah on it is pretty fantastic, though.




The Rocktron Chameleon Online (teal face):Exactly the same preamp as the Chameleon, they were just selling the fact that you could download patches from their website.




The Rocktron Voodoo Valve: Another absolutely awesome preamp. It's the Chameleon with a 12AX7 tube in it. There's been debate as to how the tube is actually used, but from my experience, every time I play one, I think it sounds pretty much exactly like the Chameleon. This unit is still made by Rocktron, and if both my Chameleons died and I couldn't find a replacement (they're becoming more rare), I'd snatch up one of these in a heartbeat.



The Rocktron Piranha: It is an absolute travesty that this unit didn't pick up steam. Arguably one of the best high-gain single space rack units available. I would compare this to a rackmountable dual rectifier. This pre comes with 2 12AX7s and definitely sounds like a tube amp. It has loads of crunch, searing gain, and a nice fat clean channel. Along with it's 99 presets, it had a sweepable mid frequency that allowed you to really dial in your sound a bit more, while still keeping the general usage simple. Rocktron should still be making this unit. It absolutely KILLS the Prophecy IMO (and I think the Prophecy is still pretty cool).


I've owned all of the above sans the Ganiac. For my tastes the Chameleon/Voodoo valve sound was the closest to what I was going for. That's just what I've used for the past 11 years, and with every new amp or piece of gear I purchase, I usually eventually find myself trying to dial it in to sound like the Chameleon, so I guess that amp is definitely my sound

I didn't mention the Chameleon 2000 here, mainly because I have very little experience with it, and all my experience with it told me it was sub-par compared to the other preamps listed. But hey, if you own one and love it post up here about it, I'd love to hear some great clips from the 2000.
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Unread 05-18-2008, 06:35 PM   #2
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as a footnote, most of you guys know my rig is centered around a Rocktron Chameleon.

Now here's some examples of the unit, both in a studio & live context.

All the audio on the next page is played entirely with the Chameleon, direct line-in:
MySpace.com - Vince LuPone - TEMPE, Arizona - Rock / Metal / Progressive - www.myspace.com/vincelupone

and here's an example of what the chameleon sounds like live in my rig:

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Unread 05-18-2008, 07:03 PM   #3
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Man you make that Chameleon sound very appealing. I'll have to try one out someday.

I just got a Piranha not too long ago and it's awesome. With that mid control you can dial in so many different sounds you almost don't even know where to start. Its also got a very good gain range for just about anything you want and the cleans are great as well, so overall it's very flexible. I'm already selling it unfortunately because I need money and I can't afford to keep both the Piranha and my JMP-1 and the sound of the JMP-1 just really does it for me right now so the Piranha has to go I really wish I had the money to set up a second rig with it but thats just not in the cards for me right now. I'm definitely going to build a second rack with one someday.
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Unread 05-18-2008, 08:15 PM   #4
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Thanks for the video link - nothing beats a real life demo! Have you had a chance to try out any of the Digitech, TC Electronics or Boss rack-mount units? I'm trying to get as many opinions as possible to see which one might best suit my style . . .




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Unread 05-18-2008, 08:22 PM   #5
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My Chameleon is going through a TC Electronics G-Force and a Mesa power amp. Chris, the site admin here, is a major proponent of the Digitech gear. Myself, I'm not a huge fan of them, but they're cool for what they are, and they're absolutely great at low volume.

When I bought my Chameleon back in 1997, it was in a rack with a Boss preamp, a Marshall JMP1, an ADA MP2, and a Mesa Triaxis. The Chameleon and Triaxis stood out from the rest, and the Chameleon was $400 less than the Triaxis at the time ($700 for the Chamleon, $1100 for the TriAxis) and I wound up with the Chameleon.

I personally prefer the Rocktron, Mesa, or Engl preamps, but once again this just from experience, and at that my Engl experience is very limited.
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Unread 05-18-2008, 08:35 PM   #6
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i have a rocktron chameleon 2000 and a prophesy. i've also used the prophesy 2 presets(which is the only difference between the two). i prefer my prophesy but i did get decent sounds out of the cham2000

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Unread 05-18-2008, 08:37 PM   #7
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I'm particularly interested in the effects these units have, e.g. delay, reverb, flanger, etc. I've been wanting a good doubling effect for a long time, and have heard some units in the past that produced a good doubled sound. Programmability is also important, as I like to load in the effects in the order I'd use them in a song. I have 2 digital delays now, and plan to use them with whatever else I get (as long as it sounds good).

I was looking through the VooDu manual and it has a lot of the basic effects I want. The Million Dollar Question is how it sounds (needless to say) . . .




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Unread 05-20-2008, 11:25 AM   #8
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VOODU

IM USING A VOODU VALVE, I HATED THIS THING AT 1ST. I WAS WANTING TO JUST PLUG IT IN AND GO AND IT JUST DIDNT WORK OUT THAT WAY, I EVEN TOOK PICS TO PUT IT BACK ON EBAY.
AFTER SAYING THE HELL WITH IT AND MESSED AROUND WITH IT I AM LOVING IT, I WILL SAY MY BROTHER THE LEAD GUITAR PLAYER IN THE BAND HAS THE POPHACY AND IT DOSE SOUND THAT GOOD.
I CANT SAY ENOUGH ABOUT ROCKTRON, I WAS READING SOME POST ON ANOTHER SITE AND SOMEONE ACTUALY SAID" I CANT GET ANY HEAVY DISTORTION SOUNDS FROM" MAN I JUST CANT SEE THAT AT ALL.
THE ONLY THING THAT BUGS ME IS THE "ONLINE VOODU VALVE" THEY ARE ALL ABLE TO GO ONLINE. MINE IS ONE OF HE EARLY USA VVS AND I CAN GO ON PATCH BAY JUST AS THE NEW ONES CAN. I GUESS ITS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY.

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I DONT KNOW IF IT HELPS BUT THIS IS THE LINK TO OUR BAND SITE, WE HAVE 3 SONGS ON IT, ALL THREE I USED THE VOODU VALVE, THEY ARE ALL 3 DIFERANT TYPS OF MUSIC SO YOU CAN SEE THE VERSATILITY OF IT AND THATS BEFORE I GOT INTO IT AND MADE SOME GREAT PATCHES
MySpace.com - Traffic on the Backbone - SPOTSYLVANIA, Virginia - Rock / Alternative / Metal - www.myspace.com/trafficonthebackbone

Last edited by astro929; 05-20-2008 at 11:27 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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Unread 05-20-2008, 11:35 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astro929 View Post
IM USING A VOODU VALVE, I HATED THIS THING AT 1ST. I WAS WANTING TO JUST PLUG IT IN AND GO AND IT JUST DIDNT WORK OUT THAT WAY, I EVEN TOOK PICS TO PUT IT BACK ON EBAY.
AFTER SAYING THE HELL WITH IT AND MESSED AROUND WITH IT I AM LOVING IT, I WILL SAY MY BROTHER THE LEAD GUITAR PLAYER IN THE BAND HAS THE POPHACY AND IT DOSE SOUND THAT GOOD.
I CANT SAY ENOUGH ABOUT ROCKTRON, I WAS READING SOME POST ON ANOTHER SITE AND SOMEONE ACTUALY SAID" I CANT GET ANY HEAVY DISTORTION SOUNDS FROM" MAN I JUST CANT SEE THAT AT ALL.
THE ONLY THING THAT BUGS ME IS THE "ONLINE VOODU VALVE" THEY ARE ALL ABLE TO GO ONLINE. MINE IS ONE OF HE EARLY USA VVS AND I CAN GO ON PATCH BAY JUST AS THE NEW ONES CAN. I GUESS ITS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY.

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MESA BOOGIE 50/50

I DONT KNOW IF IT HELPS BUT THIS IS THE LINK TO OUR BAND SITE, WE HAVE 3 SONGS ON IT, ALL THREE I USED THE VOODU VALVE, THEY ARE ALL 3 DIFERANT TYPS OF MUSIC SO YOU CAN SEE THE VERSATILITY OF IT AND THATS BEFORE I GOT INTO IT AND MADE SOME GREAT PATCHES
MySpace.com - Traffic on the Backbone - SPOTSYLVANIA, Virginia - Rock / Alternative / Metal - www.myspace.com/trafficonthebackbone
Welcome to the forum, Good advice, and clips(nice clean tone BTW)... But...





Vince, you mentioned the Gainiac, what about the Gainiac 2? That's supposed to be a little different.

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Unread 05-20-2008, 11:39 AM   #10
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thanks

haha thanks, i hit that thinking its the tab from time to time...
thanks for the welcome
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Unread 05-20-2008, 12:15 PM   #11
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I totally agree with Vince about the Chameleon not breaking up, period. I will go to any subgenre of metal and to the cleanest of jazz tones but it will not break up, ala modern indie music for example, if i'm to merely turn down my guitar volume to help clean it up then that is where the inbuilt hush cuts it all off.

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Unread 05-22-2008, 05:43 AM   #12
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I already asked that in another thread but no answer
So, Rocktron guys, how is the Gainiac 2?
I need a cheap high gain preamp and this fits nicely as it's 179€ shipped
I read some good review over the net so I'm near ready to pull the plug on one


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Unread 05-22-2008, 10:03 AM   #13
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Quote:
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I already asked that in another thread but no answer
So, Rocktron guys, how is the Gainiac 2?
I need a cheap high gain preamp and this fits nicely as it's 179€ shipped
I read some good review over the net so I'm near ready to pull the plug on one
The Gainiac 1 and 2 I heard sounded Metal Zone-ish. Take from that what you will.
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Unread 05-22-2008, 10:44 AM   #14
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This means mega fizzy? damn, I'll try to snag a voodoo valve if one come up cheap on eBay.


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Unread 01-13-2010, 01:07 PM   #15
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Hey guys, new to this forum but I've been using Rocktron gear since 1989. I always used the Pro GAP preamp and was very satisfied. My rig consisted of 2 pro gaps, one original and one version 2, split left and right and eq'd slightly different. I also used the RSP 360 compressor and RSP Intelliverb for effects. I've still got my version 2 pro gap that I record with, but for live I now use a Recto preamp and Mesa 2:90 power amp. Here is a video from 1993 with the Rocktron set up, unlimited gain and pitch harmonics to burn.

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Unread 01-13-2010, 01:25 PM   #16
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I just recently picked up a Rocktron ProGap 2.0 and like it quite a bit. It is a very very clean, albeit solid state sound. I crank it through a Marshall EL34 100/100 power amp, and It is extremely crunch and heavy sounding. however, it does lack a bit of Tube warmth. But that's not always a bad thing. If I want that kind of sound, it excells.

I have also had a Rocktron Prophesy, and Voodu Valve.
Actually 2 Prophesy's...1 made in Korea, 1 in USA. There was a monster difference between the 2. I felt the Korean one sounded weaker than the USA one all the time. I sold it, and got an amazing deal on the USA one (something like $350), but greed and financial hurt got the better of me, and after wanting to keep it, but having a hard time dialing a really useable tone out of it, (it makes a lot of 'fake sounding guitar tones') I decided I needed the money more, and sold it on ebay for more money.
There is something to the tone of the Prophesy, and perhaps is more the Rocktron tone that I like, and yet dislike as well. It's good, makes you sound like a better player than you are, or makes solo style stuff sound better with all the effects and such...but I just always felt like it didn't sound real enough, had a somewhat plasticky sound to the tone...compared to all my tube amps.
I scored a Voodu valve for like $150, liked it better than the Prophesy, but decided to let that one go as well. I have so much other gear that I thought I got better tones out of, but I still think the Rocktron gear is quality stuff.

That ProGAP is something special though. I would like to check out a Pirannha as well however.

And should probably sell my HUSH.
I don't think I have ever even used it come to think of it...
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Unread 01-13-2010, 01:58 PM   #17
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I just recently picked up a Rocktron ProGap 2.0 and like it quite a bit. It is a very very clean, albeit solid state sound. I crank it through a Marshall EL34 100/100 power amp, and It is extremely crunch and heavy sounding. however, it does lack a bit of Tube warmth. But that's not always a bad thing. If I want that kind of sound, it excells.
I had a ProGap years ago. I remember it being noisy, even with the noise gate. That being said - I loved the the distorted tones. I used it a lot to cop the GK-produced sounds of the Maiden's Seventh Son album. Now that I think about it, I miss that unit. Oh eBay... here I come. Again.

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Unread 01-13-2010, 05:44 PM   #18
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Hey guys, new to this forum but I've been using Rocktron gear since 1989. I always used the Pro GAP preamp and was very satisfied. My rig consisted of 2 pro gaps, one original and one version 2, split left and right and eq'd slightly different. I also used the RSP 360 compressor and RSP Intelliverb for effects. I've still got my version 2 pro gap that I record with, but for live I now use a Recto preamp and Mesa 2:90 power amp. Here is a video from 1993 with the Rocktron set up, unlimited gain and pitch harmonics to burn.

You bumped a thread from almost 2 years ago for that?



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Unread 01-13-2010, 06:30 PM   #19
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This happens all the time cause of Google search. People search a piece of gear, SS.org comes up at the top every time, and they join and comment without noticing the date of OP. Just a suggestion, another site I frequent auto-locks threads after so many days, unless its stickied. Just sayin...

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Unread 02-22-2010, 02:01 PM   #20
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Quote:
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You bumped a thread from almost 2 years ago for that?
Ah...yeah. It got the thread moving again...albeit your post didn't exactly add anything...

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Unread 02-22-2010, 06:28 PM   #21
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Still have my Piranha!


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Unread 02-23-2010, 11:56 AM   #22
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and I'm still selling mine.

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Unread 02-24-2010, 03:09 PM   #23
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just got a rocktron pro gap!

haven't plugged it in yet.

how can i slave the power section of my mesa triple to use this preamp with it?
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Unread 01-17-2012, 12:50 PM   #24
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I really hope I'm not going to annoy anyone by reviving this thread but I couldnt keep quiet. New member here. I used to own a chameleon. liked it but could NOT get a good moderate overdrive breakup sound a la SRV. thats why I got rid of it. I wanted that sound among others but that sound in particular is so FREAKING expressive. anyway, after I quit gigging (east coast only), I got rid of my chameleon and digitech DSP 2101. pretty much got rid of everything. sold my rack and all components. how many times have I sold stuff and regretted it? well, I had a 69 Fender super Reverb I bought for $400 and sold a year later for $350 and thought I struck a GREAT deal. lol sigh....

After getting married (another sigh.....) I yearned for something so I bought the Rocktron Taboo Artist. kinda like a chameleon in a floor-only-unit. I still have it and have managed to kinda get an SRV tone. forget using the overdrive distortion. I EQ'd the shit out of the digital distortion and pulled the gain back and have managed, with a great sounding but cheapo guitar, to get a pretty darned good SRV sound but its difficult to play and doesnt feel great. So, I then JUST bought a Sansamp ps1 and holy crap can I get a good SRV tone. I still really want an all-in-one unit so I read the comments about the Prophesy with great interest.

I also wanted to state my agreement with the guy who said he loved/hated rocktron. to me, the sounds are thin even though they can sound hardcore for the more intense distortions but rich is never a word I would use to describe rocktron stuff. My roland GP-8 sounded very rich and warm and thick (but definitely no SRV sound). so, my quest is to get SRV with effects. its seems SRV tone is most definitely the hardest to get. a good clean and slightly broken up sound are the achilles heel of most processors. My question to you folks is this: one would think the tubes in the Prophesy and Voodu Valve would really help get that SRV sound. Hell, the Prophesy even has one of its gain stages called Texas Blues. how much more SRV-targeted can you get?

So, does the Prophesy sound thicker than previous Rocktron products? does the texas blues amp option sound texas bluesy? My fear is that the Rocktron thinness just would never work with that sound in a million years no matter what but I cant play one at the GC near me sooooo........... dats why I joined here. (btw, the psa-1 sounds fantastic but I'm having trouble dialing out the fizz in the heavier distortion sounds - thats why I'm still looking. so #$%^**@ ing close!!!! maybe a more detailed EQ can help.

So, Voodu valve or Prophesy owners? texas blues sound any good?

(it may not be called texas blues but its called Texas something)

thanks!!!

alex
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Unread 12-21-2013, 08:22 PM   #25
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piranha question

Hey there!

Not even gonna bother checking how innactive this thread is, but I need to ask you.
Just got my piranha today (first rocktron product ever for me), got it second hand so... no manual.
Downloaded the manual from rocktron... No factory presets list/description? Is this right or am I missing something?

Any fellow owners have the original manual? if so did it come with a list of the presets (I know the marshall jmp-1 has it)

Haven't had much time to play with it yet, so I'll get back to you after I can develop an informed oppinion... but judging it before-hand... if it is good enough for Glenn and KK, who am I to challenge them?

Cheers, J.
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