Real world impressions of the Horizon Apex Preamp?

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by Silence2-38554, Nov 10, 2019.

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  1. Silence2-38554

    Silence2-38554 SS.org Regular

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    I've been thinking about picking one of these up for a while, but looking through YouTube reviews, etc., it seems to be REALLY hit & miss. Some reviews it sounds great, others it sounds like a dark piece of cardboard. What's the deal?? I absolutely love my Precision Drive, so naturally I'd like to try something else from Horizon.

    What I did notice is that most reviewers that got a great tone out of it weren't actually using it as a preamp, but as a distortion pedal in from of their amp's existing preamp. When used as an actual preamp going into the FX loop return, it sounds, well.... pretty bad.

    How have people here gotten along with it? Since it can be run on a 9v, I'm honestly hoping to use it as a portable / travel-able "rig in a box" & just run headphones out of the line-level output.
     
  2. Spinedriver

    Spinedriver SS.org Regular

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    From what I've read, a lot of people are saying that it's basically an MXR 5150 pedal with a cab sim and a "tight" switch instead of a "boost" button. There are a few demos out there that a/b them and there does seem to be a slight difference between the two but I don't know if it would warrant the extra $100 or so price tag. It really depends on if you like the "cab sim" feature or not. As you pointed out, a lot of people don't seem to like it very much.

    Even funnier, is that when Rabea from Anderton's did his demo video of it, he basically used it as if it were a boost pedal into an already overdriven amp channel. Apparently, he either forgot what he was demoing or he just thought it sounded better as a boost than it did on it's own as a preamp.
     
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  3. narad

    narad Owned a Zune

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    Hills I will die on: Preamp pedals are just boosts with a lot of gain.
     
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  4. Spaced Out Ace

    Spaced Out Ace 0 0 1 0 0 6 5 0 3\

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    Lol. wtf?
     
  5. Spinedriver

    Spinedriver SS.org Regular

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    Technically, a "preamp" pedal is just a regular distortion pedal with added cab emulation at the output so that you can run it either directly into a power amp or mixing console and not have it sound like fizzy garbage. That's what the Sansamp pedals are, so you could say that they were the first "preamp" pedals to be widely popular.
    The thing is, a lot of companies are just throwing the word 'preamp' on whatever drive pedal they make just as a marketing tool, regardless of whether it'll actually work as a preamp or not. The Mooer micro pedals & the AMT Legend pedals ARE preamp pedals because they have cab emulation. Pedals like the MXR 5150 or Empress Heavy are NOT preamp pedals because if you were to plug them into a regular power amp (not the fx return of an amp head) they will pretty much sound like hot garbage.

    A number of people are making the comparison is because the Horizon pedals are a collaboration between Misha and MXR. They are helping him out with pedal designs and are doing all of the manufacturing. If you look at the Apex & 5150 side by side, they are (pretty much) the same size, same knobs and even the same layout. That's not to say they didn't change the center frequencies for the b/m/h or perhaps different pots to give allow a wider range for tone variance but the inherent gain characteristic seems to be close to the same.

    Here's Misha himself using a 5150 pedal with a Precision Drive.

     
  6. Shask

    Shask SS.org Regular

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    I am confused by this statement. A cab emulation is really something completely different and has nothing to do with it being a preamp. It is just a nice perk of an extra feature. A great example is pretty much every tube rack preamp from the 80s and 90s.

    Being a Preamp basically means the output volume and impedance is set to match going into a poweramp. They have to have much higher volume available as compared to a normal distortion pedal.

    The other difference is normally distortion pedals are designed with the idea in mind that they are going into a scooped clean channel. Distortion pedals tend to have way more mids than normal to compensate for that. Pure preamp pedals should be designed so that the EQ is naturally more scooped because they will not be passing through another preamp with its own EQ in the amp.
     
  7. narad

    narad Owned a Zune

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    A preamp pedal should be a pedal format preamp. Preamps don't have cab emulation, therefore preamp pedals cannot be defined as having cab emulation. Q. E. D.
     
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  8. ATRguitar91

    ATRguitar91 SS.org Regular

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    Gonna have to disagree with this. As noted by @Shask, a pedal being a preamp has more to do with how it's EQed and the output it has on tap.
    The preamp pedals I've used that are a proper preamp pedal have much wider EQ capabilities than a simple distortion. This really comes into play with the treble range. Most distortion pedals into an effects return are too dark to sound good on their own. But pedals geared towards being a preamp, like the Empress Heavy, are able to put out a lot more high end to sound good straight into a preamp. Admittedly this can be fixed with EQ on the power amp or something like a depth finder.

    To get back on topic, the treble problem seems to show up with the Apex preamp. It's just too dark to work on its own as a preamp. I feel like it gets a bit more flack than it deserves as one can likely coax good tones out of it, but there are better options out there for the price range.
     
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  9. Spaced Out Ace

    Spaced Out Ace 0 0 1 0 0 6 5 0 3\

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    Not what my comment was in reference to. It was in reference to Rabea.
     
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  10. Spinedriver

    Spinedriver SS.org Regular

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    I stand corrected. :cond:

    Pretty much every pedal I've ever tried that wasn't a 'preamp' sounded brittle and 'fizzy' (the Mooer Preamp did this when I plugged it directly into my interface and turned the irs off). I guess I'm just equating the compensated eq at the output as being a 'cab sim'.
     
  11. Shask

    Shask SS.org Regular

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    Speaking of Mooer, I think they corrected their design after the initial run and customer complaints. There are many complaints out there about these having very low volume and brittle sound. I have an older one, and a couple newer ones, and the newer ones are definitely better. They cranked out much more volume, and it sounds fuller overall. I think those early ones were not right in some way. I have to keep the volume on like 9 on my 001, but on like 3 on my 2nd gen 005.
     
  12. Spinedriver

    Spinedriver SS.org Regular

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    I just recently got the Preamp Live and I gotta say I'm pretty impressed. I will say though that when I run my MXR 5150 directly into a Mooer Radar, it does sound pretty "dark" as you put it. However, if I run it into a clean preamp model in a Pod X3, it fixes that right up.
     
  13. wakjob

    wakjob SS.org Regular

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    Did you see Ola Englund in Australia (I think) at that guys house that had all the Dime guitars?...

    He had the Apex plugged into the front end of a Peavey XXX, but couldn't tell if he was using it as a boost to the dirt channel or the clean channel...

     
  14. Spaced Out Ace

    Spaced Out Ace 0 0 1 0 0 6 5 0 3\

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    I think it is into the clean channel. They also mention it when Ola plays the red V.
     
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  15. thrashinbatman

    thrashinbatman SS.org Regular

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    That's what preamps sound like when not run into an IR or cab. When I plug any of my heads into my Captor and don't add the IR, it sounds harsh, fizzy, and nasty. Any high-gain situation needs a cab or IR to smooth it out. The benefit of the Apex or the Mooers is that they come with one built-in so you can run it into an interface or to FOH without micing a cab or getting another device to load an IR. It's been said by now, but the difference is that the Mooers are designed to be used in their own right, not in conjunction with a full amp like distortion and overdrive pedals.
     
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  16. narad

    narad Owned a Zune

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    Anyone that wants to make a distinction between distortion pedal and preamp pedal on the grounds of EQ, what are these?

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  17. ATRguitar91

    ATRguitar91 SS.org Regular

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  18. narad

    narad Owned a Zune

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    That all sounds sensible but also totally made up and arbitrary. Like if I had a distortion pedal with a wide frequency range and a presence control, it just magically became a preamp pedal? That mesa pedal looks like it has a pretty robust EQ section, but it's a distortion pedal. The Apex pedal calls itself a preamp, but it doesn't have the presence control (and frankly probably has a more restricted EQ than a lot of these other "distortion" pedals.) I mean, hey, look -- presence control, must be another preamp pedal:

    [​IMG] Ahhh, shit it says distortion on it.

    People ran distortion pedals directly into preamps long before marketing them as preamps became a thing. Just because you can stick it into the fx return doesn't make it a new type of device.

    More likely: people wanted to charge $300+ for a distortion pedal and wanted to market it differently.
     
  19. HeHasTheJazzHands

    HeHasTheJazzHands greg rulz ok

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    Well shit, if they fixed the volume and noise issues with the Mooers, I may need to try one again.
     
  20. USMarine75

    USMarine75 Plays Authentic ® Contributor

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    What's the difference between a distortion pedal and a preamp pedal?





    $100.
     

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