We’ve been waiting for the full reveal on this one for a while as the first teaser image for this was Insta’d on the 14th of September last year. There were some expectations that this might feature at Winter NAMM, but it seems it’s only now fully formed.
What we have here then is all of TC Electronic’s TonePrint-enabled pedals in a single unit and available across 5 any way configurable slots. This means you get all the different variations of effects from the following pedals/pedal ranges:
It’s not clear on whether the Alter Ego Vintage Echo algorithms are onboard too, but I would presume so. Meaning 1000’s of existing variations plus the TonePrint Studio to make your own versions. There’s also rumours that there will be some version of Ditto Looping available via a forthcoming firmware update.
The pedal works by assigning up to 75 Effects with TonePrint variations to each of the 5 slots - and then assigning footswitch and single knob parameters - MASH, Tap-Tempo, Level etc.
You can arrange your effects in any order - it’s not yet clear on Parallel vs Series routing as only the basic Quick Start Guide is currently online that I can see. But in theory you should be able to mix things up anyway you like and store up to 127 Boards (Board = full row of 5 Effects Presets). Then you can toggle between board using the Board up/down toggle - hopefully some footswitch-enabled functions help with this too! Each of the 5 Effect panels displays Effect Name, Footswitch Assignment (MASH etc.), and TonePrint reference - name and creator.
In Play Mode the Footswitches are On/Off + Advanced Mode (Mash / Tap-Tempo) and the dials above each effect panel change a single on-the-fly parameter. In Edit Mode you select relevant Effect panel/slot via footswitch - then turn the first knob to select specific Effect, last knob to select relevant TonePrint variation, and knobs 2-4 control the 3 key Parameters for said selected Effect. All other fine-tuning settings I believe you will need to configure in the TonePrint Studio App - which you can then ’beam’ to the device via Bluetooth - thank goodness!
The unit still has a USB port on its rear for more substantial firmware updates. It also has full Stereo Ins and Outs, a separate Effects Loop - to enable 4-cable-method, and full Midi In/Thru.
It’s a pretty wide enclosure size - the length of a typical ruler really - dimensions are 298.5 x 116 x 53 mm. Weight is 1.4 kg, and more substantially still the power requirement is 9V DC [-] 600mA - which will mean combing two power-supply ports for most supplies, or else using a Cioks DC7 or similar which has up to 660mA for each of its outlets.
Essentially you have here pretty much all the Delay, Reverb, Modulation, Pitch and Utility algorithms you would need - the TonePrint variations deliver well beyond the typical range of parameters for each effect. And if you’re into the TC Electronic Delays and Reverbs - this is essential an X5 model for those - as you can combine 5 of each if you wish.
By and large I’m a big fan of TC Electronic Effects - and though each individual TonePrint enabled pedal is not necessarily the absolute best in its class - the combination of features, format, variations and functions here should see most players very satisfied. There are no drive or amp-sims or fuzz voicings here - so it does not really cover the same ground as something like the significantly more compact Line 6 HX Stomp (178 x 126 x 66 mm) and in comparison to power the HX Stomp you need to combine 2 of the Cioks DC7 outlet ports to provide sufficient current!
I think that for those who are used to TC Electronic pedals then the supposed $399/£399 price tag is about right - considering everything you are getting. There is a real simplicity in many ways in deploying this particular unit. The typical individual pedal prices for TC Electronic nowadays are around £80-£100 for the newer ones; while the Line 6 Helix HX Stomp is widely available at £399 too - and in many ways gives you a little more than the Plethora X5.
For my own purposes I can see the benefits and advantages of the Plethora X5 - but its size is kind of prohibitive for my rig - it would take up a lot of real-estate and oust other pedals I actually really love. There is no doubt that many will love this and do incredible things with it - it’s just not currently fitting into my current preferred config - but things are of course liable to change.
There is no doubting the power and flexibility of this unit - and with it having 5 footswitches it would of course take up a good amount of space - yet quite a bit less than the full-size Helixes, Headrushes, Boss GT-1000s and Mooer GE300s. For some players it will no doubt be the perfect match - and I’ve already witnessed a lot of positivity and excitement on the various message boards and social media groups.
I still have some questions about onboard tweakability and the over-reliance on app configuration - but there is some significant power on tap here - and while it won’t suit everybody, some will really love this and do fantastic things with it. It’s probably all-round simpler to get to grips with than all those full featured modelling + multi-fx units, and I’ve seen several players suggest combining this with Boss’s OD-200 for an all-in rig - if they want to go amp-less though they still need some sort of CabSim and IR-loader, while something like the HX Stomp pretty much covers all bases.
This falls currently into the nice-to-have pile for me, rather than essential.