Ho­tone Xtomp mini

A more com­pact ver­sion of the chameleon-like pedal that pro­vides a blank can­vas for you to fill with what­ever ef­fects you choose

Guitarist - - Contents - Words Trevor Cur­wen Pho­tog­ra­phy Olly Cur­tis

Ho­tone’s orig­i­nal Xtomp, which made its de­but last year, might have seemed an enigma to any­one look­ing at it and won­der­ing what on earth its knobs did as none of them were la­belled. But per­haps that was the clue, be­cause those knobs could be what­ever you wanted them to be: the Xtomp pre­sented a smart pedal that could be con­fig­ured to be any ef­fect you wanted, chameleon-style. Now its creators have brought out a new ver­sion, the Xtomp Mini, which has lost the orig­i­nal’s stereo in­puts and out­puts, in turn mak­ing it slightly smaller with a more com­pact and ped­al­board-friendly foot­print.

The key to us­ing the pedal is an app that pro­vides 140 dig­i­tally mod­elled ef­fects, amp sims and speaker sims (with new mod­els be­ing added twice a month), any of which can be loaded singly into the pedal. The app it­self takes sev­eral forms: it can run on a com­puter (Mac or Win­dows), mak­ing a USB con­nec­tion to the pedal, or it can be a mo­bile app for iOS or An­droid, util­is­ing a wire­less Blue­tooth con­nec­tion to load the pedal with what­ever ef­fect you want. You just zap a new ef­fect into the pedal at any time from your phone…

SOUNDS

As sup­plied, our pedal comes with a very nice three-knob de­lay loaded, but with the free app down­loaded to our iPhone, we’re able to scroll through the avail­able mod­els, choose one and load it into the pedal. Ini­tially, some of the more com­plex mod­els can take up to two min­utes to load, but once a par­tic­u­lar model has been loaded, it will only take a few sec­onds the next time you want to se­lect it. When you load an ef­fect into the Xtomp, the knobs that tweak the pa­ram­e­ters for that ef­fect light up – some in dif­fer­ent colours re­lat­ing to their func­tion – although you’ll have to re­mem­ber what pa­ram­e­ter each con­trols from look­ing at the rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the app.

The app’s Li­brary page has all the mod­els neatly laid out and cat­e­gorised, mainly sin­gle am­pli­fiers, cab­i­nets or ef­fects, but also with some mod­els work­ing as a pair (Combo). How­ever, those Combo ef­fects (plus those in the Spe­cial and Sig­na­ture cat­e­gories) are the pre­serve of the orig­i­nal Xtomp and won’t load into the Mini.

The va­ri­ety of sin­gle ef­fects, how­ever, is out­stand­ing, with mod­els of many well-known types avail­able, some with thinly dis­guised names: if you want a Tube Screamer, Big Muff, RAT, Phase 90, CE-1, Uni-Vibe and many oth­ers, you’ll find pretty ac­cu­rate em­u­la­tions here cour­tesy of Ho­tone’s Com­pre­hen­sive Dy­namic Cir­cuit Mod­el­ing (CDCM) tech­nol­ogy.

In A/B tests with some orig­i­nal dirt ped­als, we find the Xtomp ver­sions to be pretty close and note that the amp sims cap­ture the flavour of the real thing. But as an add-on to an ex­ist­ing setup, it’s likely that the main ap­peal here lies in the Fre­quency, Mod­u­la­tion and Am­bi­ent ef­fects where you’ll find a vast ar­ray of EQ tools, de­lays, re­verbs, flangers, phasers, cho­ruses, tremo­los… and some more un­usual ef­fects such as an Electro-Har­monix Q-Tron em­u­la­tion.

ver­dict

While it may lack the stereo op­er­a­tion and dual ef­fects of its older sib­ling, the Mini has two ad­van­tages that, in our view, make it a more en­tic­ing propo­si­tion. Firstly, it’s cheaper (the orig­i­nal re­tails for £199) and, se­condly, it’s eas­ier to in­te­grate into a ped­al­board. With the ad­van­tage over con­ven­tional ped­als in that it can be any ef­fect you want it to be, a sin­gle Xtomp Mini would greatly ex­pand your sonic pos­si­bil­i­ties – but imag­ine the po­ten­tial with sev­eral Mi­nis, of­fer­ing a com­plete re­vamp of your rig at any time.

While the load­ing of the pedal from a mo­bile phone is well im­ple­mented, it’s not some­thing you’d want to be mess­ing with dur­ing a set: get­ting your phone out, se­lect­ing the app, scrolling to the ef­fect you want, load­ing it and then re­set­ting the knobs for the new ef­fect may be a lit­tle too much to ask. But it’s re­ally no has­sle if you need to con­fig­ure it to a par­tic­u­lar ef­fect to see you through a gig, and could be a life­saver for those who play with sev­eral dif­fer­ent bands and need a dif­fer­ent set of ped­als for each. This Xtomp Mini, quite pos­si­bly, rep­re­sents the most prac­ti­cal ad­di­tion for your ’board out there.

PROS Com­pact; nu­mer­ous ef­fects; prac­ti­cal by­pass op­tions; new mod­els added fre­quently

CONS Doesn’t load Ho­tone’s Combo ef­fects; point­ing a phone at the pedal isn’t for ev­ery­one

2 li­brary Mod­els are neatly laid out in a se­ries of cat­e­gories: Am­pli­fier, Dis­tor­tion, Dy­namic, Fre­quency, Mod­u­la­tion, Am­bi­ent, Combo, Cab­i­net, Sig­na­ture and Spe­cial

2

01 KnobS The pedal has six knobs: some ef­fects have six pa­ram­e­ters but many have a lesser num­ber, so only the rel­e­vant knobs light up 02 SocK­etS In­put/out­put jacks are stag­gered on the pedal – it could save space if you’re us­ing mul­ti­ple Xtomps 03 uSb There’s a USB con­nec­tion should you wish to load the pedal from your com­puter rather than us­ing a wire­less con­nec­tion

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