Hotone Xtomp – was it worth the wait?

Today, 483 days after they announced it at NAMM 2015, I finally received my Hotone Xtomp stompbox simulator.  Or ‘portal to infinity’ as they style it.

Xtomp_Perspective_V01_160405They’ll probably be very glad that I’ve received it as I have been flaming regularly on  social media about the extraordinarily long delay in production and fulfillment.

So after all this time, how is it?

Well the packaging is promising for a start.  A solid and very tidy matt black box with a very discreet stamped gloss Xtomp legend opens to reveal an equally matt black and tidy interior, containing an instruction leaflet, some identification stickers and beneath a dividing bulkhead, the Xtomp unit itself.

They’ve clearly taken some pointers from Apple, because it looks and feels like a Mac.  Solid, smooth to the touch, silver all over and slim.  Very easy on the eye and at 472 grams it’s also reassuringly hefty, not flimsy.

It doesn’t come with any leads, so you’ll need your own 9v DC power supply – and later, for firmware updates or computer-based editing, a usb to micro usb cable.

Like any stompbox, it’s very simple to fire up, you just give it some power, plug in a guitar,  feed the output to an amp and you’re ready to go…

…and you will of course also need to have downloaded the app containing the library of effects from whichever app store supports your phone and/or tablet.

I used my ’72 Tele and my ’60 TV Junior, a reissue ’64 Deluxe Reverb and two Hughes and Kettner Switchblade 50’s, all set completely clean, to test it out.

The preloaded model was one of the combo models – ‘Chorium Dist’, which comprises models of a Boss DS-1 drive and CE-2 chorus.  Straight away it made a pretty nice sound, though the drive sounded a bit clanky as if the chorus was still engaged even when dialed right down.

I like drives, so I moved on by loading the Hermida Zendrive model, which was much more like it.  Similar sound and control to the venerated original.  From there I went quickly through all the drive models before moving on to the modulation and ambient fx.

Each model takes about 20-30 seconds to load wirelessly and as is the way with bluetooth, connection sometimes gets lost.  I found my iPad was rather better than my iPhone for connecting (both are recent top-end models running the latest IOS).  Sometimes I had to close the app and even reboot the pedal by powering down and up again.  But generally, it worked pretty well.

If 20-30 seconds sounds like a long time, don’t be deterred.  I noticed that this was only for the initial loads, the times being considerably shorter, like a few seconds, when I went back to effects that had already loaded earlier.  And you can still noodle away on the previously-loaded effect during long loads.

I also have the excellent Digitech iStomp, which uses a (now outdated 30-pin) cable to load sounds in about 20 seconds, and some TC pedals which cleverly load their ‘Toneprints’ almost instantly via an electronic ‘chirp’ which you play from your phone into your guitar’s pickups.

The quality of the fx in all of these pedals is good and the Xtomp is right up there, probably better.  I found myself dialling back the top end on my Deluxe slightly on the Xtomp’s drive models to sweeten them up a bit, but this was not to the cost of my direct clean sound.

There’s no point is detailing which models appealed to me most in this initial exploration because everybody will have their own tastes.  Suffice to say that everything I tried with both guitars and all three amps, the H&K’s in stereo, sounded very good.

The drives also clean up nicely as you roll the volume back, which you can’t always say even for some pretty high-end stomps.  I didn’t spend much time in the four amp models as I was already playing though tube amps.

The unit has six adjustment knobs in two staggered rows of three, but only the ones in use in each patch light up, so it’s surprisingly easy to figure out what does what.  Easier than the Digitech iStomp – it only has four knobs but because they’re in a straight line and don’t light up, so it’s much more difficult to tell what’s on and which knob controls what.

Given the intrinsic upgradeability of the Xtomp and the promise of ‘300 models to choose from’, what would I like to see next?

…a spring reverb model.  There are currently only two revebs, ‘Hall’ and Room’, both quite ‘digital.  By the way, the predelays on which are really severe…

…a looper model with a decent length loop, like a TC Ditto

…tap tempo in the delay models, activated by holding the footswitch down for a couple of seconds

…a model of one of the modern clutch of drives in the wake of the Klon Centaur, which can mix clean and driven signals (eg Rockett Archer. EH Soul Food, )

 …opto trem, Univibe

…compressor and drive combo and several drive and echo combos

…and for fun, a decent, flexible ringmod

… regular firmware updates

…and an editor, preferably one that works on laptop and tablet like TC’s, Fractal’s Kemper’s, line 6’s….  Hopefully one that enables control of colour of illumination so you can tell what an effect is without having to listen to it (eg red for drive, blue for chorus, or whatever)

So was it worth the wait?  Hotone will probably be relieved to hear me say yes, this is a great product even if the price has risen rather steeply since launch. I’m likely to buy three more so I can build a powerful, compact repurposable board comprising four.

 

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Hotone Xtomp – was it worth the wait?

  1. I bought it because it sounded as if there was already 300 pedals to choose from. Very dissapointed. Now I read that they will be charging money for sets of new stomp models! Not happy. For $250 there are much better multi effects units. It is very believable, thats its good point. If they update it to 300 models for a minimal amount or preferably free, I will call it top 5 on the market. We shall see.

  2. Mathias Moermans says:

    This is not worth it at all. I have it for about 2 months now and it litterly doesn’t work more than it does. I can play a couple of minutes with the pedal, but then it just starts to jam and I can’t do nothing with it anymore for 20minutes. After waiting for it and restreaming the effect from my phone in my pedal, the process repeats itself.

    IF it would actually work, it would be a decent pedal. Still there are way better pedals for this price if you’d ask me. Would not recommend at all.

  3. Johnny Duggan says:

    ALL stores advertise this as having 300 fx models. At best this is incorrect and at worst just plain deceitful. Not impressed

  4. Rockbeare says:

    Well that’s naughty but not really Hotone’s fault. IMHO some if the fx models are pretty good and they keep updating quite regularly too. If you don’t like it/them (whoever they are), don’t buy one!

  5. Mark says:

    I know that your eyes/brain automatically think “Chromium” (as you wrote “Chromium Dist” in your article) when you look at the Xtomp’s plethora of chorus effects, but Hotone actually made up a word: “Choruium”. I think it’s a blend of “Chorus” and “Auditorium”…?

  6. Rockbeare says:

    Spellcheck and a lack of oversight on my part before publishing, I’m afraid.

    Thanks for the correction, post updated.

  7. Mark says:

    Sorry, my comment sounds rather obnoxious when I read it now. Mostly I’m annoyed that Hotone made up a freaking word. We should all just be calling it “Chromium” and make them change it… haha

  8. Bill says:

    I wonder how the sound effects of the iStomp compare with the Xtomp?

  9. Rockbeare says:

    Probably rather better, it being a few years on and the Xtomp using a different kind of tech. The Xtomp guys are also more vigorous at issuing models and updates, including many more than Digitech ever offered, like a looper and combination fx.

    And because the Stomp is bluetooth, you don’t need a clunky lead whose inline plug forces you to separate multiple iStomps on a pedalboard, taking up too much lateral space. And lately a 16-pin to lightning adaptor too. All of which is why I only ever got one iStomp which I have permanently set to a very good Leslie model.

  10. Randy Griner says:

    I purchased my Hotone Xtomp from Andertons Music in the UK shortly after its release. The happily and speedily shipped it to the US. After the VAT fee from the UK was subtracted, I paid $174 USD for my pedal. No import or duty fees were charged due to being under $800. Looking back, I wish I had purchased 4 or 5 at the time I bought my first one. I absolutely LOVE this pedal. New pedals are added to the library on the last Friday of each month. As of today (5, March, 2017) there are 153 different effects, even including a Looper. I have had no issues with loading all the current effects from my library into the unit. I use my Xtomp approximately 4-5 hours per day, and have only had one issue (which ultimately was my own fault as the firmware needed to be updated, and I had failed to do that). I have kept my eyes open for any Xtomps appearing at one of the 5 Pawn Shops I frequent). On a scale of 1-10, I would rate the Xtomp at a solid 9. If the price would drop I would give it a 10. Very thin unit, but built solid and will hold up to heavy gigging! Great job Hotone….keep up the excellent work…If you drop the price 20% (without changing materials or electronic components, I will buy 4 more immediately)! I don’t understand all the negative comments about how many effects they have. You could have downloaded the application (without even having the pedal, and seen how many FX’s were listed)…For the guy who says his “locks up” after 15 minutes; you have a bad unit…take it back or request a return shipping label so they can replace your unit…My pedal has well over 500 hours of use, 50+ large Venue gigs, and has been dropped at least 10 times; but still looks like I just took it out of the box. I would, and have, highly recommended this pedal and will continue to do so!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *