Despite the 16-month delay between launch at NAMM and shipping, I was impressed with the quality and range of FX in my first Hotone XTOMP programmable pedal so I decided to build a new micro pedalboard for jamming and pickup gigs using four of them.

Power on my tiny Mooer V1 micro pedal board was provided by a Pedaltrain Volvo, which was a big disappointment in use. (It claims to be able to deliver 2000mAH of charge, but my experience, backed up by my measurements, was that it barely provided 750. With several digital pedals requiring several hundred mAH of power, this meant it wasn’t giving me much more than an hour’s playing time).

So first I had to find a better power supply. A friend suggested the Palmer, though friends have also given the Warwick good reviews.  Then I sourced three more Xtomps and ganged  them in stereo on a Pedaltrain Nano+ board, longer and narrower than my previous Nano.

Everything fitted well.  Two pedals were powered from each of the Palmer’s two outputs to ensure individual limits are not exceeded and I got over seven hours of playing time (Pedaltrain please note).  This required some snipping and soldering of the power leads supplied.  Palmer also rather negligently supplied the wrong polarity power supply so it wouldn’t take a charge until I’d butchered that too.  Duh!

On paper, I ended up with a powerful and very compact pedalboard, one which I could reprograme for different gigs, even acoustic.   It was also very photogenic and drew admiring glances – what an Apple MacBook might look like it it were a pedalboard.

But I also ended up liaising quite closely with the Hotone guys as it transpired that I was pushing these pedals further in combination than any of their other users and was surfacing some operational issues.

Everything worked adequately in mono at praciutce volumes, but stereo connection and higher sound levels revealed some insuperable flaws :

  • Stereo connection throughout is problematic becuase not all Hotone’s effect models for the Xtomp are stereo out even though they could be
  • Worse, they insist on making one side with flat eq and the other with inbuilt cab fx which can’t be overriden, so the right hand channel always sounds processed compared to the left
  • But worst of all, there were major noise issues which accumulated as more Xtomps were connected together.  No amonout of separate power supplies or discrete earthing could overcome the machine noise these things make in combination (indiviudally they’re fairly quiet) and which of course worsens with gain…

The Hotone guys were consistently enthusiastic but not very effective and lost interest over time ans their product range moved on.  Support for Xtomps will probably peter out in the next year and then we’ll be left holding the latter-day equivalent of the potentially-excellent but no longer-supported Digittech iStomp.

I kept one of the four Xtomps and sold three individually.  The proceeds covered the cost of the (much better) replacement.  Sadly, a failed experiement, costly in terms of both money but more importantly time…