REVIEW: Korg Pandora Stomp Pedal

So what REALLY happens when you open Pandora's box?   26-May-14


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21:37 mins    

Written by Richard Beech

The Korg Pandora packs Korg's REMS modelling technology into a stompbox, with amp modelling, cab simulation, effects, and all the stuff you'd usually expect from such a product.

The selling point for the Korg Pandora is its size, most modelling units offering the same variety of functions are housed in much bigger shells, taking up more space on your pedal board.

So I guess the main question that needs answering is: Is the space saved on your pedal board a good trade-off for the cramped layout of the interface?

Interface:

The main mode of navigation through patches is using a flywheel on the right-hand side of the pedal, and because it is located on the side of the pedal, and not on the top, then you might find it tricky to use if you have your pedals flush on your packed pedal board.

You can also set the assignable stomp switch on the top of the pedal to operate the patches, cycling up through presets. But then you have no way of descending through presets (unless you bend down and use the flywheel), and you also then lose the option to bypass the pedal (because there is only one stomp switch).

I have to admit, it does take a long time to get used to the layout and interface, particularly when you enter edit mode and start tweaking parameters on amp simulations and effects.

Imagine trying to operate a Line 6 Pod, but with only a fly wheel and a few small buttons. Where you would usually twist a knob, on the Korg Pandora you have to press a couple of buttons, and then twist a flywheel.

When you DO get used to it, the pedal has a lot to offer, so let's get onto that...

Functions:

Okay, let's open Pandora's box. It has 200 factory presets, 200 user presets, 100 rhythms, 158 different effects and sub-effects, auxillary input (which you can transpose the pitch of, and control the volume of), you can edit patches via USB, it has a footswitch which can be assigned to serve a number of different functions, it has a cab simulation bypass (for when you are running through an amp), and to top it off, it's also a tuner.

There is no question that this thing offers a hell of a lot for what it costs, which is around £120, some of the synth sounds and the more chaotic effects are particularly fun.

My gripe is that to get the most out of it, you'd have to arrange presets in such a way, that as you require each preset in a gig, you'd assign the stomp switch to shift up through the presets one-by-one. So if you have 10 songs, each of which have different tones for verses and choruses, then you're going to have to set up a hell of a lot of presets and play the set in the exact correct order.

So, if you're thinking about pulling the trigger on this pedal, I'd say that it IS definitely worth the price, it could serve the purpose of five or six pedals that would each cost the same price as the Pandora.

But don't expect to use it like a digital modelling floor unit, it will NOT serve a purpose as your entire rig. It's better used on a pedal board, providing one or two effects on each song.

Tone:

As you will hear in the demo, this thing can sound wild, in both a good way and a bad way. Some of the high-gain effects will give you a lot of white noise, but if tweak the EQs on the factory presets, you can get some good high-gain tones.

If you play around with some of the harmonisation or synth effects, and combine with delay, chorus or reverb, you can create beautiful soundscapes, and some convincing synth sounds. For me, this alone is worth £120. I'd get endless inspiration from it. Plus, it's really quite fun to play around with these sorts of effects.

Towards the end of my demo video, I show what the pedal sounds like on a very 'normal' sound, just a lightly-driven amplifier with not much going on in the way of effects, just so you can hear if the pedal can do the bread and butter stuff as well as doing the fun stuff.

I was actually fairly impressed by the crunch and clean tones, they could hold their own against more pricey modelling units.

Verdict:

DO buy this pedal if you want a secret weapon on your board, something which can serve a number of different purposes, but most of all serve as a source of inspiration.

DON'T buy this pedal if you are looking for an all-in-one modelling unit to serve as your entire board.

Price: £120

More information: Korg website


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