Archive for the ‘Nux’ Category

Nux AS3 Modern Amp Simulator

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Nux-AS3-MAS

What is it?
Nux AS3 Modern Amp Simulator. Made in china around mid to late 00’s

I don’t know what it is. I really can’t point my finger to one particular thing on these and say; “this is why i like Nux Effects!”. But i do. Or least i did. I recall talking to people about how Nux is the solid brand that can turn the low brand value, cheap chinese pedals around. Unless they decide to start OEM’ng their designs to other brands that have low brand value to begin with. This, one of my mildest nightmares came into reality in mid october 2014. I noticed that at least one chinese retailer was offering the Force and Core series effects with another brand name. No. Please don’t do that. Nux was the only modern chinese brand that didn’t have a six year old graphic designer and they didn’t save money on all the wrong places (just on few key places, but not on all). That day was very sad day for me. But what can i do? Nothing. So let’s just forget that misfortune for now and focus on the unit on hand.

This Cherub/Nux series that i like to call “The First Series” hasn’t let me down yet. The overall feel of the boxes is solid and firm. The cheapest feel comes from the battery compartment lid, which in my opinion is placed rather geniously. The user can change the battery without lifting or even tilting the pedal. Not that i know a lot of people using batteries, but still. I think this is just the kind of ingenuity these factory built pedals need today. More on the feel, the pots in this series are not the cheapest kind and they feel solid too. Now, to open this puppy up.. Modern autorouted look. But still neater and more solid looking than current Bosses. And the rest of the manufacturing methods leave no bad word in my mouth.

Nux-AS3-MAS-guts1

And once the board is flipped over.. Awww. It reminds me of US made DOD FX series board. Warm and fuzzy feeling with its all analog, all through hole construction. The pots are mounted on their own daughter board.

Nux-AS3-MAS-guts2

I’m not aware of the exact topology of the circuit and thus, can’t analyze it much further at the moment. Looks like this has two TL072s and one 4558 for opamps. The D2-D3 silicon diodes look like they might be clippers. I’m not going much further in this guessing game, but even the design looks rather solid. While i do like this box like a young man likes his date, there is one caveat.

How does it sound?
And it is the sound. This is most likely a predecessor of the black AS-4 from the later series and the circuit has been revamped for that release. This earlier one works nicely as a light dirt driver, but it’s hollowness and mids leave a lot to wish for. While this pedal is way greater than its follower on the outside, the better version made its way to the cheaper feeling later version. The bright side is that the EQ section is powerful and working well (i’m guessing gyrators). So i’m left with mixed feelings. As an overdrive effect, this is a lot better than many Tubescreamer derivatives, but as a full blown preamp, not so much. I believe these have out of manufacturing line for a while now. So if you can score one for ridiculously cheap, i’d suggest you go for it. It may not sound like much, but there is some usability in there.

Plus this unit reminds us all what potential Nux had before they changed to cheapest parts and resorted in OEM manufacturing for even lower end brands. World is a cold place.

Nux MF6 Digital Multi FX

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Nux-MF6-DigitalMFX

What is it?
Nux MF6 Digital Multi FX from the Nux First Series. Made in china in 00’s.

Whole Nux pedal line has been quite interesting line. Some of the designs are straight rip offs, but while the underlying design may be just that, the rest is well engineered and somewhat original. The “First Series”, as i’m going to be referring these units, have nice and personal enclosure design. According to interwebs, Nux is originally nothing more but a sub-brand of Cherub. Folks at Cherub may have wanted to build another brand that seems more prestigious. And they have, more or less, succeeded in that venture.

The enclosure is your standard medium strenght cast aluminium box with good rubber bottom and durable feeling plastic parts. The battery slot is accessible through the pedal lid, and its lid is the cheapest feeling part in whole unit.

Nux-MF6-DigitalMFX-ctrls

Controls on the top are one rotary switch for mode and four standard pots (one dual gang) for setting the parameters of the selected effect. In short, the effects this unit offers are tremolo, rotary, flanger, chorus, multivoice (which is one repeat dual delay in reality) and modulation delay. Others seem to have nice operation range, but the modulation on the mod delay can be turned off. So that the pedal can be used as a delay unit too. All in all, the number of usable effects is nothing short of impressive. And we should not forget about the stereo output and expression pedal input. So yes. There are quite a lot of features in this cheap pedal.

Nux-MF6-DigitalMFX-guts1

When taking a look under the hood, we see modern SMD board with relatively dull view. Flipping the board over shows what one would expect. It is, like the name suggests, a fully digital design. Once again i’m going to leave you with less analysis since my knowledge of all digital circuitry is very limited. There are couple of digital chips in addition to a few opamps. And a oscillator crystal. Feels a bit like a computer now doesn’t it…

Nux-MF6-DigitalMFX-guts2

I got the unit cheap as used one from a local dude. I didn’t have high hopes for it, but since i was, and still am, somewhat fond of the New Analog Series pedals, i wanted to try this one out too. The conclusion?

How does it sound?
Surprisingly good. There’s no negative thin digital feel to any of the modes. Most of the modulation types easily beat some of their analog counterparts. That’s what you won’t hear often from me. Most of the settings are usable. Overall sound is good. Or maybe even great. I do love it when a design offers more than i expected. Well worth a try if you spot used one for cheap.

Nux OD-3 Overdrive

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Nux-OD3-1

What is it?
Nux OD-3 Overdrive. Super cheap thing, made in china 2013.

The next one of the Nux analog series box to arrive. As usual, i opened the box, tried it out and ripped it open to take a few (poor) photos. Short testing convinced me that this is nothing more than Yet Another Tube Screamer (TM).

Nux-OD3-2

Some flux residue. The box design is the same as in all the others in Nux’s analog series. The pot feel is as terrible as in others too. The pot tapers and values look familiar.

Nux-OD3-3

Taking a closer look at the heart of the circuit confirms it even further. JRC4558 and SOT packaged Si-diodes. I’ve seen that before now haven’t i…

Nux-OD3-4

Still, a reasonable build quality with solid design choices. True bypassed basic pedal. I really just wish they would do something about the pots. I don’t think the better ones with sturdier feel ans more solid build quality would have cost that many cents more per piece.

Nux-OD3-5

How does it sound?
Exactly like every tubescreamer and derivative around (mid-honk, lowish output etc.). Not much more to say. Exact circuit copy will sound like the original. No surprises there. Cheap and built with reasonable quality. Might be a nice option for anyone looking for a cheap TS with a true bypass.

Nux AS-4 Amp Simulator

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Nux-AS4-1

What is it?
Nux AS-4 Amp Simulator from Nux New Analog series. Made in china in 2013. Cheapest thing there is.

These units have around for some time now, and this unit is part of family of four. There is Overdrive, Chorus, High gain distortion and this one – The Amp Simulator. The price tags raised a few questions. Could it be usable or just crap in design and build quality? Is it one of those cheap 1:1 corporate clones that flood the market from china? I wanted to find out, so regardless of the risk, i bought this one. Of course, i ripped it wide open as soon as it landed on my mailbox.

Nux-AS4-6

As the japanese started to use two separate boards in the beginning of the 80s, we have the same board method utilized here. The biggest difference being the 1590B-sized box instead of higher type commonly used by Boss and others. The bigger board has the effect circuit and switching, while the smaller board holds only the controls. Standard true bypassed pedal with “meh” build quality. Some ugly flux residue, but the components are baked on neatly.

Nux-AS4-2

The design methods are not bad at all. The screws that seal up the bottom plate are also used for fastening the bigger bottom board to the enclosure. If you’re going to build pedals in huge mass produced fashion, this is the way to do it. the jacks are screwed on to the box as well, offering some more sturdiness. The engineer behind the box design knows his stuff.

Nux-AS4-3

Note the wax on the picture above. Yes. It is ugly, and probably not the greatest way to secure the ribbon cable connections. It still seems better to have the wax in there than to rip the joints off accidentally. Mix of mylar caps in otherwise all SMD board in Digitech manner doesn’t convince too much…

Nux-AS4-4

Next up is the one biggest issue i’ve come across. The pots. While those may be 1:1 clones of Alpha brand components, they are not good. One big culprit on the whole pedal. They work – yes. But they turn way too easily – in a word, they are just too sensitive. Just a tap with your foot can ruin your perfectly tuned settings in a heartbeat. If the company didn’t “save” money on pots, i would strongly recommend these for anyone and everyone. It is quite sad. One little thing ruins a design that is otherwise reasonably good.

Nux-AS4-5

Didn’t go too deep on to what the design has in store. I’m just going to leave it by saying that the component selection reminds me of Xotic’s BB preamp pedal.

I’m also hoping that Nux won’t sell these things as OEM for cheapo brand boxes for their own good. So far i’m quite confident that the future of original chinese pedals lie within Nux.

How does it sound?
Soundwise too. BB comes to mind. So it’s rich in bass and warm in gain. Overall tone is pleasing and starts from mild preamp with natural feel to it – which then can be turned to soaring gain monster by turning the gain knob. The overall sound has a lot of common with good tube amps’ overdriven sounds. With versatile bass and treble controls and well working gain control, this is very usable and good sounding pedal for a good price. I’m just hoping they acknowledge the pot issue and fix it. Before that happens.. No recommendations from me. I’m going to use myself as a guinea pig and get all four pedals in this analog series. Well see then…

Nux CH-3 Chorus

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Nux-CH3What is it?
Nux CH-3 Chorus from Nux’s analog pedal series. Made in china, 2013.

There is something appealing in these super cheap new chinese pedals. I have no idea whatsoever what is the amount manufactured, but these are mostly well made and fine sounding boxes. I’m fairly convinced that china will be new japan in decade or two. After all, the japanese electronics were considered crap all the way up to mid 80’s. What chinese pedal industry would need now is tighter quality control for components and a few good graphic designers. Most Joyos and Calines with horrible graphics you can find on ebay are now even pricier than when they were first introduced. There’s not much appeal in those. At least not for me. So it’s good that we finally have a chinese brands that try. No comic sans as labels and Nux’s even have their own, reasonably stylish logo.

Nux-CH3-guts1

Opening the box up shows the Nux standard designs idea. Two boards stacked and through hole components seem to have solid connections, but with residue as usual. Switch is standard 3PDT mini stomper wired as true bypass. There’s the same goo locking the 6mm top adjustment trimmers and the top board ribbon cable connection.

Nux-CH3-guts2

3102/3207 pair is responsible for the chorus delay and TL072 is used for LFO. So it’s safe to say that the design is so far pretty standard analog delay chorus. The third knob, blend, adds a nice flavour. You can dial this to the max which by itself sound “out there”, but then you can blend it with the clean signal. More uses for ugly chorus sounds! Yay.

There’s again just one piece of bad news. I seem to be repeating myself, but i would have gladly paid 50 cents (or $1-2 even) more for these Nux units – if they just would have better quality pots. The pots just feel cheap and turn too easily. Bad decision to save money. Because of the poor feel on the pots, i suspect these units will never get the attention nor userbase that they would deserve. From electronical point of view i mean.

How does it sound?
Nice. Extra nice. From clear and mild signal widening to near flanger styled massive sweeping. Wide control range and you just can’t go wrong with 3102/3207 based choruses. Or you can, but not with this thing.