TC Electronics Plethora X5

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LesPaul70
Mark III
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TC Electronics Plethora X5

Post by LesPaul70 » Sat Oct 16, 2021 12:34 pm

So I ordered a TC Electronics Plethora X5 multipedal.

I was looking to replace up to 6 pedals in my board with it while adding some new options:

-Boss PS-6 Harmonist
-MXR EVH Phase 90
-TC Electronics Nova Modulator
-Boss DD-7 Digital Delay
-TC Electronics Trinity Reverb

Well...it turns out it might not be able to replace many of them. The Nova Modulator, yes, and possibly the EVH Phase 90. But definitely not the Boss PS-6. I'm using the PS-6 mainly for dive bombs with an external expression pedal. The Plethora includes a pitch shifter, yes, and it can be controlled with an external expression pedal - but there are some major issues here.
1) The Plethora pitch shifter cause significant tone coloration when it is just on. Most particularly, your pick attacks turn to mush.
2) The Plethora pitch shifter tracks your foot movements with expression pedal too slowly! It is noticeably behind your movements all the time. This is especially bad when you wiggle the expression pedal quickly back and forth.
The Boss PS-6 does not have either of these problems. (I guess I appreciate the little blue box even more now.)

Now the curious part and why I am posting here.

When I first tried the Plethora in the effects loop of my Mark V (90W model) for delays, reverbs and such, I noticed terrible tone coloration even when the unit was in true bypass mode and all effects off. The unit pretty much killed the low frequencies in the amp sound! So I thought it was not compatible with FX loop use.

But I also tried it in the effects loop of a Rev C Dual Rectifier. Worked like a dream there! No noticeable tone loss or coloration. But it is simply intolerable in the loop of my Mark V.

Can anybody please suggest why this is happening? Any way to possibly fix it? This would help me decide whether to send the Plethora back or to keep it. What does the Mark V loop do differently from an old Dual Rec?

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ned
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Re: TC Electronics Plethora X5

Post by ned » Mon Oct 18, 2021 9:46 am

I don't know the answer but what you are describing sounds like the difference between a serial loop vs. a parallel loop. Does the Rev C have a parallel loop? Parallel loops work a lot better with effects. Just did a quick search the Mark V has a serial loop.

I'm not surprised that the pitch shift doesn't work like the PS-6. I always thing of pitch shift as a chorus with the sweep stopped. Are you using the S-Bend setting on the PS-6 for dive bombs?

Pitch Shift is going to get you detune, think Hagar era VH or even the intro to Women in Love.

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LesPaul70
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Re: TC Electronics Plethora X5

Post by LesPaul70 » Tue Oct 19, 2021 3:23 am

Thanks for the reply!

I now realize I should probably have explained a bit more what the Plethora does and I how I set it up.

It is essentially a collection of TC Electronics "TonePrint" series pedals. You can load a batch of ready TonePrints into it but you can also create your custom TonePrints with an editor that gives you access to all imaginable parameters, knob ranges and assignments etc. etc. In theory, it is a pretty rad concept, insanely flexible and customizable. Just not working out so well in practice...

After watching some YouTube videos on Plethora tweaking and through some trial and error, I found out how to edit the Pitch Shifter to replicate the Boss PS-6 pitch bend functionality, in theory. The short version, I needed to assign Pitch Shifter type to Pitch, set Mix to 100%, assign expression pedal to Voice 1 (Knob 2) and adjust its range curve to go from Unison to -24 semitones, and set Voice 2 to zero. (The range curve was cool, by the way - you can set it to any shape you want, from a steep or slow curve to a line or whatever.) Basically, the same exact functionality as a PS-6 set to -2 octave pedal dive bomb.
...It just doesn't work as seamlessly, as noted in my first post. :| Not even nearly.


The Rev C Recto and the Mark V are both serial loop amps. The infamous parallel loop came later, it was in Rev G and early (pre-Multiwatt) 3-channel Rectos.

This isn't the first TC Electronic unit to exhibit this problem in the loop of some of my Mesas, mainly with the more modern ones like the Mark V and the Road King II. I'm starting to think they were perhaps not designed with effects loop use in mind. Impedance mismatch, whatever?

OTOH, individual TC Electronic effects pedals I have used have worked very well in loops. My current board includes a Trinity Reverb, and I have absolutely no problems with it in the loop of any of my Mesas. (Besides, it's a very nice little Reverb box.)

I'm leaning towards sending the Plethora back. On paper, it was a super cool unit. In practice, it's turning out to be a nightmare of a half-baked rush job that simply fails to deliver on its promises. They didn't even bother to write a manual for it, which is annoying, given how complex the unit and its editing capabilities are. Instead you have to rely on YouTube videos (most of them by users) to learn how to use and edit it! And yes, it is also very buggy. For example, my Flangers totally stopped working (didn't do anything no to the sound matter what you did) until I factory-reseted the Plethora. And lost my edits in the process, of course. And of course there is no way to download your edited boards to your computer for backup.

Sad, because I really wanted to like this unit. A really, really cool concept ruined by subpar implementation.
Guess I could have lived with it if not for the effects loop problem.

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