Vintage echoes and sounds at a realistic price for everyone...
Ross Hall's Echo against the rest...
Let's think in terms of a value proposition for a minute....
TVS3 - the high end.
The unit last used by Hank Marvin on a Shadows tour was the TVS3; produced, primarily, by Professor Paul Rossiter of Western Australia.This was the unit used on the 2009 - 2010 tour as claimed on the TVS Specialty Products home page. Prior to this, it's my understanding that Mr. Marvin used an EFTP (acronym of Echoes From The Past) loaded Alesis Q2 (1996 - 1999) succeeded by an EFTP loaded Alesis Q20 from 1999 until the final Shadow's tour in 2005 (the TVS SP site states that the Q20 with EFTP was used until 2008).
Also, proudly (and rightly so), on the TVS Specialty Products website Home page there appears an endorsement of the TVS3 unit by Hank Marvin; this was apparently published in the Guitarist Magazine August 2012 issue (I say apparently as I've not verified this and have no cause to). Incidentally, TVS stands for Tape Voicing Systems. From what I can gather in the 'PROSPECTUS' page of the TVS SP website, The TVS1 and TVS2 are/were, (the TVS2 has been discontinued) essentially, valve/tube based processors or preamps that made an EFTP loaded (or other), solid state, contemporary echo unit (e.g. Q2/Q20 with EFTP) sound 'warmer' by enhancing the dry signal. The TVS2 appears to do the same as the TVS1 but also affects the wet signal (echo). Clever stuff but you still need an echo system like EFTP or alike for the Hank sound...
I digress. As I was saying... Hank Marvin used a TVS3 on the 2009 - 2010 tour and was quoted (on the TVS SP Home page), in the August 2012 edition of Guitarist Magazine, as saying:
"...And even the (TVS) preamp linked to the Echoes From The Past sounded better, because it captured some of the sound that the Meazzi had.
He (Rossiter) developed it further into a full-blown echo system, the TVS3 and when we were recording the stuff for Cliff and the Shads reunion album I decided to try one out.
- It sounded really good.
I thought it sounded very authentic and, thanks to the preamp, slightly better than the Echoes From The Past system..."
N.B. I've been made aware by TVS that there is a more recent quote that is worth inclusion.
My focus on the above quote, taken from the TVS SP website, is that it's only "slightly" better than EFTP according to Mr. Marvin's quotation. Now, I have no doubt that the time, care, expertise and research that has gone into the TVS3 (not to mention the fact that I believe they're hand built) accounts for its price but given that Charlie Hall, founder and moral rights owner of EFTP, positions the Hall's Echo patches between the Alesis Quadraverb Q2 and the Alesis Q20 (both with EFTP). If Hank Marvin thought the TVS3 unit was "slightly" better than an Alesis Q20 with EFTP, my value proposition for my Hall's Echo system on a ZOOM G3 (brand new and with excellent amp simulations by comparison to the Alesis units) is as follows:
TVS3 (optional) Foot Pedal/controller AUD$395
Plus shipping, Insurance, import duty and VAT ( VAT alone is 20% in the UK)
For the sake of a very conservative estimate/comparison, let's take the price of the TVS3, not include the foot pedal/controller or any of the shipping, customs (if purchasing from outside of Australia) or sales tax costs so AUD$3980 (plus GST which, in Austalia is 10% - not included in this research comparison). On 6th January 2015 I visited a website (which claimed to be Australia's #1 online music store) and they had for sale, including the 10% GST and AUD$12 shipping, a ZOOM G3 for AUD$267.20. The Hall's Echo patches are GBP £80; at today's exchange rate (AUD $1.87 to GBP £1.00), at time of writing (06 Jan 2015), that's equivalent to AUD$149.54.
That makes the Hall's Echo system on the ZOOM G3 host unit, with all taxes and delivery to your door, a total of AUD$416.74 if you live and purchase in Australia. Approximately GBP £175.00 if you live in the UK. To be clear, that's the G3, the Hall's Echo patches, shipping and all taxes; it's the price you pay to play (minus guitar, lead and headphones).
This means that in value terms you get a brand new ZOOM G3 with Hall's Echo patches delivered to your door for a maximum of 10.5% of the cost of a TVS3 (that's a TVS3 without any GST/VAT or shipping, insurance or customs costs included).
Further, the Hall's Echo patches utilise the excellent amp simulations of the ZOOM G3/G5 meaning that you don't have to generate your own tone with expensive amplifiers and guitars. You simply need an electric guitar, the Hall's Echo system on the G3 or G5 and a set of headphones to get started. If you do have a guitar and decent tone (amp) already you'll also have the choice of selection of the same Hall's Echo patches with the ZOOM Amp simulations switched off with a different EQ applied to the echo only patches.
You'll have to excuse 'Ross' logic' but that does seem to be a solid value proposition given that the unit that costs (at least) ten times the amount of a ZOOM G3 with Hall's Echo included is only, according to Hank, "slightly better".
It would be very interesting to hear what the outcome would be with a TVS1 used with the ZOOM G3 loaded with the Hall's Echo package... Food for thought.
I do want to make clear that I have the greatest respect for the TVS products, their production, creators and achievements. It must be remembered that this was the last unit that Hank used on a tour (as things stand). A great achievement and endorsement to be applauded on merit.
Hall & Collins collaboration.
Continuing the value proposition theme...
I don't know much about the Hall & Collins unit as it's yet to be released (at time of writing). However, in my time with EFTP, I was copied into an email from Charlie Hall to a customer in 2012... It's worth noting that the Q20 EFTP parameters have been used to develop the Hall & Collins pedal. Customer name removed for obvious identity reasons.
Ross asked me to write to you about the Hall & Collins echo unit in case it might help you to make up your mind about what to do with the Q20.
Work on the Hall & Collins unit is still ongoing and we are nearly at the stage where a small number of test production prototypes are going to be made.
Because I have been unwell, the programming has been slow, but is starting up again around now.
The things that will set this unit apart from other third party units that I have programmed are the analogue preamp that is designed to sound exactly like the original valve Meazzi preamp (but without using valves), and the analogue drive circuit to simulate tape saturation. Smaller details are more exact feedback parameters, overall echo frequency responses (sometimes differing even from one simulated tape head to another) that more closely match the real thing, and wow and flutter characteristics for each type of echo unit being modelled.
I think in your case it will all be down to whether you want a floor pedal unit or a rackmount unit. I do not know at this stage whether the Hall & Collins will be doing a rackmount unit as it will have to depend on how the pedal is received first of all.
I have been using either my prototype pedal or my Q20 for echo sounds over several gigs during the last year or so ( I play in a rock and roll band, not a shadows type band), and I think the pedal has the better sound, but I also have to say that the difference is probably subtle enough that not many in the audience would hear the difference. What I can say though is that the 50 people who heard the prototype pedal at an event last year thought it sounded tonally identical with the modified tape Meazzi that was also present. The echo patterns differed (probably only to my ears at that time) because the tape Meazzi mechanism runs at a different speed than the drum Meazzi units that Hank used (and we have modelled). The prototype pedal also sounded noticeably better than a Magicstomp that was also present.
So, reading that admission, the Hall & Collins unit is better than a Magicstomp with EFTP according to its co-creator and expert echo chap. That's a plus for the Hall's Echo patches as he (Charlie Hall) also positioned the Hall's Echo patches above the Magicstomp with EFTP (in quality terms) and between the Alesis Q2 and Q20 with EFTP (which sound almost identical). Charlie then states, above, that the choice for this customer was only relative to the format (rackmount or stomp) rather than stating that the Hall & Collins is markedly better than the Q20 with EFTP. In fact, he states that the difference between the Q20 and Hall & Collins is not great enough to be heard by many in the audience.
Hmmm. The Hall & Collins unit does not have amp model simulation so you will, like the TVS3, have to generate your own tone (amp or amp model/sim).
It appears, to me, that the value in purchasing a unit that will cost more than three times the amount of the Hall's echo patches and host unit combined, is, according to the above review/opinion of Charlie, not at all apparent. It could well be that the Hall & Collins unit will be better than suggested above (this was a prototype); which remains to be seen.
Still, if the Hall & Collins is comparable to the Q20 with EFTP and Hank Marvin thinks that the TVS3 has the edge over the Q20 with EFTP, then logic would suggest that the TVS3 will maintain its unparallelled position but perhaps with the finest of margins? It will be interesting to note if Charlie has, indeed, developed a solid state equivalent to valves in the preamp, though. If the Hall's echo patches are also there or thereabouts then, for me, the value proposition is clear.
I'd like to mention John Collins as I've often read that the Hall & Collins unit is "Charlie's new unit...". A massive amount of dedication, expertise and professionalism have been brought quietly to the project (from what I've seen) and his skill in coding is a massive contributor to any success this project realises. John's patience, approach and input have made up the bulk of this development.
I'd like to add an important 'update' relating to a comment from Hank Marvin concerning the TVS3 (September 2014 but only added to TVS site late January 2015):
"...it sounds as close to the original echo box as I think is possible to get and to me it's a very authentic sound and that's the one I used on the Cliff and the Shads album and in fact on this album too, the Hank Album..."
That's an excellent endorsement and really stokes the competition fires in anticipation of the Hall & Collins unit release... Awesome!!!
Echotapper on various platforms...
I honestly don't know enough about these patches to comment but can say that they represent good value (some are free of charge, I believe), they're open source and have many contributors, (as I understand it) and I can't say much more than that. I would suggest finding them online and researching if they're right for you, or not.
My personal opinion...
For what it's worth, under the title of this page (competition), I think that, despite the echo and sound solution that you, the player - the most important part of this equation, choose to use, the community is fortunate that so many have dedicated their time, expertise and knowledge to bring this level of choice. Despite any commercial or intrinsic rewards that may or may not materialise for developers of patches or dedicated units, the pursuit of 'that sound' is and will remain a community goal.