The onboard looper can record loops of up to 50 layers with a maximum 20 minutes of recorded audio, albeit with a loop length limit of five minutes (let’s face it, that’s more than enough!). The MX5 has approaching four hours of loop memory, which is enough to store up to 11 maxed‑out loops. Using the USB Transfer facility, saved loops can be transferred to and from the MX5’s Loop folder to a computer. WAV and mp3 files can also be transferred into the Loop folder and loaded into the looper, as the foundation of a new loop or as rehearsal/backing tracks, which is handy. In Looper mode, the first footswitch controls Start, Stop and Clear Loop functions, the second handles Record, Overdub and Peel (undo), whilst the third is the Exit.
A recorded loop can have its speed multiplied or divided by 2, 4, 8 or 16, the loop time displaying the ensuing reduction in length, and its length can be multiplied or divided by 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 or 128. You can also choose Normal or Reverse playback, set the level of the current loop that’s routed back through the looper when overdubbing an additional layer, and adjust the balance between the looper and a live instrument at the MX5’s outputs. Usefully, the number of layers in a loop is displayed on screen. As is becoming the norm these days, the looper can be positioned before or after the modelled rig, and this gives you the option of changing the sound of a loop during performance, or of running a dry guitar loop when auditioning or editing rigs.
There’d be little point me diving into a detailed description of the workings of the MX5 here, and should you want to delve deeper yourself, the online manual (https://bit.ly/2XvuBgK) and the Headrush FX YouTube channel are both useful resources and good places to start. But what I will say is that the MX5’s fast and flexible combination of touchscreen, encoder and menu structure makes navigating around and operating this unit a real pleasure — it’s all pretty intuitive.
The individual models that I auditioned were all high‑quality facsimiles of their inspirations, and the factory rigs, although biased towards the higher‑gain end of the spectrum (there are 115 Dirty/Heavy rigs to only 54 Clean/Crunch), were all eminently usable straight out of the box. I found it straightforward to customise various pedals, amplifiers and cabinets to my taste.
The tape delay allowed me to adjust not only the expected delay time, feedback and wet/dry mix, but also the record level, the head azimuth setting and the amount of wow.
The depth and number of the editing features available in many models is impressive too. For example, the tape delay allowed me to adjust not only the expected delay time, feedback and wet/dry mix, but also the record level, the head azimuth setting and the amount of wow. This model, like all delay and reverb effects in the MX5, has a Tails setting too and this, when active, allows its effect to carry on across a rig changeover.
The expression pedal setup also exceeded my expectations. Both pedals can run in either Classic mode (single parameter control) or in an Advanced mode, which allows simultaneous control of up to four parameters per pedal. A feature that I certainly wasn’t expecting to find is the input block’s Noise Filter, a slowish noise gate that’s designed to mute hiss and other similar noises without affecting lower frequencies. With well‑screened electric or electro‑acoustic guitars, this filter produced a more natural‑sounding transition to and from silence than the choppier action of the conventional noise gate that sits alongside it.
As a four‑in/four‑out, 24‑bit Mac/Windows audio interface, the MX5 performs admirably, sending four channels of audio to your DAW at up to 96kHz. In all modes, channels 1+2 carry the MX5’s fully processed stereo output, and 3+4 deliver a dry guitar signal. In Live mode, the MX5’s main outputs carry the signal going to the computer and, in both DAW and Reamp modes, carry the DAW’s left and right outputs. MIDI functionality is confined to choosing the MIDI channel and setting programme change send and/or receive, clock receive and MIDI Thru on/off.
The Headrush MX5 has really impressed me. It looks great, and the quality of its models is too. The immediacy of its slick, intuitive encoder‑plus‑touchscreen navigation makes creating, editing and storing models and presets so simple. The footswitch and expression pedal modes are sophisticated, but they’re not complicated in use. The looper is not only easy to use but doubles nicely as a rehearsal tool and backing track player. I found the Scene mode very useful too. This all adds up to an extremely competitive package, and one which punches well above its asking price. Indeed, if you’re in the market for a really compact guitar amplifier and effects modelling processor, then the MX5 is, in my view, a significant bargain.
The Scene mode, accessed via the Hardware Assign function, allows you to create up to three Scenes per rig, one for each footswitch, by reassigning it from its default Toggle function to Scene. Within a scene, not only can you programme single or multiple models in the rig to turn on or off, but also you can change their active preset, or leave them unchanged. The ability to programme precise, or wholesale, changes in the sound of a rig can be a powerful tool when playing live or when recording. The one downside is that, if you want to get back to your original rig settings quickly, you’ll have to program one scene with no changes.
At around the MX5’s price, there are the HX Stomp and the Pod Go from modelling pioneers Line 6. Further up the price chain, the Mooer GE 300 and HeadRush Gigboard could attract your attention. If you can live with its phrase looper, the Hotone Ampero is a good lower‑cost option.
- Slick and intuitive touchscreen‑based user interface.
- Large library of high‑quality modelled sounds.
- Virtually unlimited IR storage capacity.
- Close on four hours of loop storage.
- None, though a computer‑based editor/librarian would be nice.
This compact and attractive, touchscreen‑equipped floorboard offers a slick and intuitive user interface plus a plethora of rather splendid modelled amplifiers, cabinets and effects. These, together with its looping and audio interface capabilities, make it an attractive proposition for guitarists looking to increase the capabilities of their recording and/or stage setups.
£429.99 including VAT.
Headrush +44 (0)1252 896040