Viscount were there from the very beginning of the budget effects revolution, and with the EFX100 they hope to give the cash‑starved masses a further option. Christopher Holder finds out whether the EFX100 holds its own in a bustling budget marketplace.
Things are beginning to get ridiculous. Apparently in The States when you're pouring out the contents of a specially marked pack of Kelloggs Blueberry Pops, along with all the goodness of reconstituted corn starch (fortified with five vitamins and iron) you're likely to find a Zoom 1201 or Nanoverb multi‑effects unit splashing into your semi‑skimmed. But the days are gone when you could instantly condemn a budget effects unit for a shoddy sound. In fact, after you've dried off the unit with a tea towel, far from hearing a reverb that sounds like tin cans being dragged behind a Flymo, you'll probably enjoy quality spatial effects, as well as clean delays and dynamic chorusing.
Viscount were there at the beginning of the budget effects revolution, standard‑bearers for affordability, banging on the palace gates of Czar Lexicon, the Archduke Yamaha, et al (I know it's a difficult analogy to maintain, but the aristocratic name of Viscount makes me persist — bear with me). The EFX1 and EFX2, released in 1993, were strong performers for the money but never seriously looked like bringing down the more established big names. Last year, their EFX10 got it right in many more respects: price, features and flexibility were all there in spades. But by this stage Viscount couldn't lay claim to being the cheapest of the cheap, for as fast as Silicon Valley could spit chips, anyone with a soldering iron and a bit of technical know‑how was throwing together decent effects units. Zoom, ART, Yamaha, Alesis, Peavey, Digitech, and even the revered reverb institution, Lexicon, had weighed in with down‑market contributions. So in this rather altered (and cluttered) multi‑effects landscape, can Viscount compete against the more famous names?
Out of the box the EFX100 looks pretty classy; indeed, it bears...