Hughes & Kettner Rotosphere MKII Review

hughes-kettner-tube-tools-tube-rotosphere-mkii-l-review

One of the products that marked the world of rock music back in the 60s and the 70s were the legendary Leslie rotary speakers.

Although intended for Hammond organ use, those clever guitar players managed to take it over and turn it into something of their own. But the sweet eargasmic rotary speaker sound becomes complicated when you realize that you have to carry that big thing around.

Luckily for all the lovers of rotary speakers, the technology has advanced just enough that you can have that effect in the form of a very compact and practical piece of gear that fits into an average pedalboard which you can carry without breaking your back.

The tone, however, is not easy to replicate, but for the guys over at Hughes & Kettner this was a challenge they gladly accepted, ultimately creating one wonderful unit called Rotosphere MKII.

This particular pedal is used by none other but Pearl Jam lead guitarist Mike McCready.

Pearl-Jam-Mike-McCready-Pedal-Board


Features

Before we start, we should remind you that this is actually a tube driven pedal. It features one 12AX7 tube that’s mostly used for guitar preamps or preamp sections of amplifiers. This makes it not only a great sounding piece of gear but also a dynamically responsive one.

There are three control knobs on Rotosphere: drive, output volume, and rotor balance. Now, this is not primarily an overdrive pedal, but it does create some distortion which is controlled using the drive knob.

But this being a tube effect, it does create additional distortion if the volume is turned up high. As for the rotor balance control, it blends and mixes the sound of bass and tweeter rotary speakers. There are also two LED lights next to the balance control indicating the speed of the treble and bass rotors.

You can find three quality foot switches on the front panel. First, the bypass switch turns the whole pedal on and off. Right next to it is a breaker switch, which is a pretty interesting and useful control.

With it, you can shut off the rotary effect and use the Rotosphere only as a tube preamp. When switched back on, it brings you back to your adjusted settings.

On the right side, there is is a slow/fast switch that lets you toggle between the speed modes of the pedal. This particular feature works with two additional controls on the left and the right side of the balance knob.

There you can find two small holes with screws in them and these can only be accessed with a small screwdriver. They control speeds of bass and treble speakers in the “fast” mode of the pedal.

On the back side of the unit, there is a selector switch that lets you use Rotosphere either as a guitar or keyboard effect. Right next to it, there are two outputs and two inputs, meaning that the pedal may be utilized in mono or stereo mode.

Another jack, labeled as “remote,” is used for external units like footswitches or MIDI controllers.


Design

Taking a glance at the H&K Rotosphere, you immediately notice that it’s a quality built and pretty nice looking pedal with a silver front panel. It features the almost identical design of all the other of Hughes & Kettner’s Tube Tools units, such as Tubeman MK2 preamp, Tube Factor drive, and Reflex reverb.

One thing that stands out here is the famous Hughes & Kettner logo with blue lights. Through the transparent plastic part with the logo, you can also see inside the pedal, right where the tube is located.

As for the LED lights, they are all pretty noticeable and players won’t have any difficulties seeing all the needed functions turned on or off.

All in all, the Rotosphere will definitely be something that clearly stands out on your pedalboard.


Performance

The controls are pretty easy to follow through and there are many combinations for making your sound unique. The feature to use it only as an overdrive pedal is pretty useful and you can get some pretty great vintage tones out of it.

Although for fully adjusting the pedal you need a screwdriver and a little bit of patience, the Leslie speaker simulation is convincing, both in slower and faster modes.

As already mentioned above, with Rotosphere being a tube based pedal, there’s some dynamic responsiveness that you can get out of it, especially if you turn the drive or output knobs up.

And, another thing which comes as a neat feature for these kinds of effects – you can try out different types of 12AX7 or ECC83 tubes to get different sounds.

However, replacing a tube in one of these is kind of a headache since it requires you to take the whole thing apart, including the main circuit board.

And tube replacement is a must after long or frequent use. If you don’t feel confident enough changing it yourself, we advise you to consult a professional.

Despite all the great features and sound, we should point out another minor flaw – the input and output jack placement.

Average pedals have the input on the right side and output on the left, while Rotosphere has it the other way around. This might contribute to some additional cable mess on your pedalboard.


Conclusion

To put it simply: the sound is organic, the rotary effect is convincing, the build quality is amazing, and the pedal just looks great. You’ll just need to know that it’s not like the other pedals and is more of a higher intermediate or pro level piece of gear.

It is definitely worth every penny, especially if you are into the vintage sounds. There were some flaws that we listed, which are mostly just some minor issues, so if you’re looking for a good-quality Leslie emulator, then you won’t really go wrong with Hughes & Kettner Rotosphere MK2.

Visit: http://hughes-and-kettner.com/


Video Demos of the H&K Rotosphere MK2

morley bad horsie 2

Morley Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah Pedal Review

If you're a lead guitar player, there's a high chance you just can't go without a wah pedal in your signal chain. There is just something about wah-wahs that provides you with more expressiveness and makes your guitar sound closer to a singing voice. Ever since the first wah pedals back in the mid-1960s and…
berzerker overdrive review

Dunlop MXR Zakk Wylde Berzerker Overdrive ZW-44 Review

Sometimes there's just no compromise in creating the best tone possible. Especially if you're into heavier music. It's hard to have that heavy guitar sound that will easily cut through the mix and not get all compressed on the higher gain setting. The often-used solution to that issue is using a quality overdrive pedal on…
prs silver sky guitar john mayer review

PRS Silver Sky Guitar Review

The good old classic Fender Stratocaster - it's been a go-to guitar for many of our favorite musicians. The famous Strat shape has also been used by various other manufacturers, most notably for some Super Strat styled instruments that began emerging in the 80s and the 90s. But none of these caused such uproar and…
jp15 ernie ball music man

Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci Monarchy Majesty Electric Guitar Review

By the time the 1970s came, the music started to change drastically. The emergence of heavy metal and the transformation of rock music into progressive rock were, without any doubts, some of the most exciting revolutions music fans ever got to hear. By the time the 1980s arrived, we've seen the rise of the guitar…
jp-2c

Mesa Boogie JP-2C John Petrucci Signature Amplifier Review

Over the course of the past three or four decades, we've seen rock music change drastically. And with the emergence of the various heavy metal subgenres in the 1980s, we've witnessed the guitar being taken to previously unseen territories. Both technically and sonically, players pushed the limits and the movement of guitar shredders was born.…
chimera bc9

Chimera Synthesis bC9 Review

Putting together your own pedalboard is always fun. And adding a new pedal to the signal chain makes things even more fun, giving your guitar sound a whole new life. Buying that new overdrive, distortion, chorus, compressor, or even a treble booster gives guitar players such joy that they even get inspired to write new…
ibanez k7 korn signature

Ibanez K7 Korn Signature Series Guitar Review

Right as the 1990s came, we were witnesses to one of the most drastic changes in music, especially when it comes to rock and metal. The flashy lightning speed era of guitar playing was kind of coming to an end, and more of the riff-based music started emerging. While the 80s saw some artists going…

Who is Weird Al Yankovic? To Find Out, We Must Go To Spatula City…

Well, here you are - Spatula City.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XbCWmY0eqY That's all fine and good, but "Who is Weird Al?" you ask. Alfred Matthew Yankovic, known as "Weird Al" Yankovic, was born on October 23 , 1959, in Downey, California, and is a popular American satirist.  Al is also notably a singer, musician, songwriter, actor, accordionist, and…

Who is Clifton Chenier?

Clifton Chenier (born in Opelousas, near Lafayette , the June 25 , 1925 - died in Lafayette on December 12 , 1987) is a zydeco musician, and among the most celebrated musicians who play in that genre that ever lived, having been called the King of Zydeco music, and King of the Bayou (by Paul…