There’s just never enough of pedals in your signal chain. Whatever is the genre that you play, there’s a high chance you’ll be up for having one of those elaborate floor boards with a whole bunch of useful devices on it (some of them which you probably won’t ever use in a song).
But the thing is, if you’re going into professional waters, there’ll most definitely be a few rack-mounted units involved in your rig.
And, as the technology has progressed over the past years, some of these digital rack-mounted multi effects units became capable of all sorts of different stuff, making some really natural tones and effects with “organic” feel to them.
A great example is TC Electronic’s M3000 rack-mounted reverb and a multi effects processor.
This piece of gear has been used by some of the well-respected guitar champions over the years, including none other than the almighty Dream Theater’s axeman John Petrucci.
Well, if a musician of such caliber preferred using it, then there must be something good about it, right? Let us take some time then to explore the M3000 in this review and find out what makes it so special.
Essentially, TC Electronic’s M3000 is a multi-fx unit with the main accent on reverberation. After years of experience, research, and advancement, the company came up with this one, bringing their new technologies into one well-built rack-mounted device.
Of course, the M3000 features dynamic, modulation, and atmospheric effects – stuff like compression, chorus, delay, and reverb, as well as the elaborate dynamic EQs.
So this is not the typical toy-like low to medium-end processor with distortion, amp, and cabinet simulator, but a very specific professional-grade piece.
First off, the M3000 is known for its 24-bit processing, giving some high-quality clear tones. What’s also important to note is that it features two output channels, making it a stereo processor.
Another great feature here is the so-called VSS 3 technology, which is essentially the company’s own original software that gives a wide variety of parameter tweaking.
It enables some extremely realistic and crystal clear effects, especially with the elaborate reverb presets. What’s more, the M3000’s dual-engine processing allows you to use two effects at the same time, even two of the effects from the same category.
The full list of effects included is the following: compressor, noise gate (expander), panner, de-esser, chorus, phaser, flanger, pitch shifter, delay, and reverb.
The M3000 also has a total of 600 factory presets, 300 of which are dedicated to instruments and music production and the other half for post-production and film sound design.
All of these presets are specially tweaked by the company’s professionals and can be used as they are out of the box, or can be edited and tweaked according to users’ needs.
For an additional 300 user presets, there’s an option for connecting a PCMCIA card to it. However, this one is sold separately and does not come with the product.
The M3000 features two analog XLR inputs and analog XLR outputs. In addition, it also has digital inputs and outputs as well MIDI connectivity. There’s also the ADAT and optical input option which is useful for controlling it in studio settings.
Despite the abundance of features, the M3000 is pretty simple to use. Of course, it requires some practicing and experience if you’re not completely familiar with such units, but it’s really nothing that will cause you a headache. The front panel might seem a bit confusing at first, but all the controls are well defined and allow normal use.
Aside from the ease of use, this unit is pretty fast and won’t cause you to wait for any presets to load or save. It’s surprisingly great for a product packed with so many high definition effects, all of which are tweaked using quite a few parameters and all saved up in hundreds of presets.
Here’s a quick demo of the unit.
There just aren’t enough words to describe how clear and realistic all the effects sound. Yes, the accent is on reverberation here, with so many different parameters to control, all packed into 600 factory presets.
It would be nice though if there were some additional user presets included, especially for a rack-mounted effects unit of this caliber. Buying a PCMCIA card feels sort of like going back to 1990s. Of course, this is not exactly a deal-breaker for such a refined piece, but would still be a good feature to include. Therefore, we can’t really complain much about it.
Of course, it’s needless to say that this is a professional-grade piece of equipment, so it’s something that you most likely wouldn’t be buying if you’re an amateur musician playing and making music for your own enjoyment.
But if you’re building up a serious rig, or an elaborate professional-tier home studio, then the M3000 is definitely something you should be checking out.
Yes, being around $1,500 new these days, it’s not the cheapest thing out there, but the abundance of effects and their overall quality definitely justify the price.
It’s interesting how one rack-based studio piece of gear can also find its way into a live rig of guitar giants, including John Petrucci of Dream Theater. You don’t often see the same thing used by a metal guitar master and a film sound producer.
Overall, the M3000 is a very versatile and detailed processor made by TC Electronic, designed for professional use (not like you’d expect anything less from them).
Sure, if you have the funds to spend, you can get one of these for your own satisfaction. But despite its ease of use, this is not a toy for an average bedroom guitarist, but a full-blown professional unit that shows its true potential combined with other quality and expensive gear.
So it’s best to think twice before draining your bank account and getting your hands on one of these.