TC 1210 spatial expander

TC Electronic TC1210 Spatial Expander & Stereo Chorus + Flanger Review

Whatever is the instrument that you play, it’s always a good idea to have some additional effects to enhance your tone. Not too much, but just something that will help you in not sounding so dry all the time.

Of course, there are plenty of pedals out there that will help you get all the tones that you need. But what if you want to take it to a whole new level and get yourself a rack-mounted multi-effects unit? After all, this is something professional musicians have been doing for their entire lives, so it must be a good thing, right?

With this in mind, we decided to look more into one of the discontinued pieces by the legendary TC Electronic.

Generally speaking, it’s a unit that’s often used by instrumentalists, even for live shows. We’ve seen some of the biggest names in the world of the guitar using it, including Eric Clapton, Larry Carlton, Steve Vai, Alex Lifeson, and even Dream Theater’s John Petrucci.

TC 1210

This unit is featured on our John Petrucci Rig Rundown here

Without further ado, here’s some exciting info about TC 1210 Spatial Expander & Stereo Chorus + Flanger.

Features

First off, the TC 1210 is a rack-mounted product featuring a few onboard different effects. It is based on the company’s famous SCF Stereo Chorus/Flanger pedal but with a bit more features.

The whole idea behind the TC 1210 was to have a suitable effect for creating a solid spatial stereo image of one’s tone. In addition, there are some other effects that we will discuss here.

It is an entirely analog unit relying on the old bucket brigade device technology that people are still crazy about these days. There are seven different presets and effects to choose from: spatial expander, two choruses, two flangers, a doubler, and a stereo delay.

The 1210’s greatest superpower comes with its stereo features. Each of the effects can be used either in stereo or mono modes. In addition to this, you’re able to use two separate inputs as two independent channels and process them individually.

There are plenty of controls on there for separating these channels, using the same or different effects on them, and even using each of the dedicated outputs individually or as one whole audio image. All of the features and controls just wouldn’t fit into one brief review.

Inputs and outputs are located on the rear panel. There are two inputs and outputs for regular 1/4-inch jacks and additional XLR inputs and outputs.

Aside from that, there’s an input for bypass footswitch control and the “speed” footswitch jack that lets you choose from five different effect speed modes. There is also a “direct mute” switch that completely mutes the signal coming out of the unit.

Overall, 1210 provides a surprising amount of controls for such an old piece. The combinations are almost endless, and they’re all designed to provide you with some really spacious choruses, flangers, delays, doublers, and expanders.

Design

Although not many will go to the lengths of looking into your rig, we could say that the TC 1210 seems pretty neat. Nothing too fancy, but it clearly shows somewhat of a vintage-ish ’80s and ’90s feel.

The writing on it is a bit too small, but when you get used to setting it up, you won’t have any trouble knowing where each control is. At the end of the day, not many will care about the looks of your rack pieces so there’s nothing to worry about here, really.

Performance

Just like its name would suggest, there is a lot of “spaciousness” feel to all the effects on it. But the TC 1210 is best known for its 3D stereo chorus.

Most of the guitar players who have used it over the years were able to create some really spacious feeling stereo tones through it. At some points, it could feel as if there are actually two instruments playing.

But whatever is the effect that you want to use on it, it provides a very 3D feel to it. In some cases, even when the sound coming from the left speaker is louder, you’ll get the impression that the tone is coming from the right speaker.

The illusion is created by delaying the signal to the left output. It is just one of the examples of how complex and detailed this piece actually is.

The analog feel is definitely noticeable with TC 1210 and it won’t sound like any of the standard sterile digital products you can find today. However, the whole operation is a bit outdated.

These days, you can get some pretty convincing (at least in our opinion) digital replicas of analog effects that would be a lot more easier to set up.

1210 will also provide stable operation for any kind of setup, whether you want to use it in front of an amp, FX loop, or in the standard rack configuration.

You can also send the signal to two amps or to separate it and go into an amp and a mixer. The options are endless, but it would take some time getting used to TC 1210.

Conclusion

One thing you need to know is that these are not exactly easy to find. TC 1210 has been really popular throughout the 1990s and these days you can find a used one for well over $1,000.

It’s an entirely professional vintage analog device that will provide some really “spacious” tones.

The TC 1210 is succeeded by some of the modern pieces, all of which are based on this old rack unit. For instance, there’s the TC 1210-DT Desktop Controller, which has a similar spatial expander effect on it.

But to conclude this review, this multi-effects piece is something those vintage seekers are crazy about these days. Aside from the guitar, it can be used for processing vocals or any miked-up acoustic instruments.

But if you’re a beginner and an average enthusiast, you’ll probably want to skip this one and go with something a little more simple and practical.


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Senior editor for Ultimate-Guitar, passionate about good music and quality gear. Bassist. King Crimson fan. Travel enthusiast.
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