Ibanez TS9DX Turbo Tube Screamer
Submitted by inmyhands on Fri, 11/25/2011 - 21:27
The TS9DX is Ibanez's shot at taking the TS9 Tube Screamer to the next level. They do this by adding a 4 position Mode control knob to the existing Drive, Level and Tone controls. Mode 1 is supposed to be the same as the TS9. Mode 2 is called "+" and is meant to be the TS9 boosted. Mode 3 is called "Hot" and is supposed to be voiced for heavy rhythms. Mode 4 is called "Turbo" and is designed to be an over the top TS9 suitable for higher gain leads.
Ease of Use:
The TS9DX is housed in a well built effect box with the oversized foot switch Ibanez pedals commonly sport. It's a very sturdy pedal and holds up well under heavy use. All control knobs feel solid and the pots are stiff enough to hold the positions dialed in. The green finish is very durable. This pedal doesn't nick or scratch easily.
In my opinion, the TS9DX is the perfect example of a company's mistaken attempt at adding more to an exceptional product and, in the process, losing all that made the original product so well received.
The original Ibanez TS9 was brought on to the playing field as a brighter, less mid rich version of the Ibanez TS808. Since the introduction of the TS808 amplifier builds had begun embracing the idea of higher gain preamp sections. Unlike gain produced by overdriving output tubes, preamp gain tended to compress and thicken the tone of the guitar signal to a higher degree. The TS808, when mated to these newer amp designs, tended to sound muddy or dark. Overtones buried harmonics and string definition slowly became soup. The TS9 addressed these issues. It's voice contained less in the overall midrange band and lower end. The remaining midrange became tightly focused on the upper mid frequencies. The TS9 proved to be a much better match for higher gain amplifiers.
Ibanez, for whatever reason, decided to create a TS9 with added circuitry in the signal path to add additional voicing options. I'm not sure why. The TS9 addressed every issue it was designed to address. Ibanez now had the TS808 for cleaner amps and the TS9 for higher gain amps. The added circuitry of the TS9DX actually took away from the primary voice of the TS9. To add modes 2 through 4 they had to sacrifice the ability of mode 1 to deliver the original voice. No one hearing a TS9DX on mode 1 will mistake it for the voice of the standard Ibanez TS9. The TS9DX version sounds thinner with less color to the ear. If you listen close you'll also hear a slight hiss that doesn't happen when using the original TS9.
The additional 3 modes Ibanez added, while all being voiced a little differently from mode 1 as well as each other, never improve upon the original TS9. To be honest, maybe the TS9DX should have been named the TS808DX. I say this because I've found that modes 1,2 and 4 will all create usable voices when mated with a clean amp. They can sound very pleasing through a Fender Twin or Super Reverb. They sound pleasing when mated with an amp build that sports two preamp tubes rather than the three to six most current amps carry. The tones in this pedal just shouldn't be promoted as extensions of the TS9s tones. They have nothing in common.
Why do I still own mine? I'm lucky enough to own multiple amps and, while the TS9DX totally failed to sound good with my higher gain models, it plays a decent game with my cleaner amps. Also .... It's just one gain pedal in a box of many that I own. If I could only own one or two gain pedals the TS9DX would not be among them.
Sadly .... Excellent.
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