TC Electronic Hall of Fame Mini Review
TC Electronic has been integrating their groundbreaking TonePrint technology into their stompbox line for a few years with increasingly cool results. TonePrint lets you download settings designed by celebrity players and upload them to your pedal via mini USB or smartphone. (By aiming your phone’s speakers into your pickups, you can “beam” the data directly to the pedal.)
TCE’s original Hall of Fame reverb features a host of ‘verb types (spring, hall, church, tile, and ambient among others) plus TonePrint functionality. Now TCE has released the HOF Mini, a microscopic stomper that omits most of the original’s controls in favor of a single wet/dry knob. It ships with TC’s famed hall reverb algorithm, and you can load additional sounds using TonePrint.
The Print Collector
One knob for all
Roughly the size and color of a Hot Wheels fire engine, the HOF Mini is truly a miniature. These tiny 1590A-sized enclosures save boatloads of space on crowded boards—they’re perfect for that final slot when space is scarce. But I strongly recommend securing it with Velcro or zip ties, or the slightest bump will send it scurrying around your board. There’s no room for a battery inside, so the HOF must run off a 9-volt power supply. (The size also demands that the input and output jacks be slightly askew.) The barrel-style 9-volt jack resides beneath the mini-USB jack used to download TonePrints. The single knob alters the wet/dry mix.
The original Hall of Fame has four knobs to control the reverb character, mix, tone, and decay. The Mini’s one-knob controls, however, put a wet blanket over on-the-fly tweaking. I’m the kind of pedal nerd who loves mashing around with controls, pushing parameters to the extreme, and generally causing a ruckus until I settle on a more “suitable” tone. Some of these outlandish extremes can be useful in live situations too, depending on your style. That’s not possible with the Mini, unless you create your own bizarre ’verb with the TonePrint software.
One drawback of my Orange OR50 is its lack of reverb, which is why I’ve leaned on a Twin Reverb for years. But when I need the Orange’s EL34 sound, I throw a reverb pedal into the chain to make things more spatial. The HOF’s default hall reverb has a giant presence that sounds massive with a Stratocaster. Despite the lack of a tone knob, this sound is readily usable for a standard, set-and-forget sound.It’s not comparable to my Twin’s spring tank, but a quick flip through TC’s iPhone app reveals a plethora of TonePrints that would fit the bill. I settled on Troy van Leeuwen’s “Vibrato Spring,” a dark warble modeled after a vintage Twin Reverb tank. Again, this was immediately usable and I found myself foundering in whirlpool twang similar to Syd Barrett’s sound on Piper at the Gates of Dawn.
Smaller practice amps can benefit greatly from the HOF Mini’s color palette. Many practice amps—Vox Pathfinder included—scrimp on quality reverb. The Pathfinder’s reverb has a short tail and low output, but the Mini fixed these issues in a jiff, kicking up the reverb blend for a saturated output. The hotter humbuckers from a DeArmond MT-75 flourished in in this newfound reverberation, producing a gentle blues drawl with a low reverb mix setting and a lonesome slide-guitar whine at higher settings.The Verdict
Control freaks should steer clear of this TCE Mini series. Personally, I like at least a couple of parameters to tinker with playing live or recording. That said, I liked the overall tones of this practical and efficient pedal. If you just need a quick tone to lubricate your output, the TonePrint database should have you covered. Those with the itch to tweak will want to hook up the TC’s tone-editing software, and will have to work within the limits of the Mini’s simple wet/dry knob. Considering that those options are at your disposal, the HOF Mini is actually capable of many cool and effective voices. It’s only the ability to tweak them on the fly that limits the pedal—a fair trade, perhaps, given the tiny space it requires.