TC electronic Plethora X5 Review
Verdict and Review Summary
TC Electronic tells you up front that the Plethora X5 is designed to let your amp do the work of clean tones and distortion, while the X5 handles pitch shifting, modulation, and ambience. I love this pedal for the way it's set up, and the effects quality that is consistent with the TC pedals we've recommended over the years.
If there's a brand that deserves credit for making great-sounding effects affordable, it has to be TC Electronic. They have the tone and feel of high-quality pedals/processors, with very manageable price tags.
I also appreciate their ease of use and simple setups. So while the Plethora X5 isn't particularly cheap, it's still a great value because of how many TC Electronic pedals and TonePrints it curates.
First, we should note the X5's focus:
TC Electronic explicitly mentions in the product copy that the X5 leaves the cleans and distortion tones to your amplifier. In other words, it's a multi-effects pedal that puts most of its focus into the other effects categories, while letting your amp do the heavy lifting.
The TC Electronic PLETHORA X5 doesn’t include any amp simulations, and there’s a reason for that. This powerful multi-effects unit is geared toward tone chasers who have already found their signature sound via amp distortion and drive pedals. - TC Electronic's Plethora X5 product copy
In our TC Electronic Plethora X5 review, we'll cover quality, capabilities, and control. Enjoy it and if you have any questions, hit the comments section at the bottom of the page.
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TC Electronic Plethora X5 Price Guide
Note that these prices are updated live, but are still subject to change depending on the retailer.
Pricing from Sweetwater
Price Alert Tool
Price History for TC Electronic Plethora X5 TonePrint Multi-FX Pedalboard
|Current Price||$579.00||September 29, 2023|
|Highest Price||$579.00||March 4, 2023|
|Lowest Price||$579.00||March 4, 2023|
Last price changes
|$579.00||March 4, 2023|
IDEAL FOR: TC Electronic pedal fans, pairing with an amp that has awesome distortion, use during live performances, church/worship guitarists, ambient and modulation focus.
Bonedo's Demo Video
When we can, we do demo videos. But often times Bonedo's YouTube channel is just better. We do the writing, they do the videoing. To be clear, we are not affiliated with Bonedo's channel in any way. We just really like that dude's demos.
Tone Quality of the Plethora X5 Effects
These days, I rarely test a pedal from a reputable brand that does not meet a high standard of tone quality. As the Plethora X5 draws on the processing of individual stompboxes that have already been built, the sounds are nearly identical. Pedals like the Flashback Delay and Hall of Fame reverb are particularly evident in the Plethora's tone.
There are numerous combinations of reverb, chorus, and pitch shifting available. The longer the reverb trail, the more creative things can get with the pitch.
Many of the factory "pedalboard" presets (each grouping of five pedals) also give you multiple delays to work with.
At times, it was difficult to figure out exactly what those delays were doing or how they were supposed to mesh together. However, it was easy to click them off one at a time and start fresh.
"Most of the default ambient tones (reverb, echo, delay) provide long trails and may need to be dialed back if you want a more contained sound. This means that the echoes are lengthier and need to be adjusted to tighten things up. However, extended ambience is an extremely desirable and necessary sound for today's electric guitar styles, so there are plenty of ways to put these to use.
My favorite ambient tones came from combining pitch shifting with other effects. Harmony and reverb are often combined on many pedals, and the X5 does a great job creating presets with this pairing. I was able to get many cool and unique sounds without any effort.
Here are the two ambient pedal models in the X5:
- Hall Of Fame 2 Reverb
- Flashback 2 Delay
Modulation is made up of algorithms from the Corona chorus pedal and the Pipeline tremolo. The Vortex flanger is included as well.
Here's a full list of the modulation pedals included:
- Corona Chorus
- Vortex Flanger
- Pipeline Tap Tremolo
- Shaker Vibrato
Modulation tones give you the typical range of wet to dry and detuned to subtle. Again, the appeal of the X5 is simplicity, which means they aren't really reinventing the wheel with their pedal models.
But with basic modulation, they don't have to. These pair well with the other effects, as you'd expect from pedals within the same brand.
It's easy to dial in a lot of ambiguity or simple layering.
The rest of the effects pedal models are the following (not modulation or ambient):
- Sub ‘N’ Up Octaver
- Brainwaves Pitch Shifter
- Hypergravity Compressor
- Mimiq Doubler
- Quintessence Harmony
- Sentry Noise Gate
Control and Flexibility
You can engage the MASH function on all five of the buttons for effects where it's enabled. You can also set it to control up to three parameters of each effect. Another way to control parameters is via expression or a combination of the two. The parameters vary depending on the effect.
Otherwise, parameters are going to be set with the knob assigned to each of the five effects channels. For timing and rhythm effects, you can set one of the five slots to a tap tempo.
As with most multi-effects pedals, there is a learning curve to get a handle on the controls and the options. But it's much less complex than many of the other units I've tested.
Take the HX Stomp, for example. It can do a lot more than the Plethora X5, but it's also more complicated to operate. So where a pedal like the HX Stomp can replace your entire rig, the X5 is meant to consolidate your pedals and centralize control. As I mentioned, TC Electronic even makes it a point to say this processor should complement your amp.
Here are the main bullet points for control:
- Five switches (five effects at a time)
- MASH button can be assigned different functionality
- Parameters for each effect can be easily adjusted
- Single knob with button function deals with customization/parameters for each effect
- Assign tap tempo and other functionality to one of the five effects slots
- Switch positions of effects using just the bypass switches
Price, quality, and overall value
Some have argued that the Plethora X5 is overpriced, partially because it does not handle amp modeling or distortion. But I would contend that's not the stated goal of this pedal.
The X5's price is reasonable given the number of TC Electronic pedals it condenses into one place.
So if you're a fan of their brand and you want centralized control instead of individual pedals, it's worth the investment.
That said, at the time of publishing this review, the Plethora X5 was retailing for roughly $580. I would like to see that price at $499, but that's based more on the eye test than the actual value of the pedal. It's sort of just my gut reaction to the current price tag and you could argue either way.
If you like your amp and you like TC Electronic pedals, the Plethora X5 is going to give you good value for your money. You won't need anything else for ambience or modulation.
Share your thoughts on the X5's value in the comments section.
Best fit and ideal buyer
Here's the profile of the ideal TC Electronic Plethora X5 buyer:
- Happy with their amp's clean tone and distortion
- Looking for a multi-effects pedal that doesn't spend resources on amp modeling
- Wants an interface that's simpler to use and control
- Wants to focus primarily on modulation, ambience, and pitch shifting
- Likes the TC Electronic brand, particularly their individual stompboxes
- Wants to consolidate their pedalboard
If some of these bullet points describe you, the X5 deserves consideration. Always remember to make these decisions based on your unique situation and what works best for you.
I like the Plethora X5 a lot, but it's not necessarily going to be a good fit for everybody, and a review can't account for all possible variables.
The Plethora X5 does save you money compared to buying a bunch of TC Electronic stompboxes. But as you can see from the bullet points above, there are plenty of additional reasons to take a serious like at the X5.
Keep in mind that to write my Plethora X5 review, I used the pedal and spoke from my own personal experience.
My experience (though hopefully helpful) is inherently subjective.
So take what I have to say with a grain of salt and make sure you consider the uniqueness of your situation and what will work best for you.
Leave comments below and we'll chat.
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