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Two Notes Audio Engineering Le Preamp

Two Notes Audio Engineering Le Lead

User reviews on Two Notes Audio Engineering Le Preamp products

A little red bombshell (Two Notes Audio Engineering - Le Lead)

By gatman, 31/01/2016
I'd been after a preamp to complement my torpedo cab for a while.

I've used several models in the past: H&k, AMT ss11,Blackstar, Fredamp 800 (not enough gain for my taste) .
While clean sounds were most often acceptable, no way to get a REAL high gain.

Now, I've found what I was after: a compact preamp with not two but 4 channels!

Channel A : a very good cleansound, it reacts well to pedals (both before and after).
Channel B : A lot of demos insist on its high gain, and it is great indeed. The tube does a lot to shape the outcoming sound, it's the best I've ever had. Yet, in low gain, it's also VERY good. It's not a shredders-only preamp, a lot of sounds can be achieved with it, espacially using the...

Fusion mode : This is where it's getting extraordinary. You can get the sound of both channels, either cascaded or in parallel with a mix setting. This allows to get an overdriven sound based on a clean one, allowing each note to sound clear and detached.
You'd almost regret the impossibility to make presets, like with a multi-effect.

With the output going straight into my torpedo CAB, I get an incredibly wide array of sounds, particularily with channel B's equalizer which allows to dine tune the mids.

Connectors : very complete with effect loop, heacphone out, midi, direct out with speaker emulator... How did they manage to get all that fit into it? The box looks sturdy and professional.

Sole little cons: the direct out with emulated speaker. It can do the job if needed, but it's light years away from the sound quality you'll get out of a CAB or real amp.
Especially since the Wos speaker emulation software is included.

Expected for a long while, this French-designed product is the perfect tool for any guitarist wishing for a light and high-performance tube preamp. In a short time, you get a great sound and can spend time to refine it and mix with the Fusion mode.
I haven't tried the rest of the Two Notes series but this one suits me really perfectly.
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LE preamp... but a bit too well-behaved, perhaps? (Two Notes Audio Engineering - Le Clean)

By Quobalt, 29/11/2016
I use it for computer music, straight from XLR into the mixer with the amp emulation on, into presonus monitors. Various guitars, from dirty hbs to the thin clean sound of a Telecaster. A Zoom G3 is in the fx loop, only for its modulations. Before the Le Clean, I often use various ODs/distortions: boss, tube screamer, MI audio...

I’d been looking for a way to listen to my favourite pedals on my computer music setup. I tried many "emulated output" tube pedals hoping to get the typical tube sound to accompany a backtrack from Youtube, all this without having to turn the tube amp on which would wake the neighbours, wife and baby up.

AMT ss 11, blackstar, vox, and many others… so when i saw this brand (a leader in amp emulation) that started a pedal line, I went for it, that was exactly what I was looking for. Plus, it has a real 12ax7 inside? Oh joy! The Holy Grail of tube sound was taking shape in my dreams.

Really tempting : an FX loop, Fenderish clean sound, MIDI, yeehoo ! GAS, here we go again, I bought it straight away!

After a few days and leaving behind the euphoria of having a newly bought toy, here’s my review.

First it’s NOT a pedal to be put in a pedalboard. It’s not made for it. Fans of Fenderish bluesy overdrives, go look somewhere else! A tube won’t turn your amp into a Fender Super Reverb! Even in the fx loop it doesn’t have the impact it would have on a music-dedicated computer.

But, it becomes the perfect tiny amp for the computer musician. Clean sounds are so detailed – it’s just exceptional.

Crystal-clean sounds. Add a bit of reverb, a tape echo and you’re there ! With it, I got clean sounds I didn’t expect from a Les Paul. With a Tele, you get such a rich, defined clean note sound that no DAW or basic recorder can render.

But as I announced it, the biggest cons I can find it is its gain. Barely do you push a Fender amp that the note gets a little dirtier, so you push it to get a bluesy sound but no more – otherwise it becomes a really dirty distortion.

Her, you even wonder why two channels. The first is so well-behaved that even pushed to its limit you keep a (Le) Clean sound!

The second one is heavier, thickier, but again you hardly find how it’s supposed to resemble the Fender that supposedly inspired it. Too well-behaved again.

And, there’s the fusion mode.

The A & B channels can be mixed together, in series or parallel. And the hot fusion (A+B) finally starts to sound a bit like a Fender.

I only use it this way, playing on the gain and volume settings (both those of the pedal and guitar). This mode deserves all due respect, even if it’s still hard to find the delicious harmonics of a tube amp.

Now let’s talk about what most makes me fall for it, either in bypass or A channel: the addition of pedals.

I keep on adding OD/distos to it, and I’m surprised to find exactly what I like. Without an amp, just on presonus monitoring speakers.

i discover the proper character of each pedal with a great pleasure. The typical tube screamer, the SD1, the super crunch box, and even a really dirty fuzz deserve to be heard through this pedal, or should I say this “musical re-routing tool for computer music” should I say.

Tube pedal lovers, don’t look this way ; but computer musicians, there’s a real chance this is what you’re looking for.

PS:

I’ve never had a technical problem with mine, the LED, contacts and tube are alright even after transporting it in a backpack – no problem.

edit on Aug 7, 16 :

after a while i decided to change the tube, as i was growing frustrated with the lack of gain and personality of the pedal. I didn’t take just anything, I chose a… 1959 phillips miniwatt 12ax7 which was in an old radio from my grandpa in the attic.

Changing the tube is very easy, just unscrew the 4 screws in the back and there’s enough room to tweak the 12ax7 (the original one is a ruby) so as to take it out. Easier than on a Blackstar.

Real MADNESS ! The A channel has become a vintage Fender amp. The notes’ depth and reactions are unbelievable, it sounded so beautiful I couldn’t believe my ears! Lively. Reactive. I barely touch the strings, the sound is only slightly dirtied and I’m in it, its identity keeps getting heard with a gain the Stones wouldn’t disapprove of.

Alas, a lightning when I started it indicated a problem: the preamp stayed mute on the B channel, and even more in A+B mode.

For security reasons and in order top spare the components, I took the Philips out and put a Tung Sol instead. It clearly has less character, but it’s still better than the original ruby ECC83 – which to me is a very bad choice.

I’m only telling you that to encourage this pedal’s owners to change the original tube for another at your taste, which proves the quality of this model. Really astounding and realistic, amp-worthy if you find the tube that suits you. As for me, I’ll go after a NOS 12ax7… or loot among the old radios scattered around in my attic – you never know! :mrgreen:
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I really dig it! (Two Notes Audio Engineering - Le Bass)

By batmad, 14/04/2018
Hi all,

I’ve owned it since it came out.
I played it live at La Cigale, an important venue in Paris.

I play an active Fender Precision in genres close to Royal Blood, The Black Keys, Black Pistol Fire (even though they don’t have a bass player). Needless to say I like a bass sound to be very heavy and aggressive, with a nice compression.

I’m very happy with that purchase.
The A amplification gives the low frequencies a huge punch, while the B channel provides very aggressive mids.
The possibility to mix both channels is a real asset for this pedal as it allows to keep channel A’s precision while distorting it using channel B.
For my live sets, I keep channel A on at all time and add B or another distortion (Moof MF Drive) for passages where I need to sound louder.

The only cons I’ve found so far is that the two switches are located a bit close to each other, so when in a hurry you sometimes end up pressing the wrong one. It also causes problems when intending to switch the both of them on or off, as sometimes only one of them gets switched.

It seems sturdy and well-built, but we’ll see how it ages.

In the end, I’m very happy to have bought such an ambitious product, all the more as it is French – ok, and a bit Chinese, too!
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Le Lead 2-Channel Preamp (Two Notes Audio Engineering - Le Lead)

By MGR/Brian Johnston, 25/05/2018
SOUND:
Le Lead is a 2-channel tube preamp that can produce a multitude of tones (although designed for lead, you can get some excellent crunch and rhythm from this unit). Le Lead offers a typical Channel (clean) and Channel B (high-gain), but also Fusion capabilities to blend or cascade the two channels. Below is a YouTube demo that goes through various settings on both channels, such as bass, treble and midrange response, the effect of the Gain, Cold Fusion and Hot Fusion, and a very interesting feature… the Midrange Sweep.



When dealing with the EQ one of the first things I noticed is that you could turn the Bass up high (as well as the Midrange) and the Treble down low and there is no ‘mud.’ Although this is a 12AX7 tube driven preamp, with all the characteristics of tube technology, the signal remains clear, which is necessary for any genre of Metal and particularly for 7 and 8-string guitarists. Likewise, you can turn the Bass all the way off with the Treble all the way up and you don’t hear any shrill notes… certainly sharp tones (not in a bad way) that cuts through the mix like crazy.

In regard to the actual ‘sound’ of this pedal, it depends what you have it going through, e.g., what cabinet/speakers, etc. I ran it through a Rock Bug (by Carl Martin, an amp-speaker simulator) and it sounds great! However, the maker of the Le Lead Preamp (Two Notes) has free VST DAW software for download called Wall of Sound. When you buy a Two Note product you get 16 free cabinets of different sizes, e.g., 2x10, 4x12, etc., with the option to demo and purchase more. And so, not only do you get some great British, American and High-Gain amps, but you can stack them (e.g., a British Vintage with an Engl-type amp) and even use different microphones in different positions… along with an EQ, Compressor, Reverb, etc., in the control panel.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:
Developed and engineered in France, Two Notes is helping to lead the industry when it comes to concept and design. Progressively more people are using software for playing and recording, and another group is slowly turning away from having to haul amp heads and monster cabinets from gig to gig. The idea behind the preamps (Le Lead, Le Crunch, Le Clean and Le Bass) is to integrate your amp on a pedal board, and perhaps plug into a cabinet. However, Two Notes also has a product called Torpedo C.A.B., an amp-speaker simulator in a pedal that allows you to custom design several cabinets for direct PA plug-in (or into a flat response speaker). Now you can get “cranked to 11” sound quality at any volume. The times are changing, and when you consider the cost of most amps with cabinets (and having more than one type at your disposal), the price of a Two Note preamp with the C.A.B. (or simply the Wall of Sound software) is unbeatable and a fraction of the weight. Get everything on your pedal board and be done with it!

The Le Lead Preamp also has a host of options and features. I’ll describe the Hot and Cold Fusion in the ‘Ease of Use’ section while focusing on the other aspects. First, this pedal has a true high voltage (200 volts) design. As well, there is an FX Loop, it’s MIDI ready (both in and out to control something or to be controlled), has a headphone jack for private practicing, a speaker simulator (heard when using the headphones or the DI XLR output), and a Thru output (to feed to an amplifier or to record a dry signal).

EASE OF USE:
The Le Lead Preamp functions as would a regular amplifier. There are two Channels, each with its own EQ. The Clean channel has bass and treble, whereas the High-gain channel also has a midrange. What’s very nice about this pedal is there is a Sweep knob that affects the midrange, so that you can boost or attenuate (reduce) a particular frequency in the midrange. This gives you a LOT of tonal control on the midrange, which is the most important aspect when dialing in that ideal guitar tone. Consequently, this combination of midrange + sweep requires a bit of tweaking, but it’s pretty easy to get a good tone from the Le Lead and to dial in effectively.

The Hot and Cold Fusion options also requiring a bit of tweaking, and you will notice some sweet spots when doing so. To explain these two aspects, Cold Fusion allows you to blend the Clean and High-gain channels (including both EQs), which sounds very different from the High-gain on its own (although it depends on how much Clean vs. High-gain you want). Generally, and if done conservatively, you will find adding the Clean channel in a small dose cleans up the notes a bit for better clarity (particularly when the gain is high on the other channel). The Hot Fusion cascades the two channels, so that the Clean channel (and it’s EQ) act as a Boost for the High-gain, which can be subtle or can produce some very heavy and thick distortion (ideal for those bar chord riffs and progressions). There’s a small push button that selects either ‘Cold’ or ‘Hot,’ and to get into Fusion mode you step on both Channel foot switches simultaneously. If you then stomp on the Clean channel switch only the Clean is chosen… and the same goes for selecting Channel B and getting only the High-gain channel. All this is fairly straight forward, but with a ton of tonal options available (particularly once you start mixing and matching cabinets in the free Wall of Sound software) you will be doing a lot of experimentation and having fun in the process.

RELIABILITY & DURABILITY:
When it comes to construction, this is a nice pedal. It has a good weight and heft to it, but not so ‘cumbersome’ that you wouldn’t want it on your pedal board. It’s only slightly larger than the average pedal (maybe two pedals worth), which makes sense considering all the input and output options and that it’s a preamp! The casing is all steel and the knobs feel like aluminum to my touch, together with a very smooth and solid feel when turning. The knobs also are countersunk from the front half of the pedal, so that their tops lie flush or slightly lower to the metal casing; and so, even if you step too far forward you won’t place any undue strain on the knobs. The steel foot switches are solid, although they don’t ‘click’ when selected (you do see the LED light for either when chosen). There also are small rubber feet on the bottom of the Le Lead.

The 12AX7 tube is visible in the window, which is far removed from the foot switches to prevent any mishaps. The window also is slightly countersunk to the metal housing for better protection against vigorous stomping. On a related note, there is lighting around the tube to indicate what has been selected. The Clean Channel is green… the High-Gain Channel is Blue… the Cold Fusion Channel is yellow… and the Hot Fusion Channel is red.
Any input and output is located along the sides of the Le Lead Preamp, impossible to place in the back due to so many connection inputs and outputs. The power input (it comes with its own adapter) is located on the side, but at the very back on the left.
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News Two Notes Audio Engineering Le Preamp

[Musikmesse] Two Notes designs preamp pedals

Published on 04/15/15
French brand Two Notes Engineering surprised us with a new series of four tube preamp pedals for guitar and bass they introduce at Musikmesse.