ISP Technologies tackles the problem of getting your digital processor’s sound into your ears onstage. Words by Peter Hodgson.
With seemingly half the professional guitar world using some form of digital processor for their live tone these days, we’re seeing more and more products on the market which seek to let guitarists have that flexible digital tone generation, while also providing something of a familiar playing experience in terms of things like feedback, sustain and good ol’ fashioned ‘hearing yourself’.
There are more than a few companies with this in mind right now: Seymour Duncan has the PowerStage 700 rack‑mounted preamp, designed to plug your processor into a guitar cabinet. Line 6 has a series of powered cabs designed for this very purpose, but with some extra tricks thrown in. And now, ISP Technologies has entered the fray with their Vector FS8 system.
I HAVE THE POWER
The Vector FS8 takes a new approach to the guitar system by combining a powered guitar cabinet with the Full Spectrum Guitar cabinet and floor monitor. It’s a super lightweight box with a 175-watt RMS bi-amplified power amplifier section designed with a dual use in mind.
This provides amazing tone for players using today’s digital guitar processors that incorporate a Speaker Simulated output or, with the flip of a switch, a guitar cabinet for players who prefer using a pedalboard or guitar preamp.
The unit includes an eight-inch woofer with classic guitar-friendly midrange and a smooth
roll off of frequencies above four kilohertz. To use it in cabinet mode, simply connect the output of your pedalboard or preamp direct to the FS8 input.
The unit has a 40 degree uptilt, so the sound is directed upwards to you as your monitor, not at the audience (as iwould be the case with a typical guitar cabinet).
The idea with this is that your sound is already being fed through the PA system from your processor, so you just need something to sound great for you, and have you playing at your best in the most comfortable sonic environment.
When used with a preamp or head, the FS8 is tuned to provide deeper bass response and smoother high frequency response than you would get from a four‑by‑12-inch guitar cab, which helps it to sit nicely in an onstage mix while also making it perfectly voiced to mic up as well.
Switch it into Full Spectrum mode for a nice, full-range reproduction of your digital presets, with a one-inch silk dome tweeter giving you the extra high-end clarity.
The Vector FS8 also includes two inputs, allowing it to double as your vocal floor monitor by connecting a send from the front‑of‑house or monitor mixer. It’s the perfect balance of cleverness and flexibility.
I CAN HEAR CLEARLY NOW
I tested the FS8 with a number of different setups, including my trusty old BOSS GT-8, my even trustier (and older) Korg AX1G, and a Positive Grid BIAS Mini Guitar head. I also tested it out with a line-out from my recording setup using IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube 4 as my virtual amp, and I tried it out with an MI Audio Megalith preamp pedal.
ISP sure ain’t lying when they say this thing is designed to sound comfortable and familiar to guitarists. It took the high-end fizz out of my AmpliTube presets, providing the missing magic link to making them feel like a real amp.
It made my AX1G sound better and more sophisticated than it is, it revealed the true
depth and nuance of the GT8’s decade-old models, and it made the BIAS sound every bit
as ‘real amp-y’ as it aims to be.
The kick-back angle of the speakers is also great not just for onstage monitoring, but also for at-home play and for giving you a more honest representation of your sound than a regular straight cabinet would afford, should you ever need to mic it up.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Is anything missing from this unit? Well, some might say an EQ section might help to fine-tune the sound of the speaker to the room or stage you’re performing in. Most processors will let you shape the sound as it leaves the unit and heads to the output, but it sure would be nice to be able to just reach down and tweak the bass rolloff or add more mids for a fussy stage. But that’s pretty much it.
The volume, the overall sound, the flexibility, the weight – or lack thereof – it’s all pretty much perfect. Sans the omission of that global EQ, the Vector FS8 is hard to fault. Competitively priced and packed with features, the cabinet/monitor combo is an easy choice for any performer that cares about their onstage sound.
TOP 5 FEATURES
• Eight-inch Beyma woofer
• One-inch Silk Dome tweeter
• Power: 175 watts true RMS; 300 watts Peak
• Weight: 10.5 kilograms
• 15-millimetre Baltic Birch cabinet with polyuera spray on finish
• Great sound reproduction
• Loud when you need it to be
• No global EQ
Ph: (03) 9540 0658