I don’t know about you, but when I think Uni-Vibe, I think of Breathe in the Air by Pink Floyd and the live version of Hey Baby / In from the Storm by Hendrix. I’m happy to report that the new MXR Uni-Vibe absolutely nails the Breathe tone. It doesn’t have quite enough low-end “throb” to get the Hey Baby tone, but it gets close.
The original Uni-Vibe used a series of lamps and photocells. It might be what adds the unique character to the Uni-Vibe, but it’s definitely what made it a big and clunky device. MXR elected to not go the photo cell route and somehow developed a Uni-Vibe that gets us 95% of the tone of the original in a footprint that every pedalboard can handle.
The Chorus setting is the most popular Uni-Vibe setting. It’s what we hear on the tracks mentioned above. At slow settings, the MXR Uni-Vibe gives up the classic phasey sounds we associate with it, and at fast settings you can get some great faux-Leslie tones. The Vibrato setting is equally great. It goes from subtle to seasick. My favorite setting was with both speed and depth at 10 or 11 o'clock. I was able to get sounds very close to the fabled Boss VB-2 Vibrato. It can be as subtle or extreme as you like. Once you take the Depth beyond noon, it's becomes an effect that would be best saved for a line here or there versus one that should be on for the whole song.
Like a lot of classic modulation effects, the Uni-Vibe sounds better placed before dirt pedals. And because some people perceive a volume loss with modulation, the Uni-Vibe has a Level control that allows you to dial it in for your rig.
What we like: With the new MXR Uni-Vibe, you get pretty accurate Uni-Vibe tones in a small footprint from a well-respected company.
Concerns: The MXR Uni-Vibe has less “throb” and doesn’t sound quite as thick and chewy as some Uni-Vibe clones I’ve tried. The inability to use an expression pedal is a bit of a letdown.
Build quality: The build quality seems very good. No complaints here.
Value: $129 for a Uni-Vibe with both the Chorus and Vibrato modes is a great deal.