Equipment review: Headrush MX5 Multi-Effects Modeler
So many model builders have entered the market in recent years that it can be somewhat difficult to navigate and figure out where to put your hard-earned dollars. Headrush just made it a little more complicated or easier depending on your perspective.
There was a time when modeling effects and amp / cabinet combinations was a new idea but not quite ready for prime time yet. Those days are long gone. You can now comfortably choose from many manufacturers, but I’m really impressed with the MX5. For starters, it can run up to 11 effects / amps / cabs at the same time depending on CPU consumption. I easily got 11 in sequence with a wah, an overdrive, a compressor, a chorus, a delay, an effects loop (which will occupy a slot) and an amp, a cab, a volume pedal and two reverbs. . Quite astonishing.
I would recommend if you are going to use the effects loop to connect to your favorite hardware effects, start with this in your raw pedal setup first as I struggled to insert it later, maybe because firmware, a pre-existing predefined architecture or CPU restrictions. I’m sure this is something Headrush can handle in a future update. Either way, it’s as easy as it gets thanks to their 4 inch digital touchscreen. The screen is very responsive and easy to navigate and everything is at your fingertips for scrolling and choosing effects and amplification. .
The wah pedal choices are limited but sound excellent and are easily assignable to the expression / volume pedal via the touchscreen. You have two choices for volume control, classic and linear, and I strongly approve of the linear style for that smooth taper that many of us are familiar with, especially for ambient work. The volume / expression pedal pull has a nice feel and although it’s smaller than most pedals you get used to it very quickly and I don’t feel like you run out of feel with it.
There are only a few compressor choices, but they also sound great, even at higher ratios, much better than most software compressors I’ve heard in similar units. The overdrives and fuzzs are pretty standard but extremely functional and usable but the modulation, while not revolutionary, won’t disappoint anyone and I’m pretty confident you’ll find what you need. The delays and reverbs are really great, though. Nothing outrageous or crazy but uniformly excellent in every way.
I’ve heard a lot of comments from friends on the web that the Headrush MX5 is better for clean tones than medium to high gain tones and I disagree. I found it incredibly easy to get aggressive classic rock and metal sounds, but it took a lot more work to get a really satisfying, balanced, yet complete low gain sound. When I reached this peak, it was glorious. I achieved this via the other great feature of the MX5 (like other modelers in this category) by importing a Celestion Vintage 30 IR cabinet from my collection, paired with a Matchless amp model from the MX5. It is now my favorite installation.
At around $ 399 street, the MX5 is an excellent solid candidate in the modeling field and deserves your very serious consideration.