Build Quality:4.9 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.8 out of 5 stars
Electronics:4.8 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.8 out of 5 stars
Value:4.9 out of 5 stars
Average:4.8 out of 5 stars

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Pros:

  • Great build and sound quality
  • Versatile effects
  • Precise and accurate controls
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • XLR output might develop some feedback 

You know what is the best thing about acoustic preamps? More often than not, they come in the shape of multi effects units. That’s when things go up in high gear and your world becomes so diverse that you end up in the vertiginous zone. Yeah, the tone shaping possibilities and the ability to fix your pickup are great, but sometimes we want something extra – something that will take our performance from 0 to 100 really quickly. After realizing that the most natural instinct is to search the market, find an acoustic multi effects pedal and start exploring the limits of your craftsmanship. However, sometimes that journey might be interrupted by the handicaps, such as small budget. It’s hard to imagine that you can get multiple effects and a preamplifier without spending serious money. But let me assure you, when it comes to musical equipment, everything is possible, my friend. There are brands out there that can make anything happen at a tight budget. Yeah, you’re right, one of those is definitely Donner. Today we’re going to discuss their Alpha Acoustic – a mini effects chain that acts as a preamp as well. If you want to find out more information about this product, then get yourself comfortable and read this article carefully. Don’t let any details slip your mind! Let’s get started!

Features

Donner Alpha Acoustic is a versatile pedal that has a lot of interesting features up its sleeves. Though all of those are pretty-straightforward, when you start playing, you’ll find that such configuration actually works wonders. This puppy has a decent build quality as well – the interior is guarded with an aluminum alloy, making sure that it won’t break apart easily. This way you can stop worrying about each stomp and enjoy the unit without any anxiety. More importantly, it has three modules: Reverb, Chorus and Preamp. Each of them can be triggered with the help of individual footswitches so that you can easily access them on the fly. The first one allows you to saturate your acoustic signal with lush, warm and expansive reverb. This way you can add another dimension to your sound and steep it with interesting ambience. The second one lets you employ chorus, go back in time and taste vintage feel. With its detailed controls, you have the ability to utilize the effect with precision and accuracy. The third one is the one you should start with, in my personal opinion. It enables you to shape the internal properties of your sound and accentuate the acoustic character of your guitar. Nobody will be interested in your effects if your instrument is plain or inaudible, am I right?

Alpha Acoustic has typical connections that you are likely to encounter in majority of acoustic preamps. It has a single input and output to plug your instrument and amplifier, an XLR balanced output so that you can connect the pedal with a mixing console or a recording device, as well as a 9V DC jack for inserting the adapter and powering the unit. This little fella looks really expensive and fancy, and has a small footprint considering just how much it offers. As you can see, Alpha Acoustic is quite simple and convenient.

Controls

If you’re worried that Alpha Acoustic is overloaded with controls, you shouldn’t, because there’s nothing difficult about its encoders. All the modules have their own knobs, letting you nail each of them precisely. This way you’ll never have to play a guessing game – controls of each module are separated, eliminating the chance of mix-ups. The modules are complemented with LEDs, that assist you visually and display which effects are activated. Easy, don’t you think?

The control panel starts with Level knob. This fella is responsible for the volume of the Reverb. With its help you can basically mess around with the intensity of the effect and take small steps until you find that perfect setting. Then comes a bulk of Chorus controls: Level adjusts the volume of the effect, Rate alters its speed, while Depth determines how deep and intense the sweeps in chorus will be. Lastly, we have Preamp and its encoders: Vol changes the output level, Low accentuates or removes bottom-end, while High does the same thing for trebles. Dedicated footswitches activate specific modules and help you trigger the needed one without having to lean down and waste time.

Sound

The sound of Donner Alpha Acoustic will force you to believe that this brand can sometimes make the magic happen. You might think that I’m exaggerating, but I am not. This unit does exactly what it’s supposed to. Its preamp is natural and organic – it can easily boost and amplify your acoustic sound without adding any noise to it. Its buffered bypass will make sure that your signal retains its strength throughout the whole chain (will be especially useful if you have many effects in your chain). Reverb has warm and spacious character and adds a couple of extra dimensions to your sound, while chorus steeps it with brightness and depth. They both have a wide range, which means that you can add just a small amount or saturate it fully. As I have mentioned earlier, Alpha Acoustic operates noiselessly and provides you with a lot of sonic options to choose from. XLR output might have some feedback, but nothing that can’t be easily fixed. For the price, you’ll have a really hard time find the better option on the market. Wonderful job, Donner!

Conclusion

All in all, Donner Alpha Acoustic is one of the best acoustic preamps in its price range. It has diversity and quality that is even surprising from such an affordable pedal. It has hardly any flaws and countless virtues that will force you to consider this one as your final purchase. If you want your preamp to have some interesting effects, then I don’t even know what you’re waiting for. Give this one a shot and I promise, you will bless Donner for such an amazing pedal. Good luck!

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