Mention the phrase "rack-mounted guitar processor" to most players and they'll immediately envision some dude with a poodle perm, white spandex pants and high-top Air Jordans, posing in front of a refrigerator-sized stack of equipment lit up like the NASA Mission Control Center. But while rack systems are no longer "hip," rack-mountable preamps and effect processors have remained reliable workhorses for performing and studio musicians who need instant access to a vast selection of tones and sounds. In fact, most pros have several rack processors in their stage and studio rigs these days.
The Prophesy II is the latest addition to Rocktron's long line of rack processors, which has included the Chameleon, Intellifex and Replifex. Essentially identical to previous version of the Prophesy introduced a few years ago, the sequel's only major differences are 127 new presets, including 31 new sounds programmed by Rocktron endorsees Dave Mustaine, Gary Hoey, Rusty Cooley and Jimi Bell, and some minor cosmetic changes to the faceplate.
Combining a versatile preamp and a powerful multi-effect processor, the Prophesy II delivers an entire rack's worth of sounds and flexibility in a two-space unit. Dual 24-bit 66MHz processors make the Prophesy II more powerful than the computer you use to create fake friends for your MySpace page, allowing the unit to perform sophisticated processing, such as its cool ADSR (attack/decay/sustain/ release) function, in which effects respond dynamically to each pluck of a string. The preamp section features four different voicings-Clean American, Texas Blues, Vintage British and Mega Drive-and pre, post and global EQ controls for fine-tuning your tone.
The preamp circuit includes a 12AX7 preamp tube to provide warm tone and the clean-to-dirty responsiveness guitarists prefer. On the front panel, amp-style knobs for gain, bass, mid, treble, presence and master make it easy to dial in tones, even in the middle of a gig.
Effects include fixed pre-effects (pre EQ, wah and compressor, which are assigned in the signal chain in front of the preamp), assignable effects (phaser, flanger, pitch shift, chorus, rotary speaker, delay/ducker and effect loop, which can be placed before or after the preamp) and fixed post-effects (post EQ, global EQ, speaker simulation, tremolo and reverb, which are assigned after the preamp). You can use up to eight effects at once, and while the positions of all eight effects are fixed in the signal chain (you can't, for example, place the reverb before the compressor), one pre-effect and three post-effects are user assignable. In addition, the tremolo effect can be placed before the other post effects or at the end of the chain. Rocktron included its legendary Hush noise-reduction processing as well, which is placed between the compressor and wah.
Editing effects is very easy: a switch for each effect is located on the front panel and the large display shows the available parameters. The gain, master and EQ knobs now serve double duty as parameter controls, with the corresponding parameter displayed above the appropriate knob. Once you've edited a sound to your satisfaction, you just press the store button and select a preset destination. The Prophesy II provides 127 preset locations-rather skimpy by today's standards, although you can easily back up sounds to a sequencer via MIDI. A memory card slot would have been a nice addition, especially since high-capacity memory cards have dropped significantly in price.
The big selling point for the Prophesy II (and the reason for the "sequel" designation) is the new endorsee presets: seven from Dave Mustaine, 13 from Gary Hoey, six from Jimi Bell and five from Rusty Cooley. With this talent lineup, the sounds are obviously aimed at shred heads, and for fans of these players, their impressive presets will not disappoint. Gary Hoey's are the most versatile of the bunch and should appeal to guitarists who don't know their mixolydians from their mescaline, as well as to honor grads from GIT.
The effects are all quite useful for any style of guitar playing. Whether you're a blues player who wants different shades of overdrive or an experimentalist who wants to make his ax sound like anything but a guitar, the Prophesy II satisfies. The pitch-shifting effects track especially well, but there's no "intelligent" harmonizing like you'll find on some DigiTech, Lexicon, TC Electronic or Eventide processors-just fixed intervals.
The Bottom Line
Whereas some all-in-one processors are jacks-of-all-trades and masters of none, the Prophesy II excels in its every endeavor. If you're looking for a great preamp with tons of effects, the Prophesy II may be the only guitar processor you'll ever need, which makes it a great bargain even at twice the price.