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Massive Unity TAE 10th Anniversary review

Vintage AC30-style amp-in-a-box tones from a signature Spanish stompbox

Massive Unity TAE 10th Anniversary
(Image: © Future / Phil Barker)

Our Verdict

If you like AC30-esque tones, this pedal is a very flexible purveyor of that sound. It can be a practical drive and boost working with your amp, but that speaker-emulated output will give you great sounds for recording and get you out of trouble if your amp goes down at a gig.

For

  • Authentically Vox-like tone.
  • Practical size and layout for pedalboards.
  • Speaker-emulated output.

Against

  • Nothing to speak of.

Pedals from Spanish companies tend to go under the radar in the UK for some reason, although we do get to see them occasionally – the Aclam Dr Robert being one such example. 

Here we have the Massive Unity 10th Anniversary Danny Gomez signature TAE pedal on review, designed by its namesake, a highly experienced session musician and designer, as well as a massive Brian May aficionado. 

As for the rest of the name – TAE stands for Tube Amp Emulator and the pedal commemorates 10 years of the original Danny Gomez design, as seen in a pedal made by another Spanish company, Thunder Tomate.

The TAE is basically a preamp pedal that takes its inspiration from Vox amp tone, but it has a range of applications via its two outputs. One output delivers the straight preamp sound so you can plug it into a power amp or the effects return of your amp, thus using the TAE rather than your amp’s preamp section. 

Alternatively, you can use it like a straight overdrive pedal going directly into your amp. The second output has speaker emulation based on the sound of an open-backed cabinet with two 12-inch Alnico Blue speakers like an AC30, so you can use it direct into a PA or for recording.

Three knobs control the action: Volume for output, Gain to dial in the amount of dirt in the sound, and a Tone knob for the top-end. Nicely touch-sensitive and functioning as a standard drive pedal or preamp, it will endow your amp with a very practical range of Vox-flavoured drive.

Using the speaker-emulated output, direct into an audio interface, we were able to record realistic mic’d AC30 tones without the high volume and hassle. What’s more, it takes other pedals well: a Rangemaster-style treble booster in front of it will definitely put you in the ballpark for some driven Brian May tones.

Also try...

Vox Valvenergy Mystic Edge

(Image credit: Future / Neil Godwin)

Vox Valvenergy Mystic Edge – $179 / £159

Vox’s AC30-in-a-box pedal features an all-analogue signal path based around a Nutube miniature vacuum tube. Use it in front of your amp, as a line-level preamp, or direct into an audio interface or PA.

Strymon Iridium pedal amp

(Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)

Strymon Iridium – $399 / £379

Three amp choices combined with three IR speaker choices make this a really versatile pedal for creating driven valve amp tones. Choose the Chime setting for AC30 sounds. 

Carl Martin AC-Tone

(Image credit: Future)

Carl Martin AC-Tone – $156 / £129

Looking for a pedalboard-friendly drive pedal with Vox tone? This is based on the larger twin-channel Pro Searies AC-Tone with a simpler single-channel setup and slightly beefed up.

Specs

Massive Unity TAE 10th Anniversary

(Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)
  • PRICE: $349 / £269 approx / €299
  • ORIGIN: Spain
  • TYPE: Preamp/drive pedal
  • FEATURES: True Bypass
  • CONTROLS: Gain, Tone, Volume, Bypass footswitch
  • CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard preamp output, standard speaker simulated output
  • POWER: 9V DC adaptor (not supplied)
  • DIMENSIONS: 120 (w) x 97 (d) x 50mm (h) 
  • CONTACT: Danny Gomez

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Trevor Curwen has played guitar for several decades – he's also mimed it on the UK's Top of the Pops. Much of his working life, though, has been spent behind the mixing desk, during which time he has built up a solid collection of the guitars, amps and pedals needed to cover just about any studio session. He writes pedal reviews for Guitarist and has contributed to Total Guitar, MusicRadar and Future Music among others.