Rocktron Banshee 2

It's Easy To Credit The Talk Box's resurgence to Peter Frampton’s Geico commercials and other recent high-profile talkbox sightings (such as the Velvet Revolver, Eagles, and Bon Jovi tours), but on the manufacturing end, a huge player in this revival is Rocktron. With the introduction of the Banshee in the late ’90s, the Michigan company gave the time-honored, but notoriously high-maintenance, effect mass appeal by making it simple to use. The Banshee’s onboard amplifier not only eliminated the need for miles of speaker cable running to and from a peripheral amp, it also erased the potential for amp-frying impedance mismatches—giving legions of guitarists and keyboardists the courage to finally experiment with talk box tones. Word about the Banshee has apparently spread, because the product has emerged as one of Rocktron’s most successful offerings. Now, proving that sometimes it is okay to fix something that clearly ain’t broken, Rocktron brings you the Banshee 2.
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Like its older sibling, this new Banshee excels at dirty, higher-gain talk box tones, and screams through the included sound tube with more than enough lungpower to rattle the mercury out of your molars. And while I was excited that the Banshee 2’s cool “To Amp” setting would allow me to continue to hear my guitar through my amp while the talk box is engaged—hip!— another new feature surprisingly stole the show: the effects loop. These two jacks allow you to bathe your talk box tones in wild effects that are only active when the talk box is. (Tip: To put the same effects in your guitar’s standard signal chain instead of running them through the talk box, simply switch the Banshee 2’s EFX Loop button to the down position.)

The limitless number of new sounds you can create by shaping heavily effected guitar tones with your mouth is crazy inspiring. I had a blast generating everything from evil robot voices to vocalized Kevin Shields-style soundscapes— all via noisy filter treatments, infinite delays, backwards phrases, looped licks, and other effects run loudly through my cheeks and gums. Personally, the extra mic and stand, bulletproof monitor mix, and regular Listerine baths for the rubber hose (to keep that thing at least vaguely sterile) that gigging with a talk box requires might prevent the Banshee 2 from becoming a permanent part of my stage rig. But from this point forward, the polymorphic sound shaper will be getting so much use in my home studio it might as well be bolted to the floor.

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