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Prescription Electronics Vibe-Unit




Our Perspective:

Just in - A lightly used "Vibe-Unit". If your in to Hendrix or Trower, this pedal was made for you! It's in great condition, the previous owner put little black magic marker marks on the face to quickly get to his favorite settings. Theres a signature on the side - I can not quite make out the full name: Jack Brosent? Dated 11-9-10. Not sure who or why this signature is there. The bottom line this thing sounds killer. It comes with it's original AC Adaptor.

We are selling this for a customer, as such, all sales are final!!

VIBE-UNIT- A sonic clone of the original Univox Uni-Vibe. Features crystalline tone that no other vibe on the market can match. Winner of the Guitar Player Univibe shootout. This unit is built with industrial quality and has unmatched reliability.

Guitar Player Magazine - April 1996

BENCH TESTS: Uni-Vibe Shootout

We Test Six New Challengers To The Vibe Throne
Ask any guitar junkie about Jimi Hendrix, and you’ll likely hear key words like Stratocaster, Marshall, CryBaby, Fuzz Face, Octavia, and Uni-Vibe. Designed in 1968 by Fumio Mieda, an engineer at the Shin-Ei company in Japan, the Uni-Vibe was originally intended as a roatating-speaker simulator for keyboards. It was introduced into the U.S. in 1969 by Unicord as the U-915 Shiftee Uni-Vibe and was also available through Lafayette Electronics as the Roto-Vibe. Hendrix’ role in popularizing the Uni-Vibe as a guitar effect is legendary, and its use by Robin Trower and Stevie Ray Vaughan certainly helped elevate the device to its current near-mythical status.

Not to murk anyone’s buzz, but a Uni-Vibe is basically an AC-powered phase shifter that uses a light source and four light-sensitive cadmium-sulfide cells to modulate its four-stage phase-shifting circuit. There are some fundamental differences between the Uni-Vibe and other phase shifters, however. First, in typical phasers that use FETs or other form of electronic switching to sweep in and out of phase (such as the MXR Phase 90), all the stages are tuned to the same frequency, while in a Uni-Vibe the stages are tuned to different frequencies. Second, the Uni-Vibe’s sense of motion is created by a combination of the oscillator waveform, the luminous intensity of the incandescent lamp, and the response times of the photocells and the light bulb. As current is applied to the lamp, a time lag occurs as the filament heats up and begins to glow. As the lamp illuminates the photocells, they respond by changing their resistance. The resistance decreases quickly with increasing light, and then rises much more slowly as the light diminishes. The above factors, plus the unequal change in resistance relative to time, play a large part in creating the Uni-Vibe’s signature heartbeat or "wobble."

Mind you, when it comes to modulation abilities, any decent flanger can run circles around a Uni-Vibe, but for reasons beyond the scope of this article, the Uni has garnered more mystique than just about all other pedals put together. With its gray sheetmetal case, black and silver front panel, and pointer-style knobs, a Uni-Vibe is truly a vintage beaut. Unfortunately, it’s also a bit of a headache to use.

Uni-Vibes pre-dated true-bypass footswitches, so your righteous guitar signal is going to party with those sexy Asian innards even if you’ve backed the pedal all the way to its cancel position. Since the straight-signal losses are pretty egregious (we noticed a tonal difference between chorus and vibrato settings even in the cancel mode!), the oldie should be used with some sort of remote switcher that keeps it in a loop (and out of your signal path) until you’re ready for action. Another inconvenience concerns the Uni’s inability to do much more than blink at you unless it’s linked to its speed pedal via the hardwired cable and 5-pin connector.

While Roger Mayer (best known for the Octavia pedal) has offered updated versions of the Uni-Vibe for many years, more recently companies like Dunlop (now the licensed owner of the Uni-Vibe), Custom Audio Electronics, Foxrox, Fulltone, Prescription Electronics, Sweet Sound Electronics, and Voodoo Lab have joined the party with their own clones. With vintage Vibe prices soaring out of sight, it’s no surprise that so many companies are showing interest in this effect. (Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get our hands on production versions of Custom Audio’s $495 Black Cat Vibe or the $290 Foxrox Provibe in time for this review.)

Eager to see how the current crop of impersonators fares against an original Uni-Vibe, we dusted off a particularly fine-sounding original that our staff phtographer snapped up at a flea market a few years ago for $25. Vintage Uni-Vibes vary considerably in sound due primarily to photocell differences and wide component tolerances. Though our benchmark example was blessed with superior balance and complexity and very even oscillation (relative to other Vibe seniors we’ve heard), comparisons made with it are for reference only. Just because a particular clone didn’t sound like this oldie does not mean it sucks—it’s just a different flavor. As this Shootout reveals, with so many talented folks burning the midnight oil to make the best-sounding Vibe clones possible, the state of the art is quite high.

In our tests, we focused mainly on chorus. The vibrato effect is so dang ugly that few use it except at extremely low settings. We ran the oldie and the newies through a Fender Vibro-King and Victoria Vintage 2x12 tube combo, and we used a switching matrix that allowed instant A/B comparisons between the units. Our guitars included a new Fender Custom Shop Strat, a G&L ASAT Classic, and a PRS Classic Electric.

angvibe-.jpg (24830 bytes)With its swirling, psychedelic paint, Prescription Electronics’ Vibe Unit looks like it’s ready to take your mind on a spaced-out hippie trip even before you turn on—er, turn it on. The $399 device features volume and intensity knobs, a vibrato/chorus switch, and a speed control. A true-bypass footswitch is provided, but there is no effect status indicator. Power is supplied by a 9-volt AC wall wart.

The Prescription’s discrete circuitry follows the topography of the original Uni-Vibe right down to the photocells and pulsating light bulb. The interior is very neat, and the single glass-epoxy circuit board is mounted on nylon standoffs for strength and stability.
The Vibe Unit was a bit louder than our original, and it packed the sweetest, most crystalline top end of the bunch. Its authentic pulse shape, animated brilliance, and superior bass/treble balance make it a top closest-t-oldie choice. The Prescription distorted more easily than some of the other boxes, but some players may like this explosiveness as opposed to a more linear response. Surprisingly, it was also the quietest unit we tested.

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