Affordable floor pedal that offers effects and cab boards and a huge package of features and connectivity
Dave HunterzGuitaristanalyzed it in detailDonnerARENA2000from looks, features, controls, performance and sound.
“One thing that struck me when I unpacked the Arena 2000 was the overall solidity of its construction.
Given the limited size of the unit's rear panel, Donner has crammed an impressive array of connectivity options.
Plus, Arena 2000 is packed with a familiar roster of vintage classics and popular boutique styles.
The Arena 2000 is loads of fun and an impressively versatile amp and effect for beginners.
As impressively compact all-in-one solutions become more functional and more affordable, Donner Music has thrown a significant salvo into the fray.
The Chinese hardware maker's Arena 2000 is a floor pedal that offers effects, amp and cab simulations, and a massive feature and connectivity package, all for the price of about a mid-range boutique stompbox, making it a prime contender for guitarists buying the entry- level boom of this market.
We're already used to impressive additions to these things, yet Arena 2000's list of bells and whistles is quite surprising. The unit includes 80 amp models, 50 CAB IR models (with 50 3rd party IR charging jacks) and 278 effects, all easily editable directly from the unit itself.
There's also a built-in drum machine with 40 patterns and 60 loops, plus a tuner, all configurable into 50 banks of three presets - 150 presets in total, but others can be saved and easily switched on and off via the Donners Control app for Windows and macOS, which also allows you to edit presets remotely.
"One of the things that struck me when I unpacked the Arena 2000 was the overall solidity of its construction.”
Considering the premium packed into this 11.5 x 5.5 x 1.5 inch box, you'd expect a plastic case with switches, buttons and connectors at this price point. But no. One thing that struck me when I unpacked the Arena 2000 was the overall solidity of its construction.
I can't vouch for its longevity on a 50-day ride, but the brushed aluminum panels, metal ends and underside, and heavy-duty clip-on footswitches inspire confidence.
A central 3 x 2-inch screen at the top provides visualization of control settings and mobile/editable FX blocks, amps and cabs.
Traditional knobs provide control over the ¼-inch and XLR outputs, five variable parameters (most of which are multi-functional as you'd expect), headphone and aux input levels, and programmed roll and processing (using a large value knob).
"Given the limited size of the device'On the rear panel, Donner has crammed an impressive range of connectivity options”
Many other functions are available using the touch screen buttons. There is also a compact pedal for adjusting volume, wah-wah and other expression pedal functions. Three stomp switches allow you to select A/B/C and bank-up/bank-down settings as well as other alternative functions.
Given the limited size of the unit's rear panel, Donner has crammed an impressive array of connectivity options. In addition to the single ¼-inch input, stereo outputs are available on both balanced XLR and unbalanced ¼-inch connectors, with a Ground Lift switch for the former. A TRS connector allows you to connect an additional expression pedal or two additional footswitches, as well as a DIN connector for MIDI input, USB Type-C for direct recording and software access, Aux input and headphone output on 1/8- inch plug and an input for a 9VDC power supply /500mA which is included.
There is no FX loop as many modern modelers offer to include your favorite external reverbs, delays and modulations.
There is neither space nor opportunity to list all the amps, effects and cabinets included in the Arena 2000, nor to provide a detailed guide on how to use them, but suffice it to say that operation is simple and probably intuitive to anyone who has used modeling amps and/or effects in recent years.
"In addition, Arena 2000 is packed with a familiar roster of vintage classics and popular boutique styles”
Working right out of the box, Arena 2000 comes with 50 preloaded banks with three presets in each, which may mean that many new users will have to use for a while.
I tested the Arena 2000 with a 1959 Gibson Les Paul reissue and a 1954 Fender Telecaster reissue using headphones, both directly from the unit and through the Universal Audio Apollo Twin Duo recording interface and studio monitors.
Honestly, I was expecting at most a few giggles and giggles from the light jamming potential you get from a set of audio tricks budgeted under $275, but there are some perfectly serviceable sounds here and plenty of fun. except for.
In addition, Arena2000 is packed with a familiar roster of vintage classics and popular boutique styles. As I find with many cheaper units, some of the most balanced tones can be found at high gain settings, and especially with reverb and delay.
I'd be more than happy to see or perform some arena rock tricks with some of the Boogie, Marshall JCM800 or Soldano presets I found here.
Pure sounds were generally less convincing, but still quite decent considering the investment, and the variety of everything available from effects and variable settings will not leave you untouched.
"The Arena 2000 is loads of fun and an impressively versatile amp and effect for beginners”
When it comes to sound performance and versatility, I was quite surprised by the amount of tone the unit provides. For example using the "Mar 1960B 4x12" cabinet and changing the cabinet mic selector from the Shure SM57 dynamic mic to the Royer R121 ribbon, to the AKG C414 condenser and others made significant fundamental changes to the overall sound and was a very useful tool in perfecting my tone.
The same was true for the amplifier and power parameters. Put it all together and you're in for some serious editing.
Out of the box, the factory presets are organized into a somewhat haphazard array of very different sounds via ascending banks and presets, rather than being grouped together into Marshall clean, Marshall Crunch and Marshall Lead banks, for example, but this is easily remedied. . create and save your own user settings.
And although in terms of overall sound depth and dimension and dynamics, the Arena 2000 lacks advanced devices such as the Fractal Axe-FX series, the Neural DSP Quad Cortex series and the Line 6 Helix series - all devices I'm most familiar with. at least for studio use - I wouldn't expect it at this price.
As it stands, the Arena 2000 is a lot of fun and an impressively versatile entry-level amp and effects pedal.
- CONTROLS: output and XLR levels, five rotary parameter knobs, headphone level, value scroll/preset knob. Three preset/bank footswitches. pedals for volume, wah-wah and expression control. countless touch screen buttons to select and edit parameters
- CONNECTIONS: ¼" input, ¼" and XLR outputs, expression pedal/FS4-5 jack, MIDI input, USB Type-C, Aux In, headphone output, input
- POWER SUPPLY: 9V DC at 500mA, power adapter included
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Dave Hunteris, writer and consulting editor of Guitar Player magazine. His extensive writing includes Fender 75 Years, Guitar Amp Handbook, The British Amp Invasion, Ultimate Star Guitars, Guitar Effects Pedals, The Guitar Pickup Handbook, The Fender Telecaster and several others. Hunter is a former editor of The Guitar Magazine (UK) and a contributor to Vintage Guitar, Premier Guitar, The Connoisseu and other publications. He is an associate essayist for the Permanent Archives of the Library of Congress, the National Recording Preservation Commission, lives in Kittery, ME with his wife and two children, and is a member of the bands A Different Engine and The Stereo Field.