JHS Colour Box Preamp Pedal

Preamplifier Pedal for Guitars, Microphones, and Line-level Sources, with XLR and 1/4" I/O
JHS Colour Box Preamp Pedal image 1
JHS Colour Box Preamp Pedal image 1

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JHS Colour Box Preamp Pedal
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Like Plugging Directly Into a Vintage Console

You'd be surprised how many legendary guitar tones were created just by plugging a guitar directly into a vintage mixing console. The JHS Colour Box gives you exactly what you need to re-create classic tones by The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Steely Dan, and others. It's a 100% analog design that replicates the input of a vintage Neve console. We're no strangers to tweaking guitar tones here at Sweetwater, and we can see the JHS Colour Box pedal gives you a unique way to shape your sound that you can't achieve with traditional amps and effects.

JHS Colour Box Preamp Pedal at a Glance:
  • Colorful tone, from clean to fuzzy
  • A powerful tool for studio and stage, with inputs for instruments and microphones
  • JHS pedals are handcrafted tone machines
Colorful tone, from clean to fuzzy

The sound of the Colour Box is musical and vibrant, thanks to the Lundahl transformer that beefs up your lows, adds harmonic complexity, and enhances midrange richness. You can use it to add that special something to your tone at low gain settings, but crank it up and you're in vintage fuzz territory. With two gain stages and over 39dB of gain on hand, you can give your tone anything from a smooth polish to full-on distortion.

A powerful tool for studio and stage, with inputs for instruments and microphones

With both instrument and XLR inputs and outputs, the Colour Box is a flexible tool. It's based on a legendary Neve console, and can serve as a high-quality microphone preamplifier - it even has a sweet-sounding EQ section to optimize your sound. You can also use the Colour Box as a handy splitter with your guitar rig, sending the 1/4" output to your amplifier and the XLR output to the mixing board.

JHS pedals are handcrafted tone machines

When you plug your guitar into a JHS pedal like the Colour Box, you're tapping into care and passion that few manufacturers put into their products. Each JHS pedal is handbuilt and tested by the JHS team in Kansas City, Missouri. Because they design their pedals for specific musical purposes, we're sure there's a JHS pedal that's perfect for any player's rig.

JHS Colour Box Preamp Pedal Features:
  • Preamp and EQ pedal for guitar, microphone, or line-level sources
  • 100% analog signal path, based on the design of classic Neve mixing consoles
  • Dual gain stages with over 39dB of gain gives you everything from subtle sweetening to full-on distortion
  • Re-creates the classic sound of plugging a guitar directly into a mic preamp
  • Powerful tone-shaping potential, with 3-band EQ and wide-ranging variable low-cut filter (60Hz-800Hz)
Distinctive guitar tone is easy with the JHS Colour Box!

Additional Media

Studio Preamp Buying Guide

Tech Specs

Pedal Type Multi-instrument Preamp/EQ
Inputs 1 x XLR-1/4" combo
Outputs 1 x 1/4", 1 x XLR
Power Source 18V DC power supply included
Height 2"
Depth 4.5"
Width 3.25"
Manufacturer Part Number Colour Box

Customer Reviews

Based on 9 reviews
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Worth every penny!

Very impressed by this pedal, which is so much more than just a pedal. Not only can you get crazy guitar or bass tones, it's a fantastic pre-amp for recording in the studio. I've even used it as a DI box when playing live, and it is simply fantastic.

Bold Tonal Shaper!

It would be a disservice to consider the JHS Colour Box to be a 'distortion pedal.' Instead, the Colour Box is a multi-purpose tool that is a vital studio tool. This Swiss Army Knife device functions as: (1) an instrument level DI, (2) a line level tone shaper, (3) an EQ, or (4) a console-themed overdrive/distortion device. Because of its unique "I'm a console strip in a box" concept, the Colour Box offers a wide range of sounds at your disposal. Its base sound is rooted in the classic 70's console (Neve obviously) and can range from the transformer-laden clean to sputtery, circuit overload clipping well beyond the point of failure. Direct guitar is particularly stunning and through careful gain staging and radical EQ it is possible to capture David Gilmour's "The Wall" types of tones--big, bright, and full of life.... something no amp could ever hope to capture. However, the Colour Box is not restricted to just guitar types of sound. Synths sound equally good ran through the JHS. The degree of tone shaping ranges from subtle (but unmistakable) to overkill. I could see Trent Reznor loving the Colour Box for its range of overdrive, distortion, clipping, and 'destroying gear' overload. You can drive this thing FAR beyond clipping... to where it sounds "awful." One note: even on the lowest gain settings the Colour Box imprints a pretty noticeable sonic character to synths and keyboards; this is not always appropriate depending on what you are trying to achieve. This is not a "run everything through it because it makes everything better" kind of box. It has a very distinct, bold flavor that is either very obviously awesome, or very obviously inappropriate. The build quality is top notch, equal to any other top shelf piece of equipment. It is easy to dial in tons of useable sounds. The EQ works great and, while not versatile, is dead effective on a number of sources. Surprisingly the EQ is very phase coherent sounding, reminding me more of an API/Quad EIght sound than Neve. Personally I have always found Neve EQ's to be a bit 'grainy' for my tastes so I appreciated the clean, solid sound of the Colour Box. Don't let the price tag fool you--this box is a steal for what you get and the possibilities it opens up. For more mid-level home recording studios it should be a no-brainer--you get a DI, tone shaper, EQ and potentially another mic preamp for around 400 bucks. I may be going out on a limb here, but I can see the JHS Colour Box being used in almost every session by a home recordist. Hats off to JHS for not only a great idea, but a perfect implementation of that idea.

Beautiful piece of gear

I plugged in my Colour Box last night for the first time. My signal path was/is: 1. Schecter Hellraiser C-1 RF-S 2. Colour Box 3. Line 6 M13 w/JHV3 mods 4. Mac Note: that I'm using a Torpedo C.A.B. in the effects send/return of the M13 for nice cabinet emulation, with insert point (on the M13) set to "after FX1". High-level evaluation: At first, I was disappointed. I couldn't find any kind of "clean" tone with my guitar, no matter how I dialed the Colour Box gain knobs. I coaxed some big, spitty "console" overdrive tones out of it. But no matter how I tweaked it, there was nothing I could use for clean guitar. THEN, it dawned on me! The Schecter is very HOT output-wise. I dialed back the guitar's volume knob, and the sky opened up. Ahhhh... beautiful. More info: Once I figured out how to make clean guitar tone through the Colour Box -- and the first time (I think, ever!) that I've made significant use of my guitar's volume knob for anything besides volume swells -- I was sort of transfixed by what I was hearing. I'd put the Colour Box in bypass, then activate it, then deactivate it, then activate it, so I could get a good idea what I was hearing. The mids were just sweet and musical, and it seemed to be compressing the signal a little. It added a kind of satisfying richness to the whole midrange of the signal, and the pick and hammer-on/pull-off articulations were just beautiful. Details: The way I set the Colour Box for clean -- remember *with* my guitar volume knob rolled back almost halfway -- was as follows: Master @ 3 o'clock, Pre-Vol @ 1 o'clock, Step @ 7 o'clock, Treble @ 3 o'clock, Middle @ 2 o'clock, Bass @ 1 o'clock. The Hi Pass is deactivated. Amazing. I was thinking, "I may never turn this off." It just sounded so good to me. Almost "intangibly" more pleasing, though I think I've done it some justice with my description above. Anyway, I love it. Can't wait to record with it.

Magic & Vital

Sure, it's not *exactly* the same as the legendary Neve console from which JHS took their inspiration. But it's pretty fantastic sounding on everything I've run through this beauty. As someone who used to dismiss any bassist who used a pre-amp or pedal in their signal path, the Colour Box has become an integral part of my setup. The powerful warmth and articulate tone added to my sound makes my bass sound studio perfect at every performance. The EQ allows me to set my live sound to sit just right where I belong in the mix without competing with the rest of the band. This pedal is all about accentuating the inherent tone and timbre of my instrument and playing style while making it just sound more fantastic and effortless. I really dig my Colour Box!!!
Music background: Pro Musician

Unparalleled in it's versatility, quality for the cost

This little box is stellar. As a guitar pedal it is a tone monster. Dynamic, responsive and extremely versatile. The most musical guitar pedal I have played yet. As a mic pre it is even more. I have a $600 BLA Auteur 2 channel mic pre that I love. The color box is quieter and is a channel strip to boot. Frankly it outperforms my very nice preamp. I recorded some vocals through my Cascade Fathead ribbon mic today into the color box and can't say enough good things. I am quite sure it's not on par with a Neve console, how could it be for $399, but it sounds great nonetheless. The highlights for me are the 3 band Baxandall eq and the Lundhal output transformer. I'll probably buy a 2nd color box in the next year.
Music background: Recording, musician

Sweetwater Advice

Keith Klikas

I could never imagine taking my JHS Colour Box off my pedalboard. Like most people, I can't always crank up my amp to get the tone that I want. I got a Colour Box to stick at the end of my pedalboard for late-night practice sessions and recording. I enjoyed the tone and sonic control right away, so I tried plugging it into my amp. It was amazing! This pedal has helped me dial in vintage clean tones I could never get before. I also love the way is stacks with overdrive pedals, especially when pushed into the fuzz range.

Zach Neels

The JHS Colour Box is one of the coolest pedals on the planet. I've used it as a classic overdrive in front of my amps, a DI for my bass, and a simple preamp for my mic. It's a great way to get a single channel of a vintage-flavored console tone!

JHS Colour Box

Colour Box provides a convincing Neve preamp sound with brilliant highs and portly lows. There's great dynamic range and acres of headroom. Notes feel grounded, with rock-solid fundamentals....
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See also: EQ Pedals, JHS, JHS Compressors and EQ, JHS Preamps