Donner has been making a name delivering import gear at absurdly low prices while maintaining solid quality. The Arena 2000 is another triumph, this one going up against multi-effects floor units with color screens – a feature that typically drives the price to around $400. This box lists for substantially less, yet contains a universe of sounds – 278 effects, 150 effects presets, 80 amp models, and 50 cabinet impulse response (IR) models, plus a (very) small pedal for wah, volume, and other effects. Oh yeah – there’s also a looper and drum machine with 40 patterns.
Using what Donner calls FVACM technology (the company’s proprietary 24-bit/44.1 kHz audio processing), the 2000 is designed to reduce the canned/processed sound of multi-effects. In fact, the unit has serious earthy vibe for a digital box.
The acid test of today’s digital multi-effects units is user-friendliness, and the Donner earns top marks. Even without the manual, it’s easy to navigate and adjust the many “scenes,” which is a grouping of effects and models visualized on the 3.5″ screen. One big knob controls myriad features, scrolling through models of sounds, amps, and cabs. Pushing it in jumps to another level of menus. It’s absurdly simple to navigate and save new sounds, thanks to a handy bank of touch controls (Cab, Amp, Drive, Reverb, Compressor, etc.). USB connectivity lets you download more IR simulations, so can you pick the virtual “space” of an amp in the studio.
Powered up, the Arena 2000 offers convincing sounds, from metal crunch (with super-ambient cabinet sims) to echo-laden cleans that defy description. Better yet, they’re easy to edit and save as new presets. It’s hard to gauge the Arena 2000’s gig-durability, but for its price, Donner brings jaw-dropping value here. Step on it!
This article originally appeared in VG’s February 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.