Donner’s Arena 2000 is a desktop amp simulator and guitar multi-effects unit that can be used for recording or live performance. Made of sturdy all-metal construction and high-quality components, the Donner Arena 2000 features a sleek modern design with an intuitive user interface. The Donner Arena 2000 gives you a total of 278 effects overall, and 80-amp models. The Donner Arena 2000 features flexible signal routing and extensive control over real-time effects. The on-board USB-C interface allows the Donner Areana 2000 to be used as an audio interface as well as supports editing via available computer and Bluetooth enabled editing apps.
The Donner Arena 2000 sound engine is based on Donner’s FVACM (Forward Analog Virtual Circuit Modeling) technology. The Arena 2000 has 150 Presets (50 Banks x 3 Presets) 80 hi-res Amp Models, 50 Built-in Cab IR Models + 50 Slots for Loading third party IR’s and a total of 278 available effects. The placement order of effects is editable via the on-screen controls.
Selecting patches and banks on the Donner Arena 2000 is done via three heavy-duty foot switches that are O Ring backlit illuminated, and which allow you to control ascending and descending banks, three presents per bank. The Arena 2000 features 80 hi-res amplifier models covering musical styles from classic to modern guitar amplifiers and 50 built-in cabinet models. The Donner Arena 2000 also features 50 Slots for loading your own or third party IR’s, as well as 10 mic simulations. The Arena 2000 also has a built-in drum machine with 40 styles and a 60-second looper with Reversed/Double Speed/Half Speed playback capability for practicing at home.
The rear of the Arena 2000 has a full complement of ports including Guitar input, Aux In, MIDI In, balanced and unbalanced outputs and a dedicated cabinet simulation output. Unlike many guitar multi-effects units in this price category, the Donner Arena 2000 can assign a signal to wet and dry outputs, which makes the Donner Arena 2000 a useful tool for re-amping. The Arena 2000’s USB-C port supports recording dry and effect signal simultaneously. You can also set the onboard expression pedal to control the amount of reverb delay time. The Arena 2000 also has the option to connect an external footswitch.
The Donner Arena 2000’s high-resolution onboard screen displays your signal chain and highlights whatever block, amp effect, etc., that is currently selected. Individual parameters such as amplifier, cabinet, EQ compression, reverb and delay can be selected via the front panel, each parameter being highlighted and then the selected parameter options can be edited via the onscreen display and large rotary control knob. After a few minutes’ experimentation, I found getting around the Arena 2000’s user interface was intuitive and relatively easy.
To my ears, the factory sounds on the Arena 2000 overall tended to be skewed toward pop, rock and in general, harder-edge tones. That said, with a little effort you can dial in pretty much any musical style, from clean to mean. There are plenty of choices for reverbs and delays. You even get some acoustic amp simulations.
In use on my desktop in my home studio, the Donner Arena 2000’s main display screen and selected effect parameters (which are backlit) are easy to see, however, I did have some trouble seeing the available options against the Arena 2000’s black faceplate in low lighting conditions, and that could be a problem in some performance environments. I also found some of the buttons and controls to be spaced a little too close together. I found myself, for example, accidentally toggling the Arena 2000’s compressor when reaching for output knob placed just above it. On the other hand, the three present and bank select buttons are placed far enough apart so that switching between presets on stage in a live performance situation should not be a problem for most users.
Bottom line, the sub $500 price point for guitar multi-effects units like the Donner Arena 2000 is crowded with options and it’s difficult for manufacturers to provide products that are going to be all things to all people. That said, the Donner Arena 2000 is a professional quality guitar multi-effects processor that should meet the needs of most players looking for a cost-effective recording and live performance solution.
The Donner Arena 2000 is available now for MAP $269 USD. Find out more at donnermusic.com.