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DigiTech RP250 Modeling Guitar Processor


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The RP series is the latest in the line of multi-effects processors from DigiTech (http://digitech.com). At the core of the three new units – the RP150 (list/street: $159.95/$100), RP250 ($229.95/$150), and RP350 ($309.95/$200) – is the new sound-generating technology, dubbed AudioDNA2.

 

This is a newer version of the engine used in the GNX series of processors, and it's used in the less-expensive and more-portable RPx50 series. If you’re new to DigiTech technology, the company describes AudioDNA2 as a “proprietary audio ASIC that provides more accuracy in the tone and dynamic response of the RP models than its predecessor.”

 

The included drum machine has over 60 patterns, and the units are housed in a rugged, heavy-duty (and heavy - which is a good thing!) metal chassis. All run in either mono or stereo and include a back-panel switch for amp or mixer operation. An outlet-hogging wall-wart power supply drives the unit.

 

The advantages of the RPx50 line are the easy access to the tone and effects libraries. It’s a quick, three-step process (model, effect, level) to choose any sound. You can have up to 11 effects simultaneously, and you select initial sounds by genre – a nifty concept for dialing up a base sound from which to perform with or edit.

 

If you’re a recording or computer-using guitarist, you’ll appreciate the USB interface for editing, archiving, and downloading of new presets. The A/D converter is 24-bit, 44.1 kHz, and allows 2-in/2-out recording on multi-track recording software. You can play back a mix or mp3 files recorded directly from the unit.

 

The three versions of this RP series are all related in that they all have the same architecture, but the different models have more or less available models and effects to them, as well as some physical attributes (included expression pedal, back-panel jacks, display quality, etc.).

 

All three feature two programmable pedals that advance the presets or bypass the unit, and two (the RP250 and RP350) feature an expression pedal (for volume, wah, effect intensity, etc.) My review unit is the RP250, the subject of this Pro Review, which falls in the middle of the line, but in the next post, there's a chart listing the parameters of all three pedals.

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From here on out (unless otherwise noted), I’ll limit my comments to the RP250, though many observations will apply to the other two units as well.

 

I’ve asked David Rohrer, DigiTech’s Guitar Market Manager, to contribute to this Pro Review, so feel free to ask him questions directly, and Dave, jump in with your own comments!

 

Before we power up and step through some presets, check out a few photos. Attached is a shot of the RP250’s front panel. The charcoal and brushed silver materials used for the left side of the unit and the pedal, respectively, are all metal.

 

RP250front.jpg

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Here’s a close-up of the front panel that allows you to read the parameter labeling.

 

This matrix-style scheme makes it very easy to edit; you just move up and down the effect rows with the triangular Edit switches on the bottom left. Then you turn the encoder knob in the parameter column to adjust the sound. (Once out of edit mode, the knobs revert to their function of Tone Library, Effects Library, Effects Level, and Master Level.)

 

RP250FrontClose.jpg

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Cruisin’ Around the RP250’s Presets

 

When you plug in the RP250, it powers up in Performance mode, which lets you play and step through the presets. Before checking out the various programming features, I just wanted to get a feel for the existing sounds, so I plugged in, set my amp for a clean, neutral sound, and started playing and stomping away.

 

The presets really show off the versatility and power of the RP250’s preamp and amp modeling engine (more on the effects in a bit). A very impressive and realistic variety of different setups occur right within the first 20 or so presets, with the more dramatic, specialty, and atmospheric sounds occurring later.

 

Check These Sounds

Right off the bat, I was comparing Plexidrv (#1) with Rectified (#6) and Classic Stack (#7), as these were all names I have clear and long-standing impressions. The RP250’s modeling of these classic amps is quite realistic, and the way the sound “moves” when you play power chords, riffs, and lead lines is dynamic and musical. Different pickup settings produce different sounds – just as it would on a real amp, so experimentation is revealing and satisfying here.

 

I like playing the blues (and I just wrote a book on the subject), so I particularly enjoyed the blues-oriented presets Boogie Man (#4) with its just slightly broken-up sound (which you can control through your own articulation) and the decidedly crunchier Stevie Ray (#12), which gave me a great sound for the comping and lead licks to "Pride and Joy."

 

I can already tell this is one clever little box – the way the expression pedal is programmed for each preset (wah on some, volume on others, effect depth/speed on still others), but it’s the sounds that keep me from doing my duties and getting to the editing and programming. I’m having too much fun.

 

Or more accurately, the sounds are inspiring me to play. Also very useful and impressive is the acoustic modeling setting in Acoustic (#28). It’s got that piezo bite and crispness, the open sound of wood-resonating steel strings, and a realistic string decay that adds to the unplugged illusion.

 

Tip: The 60 preset sounds are not arranged in any particular musical scheme, so if you’re looking for a few particular sounds, print the attached image here and take it to the music store with you when you audition the RP250. It will help you access your priority sounds quickly.

 

 

RP250presets.jpg

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rsowden wrote:

Here's a very rough demo I made stepping through the RP250's presets using a PRS McCarty. I recorded it via USB into Tracktion.

Another thanks for taking the time to contribute this "sonic smorgasbord," rsowden.

 

Fellow Forumites: What rsowden has done is to step through all 60 of the RP250 presets, playing a short passage appropriate to the style of each individual preset. (And there's some good playing, too!)

 

What I suggest is that you download the graphic I posted previously (rp250presets.jpg), print it out, and follow along. This way, by reading the preset name while listening along, rsowden's playing will be more meaningful and memorable. (Or you can download the owner's manual from the digitech website digitech.com.)

 

Highlights from rsowden's demo:

 

Preset# / Name / Comments

33 / "Blues Delay" / Nice solo here!

38 / "Chimey" / Tasteful arpeggios.

39 / "Brit 45" / You made this into a fave for me, which I had not fully appreciated when *I* played it.

42 / "Flangtastic" / You show off this preset well just with your long-tone chord playing.

43 / "Hendrix" / Some good effects programming along with the modeling.

44 / "Brit Combo" / Good use of the ambient effects and EQ to simulate a small-cab combo. Veddy British.

47 / "Taped Out" / Like your blues-rock vintage-style soloing here, rs (may I call you rs? :)).

59 / "Woman" / Good solo work.

 

Hey, rs, what did you think of the acoustic modeling? I find I'm digging that more and more (even though the distortion modeling pays the bills :D!).

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Thanks for the comments. Yes, you can call me rs - just don't call me bs. Anyway, I thought the acoustic model sounded pretty good also although some people don't like the piezo sound in general.

 

I'm also looking forward to the X-Edit software which allows some hidden parameters to be tweaked. For example, in the EQ section you can move the mid and treble frequency range similar to a parametric EQ. You can also adjust the "Butt" parameter in the Grunge Distortion if need be :D

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How long is the power supply cord and is it possible to change the order of the presets(group the cleans together, then the OD's,distortions,etc) other than copying the parameters of preset 82(Mr Clean) to preset 61? Also, how authentic is the "tube" sound? I quit playing about 10 years ago, sold everything 'cept my '71 Gibson LP goldtop and am now getting the itch to play again. Funds are dictating either effects or tone... an RP350>Crate Powerblock>12" enclosures, or one of the Crate all tube amps. Will my LP still sound like a Gibson or just another humbucker? All the patch/powersupply cords seem like a pain, but having all kinds of effects to play with doesn't. Sorry for all the scrutiny, but whatever I decide, I'm going to have to stick with. Help me spend $600!!! Many thanks!

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The cord is about 6 feet long. You can copy presets from one location to another to rearrange the order or reprogram the patch using the quick set tone and effects libraries. I imagine the X-Edit software would let you rearrage the sounds as well.

 

As far as the tube sound, I'd suggest trying one out and comparing it to other modelers. My personal opinion would be to get a tube amp or get a tube amp and an RP150 for $100. I also think the new RP's retain the guitar tone especially Strat vs. Humbucker. I have an older modeler and it just homgenized the tone so everything sounded the same and killed my Strat position 2 and 4 out of phase sound.

 

Bob

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br26 wrote:

.... and is it possible to change the order of the presets(group the cleans together, then the OD's,distortions,etc) other than copying the parameters of preset 82(Mr Clean) to preset 61?

The short answer is no, you can't.

 

Rsowden doesn't address the second part of your question that begins with "other than copying..." but he's right: it's a fairly quick operation to copy all 60 factory presets into the 60 user locations but in another organizational scheme (style, performance order, etc.).

 

But you knew that. ;)

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rsowden wrote:

As far as the tube sound, I'd suggest trying one out and comparing it to other modelers. My personal opinion would be to get a tube amp or get a tube amp and an RP150 for $100.

This is what I'd recommend, too, for those who can relate to br26's dilemma. You can't really take an economical multi-effects processor like the RP250 -- or any modeler -- and ask, "Is it as good as a tube amp?" That's just simply too loaded and too personal a question.

 

If it's a tube amp you want, buy a tube amp (like Bob says). But the RP250 does very convincing emulations of different "amp & effect productions," some of them employing sonic building blocks reminiscent of tube technology, some that emulate solid-state distortion, and some that focus on pickup response (I agree again with Bob that the humbucker vs. single-coil sounds are cannily rendered). Those models are then combined with EQ, effects, and appropriate expression parameters.

 

If you consider the entry-level RP150, just know you're giving up the built-in pedal (though you can plug a pedal into the RP150's control input) and some memory, etc.

 

I like the attached pedal; it keeps my stage setup neater, and I really like the feel. When the pedal's in volume mode (which is for most of the presets), you can just pull back on the pedal to cut sound to the amp. That way, you can leave the amp on and still unplug your guitar. No tocuhing either the amp or the guitar's controls.

 

A better way to employ "standy mode," though, is to invoke the tuner when you leave the stage. Doing this also cuts off the sound, but when you take the stage after the break, you're in tuning mode (with no sound coming through), reminding you to tune and then exit tuning mode before making sound. Very important for good stage manners!

 

But back to the RP250. Here's what I like:

    a drum machine.

     

    Keep in mind that aside from the modeling component, you can always use the RP250 just for its stereo digital effects. And the advantages of a digitally controlled expression pedal include the famed DigiTech Whammy (continuous pitch shift) and YaYa (talkbox) effects, and the programmable heel/toe parameters and wah min/max settings.

     

    Stay tuned for talks about editing and recording with the RP250.

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For this series of RP processors, DigiTech has chosen not to include MIDI control. For you guitarists looking for realtime MIDI control, and other MIDI features, check out DigiTech's GNX Guitar Workstations.

 

Also, I'm investigating when the new RP editor/librarian, X-Edit 2.0, will be available for the RP150, RP250, and RP350.

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I just got off the phone with DigiTech's David Rohrer, who told me that X-Edit 2.0, the editor/librarian for the RP250, is now online at Digitech.com/software_downloads.

 

There is a firmware update for the RP250 and RP150 and a driver for the RP250. The software is for Windows only, but the Mac versions will follow in about a week.

 

Also, David reports, the RP350 will be hitting the stores sometime in November. We'll keep you apprised.

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Thanks for posting that, Bob. Here's my own screen shot, showing the drop-down menus for the amp models. This lets you see all your choices at once, rather than having to scroll through them, as you would on the unit's front panel.

 

For forumites not used to working with an editor/librarian, the physical unit and the onscreen panel work together -- tweaking a knob on the unit shows up on the screen, and vice versa. This makes it very easy to tweak parameters at will, from the computer or the unit, whichever's closer and/or handier for the way you like to work.

 

Of course, you can store your results on the computer, and load the unit with previously stored sounds.

 

Using the computer makes it much more convenient to organize vast quantities of sounds (and eyeball them at a glance), even if you prefer to edit from the unit's front panel.

 

X-Edit

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rsowden wrote:

I'm also looking forward to the X-Edit software which allows some hidden parameters to be tweaked. For example, in the EQ section you can move the mid and treble frequency range similar to a parametric EQ. You can also adjust the "Butt" parameter in the Grunge Distortion if need be.

 

X-Edit 2.0 reveals even more adjustable parameters than are available from the front panel.

 

Below are two screen shots:

 

Top: A drop-down menu listing the overall effect, which sets the specific parameters below it accordingly.

 

Bottom: Red circles showing the individual parameters not available through the RP250's front panel.

 

So you must use X-Edit 2.0 to appreciate the full extent of the RP250's tone-shaping powers. Remember, X-Edit is free and downloadable.

 

 

RP250EQParameters.jpg

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Oh, and Bob wasn't kidding about adjusting the "Butt" parameter in the Grunge distortion model. Only Grunge, Face, and Loud are accessible via the RP250's front panel. To crank up the backside portion of your sound, you need to make a bootie-call through X-Edit.

 

 

RP250GrungeParameters.jpg

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Jon -- great news abot X-Edit. I use the editing software all the time with my trusty GNX-4, it makes it so much easier to arrange custom patch sets and such.

 

I wonder how many guitarists actually get "down and dirty" with editing software...thoughts?

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Anderton wrote:

I wonder how many guitarists actually get "down and dirty" with editing software...thoughts?

I've been wondering that myself. My own experience, before coming to the Harmony Central Forums, is that guitarists into stompboxes and floor-based multi-effects processors don't really work with or know all that much about editor/librarians. (But HC forumites have a higher gear-literacy rate compared to most other fourm frequenters, which has got me thinking.)

 

Under many circumstances, it's okay not to use an editor to create sounds, as knob-tweaking guitarists can get around a front panel pretty dang quickly, and nothing is lost except some efficiency. Why convert a knob-twiddler to a computer user, all things being equal? It reminds me of the pointless battles I have with my wife about using keystrokes instead of the mouse. (She uses a mouse for everything -- to Save, Print, even for the highlighted OK in a dialog box. Don't get me started. :)) I don't bother to fight it anymore, because if it gets the job done, why argue? Different strokes, and all that.

 

But that's not the case with the RP250 and X-Edit 2.0.

 

If you don't use X-Edit, you're missing out on editable parameters, hidden features, and the true sound-shaping powers that the unit holds in its brain. That's just plain stoopid. I think DigiTech should supply an RP250 workstation outfitted with a PC and X-Edit 2.0 to every Guitar Center in the country!

 

So what about it, fellow fretmeisters? Do you use an editor/librarian for your effects? Do real guitarists have to resort to computers to get their sound? Do you think it's right for DigiTech and others to make some features of their effects accessible only through a computer? Do you think computers steal your soul?

 

Let me hear about it.

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patchcon wrote:

Speaking of computers.....can you re-amp via USB on this unit?


In addition, if the editor is able to act as a DAW plug-in, then it becomes a nice package.

Any time you re-amp, you assume you're using some sort of front-end to get your signal into the recorder -- typically a guitar and a direct box. So, if you set up a clean, neutral sound on the RP250, then, sure, you can use this neutral setting as your front end, and the USB functionality is a neat and clean way to get into your computer. Guitar [audio]--> RP250 [uSB]--> Computer. Two cords (three, if you count the power cord to the RP250). Monitor the output of your DAW in the usual way, through your existing monitors. (Or route it back through the RP250 and listen through headphones.)

 

What you can't do is use the Bypass and USB together. In other words, you can record your signal using a clean treatment, with flat or minimal EQ (and no distortion or ambient effects), but once you kick the unit into "Bypass," the USB recording stops.

 

So the best thing is to use the RP250's sound-shaping tools not for a processed effect, but to set up your guitar to be as close as possible to your "guitar into a D.I.," "reamp template" sound.

 

X-Edit works only as a stand-alone app., not as a plug-in.

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Hey Jon -- I need to check out the RP features, but the GNX4 has an option to send dry guitar to one channel and processed to another. You can then select REAMP VIA USB as an input, and send the dry signal from the GNX4 into an open channel on your multitrack.

 

It wouldn't suprise me if this feature was unique to the Workstation product line, as the GNX4 is pretty advanced. But some variation of that may have "trickled down" into the RP. I'll check it out when I get a chance..........

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