Digitech Showdown - RP500 vs GNX3000

Thursday, July 31, 2008| by Will Chen



There comes a time in every family where the son must face his most difficult right of passage and challenge his father, proving he is ready to carry forth the family name. Now is that time for the newest child of the house of Digitech the RP500…enough with the drama already! This month, I’d thought I’d do a little something different and take a look at a two different generations of processors from Digitech, the GNX3000 and the RP500, and compare and contrast them.

In the Blue Corner...GNX3000

DigiTech GNX3000 Guitar Multi Effects Pedal

From a technology standpoint, the GNX3000 is a bridge device connecting the warp functionality (which was utilized to created the MFX super models pack, a much hyped third party package greatly expanding the GNX3000 sounds) and workstation concepts from the flagship GNX processor line with the amp modeling of the newer RP and GSP line. Strangely, the GNX3000 never really generated the strong following it deserves making it a sleeper which can often be found for quite a bargain online. In addition to guitar amp models, the unit also includes a nice selection of bass amp models.

The footswitches can be set to preset or stompbox mode which allows toggling of individual effects. Additionally, each preset allows the user to toggle between two amp models with no latency. However, there is latency when switching patches.

Across the board, the amp models sound fantastic are have a tactile response missing from the previous generation of modelers. Quite a few of the amps clean up respectfully when you back off your guitars volume knob. Individual EQ modeling the respective amp’s actual EQ is not offered, however the semi-parametric EQ is extremely effective in shaping tones. Additionally, Digitech has included a presence control and the ability to tune a cabinet. With subtle use, the cabinet tuning is very effective at mimicking the sound of off-axis micing. Lastly, the unit includes a fairly effective pickup simulator which actually does a decent job mimicking the frequency responses of humbucker and single coil pickups.

For further tone tweaking, the GNX3000 includes stompbox modeling of pretty much all the classics from the TS9 to the Metal Zone and everything in-between. Tonally, the attention to detail is suburb in most cases nailing the tones of the original pedals.

The GNX3000’s delay and modulation effects are good. However, the reverb is best in small doses. As you raise the level, the sound can get a little splashy in a bad way.

Of course, the unit includes Digitech’s legendary Whammy and IPS (Intelligent Pitch Shifter). The pitch effects are offered in an individual effects block from modulation which allows the user to use both pitch and modulation effects simultaneously, a feature not often found in multi effects processors. The glitchless pitch shift tracking is impressive without a hint of latency.

Rounding out the GNX3000’s gluttonous feature set is the ability to stream four inputs to your computer via the USB jack. Combined with the units multiple I/O options (including dual line inputs and an XLR microphone input), the unit absolutely earns the workstation badge.

In the Red Corner...RP500

DigiTech RP500 Guitar Multi Effects Pedal

Digitech’s new RP line, at which the RP500 currently sits at the top, features their next generation Audio DNAII chip with four times the power of their previous chip (of which the GNX3000 had four). The unit contains all of the previous generation’s models in addition to a few which are unique the RP500. A selling point of the RP500 is the ability to globally turn off all amp and cabinet modeling, a huge benefit to those who might use the unit by itself for some sessions and in coordination with an amp as an effects only unit.

Switching can be toggled for preset or stompbox mode and preset switching is latency free. Very nice! The RP500 also features upgraded footswitches which gives the unit a sturdy feel as well a cool cosmetic.

As with the GNX3000, the amp modeling is very, very good. Individual amp EQ is included, though doesn’t appear to actually simulate the modeled amp’s real EQ and is subtle in power compared to the semi-parametric EQ shaping capabilities. The presence and cabinet tuning features of the GNX3000 have not been included, too bad. Dialing up the same amp models on both units without any EQ or additional effects, the GNX generally has a little more low end oomph while the RP500 has better detail in the upper mids. Head to head, the differences seemed to be more pronounced in the higher gain models. Though in many cases the differences were fairly subtle.

The RP500 sports an impressive collection of stompbox modeling including a few boutique and vintage overdrives and fuzzes such as an 808 Tubescreamer and the Demeter Fuzzulator. However, the stomp boxes are not limited to additional gain stage devices as on the GNX3000 as Digitech has included a fair amount of modulation and delay effects pedal simulations as well. Particularly impressive are the Tape Delay (which very effectively emulates to sound of a tape delay self oscillating into feedback), the legendary ADA flanger, and Electro Harmonix Small Stone phaser.

Pitch effects are included within the effects bank and as such can not be used with an additional modulation effect. As with the GNX3000, an excellent version of the Whammy is included. However while the IPS tracking is good, the GNX3000 is better.

Digitech has employed sister company Lexicon’s algorithms for the RP500’s reverbs and they are extremely lush and detailed, a huge improvement over the GNX3000, with the ambience and room settings having an uncanny realism with subtle use.

And the winner is…

With its ability to double as a four channel interface, the GNX3000 is absolutely the choice for guitarists searching for an affordable option for recording and live use or who might double on bass guitar on occasion. On the other hand, the stripped down interface, tougher footswitches, seamless patch changes, and multiple flavors of great sounding modulation effects will certainly appeal to performers searching for a highly versatile and great sounding multi effects unit. Ultimately, it boils down to the needs of the individual guitarist with either device fully capable of delivering the knock out punch under the right circumstances.

Head to Head Specs:

Feature

GNX3000

RP500

Guitar Amp Models

33

52

Guitar Cabinet Models

14

22

Bass Amp Models

10

0

Bass Cabinet Models

10

0

Reverbs

5

6

WARP

Y

N

Pickup Modeling

Y

N

Distortion

11

18

Pitch/mod/special Effects

15

33

Delay

9

8

Inputs

4

1

Outputs(Pairs)

2

2

USB

4 in, 2 out

2 in, 2 out

AD/DA

24 bit

24 bit

Presets

65 user, 130 factory

99 user, 99 factory

Power Switch

Yes

No

MIDI

Yes

No

Price

~$300 USD

~$300 USD

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Filed Under: Digitech, Reviews