If you have ever watched a live performance you undoubtedly see that the guitarist and bass players have several boxes at their feet that they hit with their feet at times. These boxes, known as stomp boxes, are distortions and effects, which are used to alter the tone to their particular preference. Most professional boxes go for $200 plus each, while middle of the road is generally 75-150. Generally a guitarist will have distortion, delay, compressor, noise gate, tuner, Wah, and Chorus maybe a flanger or phaser for novelty, each of these effects connected to each other between the guitar and the amp. Now thats a lot of equipment to setup move and lug around, so many create a pedalboard as seen above. Some companies have started producing "set" pedalboards which have several effects set up and the ability to create presets, the downside is that you cannot add to variety of effects that the company chose to put in the machine, but you have the convenience of having it all in one secure package costing quite a bit less then buying all the effects separately. all combined electronically in a rugged metal box.
The GNX series does not only cut down on the stomp boxes, but also on the amps! Thats right, it models amps and simulates the sound so that you don't need to lug around your amps to every gig, this is known as Amp Modeling, and although it is frowned upon by some who say that its not "real", it provides a healthy alternative to buying several different amps (which can range from $500 or $5000 each).
The GNX series is a combination of an amp simulators, and pedalboard all combined electronically in a rugged metal box.
"The GNX1™ is much more advanced than the conventional amp modeling processors to date. Thanks to DigiTech’s AudioDNA™ DSP Engine and the software power provided by GeNetX™, the GNX1™ allows the musician to literally create their own amp model, their own speaker cabinet, their own signature sound. The GNX1™ provides several of the most popular amp models and speaker cabinets to choose from and GENETX™ provides the tools and technology to “warp” the characteristics of these components together into your own “Hypermodel”. Imagine having the ability to create a completely unique amp/cabinet combination that only your imagination could envision, until now."
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1.Video Demo for the GNX4, Just click the video link
2.Product Page for the GNX4
3.Audio Demo for the GNX4
I have gone through 3 multi-effects pedals, the first is the discontinued RP-300A and RP-100, but this unit was my first serious amp modeler. I realized that I am probably never going to be a rock star with thousands of dollars to blow, and as such I would have to resort to either very few amps and effects, or get a pedalboard which gives you a broader range of sounds with a cheaper price tag, so I decided to see what was out there.
When I set out to find a new pedal, I first looked at the GNX series because I was pleased with my previous Digitech products. I started reading user reviews at Harmony Central,watching the video demos, reading and participating in the forums, reading the manuals, and listening to what the average user was making on their pedal. I had the opportunity to try out several other multi-effects, and amp modeling units, such as the leading competitor the Pod XT-Live, which has nice sound which is in my opinion comparable with the GNX4(with tweaking).
Now I won't lie to you, I was taken in by the GNX4 partly because I loved all the accessories and I'm a fool for the "All In One" deals. When I go out to buy something of this magnitude, I usually go for high-end merchandise, and the ones that I think I will be using 20 years from now (though I am not even 20 yet), a 'one-time-fix' deal. At the end of this search there were 2 choices that were really in the foremost of my mind, those were, the Digitech GNX4, and the Line 6 POD XT LIVE.
Ok lets get down to the hard facts. This pedal was made to Sound like Amps, you can pick the amp you wish, and then select a cabinet, then you can mess around with the Gain, Treble/Middle/Bass Frequency and levels, Sound is very subjective, and on amp models it is even harder to gauge, you start asking questions like "Is it realistic?", and "Is my amp corrupting the sound?". This unit is meant to emulate a particular amp (or a "new" amp) so the sound you hear is a product of 3 things 1-Guitar, 2-Pedal ,3-Amp, so to have a fair test of the pedal we have to uniform number 1 and 3.
1-So for number 1, to compare you need to be playing the amp and the pedal with the same 2-guitar!
3-As for number 3 you can either plug in the said amp model into YOUR amp, or simply use headphones for the pedal!(make sure the settings are uniform as well, or at least fool around with them to see how close you can get)
Ok so this is done... Does it sound exactly like the real thing? Doubtful, maybe similar, maybe true in some cases, maybe very close in others, but no amp modeler (that I have seen) can duplicate the exact true sound of an amp. But personally I don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars to through around buying amps, and this is a great realistic(enough) alternative. If this was it for amp modeling in the GNX4 then it would be just another pedal, a average unit.
Having said this the power in the GNX4 is that you can "warp" the existing amp models to produce differant models and makes, or to create your own original sounding amp. I think that the GNX series is THE leading pedal for amp modeling, or at least in some regards. Digitech has online sound communities, which is very, very powerful source, you can create and share presets, songs,and amp models. This allows for a collective progression in Amp Modeling, the seeming initiator is a man named mike, who on the community is known as Guitar3456. Guitar3456 studied and analyzed the sound waves and patterns that amps made, and used the GNX4's warping capabilities to more accurately emulate different amps, and improve the existing amp models. He says on the forum
"When users were dismayed early on by the GNX4 basic models and posting their disappointment for firmware revisions (at the Digitech Sound Community), I thought it would be nice to have a huge library (of amp models). The problem was getting the specs to follow the amp which you cannot do with one basic model. So I sampled them (GNX4 amp models) to identify their shortcomings. That's when I decided to sample real amps and compare them using an analyzer. When I pushed further, I found that my GNX4 was awesome compared to other amp modelers (allows you to warp multiple amp models to obtain realistic results). Local guys started coming over for customizing their pedal. So one thing led to another and the Ultimate endeavor came to life. Months and months of work, equipment, rentals..."
Over 1000 total presets/folders of Amp Models, organized by Mfg/ Amp Type, including patches and custom hypermodels of various settings..best yet, they are easily adjustable. You'll have so much !! There are over 200 model variations and presets just for MarshallDozens of Amp manufacturer models and presets. Arranged from A to Z. These include the hypermodels of various settings like Clean, Crunch ( various), Lead (various) and many other of the full feature models as well. Things like Variac, Power Break, Ultra Mode, Modified amp models, Custom amp models, Artist Models, and much more...Acoustic Guitar and Amp Models of Larrivee, Ovation, Guild, Takamine, Carvin, Peavey and more..Custom Models of Guitar Amp Cabinets ranging from 8's to 4x12 Stacks. From single series to 1960's ,1960A's ( full stack), Randall, Carvin, Mesa, and more...Custom Signature Amp Models...Slash, Zakk's Custom 1987 JCM800,Dozens of Artist preset patches from A to Z. Country, Jazz, Blues, or Rock...in there!! From Classic Page, Hendrix, Trower, Angus, BB, Holdsworth, Methaney, Rockabilly, Chuck Berry, Clapton, Creedence, to hard rockers like Dimebag, Slash, Lifeson, 80's metal and so much more... It get's even better...Bass Guitar Sims including, Jazz, Precision, Rickenbacker, 5string , and more...Ultimate Users rewards. This grants you 2 full years of Automatic Updates, new Presets, Amp Models. Users will be subscribed as of purchase date and will automatically receive any future presets, modeling etc via email. How's that for service !!"Thats not all, currently on the GNX4 community there are 1252 down loadable presets, and
1174 GNX3 presets (compatible with the GNX4), 1095 GNX2 patches, and 803 GNX1 patches, and 450 GNX3000 patches, so all in all on the community alone you can get almost 5000 free presets for your unit.
The GNX4 effects are as follows:
Flanger, Auto Flanger, Tremolo, Phaser, Auto Phaser, Virbrato, Rotary Speakers, YaYa, Auto YaYa, SynthTalk, Wah, Envelope(Auto Wah), Chorus, Pitch Shifting, IPS(Intelligent Pitch Shifting), Whammy, Talker, Detune, Delay, Reverb, Compressor, Noise Gate, Presence, EQ, Pickup Simulator, Distortion, Overdrive.
Most with serveral variations, versions and customizable options. Overall the I have been very pleased with most effects in this box.
Compatibility and Flexibility
1 - For some reason the on-board tuner no longer displays the chromatic notes (a,a#,b,c,c# etc.) when it shows if the tone is flat or sharp. It does still accurately show if the note is flat or sharp but does not display what the note is, so as long as you are close to the note you can tune it properly. There may be something wrong in the settings that I just don't know about. I think that if I were to format the machine that it would have a high likelihood of fixing the problem but I don't want to do that.
2 - Sometimes it seems that the sound dies down a bit, it sounds almost like there is a annoyingly strong compressor or noise gate issue (though it is not), I'm not sure what is wrong but a hard reset of the system usually works, but this would not do for any live work. Keep in mind that my system is getting older and has seen some rough times, maybe some wires are lose due to it being dropped or shipped.
[UPDATE - December 2, 2010] - The GNX4 and the GNX series are not discontinued