DigiTech RP1000 Integrated Effect Switching System
Originally published in Guitar World, Holiday 2009
DigiTech has outdone itself with the RP1000.
James Brown may have been the hardest-working man in show business, but when it comes to effect processors it seems no one works harder than the engineers at DigiTech. Since 1984, DigiTech has introduced dozens of innovative new products, including the first affordable intelligent pitch shifter, the hugely influential Whammy Pedal and its incredibly cool line of Artist Series pedals.
DigiTech debuted its RP Series line of floor-based processors in 1991 with the RP1 digital guitar preamp/effects processor. Since then the company has continually upgraded, improved and expanded the line. The RP1000 Integrated Effect Switching System is DigiTech’s newest top-of-the-line addition, and while it may not actually be the one-thousandth model in the RP line, it does represent a significant leap in technology for the entire series.
Whereas many guitar multieffect processors are like little dictators that give priority to their own amp modeling and effects while treating your favorite amps and pedals like second-class citizens or outcasts, the RP1000 is designed to integrate and interface seamlessly with your rig rather than dominate it. It has a staggering selection of 55 amp, 27 cabinet and 83 effect models, plus a Phrase Looper function that records loops up to 20 seconds long and features overdubbing capabilities. An Amp Loop lets you bypass the internal amp and cabinet models to use an external amp or preamp in the RP1000’s signal path, while the Stomp Loop lets you integrate a chain of external effects in Pre or Post Amp positions. External amps and effects remain active even when the RP1000’s bypass function is engaged.
The RP1000 is encased in a heavy-duty metal enclosure that is as sturdy and roadworthy as most other professional controller units on the market. Preset Mode allows the controller’s 10 numbered footswitches to load presets; Pedalboard Mode splits the footswitches so that 1 through 5 select presets and 6 through 10 function as on/off switches for compressor, distortion, chorus, delay and reverb effects. Each button can also be assigned to turn any parameter and any effect on or off. In addition, the unit has separate footswitches for engaging the external Stomp Loop and inputting Tap Tempo settings. The footswitches and expression pedal are conveniently located, while the parameter knobs and processor programming switches are kept out of harm’s way in a deeply recessed cavity.
With each new generation of the RP Series processors, DigiTech has improved the sound quality of its amp and effect models considerably. The RP1000’s amp, cabinet and effect models are impressive for their scope alone, but the realism, detail and expressiveness of each is truly staggering. These are DigiTech’s best-sounding models by far, and they’re worth a look (and inevitably budgeting for an upgrade) if you’ve ever been a fan of the DigiTech sound.
The Lexicon reverb models in particular deliver impressive, studio-quality sounds, wisely taking advantage of DigiTech and Lexicon’s collective ownership by Harman Industries. The stomp box models sound so much like the originals that most guitarists may likely never use the RP1000’s Stomp Loop unless they have some special box that they can’t live without.
The RP1000 is exceptionally easy to use and program. DigiTech wisely allows the effects (distortions, delays, chorus, whammy, phase, flange, vibrato, etc.,) to be set pre or post amp, however unlike more sophisticated (and expensive) multieffect processors, the order of the effects cannot be changed. If you prefer to place a distortion box in front of a wah pedal or place reverb toward the front of the signal chain for unusual special effects, the RP1000 won’t let you do that. Also note that the RP1000 can control only its own internal amp models and effects—it doesn’t even have MIDI jacks—so the RP1000 can’t control individual external effects or switch external amp channels like a Bradshaw switcher.
THE BOTTOM LINE
DigiTech has outdone itself with the RP1000. The street price on this unit is so outrageously low that the reverbs alone are worth the cost. But when you add in a lifetime’s collection of amps and effects plus a looper, tuner and even digital audio streaming capability via the USB jack, the RP1000 adds up to an incredible bargain.
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