Hands-On Review: DigiTech GSP1101 Guitar Effects Processor

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Back in the rack with double AudioDNA2 power!

By Jim Gault
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer

I, for one, am pleased that DigiTech has come out with a new rack processor. The GSP1101 is their first rack-based unit in a long time. Because of the success of their RP series pedals, DigiTech has been in floor-pedal mode and those who’ve wanted a rack processor for their recording setups have had to wait. Now that it has arrived, the GSP1101 is proving to be well worth the wait.

DigiTech could have simply reformatted the RP350 as a rack unit and would have had a very respectable processor. Instead, they substantially advanced the technology. While the GSP1101 has much in common with the RPs, it is a much more sophisticated and powerful unit in ways that suit it to a different role. Where the RPs are superb practice/stage units, the GSP1101 excels as a gig/studio oriented processor.

DigiTech GSP1101

Twice the power

DigiTech is proud of their AudioDNA2 engine and rightly so. It’s a chip designed specifically for audio effects, and its effectiveness is readily apparent in the realism, tonal complexity, and dynamic range and feel that the RP pedals exhibit. The GSP1101 uses two AudioDNA2 processors. With this increase in processing power, the GSP1101 is faster, smarter, more responsive, and versatile. The models are improved in overall sound, and the increased processing enables seamless preset changes—reverbs and delays decay naturally instead of being chopped off by a preset change.

Many of the models and presets parallel those in the RPs, but they have been redesigned to take advantage of the increased processing power. The difference in sound and feel is detectable when the units are compared side-by-side. In addition to increased processing and enhanced models, the GSP1101 is 24-bit throughout and the A/D/A converters are improved for noise-free performance, making it more digital studio-friendly.

Tons of tones

Besides being faster and smarter, the GSP1101 offers a tonal abundance that is nearly boundless. It has 99 factory presets and 99 user memory slots. It holds 120 models (52 amp and cab and 73 effects)—all high definition, point-to-point models of amazing accuracy in sound and feel. In addition, its 40 tone and 40 effects chain libraries combine to put 1,600 tonal variations at your fingertips.

One group of GSP1101 effects that warrant specific mention are its reverbs. Since the GSP1101 is a modeler, you would assume that all of it effects are models, but that’s not so. The reverbs are the real deal—lush, world-class Lexicon reverb algorithms made available to DigiTech as a Lexicon affiliate.

Easy to use

In addition to its abundance of ready-to-go tones, the GSP1101 gives you more ways to tweak them and in more precise ways compared to the RPs or other processors in the GSP1101s’ price range. There’s nothing you have to accept as-is. Though deep and highly adjustable, the GSP1101 is a reasonably easy machine to master. Despite having layers of menus, navigation is about as simple as it gets. DigiTech’s Set-Up Wizard helps you get started and even the ungeekiest will quickly get the hang of its simple controls. The manual is fairly lengthy, not because of operating complexity, but because there are a lot of things you can do with the GSP1101.

Whatever setup you have, the GSP1101 is designed to integrate easily and without dominating your system’s other components, due to its extensive I/O and configurable output options. For example, you can use it with an external preamp with only the effects activated. You can position distortion effects pre and place the time-based effects post, and switch between an external peramp and the internal preamp. This allows you to preserve the core tone of your amp and guitar while exploiting the many effects options the GSP1101 provides.

The GSP1101 I/O includes all the connections needed for onstage or studio flexibility. There’s a footswitch input for use with an FS300 three-button footswitch for moving between presets or into bypass mode. An expression pedal connection allows realtime control of most effects. MIDI in and thru allow the GSP1101 to respond to or transmit MIDI commands. It has an RJ45 port planned for future use with the Control 2 footcontroller that is still in development.

DigiTech GSP1101 Inputs & Outputs

The effects loop with mono out and stereo return also has an operating level switch for setting the loop gain between -10dBV and +4dBu, which allows you to optimize it for the connected device to minimize noise. The effects loop can also be used as a preamp loop allowing you to switch between the internal and an external preamp.

The GSP1101 also gives you a choice of outputs: a pair of balanced XLRs for connecting to a mixing board and a pair of 1/4" line outputs for connecting to an amp or recording device. It is equipped with a USB 2.0 port for audio streaming to and from your computer (software included).

The GSP1101 gives you everything you could ask for in a rack processor: great sound quality, low noise, a huge tone selection, extensive tweakability, ease of operation, and flexible connectivity. It takes the AudioDNA2 technology into the realm of high-end studio processing.

Features & Specs

  • Intuitive user interface with dedicated amp controls and LCD display
  • Over 120 amp, cabinet, preamp, and effects models including vintage stompboxes and pickup modeling
  • Mono send/stereo return effects loop
  • 40 tone and 40 effect chain libraries - 1,600 exclusive DigiTech combinations
  • Dual AudioDNA2 processors
  • Lexicon reverbs
  • 99 user/99 factory presets
  • 24-bit A/D/A converters
  • Global EQ
  • Balanced stereo XLR and 1/4" outputs
  • Chromatic tuner
  • USB 2.0 with included audio streaming and Editor/Librarian software
  • MIDI In/Thru
  • Internal power supply
  • Front-panel guitar input and headphone output
  • Footswitch and expression inputs
  • Seamless preset changes
  • Control 2 compatibility

Tags: Signal Processors Digitech

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