Variax & POD XTL
My Stuff For Sale
The GNX4 combines dozens of effects with an eight-track digital recorder, USB and MIDI interface, drum machine, and some pretty trick computer software (Pro Tracks Plus from Cakewalk).
With some tweaking and correct connections (to amps and so forth), the GNX4 sounds great. A few users have complained about this and that regarding the sound quality live--chances are, they just have not explored the various setup options (Speaker Compensation, EQ, and so forth).
I also find it a bit tedious to setup an amp. The GNX4 offers cabinet (?) EQ, something I have not mastered. Luckily, Guitar One magazine provides a variety of GNX4 settings each issue. I often use these as starting points, especially EQ- wise. I prefer the much simpler approach of the VAMP or VOX Tonelab. Turn a dial to select an amp with separate controls for EQ. The GNX4 approach of multiple use buttons is fine if you're sitting at home and have some free time, but is a drag when you want to quickly select an amp and cabinet.
The WAH and pickup selector settings are very useful, though to be honest, I don't use them much.
The compressor functions as well as any I have tried, something I cannot say for the myriad of stompbox compressor models of the POD XT Live. It is not just a threshold gate/cuttoff. It really seems to compress the sound and if you set the gain high, each pick of a string explodes--just like a good compressor should do. My only negative comment regarding the compressor--it does not appear to be footswitchable (on/off).
The distortion models, especially the Boss DS version sounds great. I own the Boss DS-1 and cannot tell much difference between the GNX4 model and the original when a/b switching between them.
The modulation effects blow away the POD XT Live, both in quantity and quality. The GNX4 offers the standard chorus, flanger, and phaser. They all sound fine. In addition, the GNX4 offers a triggered flanger, envelope, phase shifter, synthtalk, etc. I find applications for virtually all of these effects and no other box that I am aware of provides this quantity and quality of modulation effects.
The delay variations are good. I am not super thrilled with them, but.....
The reverb variations are also good. Again, nothing outstanding, but plenty servicable.
On Board Recorder
The number of features and specs are too numerous for me to describe here. Consequently, I will leave that up to the Digitech GNX4 Brochure (PDF).
No, they are not scantily-clad beach babes. The MFX SuperModels are simply the holy-grail of amp modeling amps, cabinets, popular artist patches, and general presets. I own or have owned five of the top amp modelers available. Before I applied the MFX SuperModels, I felt the GNX4 was just an average amp modeler. Not anymore. It took someone to really dig deep into the bowels of the GNX4 and uncover its true capability. His name, Mike or simply Guitar3456.
The MFX Supermodels are complex warped models that accurately defines the amplifier it models. Mike and his associates rented a ton of amps and took dozens of audio samples of each amp to acheive a more accurate representation of the amplifier being modeled, including gain characteristics, EQ, Sustain, and Compression--the essence of the amp's identity.
Why would anyone spend months of such tedious work? Mike tells the following story...
"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..."
I purchased the MFX SuperModels Ultimate package the moment it became available and frankly cannot even imagine how many hours (weeks, months) it took Guitar3456 to sample the amps and convert those samples into the hundreds of amps, cabinets, and presets that found their way to the CD.
Some of my early favorites include the artist patches (BB King, Rockman-Tom Sholz, Thin Lizzy, etc.). You could literally spend hours just working through the artist patches.
The list of amps is mind-boggling: Ampeg , Bogner, Bad Cat, Laney, Marshall, Mesa, Egnator, Tech 21, Hughes Kettner, Engl, Fender, HiWatt, Vox, Framus, Peavey, Dumble, Randall, Soldano, Krank, Dr Z, Komet, Kendrick, Roland, ADA, Carvin, Crate, VHT, Budda, Edwards, Fuchs, Splawn, and so forth. Note that I am only listing the amp manufacturers. Under each manufacturer are the key models. I counted close to 20 Fender models alone.
How do they sound? I have not scratched the surface yet of using these amps but those I have tested sounded great and appear to offer all of the functionality of the original modeled amp. What I mean by this is, some amp modelers claim to offer a particular amp model, but in reality it only offers perhaps the model's clean channel, hi-gain channel, or it does not offer full control of EQ, gain, volume, and so forth. It appears that the MFX SuperModels amps do provide everything the modeled amp offers. Click the following link for more amp info: MFX SuperModels-Included Amps
Now, how much does all of this cost? I bit the bullet and purchased the Ultimate package for $115, which included shipping. You can also piece meal the deal for less than $50 per CD (three CDs). Click the following link for more information: MFX SuperModels
Do you want the most versatile and best-sounding amp modeler and multi-effects box available? The GNX4 with the MFX SuperModels amps, cabinets, and patches is it, IMHO. It just goes to show how a little digging and effort can find the hidden beauty in just about anything.
The following are a few tips from Guitar3456 regarding the use of the MFX SuperModels...<.p> The MFX SuperModels .g4p extensions contain patch information for both red and green channels when saved to the GNX4. To setup patches using Xedit to access different amp models:
Once you've done this a few times, it takes less than 30 seconds to make a patch and send it to the GNX4. The GNX4 is designed to open with a .g4p preset that contains all of the preset data (amps, cabs, effects, EQ, etc.). Consequently, it requires that you setup patches to change amp models. I set mine up in banks for live use. Bank 1 for example:
MFX SuperModel Examples
The following table summarizes the features and my opinions / rankings of modelers I own or have owned (not just played).
GNX4 or GNX3000?
So why do I plan on keeping the GNX3000? First, I am very fond of some of its presets. Second, it blends well with the GNX4 as a second "amp". Third, I am hoping the GNX3K SuperModels will improve the box. Fourth, and probably most importantly, it serves as another sound card and MIDI interface that helps me connect everything together.
More Comparison Information
One of the GNX4's most valuable features is that you can use it as your central connector/mixer for recording and performances. I have read a few negative comments about the GNX4's sound. I am willing to bet some of these users connected their GNX4 to the standard input of a guitar amp. Not the best setup. Think about it. The GNX4 does the sound modification and amp / speaker modeling...you don't want to color or muddy it up by running it through the guitar amp tonal circuits. I find it is best to connect the balanced L/R outs to a clean power amp, or connect the Left out to the effects loop of a guitar amp.
The following image shows how I have connected everything together. Click the image to enlarge it.
The GNX4 is bundled with Pro Tracks Plus, an OEM Cakewalk product. I find it to be a good entry-level recording application. Not too complex yet it provides decent functionality.
Something I learned....you can add tons of software VST synths and effects, many of which are freeware or downright cheap to Pro Tracks Plus. Since DXi is the native plugin model for Pro Tracks, you need a VST-DXI converter. I purchased Tonewise DirectIxer for $50 and could not be happier with its performance.
I have added 20+ synths (Rhino, M42, Synth1, etx.) and effects (distortion, delays, chorus, autopan, etc.) to Pro Tracks using DirectIXer and they work incredibly well.
To access the synths, just connect a midi keyboard (any cheap MIDI keyboard or MIDI controller will do, I use a Yamaha DX21 that I have had for a zillion years). If you don't have a MIDI keyboard, you can purchase one for less than $100. Can probably pickup a garage sale "family" keyboard with MIDI for next to nothing.
To access the effects, simply add them to the track.
One great side benefit: soundfonts. The rgaudio site offers a free soundfont player that you can add to Pro Tracks as a VST plug-in that allows you to record music played through a soundfont. Literally hundreds (probably thousands) of free soundfonts exist--samples of every conceivable instrument.A few links:
ALGO Music - Home of the M42 Nebula Soft Synth
Big Tick Software - Rhino VST Synth
Crystal VST Synth
Hammersound - Soundfont Library
rgcaudio - Soundfont Player
Synapse Audio - Synths
Toy Bear Products - VST Mini Host
Tons of Free Stuff