For many guitarists, especially those of us that have been at it for awhile, the name Digitech is still associated strongly with the company’s rack mount guitar processors from those dark early days of digital; the ones that seduced us with lots of pretty lights and the promise of infinite tonal possibilities, only to leave us feeling cold, sterile and confused, and wishing we hadn’t traded in our old Marshall. But hey, that was a long time ago, and Digitech have since redeemed themselves with some very innovative and excellent sounding products, many of which are bona fide classics. One of the newest additions to Digitech’s insanely popular line of do-it-all floor processors is the RP360 XP, a useful and easy-to-use tone tool with 198 presets (99 factory, 99 user), a ton of great amp and cabinet models, more effects than you can shake a GSP 2101 at, a built-in expression pedal, and a bunch of handy features for practicing, direct recording, or just whiling away an afternoon making weird noises in your headphones.
Digitech’s promo video for the RP360 XP (which is basically just hipsters riding scooters and strumming old Danelectros) indicates strongly that Digitech is making a decisive move away from the “hair metal and lasers and spaceships” aesthetic of its legacy products and embracing designs that are bit more relevant and understated. The RP360 XP certainly reflects this, with its sleek, black metal casing and minimalist layout. This straightforward layout, besides looking cooler, would also seem to suggest that the RP360 XP might be a bit easier to use than previous processors, which I found to be true. After plugging in and firing it up, I figured out most of its basic functions within a few minutes, all without consulting the owner’s manual. That’s always a good sign. As with every multi-effect unit I’ve ever used, many of the RP360’s 99 factory presets are a little over-the-top. The people who program these things tend to pile on the effects in an attempt to impress the prospective consumer, but the tones are rarely something any player with even a modicum of good judgment would ever use. The good news is that unnecessary effects (like the compression, EQ and noise gate they seem to have on EVERYTHING) can be easily bypassed. With that done, it becomes much more obvious that the RP360’s 54 amp models and 26 cabinet models are quite good. All the usual classic amps from Fender, Marshall, Vox, Orange, Mesa Boogie, and even Sunn are in there (along with some interesting mutant creations from Digitech’s engineers) and the cabinet selection is very cool as well, with the 4x12 Fane being a favorite of mine for its deep, meaty rock tones. The 82 modeled stompboxes offer up a wealth of possibilities, with the dirt selection being particularly impressive –several Tube Screamers, a lot of classic Boss boxes, the Rat, Big Muff, Fulltone OCD, and even the DOD Grunge, Death Metal, and Gonkulator pedals! What rig is truly complete without that Triumvirate Of Tone? Compression, EQ, and noise gate options are fairly utilitarian, due to the nature of those effects, but the modulation, delay, and reverb options are many splendored and of high quality. For real-time effects control, the RP360 XP’s built-in expression pedal is assignable to any number of effect parameters, as well as the usual things like volume, wah, and whammy. You can also calibrate it precisely and set the range it controls. The standout effects, in my opinion, are the Lexicon reverbs. Lexicon doesn’t mess around, and the reverbs included with the RP360 XP are superb; halls, springs, plates, rooms, and a great ambience effect that adds a realistic sense of space around the guitar without sounding like obvious reverb.
One of the best parts about the Digitech RP360 XP is the Stompbox mode, which lets you assign any one of the virtual stompboxes in a preset to one of the three footswitches. This mode, as opposed to Preset mode where the footswitches function as up and down buttons for scrolling between presets, is probably the ideal way to use the unit for most people. You can get your foundation sound dialed in with your choice of amp and cab models, and then pick which effects you want to be able to bring in and out with the stomp of a switch. If you intend to use the RP360 XP live, Stompbox mode is definitely the way to go, as it minimizes the amount of time you’ll spend scrolling through presets. It also lets you integrate the processor easily with your existing pedalboard setup.
For digital recording purposes, the RP 360 XP really makes things easy. It’s 2x2 USB streaming connection lets you connect directly to your computer or audio interface for direct recording with virtually any Mac or PC DAW, and Digitech’s free Nexus preset editor software is both pleasing to the eye and really easy to use. I hooked it up to a PC with Windows XP and Cubase and was fully operational within a few minutes. Poking around, auditioning new sounds, and editing presets was a breeze, and the Nexus software was very efficient even on my elderly PC. The RP360 XP’s ease of setup, portability, and quality tones makes it an excellent choice for making high quality demos in a small home studio, or recording on the road in a hotel room where mic’ing up a cranked amp is impossible or impractical.
I could go on all day about the rest of the Digitech RP360 XP’s impressive feature set, but among the other highlights are a 40-second looper, 60 drum/metronome patterns, 1/8” headphone output, stereo ¼” outputs with switchable amp or mixer modes, built-in tuner, aux input, and an external control input for a 3-button footswitch. It’s a seriously powerful processor with a ton of functionality and some great tones. Obviously, if you already own a spectacular tube amp and a board full of boutique stompboxes the Digitech RP360 XP won’t replace those things (modeling technology isn’t quite there yet, in my opinion), but if your rig is a bit more average it could be a great way to expand your tonal palette, and at $199.00 it is a very affordable practice and recording tool that just about any guitarist would find useful.
What We Like: Greatly improved cosmetics, very good amp and cab models, lots of virtual stompboxes, superb 'verbs, and a wealth of functions that make practice and recording easy. At $199 street price, it's a bargain.
Concerns: Silly factory presets, as usual. While the tones are very good, modeling is still no competition for a great tube amp and some good pedals. That day will come, of course, but it's not here yet.
Build Quality: 4
Total Rating: 4