The time line of guitar effects use has had several twists and turns that were somewhat unexpected.
Before digital technology advanced to a comfortable level, the only effects that were available came in form pedals. This mean that you were limited to a single effect per pedal.
The use of guitar effects pedals is as wide spread as it ever was. However, there was a period when these devices were threatened with extinction. The integration of modeling technology into amps and other guitar accessories opened up the doors to guitar effects processors.
These devices were seemingly much more versatile than effects pedals. Instead of having to use a whole board full of pedals, you could achieve the same results using a very compact effects processor. A lot of people decided to cross to this platform, while a steadfast number of guitar players remained with guitar pedals.
Even though they were pretty popular, guitar effects processors soon faded away. However, they are still there and in use. One great example of a decent modern effects processor is the DigiTech RP80, which we are going to review today.
Modern effects processor
DigiTech is one of the companies who really bought into the whole guitar effects processor story. They offered some of the most popular models back when this type of device was just starting to appear.
Today, they are still making them with much success. It’s no secret that a guitar effects processor simply can’t replace a well saturated pedalboard, but there is still a large demand for practical solutions to guitar effects. Not everyone has the kind of money needed to populate a pedalboard.
DigiTech RP80 is one of the more practical models which is there to solve this issue.
Guitar effects processors are compact by nature, but DigiTech RP80 took small form factor to a whole different level. The case of this unit is dominated by a large expression pedal makes for almost a half of the widths of the whole processor. Build quality is great, allowing RP80 to take whatever abuse comes its way during long term regular use.
To the left of the expression pedal you will find your main controls. There are two stomp switches at the bottom which are used to both activate selected effects, and to navigate the library that comes with this processor. Above them you will find a very simple display which indicates various values depending on which feature you are using.
This display is surrounded by an arch of consisting of LED lights which have the name of the effect written above them.This way you will always know which effect or amp model you have selected at all times. Bellow it there are two sets of arrow buttons for navigating different presets and adjusting the master volume. In terms of hardware design, DigiTech RP80 is a pretty simple processor.
The core of this model is the AudioDNA 24-bit processing chip. This is the component which enables DigiTech RP80 to give you pretty realistic amp modeling. Speaking of which, there are 11 amp and cabinet models to choose from. Besides these, you also have a variety of effects to choose from. These include anything from a reverb, to modulation effects and wah. Finally, you also have an integrated drum machine with 30 different drum patterns stored.
DigiTech RP80 is very simple to use and the interface is quite intuitive. No complex navigation is necessary, you just find the amp you want to select and tap the select button until the LED under that amp’s name turns on.
The expression pedal is decent. There isn’t really much accuracy available, especially when you want to be subtle with wah or similar effects, but it gets the job done.
In terms sound quality, you are getting a good deal. This processor won’t replace a real amp, nor will it give you the best possible emulation. With that said, the performance it does offer is good. If you just need some variety for home use, this processor will deliver.
However, this is definitely not something you would want to use in a more professional setting. For that purpose you will need to get a decent set of gear.
What we like
DigiTech RP80 is a stealthy lightweight processor which packs a decent punch. The performance is adequate considering the nature of this model and the price you are asked to pay. For that kind of money can’t even get three decent guitar effects pedals.
What we don’t like
Only real complaint we have when it comes to DigiTech RP80 is the accuracy of the expression pedal. It feels stiff at times, which limits how subtle you can get with it. That’s a real shame.
Time has shown us that guitar effects processors simply cant replace a decent pedalboard, no matter what. Even the most advanced flagship models are still struggling.
With that said, these devices definitely have a defined purpose. Since not everyone can afford to go all out and put together a pedalboard full of legendary effects pedals, a decent processor like this DigiTech RP80 can really make a difference.
In practice, the only reason why you might disappointed in DigiTech RP80 or any other processor is if you expect too much. Everyone who uses, or plans to use an effects processor needs to have a good understanding of what these devices are designed to do.
With that kind of outlook, everyone can benefit from a decent guitar effects processor. DigiTech RP80 is one of the better in the affordable segment of the market. There are models which bring more features, but DigiTech RP80 brings a very good quality of sound.At the end of the day, that is what matters the most.
If you are in need of a good solution but you can’t or won’t go for effects pedals.
DigiTech RP80 can definitely help you get some variety in your every day guitar practice.
That is if you can find one on the used market since this model was discontinued some time ago.