Price paid: $ 49
Purchased from: online at renegademinds.com
Features: Guitar & Drum Trainer V.4 is a PC program for learning new songs and practicing along with different instruments (guitar, bass, drums, vocals, etc). The user can set start/end points for a loop, change the playback speed (without changing pitch) and change the pitch (i.e., transpose to any key).
I've been using GDT since version 2 (which was free I think) and there have been many improvements for this new paid version. It now supports Drop and Drag, so you can just drag an mp3 from your file browser into the program. It supports a variety of audio formats (flac, mp3, ogg, wav, wma, cda).
The look and feel is pretty well thought out for a guitar player. The important functions can all be done from the main panel. There's some attitude like there was in V2 (I like the "Loop it Baby!" button).
My favorite features are the speed and transpose. I can change a song to a key that better suits my voice, or eliminate the need for drop tuning my guitar. It also supports non-integer steps so that you can shift old songs that are not in tune with 440 to be in a standard tuning. Pitch shifting is conveniently labeled in half steps (i.e., the distance between guitar frets).
The looping feature allows you to loop on sections of a song (and also drive anyone nearby you crazy!). Use the start/end buttons to set the loop boundaries. Because of the way the boundary times are rounded, you might need to set the points a fraction of a second early or late. You'll realize quickly this is way better than trying to replay sections of music in Winamp!
A couple of features that I have not tested are the karaoke feature (to remove center vocals) and a speed trainer (which changes the loop speed automatically for practice). They both could be useful if that's what you need. // 8
Sound: When transposing more than a few steps, the voice begins to sound unnatural. If you're just trying to learn the chords in a new key, that is OK, but beyond a few steps, and the voices become too bass-y or chipmunk-y. You can't correct this with EQ. It would be nice if a future version attempted formant correction (shifts based on remapping a vocal tract) or allowed VST plugins to do that. You can also save your transposed songs as mp3's so that you can play the modified songs back on another audio player. I keep a directory of songs where I've shifted the key to a better one.
Note that the transposed audio won't be hi-fidelity. You're starting with compressed mp3 files and then doing big changes to the audio samples. I think the sound is as good as it could get, but don't think your friends won't know it's not the original if you shift more than a couple of half steps. I've also used pitch shifting recording software and seen the same thing (and this is way easier to use and cheaper for guitar practice than fancy recording software).
There is a Graphic EQ panel that I've used to emphasize either bass or treble sections of the audio spectrum that I'm interested in, but otherwise, I haven't had a need for it. You could use this to correct your PC speakers. The EQ panel also has the ability to save user presets. // 7
Reliability & Durability: Runs on Windows PC (how reliable is that?!). I do not think they have a Mac or Linux version. About twice I had to reload a file because the program seemed to be stuck at one spot. I've never had to restart the program.
I don't know about revisions, but I saw online that people that had purchased V3 could also download and use the V4. I haven't seen any intermediate released versions. There is a startup note that says if loading songs seems sluggish, you can reduce the number of samples used to display the audio wave file, but I've not had a problem with that. // 8
Ease of Use: One minor complaint is that the buttons are a little non-standard and it took me a while to get used to them. The skip forward/backward buttons make sense, but what looks like skip small and big buttons are actually the buttons to set the loop start/end points and go to the start/end points. If you want to skip to a random part of a song, you can double click anywhere on the waveform view to set the cursor, then click on the Set Start button to get playback at that point (I'd prefer it just jump you there directly).
Also, the supporting panels do not have minimize buttons, but you can easily clean things up by clicking on the function in the main panel, or clicking on the function icon at the bottom of Windows to make the support panels go away. Other than that, after a few uses, the operation is very intuitive. // 8
Overall Impression: GDT is my main audio player for guitar practice. It makes it much easier to figure out songs and solos (and submit them to Ultimate Guitar!).
The program is downloadable from their web site and works for free for 15 days. Then the cost is $50 (which seemed a little steep to me, but after using it, I definitely found it worth the price of a cheap guitar pedal). You can buy the license key online with credit card or PayPal. $50 seemed a little much for shareware, but I got a substantial benefit from using this, that in hind sight, I'd easily pay that again. The big benefit here is the tailoring of the features to guitar players, not that it has a ton of fancy features. // 9