Sound — 7
The preprogrammed sounds were not much use to me, but this is nothing new. I find that most effect manufacturers are more interested in showing how many effects they can pile on at once rather than getting useful tones out of the box. With that in mind, I took a quick preview of the presets and set about creating a tone from scratch. The X-Edit interface made tweaking presets a breeze, and the overwhelming number of options was much easier to sort through. As a metal-head, I was disappointed at the lack of variety in the high-gain department. There are no models for the Uberschall, Ecstasy, Diezel, 05, or the like, and I was not happy with the results from the Rectifier, JCM800, or SLO models. I eventually came up with a decent heavy rhythm tone with the DigiTech Solo model and some judicious EQ. For leads, I paired a Tube Screamer with a Marshall Jump Panel, and iced it with some Echoplex and verb. I was able to get a pretty convincing Alex Lifeson "Power Windows" tone with the Vox AC15, TC Chorus, and gobs of analog delay. I could nail an early Santana tone with the Boogie Mark II model, and even some Zeppelin-esque sounds with the various 100-watt Marshall models. The lower-gain models were much more realistic, in general. I was also pleased to find that the RP350 sounded much better through a PA than through headphones or my computer speakers. I awarded an extra point for this.
Overall Impression — 8
I was a bit more liberal with my rating after factoring in the RP350's super-low $199 price tag. I wouldn't trade in my rack full of high-dollar gear for it, but for practicing at home and laying down demo tracks, it's a great value. There simply is no substitute for glowing tubes, 4x12 cabinets and lots of volume in my book, but DigiTech has packed an enormous amount of features and processing power into a compact, sturdy pedal. The design is well-thought-out from a guitarist's perspective -- they even allow you to send a compensated output to the house while sending a full-range signal to your amp, if you wish. I think I'll keep it in my gig bag in case I blow a tube at a big show. Thanks to www.geartree.com for their help with this review.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I have had no trouble with the pedal in the time I have had it, and I have found DigiTech's long-term reliability to be very good. Their customer service is also top-notch, so in the rare instance you do run into trouble, they'll help you out.
Ease of Use — 9
You can get a variety of tones quickly on the RP350. The easiest way is to select an amp/distortion model with one knob and an effects chain with another. For players Who would rather play than tweak sounds, you're ready to go instantly. There is a wide variety of amps and pedals to choose from. The usual palette of Fender, Marshall, Vox and Boogie amp models are present, and pedal/effect models ranging from the ubiquitous Tube Screamer and Fuzz Face to various wahs, compressors, choruses, flangers, phasers, vibratos, tremolos, reverbs, delays and more. You can choose from several different speaker cabinets, and there is even a setting to make your humbucker sound like a single coil or vice-versa. Ease of use would suffer greatly if not for the USB connection and X-Edit software, which is a hugely functional graphic interface. Every part of the signal chain is visible on your computer screen and editable, and clicking a mouse to change your sound is far preferable to bending down to tweak a knob on the unit itself. This is a great solution to marry tons of versatility with ease of use, and should be a feature of any modern multi-effects unit.