Price paid: $ 319
Purchased from: Audiophile Components
Sound — 9
I use an Ibanez RG350EX loaded with Evolutions and a crappy 15w amp with EQs set to neutral. Even with the lousy amp, I could still hear the detail on the clean settings, and the distortion settings provided a reasonable amount of chunk for muting and power chords. With the noise gate, the RP500 is dead silent. But even without the noise gate, the unit produces very little hisses, and I bet that if I play someplace where there aren't many electrical devices nearby, it would be fairly quiet (I'm used to buzzes on my bigger amp anyway). The effects are great, and I bet some tweaking would produce excellent results. I was especially thrilled with the amp models because there are so many of them! Yes, they don't sound exactly like the originals, but they are so close that I don't care too much anymore. After all, I am after my OWN sound. However, some models are very useable (particularly the JCM800 emulation, I really got so close to Yngwie's sound). Overall, very interesting.
Overall Impression — 10
With the metal construction and heavy-duty switches, excellent sound, and reasonable price, this just may be the effects processor that you've been looking for. I have been playing for four years now, mostly instrumental, rock and shred. This is the missing piece of my tone puzzle. The flexibility and versatility of this unit is definitely going to appeal to a lot of guitar players Who still don't have enough dough to buy tube amps and/or analog effects. I might look for other types of effects processors if ever this gets stolen or something. But for now, this is exactly what I need.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Two days ago, I dropped a fairly heavy padlock from a 3 foot height which left an 8mm scratch near the "down" Switch. If it weren't for the metal chassis, it would have sent the RP500 to the trash bin. It is so f"ing tough, I am confident that this thing would still work even after being run over by a medium-sized car.
Ease of Use — 9
I was a complete beginner when it comes to programming presets using effects processors as complex as the RP500, but it was fairly easy to make my first patches when I finally figured how to make the distortions sound heavy enough (distorted amp + distortion stompbox), and I was able to nail Malmsteen's tone using a JCM800 amp model and a DOD250 distortion stompbox, and added a bit of reverb for that "Far Beyond the Sun" ambience. It was a fun learning experience, and I am glad I learned using the RP500.