DigiTech RP90
DigiTech RP90
Roger Cooper
D
igiTech are one of the foremost names
in the effects arena, and the RP90 is the
latest in a long line of floor-mounted
multi-effects pedals from this US manufacturer.
It’s partnered by the RP70, which is identical
apart from the absence of an expression pedal
and is accordingly smaller in size, weight and
price, costing £20 less.
The two newcomers help swell the already
six-strong RP range, and even though it’s
part of the brand’s ‘budget’ line, the RP90 is
American-made. This has to be something of
a rarity these days, as almost every effects pedal
now emanates from the Far East, especially those
that target the lower reaches of the market.
Construction
The RP90 was launched last year, and DigiTech
actually prefer to call their latest creation
a modelling guitar processor; a description that
provides a clue as to what’s going on under the
bonnet of this somewhat unassuming-looking
effects unit. Like the RP70, it’s equipped with
the company’s latest piece of patented techno
wizardry — the AudioDNA2 custom audio DSP
chip. This engine endows both units with brand
new amp and effects models, while packing
in four times the
processing power of
their preceding RP
pals.
Styling is similar to
that of stablemates
such as the RP150
and RP250, but livery
is all black, rather
than their silver and
black colour scheme.
The predominantly
plastic construction
reflects the RP’s
cost-conscious
approach, although
a metal base
plate provides
a reasonably rigid
foundation and
also adds a bit
of much-needed
mass. The end result
certainly seems
sturdy enough
for home use, but
some care should
be exercised in an
on-stage situation.
Even with the
addition of an expression
88
April 2008 | performing-musician.com
Multi-effects processor
Equipped with the company’s latest modelling technology, DigiTech’s
diminutive RP90 multi-effects pedal packs a lot in at a comparatively
low price.
pedal, the RP90 assumes pretty compact
proportions, but still manages to pack a lot into
these minimal measurements. A large window
occupies the upper half of the unit, containing all
the onboard features and functions. Below this
are two metal footswitches, while the adjoining
expression pedal is located over on the right,
sufficiently far away to keep the control section
safe from straying size 10s. Occupying about
a third of the unit’s total area, this plastic treadle
is topped with rubber grip strips, providing
a reasonably large and firm foothold.
Controls and connections
Visually, the various features are laid out in pretty
logical fashion, with all effect designations
arranged in a semicircle. These consist of Pickup/
Wah, Compressor, Amp/Distortion, Equalizer,
Chorus/FX, Delay and Reverb. Additional
functions included are Preset Level, Noise Gate,
Expression, Pattern, Tempo and Level.
The respective LED indicators also form the
read-out for the tuner facility, and this array
surmounts a quartet of circular selectors. The
first accesses the Tone Library, which offers 20
different preset amp sounds, spanning a wide
variety of types and styles from Overdrive to
Acoustic. The second selector opens up the
Effects Library, comprising various post-amplifier
effect chains, again with 20 options of the most
popular aural amendments. The relative volume
of all these is governed by the next switch,
appropriately labelled ‘Effects Level’, while the
fourth is Master Level and determines the RP90’s
overall output.
To the left of this line-up are Edit up/down
buttons that select the effect to be amended and
also change the parameters of the onboard drum
machine. The latter provides 40 different patterns
and is operated by a selector over on the right.
Also here is the Store button, used to save any of
up to 50 personally modified user presets.
In the centre of the window are two Value
up/down buttons, which have a high workload,
being deployed on duties such as editing
effects, navigating libraries, adjusting levels and
changing drum patterns. Above these, a display
offers important visual indication of different
functions. In performance mode, it shows the
selected preset number, while effect value is
exhibited when in edit mode. It confirms that
a preset has been modified, and also shows the
note played when tuner mode is selected.
For further flexibility and scope, each amp and
effect model is available with multiple settings,
with these being determined by the Value up/
down buttons. Pickup/Wah includes a single-coil
or humbucker simulator, plus different types
of wah-wah. True to its title, Amp/Distortion
offers a choice of twelve amp and six distortion
models. The former are based on various famous
name examples, including Fender, Marshall, Vox,
Mesa Boogie and Matchless, while the latter
are derived from different, desirable dirt boxes,
such as the Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer and
Electro-Harmonix Big Muff.
Chorus/FX contains 12 modulation- and
pitch-bend-based effects, each with nine
settings. This selection encompasses all the
usual sonic suspects, like Chorus, Flanger, Phaser,
Tremolo, Vibrato, Rotary Speaker, Detune and
Pitch Shift. Less obvious aural alternatives on
offer are Step Filter and Envelope Filter, while
Ya Ya and Auto Ya are a couple of DigiTech
originals. The company’s famous Whammy is
another worthwhile inclusion, operated with the
assistance of the expression pedal. The latter can
actually be assigned to exercise real-time control
over different parameters of 19 appropriate
effects.
Delay is dealt with in depth via four different
models, descriptively designated Analog, Digital,
Pong and Tape, each with a selection of nine
settings. Reverb treatments are somewhat
restricted in comparison, being limited to simply
Spring, Room and Hall options.
Naturally enough, the RP90 comes
ready-loaded with factory-formulated, fixed
presets — 50, to be exact, plus the same number
of user-amendable alternatives. The former
spans numerous amp and effect selections, plus
a wide variety of different combinations. All
PerformingMusician
DigiTech RP90 £79
The latest addition to DigiTech’s RP
range boasts a bunch of excellent amp
simulations and equally impressive effects,
all allied to easy-tweaking abilities. Offering
so much for so little must make this one
of the first choices for anyone in the
market for a player-friendly, small-money,
multi-effects machine.
Sound Technology +44 (0)1462 480000
www.digitech.com
Tech Spec
RP90
• 20 tones and effects in libraries.
• 50 factory presets, 50 user presets.
• 12 amp models.
• Eight speaker cab models.
• Six distortion unit models.
• 32 effects models.
• Built-in chromatic tuner.
• 40 high-quality drum patterns.
• Built-in expression pedal.
• Mono/stereo outputs.
• Headphone output.
• Included 9V DC power supply.
employ suitably evocative titles, such as ‘Tweedy’,
‘Plexi Time’ and ‘Purple Fuzz’.
The two footswitches on the front edge
provide the necessary preset operation, but are
also put to other uses. The left side selects the
next preset down, while its opposite number
operates upwards. Pressing both simultaneously
activates bypass mode, while holding them
down together for a couple of seconds engages
the tuner. Subsequently, hitting a single switch
will exit either of these options.
The rear panel contains all connections, and
keeps these simple and straightforward. A single
input jack is accompanied by two outputs —
Left (mono) and Right. This pair is partnered by
a push-switch that provides the choice of amp
or mixer options, each optimised accordingly.
A stereo mini-jack accommodates appropriate
headphones and is located adjacent to the
socket for the 9V DC wall-wart-style power
supply included as standard.
Performance
Setup is simple, and all tasks — from basics to
the most complex programming — are made
more than understandable by the helpful
owner’s manual, which explains everything in
a clear and concise manner.
Plugging in and powering up puts the RP90 in
performance mode, appropriately enough. This
provides access to all of the onboard presets,
selected via the twin footswitches. Scrolling
through these reveals a very varied menu of amp
tones and effects, plus numerous combinations
of both.
As usual, these are dressed to impress, which
means many are somewhat over the top and
levels can vary quite dramatically, while tonal
content might also not be to personal taste. But,
of course, all can be modified to better match
gear and ears over on the user-preset side.
The ingredients of each factory-fitted example
are conveniently indicated by the relevant
illuminated LEDs of the effects display. These
constituents can then be tweaked to taste very
easily via the RP90’s player-friendly programming
procedures.
All-new presets can also be created by
employing the contents of the Tone Library
and Effects Library, with respective volumes
determined by the Effects Level control. With
20 of each to choose from and apparently 400
possible permutations, there’s certainly plenty
of scope to arrive at something suitable. In
addition, each effect has selectable multiple
settings, and this means further modifications
are possible by making use of the Edit and Value
buttons accordingly.
The onboard drum machine proves perfectly
acceptable, sounding suitably authentic and
quite punchy. The selection of the 40 available
patterns is again governed by the Edit up/down
buttons, as are tempo and level options, while
values can also be altered as required via the
Value up/down controls. The end results are set
globally and not individually stored in each of
the user presets.
Conclusion
The DigiTech RP90 is light in weight and on
the wallet. Construction isn’t as robust as some
of this model’s more expensive equivalents,
but should prove sturdy enough to withstand
normal use.
The sheer number of sonic options on offer
is pretty impressive, especially so in view of the
meagre outlay involved. Most of the modelled
amp sounds are on the button enough to more
than satisfy the average user, especially at this
price point, and only a die-hard amp aficionado
would take any issue with the aural accuracy.
The onboard effects are both expansive and
expensive-sounding, again contrasting the cost
involved. Altering effect parameters and other
programming tasks are reasonably intuitive and
certainly more user-friendly than the procedures
found on some multi-function floor pedals.
If the presence of an expression pedal isn’t
a priority, then the RP70 packs more appeal
than the RP90, as it shaves a further £20 off the
already very reasonable asking price. This brings
this feature-packed, multi-effects processor well
down into the realm of simple, single-task stomp
boxes, which has to make DigiTech’s latest sonic
modifier excellent value for money.
performing-musician.com | April 2008
89
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