Hands-On Review:Behringer V-AMP 2 and DigiTech Genesis 3.
During the past several years, digital modeling and high-powered processors have provided guitarists with options and control over our personal sound that we never dreamed were possible. While using these processors doesn’t equate to the experience of working with complex setups firsthand, it does provide the opportunity to utilize our traditional knowledge of amplifier and effect interaction in an exciting, comprehensive and affordable package. To that end, these two new digital desktop preamps from Behringer and DigiTech spoil us with their small size, interfacing flexibility and dazzling array of amplifier and effect simulations.
Behringer V-AMP 2
The second edition of Behringer’s highly popular virtual preamplifier, the V-AMP 2 was created from the company’s extensive experience in designing topnotch digital equipment for the pro audio market. The V-AMP 2 packs an impressive 32 amplifier models, 15 speaker/cabinet simulations and 50 artist presets into a sleek guitar-shaped housing. Its 16 24-bit effect presets include delay, flanger, echo, phaser, chorus, compressor, auto wah, tremolo and rotary cabinet, as well as several combined effects.
If that’s not enough, the V-AMP 2 has an integrated tuner, a noise gate, a compressor and nine reverb types that operate independently of the other effects. It also features stereo balanced or unbalanced 1/4-inch outputs, an auxiliary-in with level control, full MIDI compatibility and a 1/4-inch headphone jack. LEDs around each knob illuminate to show the control’s level, providing a quick visual inventory under any lighting condition. Adding to its value, the V-AMP 2 comes complete with a durable padded carry bag and a heavy-duty two-button footswitch that lets you select between the presets of one bank and the tuner.
At the heart of the Behringer is its classic selection of amplifier models, which covers everything from vintage combos to supercharged gain monsters like the Dual Rectifier. You can achieve almost any sound you desire just by choosing from the multitude of amplifier models and effects presets and then tweaking them to taste. From there, you can match any of the 15 cabinet options with any amp model for wild simulations that could only happen in the digital world. Have you ever wanted to cram a wicked rectifier preamp into a vintage 1x8 tweed cabinet? The Behringer makes it possible. The unit’s highlights include an effects mix knob and separate reverb and presence controls. These important features make changes a snap and allow you to concentrate on playing rather than on scrolling through numerical choices.
DigiTech Genesis 3
DigiTech is famous for analyzing the market, targeting an audience and delivering the goods. Through new technology and rock-solid build quality, DigiTech’s Genesis 3 demonstrates that the company hasn’t lost its standing in the race to provide consumers with a hip and innovative product that blows past the competition.
The Genesis 3 has 16 superb amplifier models, 15 cabinet models, 24-bit conversion and 48 presets. It’s further loaded with a pickup simulator, three wahs, a compressor, an acoustic simulator, a noise gate, whammy and chorus effects, 14 modulation effects, four delays and 10 reverbs. Each effect has five adjustable parameters, providing a level of control that’s greater than that of some dedicated effect pedals. The unit has stereo 1/4-inch outputs as well as a headphone stereo minijack, an S/PDIF digital output, a 1/8-inch CD-in and complete MIDI compatibility. The Genesis 3 ships with DigiTech’s powerful GenEDIT Editor/Librarian software on CD, for interfacing with your PC or Mac.
The Genesis 3’s layout is an exercise in symmetry, making it the easiest to use of the desktop units I’ve encountered. Five knobs along the bottom of the unit’s face provide basic tone and level control. Above those, three large center knobs let you select between amplifiers, cabinets and hypermodeling. Centered below the dual displays is a row of well-labeled knobs and buttons that give clear control over finite effect parameters and editing.
The focus of the Genesis 3’s appeal is its hypermodeling function. DigiTech’s GeNetX technology makes it possible to combine any two amplifiers and cabinets to create a jaw-dropping super-rig. Pressing the Warp knob allows you to select an amplifier model and cabinet type; repeat the procedure to choose a second amp-and-cab combination. When finished, turn the Warp control to blend the two rigs in the ratio desired. Green and red LEDs around the Warp dial indicate how much of each amp is in the mix. Should a particular nuance still elude you, the Genesis 3 has a fantastic cabinet tuning feature that lets you tweak the resonant qualities across three frequency bands.
The Bottom Line
With enough features and flexibility to put most pro systems to shame, these desktop dynamos are perfectly suited to any situation where space is an issue and great tone is a priority. If price point and plug ’n’ play simplicity top your want list, then the Behringer V-AMP 2 is certainly for you. While it lacks some of the frills and standout features of the top-shelf units, it’s a great sounding and reasonably priced preamp with a style all its own. DigiTech’s Genesis 3 offers extensive control over effects as well as cabinet tuning, computer software and the awesome ability to combine channels with hypermodeling technology. Additionally, its user interface is refreshingly clear and intuitive, incorporating a symmetrical design and an alphanumeric display that illustrates each adjustment’s mode, name and corresponding value. Regardless of which unit you choose, you’re sure to enjoy years of reliable performance and sonic discovery.