Hands-On Review:Genesis3 from DigiTech
By Fletcher Reid
Before I start, I have to warn you - I'm a card-carrying member of Gear Junkies Anonymous! I typically run my guitar through several stomp boxes, and that's before it goes into the mixing board! The more I can twist, bend, and torture my guitar tone, the happier I am. You can imagine my bliss when I scored this gig with Musician's Friend to review the new DigiTech Genesis3GeNetX™ Guitar Processor.
GeNetX Theory 101
If you're not familiar with DigiTech's new line of processors with GeNetXTM Technology, here's the short version of what makes these revolutionary new processors so amazing. GeNetXTM technology allows you to combine your favorite amplifiers into new amplifiers that have never existed! Imagine what a cross between a clean Fender® Twin™ and a full-blown Marshall stack on eleven would sound like, and you begin to get an idea of the power of this technology. Like other amp-modeling units, GeNetX processors can simulate the amplifier and cabinet characteristics of legendary amps from Fender, Mesa, Vox, Marshall, Johnson, and Hiwatt. GeNetX Technology also models such goodies as acoustic guitar, vintage fuzz, tube combos, and more. With GeNetXTM the sonic possibilities are endless.
The Genesis3 is a desktop unit designed for the professional or project recording studio, and is the latest addition to the GeNetX family. My own studio is somewhere in-between, and the Genesis3 fit right in with no problem. It was so easy to hook it up to my system that I didn't even bother to crack open the manual. All the inputs and outputs are easily accessible and clearly labeled, and control of the unit is obvious from the get-go. Powered on, the Genesis3 is a sight to behold. Over sixty red and green LEDs and two large, bright displays light up like fireworks on the 4th of July! Three large black knobs in the middle beg to be twisted. The left knob - Amp Model - lets you pick from sixteen different amps, and the right knob - Cabinet Model - offers sixteen separate cabinet styles. Given my penchant for twisting tone, the Warp knob in the middle was the very first one I went for. WOW! As I twisted the knob the LEDs began shifting from green to red, and the tone shifted from clean to scream. The thing that really caught my ear was how it sounded getting there. Warping is not a crossfade. Ordinarily, when crossfading between two amps, the first amp gets quieter as the second amp gets louder. When Warping you hear one amplifier turn into another amplifier! With the Genesis3, the clean tone didn't so much surrender to the overdrive as it simply became the overdrive.
After jamming awhile, I opened up the well-written manual and began digesting what I had done. It seems that with each click of the Warp dial, the characteristics of the two original amp models - the green channel and the red channel - are analyzed by the AudioDNA processor, interpolated, and recombined in a way that results in unique and exciting sounds! At first, I based my HyperModels on factory presets alone. As I became more familiar with the Genesis3, I started tweaking - first the cabinet tuning to match the resonance of my Custom Shop™ Tele®, then on to making radical adjustments to the EQ of each channel preset, changing gain structures, mixing amp and cabinet models, etc. I found seemingly endless inspiration from the tones I was able to create, and before long had amassed a couple dozen original amplifier models and HyperModels of my very own. Of course, you can warp one HyperModel with another, creating truly personal sounds never before heard! With 48 user presets you can archive your coolest HyperModels for instant recall.
I've got plenty of one-trick processors in my studio arsenal and they all have their place. But sometimes it's more inspiring to have control of everything from one central location. Here, the Genesis3 shines.
The very first effect is the single coil/humbucking pickup modeler. This is a great sound tool all by itself! In single-coil-to-humbucker mode, it did a nice job of giving my Strat® that characteristic warm, thick dual-coil sound. The humbucker-to-single-coil setting added a crispness and definition to the tone that gave new life to an old Yamaha dual-humbucker electric.
Other effects include a customizable wah; compression; noise gate; Whammy (the GeNetX implementation of DigiTech's acclaimed Whammy pedal); IPS (Intelligent Pitch Shifting) that adds key-oriented harmonies to your melodic input; a modulation section that adds chorus, phasing, flanging, tremolo, and panning effects; and finally, the all-important delay and reverb modules. I found the effects were of consistently high quality and was continually amazed at the power harnessed in this small blue box!
GUI stuff everywhere
Anyone who knows me will tell you - I'm a sucker for the geek factor. As easy as Genesis3is to operate, I was stoked when I realized that I could program this thing on my computer with a graphic editor! I downloaded the latest Windows version from the DigiTech website (the Mac version is coming soon), and fired it up. It found the correct MIDI port instantly, linked up with the Genesis3, and displayed the patch I was working on, ready to edit. Presets are displayed in the left window, and an intuitive graphic representation of the Genesis3 controls fills the right window. Tabs at the bottom of the screen let you switch from model editing to effects editing (presented as a virtual rack - very nice) to controller routing.
The best thing about the software editor is the Warp screen. In the middle of the main window is a field of blue with crosshairs centered on a yellow dot. Twisting the warp knob on the Genesis3 is the same as dragging the crosshairs from the lower left to the upper right corners of the screen - you warp equal parts of amp and cabinet models. But what happens when you "color outside of the lines?" As you drag horizontally, you warp between cabinet models. Vertically, you are warping amp models. This makes it a snap to create, for example, a HyperModel that is 37% Johnson JM150 and 63% Vox AC30 amp models with 82% GeNetX 2x12 and 18% Marshall 4x12 cabinets. The amount of creative flexibility harnessed by this one simple control is truly astounding. It's always refreshing to see an interface done right!
The Genesis3 is a deep piece of gear. It is a breeze to get up and running and manages to make a complex feature set very accessible. The sounds will awaken new levels of creativity in you, and its flexibility should keep you playing for hours! With studio-quality effects, CD input, optional Control-X pedal (strongly recommended), excellent editor/librarian software for both Mac and PC, Cakewalk's PC-based Guitar Tracks 2 recording software (Mac users can also record using the Cakewalk's Metro SE software). and digital output, DigiTech has created an indispensable tool for stage or studio.