Ah, just found this review on the net:
The GSP-1101...In Review
DigiTech FINALLY makes good on the promise of digital modeling
First off, let me say that while I prefer analog gear, I am of the "if it sounds good, it IS good" school of thought, so a well made piece of digital gear is just fine by me.
That being said, since digital modeling technology has hit the market I have been less than impressed with the offerings over the years. I've owned a few different Line 6 Pods, a Line 6 Flextone III amp, a Boss GT-Pro and I've spent several hours with various other modeling products from Vox, Roland, Marshall, Fender, etc. and, with the exception of the Line 6 Echo Pro rack, Line 6 Verbzilla, and the Boss DD-20, I haven't been overly impressed with any of them...especially the amp models and distortion sounds.
One unit that I took a chance on recently was a DigiTech EX-7 Expression Factory. This was a major deal for me as I have been the biggest critic of DOD/DigiTech gear for the last 15 years. I've just never been satisfied with it, whether it was the features, the sound quality, the long gaps between program changes, etc. I basically vowed to write them off until they at least had seamless program changes. For me, if a unit doesn't do that, it's pretty much useless.
Anyway...I was very impressed with the versatility and sound quality of the Expression Factory. I did end up selling it when I needed the money, but when I had it, I used it a lot in the studio...my only beef was that it could do so much, I would need at least two or three of them on stage to use live unless I wanted to be tweaking knobs all night...but the sound quality was great, the wah, vibrato, Whammy, chorus, etc. all sounded great. The distortion models weren't amazing, but they were functional and still some of the better digital distortion models I had yet to hear.
So with renewed interest in things DigiTech (and a desire to get some of the same sounds I was getting with my now sold EX-7) When I heard that DigiTech was coming out with the GSP-1101, I was very interested in seeing what it could do and I picked one up at AMS. Folks...I was not prepared for what I experienced.
While the GSP-1101 is not without it's faults... they are minor compared to the sound quality and functionality of this unit. This is beyond a shadow of a doubt, the best sounding, well built, digital modeling unit under $1000 on the market today...Period!
Let me start the actual review with my review setup...Basically I use vintage style single channel tube amps (this one in particular was a Emery Sound modded Fender Blues Jr. with a Celestion Greenback speaker) a variety of nice analog pedals (FoxRox/Keeley/Analogman/Skreddy/ElectroHarmonix/etc.) and an American Standard Tele with a Dimarzio Fast Track 2 in the bridge and a Fender Noiseless Tele neck pickup). Live I use a Plexi and a Twin in stereo or Valvetech Hayseed 30 heads (well...I will in a couple of weeks when they arrive). Live I will be running the 1101 in one of the loops of my DMC Ground Control Expander and using it for effects only (no amp/cab models), but for review purposes I ran the guitar straight into the 1101 and into my amp.
Setup was a little tricky but not too bad. There is a single output knob and no clipping LED...I suspect that this unit has so much headroom that the LED isn't necessary (I cranked the unit well past unity gain and still no distortion from the unit itself), but it would still be nice to have. There was also no input level control...again, it didn't seem to need it as my guitar (which has really hot pickups) didn't cause the unit to go into audible distortion. It's best if you have a true bypass loop box of some kind so that you can not only hear how the bypassed unit affects your tone, but also to make it easier to set the unit for unity gain.
I found the bypassed signal to be very strong, clean and very much like the sound of my setup with the guitar plugged straight into the amp. As far as I'm concerned, this is the first and most important test for ANY rack processor...if it doesn't sound good bypassed I return it...and I've done so with many other units. It's a real sticking point for me and I won't compromise on this at all. With my amp, guitar and GSP-1101 all set and ready to go, I'm ready to check out the effects.
Now...if you're like me, the first thing you do is go to the first user patch location and turn off all the effects, noise gates, EQ's, etc. and start from scratch. From there I proceeded to audition each effect on it's own to get an initial impression of the quality of the particular effect and, if it's supposed to be modeling a particular effect, make any direct comparisons to the actual unit it's supposed to be modeling. That being said...the GSP-1101 is DEEP! There's a seemingly endless supply of effects on hand...but what makes this particular unit shine over many other lesser products out there on the market today is that MOST of them are actually useful and do what they're supposed to do. There's not a lot of filler effects in the GSP-1101.
I have to admit I usually hate digital distortion/overdrive/fuzz/compression/etc. and have mostly used digital for modulation, delay, reverb and pitch shifting effects, but the GSP-1101 is the first digital unit I have used that I would actually consider using the digital distortions in a live situation…I'm mostly a overdrive and fuzz guy…I'll also use medium gain distortions and generally avoid most of the high gain stuff unless I'm donging around on metal riffs at home or something. I compared the GSP-1101's overdrive and fuzz models to their analog counterparts and a ZIM with a VT card in channel A and a T+2 card in channel B and a Skreddy Top Fuel and I have to say only the Big Muff model didn't quite nail it as convincingly as I would have liked. The rest were pretty spot on…again…I've never heard a digital unit that nail these tones before…in fact, the GSP-1101 nails the Boss DS-1 sound even better than the DS-1 model on the Boss GT-Pro rack. Somehow they really nailed the midrange complexity and low end authority that previous distortion modelers have lacked…the highs were not sussy and diffused. I honestly can't even begin to properly convey how impressed I am with the od/dist/fuzz models.
The compressor models also stand up well to their analog counterparts. The Dyna Comp model was particularly spot on.
Everything you may have loved about the Digitech Expression Factory can also be found here, but again, with better sound quality. The wah models were mighty impressive as was the Whammy.
The modulation effects section is huge and complete…some of my favorites were the Small Stone, CE-2 (compared very favorably to my pre 2000 analog Boss CE-5), Whammy, all the Tremolo models, the Vibrato and Univibe models (both were very impressive) and the Electric Mistress models. The Modulation section even has a "pre/post" option for running the effects pre or post preamp. Even with the preamp disengaged, the tone of the effect changes in a manner that you would expect by running the effect pre-preamp or in your effects loop. Very cool.
The delay section was equally impressive as far as tone was concerned…While not as extensive as say, the Line 6 Echo Pro rack, the basics are covered and covered well…there's a few different analog delays (which compared favorably to my Ibanez AD-9), a tape echo, digital delay, modulated delay, etc. I compared my Deluxe Memory Man to the Modulation Delay and I got pretty damn close to nailing the sound…I found adding a little compression got me even closer to the tone and feel. While many of the other models have the same functions as their analog counterparts, I was a little disappointed to find there was no chorus/vibe switch for this model. This is a small complaint. Most of the delays can do repeat/hold and have up to 5 seconds.
The reverbs were really great. Harmon bought out Lexicon and they have featured a few of their reverb algorithms along with a nice plate reverb model and a spring reverb model. The only complaint I have here is the "spring" effect is triggered by volume peaks and it can sound a little unnatural at times…sometimes the pulse of the tremolo model is enough to set it off, but it can be worked around.
Of course there's all kinds of MIDI control and signal routing options.
As far as complaints go (other than the one's I mentioned above), I'll list them in no particular order…
EASE OF EDITING: OK…it's relatively easy, and the included editing software is the model of efficiency and makes creating sounds a breeze, but away from my computer I find the rack's interface to be a little too cumbersome. I would prefer to be able to adjust the various parameters of that effect with the 5 knobs that are used for the "preamp" section. I don't really plan to use the preamp section much and it would be great to hit a "Modulation" button use the big knob to select a particular effect type and tweak the individual parameters with the 5 smaller knobs.
REAR PANEL INPUT (in addition to the front panel input): This is a must. The front panel input is reasonably sturdy and well implemented, but not everyone's setup is optimized for one. Having both a front and rear panel input is a much better way to go.
MORE DELAY MODELS: While the delays that are here sound great, there's room for some cool "effecty" delays like a reverse delay or a lo-res delay, etc.
That's pretty much it. The DigiTech GSP-1101 is a mighty impressive piece of equipment, especially for the money. In my mind it's the first commercially available unit to deliver on the promise of modeling technology…This is where I get on the digital bus.