More than just another modeler, it's a simulator, a tutor and a community...it was a very pleasant surprise.
I heard about GuitarPort from Line 6 a long time ago, I quietly thought to myself "oh, it's a more moderately priced version of their POD products". Well, I received a GuitarPort a few days ago from Line 6 to review...I must admit, it was pretty clear from simply reading the box that I was very mistaken about what GuitarPort actually is.
GuitarPort is a modeler, that much I was correct about, but it's also more, it's an amp modeler as much as an artist modeler. It comes packaged with simulations of sounds from your favorite songs in many genres. I ripped through some simulations from Ozzy, Sabbath, Sound Garden and many more, and they were very impressive.
In addition to that, it's a tutor, providing lessons and notation from famous songs, riffs and chops to teach you how that guitarist thought, wrote and played. There is also a community behind it, for a nominal monthly fee, you continue to get new lessons, new song downloads, preset sharing, message forum and much more. Each of these components will be discussed in more detail later.
What is GuitarPort?
GuitarPort is a small palm sized unit that connects to a PC via USB. The PC must be a Pentium III 500 or higher with a Windows XP, Windows 98SE, Windows ME or Windows 2000 operating system. It is noted that Cyrix and K6 processors will not work with the GuitarPort. I have an AMD Athlon XP (K7) and it works just fine.
GuitarPort will work with other Windows audio application that supports ASIO, DirectSound or MME driver types. The unit is powered by the USB cable, which is a great benefit of many USB devices.
The device also has a 1/8" input jack to run audio into it and a stereo pair of RCA output jacks to run into your sound card (I would prefer 1/4" myself), mixing console or whatever else you may need the audio delivered to, it's really only limited by your specific signal routing.
To use the online community for GuitarPort, where people trade models, songs, tabs and tips, you will also need and internet connection. This connection will also help you use the Line 6 Monkey application to keep your GuitarPort current with the latest updates to its firmware and software package.
What does it do?
Well, suffice it to say that GuitarPort does a lot. It not only has 16 amp models and 19 effects models, but it also has audio pass-through that allows one to plug in songs to play along with. The software that come with GuitarPort controls all aspects of the unit, and the GuitarPort Community has downloadable songs, articles, tutorials and lessons to keep any skill level of guitarist busy.
The software comes with loads of tone presets modeled after famous guitarists playing some of the best known works and community offers even more presets and user also share presets. Guitarists like Randy Rhoads, Eddie Van Halen, Tony Iommi, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and many, many more have presets available.
I played through many of the presets modeled after songs I recognized, such as Crazy Train from Ozzy Osbourne, You Really Got Me from Van Halen, Sweet Leaf from Black Sabbath and others, and the models are very high quality and very accurate. The tones that I could never quite dial in (I have always loved the sound of Crazy Train) I got by just clicking a mouse...after years of struggle, it's just that easy...
GuitarPort Comes with the following amp models, based on their own cutting edge technology used with their POD series of modelers:
...and the following effects:
In addition to all of this, the GuitarPort also comes with a lot of things one can expect with a unit of this type, such as a tuner and metronome, but also adds in a pretty nice hum reducer. I was really pretty surprised how well it worked without sucking all the life out of the sound as well. To use it, just don't play any notes, and press the "learn" button, it studies the hum, then reduces it. If you have a massive overdrive going and lots of hum, it may not get it all, but it always reduces it quite a lot. I wouldn't mind seeing line 6 create a VST or DirectX plugin out of that technology for use in my noise reduction software arsenal.
And That's Not All...We Haven't Covered GuitarPort Online Yet!
Sounds pretty damn cool so far doesn't it? Well, put on your seat belts, because the ride isn't over yet. After you have experimented with presets, perhaps made some of your own presets, GuitarPort Online also has original loops and grooves that you can wail over to create your own music. GuitarPort is a great tool for direct recording with your favorite multitracking application.
GuitarPort Online also has a large selection of in-depth lessons in many different music styles and aimed for all different skill levels. These lessons will introduce you to some of the most famous riffs in music, teaching you how to play them note-for-note, and studying the theory behind them explaining why they work. Lastly, and likely one of the most attractive features, is the large collection of classic songs ready to download and jam along with. GuitarPort automatically sets itself to the right sound for the song and off you go, rocking with Led Zeppelin, Steve Via, Foo Fighters, AC/DC and many, many others.
After your fingers are worn out and bleeding, and you need to take some time off, check out GuitarPort Online's collection of articles written by well known guitar players and journalists.
GuitarPort Online also has message forums, which are pretty active and full of other guitar enthusiasts.
It should be noted, that while the GuitarPort purchase gives you a free 30 days of GuitarPort Online, after that it does cost an additional $7.99 (USD) a month to subscribe to the service. Considering all the content that comes with it, if you are into jamming with your favorite songs and following the lessons that they publish, $7.99 a month is a bargain.
The GuitarPort Software
The real driving force behind GuitarPort is the software. The interface is appealing, intuitive and highly productive. The top half is the heart of the functionality. All the modeling options, stomp boxes and effects, volume, pan, presets and all other options are right there, in logical locations for quick and easy learning.
Beneath that is the GuitarPort Online content. If you are on an "always on" internet connection, each time you start GuitarPort it will update itself with the newest content from the online service, displaying the newest lessons, recent song download additions and all the other premium content from the service.
Controlling and configuring the software is quite simple, with all amp and speaker models, as well as presets, available from simple dropdown menus, the microphone selection from a checkbox, then using a cool user interface to drag the microphone close to or farther from the speaker cabinet to set the distance of the mic you want to model.
The stomp boxes and other effects are laid out in a visible chain, and the user can select a pre or post configuration for them with a simple click of the mouse. Each effect also has its own edit window for tweaking out each one just how you want it. Simply click on the stomp box or effect you wish to turn on or off, highlight the one you want to tweak and the interface will display in the context sensitive window where the microphone modeling and all other tweakable parameters display.
The one feature I would love to see any modeler be able to do, that I have never seen yet, is to be able to select two or three mics and place them at different areas in the room. GuitarPort, nor the POD, now any other amp modeler I have to date, has this yet. But, looking at the user interface for the GuitarPort, which is like the POD software interface, "Line 6 Edit", makes me think if anyone could pull it off, it would be Line 6.
GuitarPort also ships with a demo version of RiffWorks recording software. RiffWorks is a very quick and easy to use utility that allows the user to record inspiration when it hits. Users can upgrade to the full version online at an extra expense, or users can choose to purchase a bundle that includes both a GuitarPort and the full version of RiffWorks under the name "GuitarPort RiffTracker."
RiffWorks allows automated recording, so the user never has to set down the guitar, it can create layered recording, part after part for later mixdown. The application also supportd up to 7 post effects per track to tweak and twist your recorded sound as you see fit. It also includes "InstantDrummer" - a feature that creates beats that are in time with your set tempo and constantly changing fills for some added realism. The InstantDrummer is controlled by four parameters and tempo. Intensity to set the mood of the track, Variation to control the amount of evolving of the beat, Ambience and Gain to control the space and volume of the track.
I do have to say I did not check out the full RiffTracker package, so I can't comment on it, and I am skeptical of automated drums that "evolve" the beat, however, I do have confidence in Line 6...so it'd surely be something fun to give a try sometime.
My Two Cents...
I went into this review just hoping to present HRC members and visitors of HRC with another option for a lower priced amp modeler for direct recording. I have been pleasantly surprised by the product. While it is a great modeler at a very attractive price, it is also much, much more that I was unaware of...the lessons, jamming along with your favorite song and the support of a large and active online community really give this unit some great appeal to guitarists at all skill levels. I will admit, however, much of the community content is likely to be much more appealing for beginner and intermediate guitarists to help them learn theory and more advanced fingering techniques.
My personal preferences lean against yet more desktop cluttering devices, so one thing I wouldn't mind is maybe a small half-rack version would be useful for people like me. I would also prefer to have 1/4" jacks for input and output, maybe even balanced, but the RCA jacks on the unit are very nice, and the sound is very good.
GuitarPort is more than the sum of its many parts and is a phenomenal value for the price. With that in mind I am very happy to award GuitarPort HRC Recommended status. It could be an invaluable tool for people that just can't part with the higher financial sacrifice that goes with high end, cutting edge products such as the POD. The quality-to-price ratio really comes out nicely on this productand I think home studio owners on a budget (like most of us are) could really appreciate this product.
Related Forum Topics:
May 28, 2005 01:40 pm
|can print tabs
I like the idea of the access to the nice backing tracks this offers especially since they seem to have a lot of backings with vocals. But after having done a lot of experimentation, there is no way to print out conviently the tab sheets. You can do screen prints and get a piece at time but a lot of work. So I see that as a fatal flaw as I need to have written tabs in front of me to make notes and as just a convience to learning a song.
May 28, 2005 05:17 pm
it only has rca input?
editors note: No, RCA outputs...1/4" line in for guitar and 1/8" input for other sound source.
May 30, 2005 09:19 am
dB, I didn't see it mentioned so my apologies if I just missed it, but I think it might be important to let everyone know that the guitarport is built-in to the PODxt.
I prefer actually to use the guitarport software rather than the lineEdit program to tweak my patches. I do not subscribe to the online lessons etc... so I can't comment on them but I thought I might mention that the PODxt includes everything the Guitarport does for those who might not be aware.
Jul 01, 2005 11:54 am
|Cant record over backings
besides not being able to print out tabs.....
you can record over the online library of backings and process in your own recording software. The audio tracks are all in some proprietary format that doesnt allow use anywhere else but with Guitarport so that makes it kinda worthless. Also, even if you do download and use them iwth Guitarport, the backings expire after a time and cant be used so that makes it kinda worthless. Interestingly, they sponsor backings that are provided to some guitar magazines and provide them there as mp3s for use. Why not here too?
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