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I had a few spare pounds and I had been looking at these for a while. Finally I took the plunge, went to my local music shop (Absolute Music in Poole) and laid out my £87.
Firstly, I think I might need to describe what a modelling amp is.
Over the years some great Amplifiers have been made and used, each of which has a distinctive sound. Think of Jimmy Hendrix and his Marshall Amp head with the two massive speaker cabinets each containing 4 twelve inch speakers. Think of the unique sound of Queen's Brian May and his multiple Vox AC30s. imagine having all those sounds available from a simple (OK maybe not that simple) box that synthesizes all those sounds and thousands of other combinations. Also imagine that you can connect that unit to your PC to mix and record sounds, play through your guitar amp for live performances or just plug in headphones and enjoy the full stadium rock sound whilst your nearest and dearest enjoy their fix of Corrie and East Enders.
The main console is a lovely red metallic plastic in the shape of a guitar body. It has an AC adaptor and when you plug it in there is a delightful display of flashing lights as the unit boots up. There is also a USB interface included in the pack which plugs into the headphone jack and into the computer. Also included in the pack is a CD ROM with a lite version Energy XT 2.5 which is a mixing and recording package which allows multi track recording and even has some extra effects. There are audio Left and Right outputs which can be used to send the signal to conventional guitar amps, PAs or Studio console. This means that I can record directly to the computer, just play out loud via the amp or just us the V-Amp, the guitar and headphones. It is something that I can pack and take with me when I stay away for work or even take on holiday.
So much for description, what about playability? Well, the quality of the sound is impressive, even through headphones. It is worth reading the 30 page manual to learn about all the combinations, not only of hardware configurations but also of the myriad system settings. Along the left hand edge are the the usual volume, treble, mid and bass controls. At the bottom is the master volume and at the top there is the presence control, which works a bit like the overdrive on a valve amp. In the centre of these is a rotary control which allows access to 24 pre-set amplifier models. By pressing button B this control then allows access to the 24 pre-set cabinet models. An amplifier will sound totally different through different types of speaker cabinets (normally referred to as 'Cabs') so straight away you have 24X24 different tones just from the pre-sets.
You can also create your own settings and save them to the unit and, by visiting Behringer's website and downloading more. You can upload any setting you create to the site to share with others.
The rotary control on the right hand side looks after the special effects. These include echo, delay, phaser, wah, compressor, tremolo, rotate and reverb. There is a rotary control that governs the intensity of the selected effect. The looks of the unit are accentuated by the smart red LEDs that show the position of each of the control knobs. This device is worth the money just for the light show.
There are also some settings that allow for combinations of these effects.
The case is very durable and is compact enough to carry around with you. I have even practised in the car whilst taking a well deserved lunch break by lugging in my inverter, though the travel guitar is easier to manage than the full sized Gibson.
I have been playing around with this gadget for about a week now, the more I learn about it the more I realise there is to find out.
It took a few goes to get to grips with the recording software but now that I have worked it out my rock opera is well under way and I hope to be giving up the day job quite soon.