Blog, Hunter's Effects, Recommended Gear

Digitech’s Software and Firmware Troubles with the RP360 Continue; We Recommend the RP500 Instead

It’s been about 2 years since Digitech released the RP360 and RP360XP, two great-sounding devices. Unfortunately, in that time Digitech hasn’t seen fit to address the terrifically daunting software issues they’ve laid on unsuspecting RP360 owners. Those issues begin with a firmware update that consistently fails, leaving RP360 owners with a device that won’t work and forcing them to repeat the update procedure, over and over, until it decides to take. The Nexus application, which is the ONLY software support for backing up and reloading an RP360, apparently won’t run under Windows 10 (at least if our customers are to believed), and even when it works it doesn’t work as well as the Xedit application that supports every other RP from the 150 to the 1000.

In short, Digitech has more or less completely dropped the ball on software support for the RP360/360XP. At Huntersounds, we are sick of seeing messsages from our RP360 patchset customers telling us how much time and effort they have to put into getting these basics to work. I mean, for God’s sake, Digitech can’t make a f—ing firmware update work? That’s Comp Sci 101. Who the hell writes the code at Digitech, and why don’t they know how to make their own gear work?

Digitech RP500: buy this instead of the RP360/360XP

Digitech RP500: buy this instead of the RP360/360XP

At this point, we can no longer recommend to RP buyers that they go with the RP360 or 360XP. Fortunately, there’s an excellent alternative available. RP500s are still widely available new and used, and they now sell at the same price point as the RP360XP ($200 new, around $150 used in good to great condition). The RP500 is larger and heavier than the 360XP, but it sounds almost exactly the same, and the Xedit application that supports it is a perfectly viable piece of software that does its job without messing with your head. (In some ways the increased size and weight of the 500 are advantages, because they’re the result of a greatly expanded set of real-time performance features.)

In short, until Digitech fixes the software issues that should never have been present in the first place, and which they have failed to address for 2 years, we strongly recommend that anyone considering an RP360 or 360XP pick up an RP500 instead. Better is better, and at this point in time, taking all factors into account, the RP500 is simply better value for money. And if you’re planning to pick up one of our patchsets to go with your RP, rest assured that the patches we’ve created for the RP500 are the best we’ve done for ANY Digitech device, mainly because they take advantage of every single one of the footswitches in the 500’s expanded footswitch array.

We’re not happy about this announcement, but our first loyalty is to the people who use our patchsets in their RPs, and those people deserve a hell of a lot better than the crap software Digitech has pushed on them for the last two years with the RP360. We put a lot of time and effort into our patchset for the RP360/360XP, and we look forward eagerly to the day we can announce that Digitech has fixed these issues. In the meantime, buyer beware the RP360/360XP.

Blog, Hunter's Effects, Hunter's Music, Recommended Artists & Recordings, Recorded Performances (live and otherwise)

The new record is taking form

A couple months ago I announced on this blog that I’m getting ready to make a record. The shape and sound of that record is coming into focus.

For a start, it’s going to be stripped-down. I’ve realized that the stuff I’ve most enjoyed playing in the last few years–such as the gig I played with Lowands at the Windmill last month, and the work I did a few years ago with Brian Maw–is stuff where I’m one of a very few players on stage. I need sonic room to play out my conception of what harmonica does in a band. I can’t express that conception when I’m struggling to find space for the instrument behind (and I do mean behind) a wall of guitars and keys.

So this record will feature guitar, harmonica, and drums for the most part–the same lineup that backed Little Walter on his great recordings. That doesn’t mean it’s going to sound like Walter. The sound I have in my head is something like Morphine meets The White Stripes: big sounds from minimal instrumentation, low, dark, with big grooves burning underneath. I’ll use the looper with my RPs to create layers of harmonica, of which there will be a-plenty. There’ll be various flavors of blues involved, as there is in almost everything I do, but the overall sensibility is rock.

I’m writing lyrics daily now, and writing music to fit those lyrics. That’s the opposite of the way I’ve always worked; I’ve always started with a groove, gone to a song structure from there, and then to the lyrics. But starting with the lyrics seems to be working for me now, and I’m going to stick with it. I saw a documentary on Carole King, and it turns out that that’s how she worked–her collaborators delivered lyrics to her, and she’d write the music. (In the case of “Too Late Baby,” apparently it took her about an hour from the moment she first saw the lyric sheet. Genius ain’t slow.)

So the songwriting is underway, the lyric sheets are piling up, and the music is coming into focus. Pretty soon the planning for the sessions will begin. My producer and I have discussed the players, and we’re clear on who we want and where we plan to record. I’m figuring to launch a Kickstarter campaign in the next couple of months, and to to do the recording sometime in the second half of this year.

Pretty exciting, huh? I’m looking forward to making a great record. Here’s a taste of what’s coming. “50 Grand” is a blues with a rhumba beat, and it features two harmonica parts: one with an amped sound that’s a dead ringer for some of my favorite Charlie Musselwhite tones, the other with a tenor sax sound, both sounds courtesy of the Digitech RP500. The harp parts were recorded with my favorite harp recording setup: Audix Fireball V mic into Digitech RP500 into the computer via USB. The drum track is generated by EZDrummer 2; nothin’ fancy, but it’s a demo. I played the bass and keyboard parts. I don’t expect to use keys on the album much, but I don’t play guitar, so the demo’s got keys. I can stand it if you can.

It’s just a demo, but I like the greasy (pronounced “gree-zee”) groove on it, and the lyrics have a lot of black comedy in them. I also like the part of the second solo chorus that’s harmonized in 6ths, a plenty cool sound that I don’t think I’ve heard from anyone else. It’s the kind of thing you can do with a Fireball mic, and can’t do with a bullet, because a bullet would just make an ugly smear from those chords.

Enjoy.

“50 Grand” by Richard Hunter. Copyright 2016 by R Hunter/Turtle Hill Productions, all rights reserved

Blog, Hunter's Effects

An Open Letter to Digitech: Let’s Get With the (Software) Program

Yo Digi-folks,

I’ve been an avid user of Digitech’s products since roughly the year 2000. I own four loopers made by Digitech, and nine Digitech RPs of various sizes, shapes, and capabilities. I don’t need to be convinced that the hardware works very, very well. What I need is better software, and I think it’s well past due.

Digitech’s software for managing the configuration of RP devices is a little better–not enough, but a little–than most of their competitors’s offerings, except of course for Line6, whose software makes Digitech’s look like something created by a dyslexic kindergarten student. On the other hand, I can’t even get Korg’s crap software for their Pandora devices to recognize the Pandora. Their user forum has plenty of similar complaints from disappointed Pandora owners, among whom I no longer count myself.

Digitech’s Xedit is a reliable program, and its functions include all the essential ones: save and load individual patch setups and the entire contents of the device, move patches around on the device, and so on. It’s easy enough to use, and it works. But Digitech took a big step backward with the software for the RP360 and 360XP; the Nexus program used with those devices doesn’t permit drag and drop changes to the patch list, and the firmware update that they demand you do after purchase is a straight-up nightmare. Even more shocking, Digitech hasn’t produced software for converting patches from one RP model to another since they introduced the RP350–I guess that’s, like, ten years ago? So if you want to convert patches from ANY RP device to the RP155, 255, 355, 500, or 1000, you’re out of luck. I would think that any marketing professional with half a brain would realize that the absence of such software is a strong disincentive for RP users to upgrade their devices to better RPs, but perhaps I don’t understand marketing; maybe it’s a more powerful incentive to have to throw away all the great sounds you’ve already created in order to upgrade your device. (That’s Bizarro-Superman logic: me thirsty, me want sand; me want people to buy my new devices, me make it harder for them to carry over their work from the old ones.)

Digitech’s software for its loopers has exhibited the same worrisome trend. JamManager XT offers no functionality that was not present in JamManager, and in some ways it’s more difficult to use, because the various functions are spread around the interface in non-intuitive ways. Some functionality is crippled in weird ways; why, for example, can’t I export a loop to audio from my looper’s internal memory directly, instead of having to put it in the library first?

The fact is that we’re not in Kansas anymore, Digi-folks. A physical device that only talks to itself is less and less useful going forward. Software that makes it easy for me to set my device up, order its contents, and restore it to a previous configuration on a moment’s notice is a necessity, not an option. Software that reminds me how little a manufacturer cares about me and my device management issues, every time I use it, is not helpful to me or anyone else.

I said above that Digitech’s competitors–well, some of them, anyway–aren’t doing much better with this stuff. So Digitech might comfort themselves with the idea that they’re not any worse than anyone else (which of course is untrue–see my previous comments re: Line6). I’d think instead about how much more competitive the products could be if only the software was as good as the hardware. Or about how ridiculously stupid Digitech’s software looks alongside Line6’s.

What do you think, Digi-folks? Ready to take your software game to the next level? I sure hope so, and not just for my sake.

Blog, Hunter's Effects, Recommended Gear

Looping with the Pigtronix Infinity

Pigtronix Infinity Looper:  more bucks for more power

Pigtronix Infinity Looper: more bucks for more power

I’ve been using the Digitech JamMan Solo XT, Jamsynced to an Express XT, for a few months now. It’s a decent setup for multi-track looping, and certainly the most powerful setup at anything near its price point, but it’s got some issues where live performance is concerned. In particular, you can’t erase the latest layer in a loop on either pedal easily or instantly–you have to hold the pedal down for three seconds to do so. Ditto for clearing a loop. The Jamman Stereo is a more flexible device in that regard, but it doesn’t offer the flexibility in layering that you get from a Solo XT connected to another looper via Jamsync. What’s a looping musician to do?

Read more

Blog, Discography, CDs, Projects, Info, Notes, Hunter's Effects, Recommended Artists & Recordings

Recording for the next Richard Hunter record begins in July!

It’s been over a decade since my most recent CD was released. In the meantime, I’ve been busy with lots of stuff; I wrote three books, I saved my wife’s life a couple of times, and I created a revolutionary new way for harmonica players to get loud. So I haven’t exactly been lying on a couch eating chocolates since 2005.

But enough is enough. It’s time for the next Richard Hunter record, and this one will be electric. It’ll have plenty of looped textures, plenty of jams, and plenty of big freakin’ harp sounds. It’ll take full advantage of everything I’ve learned in the last 15 years about the harmonica as an instrument for the 21st century.

There’ll be plenty of news coming about this project in the next few months, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I’m very excited about this opportunity to lay down a major statement about the future of the harmonica. Now excuse me while I go write some songs…

Blog, Hunter's Effects, Recommended Gear

We’ve shipped the first update to our Zoom G3 patchset!

Our first update to our patch set for Zoom G3 was released to our licensees today. For this update we’ve reconfigured a number of our basic bread-and-butter patches to be louder, clearer, and better able to reject feedback. We’ve also included an alternative layout for the patches that mixes up the bluesy, clean, and far-out patches for a different, thrilling kind of playing experience that changes the way you hear the harmonica. (Can you tell that this alternative layout is our favorite?)

The Zoom G3: we're gonna keep it fresh

The Zoom G3: we’re gonna keep it fresh

We’re committed to making sure that our patchsets give harmonica players the best sounds they can get, stuff that will let them approach any performance with the confidence that their setup will sound great no matter the style. We’re glad to offer this free update to subscribers who’ve licensed our patch set within the last 12 months (which at this point is all subscribers, because we began offering the set in late January 2015, i.e. less than one year ago). This version will be standard for licensees going forward (pending further updates, of course).

Audio/Video, Blog, Hunter's Effects, Recommended Artists & Recordings, Recommended Gear, Recorded Performances (live and otherwise)

A Little (Harmonica) Organ Music for Christmas

As I have for a while now, I’m exploring the sounds I can make with a harmonica and two amp modelers running in parallel. I recorded this piece with a Digitech RP500 running a patch that combines a Champ amp model with a rotary speaker, paired with a patch on the Vox Stomplab IG that includes a low octave, an autowah, and a tough amp model. There are some subtle and not-so-subtle things going on here.
Read more

Blog, Digitech RP Tricks and Tips, Hunter's Effects, Recommended Gear

RP Tip #26: Set the AMP/MIXER Button

Digitech RPs have a button on the back panel labeled “Amp/Mixer.” We get a lot of questions about that button, all of which boil down to “which way should I set that button?” To answer that question we need to start with “what exactly does that button do?”
Read more

Blog, Hunter's Effects, Recommended Gear

We’re ending development of new patches for recently discontinued Digitech RPs

We’ve been making patchsets for the Digitech RPs since the early 2000s, when we started with the RP200. We’ve designed some great sounds for these devices, and we’ll continue to do so.

However, when a manufacturer stops making a device, there’s no point in continuing to develop new sounds for it. And that’s what Digitech’s done with their RP line from the 355 on down. They’re all discontinued.
Read more

Blog, Hunter's Effects, Recommended Gear

RP500 Patch Update #1 is Here!

Our first update to the Huntersounds patch set for Digitech RP500 was shipped to all our RP500 licensees today (16 October 2015). This update contains 23 patches, all designed to make full use of the RP500’s array of footswitches to enable a player to easily add or subtract multiple FX from the mix in real time. It’s a live performer’s one-stop solution for a box full of big, colorful sounds coupled with plenty of realtime control. I even included some stuff to help loopers build fat layers of tones from the ground up.

Digitech RP500: uh huh

Digitech RP500: uh huh


I guess my pride is showing, but y’know, I really like the RP500, and I’m delighted to share my latest setups with our licensees. If you’ve previously purchased our patch set for RP500 and have since changed your email address, please send us an email that includes your old and new email addresses, and we’ll make sure you get the update.

Our next step is to set these sounds up for the RP1000, followed by the RP360. Stay tuned.

« Previous PageNext Page »