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Digitech RP360XP or RP500? Here’s how I make up my mind

I published most of this post in a response to a question posted in the comments here. I figured that it was worth publishing as a post in its own right. So here are a half dozen things I think about when I’m choosing between a Digitech RP360XP and an RP500.

1) If you intend to change sounds in performance–or to add and remove elements of a sound, such as distortion or a modulation effect–frequently, I strongly recommend the RP500 over the 360. It sounds very good, it’s larger than the RP360 but not too large for a shoulder bag, and its dedicated footswitches make it very, very easy to manage lots of changes to your tone in performance. There are dedicated footswitches for tap tempo for your delay, for compression/FX/delay/reverb on and off, etc., all of them very useful when you’re on stage and want to create a dramatic moment or two. There’s even a dedicated button for turning the amp and cabinet modeling on and off. In my side-by-side tests of the RP500 and the RP360 running the same patch setups, the differences in sound are very slight, often unnoticeable, and in my opinion not enough to force the decision one way or the other.

Digitech RP500 at top right

Digitech RP500 at top right

2) If you don’t change sounds frequently in the middle of a song, are willing to spend (plenty of) time programming footswitches patch by patch for the 360’s “stomp” (stompbox) mode, or are happy to mainly use the expression pedal to change a particular aspect of your sound in performance, such as the speed of a rotary speaker effect, the RP360 will work well for you. However, let it be known that editing the RP360 must at this point be done mostly from its front panel; Digitech’s Nexus software is a very poor option for editing the device’s setup, adding time and pointless repetition to the task instead of making it easier. Whether edited via the front panel or Nexus, stomp mode footswitch settings can be made only on a patch-by-patch basis. The RP500’s on-off switches dedicated to compression, distortion, FX, delay, and reverb cover most of the really dramatic facets of the sound, are easier to learn (because they’re the same for every patch), and don’t have to be programmed patch by patch, which saves a lot of time when you’re setting the device up for performance.

The RP360XP: great sounds, s--- software

The RP360XP: great sounds, s— software


3) The RP360XP is lighter and smaller than the 500, so just a little easier to haul around–not enough to make it my preferred device for any occasion, but enough to make it a consideration when size and weight are very important.

4) If price is very important, the RP360XP wins out, because it’s two-thirds the price of the 500. However, in the USA at least used RP500s in very good condition are widely available at or even below the price of a new RP360XP. (And of course there are no used 360s on the market at this time–give it 6-12 months and there will be.) I bought my 500 used for about half the price of new, and it’s been working fine for over two years. So price may not be a real differentiator.

5) If you intend to do a lot of sound design, the 500 wins hands down, because its software (Xedit) is far, far superior to the crippled excuse for a patch editor that Digitech has supplied with Nexus. Digitech’s history where its software support for the RPs is concerned is pretty discouraging in this regard, and I wouldn’t count on them to fix Nexus anytime soon. They might, but they very well might not, too.

6) Finally, the RP360XP runs on both Euro and US-standard wall power–220 volts or 110 volts. Pretty cool if you play gigs on multiple continents.

That’s my list of decision points, summarized here:

  • Frequent and varied realtime changes in sound needed: advantage RP500
  • Size and weight matter: advantage RP360XP
  • Price matters: advantage RP360XP (if you’re buying new at retail prices; otherwise this is a wash)
  • Sound design matters: advantage RP500
  • Different wall power standards matter: advantage RP360XP


  • I’ve left out factors that might matter a lot to some people. I haven’t figured the looper on the 360XP or the 500 in to the equation, because I use an external looper in my chain that’s more capable than the looper in either box. (The Digitech JamMan Stereo, to be exact.) So add in any additional factors that matter to you.

    Since I own both devices, I’m currently making my decisions on a gig-by-gig basis. I’m taking the RP360XP to my gig in Milan next week, but I’m still using the RP500 as the go-to device for my solo performances, where I need as much flexibility in shaping the sound in real time as I can get. So for me it’s horses for courses. If you’re only going to get one, go with the course that’s most important to you.

    Comments

    17 Responses to “Digitech RP360XP or RP500? Here’s how I make up my mind”

    1. Sabas Gonzalez says:

      Hi, Richard!

      Good list of points to help anybody decide wich one to get, me included if I get to that point; really valuable information “not provided in the manuals”. Thanks for that.

    2. mark crowley says:

      hi Richard,

      I have been happy with a mic going through a reverb then to Line selector pedal that gives a blended mix of an effect (blonde – set to clean) and the raw mic signal (after the reverb). That blend has then gone to a powered spkr.

      Can either the 360xp or 500 do that blend mix internally – or would you still need a Line selector pedal before the digitech device?

      thanks for all your info on these devices.

    3. Richard Hunter says:

      I don’t think the RP can do the blend internally–it’s not an FX send, it’s an inline effect, so you’ll still need your line selector. R

    4. Key question: does RP360 or RP500 allow to give you octave up, octave down and rotary at the same time?

    5. Richard Hunter says:

      No, you can still only do one modulation effect at a time, and the patch you’re describing needs 3: 2 pitch shifters and a rotary.

      The Zoom G3 doesn’t have a rotary speaker effect, but you could use two pitch shifters and a vibrato on the G3. The shifters will operate in series, not parallel, so you’ll be shifting everything in the chain that precedes a given pitch shifter, including other pitch shifters. That means that an octave up followed by an octave down will produce:
      – an octave up
      – an octave down, AND
      – a doubled original pitch (because the octave up will have been shifted down an octave by the second pitch shifter). The double will have been pitch-shifted twice, so will sound pretty electronic.

      I assume the intent is to create an organ sound. This should work. Putting vibrato speed under footpedal control will help too.

    6. That’s pity, hoped Digitech solved this limitation, so I keep using Line6…

    7. Richard Hunter says:

      Can you run multiple pitch shifters on the Line6, and can you run them in parallel?

    8. Jason says:

      My Luck! I have a RP360xp on the way (due for delivery today) and got a great price on barely used. Wouldn’t you know that today a RP500 shows up on the local craigslist for $120, a little less than I paid for the 360. Oh well, maybe I’ll pick up both and decide from there. My only experience with this line is an older rp150.

    9. Richard Hunter says:

      Either the 360XP or the 500 is a BIG step up from the 150. I think you’ll be pretty close to amazed with either one.

      I took the 360XP with me to Italy for a recent performance and recording sessions, and it worked great for both. In particular, the thing records like a dream: big, bold, beautiful.

      If you have the cash to score the 500, I would. Putting the two side by side will certainly help you figure out which one you want to see at your feet in a performance. And if you got both for a great price, you can easily sell one without a loss.

    10. Line6 allow to stack any possible effects in any sequence, limited only by DSP limit and your imagination , e.g. it’s impossible to mix two amps in parallel, two pitch shifters, delay and reverb, too much, while reducing to ane amp can be ok. Just tried 5 pitch shifters in sequence and it works (although useless). Just tried two pitch shifters, delay, reverb, noise gate, rotary and simple amp model and it works, but adding extra distortion is impossible because of DSP limit.

    11. Richard Hunter says:

      So with the Line6 you still have to run FX in sequence? The POG and HOG allow you to run pitch shifters in parallel, which is really what you want if you’re looking for an organ sound.

    12. You can use them both in parallel and serial. To be honest, I use them serial, this gives me more organ-like tone. To get my organ tone I use 3 pitch shifters: one octave down mix 50%, one octave up mix 50% and two octaves up and I associate mix from 0 to 50% to a “TWEAK” knob. Then I add rotary and it allows me to use one knob for rotary speed, another one for adding hi overtone.

    13. Mehdi says:

      Hi, could you please tell how the RP 360 sounds?
      I’ve never tried a Digitech but I’ve always heard that it sound like a toy?
      Thanks

    14. Richard Hunter says:

      Hi Mehdi,

      The Digitech RPs in general sound great. They are not toys. Feel free to listen to the samples on this site–they should tell you what’s inside that box. Try this for a start:
      http://www.hunterharp.com/live-from-alpine-wines-31-aug-2013-have-mercy/

    15. Eugene Ryan says:

      Hey Richard,

      I was quite surprised to find that the RP500 is now 6 years old. One one hand, this makes it a good deal as it can be found for pretty low prices; on the other hand, I’m a bit concerned it will be “end-of-lifed” soon if I was to pick one up. Any sign of them deprecating the RP500, if you know?

      Thanks,
      Eugene

    16. Richard Hunter says:

      Hi Eugene, how’re things in Dublin? Anyway, the RP500 is based on the AudioDNA2 chip, which is the same chip found in the RP360XP. It sounds great–the tones it produces are not going to be obsoleted anytime soon. I doubt that they’ll abandon the 500 soon, and even if they do, they’ll be able to service it for years to come. So I would buy without fear.

    17. Eugene Ryan says:

      Thanks Richard,

      Things are going well in Dublin. Must catch up some time soon.

      Well, things might be a bit accelerated regarding getting rid of my old amp modeller – I was using my (at this stage very) old RPx400 on a gig last week and it did a factory reset mid set. I managed to get to it before it fed back and hit the double footswitch bypass. I know that a lot of devices can do this but in addition to it now asking for footswitches to be recalibrated on startup, I’m pretty nervous about using it.

      That RP500 sure looks good from here! It’s now about only 20 bucks more expensive than the RP360XP.

      Eugene

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