The Digitech RP360XP Still Sounds Great, and the Software Still Sucks
I spent a few hours converting my RP500 patches to the RP360XP last night, and I discovered another serious design flaw in the Nexus software. This is beginning to look like a trend, huh?
Here it is: using Nexus, you can order effects within the RP360XP’s FX chain, but you can’t use Nexus to determine whether an effect is placed BEFORE or AFTER the amp/cab model in the chain. Digitech clearly notes in their user manual for the RP360XP that you can use the RP360’s front panel controls to place an effect anywhere you like in the chain, but YOU CAN’T DO THAT FROM WITHIN NEXUS. (Yes, the caps in this case represent me shouting.)
So what’s the big deal? Well, an effect that’s placed AFTER the amp/cab model sounds very different from one placed BEFORE the amp/cab model. In order to experiment with said effect placement, the RP360XP user MUST use the 360XP’s front panel to edit the FX chain. In other words, the user has to switch back and forth between the 360’s front panel and the Nexus software just to find out how placement of an effect before or after the amp/cab modeling will affect the sound. Yes, you heard that right: you can’t accurately program this device unless you literally have one hand on the hardware and the other on the mouse. (UPDATE March 4 2014: as per my updated comments at the bottom of the page, this is true if you are in fact using the Nexus software to edit the RP360; however, the RP360’s front panel functions are capable of accurate editing without the software, so the user has a viable alternative. See below for more information.)
Where I come from, we call that Stupid with a capital S. Digitech’s Xedit software solved this problem elegantly by using a simple switch in the Chorus/FX section to determine whether the modulation effect was placed before or after the amp/cab model. (It’s a measure of how frustratingly bad Nexus is that I am now using the word “elegant” to refer to Xedit’s barely-acceptable functionality.) How come I can’t do that in Nexus? There is no good answer to that question–I guess somebody just forgot to put it in.
Further, and even more frustrating, Nexus doesn’t follow Windows conventions for common program functionality. In other words, functions that are handled in the same, consistent way in almost every piece of Windows software–functions like save, copy, paste, and so on–are handled uniquely in Nexus, and in ways that make the program uniquely difficult to use. Why, for example, does this software use the words “import” and “export” for functions that are named “open” and “save” in every other piece of Windows software? Why, when I right-click on a patch name, do I not see a list of options (copy, paste, etc.) for that patch?
Copying a patch from one location to another should be a simple 2-step process; certainly that’s how it worked in Xedit. But in Nexus, if you want to copy a patch from one location to another, you have to:
1) left-click on the patch name in the patch list
2) Move the cursor to the other side of the screen and click on the menu bar item “copy.”
3) Move the cursor BACK to the patch list and click on the location you want to move the patch to.
4) Move the cursor back AGAIN to the other side of the screen and click on the menu bar item “paste.”
Do that a few times, and you can really get pissed off at the designers of this software. Digitech has managed to do the near-impossible: they have made a software application that is significantly less flexible and functional than the hardware it supports. Wow. Is there an award for that? Oh, and by the way, did I mention that the typeface used on the various FX images is unreadably small on my 13.5″ laptop screen?
The weakness of this software, coupled with the very minimal front-panel feature set, make this a much more difficult device to program than any multiFX box should be–indeed, much more difficult to program than any previous Digitech RP. (And I’ve owned them all, my friends.) This, along with the fact that Digitech doesn’t even have a Sound Community page up on its site for the RP360 yet, makes me wonder why–or whether–they thought they were really ready to release this thing.
I will continue to develop patches for this device, and I’m still converting my RP500 v17 set to it, but as of right now I cannot in good conscience recommend this device over an RP500. Prospective buyers please take note; used RP500s sell for less than new RP360XPs, and they do a lot more to make it easy for users to get the most out of the device.
UPDATE March 4 2014: I’ve discovered that editing the RP360 from its front panel is in fact a functional approach to programming the machine. I apologize to all concerned for my previous overstatements in this regard, and I advise those considering a new 360XP that editing its sounds from the front panel is a reasonably efficient and effective approach, meaning that the RP500 is not necessarily the preferred device. However, my comments regarding the usability of the 360’s software remain valid: it’s crap, and unworthy of the device it purports to support. Someone else, not me, needs to apologize for that.
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