RJM founder Ron Menelli set out to put a user-friendly, professional-quality switching system into the hands guitarists at an affordable price, and the RG-16 ($699 retail/$599 street) does just that. The unit combines eight Audio Loops (four independent, four grouped in series) with eight Function Switches for controlling amps (channel-switching, reverb on/off, effects loops in/out, etc.), and controls everything using an external MIDI controller of your choice. The connection to your amp or amps is made via two 8-pin DIN jacks that work with various cable/ connector types to interface with a huge variety of amps—including models by Fender, Marshall, Mesa/ Boogie, Rivera, Soldano, and VHT—and switches may be configured as latching or momentary, with an Inverse option for switches with inverted polarity. There’s also a buffer circuit, designed by Rack Systems guru Dave Friedman, that may be inserted anywhere in the signal chain. The RG-16 is powered by either a 9-volt or 12-volt power supply, and can provide phantom power to a compatible MIDI controller when using a 7-pin MIDI cable.
The front panel sports buttons and corresponding LEDs for each of the Audio Loops and Function Switches. These buttons are used in conjunction with a Write button to program the RG-16’s presets—a process that couldn’t be easier. You just press the buttons corresponding to the loops and switches you want to include in a preset, press Write, and voilà! You can save up to 256 presets in internal memory and recall them with MIDI Program Change messages, as well as use MIDI Continuous Controller messages to select an individual Loop or Function switch—which means all your MIDI controller has to do is send simple PC or CC messages, rather than complex commands. All settings may be backed up or transferred to another RG-16 using Sysex Dump.
The RG-16’s flexibility allows it to be configured in myriad ways, but we tested its basic functions with an assortment of pedals, amps that used 1/4" connectors for switching functions (cables with proprietary connectors for other types of amps retail for between $30 and $50), and a Lexicon MPX-1 effects processor. MIDI switching was via the RJM MasterMind. The RG-16 functioned flawlessly in every configuration, and the audio was highly transparent— with or without the buffer engaged—neither coloring nor diminishing the sound in any discernable way. What more is there to say? Hats off to RJM!
RJM MASTERMIND MIDI CONTROLLER
The RJM MasterMind ($349 retail/$299 street) was designed to “plug-and-play” with the RG-16, though it may be used with any MIDI device. It can send four Program Change and eight Continuous Controller messages per any of its 125 presets—arranged in 25 Banks of five. There’s an expression pedal input, as well as a Remote In for syncing multiple MasterMinds. The unit may be powered by an adapter (9-18 volts) or via phantom power from the RG-16 using a 7-pin MIDI cable.
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