Rocktron Utopia G300

January 1, 2010

DESIGNED TO B E VERY EASY TO USE IN performance, the Utopia G300 features an easyto- hit pair of Bank up/Down footswitches on the left side, nine preset select footswitches (all footswitches are noiseless, glow-in-the-dark types), and a built-in expression pedal with a status LED. At the top of the all-metal housing we find four knobs that you use to scroll through the presets, adjust effects parameters, and select the effect and utility functions. Once you’ve got the sounds you want, a single button push instantly stores the updated parameter values. The two-line LCD display is highly visible and its blue color looks nice against the aluminum chassis. On the rear panel is an external expression pedal control port, a USB port for recording via computer, an auxiliary input for a CD or mp3 player, an effects loop (pre-effects and programmable), stereo 1/4" outs, a headphone jack, and MIDI In and Out/Thru jacks.

Each of the G300’s 128 presets has the following effects available: compressor, delay, HUSH noise reduction, modulation (either chorus, flanger, tremolo, or pitch shift), phaser, preamp, wah, and reverb. Adjusting the effects is a simple three-step process that involves selecting the target effect with the Function Select knob, choosing a parameter (such as delay time or tremolo speed) via the Parameter Select knob, and changing the value of the selected parameter with the Parameter Adjust knob. The Function Select knob also controls the global functions of the G300, which include stereo or mono operation, speaker simulator (bypass, assign to both channels or the left channel only), HUSH offset (adjusts the expander threshold to accommodate guitars with passive or active electronics), and master volume.

Things get more involved when you start exploring the Mixer function (position 2 on the Function Select knob), which allows you to vary most of the signal levels that pertain to each preset’s configuration. These include the relative volumes of the right and left channels, the ratio of clean to effected signal, delay level, and reverb level. You can also get into the Preamp block to select different preamp types (the choices are Clean, Texas, British, Mega, and Scorch) and alter the following: gain, variac (raises or lowers the level at which saturation occurs), EQ (bass, mid, treble, presence, bright, scoop), symmetry (controls the amount of even- or odd-order harmonics in the distortion), polarity (determines which half of the waveshape is affected by the symmetry control), DX-Filter (reduces harsh high-end artifacts in all but the Clean preamp mode), and HUSH on/off. In Mixer mode you can also activate or deactivate the speaker simulator, select a speaker type (8", 10", 12", 15", and full range models are available), and vary the reactance (how tightly or loosely the speaker responds to the amp). The extensive Function Select menu also includes Tap Quantizing, which works in conjunction with the Tap button (preset button #4) to make it easier to change delay times without worrying about missing a beat.

In practice, I found the G300 to be one of the easier multi-effects units to get around on. Its control interface is very intuitive, and the only thing I didn’t like is that the knobs rub on the chassis surface if you push them all the way down on their shafts. Sonically, the factory high-gain presets tend to sound a little strident, but there are so many way to alter the response of these tones that it’s more a matter of taking some time to dial-in the sounds to suit your instrument and your tastes.

On the effects side, the G300 offers rich sounding modulations, excellent pitch shifting, and delay times of up to two seconds. There are no tape or analog delay simulations, however, and the reverb is also offered in one flavor only. You can dial in these effects extensively, of course, but some players may miss having more items on the menu. The Utopia G300 is a great choice for those who like to get very micro about tweaking their sounds. It’s also perfect for those who need to be able to control external gear via MIDI. You won’t find models of classic pedals and amps here, but if having a wide-open template for creating sounds is more important, then the Utopia G300 may be just the multi-effects processor you need

Rocktron (269) 968-3351;
MODEL Utopia G300 PRICE ($749 retail/ $489 street)
PRESETS 128 fully programmable EFFECTS Chorus, delay, flanger, phaser, pitch shift, tremolo
KUDOS Ease of use. Extensive parameter adjustment. HUSH noise reduction. MIDI capable.
CONCERNS Limited effects menu. No looping function.

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