RECORDING QUALITY GUITAR SOUNDS ON YOUR laptop has been made incredibly easy with the introduction of Guitar Rig Mobile ($99 street). The system comprises a cell-phone-sized 24- bit, 192kHz interface with a USB 2.0 connection and 1/4" input and output jacks. The package also includes Guitar Rig 3 LE software, which gives you two guitar amps (Twang Reverb and Lead 800), a bass amp (Bass Pro 8x10), 12 cabinet models, and 12 effects. There are also two “tape decks,” a metronome, and a tuner. Don’t worry about having to trudge though a manual to get going on GRM, as NI has pared down the directions to a Quick Start guide and a ten-step setup page. The system is buss powered, and it runs either stand-alone or as a plug-in on both Macs and PCs (see the NI website for specifics and system requirements).
Though the low price and ease of use make getting into Guitar Rig Mobile an attractive proposition, the quality of the sounds will make you glad you did. Whether you pick from the 15 “Signature” presets (classic tones of famed players such as Eddie Van Halen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Billy Gibbons, the Edge, etc.) or create you own sounds using the 17 Twang presets (clean Fender-style models), ten Lead 800 presets (Marshall-style amp models), 25 bass models, or 11 GO presets (which are matched to the specific output and sound spectrum you get from single-coil and humbucking pickups), what you’ll quickly appreciate is the realism of the sounds, and the fact that your performance is not affected by latency.
Tested through a new MacBook (OS X version 10.5.6, 2GHz processor speed, 2GB of RAM), the Guitar Rig 3 LE amp and effects selections recorded beautifully and sounded excellent when pumped though monitors for live use. The touch responsiveness and dynamic feel of the modeled sounds made it a snap to get suitable tones for jazz, blues, country, rock, and metal. I just selected an appropriate amp type, dialed it in using the virtual amp’s knobs, paired it with a speaker cab to get the response I was after (big differences abound between the 10" and 12" “loaded” open- and closed-back types), and added effects. The distortion pedals (Skreamer, Demon), modulators (Chorus + Flanger, Phase Nine), EQs (Graphic, Autofilter, Real Wah), other processors (Volume Pedal, Noise Gate, Stomp Compressor), and reverbs (Studio Reverb, Delay Man) sound excellent, and are easy to dial in. You can also use the two onboard tape decks for practicing parts, looping, or making sketchpad demos (drum, bass, keyboard, synth, guitar loops, and vocal samples are provided). You could also import your own WAV files into the GRM’s tape decks and jam to them if desired. All considered, Guitar Rig Mobile’s state-of-the-art interface and excellent-sounding amplifier and effects models make it a great choice for those who want the convenience of using a laptop computer for recording and/or performing.
- Art Thompson