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This article was originally published in issue #28
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Imagine having all of the power and tonal flexibility of your favourite multi-effects unit and amp modeller in a package small enough to sit on your desk and fit in your gig bag. Now throw in an audio interface and high-quality pitch to MIDI conversion and you have the Boss GT-001, the company’s latest effects unit, designed to be both compact and powerful for studio and practice sessions. Whilst not exactly a new concept, this desktop format effects unit combined with an audio interface has never packed in so many useful features and considering the price it’s pretty astounding how much ‘stuff’ Boss has crammed into the GT-001’s diminutive chassis.
Squeezing all of the same amps and effects as the GT-100 Version 2.0 floor unit, the GT-001 houses essentially the same brain as this flagship processor, with Boss’s renowned COSM modelling technology and a wealth of classic and modern effects. These run the range from essentials such as multiple choruses, flangers, delays and reverbs to more unique algorithms such as Slow Gear, Defretter and Tera Echo. Amp models aren’t lacking either, with over twenty five to choose from, representing all of the classic clean, crunch and high gain tones you could ever need from the history of amplifier design. As a result of this shared GT-100 brain, the huge GT-100 patch library can also be used with the GT-001, offering buyers an existing array of great sounds in addition to 200 factory pre-sets built in.
Each patch can contain two individual effects chains, allowing users to either combine them for huge stereo or multi pre-amp setups with different effects on each side, or to create separate chains that can be used for switching between two different amp setups or running effects in series or parallel. The effects chains can be switched in pretty sophisticated and creative ways using a channel divide function that allows the user to switch effects chains according to specific frequencies or dynamics. Normal foot-switches can also be used for a more traditional set-up. This level of signal routing flexibility certainly gives a professional feel to the GT-001, allowing it to compete, in this regard, with units costing many times as much.
The audio interface section of the GT-001 features multi-channel 24-bit, 44.1kHz audio capture, allowing the user to record both the processed sound and a dry, un-effected track. This gives the option to monitor through the amp modelling and effects whilst capturing a dry track for reaping later on, offering a great deal of post recording flexibility and creativity. In addition to the standard 1/4” guitar input, Boss has included a high-quality XLR mic preamp with full 48v phantom power and an Aux in for connecting devices like mp3 players. An expression/control pedal input is also available allowing the user to control a vast array of parameters with either continuous or latch based controllers. The onboard outputs are high quality 1/4” jack type offering a much more useful and flexible solution than the Phono outputs used by some other manufacturers at this price point. A mini headphones jack is also included.
Capture and sound quality are very good indeed thanks to high quality 24-bit AD/DA convertors and a superb signal to noise ratio meaning that what you hear in your monitors or headphones is exactly what the audio interface captures. The mic pre-amp is more than good enough at this price range and since the mic signal can also be routed through the effects, offers a very useful vocal or miked instrument processor option for recording and live use. The interface is connected via a USB cable and requires driver installation, compatible with both Windows and OSX setups and the unit can be USB bus-powered or powered via the included AC adaptor. Driver latency can be set very low from our tests on both operating system set-ups. This is a good thing because the GT-001 also includes a great, monophonic pitch to MIDI convertor allowing you to control any of your software instruments via your guitar with very little set-up required. Tracking of both note and pitch bend data is very good indeed and, whilst you can’t play chords, as an added extra at this price it’s a fantastic feature to have for recording and even live performance.
Editing sounds can be done from either the very user-friendly front panel or via Boss’s Tone Studio, a software editor that gives a much more visually pleasing interface than the small LCD screen on the GT-001. A quick perusal through the manual will get the majority of users creating their own patches very easily, although some of the deeper features are only mentioned in the online only manual, something more and more companies are doing these days. Boss also offers a great tone library in the form of their online enabled Tone Central software, connecting users to a vast library of tones from their favourite artists that can be loaded into the GT-001 with a single click and then saved for future use.
Tonally the GT-001 is a very good performer, especially considering the price, and while its modelling features will never compete with highly expensive, professional units, it does a superb job and offers some truly fantastic and unique tones and effects for recording and practice. The unit is well built and compact enough to fit into a gig bag with no issue and offers a superb solution for mobile guitar players requiring just the guitar, GT-001 and headphones for hotel use or compact studio or rehearsal work. The number of features on board is astounding and far too numerous to mention all of them in this review, but at this price Boss has a real winner here that should appeal to many guitar players. Very much recommended!