Fast FactsApplications: Studio, live sound
Key Features: Floor pedal board, rackmount processor; 24-bit; onboard DSP; 100 factory presets;200 user presets; onboard tuner; USB port; MIDI I/O.
Contact: TC Electronic at 818-665-4900, www.tcelectronic.com.All-inclusive guitar systems have been a dime a dozen over the last several years. The problem is that until now, all of the systems have been designed with the thought that a guitar player will be happy with a single piece of gear. I don’t know any guitar player who is ready to trade in his Big Muff, Tube Screamer or even Rat pedal for some overdrive emulation algorithm programmed into a chip, yet the guitar systems out there traditionally aren’t designed to integrate these audio gems. That is until now.
The TC Electronic G-System is a floor-based multi-effects processor that allows the simultaneous use of up to nine internal effects. It also includes four switchable mono loops and one additional loop/insert point dedicated for preamps for the easy integration of the player’s current equipment. The G-System even provides four 9V DC outlets to power the integrated pedals.
The G-System ($2,245) is perhaps the most beautifully-designed piece of guitar equipment that I’ve ever seen. The anodized aluminum front and painted steel chassis has a look of elegance and is both modern and classy. The unit measures 20.2 inches x 10.5 inches x 4.1 inches and weighs 17.2 lbs. (7.83 kg). It has a 2 x 20 character STN-LCD display and a 20 x 7 dot-matrix display. All of the features are accessed via 18 illuminated footswitches (six with built-in rotary encoders). The frequency response of the G-System is 20 Hz to 20 kHz (+0.0 dB/-0.4 dB) with a dynamic range greater than 95 dB. The THD is less than -80 dB, 20 Hz to 22 kHz, -1dBFS. The A/D and D/A conversion is 24 bit, 128 x oversampling bitstream, DSR.
The G-System consists of two main parts, the Control Board and the GFX01. The Control Board is the floor board that includes two 1/4-inch stereo jack connectors for expression pedals and an RJ45 connector for connection to the GFX01. The GFX01 is a 19-inch rack unit that contains the signal processing unit, connectors for loops, the power supply etc. The default setup has the GFX01 mounted underneath the Control Board making the G-System an all-in-one floor processor. If the user prefers to have all of the loop connectors to the pedals and a preamp neatly packed away in a 19-inch rack instead of spreading them all over the floor, the Control Board can be easily detached from the GFX01 and mounted in a rack.
The majority of the processor’s connectors are located on the rear panel of the GFX01. The 1/4-inch input connector provides instrument input. If the G-System is separated and the GFX01 is mounted in a rack, the input on the front panel can be alternatively used. Four pairs of 1/4-inch connectors provide access to loops 1 to 4. All four loops are constantly sending. A loop only breaks when the 1/4-inch return jack is connected. This allows a lead signal to be split, feeding multiple destinations. For example, you can use a loop send as a dry signal for a Òthree-way setup.Ó Left and right output are provided via a pair of 1/4-inch jacks. An RCA connector provides 24-bit, 44.1 kHz S/PDIF digital output.
The four external pedal power connectors provide 9V DC power with a maximum combined load of 200mA. The two SW Out (Switch Out) 1/4-inch jacks are designed to be used with an external preamp or a combo amp to switch channels. Depending on the preamp’s channel switching facilities, different cables may be required. TC provides schematics for several amps at www.tcelectronic.com.
There are two expression pedal connectors that default as volume and pitch/whammy controllers. Expression pedals can be used to manually control any of the G-System’s parameters such as volume. Instead of having your entire signal pass through a 20 foot cable to a volume pedal, the expression pedal will allows the G-System’s volume parameter to be adjusted internally. The parameters that the expression pedals control can be defined within each preset. The G-System holds 100 factory presets and has memory for up to 200 user presets. A USB port is provided so the G-System’s software can be updated.
The G-System has an extremely flexible compressor that can be used both for leveling out the signal’s dynamics or for more radical, sonically recognizable compression. The unit has three basic modes of compression, Advanced Mode, Sustaining Mode and Percussive Mode. Adjustable parameters include threshold, attack, release, ratio and gain.
In the high quality TC fashion, the G-System includes a host of ultra high-end effects. Included in the filter options are Resonance Filter (basically a high-cut filter with adjustable Q-factor), Touch Res Filter, Wah Wah, Touch Wah and AutoWah. There are several modulation effects including two types of chorus, flanger, vibrato, tremolo, panner, pitch shifter and phaser. The pitch effects included with the unit include Whammy, detune and an Octaver which gives the user an additional voice with a fixed pitch distance of either one or two octaves above or below the Input note. There are four different classic Reverb algorithms including spring, hall, room and plate.
The delay implementation on the G-System is perhaps the most in-depth of the effects (what more could you expect from the company that invented the 2290). There are several different types of delay options including Single Delay, Tape Delay, Reverse Delay, Lo-Fi Delay, Ping Pong Delay, Dynamic Delay, and Dual Delay. All delays feature spillover which means the repeats of the delay can continue to ring out after the preset has been changed. This allows smooth and natural sounding preset changes.
The G-System features a three-band parametric equalizer which can be used to either shape the sound of an individual preset or be used as a master EQ. Each band of the EQ provides gain, frequency range (20Hz to 20kHz), and width range (Q) 0.1 to 4 octaves. To eliminate unwanted noise when the instrument isn’t being played, there is also a noise gate.
Besides looking great, I found that once you get it up and running, the G-System is extremely easy to use. I typically make it a practice to get rocking on a piece of gear without reading the manual. Well that wasn’t possible with the G-System since I had to actually read the manual to discover that six of the switches also double as rotary controllers, but I did find the manual to be well written and easy to follow. After spending a few days with the G-System, I fell in love with the box. It is perfectly suited for both live and studio work and it is inspiring to use. The box’s tap tempo function is the best I’ve seen. Instead of just averaging a predetermined number of taps, the tap tempo is averaged from the first two taps and up to the last ten. The tap tempo is shown in both millisecond (ms) and beats per minute (BPM).
All of the delays on the G-System sound great and using them along with the expression pedal can be very inspiring. The options are endless but I had great results using an expression pedal to adjust the Drive parameter while using the Lo-Fi Delay and later to adjust the Offset parameter while using the Dynamic Delay. I had good results letting Expression Pedal control pretty much everything including tremolo speed, reverb time and the delay feedback on various presets.
The only thing I miss is a headphone jack, support for high-resolution sample rates (or even 48 kHz for that matter), and the ability to clock from an external source. Under most circumstances I would anticipate using the G-System with an amplifier and cabinet but I had great results using it in combination with Native Instruments Guitar Rig.
The G-System appears to be is as rugged as they come. The thing is built like a tank. I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if it still looked brand new after a decade on the road.
Frankly, it’s about time that a guitar effect manufacturer realizes that there isn’t and there never is going to be a single box that makes every guitar player happy. The G-System integrates perfectly with an existing setup and provides the perfect backbone to a guitar rig. Guitar players will find that the G-System perfectly adapts to both studio and live performance situations. Studios looking to provide sonic options to under-equipped clients should make the G-System a top consideration.