(Originally written by pierrelaforge/translated from Audiofanzine FR)
Description: The Rocktron Utopia G300 is a simplified Prophesy in footboard format. The controls are similar but with less settings (e.g. in the EQ section: frequencies and Q are fixed). The unit is totally digital and has no tube inside (unlike the Prophesy) so some distortions sound cold and unreal. However it does add something new in relation to the Prophesy: it has a new preamp simulation (the SCORCH named RECTO in the user's manual) which is quite good for aggressive and fat rhythm parts (the sound is violent and well rounded but a bit too synthetic). The best preamp in distortion mode is the MEGA (specially for lead parts). On my monitor speakers, it sounds very good with the speaker simulation (boost bass and reactance and attenuate the mids).
Connections: very comprehensive with two jack outputs (to play with two amps or with a stereo P.A. system), FX loop (to connect your favorite overdrive or distortion pedal, for example, or to use the preamp stage of your amp), headphone output, MP3 player input (to play with your favorite songs), two MIDI connectors (the G300 can be used as a MIDI footboard but I haven't used this function) and USB port for direct recording into your DAW (not tested either).
Very rugged steel housing: you immediately see that the unit is sturdy... but it's also a bit heavy!
I give it 9/10 because I miss a 12AX7 tube (like in the Prophesy) to get a warmer sound. It was made in Asia and there are a couple of details that remind you that, like the cheap "store" button. My Voodu was made in the USA (it's one of the first series) and you can see that in the manufacturing quality...
The unit is very easy to use especially for people who already know Rocktron products (I also own a Voodu Valve for my home studio). The top panel is a copy of Rocktron's rack versions with three controls (for selecting and setting parameters), one "store" button, etc. Typical Rocktron. But I miss a "compare" button (convenient for A/B check when you edit a preset) and a "simu on" LED (that indicates if the speaker simulation is on). But it's not really that important.
The expression pedal can be assigned to virtually every effect parameter. For example you can assign it to the distortion's gain! The unit provides classic effects like wah-wah and whammy (which sounds like the original whammy and is very effective!).
The blue display is really nice. The footswitches are illuminated (very convenient on stage).
You can use the device in two different modes:
- Auto Mode with patches and sound banks (virtually instant switching, however you can hear a small volume loss for a few milliseconds);
- Manual Mode that allows you to switch on each effect with your feet (delay, reverb, modulation, etc.).
The tuner function is not very accurate and must be used playing the 12th fret... Rocktron should improve this, a lot.
I give it 9/10 because of the tuner.
With a P.A. system or monitor speakers, and the speaker simulation the sound is quite good but a bit too digital. You can easily recognize the typical Rocktron sound (specially with distortion presets). Take enough time to edit the unit: especially with the MEGA preamp, the speaker simulation (mic position: +4, reactance: +4), and good EQ settings (low and high at 9.0, contoured mids), you get the famous "rooaaar" distortion sound I like so much. But the lead sound is much colder than that of my Voodu Valve US with Sovtek 12AX7-LP (there is simply no comparison). It sounds tighter and not so fat, and it has less sustain. Pinch harmonics are not as easy and their sound is less musical. On the other hand, sharp rhythm parts (a bit too cold) sound better than with the Voodu (which has a more vintage sound...).
With a guitar amp the distortion sounds a bit digital too and if you add the speaker simulation you get a warmer but less dynamic sound. With a tube amp, the sound is ok but still digital... It has not enough punch and it is too clean.
Like most Rocktron racks, I think this unit will really show what it can without speaker simulation, but with a good power amp (Mesa 20/20 or Velocity 100/120/150 for people with smaller budgets) and 12" speaker cabinets.
- Don't connect the FX loop return (serial loop mode) to the amp input;
- Another solution: the 4-cable wiring. Connect the guitar to the footboard's input, the footboard's FX loop send to the amp's input, the amp's FX loop send to the footboard return and the footboard's output to the amp's return. That way you'll be able to use the distortion of your amp and the footboard's effects (boost function included).
I give it 8/10 because of the cold distortion sound. Use this unit with a power amp to get the best results.
I've been using it for a few days only so I will update this review as soon as possible.
This unit sounds much better with my monitor speakers and the speaker simulation than with my guitar combo (even though it's all-tube), except when I use the "4-cable wiring" to keep the preamp stage of my amp in the signal path... which is possible thanks to the footboard FX loop. The unit sounds best with a power amp and guitar cabinets.
Everything is ok!
This is COMPLETE pdalier in both connectors in the effects and allows to express themselves musically aisment trs. The cot is super convenient to add or remove effects (just walking) and this in a patch on Live! No need to go down to press any button tiny ... Top!
The distos are daunting, especially if you matrisez the qualisation your amp! Otherwise, personal, I still prfre BOSS delay.
On a Peavey Classic 30 all-tube, is done really well, regardless of the guitar ...
Channel selections "..."( Clean, Texas, British and Mega). Pre-effects include wah, phaser, compressor. Post effects include chorus, flanger, pitch shift, tremolo, delay and reverb. You get aussi Rocktron exclusive like Our state-of-the-art Speaker Simulator (for recording The Best You Can get), Variac (tube sag emulation) and HUSH ® noise reduction. "
The pitch shift is controlled at the expression pedal, giving an effect of type whammy but polyphonic. It can dive and a chord of 2 octaves up or a sound without becoming a "digital mush." on the other hand, we can not climb that one octave (Whammy 2 with the cons).
It is possible to connect one second external expression pedal to have a volume pedal wah + a for instance.
There is also a chromatic tuner and the ability to affect the expression pedal volume pedal.
I never tried to edit settings via PC or Mac. Their site says: "USB audio recording and playback connectivity" ...
Not because it is a rack-mount bracket.
The connection is fairly complete: Audio in, out (stereo / mono), midi in, midi out / thru, USB, effects loop send / return, for in (for mp3, cd) headphones.
On paper, it has everything I demand a multi-purpose.
Easy and intuitive but somewhat tedious to use with many menus and submenus and only 3 wheels to navigate through all that.
The manual is quite well done and very useful for getting together at first. I only have it in English (purchase in the States).
Editing effects is effective and relevant, but the settings are a bit tedious as I said above. Especially for live settings adjustments.
The effects may be cut one by one, or all at once with one push of the foot. Good thinking.
There is also the channel button toggle switch to change channel (light saturated for example).
on the other hand, there is no bypass the preamp and I really regret. I wanted to use my BB as a simple multi-effect and unfortunately it is not possible ...
The effects are very well made with good settings effective. On this side, the pedal is excellent.
The preamp is clean or heavy distortion-oriented. No bluesy crunch possible. Sounds hot lovers, go your way, the machine is cold despite the Variac (tube sag emulation).
I use a Epiphone Les Paul that I equipped with humbuckers Seymour Duncan SH1 and SH2 with an Ibanez JEM555 I also recently a Fame Forum IV (very good guitar).
It went much better on my Marshall Valvestate 8240 (in effects loop) on my new Hughes & Kettner Switchblade Tube.
What I prefer: the polyphonic pitch and wah-wah (all but the effects are good).
What I like least: no bypass preamp. What a pity!
(7 for the lack of versatility and coldness)
I use it since April or May 2009.
I have owned:
Korg A4 a long time ago. Good effects for its time. Now outdated technology.
A V-Amp. Multi nice little low-cost. Copy of the first Pod.
A Digitech GNX3. Nice little multi-purpose (without preamp) but the pedal dropped me after 4 or 5 years ... :-(
Now I have the Utopia G300. It is superior to GNX3 level of quality and robustness of the effects seems foolproof.
I like the polyphonic pitch.
I like the expression pedal rack with on / off switch assignable.
I love the Hush (noise gate) effective. No feedback or unwanted tropical storm blows big distortion mode.
I like the sound distortion and the quality of all the effects (when I plug in the loop of my Marshall or possibly live in a console).
I do not like the lack of versatility and inability to bypass the preamp. And pass directly to the Utopia in the loop of my Hughes without using a preamp would be a heresy.
I do not like the tuner will only work with the harmonics.
The quality-price ratio is normal. The pedal is not cheap but it is well made.
With experience, I do not have that choice again. I keep my house to rehearse with headphones. I opted for a pedal board with power and some good pedals. I prefer the sound of my preamp tube Hughes and the inability to bypass the preamp Utopia disqualifies him in this configuration. Even selecting a neutral setting a clean sound, is not Utopia, but then not at all transparent. If I could use it as a multi-purpose alone (without preamp) I would have kept both effects are all good. Alas, alas hundred times, I do not understand why Rocktron has not provided a bypass the preamp ... This single retail him with a 9 rather than 6. And I do not distribute items like hot cakes!