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Photos: Guitar Rig 3
Guitar Rig 3: Kontrol Edition, is a software and hardware combination that turns a computer into a virtual guitar amplifier worthy of worship.
CNET Reviews staff
If you're going to pony up the $500 for the Kontrol edition of Guitar Rig 3, it's because you want this outstanding USB 2.0 pedal board that comes included. Sure, you can buy a standalone version of the Guitar Rig 3 software for much less than the cost of the Kontrol edition, but you'd be missing out on one of the most rockstar computer peripherals ever made. Each of the Guitar Rig pedal board's eight buttons can be assigned to switch software guitar effects on and off, as well as advance through presets, activate a guitar tuner, or tap in a song tempo. An expression pedal on the right can serve a multitude of purposes--from volume control and wah-wah effect, to distortion blending and flanger intensity.
The Guitar Rig 3 Kontrol interface is much more than a USB software controller; it also serves as a high-end computer audio card capable of 24-bit, 96KHz recording. For those of you who don't want to wake the neighbors, the Guitar Rig 3 interface includes a headphone jack with an adjustable gain control. If you have any drum machines or keyboards hanging around, you can also take advantage of the MIDI input and output connections included on the interface.
Within the Guitar Rig 3 software, you can view a virtual version of the Kontrol hardware interface that lets you customize the hardware to suit your needs. When you change between presets within the Guitar Rig 3 software your custom hardware assignments will also change, allowing you to create unique configurations for different songs.
The Guitar Rig 3 software appeals to both sides of the brain. On the left pane you can see an organized list of software presets organized by genre, as well as an exhaustive list of individual components, such as effects, guitar cabinets, amplifiers, and more. In the right pane, you can see an accurate graphic depiction of your "guitar rig" compete with knobs, sliders, volume meters, and speaker grilles.
All of the Guitar Rig 3 presets are based off of authentic emulations of the most beloved guitar amplifier and speaker combos. The Citrus amplifier and matched speaker cabinet do their best to duplicate the '70s-era sound made by Orange. Although Guitar Rig's manufacturer (Native Instruments) had to get inventive with the amplifier names for legal reasons, anyone familiar with guitar gear should be able to figure out what's what based on the unique graphic treatments.
For those of you who really want to dig into tweaking the sound of your virtual dream amplifier, Guitar Rig 3 lets you change settings such as cabinet mic position, mic type, and speaker cone diameter. Another benefit of a virtual guitar amplifier is that you don't have to settle for playing just one amplifier at a time; you can stack up multiple amplifiers and speaker cabinets to play side by side in a wall of sound.