Review of GM800

Started by Nobulusprime, November 17, 2023, 11:02:33 PM

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I thought it might be useful to record experiences of the GM800. So here's mine.

1. Playing experience
It's fairly easy to set up the GM800 to get a good playing experience with minimal glitches and false triggers. It's a very stable system for guitar to midi. It's not as fast as an FTP on the lower strings but it's still very playable. Chordally and playing finger style it's great, at least as good as my GR30 probably better. Legato is more mixed for me, it's not as good as the GR30 it's more like the FTP. This could be set up so I'll continue to play. For single note legato nothing beats midi guitar 2 pitch to midi. The Plastic YouRock guitar is still the best legato experience.

2. Sounds
The internal sounds are ok, passable for live in most scenarios. The expansion packs are a bit better and zenology allows for a lot more deep editing and creating more unique tones. However there's nothing that comes even close to sample modelling instruments or Pianoteq capabilities. So for studio use it's pretty limited for me. Some Effects seem to be improved on the SY1000 especially reverbs but that might be me. Combination of 4 tones is very powerful in a floor unit.

3. Form and Design
It's compact and editing is easy on the unit and in the editor. Understanding the signal flow in a scene is not immediately apparent would have preferred an SY1000 type signal flow.
I wish Boss would consider the users of other Roland/Boss products and make things more modular. The interminable need for extra conversion boxes is so frustrating why not just include a GK13 out. I get it would raise the price of the unit but not to the value of a new box. I need 2 extra pieces of kit to run just the SY1000 and the GM800 together that's extra real estate on my board. Super frustrating and unnecessary.

All in all it's a keeper for now.


Re playing setup, I completely agree.  Very easy to dial in.

There are quite a few legato options in the instrument - I've been able to get things as I want them I think largely by accident in one or two scenes I have programmed, especially for portmanteau prog-style leads, but the feel of a Tin Whistle patch I programmed in my GR-33 is currently eluding me.  I'm fairly confident I'll eventually get there.

For the sound engine, I'm over the moon with the sound quality but the scenes it ships with are almost completely meh.  Open up the bonnet and start flicking through the individual tones though and there's some good stuff under there, and having gotten the Vintage Keys expansion into it, I'm good for live.

(In the studio there's never going to be one synth, there's my Oberheim for a start, my Wavestation plug-in and I have an extensive sample library I've accumulated over the years.  But the GM-800 will be an equal partner in all of that)

For me the issues relate to detailed editing of the parts themselves, and the inability to address a scene's controller assignment via MIDI (I mean, no midi control of Hold on a guitar synth FFS!).  I've done quite a bit of sifting through the raw sample partials (via Zenology Pro) and there's some excellent raw material in there for JV1080 style programming, plus the virtual analogue synth covers all the bases without being esoteric when you want something JP-8000 like.  But we really need a proper editor to access all these goodies.

The lack of a 13 pin in is a pain, I agree, but the world doesn't revolve around me, and the convertor is understandable.  

Main rig: Barden Hexacaster and Brian Moore i2.13 controllers
Boss SY1000/Boss GKC-AD/Boss GM-800/Laney LFR112

Other relevant gear: Line 6 Helix LT, Roland GR-33, Axon AX100 MkII
Oberheim Matrix 6R, Supernova IIR, EMu E5000, Apple Mainstage, Apple Logic, MOTU M4


Re ease of GM-800 setup to avoid mistriggers - I still struggle. All depends on what your needs and goals are, and what other gear you already own. If all I needed was a few saxophones, pianos, string pads at live gigs  - its easier and cheaper to feed my regular electric guitar into an Xsonic Xtone Pro audio interface to my iPad with MIDI GUITAR 2 triggering IOS Synths /Samplers

Or feed my old GR-33- which I still prefer and consider my most rock solid all in one Guitar Synth