"No excuse not to have one of these on every cabinet."
This reviewer purchased this item from Same Day Music.
The purpose of this box is to process your power amp signal to sound like it's been mic'ed through a speaker cabinet. That way you can plug the output of your amp directly into a mixer or recorder without having to mic it but still get the same mic'ed cabinet sound. It's does its job very well. It's impossible to say that this box sounds "exactly" like a mic'ed cab - What cab? What speakers? What mic? Where is the mic placed? See what I mean?
However, I have compared this device to three other setups - 1) A Marshall JVM410h amp using the amps built-in speaker cabinet emulation line out; 2) A Peavey JSX cabinet with a built-in cabinet emulation line (a similar idea to what this Behringer unit does but built directly into the speaker cabinet); and 3) A Marshall 4x12 loaded with Celestion Greenbacks and mic'ed with a Shure SM57 up against the cloth.
In comparison to these three I'd say the Behringer unit is very close to the Peavey JSX cabinet's emulated direct line but with less bass as the amp is cranked up... actually a similar reponse as an SM57 mic in that regard. Personally, I prefer the Peavey JSX line because it's better balanced across all frequencies and it has tone adjustables on the unit. However, I'd prefer both of these units to the Marshall as stand-alone DI interfaces because the Marshall line is too bassy and has too much resonance and compression - but the Marshall line works terrifically as an ambiance "mic" with the Behringer, Peavey or real mic.
In truth, NO EMULATOR is going to capture the dynamics, response and "openness" of a real mic'ed cab. How important that is to you depends on what you want to hear and what type of music you play. But this applies to the $1000 units just as it does to the GI100.
The point is, even though I like the sound of the Peavey JSX line better (mainly because of its EQ), this cheap little Behringer unit is a completely useable and convincing cabinet emulator and holds its own against the Peavey and Marshall emulators and even reasonably in direct comparison to a SM57 mic'ed Marshall 4x12 cab. The main difference between the GI100 and the Peavey JSX line is in the EQ and with some tone tweaking on the mixer the GI100 can sound almost identical to the JSX line. In other words; it's not a "toy"; it's not a teenager's bedroom gadget; it compares favourably to "professional" level equipment of this type and is just as capable in a studio setting as Marshall's and Peavey's version of DI cab emulation. With some tone tweaking on the board you can make this unit sound as good as any of these more "prestigious" DI emulation lines. For the price, and the fact that this unit actually does what Behringer claims and does it as well as "professionally priced" units, this really is a no-brainer.
My only real "complaint" is that the tone of the unit loses bass as the amp is cranked. You CAN adjust for that on the board (or mixer, or PC, whatever you're plugging into) but it is a little "inconvenient" as compared to the Peavey JSX line which stays pretty much the same tone-wise as the amp volume is adjusted. No big deal here, but it's the main reason I can't give the GI100 a "10".
I'm being picky here. For a "10" I would have liked some tone adjustment capabilities on the unit itself and more options in padding. However, in practical use neither of this matters because you can adjust tone on the board (or recorder, or PC, whatever you're plugging into), and I find the two pad settings to be all I need anyway.
Ease of Use:
This unit is very easy to use and very easy to get a good sound with.
I've only had this thing a month or so, but it's built very solid and looks to be quite durable. However, take my "10" for what it is because I've only had it for a month and I'm basing this rating only on my limited experience and how the unit appears to be built.
I haven't dealt with Behringer Customer Support.
Considering this little unit is a studio worthy piece of gear for cheap as dirt you simply cannot get a better value. Sure, you can get better DI cab emulation boxes for HUNDREDS, even over a THOUSAND, dollars more than the GI100, but they will only be slightly better and proper tone tweaking and post-production with the Behringer unit can make up much of that difference. I have the GI100 line going into a mixer/24-track recorder right next to an SM-57 mic from the cabinet and the other two DI emulated lines, and while the mic does have an openness that no emulator can reproduce exactly, the GI100 is in league with cab emulators that are MUCH more expensive. I would not be able to justify spending all that money on the more expensive emulators when this thing is in striking range of them for a fraction of the cost and most of the tone differences can be tweaked in EQ.
Keep in mind that you can turn off the cabinet emulation if you wish and use the unit simply as a DI box with no tone altering. Then you can apply a cabinet simulation in software if you wish. For that capability alone this thing is worth more than the price!
The Wow Factor:
This is a good looking small unit that takes up about the same space as an attenuator. It's so cheap, unobtrusive and useful that I would buy one to go along with every speaker cabinet I use. For the price and capabilty this thing gives you I can't think of an excuse not to buy one for your cabinet just as you'd buy a speaker cable.
I'm giving this unit a "10" even though it's not perfect (bass rolls off a bit with volume and it doesn't have the perfect sensitivity of a mic'ed cab... but no emulator does). However, considering how cheap it is, and sturdy it appears to be built, and the fact that it's reasonably close in sound quality to units costing tens of times more, how can you not give it a 10? Even with the cabinet emulation turned off it's immensely useful because you can then apply cabinet emulation in software.