DSound's GT Player began as a standalone host for a built-in set of guitar-oriented plug-ins that had been modeled on classic stompbox effects. The most recent version, GT Player 2.5.4, demonstrates that DSound has kept pace with guitarists' live-performance needs. The program has been completely updated to handle many duties that a modern guitarist might want, with new features that make it more useful than ever.
FIG. 1: GT Player offers guitarists plenty of options for processing live guitar, for playing live ReWire and audio-file accompaniment, and for making use of MIDI control.
GT Player has grown into a standalone host for most VST instruments and effects. It furnishes a Track Player for playing back audio files and recording performances, and a ReWire Player for controlling ReWire-compatible applications (see Fig. 1). You can even use GT Player as a VST plug-in within another VST host application.
GT Player is compatible with Windows XP and with Mac OS X 10.2 and above. It supports ASIO in Windows and Core Audio in Mac OS X. I used it as a standalone and as a VST plug-in within Ableton Live 4.0.4 on a Power Mac G5/dual 2 GHz running Mac OS X 10.3.9. I also tested it using Live as a ReWire slave.
The Desired Effect
Because GT Player is first and foremost a VST effects host, I'll start by describing its plug-in-hosting abil ities. Its main effects window (appropriately named the Effects Unit) looks like a rack mounted effects processor, and it operates in one of two modes. In Program mode, you can load, save, and create presets that encompass numerous plug-ins and their routings. In Effect mode, you can browse through each plug-in's parameters using a small LCD-style display on the rack front. Effect mode can be tedious, but it comes in handy when selecting parameters for assigning MIDI control.
FIG. 2: GT Player''s Edit Program window lets you set up a chain of VST effects and instruments.
To access GT Player's effects-hosting capability, click on the Effects Unit's Edit button (like most everything in GT Player, the Edit Program window is also accessible by using a key command). The Edit Program window offers three chains containing insert slots for eight plug-ins (see Fig. 2). You can configure Chain A and Chain B in parallel, with one affecting the left input and the other affecting the right. You can also configure them to apply effects to the same input (either right, left, or stereo inputs), and you can mute and solo them separately. Any effects that you place in Chain C will be applied to Chain A and Chain B, and Chain C cannot be soloed or muted.
Use the pull-down menu in one of the insert slots to instantiate effects, and then select a plug-in from any of your available VST folders. Each effects slot has buttons to open its respective plug-in's graphical user interface (GUI) and to solo or bypass the plug-in. Two buttons let you remove all effects either for the entire program or for each chain, and open the GUIs for all the plug-ins in each chain. The effects plug-ins open connected to each other in tiles toward the bottom of the monitor. The setup looks great alongside DSound's own stompbox effects, but it gets awkward if any of your plug-ins have large GUIs. The Program Editor window in the Mac version includes buttons to transfer plug-ins to the OS X Dock.
Unfortunately, GT Player has no way for you to rearrange effects within programs other than to deinstantiate and reinstantiate the plug-ins in different slots. Although DSound flawlessly hosts its own stompboxes, I had trouble with some of the third-party plug-ins I tried. When I tested several overdrive and amp-simulator effects, Nomad Factory's Blue Tube Driver and Rock Amp Legends plug-ins worked fine. I was able to play and change presets in Native Instrument's Guitar Rig, but I could not use nor even click on its GUI. IK Multimedia's AmpliTube 1.2.0 crashed GT Player every time.
GT Player's Track Player module lets you create a playlist of audio files that will accompany your live performance. You can play back an entire playlist one track at a time or loop playback within a single song. You can also repeat a single track or all tracks. In addition to normal transport controls, Track Player has a Speed dial for time stretching.
Track Player provides a recorder for recording your own performance along with the audio files you play back. In addition, it will record any ReWire slave being controlled by GT Player's ReWire Player (see Web Clip 1). Though you can set the record path, you cannot change the name of the audio files that ReWire Player records.
The Mac version of GT Player plays all media types supported by QuickTime (WAV, AIFF, MP3, AAC, and so on). It also supports user-definable crossfades between tracks. The Windows version supports playback of only mono or stereo WAV files.
To help you learn songs and riffs, GT Player's Speed knob increases or decreases an audio file's playback rate without altering its pitch. To achieve that task, the program requires QuickTime 7 to make use of its excellent time-stretching algorithms.
If you have ReWire and one or more ReWire-savvy applications installed, you can use ReWire Player to control a ReWire device. You can use GT Player as a ReWire Master that controls another program's transport functions and playback tempo, mixing the ReWire device's stereo audio signal with its own output. You can move the ReWire device's locator position using the ReWire Player's shuttle wheel. ReWire Player also allows you to set loop points for ReWire applications.
Controlling ReWire applications worked as advertised, but it took a heavy toll on the CPU. With a playlist and an effects program in GT Player that came nowhere near taxing my Power Mac G5, GT Player inevitably glitched and sporadically reported a CPU overload whenever I launched Ableton Live 4.0.4 to play what should have been an undemanding song with no effects. Turning off ReWire immediately cured the problem.
FIG. 3: GT Player furnishes extensive MIDI control of plug-in parameters and rack-unit controls.
GT Player 2.5.4 offers flexible MIDI support. You can control any effects parameter, as well as the controls and program selection for GT Player's own rack unit using any external MIDI controller that can send continuous-controller information. You can either scroll through effects parameters in the Effects Unit Edit mode or use the MIDI Mapping window (see Fig. 3). You can also select a MIDI channel for the control messages.
If you're a guitarist with a guitar-to-MIDI converter that allows you to send continuous controller messages, GT Player takes full advantage of all the audio and MIDI data that your guitar can send. You can process your guitar audio through amp-modeling VST plug-ins, DSound stompbox plug-ins, and other effects. GT Sound's VST support lets you trigger software synthesizers and control effects parameters or rack-unit controls with MIDI continuous controller messages.
You can use GT Player 2.5.4 as an effects plug-in within a VST-compatible host application. I had initially hoped that that would mean I could use GT Player as a fully functional VST matrix, similar to the now-discontinued TC Works Spark FX Machine. Unfortunately, though, GT Player is limited as a VST effect. It can play back its own DSound Stomp Box plug-ins, but it can't play any third-party plug-ins. Although you can control the plug-in using MIDI Control Change messages, you cannot reassign any MIDI controllers from within the plug-in. There's no support for MIDI, audio, or help tags unless it's provided by your host program. What's more, GT Player's keyboard shortcuts do not work in the plug-in version. DSound has said that an Audio Units version is currently being tested and may be available by the time you read this.
Even though GT Player 2.5.4 has me excited about its future, it needs some fine-tuning in order to become a guitarist's dream. I found GT Player stable (other than the aforementioned AmpliTube crashes), but its VST support is touch-and-go. Its recording facility works well, but it doesn't let you name your files. Its ReWire support is a welcome touch, but it is processor-heavy. The GT Player VST plug-in, though useful for creating chains of DSound effects, is far more limited than it could be. GT Player 2.5.4 has more going for it than against it, however, and when these shortcomings are addressed, this application will be an all-around winner.
Orren Merton is the coauthor of Logic 7 Ignite! (Thomson Course Technology, 2005) and author of Logic Pro 7 Power! (Thomson Course Technology, 2004).
DSOUND GT Player 2.5.4
virtual effects rack
OVERALL RATING (1 THROUGH 5): 3
PROS: Supports VST effects and instruments. Play back audio files while performing. Simultaneously records performances and file playback. Can be used as a ReWire master. Excellent MIDI support.
CONS: Incompatible with some VST plug-ins. Cannot rearrange effects. ReWire control is processor-heavy. VST plug-in version is limited.