The THR Guitar Rig has has always been about portability – lightweight gear with heavyweight capability. A nice bonus is keeping the pieces together, in one bag, always ready to go. The ability to carry everything in one load without breaking my back is also a plus. This concept led to the octopus approach to cable management.
A backpack (the octopus) is the travel case for most of the gear. The power supplies, USB hubs and other pieces stay put in the bag connecting via bundled cables (the octopus’s arms) to each component. The bag is centrally located on the stage (the octopus’s garden?)
Multiple cables stay organized when wrapped with split loom. Power supplies and USB connections are zip tied into one tidy bundle. Previously they were all stuffed into the backpack pocket where they jostled about. A plastic craft box now keeps everything solid and the USB connections protected.
New smaller wire bundles are a big plus over prior incarnations of the system. A heavy audio cable used to run an analogue audio feed from the MacBook Air stereo mini plug to an amplified speaker. This put a lot of weight on the delicate little Mac audio port. Now a single USB cable takes over the audio out responsibilities in addition to its other data routing duties. This approach also upgrades the overall sound quality.
There are still a few problems to solve. The most annoying is a low but audible clicking sound leaking into the audio. It seems to coincide with the MIDI sends. The interference could be anywhere in the chain, but the likely suspects are the Sonuus and the Cakewalk interfaces. The noise is so faint that I can live with it – for a while.
The Keith McMillien SoftStep foot controller was also causing me fits. It is a wonderfully versatile, lightweight contraption that blows away any other controller I have seen, but in doing so it generates a loud buzz throughout the system.
The electroluminescent wire that gives the buttons their cool blue glow also makes the unit unusable (for my needs at least) when lit up. KMI recommends turning off the button backlighting. That is a far from satisfying solution since glowing buttons was one of the features that first attracted me to the unit, but it’s better than “buzzzzzzzz.”
I have only scratched the surface of the SoftStep foot controllers capabilities, so I hope to spend more time soon learning what it can bring to the system – if it stays. I hope it does. I would hate to go back to the Behringer or Roland foot controllers. While great gear, they are each heavier and bulkier than all the other components of the system put together.