I’m not sure how I missed this one before but here is a video of András Szalay, along with Burr Johnson, at last year’s Fishman NAMM booth. When asked how he achieved the superior tracking of the Triple Play, András, holder of six midi guitar patents, modestly replies, “I’ve had some experience.”
András Szalay has been designing guitar synthesisers from before the very beginning. He holds six patents related to transforming the twang and pitch of plucked strings into cold, hard data.
Wikipedia credits Szalay with designing several electronic instruments including the Wersi Electronic Grand Piano; the AKAI DuoBuddy (right) and DecaBuddy Vocal Harmonizers; the AKAI EWI 4000s and EWIUSB Electronic Wind Instruments.
He is also responsible for three generations of guitar synthesizers: Shadow GTM-6 and SH-075 in 1986, the legendary Axon series in 1997 and most recently the upcoming wireless Fishman Triple Play. Below is a video clip of Szalay playing an early prototype and Bence Bécsy demonstrating the amazing tracking capabilities of the Triple Play
I have been traveling a bit with the new DA Guitar Rig and am happy to find that it all actualy works. This is a bit surprising as there were many unknowns in putting this mess together. Here is a quick rundown of some of the pros, cons and future enhancements of the system.
The sound and signal from guitar to laptop is awesome. The Sonuus i2M USB device injects a clean signal with very low latency into the Ableton Live brain while the 1.6 GHz MacBook Air barely breaks a sweat, even with 8 to 10 channels of processing craziness happening at once.
One of the design goals of the DA Guitar Rig is to conquer cable management. The mystery box in the middle of the drawing above represents this aspiration. It is an octopus of leads routing data, analogue audio and power to each device.
On the right is a photo of my first attempt at creating such a beast. It is an old computer bag containing every cable in the system, a USB hub, digital to analogue audio device and a power splitter. All necessary cables are cut to appropriate lengths. When multiple cables lead to a device, those will eventually be loom bundled. The cables never leave the bag. They unroll and attach to each device, but always lead back to the central bag/hub. No loose cables equal no lost cables. I also keep a small stash of replacement cables around just in case.
Here is a look at my latest guitar setup. The previous system was built around a Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer: a great gadget, but quite complex. So after selling it on Craigslist, as well as a few other items, I started building this new rig based on staying “in the box.” This is the plan for this never-ending work in progress.
MacBook Air, Ableton Live and AdrenaLinn Sync
Live is one freaky DAW. Part workstation, part recording studio, part performance tool, part instrument. There are so many ways to approach Live it can be a bit boggling. For the moment, I am using it for plug-in hosting (Native Instruments Guitar Rig, AdrenaLinn Sync), a few synths, backing tracks and the thoughtfully designed Live Looper.
I’m really digging the Souuus i2M Musicport. It is pricy ($150) compared to some USB guitar inputs. That is, until you consider the added functionality. Not only is it a clean analogue audio input (for guitar or bass), but it also does fast tone detection onboard to output MIDI. The MIDI is monophonic, so don’t expect it to do chords or individual string detection like a Roland GR-55 setup, but for synth leads or sax solos it’s awesome.
The i2M comes with software for customizing the device to your needs, but operates independently of software. So you can use it on a computer as well as an iPad. Makes a perfect choice for iPad Garage Band since you can feed the guitar amps the analog signal and send MIDI to the keyboards, drums and other instruments. Coolest feature – the SONUUS logo lights up (green or red) and flashes to indicate mode and clipping.
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