hubbub – noun – A loud confused noise from many sources.
The Hubub is a fitting moniker for our current iPad-based guitar system project; a melange of synth sounds, MIDI signals, analogue guitar, and the digital mayhem that ensues.
It’s doubly appropriate since a customized USB hub will be required to make it all possible, or at least practical. A primary goals of this setup is that it should run entirely from rechargeable batteries, sans power leads. It’s a lofty, but worthwhile goal. Over the next few weeks we shall see if that goal is achievable in a cost-effective way.
To the right is a diagram of the planned system. The main challenge of this computer-less approach is maintaining power for the iPad. Powering the USB hub, and the devices attached to it, from a battery is easy enough. But music software tends to drain an iPad battery quickly, so we want to be able to charge the iPad while in use. There doesn’t appear to be a product available that accomplishes this goal without a computer somewhere in the mix.
But we are working towards a solution. Soon many, if not all, of the devices below will be happily hooked up to an iPad air, buzzing along from rechargeable batteries.
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.
Read more about the craziness
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.
Continue reading. It gets better.
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.
Continue reading →