The MIDI guitar space is heating up. We have waited over a year for Fishman to ship their Roland-killer hardware. But software wizards haven’t been sitting on their hands.They’ve been using them to code the next generation of Guitar to MIDI translation.
Sonuus is the latest to make the jump from silicon to App Store with the release of the G2M app for iPad. This is an iOS version of their G2M Universal Guitar to MIDI Converter. Check out the demo above for details.
I’ve owned a Sonuus G2M as well as an i2M Musicport. Both are impressive for fast hardware analogue audio to MIDI conversion. The i2M includes USB audio input in a compact package. The tracking and low-latency of both units make for a superb user experience.
If the G2M app comes close to the performance of their hardware devices, it should be a real winner. Check it out yourself for $1.99 (after January 2012 it goes up to $9.99) in the App Store.
The programming wizards at Fishman continue to toil night and day on software worthy of what could be a tipping point for MIDI guitar. When the Fishman Triple Play Guitar Controller ships later this year it will include at least two pieces of software, hopefully as innovative as the hardware it accompanies.
The standalone software is still cloaked in secrecy as negotiations continue behind the scenes with undisclosed vendors and partners. Fishman is determined to ship the unit with Mac and PC software that includes a library of sounds and effects for DAWless customers. It is expected to include all the effects and editors of its more interesting software plugin brother. Software for iOS is also expected.
Fishman showed off the current state of the software at the 2012 NAMM conference in Anaheim. In addition to patch selection, tuner and other expected elements, it includes an elegant graphic interface for setting up split configurations over the fret board and a display with real-time visual feedback on notes as they are fretted. A Fishaman representative recently told me (while reiterating that all is still in development and subject to change) that configuring split setups will be as easy as dragging a selection across the screen to assign different instruments to different strings or sections of the fretboard.
Recent online discussions have questioned the Triple Play’s ability to track slides, string bends and other staples of guitar playing. Fishman assures me that all this and more is supported by the Triple Play. Bend parameters will be as configurable and flexible as any MIDI instrument, allowing the user to control the range and extremities of pitch bends based on individual patches. For example, you probably want your Synth sound to bend more than your Piano patch. (Or maybe not. You choose.)
Some of the greatest minds in MIDI guitar are working on this product (more on that in a future article) and it appears at this stage the Triple Play will equal or surpass any other existing guitar MIDI product. If Fishman can ship a simple graphic interface for setting parameters and patch settings, this should help propel them miles ahead of the currently cumbersom Roland competition and their nonexistent software editor. Actually there is an excellent software editor for the Roland GR-55 created by a skilled and dedicated user. Apparently Roland Corporation could not be bothered to provide such an essential tool.
Exciting times await the patient MIDI guitar enthusiasts out there.
This week brings new gear, better sound and a new name to my ever-changing, revolving door of technology, guitar system. The Roland CM-30 monitor speaker is out. It had great mixing features and good volume, but lacked a sparkle in its sound. It is now replaced with a very different beast – the Yamaha THR10, cleverly marketed as “your third amp.” With the THR10 taking such a prominent place in the system, it seems appropriate to pilfer Yamaha’s moniker for this third incarnation of the system.
The amazing little THR10 practice amp takes on the responsibility for sound output as well as USB guitar input, leaving no place for the Sonuus i2M USB to remain in the system. As a USB input the Yamaha does double duty by feeding 4 audio channels to the computer; a dry direct signal (doubled to stereo) and the stereo processed signal. The amp sims and effects of the THR10 are well implemented and a great new addition to the system. Direct monitoring of wet signal is a lag-free experience, and the THR features two handy knobs for independent volume control of the processed guitar and the USB audio from the computer.
I missed the monophonic MIDI of the Sonuus i2M so I added a Sonuus G2M into the mix. This unit does the same hardware MIDI conversion as the i2M but there is no USB or analog-to-digital. It sends the MIDI signal out through a standard 5-pin din plug (Just when I thought MIDI cables were out of my life). A quick search through some boxes of ancient gear unearthed a quite servicable USB MIDI interface; the Cakewalk UM-1G. It is a compact little unit that now lives strapped to the back of the Sonuus. This is still a temporary MIDI solution, waiting to be replaced later this year (hopefully) by the Fishman Triple Play.
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