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.
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.
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