Tech Limbo (Neither Heaven nor Hell R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio)

So I’m packing, moving and simultaneously trying to get some stuff ready for the Cha’ak’ab Paaxil Festival in Yucatán, México June 3-5th.  My plan is to leave the amp here and to use a combination of Line 6 gear and a guitar to play the shows.

After playing with Wael Kakish and the Middle Eastern ensemble last night, I was able to open the package I got from Sweetwater and check out my new Line 6 FBV Shortboard Mk II.

The new board is REALLY cool.  It’s solid in it’s construction and small enough to fit in my laptop bag.  After I downloaded the FBV Control software from Line 6.   I tried to set up a SooperLooper session in AU lab.  The concept was to run the AU of SooperLooper in AU Lab and use a midi patchbay to make sure the signal was going from the FBV to the Sooperlooper session.  Here are the patchbay settings.

Had some trouble initially  but once I went into FBV control and reset some of the switches everything worked.

This probably isn’t the smartest series of codes to get everything to work – but it’s working.

The only gripe that I have is that I wish that some additional parameters in SL could be controlled via midi (i.e. 1/2 or double speed or main monitor volume for fades).  It’s easy enough to lean over and hit the keyboard – but it does defeat the purpose of ordering a 15′ USB cable.  The board itself though works like a charm.

I’m in the process of working on sounds on the X3 Live for the show – and tweak PA vs. amp sounds.  One thing I’ve noticed with modeling is that there are at least 4 different scenarios for setting up sounds:

1.  Headphone patches – i.e. practicing or recording

2.  Playing through an amp at low volumes

3.  Playing through an amp at high volumes

4.  Playing through a PA.

You might think that there wasn’t a lot of variance – but the differences between these parameters are huge.  I have patches that sound mediocre at low volumes and sound really good when the volume gets goosed a bit.  Headphone patches that work well at home and fall apart live – and vice versa.

As a result of all of these constant parameters I’ve been experimenting with Impulse Responses in Logic’s Space Designer (and LA Convoluter) and getting some encouraging results.

Impulse Responses (IRs)

In a simplified definition:  Impulse Responses (IRs) are measurements of acoustic spaces that can be loaded into applications (Like Altiverb or Space Designer) to create different types of reverberations.

I read an article about beefing up Logic 8’s guitar amp pro by replacing the speaker sims with IR’s.  That article is here.  This got me looking for all kinds of IR’s.  For those of you who want to see how this works on guitar tracks – check out the recabinet site.  There’s a really cool pdf that talks about the different IRs and the mics used to capture them.  As of this writing they’re selling a download of something like 2000 IR’s for $15 bucks.

Now I’ve been testing these at home – the difference is night and day!

It’s late while I’m posting this – but let me give you 2 simple examples.  First here is a simple rock rhythm with a plexi type setting.  This is just the AU recording of the pod with a plexi setting and the 4×12 cabinets selected.

DirtyrhythmnoIR

Now here is a another take of the same pattern and settings but with a 4×12 IR added. It’s a little brighter but the response is different as well.

DirthrhythmIR

To my ears – the second is a little more natural sounding particularly on the ascending chords.  Here’s one more example with a clean tone.  It’s subtle but noticable.  First with no IR

BluevelvetnoIR

And with the same IR as above added:

BlueVelvetIR

The non traditional guitar sounds have various degrees of success, some sound better some sound worse.  But this made a HUGE difference on the headphones.  I’ll try them through speakers later.

For those of you looking for free links here are a couple of them.  I’m in the process of downloading these myself – so no guarantees for the sounds themselves.

First some very cool non-guitar specific responses here:

Then some more guitar and bass specific IRs here. But I’m digging the redcabi.net IRs so far…

I found an AU ( LAConvolver ) that supports IRs and runs in AU lab – if I keep the wet gain at 50% it works well.

The advantages of AU lab are several (including low CPU use and that you can route audio OR midi through it) but the main advantage is that when you save the session all of the parameters in all associated plug-in’s applications are saved.  In other words – when I get it set up for use with a PA – it’s done.  No more re-inventing the wheel.  This is particularly helpful when you’ve set up a series of midi commands for Sooper Looper.

Here’s the laptop setup:

FNH Guitar -> Radial Dragster ->Pod x3 Live -> (Stereo out) ->Behringer FCA 202 (I hope to sub this out with an Apogee Duet eventually) -> Macbook Pro (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 Ghz – older model) ->Aulab running LAConvolver and Sooperlooper->(Stereo out) ->Behringer.

Here’s the AuLab set up – I’ve put SL on a Bus – but I since I can mix wet and Dry in SL I could have just left it on channel 1.


Here are some sample LA Convolver settings (these are both from the 4×12 greenback IR’s in redcabi.net):

And finally 4 instances of SL.

I’m still experimenting but this is the current plan.  Now to apply all of this to mainstage to get synths and percussion in the mix….

This may not make any sense.  The goal to to fit everything into 1 bag – except for a guitar and a gig bag.  Hopefully I’ll have photos soon.

Also the title of this references the passing of Ronnie James Dio.  I enjoyed his work with Rainbow and while he and Vivian Campbell had a pretty miserable falling out – their 1st 2 cds had some great moments vocal and guitar (particularly Last in Line with perhaps the quintessential heavy metal guitar solo).  Dio was 67 on hitting the stage with Black Sabbath (ok fine – Heaven and Hell) at an age many people are bed ridden.  It reminds me of my favorite quote on retirement ever:

All I do is play music and golf.  What do you want me to retire from?” – Willie Nelson

Rest in peace Ronnie.

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