Mas Modeling!! POD Farm, POD HD, Scuffham Amps And A Whole Tone lick

Computers, and models and amp sims – OH MY!

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There’s been a lot of interest in the posts on this site regarding modeling,  POD Farm and POD HD.  When I made my initial post about this, I didn’t have the 2 units to compare, but I do now and here are my thoughts.

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POD FARM

I still like POD FARM.  For tonal flexibility – it’s really cool.

  • The first thing about POD FARM to recognize is that the amps are more like specific snapshots of amps than fully realized models.   By that I mean, if you have a Marshall sound with a killing setting that you dig, then that’s great.  But if you roll back on the volume, it’s not going to clean up the way a real Marshall would.  There are ways to circumnavigate this (and you can definitely adjust your playing around it), but when playing through it, you’re definitely playing a good sounding model rather than an amp.
  • The second thing is that there’s a BIG sonic difference in the distorted sounds between 44 and 96k.  This is to be expected, but there are certain models that are unusable at 44k.
  • On the plus side the laptop functionality of POD FARM is awesome.  I can get sounds out of this rig that I could never get out of a conventional amp.  I can run two rigs with more pedals than I could ever run live and, furthermore, when I run it through the Atomic tube amp – even the 44k sounds come alive and works well live.
  • Breaking out POD Farm into individual elements is really smart – and very cool.  It means that I can run (for example) pre-amps or compressors in my AU LAB shell anywhere in the signal chain.  A nice touch.
  • I love AUs.  Why?  Because when the power goes out at my place for 4 days and I have to type this from a coffee shop, being able to discretely pull out an electric and play in a corner with a set of headphones (and not take up multiple tables) is a GOOD THING!

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Conclusion #1:  If you’re the type of person who like’s to get a great tone and park it – this may be a good option for you.

Conclusion #2:  If you’re the type of person who wants to reference guitar tones (clean, dirty etc.) but then go beyond that into the stratosphere tonally – this is the unit for you.

Conclusion #3:  If you want more amp, effect or cab options than you ever imagined – you know the drill.

Conclusion #4:  If you expect different tones from your guitar when you roll off the volume, or the thought of using a laptop guitar on stage makes you nervous, this may not be the unit for you.

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POD HD 500

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This review is specific to the 500 as it’s the only unit I have (and have played through).  Comparing this to POD FARM is kind of like comparing apples and onions.  They may have a similar shape, but they’re very different things.

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  • The POD HD has substantially fewer models than POD FARM.  Having said this, the architecture of the modeling is completely different and the tonal detail is stunning.  There may be much fewer amps – but they all sound really good.  The amps themselves have controls like BIAS, BIAS-X, HUM and SAG that the POD FARM amps do not and when plugging in the guitar signal feels like it’s plugging into an amp.  You can roll off the volume and the signal acts in a musical way.  As of this writing, Line 6 updated the HD500 and HDPRO w. a new variable input impedance that affects the tone of certain distortion pedals when you back off the volume (so they behave more like the real thing).
  • While the unit supports 96k as an output, the distortions sound good at 44k.  Much better than the POD FARM distortions at that setting.
  • As a hardware unit – it has a number of ins and outs.  It’s extremely flexible in that way, has a built-in expression pedal and a looper.  I’ve never liked USB recording, but the USB recording in the HD works well.
  • The unit has some tricks up its sleeves that are unique.  Particularly the particle verb, which is a gorgeous sonic mangler.
  • On the down side – the unit doesn’t have the horsepower that a laptop has so you can’t use any combination of amps cabs and effects on the unit. If you’re using a DSP intensive amp and effect, you can get the DSP limit screen pretty easily.
  • I have some minor global EQ and loop quibbles that you can read about here.

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The POD HD Verdict

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For the price point this is a great sounding unit.

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  • If you want an all-in-one unit that has the potential to create really musical guitar tones – this may be the unit for you.
  • If you like to get under the hod and mess with things like SAG and Bias to get a good tone – this may be the unit for you.
  • If you need more outrageous non-guitar tones, there are some excellent possibilities on this unit.
  • If you’re the type of person who needs specific distortions, eq, compression or delays to get your tone, and don’t have the patience to chase tone to do so, this may not be for you.

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PODFARM HD

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So in my mind, PODFARM HD would really be the best of everything.  All of the CPU/DSP resources of the laptop mixed with the sounds of the HD unit.  Unfortunately, there’s no word on when this is coming out (there’s a lot of new Line 6 gear coming out right now – but even so I’m guessing you may see a demo version at NAMM and then a release in 2013).

(A few tips for Line 6 between now and NAMM.

  1. Please add global EQ and allow looper wet volume to be pedal assignable.
  2. Please release all of the LINE 6 Model amps in POD FARM (Like Bayou) for POD HD.)

And why do I think that Line 6 may step up the time-table on PODFARM HD?

Because  despite what the forums say, in terms of hardware, I don’t believe that Line 6 is in the competing market with Fractal Audio.  They’re at completely different price-points.  AVID’s Eleven Rack however is a completely different matter.  Software wise, you have Amplitube and Guitar Rig as probably the two closest competitors.  Both sound good for different things.  Both have a lot of the modelling issues that Line 6 has.  Only Guitar Rig comes close to the number of effects that POD FARM has though.

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So why do I have Scuffham Amps in the title of this post?

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Because Scuffham Amps has something neither of these do.  They have the nearest thing to a PODFARM HD AU on the market.

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Scuffham Amps

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I understand that Mike Scuffham was one of the guys behind the JMP-1 (Which was a great sounding pre btw).  He’s done something several really cool (there’s that word again – but it’s applicable) things with the design of this plug-in.

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  • Limited amps – and specialized limits at that.  His “Duke” amp is based on Robben Ford’s amp (a DUMBLE) and has three channels to choose from.  The “Stealer” is loosely based on a PARK and the “Jackal” is based on a Soldano.  This is cool only because – they’re all really good sounding amps.
  • PRO Convolver and RED-WIREZ IRs.  The 64 bit convolver hosts a slew of really good sounding RED WIREZ IR’s (or  you can load your own).  For someone like me who typically runs IRs in LA Convolver – having them bundled in the AU is a nice feature.
  • Dynamic Power Amp.  In addition to the amp drive switch, you all get tweak controls like SAG High Frequency cut and Presence Frequency.
  • FX are limited.  It’s got a nice sounding delay, and the gate also works well the amp drive switch acts as like a distortion pedal – but no other fx onboard.
  • This might seem like a small thing, but the presets sound good.  There’s a lot of gear a I use where the presets range from ok to trash, but the presets here have really had some attention given to them.

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I’m not going to put a million mp3s up here as there are already a bunch of them on the site here.

I am going to put up what I can get away with in a coffee shop.  First here’s the AU Lab session I’m using.  The only external effect is a spring reverb.

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The Stealer has great blues/classic rock tones.  But here’s the odd thing, The Jackal has the 80’s metal vibe – but I REALLY dig it’s punchy clean tone and I’ve never really been into any Soldano clean tone I’ve heard.  Maybe I’m just not hearing the right ones. For rhythm/lead distortion – I’ve been into the Duke.

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Breaking up is (not so) hard to do

I think I’ve used that title before….

Anyway, here’s the Duke and a favorite voicing of mine – an open E min 9 chord in the 7th position.

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With many distortions – anything beyond a root-5th craps out and looses all definition.  Here, I’m going to play an mp3 with full distortion and then keep strumming the chord bringing my volume know down a notch or so.  Notice how:

1.  Everything cleans up as I lower the input volume and

2. how even at full volume and distortion you can still make the notes out!

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Note:

For those of you interested in the tech side – this was recorded with an FnH Ultrasonic guitar, neck pickup through an Apogee Duet into AU LAB and Scuffham Amps’ THE DUKE model.

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Let’s see how cleaning these things up sound with an actual lick.

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That Whole Tone Idea

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In the previous lesson, I talked about my concept of the modal microscope and how looking at things at multiple levels can help open new perceptions.

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Let’s take a look at this with the Whole Tone Scale.

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If I have C Whole Tone (C, D, E, F#, G#, A#(Bb) one chord that can be extracted from that is a C7+ (R, 3, #5, b7).  However, If we focus on the other chord tones of C7 (C, E, Bb), we can play it over a regular C7 chord with just a little bit o’ dissonance.

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Since I’ve always done things in C – I’ll move it to G and play a G whole tone (with a few chromatics) over G7.

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Here’s the lick (with some extra rubato, legato, vibrato and other atos):

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And here’s an mp3 of the lick – with the same volume drop approach as the E min 9.

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One thing that those of you who follow this blog might notice is that I’ve adapted my pentatonic 3-note-per string/1-note-per string – fingering to the whole tone scale (which I think is a cooler way to finger it and maybe you’ll agree!)

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Conceptually, I’m thinking G whole tone from B for visualization purposes (but moving back to the A on the D string for a little melodic velocity).  The point is as long as I resolve to either the B (3rd) or G (root) I can sneak this in even if G7 is the I chord in a I-IV-V blues.

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When I went to Berklee the best harmony lesson I learned was in Harmony IV, when the teacher told me that the whole point of Harmony I-IV was to teach students that any chord can precede or follow any other chord.  That means that you can superimpose anything over any chord – but the keys are 1.  having the knowledge to resolve it and/or make it work and 2.  having the experience and the confidence to go for it.

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This has been kind a weird lesson/review post (indicative of a few weird days) so please bear with me as I get back to the review aspect of the Scuffham Amp for a moment.

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  • On the minus side – I wish this AU had a tuner and a separate reverb built-in.  I understand why they’re not – but it’s nice to have a self-contained amp sound.
  • On that note – the amps sound really good and they’re unlike anything else really out there.
  • The list price is $90 – but they sell it online for $75.  Some people may balk at the lack of effects, but price-wise this is extremely reasonable for the quality of the amps and the red wirez bundle.
  • Don’t take my word for anything regarding YOUR tone.  You can download a fully working demo for 15 days and take it through the paces.  Some things will underwhelm you and there some things you will probably dig – particularly for blues/rock tones.

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I’m still waiting for Line 6 POD FARM HD – which I hope is everything I expect it to be, but in the meantime, I’m using this.  If you’re even remotely interested in getting decent guitar tones out of your computer , give the demo a try.

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As always thanks for reading!

-SC

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PS – if you like this post you may also like:

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POD HD FLASH MEMORY UPDATE, POD HD500 IN LIVE USE AND MORE THOUGHTS ABOUT GEAR

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SOME THOUGHTS ON MODELING, GEAR ACQUISITION AND THE POD HD500

LINE 6 POD FARM 2.5 UPDATE AND POD FARM FREE ANNOUNCED

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POD HD VS POD FARM: A COST COMPARISON

LINE 6 FBV EXPRESS MK II REVIEW

POD HD500 AND POD FARM CONJECTURES

RIG AROUND THE ROSIE OR MEDIATIONS AND MEDITATIONS ON GEAR

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SOOPERLOOPER LIVE LOOPING AU UPDATE 1.6.18 ANNOUNCED

HARDWARE VS. SOFTWARE – OR PRAISES AND PERILS IN LIVE LAPTOP USE

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X CODE 3.2.5 / AU LAB 2.2 NOW AVAILABLE – CAVEAT EMPTOR

AU LAB/POD FARM 2.0/LIVE LAPTOP RIG TUTORIAL PART 6 – DUAL RIG DISTORTED TONES

LAPTOP GUITAR SETUP OR NOTES FROM A LIVE SHOW

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AU LAB/POD FARM 2.0/LIVE LAPTOP RIG TUTORIAL PART 5

AU LAB/POD FARM 2.0/LIVE LAPTOP RIG TUTORIAL PART 4

AU LAB/POD FARM 2.0/LIVE LAPTOP RIG TUTORIAL PART 3

AU LAB/POD FARM 2.0/LIVE LAPTOP RIG TUTORIAL PART 2

AU LAB/POD FARM 2.0/LIVE LAPTOP RIG TUTORIAL PART 1

SETTING UP “TESTING ENVIRONMENTS” OR MULTI LAYERED TONES IN AU LAB

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BUILDING BLOCKS – OR MORE EXAMINATIONS OF A LAPTOP GUITAR SETUP

A QUICK LICK – AND A RIG DU JOUR UPDATE FROM HO CHI MINH CITY

TECH LIMBO (NEITHER HEAVEN NOR HELL R.I.P. RONNIE JAMES DIO)

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SooperLooper Live Looping AU Update 1.6.18 Announced

In the better late than never category, SooperLooper snuck out a new update last week (v1.6.18).  SooperLooper is an awesome FREE software version of the Gibson Echoplex EDP.

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.You can download it here.

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From the website:

SooperLooper is a live looping sampler capable of immediate loop recording, overdubbing, multiplying, reversing and more. It allows for multiple simultaneous multi-channel loops limited only by your computer’s available memory.

The application is a standalone JACK client with an engine controllable via OSC and MIDI. It also includes a GUI which communicates with the engine via OSC (even over a network) for user-friendly control on a desktop. However, this kind of live performance looping tool is most effectively used via hardware (midi footpedals, etc) and the engine can be run standalone on a computer without a monitor.

SooperLooper is currently supported on Linux and Mac OS X, and any other platforms that support JACK. The Mac OS X package is usable with at least the 0.6 release of JACK OS X. Note that for OS X Tiger, you’ll need to get at least version 0.7 of JACK-OSX.

A Mac OS X Audio Unit version is included which does not require JACK to run.”

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This is a critical component of my live laptop rig.  It offers unparalleled opportunities for live sonic mangling.   If you have a mac (or run Linux) you should stop whatever you’re doing and download it now!

(Then if you keep it – please throw Jesse (the developer) some money for the tip jar.  He’s put a lot of work into it!)

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Thanks for reading!

-SC

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P.S. If you like this post you may also like:

HARDWARE VS. SOFTWARE – OR PRAISES AND PERILS IN LIVE LAPTOP USE

RECABINET 3 ANNOUNCED – NEW IRS AND A NEW AU/RTAS/VST SHELL

X CODE 3.2.5 / AU LAB 2.2 NOW AVAILABLE – CAVEAT EMPTOR

POD HD VS POD FARM: A COST COMPARISON

APOGEE DUET BREAK OUT BOX OVERVIEW

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AU LAB/POD FARM 2.0/LIVE LAPTOP RIG TUTORIAL PART 6 – DUAL RIG DISTORTED TONES

LAPTOP GUITAR SETUP OR NOTES FROM A LIVE SHOW

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AU LAB/POD FARM 2.0/LIVE LAPTOP RIG TUTORIAL PART 5

AU LAB/POD FARM 2.0/LIVE LAPTOP RIG TUTORIAL PART 4

AU LAB/POD FARM 2.0/LIVE LAPTOP RIG TUTORIAL PART 3

AU LAB/POD FARM 2.0/LIVE LAPTOP RIG TUTORIAL PART 2

AU LAB/POD FARM 2.0/LIVE LAPTOP RIG TUTORIAL PART 1

SETTING UP “TESTING ENVIRONMENTS” OR MULTI LAYERED TONES IN AU LAB

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BUILDING BLOCKS – OR MORE EXAMINATIONS OF A LAPTOP GUITAR SETUP

A QUICK LICK – AND A RIG DU JOUR UPDATE FROM HO CHI MINH CITY

TECH LIMBO (NEITHER HEAVEN NOR HELL R.I.P. RONNIE JAMES DIO)

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Line 6 POD FARM 2.5 Update and POD FARM FREE Announced

Line 6 quietly announced the release of POD Farm 2.5 today.

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For current users the biggest changes seem to be:

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  • No hardware requirement – can use with any USB device (not an isssue with the iLOK version)
  • 64 Bit support
  • Stand alone version also available
  • if you currently own version 2.0, 2.5 is a free upgrade.

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This is NOT Pod Farm HD – but it’s a cool upgrade. For new users, the introduction of the POD FARM 2.5 FREE option is good news (perhaps the Amplitube free option with pay-per addition, was a factor in this move). In any case, I think it’s a smart decision by Line 6.

It seems like the free version is more of an unlimited trial version of POD Farm that you can use indefinitely but Line 6 has been  generous with the offerings on the free/trial version.  Here’s what you get (taken from the Line 6 website):

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POD Farm™ FREE (i.e. trial version) includes:

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• 2 guitar amps

  1. “Wide panel” Fender®  Deluxe Reverb®, and
  2. Marshall® JCM-800

• 2 guitar cabs

  1. 1×12 1964 Fender® Blackface Deluxe Reverb® and
  2. 4×12 1978 Marshall® with stock 70s

• 2 bass amps

  1. Ampeg® SVT® and
  2. Ampeg® B-15 1×15 Ampeg® B-15

• 2 bass cabs

  1. 1×15 Ampeg® B-15 and
  2. 4×10 Hartke®)

• 13 stompboxes and studio effects

  1. Teletronix LA-2A®
  2. Electro-Harmonix® Deluxe Memory Man
  3. MXR® Phase 90
  4. Fender® Deluxe Reverb®
  5. Tremolo
  6. Arbiter Fuzz Face®
  7. Ibanez® Tube Screamer®
  8. Arbiter Cry Baby
  9. L6 Vetta Comp
  10. L6 Sub Octaves
  11. L6 Vetta Wah
  12. L6 Digital Delay
  13. L6 Standard Spring Reverb and
  14. L6 Cavernous Reverb

• 2 mic preamps

  1. API® 512c with API® 550b EQ and
  2. L6 Solid State Console

• Dual Tone functionality and A/B/Y box

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For a free app, to run a dual Marshall/Fender rig with delays, distortions, and reverbs is a lot!  You can certainly get a useable tone with the variations they have here.

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In contrast:

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POD Farm™ 2.5

($99 for Standard or ILok Standard)

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has more amps (16 total), cabs (24 total), bass amps (5 total), more bass cabs (5 total), more stomp boxes/fx (29 total) and 6 mic preamps.

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POD Farm™ 2.5 Platinum

($299 for Platinum or ILok Platinum )

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With the platinum version you get: more amps (78 total), more bass amps (28 total), more bass cabs (22 total), more stomp boxes (97 total)

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You’ll need a decent processor to run Pod Farm (see requirements here), but how much you’ll need the additional amps and fx available in the paid versions will depend on what you need to do.  You can download and test drive the standard version for free – but as I said before with the tools that they’ve given you – you may not even need to upgrade – but with the additional flexibility you’d get – you might want to.

Thanks for reading.

-SC

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GEAR

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Keeping Your Ego Out Of The Song’s Way

Thanks for coming to this page but it’s moved!

You can find it now on Guitagrip.com.

Thanks for dropping by.  I hope to see you at guit-a-grip!

New SooperLooper Update 1.6.16

For those of you who use SooperLooper – it looks like Jesse snuck a new release under the radar back in January that I’m just catching now.

The only release note is that the AU unit is now more stable under various hosts,  for those of you with AU validation issues – this might help out a lot.

For those of you who have a Mac and aren’t using SooperLooper – now’s the time to get on board.  SooperLooper is a shareware application that uses a lot of the functionality of the Oberheim/Gibson echoplex looping unit.  It’s leagues above the looper that you get with Mainstage and could be all you need to do a 1 person show.

(If  you do start using it – you should definitely send a couple of bucks Jesse’s way for all the hard work he’s done on it.)

-SC

X Code 3.2.5 / AU Lab 2.2 Now Available – Caveat Emptor

Here’s a pretty tech oriented post for those of you who have been using AU LAB for an audio unit host.

For those of you using AU Lab – the new X code 3.2.5 update is now available – which includes an update in AU Lab to version 2.2.

I did the update this weekend – and couldn’t get AU lab to work for the life of me.  If you’re using a newer mac – you might have better luck – but I was unable to get audio routing to the channel and the program would crash when trying to open a new document.

Based on the release notes I was able to see – the biggest update to the software was an automatic aggregate device configuration.  Which I don’t really get as setting up an aggregate device in Audio MIDI set up is well documented.

That may be the issue with the problems I had but in the meantime I had to go back and install the previous X code version over 3.2.5 to get a working version of AU Lab.

Like I said – You may have better luck if your system is more up to date.  Here’s what I’m running (note: I running 32 bit instead of 64 bit).

Special Note:

This suggestion only involves not using Software Update to install the new X code tools.  If you want to install the rest of the tools and skip AU lab – you’ll have to do it manually

  1. just follow the directions below
  2. choose X Code 3.2.5 instead of 3.2.2
  3. When down downloading choose Custom Install and install what you need

What to do if you DO need to re-install AU-Lab

Re-installing AU lab is not as straight forward as you might think.  There are probably multiple ways to  do it – but this is what worked for me.

While there are a series of paid subscriptions – you can sign up for the Apple Developer Program for free.  This will give to access to previous versions of X code tools (which has AU lab as a component).

Once you register and get to the login screen: Look for a screen called Downloads and Programmer Assets.

Then look for Developer tools.  If you scroll down you’ll see X code 3.2.2 Developer’s Tools – which has version 2.1 of AU Lab.

“Xcode 3.2.2 Developer Tools

Xcode 3.2.2 is an update release of developer tools for Mac OS X. This release provides bug fixes in gdb, Interface Builder, Instruments, llvm-gcc, Clang, Shark, and Xcode. It must be installed on Mac OS X 10.6.2 Snow Leopard and higher. Xcode defaults to upgrading an existing installation but may optionally be installed alongside existing Xcode installations. See accompanying release notes for installation instructions, known issues, security advisories.”

Download Name File Size Date Posted
About Xcode 3.2.2 (PDF) 131 KB 30 Mar 2010
Xcode 3.2.2 developer tools (Disk Image) 744.7 MB 30 Mar 2010

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The download will take a while.  Just do the full install and it will replace the old files.

While not a very elegant solution it is a functional one.

I hope this helps!

-Scott

Rough Hewn Trio – Some Live Excerpts

The Rough Hewn Trio –  an instrumental trio consisting of Chris Lavender on Warr guitar, Craig Bunch on drums and myself on guitar are getting back into the rehearsal cycle and gearing up for some shows this spring.  To get a feel for what the shows will be like here are some live excerpts from some improvisations we did this fall.  The live sets – will include a combination of pre-composed and improvised material.

For those of you who are interested – this session is all drums and laptops.  I’m running Pod Farm and Sooperlooper and Chris is using Guitar Rig. (an amp was used to re-amp the guitar in 1C – which had some gnarly digital distortion tho…)

Note:

mp3 playback is sometimes a little glitchy in Safari.  If it doesn’t play in your web browser – you may just have to reload/refresh the playback page.

Enjoy!

-SC

Improv 2b

Improv 2a

Improv 1c