AU Lab/POD Farm 2.0/Live Laptop Rig Tutorial Part 2

In the previous post, an AU Lab session (or document) was established and an A/B POD Farm patch was created.  In this post, I’m going to start modifying the patch to make it more useable.

Building the rig:

Okay first I’m going to swap out the amp. I like the Double Verb instead.

You can drag and drop amps into the signal chain, but if I click on the down arrow to the right of the AMP field – I can just scroll down to the Double Verb amp.

Here are the settings I’m using.

If you look in the left hand corner underneath the input knob on POD Farm, you’ll notice the global gate is on.  I tend to use the global gate at a low setting.  This came from a ruined session where I switched to a distorted sound that DIDN’T have a gate on it and squealed between each phrase.  Now I keep the master gate on to not worry about that scenario.

Compression:

Louder isn’t always better.

Compression has it’s place – but I try to play dynamically, so the compression is the first thing to leave the POD farm signal chain.

If you click on the compressor in the signal chain and then ctrl-click on the compressor you’ll get the following options.

Just select Delete.  If you change your mind you can drag and drop another compressor from the menu into the signal chain.

Another point to bring up, is that when I use an amp and effects – I try to use the same signal chain for all of them.  (This comes from years of playing gigs and having a bunch of effects pedals going through the same amp and reverb).

Looking at this set up, the mic pre (currently between the amp and the reverb) would be something that I would want in the channel signal chain in AU LAB instead of POD Farm – so that it was the same mic pre for any amp I’m using.

The first step is to delete the mic-pre from the POD Farm signal chain (using the same method as the compressor above).

Next (in AU LAB) in the Audio 1 channel – click on the arrow in the next available Effects field below PODfarm .

If you scroll down to Line 6, you’ll see that in addition to PODFarm, that each individual component of a PODfarm rig has been broken down into components (aka POD Elements).  This is so you can use individual effects or amps as an AU plug in which much less of a CPU hit than loading in another instance of POD Farm.

In this case choose: POD Farm Element – Preamp.  I’ve chosen Vintage UK.

Reverb:

The reverb would also be something that I would want in the channel signal chain – so that it was the same reverb for any amp I’m using.  (The other advantage is that by placing the reverb outside of POD Farm, when I change amp settings the reverb doesn’t cut off with the amp change.)

Delete the Reverb from the signal chain in POD Farm (using the same method as the compressor and the mic-pre above).

Next, (in AU LAB) in the Audio 1 channel – click on the arrow in the next available Effects field below POD Farm Element – Preamp.

If you scroll down to Line 6, choose: POD Farm Elements – Reverbs.  I’ve chosen Standard Spring.  Here are the settings I’m using.

Impulse Responses:

I use impulse responses rather than the speaker sims in Pod farm.  So the next thing I’m going to do is get rid of the speaker cabinet/microphone on Podfarm.  If I click on the CAB button – I’ll get a list of speaker cabinets and microphones used.  If I scroll to the top of the list – I’ll get “No Cabinet” which deactivates both the cabinet and the microphone.

Next, (in AU LAB) in the Audio 1 channel – click on the arrow in the next available Effects field belowPOD Farm Element – Reverbs.

Scroll down to Lernvall Audio and select LA Convolver.

Now I’m going to select to impulse responses to act as a speaker simulator.  I’ve experimented with putting multiple instances of LAConvolver  on buses and running multiple cabs, but since I want to run SooperLooper in the bus (Where I can loop guitar and any other incoming audio source), I’m going to just stick with a stereo set.

Select a channel and hit “choose” under file. In this case I’m using the free RedWirez cabinet I got as part of their birthday giveaway.

I want to use a high sample rate to get better definition so I’ve chosen 88.2 K. (or 2 times 44.1k)

I’ve chosen an SM57 on the grill and a KM84 about 3 inches behind the back of the amp.  I tend to start with the Wet gain in the center position and adjust as necessary.

A brief note:

I’ve mentioned this in other posts, but since I want to use the same speaker cab for all the amplifiers, I’m going with a 4×12 for familiarity.  Normally,  I wouldn’t match a double verb up with a 4×12, but since I’m going to be running a Marshall on the other channel, I’m going to just have to adjust the clean amp signals accordingly.

Fixing the Sample Rate:

If you notice, the plug in sample rate and the Impulse response sample rates are different.  It will work like this – but I want to use the highest sample rate I can for the most clarity.  There is a delicate balancing act that comes between high sample rates, stability and useable latency, so everything here is a compromise.

I’ll fix this with Audio Midi Set up :

First: click on AU Lab and look under Preferences.

When the preferences window opens, click on the tab marked Devices.

If you click on the expert setting arrow you’ll see something like the following:

Another  brief note:

I’ve set the CPU to 100% to avoid glitches.  I’ve also set the latency really high to attempt to keep the system stable.  Depending on the system and interface that you’re using, you’ll probably have to lower the setting to the point that you get glitching (or max out the memory) and then bring it up a little bit from there.  With the headphone out of the Duet – even with these settings the latency is suprisingly tolerable.

If I click Edit Device – that opens up the Audio-Midi Setup application (or you could find it in the Application – –  > Utilities folder)

Note:  I’ve changed the output format to 88.2.

Going back to the Audio-midi sample rate window – it shows:

An Important note about sample rates:

I’ll mention this again – but if you’re going to be incorporating other audio into the session (including looping in SooperLooper) – you’re probably going to have to set the sample rate back to 44.1 (and set the Impulse responses back to 44.1).  If I’m not looping –  I try to set the rate as high as I can, but know that it’s going to have to get bounced down to 44.1 for recording, etc.

While I’m on the preferences Tab I might as well set up recording to the external drive.  Click on the tab marked “Recording”.

Now if I click on the “Rec” button at the bottom of OUTPUT 1 in AU LAB, it will record whatever I do to the Lacie as the default location, in a 24 Bit AIFF format.

With the changes in this part of the tutorial, the AU Lab Input looks like this with some sample input:

You’ll notice that the output is a little off balance.

If you pan it to the left you’ll balance the signal out a little more. Here’s the setting with all the global FX so far.

You may want to save the AU LAB session now, if you haven’t done so already.

In the next session, I’m going to complete the clean channel effects and automate some parameters with the Midi Learn function to be able to make changes to the sounds with the Line 6 Shortboard.

You can find all of the laptop guitar rig posts on the Blueprints tab on the top of the page.  Once on the blueprints page – just scroll down to the Laptop Guitar Rig section.

Thanks for reading!

AU Lab/POD Farm 2.0/Live Laptop Rig Tutorial part 1

I’ve received a couple of pm’s regarding AU lab and setting it up for live use (largely from this post).  With an upcoming film accompaniment and a need to re-tool the setup a little I thought I would build a rig from scratch and explain how I’m doing everything.

About this tutorial:

What I am doing here is documenting the specific process for building a working rig for myself.  If you don’t have this specific hardware/software set up, you could adapt the process to whatever you’re using.

AU LAB

First a bit about AU Lab.  If you have a Mac Laptop with an OSX operating system, you have access to one of the greatest FREE music applications imaginable.  AU Lab is a program that was designed for AU (Audio Unit – The Mac proprietary plug in standard – much in concept like a VST) developers to test plug ins – but since it can accept audio and midi, has buses and can record audio – this makes it a great tool.  The fact that it does it with a fraction of the CPU of something like Logic makes it essential.

AU Lab can be installed as part of the SDK package that is on your OSX install discs.  If for whatever reason you can’t find your discs – you can go to the Apple Developer site and sign up for a free account.  You can then download the SDK package.  Once it’s installed it should be in folder called “Developer” but if you just search for “AU Lab” on your computer it will come up.

3/10/11 NOTE:

The UA LAB Version used in all of these examples is AU LAB Version 2.1.  Version 2.2 has not been stable on my system with the Apogee Duet.  You can read about the current version here – but in the meantime – you may want to download X code 3.2.2 Developer’s Tools – which has version 2.1 of AU Lab, if it isn’t installed on your system already.

Before getting into the setup – here are the tools I’m using for this particular rig:

Hardware:

FNH custom guitar:  You can find a full review of this guitar here.

Macbook Pro- 2.4 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo.  This is actually a 2008 version I got with a killer educational discount.  15” with firewire 400 and 800.  This Macbook has had 4 gigs of memory that I got from OWC (although the first slot can take 6 gigs so I’ll probably upgrade that before the end of the year) and a  Seagate 500 gig 7200 rpm drive.  I underestimated just how important the internal drive was to performance but it made a very big difference.

Lacie Rugged Drive – This is the 320 gig bus powered version.  Also 7200 rpm.  I run it on the firewire 800 port and use it to record to.  It’s a little overkill – but I can use it for larger sessions as well.

Apogee Duet – Firewire interface.  No other A/D converter near this quality in this price range –  No question about it.

Line 6 FBV shortboard Mark II – Line 6 got it 100% right with this product.  Smaller than the old shortboard, but can be USB powered.

Ilok key – This is required for the Ilok version of POD Farm.

Korg nanokey – The keyboard for this is a little toylike – but I’m not a keybaordist.  It is velocity sensitive and kits in a laptop bag – and I can use it to trigger patches, samples, etc.  I think all the Korg nano products are really cool.  Very useful item.

Apiotek USB 2.0 Quad – This is an express card adaptor that opens up 4 usb slots on the computer.  Since the Macbook only has 2 USB ports and I have at least 3 usb devices – this is REALLY helpful.

Software:

I’m not going to go into any real depth on the software – As I’ve already covered it in other posts.  (Look under LAPTOP GUITAR RIG)

AU Lab

POD Farm 2 Platinum (And POD Farm Elements)

La Convolver

RedWirez

SooperLooper

Absynth

Optional Software:

If using this hardware you will probably have to use one or all of these at some point.

Audio Midi Setup (Mac application – part of the OS install)

Apogee Maestro (Comes with the Duet)

Line 6 FBV Control (Free download from Line 6)

This will be a VERY indepth tutorial – but I want to make sure I cover everything I can.

AU LAB Set up

Go ahead and launch AU Lab

You’ll come to a screen that looks like this:

I want to run a stereo channel out so this is fine.

Click Next.

Notice that the default setting has no input – you can change this later – but it helps to set it up now.

Click Add Input.

Now you have an input source.

Click Next

In this case I’m using the Duet – so it came up as the default in the Audio Device field.  If you’re not seeing the audio device you want to use open Audio Midi Setup (in the Applications – –  > Utilities folder) and make sure you see it there.

You can check the input channels if you’d like:

This shows that the Left/Right 1/4” ins are both available.  I’ll only be using Instrument 1 for the guitar – but I could run another instrument if I wanted to.

Click Done:

Here’s the screen that you’ll get.  If you have your guitar plugged in and strum a chord – you should hear it.  But this is going to get a lot better.

POD Farm set up

The first step is to set up PodFarm:  Click on The Effects tab in Audio 1 and scroll down until you get to Podfarm 2.

Here is the default screen in Pod Farm:

What I’m going to do here is set up a clean and distorted channel that I can switch back and forth between and automate some of the parameters so I can change them with my shortboard.

The First thing to do is get the input sorted out – since I’ve selected a stereo input in AUlab – the default in Pod farm will be a stereo in.

I only need  the left channel in as I’m only using 1 guitar for right now.

If I click on the arrow to the right of input: Stereo and scroll down to left – I now have the Instrument 1 Input on the Duet (left) as the input for this channel.

Before setting everything up – I’ll take a second to get in tune:

If I click on the tuning fork to the right of the Line 6 logo – that opens the Tuner.

If I click on the tuning fork to the right of the Line 6 logo – that opens the Tuner.

The next step is to create a Dual Tone.   In this case I’ll just copy the current tone.

Click the dual button and select Copy Tone.

And you’ll get this:

Note that the input has stayed the same as well.  Now my single guitar input can be used on both channels.

In general, I haven’t had a lot of success with 2 channel sounds – particularly distortion – which tends to overload in unpredictable ways.  I’ve clicked on the A+B Switch to turn it off.

A brief note:

The first time I did this – the guitar tone was digitally distorting (unpleasantly) so I brought the output of PodFarm down and it was still an issue.  Once I opened Apogee Maestro – the utility that came with the Apogee Duet – I realized that the signal coming out of the Duet was too hot.

It’s important to realize that the more items you add, the more things you’ll have to check when it goes wrong.

You may want to save the AU LAB session and save the POD Farm patch as well.    AU Lab saves all the settings of all the effects in the session, but you need to save the patch in POD Farm to load it again.

In future sessions, I’m going to create an A/B rig with a dirty and clean guitar amps and use the midi learn functions to change effects with the Line 6 Shortboard.

You can find all of the laptop guitar rig posts on the Blueprints tab on the top of the page.  Once on the blueprints page – just scroll down to the Laptop Guitar Rig section. 

Thanks for reading!

An observation from a session

Last night I had an improv session with Warr Guitarist Chris Lavender and Drummer Craig Bunch.

We had originally planned on using amps – but with a limitation on the bass amp as a DI – we ended up going direct.

I ran out the FX send of my atomic to the laptop for cab sims (IR’s) and  looping – Chris went direct out of his Guitar Rig control.  With the Atomic – I don’t know if the signal hits the FX send Pre or post poweramp – but it sounded really good.

Craig ran both signals to mic pres (i didn’t get the make) before going into Pro-tools.

Headphone mixes were a little iffy -but everyone was listening through the mains nodding their head with an – “oh yeah”!

Next time we’re bypassing the amps entirely.  We figure we can use them live but the recording sounds were strong enough that we’re willing to go direct.

I can’t tell you how many years I’ve waited to have a feasible laptop guitar rig.   Pretty amazing to actually have it here.

No ringing in my ears today also was a nice touch as well…

Rig around the Rosie or Mediations and Meditations on Gear

Yesterday, I was trolling online for one or two things that I’d like to have to fill my insatiable gear lust and found an Atomic 1×12 amp for sale in Las Vegas for $149! A phone call and a credit card number later the amp was on its way to South Pasadena.

Now, I already had one of these amps – so a logcal question would be, “What the Hell do you need two of them for?”  Well, a couple of things,

1.  When I find things I like I try to buy a backup in case something goes wrong.  We can call this the great “Digitech Space Station lesson” – where (when they were in the death knell of production) Guitar Center was blowing them out @ $99 per and I only bought one.  Now the one I have is on its last legs and replacement ones are about $300-$400 on ebay.

2.  2 amps mean I can run my effects stereo.  Sounds small – but when looping things in stereo and there’s sound swirling around your feet…ahhhhh…there’s nothing like it.

3.  They don’t make this model anymore – and if worse comes to worse I could unload it for $250-$300 if I had to.

4.  As much as it kills me to say it – tubes project sound differently than solid state.  Before I left Boston, one of the bands I was playing in was One of Us.  The singer/guitarist/songwriter John Eye, had a Vetta – that sounded good.  It was super flexible and could do things that my amp set up never could.  But live, my rig (see the bottom of the media page for full rig information) projected completely differently.  Even when I used the pod 2.0 in front of my DeVille – it pushed the sound in a completely different way.

So, when playing with rock bands – I try to use a tube amp when possible.  For the film/video gigs I do – It’s more about convenience as there’s less sonically for me to have to compete with in terms of space.

(As a side note, John Eye is a truly great frontman.  He and I had very different views about live performance, but I always liked and respected him and dug his material.  I’ve included links above – including the Pull video which has some life footage of me with the band – but not audio 😦 .  I don’t know if any of the material I recorded with the band at that time will be on it – but if not – I’m sure the new material will be very cool.)

Getting back to gear and its endless acquisition –  I have conflicting opinions about it.

Having said all of this, will I still need to get Pod Farm Platinum eventually to go with the Pod X3 and the X3 live?  Yep.  Just a matter of time.  Will I get the Apogee Duet?  Yep – just a matter of time.

Because just like the plague inspired song quoted in the title, “Ashes – ashes we all fall down.”  – and life is too short to waste it on crappy tone.

I have missed a lot of great gear at great prices by waiting to buy it when I saw it.  If it’s a good deal, and I can make your money back on reselling it (if I have to) I jump on it now – before the next person does. Because who knows?  That extra piece of gear might get me .01% closer to the sound I’m looking for.

A long winded justification for buying an amp – but it’s important to have a realistic expectation of why you’re buying a piece of gear if not for yourself than to be able to explain it to your spouse.

I’m still unpacking – so no profound posts for a while probably.  Less fluff and more content next time around.  Thanks for dropping by.

-SC

Line 6 Pod Farm 2.0 Overview

I’ve taken advantage of Line 6’s free 14 day download of POD Farm Platinum 2.0 ilok version and have been working on formulating somethings for a review.  I won’t be able to post a full review now, but I wanted to post a couple of brief observations.

1.  The demo version was a little glitchy in standalone version, so I’ve been using it with AU LAB.  For those of you who don’t know about it (I had to find out about it on the super looper forum) – AU Lab is a free app that comes with the OSX Xcode Tools.  It was designed to test AU plug ins with but its a stand alone app with a fully configurable mixer ( inputs, outputs, effects busses) .  It records output and even generates midi clock!  Also it makes a very small cpu impact – so it’s perfect for hosting something like Pod Farm and say SooperLooper.

2.  2.0 supports midi – which means you can control it with a foot controller like the FBV shortboard MKII or the Behringer FCB1010.  I didn’t get to work with this yet – but this brings the live laptop rig very feasible for me.

3.  Stereo rigs which you can A/B/Y!!!  which alone would have been really cool – but you can use multiple effects in the same rig – something you can’t do on the POD for example.

Here’s a screen shot of a modification I made on the Outer Space preset.  I just added a preamp in the beginning of the chain.

So here is an mp3 of a guitar track I improvised with this setting:

Outerspace II

This was made with a FNH ultrasonic guitar, Behringer FCA202,  Macbook Pro (2007), and AU Lab.  No post processing.

So this particular sample doesn’t sound very guitarish – but that’s part of the reason I really like this approach.  You can create things that you never could create with pedals without a ton of gear and/or a ton of noise.

As with many other sims – getting usable clean tones is pretty easy and getting dirty tones that respond the way an amp would is a little trickier.  But the presets on all of these models are light years away from older line 6 presets that I’ve heard.  It’s pretty easy to get a tone in the ball park and tweak it from there.

Line 6 has some great audio/video demos on their site, so I wont go into too much here for demos as they’ve done it really well.   Also the May lesson uses the same signal chain for all the mp3s that will be posted there.

I need to also give kudos in that all of the sounds on the sites are included in the presets and they have also noted processed vs unprocessed sounds.  Yes there is a big difference between the two, and it’s important to note those differences so that when you dial up a preset you know what to expect.

The only thing I wish it had was a dedicated looper, but that’s not a deal breaker.

If you have an I-LOK I’d say to definitely check it out.  It’s more flexible than the POD and does some very cool things.

For further applications of this set up you can also  go here or here.