By Bridgette Baini
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Of all the instruments that have been forced (somewhat prematurely) to make the transition from a traditional soundproof studio to an infinitely more subdued home recording environment, these are the high SPL, large footprint sources like amplified guitars and the acoustic drums that have had the hardest time like a square peg, existing in the round hole that is small-scale, desktop recording.
For drums (perhaps the most difficult of all instruments to record, even at the best of times) this has been largely a case of extreme compromise with many home recorders relying on prepackaged loops and drums programmed for their rhythmic parts, in turn reducing the more organic feeling of being dependent on the instruments into a two-dimensional facsimile of human expression, reducing it to mere dynamics and its place on the grid.
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For amplified guitars, on the other hand, this is a much more innovative ‘blue sky’ trajectory with guitarists showing continuous improvements in areas such as DSP-based amp simulation, DAW system latency. , impulse response technology, and not to mention a general increase in everything to do with realistic modeling of overdrive and distortion, helping modern guitarists get a little closer to something akin to an experience of organic play.
Even despite all the obvious technical developments in the space, ask any guitarist and they’ll likely tell you that the quest for natural feel and playability in the digital realm is still a work in progress. .
For something as intimate and touch-dependent as an amplified guitar, it always had to happen. Given the instrument’s various complexities surrounding tactile sensitivity, harmonic saturation, the electric guitar’s limited conversational approach to control, as well as a host of other factors surrounding dynamic envelopes and sound capture. instrument in the open, it’s easy to understand that recreating the true global guitar playing experience in the box isn’t a walk in the park.
For many, the biggest obstacle to the “silent disco” approach to guitar recording is the historic inability of digital to properly recreate the kinds of hypersensitive, gain-dependent, and breakout properties of speakers that we have. so often associate with the “good” sound. . This kind of marriage between the booth and the amp is something that sits between the algorithm and, therefore, has traditionally escaped the digital space. Until now.
Step into French company Two Notes and its impressive Torpedo Captor X, a responsive charging case, attenuator and cabin simulation all in one, designed to fit into your current amp setup.
Where the Torpedo understands so well that with something as variable as guitar amplification, simple end-to-end DSP modeling isn’t the answer for most players, especially when taking into account account that most are plugged in. into versatile and nondescript DI inputs on consumer level interfaces, which only further complicates matters when it comes to providing natural playability.
Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel and provide an end-to-end digital approximation of a guitar amp, this handy and compact little device is designed to be connected to the speaker outputs of your amp head, just like you would with any real world cabinet. , and thanks to remarkably sophisticated impulse response capabilities, flexes and responds to your playing, delivering an infinitely more familiar tone and feel, and avoiding much of the brittle harshness so often associated with digital amp simulations.
Anyone familiar with the work of Two Notes is probably familiar with its revolutionary take on impulse response technology, but if, like me, you’re somehow new to the brand, the experience it provides is just eye-opening, especially in the context of volume controlled recording.
As a self-recording guitarist (with an amp head worth approximately the same value as my entire recording setup combined), being able to actually use my premium, live setup in the context of home recording has gave an infinitely more natural, nuanced and better performance of guitar recordings in general.
Available in 8 ohm or 16 ohm versions, the Torpedo takes all the comforts of ITB home recording and combines it with hardware amplification at the front, while relying on 32 pre-loaded speakers (in well-optimized acoustic environments. safe) to simultaneously allow for an extra level of control while keeping the neighbors happy. In total, there are 26 virtual guitar booths with a good variety of vintage combos, classic stacks, and modern metal monsters, as well as six bass booths. But you don’t have to stop there, you can use the Wall of Sound III plug-in to access additional cabin simulations.
At first glance, the unit is really sturdy with a metal casing and recessed buttons so you know it’s going to handle gigs and gigs loads and departures. It’s lightweight, weighs just 1.3kg, and has dimensions of 12.8cm x 17.5cm x 6.4cm, so it can easily fit on or next to your guitar or bass amp on stage, when it doesn’t help you achieve the nirvana of sound in your home recording set up.
It’s also a reactive load, which means you can operate your amp with or without a cabinet, dividing the signal depending on the situation. There is a three-way toggle switch on the rear that allows you to switch between -38dB, -20dB, 0dB attenuation levels for maximum application versatility. At maximum, the Torpedo Captor X achieves the same volume you’d get straight from your amplifier, while the middle setting is essentially unity gain, perfect for recording straight into your DAW. The best part of it all, of course, is the control it all gives you at the surveillance level.
While I really enjoyed the versatility of workflow it allowed, there is a special place in my heart for the remarkable IR capabilities of the Torpedo Captor X, and the ease with which this allowed for straightforward A / B comparisons. regarding different speakers, microphones and rooms. combinations. This was especially useful for massaging bass and guitar mixes and seating them to record-ready results.
The Torpedo Captor X also comes with an application for computer, phone and / or tablet. The software is super user-friendly and intuitive, so I found myself using the app controls a lot more than the buttons on the device. In the app, you can select speakers and microphones, then further fine-tune your settings with options like equalizer, stereo reverb, sound amplifier, voicing controls, a noise gate, and a really small feature. interesting double tracking for stereo width. The reverb option is incredibly nuanced, with 13 room reverbs, all of which have adjustable mix, virtual room size, level of reflection of warm or bright room sounds, and tone. Another cool feature is the ‘enhancer’ setting which acts as a compressor to really boost the tones.
The Torpedo Captor X is a real Swiss Army knife in this product line. Its beloved IR Two Notes sound, and the way it fits into the beloved familiarity of your amp is definitely new and smart, serving as the perfect middle ground between the analog front-end and the back-end. simulated by DSP. Ultimately, there is something about this combination of old and new that seems to work, in an almost cyberpunk way.
Find more information on the Two Notes website.