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MOTU Digital Performer Guitar Tools


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Don't know if you guys are using Digital Performer sequencer software, but the latest version includes amp and stompbox modeling plug-ins, and a speaker cabinet/microphone modeler. I've been using MOTU for years, so I'm not terribly familiar with the other major sequencer programs. What I gather is that Apple Logic and the others have been getting into tools for direct-to-disk guitar stuff and MOTU needs to keep up.


Custom 59:


This is an amp modeler with selectable circuit path, preamp tube, tone circuit, and output stage. The controls are slightly misleading as there is a Volume I, Volume II and Master, but this is no Mesa Triple Rectifier with massive internal gain-staging. Volume I and Volume II are dedicated to their respective input channels, and Master controls the overall output level after the tone shaping. This makes sense to me since this is not a standalone application, but works only as a plug-in within Digital Performer. The Master on the Custom 59 is useful for setting the level of the track audio so that the mixer fader can be used normally, and not have radical settings because you have added high gain via the amplifier modeling.


The circuit paths, tone circuits and output stages available are nominally modeled to Fender Bassman, Marshall JTM combo, and Marshall JCM stack type amplifiers. The preamp tubes are 12AY, AT, AV and AX7. Whats interesting is that you can mix and match, so you can try a Tweed input with a JCM output and see what happens.


Now, about that gain staging and amplifier distortionby itself, the Custom 59 isnt going to give you tons of grinding sustain, but MOTU gives several distortion box models to choose from read on.


Stompboxes Galore:


The D+, Delta Fuzz, Diamond Drive, RXT, Tube Wailer, Uber Tube are all modeled after familiar stomp boxes, and the graphic interfaces make it even more clear what model you are getting after. Each of these does have a distinctive character, and each will appeal to some and not others. But the real point of the matter is that by placing these guys in the line before the Custom 59, you can in fact drive the amp model. I found that with the various distortion boxes in line before the Custom 59, the controls on the amp modeler became more responsive, particularly the channel volume. I could dial in the amount of drive I wanted from the selected stomp box, then shape the tone with Custom 59, including the overall sustain characteristics. I can see the versatility of this approach as compared to having the distortion options within the amp model, but not everyone will like the stompbox approach, and I did have a hard time getting the models to feel the changes in input volume from the guitar. Picking dynamics tracked pretty naturally, but the volume knob on the guitar did not interact as it would with a live amp.


MOTU also includes a stompbox Chorus model, which has simpler controls and offers a different character than the studio chorus plug-in that is also available. Finally, a wah pedal is available, with the sweep assignable to MIDI control so that you can use an expression pedal just as you would a regular wah.


Bringing it all together


As you might imagine with the stompbox-into-amp modeling concept, the sound can get a bit fizzy and overly bright. This is where the Live Room G plug-in comes into play. You can select from modern or vintage 4x12 cabinets, a 4x10 cabinet, a 2x12 combo, or a 1x8 Champ type speaker. You have three microphone channels to place in any of 5 positions, and each channel has a fader and EQ section. The cabinet models round out the more brittle sounds, and you can play with microphone combinations to go from in your face to more distant sounds.


In summary, using any single element of the guitar tools in Digital Performer 7 is probably not going to knock your socks off, but using them as a total system can achieve a wide variety of very useful results.



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