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What Happened to the Muse Research Receptor?


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I remember when this product came out and it looked like it had potential to be an absolutely fabulous product but the price held me back, the software I have and/or need to buy ads a lot to the already expensive cost of the box.

 

As tempting and versatile as it looked I just couldn't justify the price. I was wondering about it recently since it seemed to vanish from the radar screen. I found their webpage and now it appears they are just marketing their technology whatever that amounts to.

 

Did anyone have or use one of these devices, what do you suppose happened that they apparently went out of production?

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I'm not totally sure, but I think one problem was copy protection and updating issues. For example, I don't think the Receptor had the ability to do something like go to something like Native Access or Waves Central. Also, the price of laptops kept coming down.

 

The V-Machine was similar. It still works, but you mostly need to use it with free/public domain plug-ins that are available for it from an unofficial support page. It seems that basically, the idea of a stand-alone player for VSTs for live use was an idea whose time has come and gone. The V-Machine is still kinda cool, though, particularly because its latency is so low.

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I had one sent to me by Keyboard mag for review, but I did not get along with it very well (nor it with me, apparently :rolleyes: ), so I sent it back without doing the review. Only time I've ever done that. :idk:

 

I felt badly because I liked the concept a lot...but I ran into more than a few obstacles, and some of the things the 3rd party software companies I spoke with about it were saying about it were not terribly supportive, either. :(

 

dB

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I remember when this product came out and it looked like it had potential to be an absolutely fabulous product but the price held me back, the software I have and/or need to buy ads a lot to the already expensive cost of the box.

 

As tempting and versatile as it looked I just couldn't justify the price.

 

Funny you should dredge this up. Lately, due to some "health issues" I've been spending a lot of time in the bathroom (you didn't really need to know that) and, in search for some absorbing reading matter, have been pulling out copies of the better recording trade magazines from 10-15 years back. I recently came across an article on the Receptor, a product which I, too, thought was a terrific idea when it came out . . . except for the price. But then, compared to today's prices in the field, both hardware and software, everything was more expensive back then. They were indeed hampered by the implementation of copy protection, which limited the number of software products that it could support. As Craig suggests, that, plus the base price, eventually led to the Receptor's demise.

 

And, of of course, computers were becoming more powerful by the month, and it wasn't long before one could install as many software plug-ins on a computer as on a Receptor, and run multiple instances of them to boot. I think the Receptor only allowed for two.

 

I recall that there was another, similar product at the time, but I can't remember the name.

 

What's interesting is the rise and fall, but not demise, of outboard DSP host products that took the the load of running processing plug-ins off the DAW computer. DSP/fx was one that I recall, and Universal Audio has nearly their whole universe based on the concept of plug-in support built into the interface hardware. That seems to be doing just dandy these days, as long as you like their plug-ins. They've of course kept this on track by developing very good models of popular hardware signal processors so that if you want a Neve preamp or an original UA limiter, you got it.

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What's interesting is the rise and fall, but not demise, of outboard DSP host products that took the the load of running processing plug-ins off the DAW computer.

 

I thought Creamware's Scope system was brilliant, and it was a mistake for people to think it was obsolete just because native processing became more powerful. Native processing usually involves compromises. I've talked to the folks at Waves about this, apparently they could make some truly kickass plug-ins as long as you were willing to give over your entire, high-performance computer to one plug-in :)

 

I think there are two reasons why UA has survived. As you point out, they make great models. But also, some of their plug-ins, like the Manley models, would bring your computer to its knees. By offloading it into a DSP environment that isn't subject to variables, you have one less thing to worry. You can red line the UA DSP and use up 99.9% of its processing power, and it won't crash. You don't dare use up 99.9% of a computer's processing power, even 60% is pushing it because of all the tasks computers do, whose CPU consumption varies all over the place.

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I recently came across an article on the Receptor, a product which I, too, thought was a terrific idea when it came out . . . except for the price. But then, compared to today's prices in the field, both hardware and software, everything was more expensive back then. They were indeed hampered by the implementation of copy protection, which limited the number of software products that it could support. As Craig suggests, that, plus the base price, eventually led to the Receptor's demise.

 

That's basically what I figured, it's difficult enough to develop a piece of hardware but then you throw multiple third parties in the mix and things can get weird. Around the time this came out I was using rack mount synths at gigs and I thought how cool it would be if I could use some of my favorite VI's within a unit that secured into my rack.

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  • 1 year later...
My band still uses a Muse Receptor Quattro that I bought used off ebay a few years ago. The rackmount idea is a must, because we play some rowdy places and I never want to risk having a laptop get taken out by a flying bottle or body. It definitely isn't the most reliable piece of gear. It freezes up. Sometimes note offs become note ons or the sustain pedal suddenly starts working in reverse. I hope to replace it some day with a rackmount PC, but until that day comes, I still need to keep using this. The owner of Muse was responsive to my requests for help for a few years, but recently has stopped returning emails.
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I think there are two reasons why UA has survived. As you point out, they make great models. But also, some of their plug-ins, like the Manley models, would bring your computer to its knees. By offloading it into a DSP environment that isn't subject to variables, you have one less thing to worry. You can red line the UA DSP and use up 99.9% of its processing power, and it won't crash. You don't dare use up 99.9% of a computer's processing power, even 60% is pushing it because of all the tasks computers do, whose CPU consumption varies all over the place.

 

UA also is developing the key idea of using VSTs in the live recording environment, latency-free. Surely they feel the great need to stay one step ahead of the competition, i.e. VSTs run natively on the main CPU that at least so far in my experience, still have significant latency problems. I like Amplitude's Fender Tweeds better, but my go-to for recording has become the UA '55 Tweed because if there is latency, I can't hear it. I can record the direct guitar sound and then play around with virtual amp signal chains after-the-fact.

 

 

If CPUs get fast enough to solve the latency issue for live recording, UA will have to look about itself for what to do about that.

 

I am a big fan of UA - my Apollo Twin X is fantastic. But their VSTs need some updating here and there.

 

nat

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I think what little life that was left in these kinds of units was probably snuffed out by the M1 MacBookAir. MacBooks have really taken hold on stage, and the new Air is affordable. I expect a lot more people to use these.
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I think what little life that was left in these kinds of units was probably snuffed out by the M1 MacBookAir. MacBooks have really taken hold on stage, and the new Air is affordable. I expect a lot more people to use these.

 

I think laptops snuffed it out before the Air came along, but I can see where an M1 could become the default choice for this application. I always lusted after a Panasonic Toughbook, though, seems to me it's the only laptop that's built to rock and roll specs.

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I just got a press release from IK Multimedia about a new series of pedals that (I imagine) they're introducing at the NAMM show this weekend. The Amplitube X-Gear line consists, currently, of four pedals, one each for distortion, time-based effects (delays, chorus, phasing), reverb, and modulation. These serve as hardware hosts for a set of algorithms from the Amplitube collection. The idea is that you can have exactly the same processor in hardware for live playing as you do in software for DAW use. It's not as flexible as the Muse because it only involves processors from a single company, but that solves one of the Muse's problems.

 

While I don't use them, Amplitube's effects have a pretty good reputation. Even Craig likes some of them.

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Actually I like 'em a lot. Amplitube 5 was a major upgrade. Similarly, Guitar Rig 6 is a big step up over 5, and the latest Helix version remains awesome. Even the bundled sims, in particular Studio One and Digital Performer, are excellent.

 

Good time for guitar players, as long as you remember that you usually need to tweak pre- and post-processing to get the best results.

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Do guitar players still tote racks of gear? I assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that the trend was to use pedals that were more convenient than a rack mount unit or two. Frankly, as a barely electric guitar player with a couple of 30 year old pedals and some rack mount gear in the studio, I think the rack gear is easier to use, though perhaps more trouble to tote, traded off with a pre-assembled pedal board to serve as the "rack."

 

I guess it's what the marketing department researched and found where the enthusiasm lies. I suppose that in order to really appreciate these pedals either you had to be completely new to IK and T-Rack or you had to be very familiar with the T-Racks family and dreamed you could have a pedal with this or that effect from the toy box.

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Do guitar players still tote racks of gear? I assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that the trend was to use pedals that were more convenient than a rack mount unit or two. Frankly, as a barely electric guitar player with a couple of 30 year old pedals and some rack mount gear in the studio, I think the rack gear is easier to use, though perhaps more trouble to tote, traded off with a pre-assembled pedal board to serve as the "rack."

 

I guess it's what the marketing department researched and found where the enthusiasm lies. I suppose that in order to really appreciate these pedals either you had to be completely new to IK and T-Rack or you had to be very familiar with the T-Racks family and dreamed you could have a pedal with this or that effect from the toy box.

 

I haven't seen a guitarist using a rack in a long time.

 

First off, there are still guitarists dragging half stacks around, unless they are playing arenas and stadiums (which a few of them might be), they are more or less the Amish of the Electric Guitar.

 

The rest of us appear to be divided into 3 categories regarding effects. Guitarists with pedal boards, who chose specific pedals because they are "the very most bestest distortification tones ever heard" and they have quite a few of them, carefully tweaked. I'm sure more than one has experienced some prankster casually walking by the stage when they are on break and tweaking a knob or two. A friend recently had a "pedalboard meltdown" of some sort and it took him almost 15 minutes onstage to figure out what went wrong. He recently sold most of his pedals to finance his way into become the next type of guitarist.

 

Some players are using a Helix or Headrush digital programmable effects (including amp modeling) foot-switching system on the floor and a powered guitar monitor - usually a single 12" speaker and running a DI to the PA. These systems work well, sound great and are easy to hook up. It may take a little time to tweak your tones but once they are saved as a preset, unless a prankster knows how to save a patch they can cause no harm. The tone might be boogered but switch out of it and back into it and the preset returns, no harm done. I am considering one of these systems if gigging ramps up a bit.

 

And then, there are some of us who are using guitar amps with all the fun toys built into the amp and a simple footswitch with perhaps an expression pedal down on the floor. I've got a couple different flavors here, depending on the gig I may take the Roland Cube 40gx since it is small, light and punches beyond it's weight. With 2 foot switches I can get 3 different sounds, which is enough for most gigs. Clean, Dirty and Cleanish with Modulation (I use chorus on the Cube). I recently sold my Boss Katana 100 Combo and 6 button footswitch and bought a Boss Katana 50 MKII which is 7 pounds lighter. That saves 4 presets and the free computer program allows programming up to 60 different Boss effects into your preset (NOT all at once!!!!!) So there I have 1. Kinda Cleanish w Reverb 2. Singing Overdrive w Reverb 3. Kinda Cleanish w Reverb and Rotary Speaker (pretty Hammondish for a guitar) and 4. Distortion with delay (tap temp is on the top of the amp) and reverb. It uses the same 2 switch pedal as the Cube, I have 2 of them. Handy.

Last but not least are the Peavey Vypyr amps, my favorite is the VIP1 that I shoehorned a Scorpion 10 into. Peavey went with all analog amp modeling (TransTube) and WYSIWYG preset dialing, all on the amp. You don't need a computer to program it and the Sanpera 1 pedal provides 8 presets in 2 banks of 4 switches plus a combination volume/wah pedal. It sounds great but I find it difficult to figure out and need to work on it some more.

Others are using the Line 6 amps or the Fender Mustang series and I'm sure there are different brands offering similar goodies.

 

In the end, if everybody is happy, I am happy for them. I"ve heard all of these systems sound great and also sound terrible.

 

The only thing I really dread is when the band is too loud and I can't point fingers at any single instrument as being at fault there. When you are playing smaller venues you need to set an appropriate volume for that and stay there. Not as easy as it sounds.

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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I just got a press release from IK Multimedia about a new series of pedals that (I imagine) they're introducing at the NAMM show this weekend. The Amplitube X-Gear line consists, currently, of four pedals, one each for distortion, time-based effects (delays, chorus, phasing), reverb, and modulation. These serve as hardware hosts for a set of algorithms from the Amplitube collection. The idea is that you can have exactly the same processor in hardware for live playing as you do in software for DAW use. It's not as flexible as the Muse because it only involves processors from a single company, but that solves one of the Muse's problems.

 

While I don't use them, Amplitube's effects have a pretty good reputation. Even Craig likes some of them.

 

I like the tones I hear on the video but I'd like more range, toss in some country, funk, Death Metal and some less distorted (but still overdriven) tones. I almost always want to be able to tell which guitar am playing and high distortion levels tend to create similarity and also uniformity of dynamics. But I have some Amplitube guitar and bass amps and the variety is all there - they just overlooked it for now. YouTubers will show them how it's done.

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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[Amplitube X-Gear] I'd like more range, toss in some country, funk, Death Metal and some less distorted (but still overdriven) tones.

 

Ahah! Another data point in my observation that most guitar pedals involve distortion - overdrive, artificial harmonic generation, tube non-linearity when improperly biased, and so in. It could be a delay or reverb pedal, but at least half of them coming out in the last couple of years will have a "drive" knob.

 

I never knew that what particular flavor of distortion on a guitar could be "just right." Of course there has to be some distortion - it's part of the sound of an electric guitar - but it used to be that just the right settings on whatever amplifier the guitarist was using was "just right."

 

Ain't it grand how we have so many ways to spend money to make what to the end listener what would be a subtle difference, if noticeable to anyone outside the studio at all. Of course it's easy to recognize "just wrong" distortion, but it's easy to avoid that once you learn what the knobs do and how to play the part.

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[Amplitube X-Gear] I'd like more range, toss in some country, funk, Death Metal and some less distorted (but still overdriven) tones.

 

Ahah! Another data point in my observation that most guitar pedals involve distortion - overdrive, artificial harmonic generation, tube non-linearity when improperly biased, and so in. It could be a delay or reverb pedal, but at least half of them coming out in the last couple of years will have a "drive" knob.

 

I never knew that what particular flavor of distortion on a guitar could be "just right." Of course there has to be some distortion - it's part of the sound of an electric guitar - but it used to be that just the right settings on whatever amplifier the guitarist was using was "just right."

 

Ain't it grand how we have so many ways to spend money to make what to the end listener what would be a subtle difference, if noticeable to anyone outside the studio at all. Of course it's easy to recognize "just wrong" distortion, but it's easy to avoid that once you learn what the knobs do and how to play the part.

 

I think I've posted the link to Hartley Peavey's white papers, the one on Transtube? Peavey noticed in the mid to late 80's that the distortion characteristics of a single tube and/or transistor are not strikingly different in harmonic content. Tube amps sound like tube amps because of the circuitry required to support the tube's operations. Many older tube amp circuits are revered in part for the compression characteristics of the tube rectifier/power supply circuit. Crank up a 50's Fender Tweed Deluxe and you will hear "sag" in abundance.

 

So, Hartley set out to make a solid state analog circuit that emulates a tube circuit sound. There are differences (the solid state circuit doesn't deliver "flubby" sounding low frequencies for one), but TransTube is by far one of my favorite guitar amp circuits. It's a long list but I've owned a huge variety of tube amps, both vintage and modern, emulations and original designs. Some of them sound fantastic, no doubt about it.

 

Since my use of guitar amps is almost entirely for gigging, the newer stuff by Boss, Tech 21, Peavey and others is fantastic sounding and very reliable. I like reliable, a $3,200 build price from the company Red Plate Blues Machine is pretty worthless when a tube goes south - personal experience on a New Years Eve gig, my last gig ever with tube amp.

 

What I am looking for in a harmonic distortion tone is something that responds well to dynamics. I use a very heavy pick - 2mm gator - and I can get clean tones and dirty tones from the same amp setting without touching any knobs just by changing my pick attack. I do still switch from "kinda dirty" to "a good bit dirtier" often but it allows me to add emphasis to particular notes and phrases - expression.

 

The "end listener" is a random selection of humanity. Different things move us, different things leave us unimpressed.

 

This is a fantastic use of distortion as expression with guitar, Jeff Beck is a master musician by any standards.

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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What I am looking for in a harmonic distortion tone is something that responds well to dynamics. I use a very heavy pick - 2mm gator - and I can get clean tones and dirty tones from the same amp setting without touching any knobs just by changing my pick attack. I do still switch from "kinda dirty" to "a good bit dirtier" often but it allows me to add emphasis to particular notes and phrases - expression.

 

It's pretty much a universal fact that, in the real world, distortion is very low until you get very close to running out of headroom somewhere. That's usually a pretty sharp knee, so there isn't a lot of dynamic range between darn near full clipping and the onset of some harmonics that aren't present in the source. So to me, "respond well to dynamics" would mean that that's a softer knee. I'll bet there's a way to create that soft knee response by design rather than letting standard circuits do their thing. Maybe that's how they make one distortion box different from another.

 

Another thing that they do - and I'm not sure how - is allow independent control over the percentage of even and odd harmonics. In a conventional amplifier, as you start to get closer to zero headroom, you start getting 2nd harmonics, then when the level goes up a little further, the 3rd harmonic comes in. I expect that they do this with circuitry (or virtual circuitry) to generate the harmonics with a input level close to, but lower than that of the whole box. So you can get some second harmonics without everything going to hell until you want it to.

 

The "end listener" is a random selection of humanity. Different things move us, different things leave us unimpressed.

 

Right, indeed. To me, the guitar sound on that Jeff Beck song sounded just right - like an electric guitar should sound. But I don't sense the change (or no change) in harmonic content with the changes in volume, and that's pretty cool,

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What I am looking for in a harmonic distortion tone is something that responds well to dynamics. I use a very heavy pick - 2mm gator - and I can get clean tones and dirty tones from the same amp setting without touching any knobs just by changing my pick attack. I do still switch from "kinda dirty" to "a good bit dirtier" often but it allows me to add emphasis to particular notes and phrases - expression.

 

It's pretty much a universal fact that, in the real world, distortion is very low until you get very close to running out of headroom somewhere. That's usually a pretty sharp knee, so there isn't a lot of dynamic range between darn near full clipping and the onset of some harmonics that aren't present in the source. So to me, "respond well to dynamics" would mean that that's a softer knee. I'll bet there's a way to create that soft knee response by design rather than letting standard circuits do their thing. Maybe that's how they make one distortion box different from another.

 

Another thing that they do - and I'm not sure how - is allow independent control over the percentage of even and odd harmonics. In a conventional amplifier, as you start to get closer to zero headroom, you start getting 2nd harmonics, then when the level goes up a little further, the 3rd harmonic comes in. I expect that they do this with circuitry (or virtual circuitry) to generate the harmonics with a input level close to, but lower than that of the whole box. So you can get some second harmonics without everything going to hell until you want it to.

 

The "end listener" is a random selection of humanity. Different things move us, different things leave us unimpressed.

 

Right, indeed. To me, the guitar sound on that Jeff Beck song sounded just right - like an electric guitar should sound. But I don't sense the change (or no change) in harmonic content with the changes in volume, and that's pretty cool,

 

With either of the three: the Peavey TransTube (all analog solid state), Tech 21 or Boss Katana circuits, I can get a cleaner quieter tone with lower harmonic content and a more "singing" louder tone with considerable harmonic content by careful use of a very heavy pick. That means I can accompany our singer on a country tune and pop out little lead guitar bits as needed without fiddling with knobs, pedals, switches or any of those things. I am playing around near, on and beyond the edge of breakup. It's more difficult to get to that sweet spot with a tube circuit but my Red Plate (Dumble clone) did it nicely and Jeff Beck does it with his Marshalls (I've seen him use Fenders as well). Of course Jeff is usually doing 3 things at once with his right hand, picking with his fingers and thumb, working the volume knob and the vibrato bar, all while staying very musical and not overdoing any of it.

 

I have a Tech 21 Double Drive 3x MOD pedal that has separate, cascading gain knobs, one for even order harmonics and one for odd order. So yes, the code has been cracked and you can have your cake and eat it too.

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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....

 

The rest of us appear to be divided into 3 categories regarding effects. ...

 

I will mention a fourth group in which I fall. They have a pedal board with a bunch of pedals in reserve, a Helix or other Pod, and a Katana or similar amp with built in effects. Yes, some of us, like me, are pitiful. :)

This post edited for speling.
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Another thing that they do - and I'm not sure how - is allow independent control over the percentage of even and odd harmonics. In a conventional amplifier, as you start to get closer to zero headroom, you start getting 2nd harmonics, then when the level goes up a little further, the 3rd harmonic comes in. I expect that they do this with circuitry (or virtual circuitry) to generate the harmonics with a input level close to, but lower than that of the whole box. So you can get some second harmonics without everything going to hell until you want it to.

 

It might be simpler than I think. I just ran across this DIY article on another forum - an Ethan Winer project to add distortion. It's not targeted directly to guitars, even though Ethan is a Tele player, but the circuit is passive and very simple, and reminiscent of Craig's red LEDs wired across a guitar signal. In this design, one diode across the signal gives you even harmonics and adding a second diode in parallel with opposite polarity gives you odd harmonics (probably in reality both even and odd harmonics).

 

I'll have to play with that.

 

Here's a link to the article:

Build the Mojo Maestro (Audio Express magazine)

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....

 

The rest of us appear to be divided into 3 categories regarding effects. ...

 

I will mention a fourth group in which I fall. They have a pedal board with a bunch of pedals in reserve, a Helix or other Pod, and a Katana or similar amp with built in effects. Yes, some of us, like me, are pitiful. :)

 

I have a few select pedals but they aren't mounted on a board yet (which is even more pitiful!!!). Worse yet, I never bring any of them to gigs as backup. I could get through a gig with just my Tech 21 Para Driver DI, it has a built in SansAmp, the DI will run the pedal using phantom power and it is foot switchable so get a good clean tone direct and dial in a lead tone, done with one pedal.

 

Except, I never bring it to gigs, how pitiful is that?

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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Even since I cracked the code on how to get a good Helix sound, that's pretty much all I use these days.

 

That's kinda how it goes. A friend got a HeadRush system and it sounds great. I think he's done with his tube amps.

I've got the Katana sussed out, the MKII has better tone than the original, which was not bad at all.

 

Katana 50 with a 2 button footswitch is my happy place for gigs now, last night was the shakedown cruise and all I got were compliments. So it appears I've "cracked the code" as well.

 

Digital took a little time to get to where it is now but it's really good and the advantages are huge. A virtual "tube" will always stay biased and work, unless the whole thing takes a nosedive. I'm thinking that will be rare or never.

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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Do guitar players still tote racks of gear?

 

David Torn is the only one I know of, out of the guitarists I've seen play live within the last 5 years. HIs sound is built on his Fryette amps and certain pieces of rackmount gear (Lexicon PCM-42, Electrix Repeater, etc.). Pedals are mostly fuzz/drive.

 

Everyone else totes pedals.

 

Guitarists who require quick sound changes in time with the music tend to rely on MIDI-capable pedals that can receive Program Change and other MIDI commands, to be timed with stage lighting changes, fog machine, sequencers, etc. I usually don't go to concerts put on by acts that rely on such tight choreography though.

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Multiband processing- fair enough! I absolutely love my Kemper Profiler, and recently picked up the Powered Kabinet to go with it, and am extremely happy with the tone/sound even at bedroom volumes.

 

David Torn- he has been fairly outspoken on The Gear Page about real tube amps vs the KPA, but still uses a fair amount of rack gear mainly related to looping (of course).

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I should have asked Mr. Torn what he uses on international gigs. When I saw him at Big Ears Festival in Knoxville and in DC, he transported his gear by some sort of vehicle (car or van). Just curious as to whether he does the more usual thing when playing abroad, which is to rent backline amps.

 

I have a pro guitarist friend who bought a ZT Lunchbox Amp for overseas touring. I can imaging he was already being hit with extra luggage fees for bringing his pedalboard. His smallest pedalboard is average for most guitarists. He's also got the monster pedalboard. He's got his pedals dialed in so that he gets the sounds that he likes regardless of what amp is plugged in. When he played local gigs, he relied on his trusty 20W Marshall head and 1x12 cabinet. He moved away when Covid hit - no idea if he started playing out yet, but I'm guessing he's still using that modestly sized Marshall setup. Despite the size of his pedalboards, I've never heard him use stereo amplification live. If he gets more than one amp onstage, it's because he needs the volume, like on his gigs with The Messthetics - not for stereo widening.

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