Is anyone going to pick up the torch for laptop guitar rigs?

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by metropolis_4, Mar 5, 2019.

  1. adamquek

    adamquek Member

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    edit: During this period, I bought and eventually sold an Axe FX II. It sounded great, had so many amps I had fun trying out, and was dead easy to use. Ultimately though, Helix Native was a value proposition I could not refuse. I personally feel the Axe FX was easier to dial in, but I can nevertheless dial in what I need on the Helix, in a form factor that can't be beat, and I can run multiple instances for recording.

    I've been running a laptop rig for years.

    I use a SoftStep as a MIDI controller, which is all the floor control I could ever need.

    I use a MOTU Microbook II and an iRig HD2 as soundcards. iRig uses ASIO4All on Windows, which is not great, but serviceable. The Microbook II has really hit the sweet spot for me, thought I leave it at home now as the iRig gets the job done.

    In terms of software, I've used Guitar Rig, then settled on S-Gear for the longest time, until Helix Native came out. S-Gear does sound great to my ears, but what's missing is a drive pedal (I find I have always needed one for my core tone), as well as a more modern/modded Marshall kind of sound, and I like have a PEQ or GEQ after the cab for final shaping. I could always have done this with additional plugins, but I prefer an all-in-one solution. Helix Native has filled that slot very nicely for me.

    I think most modern mid-range and above laptops can comfortably run a single instance of a plugin with a very low buffer (i.e. low latency) setting. Oddly enough, the most unexpected problem I have come up against is heat management. I use a Microsoft Surface Book 2, and I need to watch my power settings if the ambient temperature is in the high 20s and above (not unusual where I live in Singapore... or directly under a spotlight on stage), otherwise thermal throttling will occur. Once at a gig I had to unplug from my rig and go straight into the amp , because the spotlight on my laptop was causing thermal throttling.

    But for all the caveats and teething issues, I am generally satisfied with my laptop rig. It goes everywhere with me, it does everything I need and more, and I have so little to carry nowadays.
     
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  2. stratamania

    stratamania Member

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    You don't need to in Network preferences, deselect automatically join this network.

    In fact, I just typed this post after doing that to the network I am connected to. (Once I click Post Reply I will set it back)

    Edit: Or have I missed something about what you are trying to do with the WiFi.
    Of course if automatically join this network is deselected, if you are not already connected WiFi will be enabled but you will not connect unless you choose to do so.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2019
  3. TonePilot

    TonePilot Supporting Member

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    I'll have to check out S-Gear but I gig with BIAS FX running on the iPad. I have a MIDI foot controller to help with switching patches/effects. I use a music stand to hold the iPad.
     
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  4. TonePilot

    TonePilot Supporting Member

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    Where IK Multimedia falls down is in the cumbersome process for backing up and sharing patches. It's nearly impossible. Also, when they killed their community patch sharing service, that frustrated many of us. Their support is also not very good. I think they have one poor dude for everything. It's why I moved over to BIAS FX. Oh, their pop-up ads in the middle of a gig wasn't helpful.
     
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  5. metropolis_4

    metropolis_4 Member

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    It's all a matter of learning how to set everything up for live performance, and getting over the fear of things failing. Laptop rigs are WAY more reliable than most guitarists think. Sure, they can fail, but so can any rig.

    Anecdotally, I've personally had tube amp rigs fail on me more than laptop rigs.

    Excellent post, thank you!

    With companies like IK, I think they're decision to not remove the old stuff (or at least partition it off from newer stuff) is probably hurting them more than anything. If your first experience hearing the product is British Tube 1/Solid State you might be turned off before you dig in to find the stuff that actually sounds good.

    I know I had given up on AmpliTube for a while because the sound quality just wasn't there. I was hesitant to drop any more money on it when 4 came out because of past experiences. But I was glad I did once I heard it.
     
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  6. John Mark Painter

    John Mark Painter Silver Supporting Member

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    This is an argument for you to use something more simple and reliable.
     
  7. metropolis_4

    metropolis_4 Member

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    Just FYI in case anyone is reading this thread and didn't see it in the other thread about Helix Native:

    Frank confirmed this morning that this auth issue with Helix Native is a bug. Line 6 is aware of it, and it will be fixed in the 2.8 release
     
  8. rmg471

    rmg471 Member

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    I’m so spoiled with tube amps. I find that nothing is like playing a real amp. More convenient? Yes. Better? Who knows. I’d have been better off 60 years ago when it was an amp or nothing. The choice was easier. I love s-gear and Axiom, but I plug into an amp and I’m like... ohh, yeah, that’s it. Plug ins vs. a miked amp? Who cares. Just for the love of playing? How do you beat a great amp?

    I’m caught between convenience and the real deal. I think this is the crux of digital vs analog. How can you even choose?
     
  9. TonePilot

    TonePilot Supporting Member

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    I don’t choose. I run BIAS FX into real amps.
     
  10. rmg471

    rmg471 Member

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    It doesn’t bother you that you could do with just one or the other? It seems redundant, to me, at least.
     
  11. TonePilot

    TonePilot Supporting Member

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    My amps don’t have delay or other effects.
     
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  12. BCnSTL

    BCnSTL Member

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    What does "MIDI sounding" mean?
     
  13. metropolis_4

    metropolis_4 Member

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    If I was a guitar straight into single channel amp kind of player, I might prefer using a tube amp rig.

    But my digital rig allows me to do things I could only dream of back when I was using tube amps. For me there's no question. Digital has solved so many problems, and given me so many better tools to work with that I don't even care about any tonal differences anymore.

    There are so many important qualities in a rig besides just pure tone. Tone is just one part of the puzzle.
     
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  14. rmg471

    rmg471 Member

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    I picked up a copy of Axiom a few days ago. Needless to say, it’s very tweakable and you can really get into the guts. Having said that, I loaded a stock patch, tweaked the treble and bass knobs, and I have a sound I’ve played with for 2 or 3 days and will be using live.

    It can do so much more, it a great core tone is always the place for me to start with digital gear.
     
  15. the swede

    the swede Member

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  16. metropolis_4

    metropolis_4 Member

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    Cool video, and a nice introduction to the concept.

    It's really not as scary or complicated as it seems
     
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  17. mikah912

    mikah912 Member

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    That's because that's a soft sell. No mention of laptop optimizations, the actual interface used, how to set that up, how to mount the interface/laptop/cables, how to reduce latency, etc.

    The vision at the beginning of the video - "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if I could just take this tiny MIDI commander and a laptop to the gig, throw it in a backpack...." - is a wonderful one, but something of a mirage.
     
  18. metropolis_4

    metropolis_4 Member

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    Like I said, a nice introduction to the concept.

    It's not a mirage at all! I do it all the time.

    For many gigs, I don't even need something as big as a backpack. I carry my entire rig in a messenger bag! :)

    - Macbook
    - Softstep 2
    - Focusrite 2i4
    - 1 power cord
    - 2 USB cables
    - 1 10' guitar cable
    - 1 6" guitar cable

    Done!
     
  19. mikah912

    mikah912 Member

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    Don't you need the MIDI expander - and MIDI cables - with the Softstep 2? (not that it adds a significant amount of space)
     
  20. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Trumpets and Tants Silver Supporting Member

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    Is the Softstep controller as delicate (and normal people's foot size) unfriendly as it appears in the pictures? It seems like I would want to keep it on a desk and gingerly push the buttons with my finger versus actually using my feet to do the work as you would with any other midi controller. Just looks very fragile to me.
     

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