PodXT or Firebox?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by 1Way, Sep 19, 2006.

  1. 1Way

    1Way Member

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    I am looking for a portable studio/guitar practice workstation. One that I can practice and record with while I'm taking an "occasional" break on the road driving semi-truck. I require the flexibility and power of digital recording and various practice functionality, such as

    - lick learner, slow music down even less than half speed without changing pitch
    - create roughly CD quality recordings
    - watch instructional DVD's
    - record and edit various tracks
    - mix/sequence drums, bass and vocals, compose songs

    But I don't know what software can help me to get different sounds out of my guitar, especially for things like amp modeling for example.

    I don't have a laptop DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) "yet", although I'd like to get one sometime in the future. And so far, I find the PreSonus (firewire) Firebox($300) to be a good PC interface option. But if I want plenty of good amp and cab and mic modeling and effects, it seems that the PodXT($300) is the way to go and it also includes USB interface for the PC, but has limited inputs and monitoring/recording quality for recording.

    While I like the Marshall JCM800 and some mostly British amp models in the PodXT, as well as the flexible variables for different cabs and mics and positioning and such, I like the more professional recording setup of the Firebox, but it does NOT come with amp modeling that I know of.

    QUESTION 1
    Are there patches or amp modeling for PC programs like the one's that come with the Firebox, and if so, how much? Ships with Steinberg's Cubase LE.

    cont...
     
  2. 1Way

    1Way Member

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    QUESTION 2
    Does the PodXT interface work really well for recording, including (record mode) monitoring? I suspect this is a week point with most any USB interface compared to (IEEE 1394) firewire, and decent recording quality is a serious buying point. Even some PC interfaces for recording are known to have some latency and monitoring "issues".

    QUESTION 3
    Any other recommendations for a PC interface or PodXT alternative (in similar price range) for a home studio/practice rig and laptop/PC interface?

    I do not like the cheaper earlier Pods, I am kinda stuck on the Marshall 800 and similar British amp models, although some of these models are really high pitched sounding. I wish I was familiar with Cubase plugins and such, but I am not.

    Main struggle

    I'd rather not have to end up buying into both $300 units especially if the Firebox functionally effectively "replaces" the PodXT with add'ons/plug'ins.

    Also, if I end up not starting out with the PodXT, then I'm looking for something inexpensive to get me by until I can afford a laptop and Firebox (estimate 12-15 hundred and likely months of saving up), something to create good classic rock or blues sounds, but not necessarily do CD quality recording, or any recording at all.

    Helpful ideas and suggestions are most welcome.

    PS: I do have an ancient Rockman soloist, but the power supply has gone bad long ago and doesn't always work right. I went to Guitar Center to check out a pocket rocket(?) or something like that, and so far they suck, the salesgirl could not even get it to work right, after taking two of them out of the box and using three different batteries, and I know I don't like anything Digitech until you get into the latest guitar workstation and that is too expensive and not the sort of thing I'm looking for.

    QUESTION 4
    I'd like suggestions for economical headphone amp, or effects unit that may have somewhat impressive "amp modeling"/sound. That way I can still practice until I can afford a DAW rig...
     
  3. gixxerrock

    gixxerrock Member

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    I have also spent a lot of time on the road and thought about a portable rig that would do many things. There are others here who know way more than me, but I will take a whack at some of your questions:

    - I don't think Cubase comes with amp simulations, or if they do, they are very basic (ie. single tube sim for warming up a mic). You can get software plug in amp models as good (or better?) than POD but they will cost $$$

    - I havent used PodXT USB interface for recording but I assume it will work just fine for recording. Firewire is arguably better, but in your application there should be no quality difference.

    - MAudio has a really cool recording interface with an Andreneline built in. I havent used it, but I did play with an Adreneline for a week. The amp models did not seem as nice as the POD. It is a load of fun to play with. If I had to travel really light with just a guitar, headphone and small box, it would be the Adreneline. There is a good demo video on the web

    - guitar port might also be a good solution to get a guitar into a computer with some basic software.

    - If you are not travelling with a laptop, there is no point to a FireBox. The Firebox and POD are 2 different animals

    - any of these models should have built in headphone amps

    - As a general purpose tool that does a lot of things in the studio (play dvds, organize music, watch youtube, mix, master and rip) and travels well, a laptop is hard to beat.

    It is really a slippery slope you are getting into as you start doing this. Plan on spending lots of $$ over the years.

    Good luck,
    Shawn.
     
  4. 1Way

    1Way Member

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    gixxerrock
    I agree, you can spend lot of money on stuff like this. But I don't like the idea of first buying the PodXT and then a few months later it's replaced by a laptop with pc interface and software. I know I'm going to get a laptop that is DAW worthy, which is also great for trucking these days anyway, so there is no doubt about that much. Also I'm financially poor, so I need to be thrifty.

    Is there another headphone amp device that sounds great but costs considerably less than the PodXT that can get me by until I get a nice laptop DAW rig???

    I'm also thinking about getting a portable battery operated Pignose amp, but I still need something to get me some great distortion sounds with headphones too. And I'm afraid that I've become a bit spoiled by my Marshall tube amp. I really like the Marshall 800 amp model in the PodXT. I don't like most things I've try at Guitar Center, but that PodXT really does have some impressive sounds and functionality.
     
  5. gixxerrock

    gixxerrock Member

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    I understand the problem of wanting to do something now that will also make sense in the context of what you want to do a year from now. There are probably 20 diffferent modelling (or analog ie. sans amp) devices out there that will give a speaker compensated output suitable for recording or headphones. Many of them have digital (USB or SPDIF) outputs that will make them useful for recording down the road. Some have built in metronomes/drum patterns.

    I suggest trying as many as possible and find the one sounds best to you through headphones. To save money, watch ebay/craiglist and go 2nd hand. Most of the modellers can get decent results. The most significant sonic upgrade is a tube amp and mic. POD has found its way into many professional studios and will always have a place, so I don't think you are wasting money.

    Whether you even need an external interface such as Firebox will depend on what else you want to interface to your DAW. If you be adding MIDI keyboards, external monitors, miced guitar amps, SPDIF devices you will need one. If you will only be recording guitar via POD, you could probably skip this altogether. If you were getting a laptop right away, I would suggest trying something like guitar port which will model the amps in software.

    I don't like the sound of a pignose. If you want a small amp, Roland has a small microcube that would also be a good recording preamp ( http://www.rolandus.com/products/productdetails.aspx?ObjectId=802 ). You could also find a used Tech 21 Trademark 10 Watt for $150

    Cheers,
    Shawn.
     
  6. 1Way

    1Way Member

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    Maybe I'll have to give the micro cube another go at it, as the tiny speaker may have turned me off to it. I'll bring headphones and go from there. Thanks for the response and friendly encouragement!
     
  7. opdev

    opdev Member

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    Why not try a Boss MicroBR or a used Zoom PS-02.

    They will do alot of what you want.

    Or the tascam CD trainer.

    You can get alot of miles out of these units.

    The Zoom option gives amp sims, recording, drums, etc.

    You won't get slow down or DVD's but they are great little units.

    When you het yor laptop, get a Guitarport and a copy of Riffworks. Too much fun and not that $$$.
     
  8. 1Way

    1Way Member

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    Cool! I just found out about the Boss Micro BR ($230) last night and I think it looks very much like what I am after! However, last evening, I checked out two music stores and this is what I found. First, if you are going to use these little amps like the Roland Cube for private portable practice, give a good listen thru headphones as the little bitty cheapy speaker does not do the sound justice. Secondly, I tried out the 5-10 bucks more expensive Vox AD5 I think it was called, and it was better than the Cube and I nearly bought one on the spot. But, after joking about not wanting the small speaker and taking it out and cutting off the bottom of the cab off, I pursued finding a smaller unit, something with effects that might also do some recording.

    Long story short, I bought the Korg Pandora knowing I can return it within 30 days to GC. It does allow you to do some lick learner stuff, AND BTW, so does the micro BR unit, unlike what you said! Not sure how much of a song it can do that, but it "can" slow down your CD or radio or whatever you pipe into it!

    Also, I already have the Tascam Guitar Trainer and it is ok, but I don't like the effects and the lick learner part is just ok. I like that it has two ways to slow down the music. (1) By slowing down the CD which lowers the pitch too, and (2) by just changing the tempo without changing the pitch. But the latter way is not so good when you get to half speed as the sound becomes very grainy and raspy sounding, to the point it becomes bothersome. Also the former way is not so good if the lick is too bassy or if the lick is crowed by other music sounds. Everything starts to sound all muddy and smeared. Software lick learning is far superior, so I will mostly wait for a laptop for that sort of thing.

    So, currently I'm in favor of the Micro BR which also has like 300 drum patterns, but this little Pandora also has bass patterns which is cool. And both the micro BR and Pandora are VERY small. The BR records and can play and convert files to MP3 which is a great selling point. Plus you can play a backing track AND record the mix at the same time(!), so it is really a very cool little unit for the money and small portability. I'll have to see how cool the effects and bass and drum stuff is on the Pandora. But I'm keeping the receipt and box close by! That BR is looking good. For the money, so is the Vox ad5 at one and a quarter...
     

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