Utilizing All Possible Signal Paths in the Hexaphonic Audio Spiderweb: a "modernized", maximalist approach to the 19" rack guitar rig

chlorinemist

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[Posted this in the "show me your rack" thread and got some requests to make it into its own thread. Pt. 1:]

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Here's a brief explanation I recently commented elsewhere, describing some of the thought process behind the somewhat unique approach I have employed here and how I use it:

My Barefoots function as my FRFR speaker cabs/power amps. Notably though I do not use any amp modeling or impulse responses. I use all-analog hexaphonic distortion, a design which completely eliminates the harsh intermodulations of normal disortion effects that lead to the requirement of narrow bandwidth speakers or cab sims in traditional rigs. Even though my pickups are a neodymium lo-z design with treble response that extends far past what most pickups can reproduce, I find there is no nastiness in the high end at all. I originally had a Two Notes Torpedo Studio stereo IR cab simulator after the preamp, but I found that with my setup cab sims were merely dulling my highs with no particular benefit, and made my tone worse. So I stopped bothering with cab sims completely. If I want to adjust the timbre/treble response, I now use an analog resonant low pass filter instead (the Electrix) but I usually have it off.

My preamp is an all analog stereo tube instrument pre, the Sonic Farm Creamer+ (I use string panning and so required a stereo preamp), popular with bassists. The API EQ fills the role of usual guitar amp EQ controls missing from the preamp.
A short clip for anyone curious for an idea of what this all actually sounds like:

 
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chlorinemist

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607
[Pt. 2, posted in response a request for an explanation of the routing]

wonderful!
can we get a routing explanation of how that slathering of fx was recorded?
mics? direct? combo?
You asked for it, lol. Brace for a long explanation...

No mics. 100% direct. No sims of any kind, no post processing.

First I must explain my guitar... It has an active, neodymium lo-z full range hexaphonic bridge pickup, the Cycfi Nu. Unlike the hexaphonic pickups most are familiar, this is not like a piezo or a Roland GK. It is a real pickup designed for hi-fi pristine guitar tone and fits in a regular pickup slot, like a normal single coil.


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I have a Bass VI that I modified to work similarly as well (it's pretty sweet!)

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Unlike other hex pickups, these pickups are explicitly NOT designed for pitch-to-midi purposes. (The Fishman TriplePlay covers that) Instead it is designed purely with sonic optimization in mind, a multichannel pickup intended specifically for per-string fx processing, such as hexaphonic distortion (handled in my setup by the Spicetone 6Appeal, a 100% MIDI controlled analog device with 7-channels (1 for each string and one for my monophonic neck pickup) of distortion/fuzz with string assignable ADSR envelope modulation, panning, filtering, LFO, and step sequencing). This per string processing is also extremely useful for pitch effects like those on the H8000, which can only track monophonically. By setting up an 8 channel pitch shifter and treating each string seperately, I can set up complex harmony settings, simulate bass guitar, do on the fly tuning changes, as well as crazy arpeggiation effects with full polyphonic compatibility.

Like I mentioned, my guitar also has a monophonic neck pickup. This is the Cycfi XR, an active "sidewinder" style neodymium single coil sized humbucker with rows of poles on each side instead of one on the top.

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IMO the Cycfi pickups are easily the most important factor in the sound. These pickups really are quite unlike any other pickups that have ever been manufactured, in a profound way. While "hi-fi" pickups are often criticized as "sterile", "clinical" that's not the case here. Instead I'd describe the tone as super rich, utterly pure, yet completely HUGE sounding, almost more reminiscent of the timbre of a grand piano rather than a normal electric guitar.

The pickups connect to a breakout board inside the guitar, which outputs to a 19 pin LEMO output jack.
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The output jack carries all 7 pickup signals, as well as 3-5 CV signals (transmitted by CV guitar knobs) over a suprisingly not-thick guitar cable to a breakout box, the Cycfi Nexus. Phantom power for all of the active electronics in the guitar are provided over one of the pins (no batteries!). The 5 way switch also transmits CV signals, which are translated into MIDI program change messages, allowing me to toggle between 5 presets on the 6Appeal with the onboard Strat-style switch.

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The breakout box contains a CV-MIDI converter, which converts the position of the knobs on the guitar to MIDI CC info. I have the three guitar knobs to assigned to control the neck pickup level, dry bridge/hex pickup level, and disorted hex/bridge pickup level, respectively, via the 6Appeal's internal mixer.

All pickup signals are routed out of the Nexus breakout box via 13 pin to the 6Appeal. The 6Appeal's post-processing 13-pin output is in turn routed to a 13-Pin->TRS splitter. The outputs of the splitter feed 6 of the H8000FW's inputs. I process these inputs with DSP block A, which is usually set to an 8 in/8 out pitch shifting algorithm of some sort (5ths with varied delay times per string in this video, I think). I then sum the post H8000 string signals to stereo, and mix it together with the dry signal (6Appeal stereo outs) via the Rane splitter/mixer.

A mono signal path is also sent out of the 6Appeal and feeds all the mono input pedals on the board, including the RT Electronix Threeway, which is an analog BBD clone of the Dytronics Tri-Stereo Chorus. I can add additional pitch fx here as well with the Pitch Fork and CT5 pedals.

The pitch shifted post-H8K wet signal, dry stereo outs and mono-stereo tri chorus path/CT5 paths all meet at the Stereo X-Blender. The output of the X-Blender is compressed with a dbx MC6 minicomp, and then finally feeds the Sonic Farm stereo tube preamp. Outputs of the Sonic Farm preamp go to the EQ, then to the Electrix Filter, whose output in turn goes to the Metric Halo LIO-8 audio interface.

From the audio interface I route the signal to 2 parallel stereo aux sends: DSP B on the H8000 (I believe I was using the Allan Holdsworth/Yamaha UD Stomp-based chorus preset ("Allan's Chorus") here, a chorus algorithm with 8 parallel independent modulated, filtered delay lines b/w 20ms-400ms) and the Lexicon PCM80. I think I was used the PCM's Concert Hall algorithm or the "Rich Plate" preset. All these signals are then fed back into the audio interface once again, and there they are summed to a stereo buss, together with my dry signal. When I record I send this buss straight to Ableton. Simultaneously, I also route an fx send from this buss to a mult on my patchbay, and feed the stereo outs to my 4 loopstations in parallel. The looper outputs are routed once more to the LIO-8 audio interface, summed to stereo and sent to yet another buss, which I may then reroute back to the beginning of the chain to process the loops through all the hardware effects multiple times over. None of the loopers were used in the clip though.

*phew*

Anyways, that probably didn't make much sense. Maybe this (incomplete) diagram will help

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groundmeat

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103
The cables, man. All the cables! A birdsnest of cables. A plethora of cables!


I'm far from being a neat freak, but that much "cable chaos" would drive me insane.

That Eventide processor is cool. I've been in several music shops over the years that aren't afraid of buying old rack units, and I've NEVER seen ANY old Eventide units. I guess people tend to hold on those.
 
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chlorinemist

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607
The cables, man. All the cables! A birdsnest of cables. A plethora of cables!


I'm far from being a neat freak, but that much "cable chaos" would drive me insane.
My plan is to get around to cable management once I "finish" my rig. It's been in development for almost 20 years, so surely that day is just around the corner, right? Any day now..... :)

That Eventide processor is cool. I've been in several music shops over the years that aren't afraid of buying old rack units, and I've NEVER seen ANY old Eventide units. I guess people tend to hold on those.
It is truly a great machine. Quite outdated in some ways (the interface can tend to lag, changing presets isn't instantaneous, just two DSP "blocks" at a time, too slow for high speed modulation from external cv (although it does accept CV)), and still light years ahead of everything else in other ways. Only recently with effects like Zoia have similarly flexible hardware digital effects begun to emerge.

What would really make more sense for my purposes tbh would be a BOSS SY-1000... The problem is that I want to process the Spicetone 6Appeal's wet hexaphonic string outputs with the digital hexaphonic fx processor in series... While this is technically possible with the SY-1000 and 6Appeal, the SY-1000 is not designed for this, and it doesn't have the headroom to accept the hot signal that comes from the 6Appeal's 13 pin output. The H8000, on the other hand, is basically expressed designed for this specific purpose, and is in fact the only device ever built (except the new H9000) that is suitable all-in-one for what I'm doing, as far as I can tell.

Sometimes I think that I'm a dummy for not just compromising and using the 6Appeal and a Roland guitar synth in parallel... The SY-1000 seems like really awesome device and would do alot of what I'm doing with the H8000 with a much simpler workflow. But it's almost like a whole separate instrument. The role the H8000FW is playing is fundamentally an extension of my core, real guitar signal and tone. The H8000 becomes a part of the instrument itself, rather than an additional instrument
 

Gone Fission

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Hexaphonic makes a certain amount of sense except for the fact that most of the world hasn’t thought about it that much. Even the SY-1000 is sandboxed to a world where per-string USB output for post-processing is there accidentally because they don’t contemplate anything beyond reprocessing each string in their own sandbox. Imagine if it had an output concept like the 6appeal!

It’s hard enough to get interesting effects to come along to stereo. The consolations of your rig are that you have such a powerful, open-ended system, and you have every reason to invest your time in extracting the most out of it rather than being sidetracked by a new, shiny thing.
 

ctreitzell

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2,212
Hexaphonic makes a certain amount of sense except for the fact that most of the world hasn’t thought about it that much. Even the SY-1000 is sandboxed to a world where per-string USB output for post-processing is there accidentally because they don’t contemplate anything beyond reprocessing each string in their own sandbox. Imagine if it had an output concept like the 6appeal!

It’s hard enough to get interesting effects to come along to stereo. The consolations of your rig are that you have such a powerful, open-ended system, and you have every reason to invest your time in extracting the most out of it rather than being sidetracked by a new, shiny thing.
Most of the world isn't pushing artistic or tech boundaries and it certainly isn't reading this sub-forum! I haven't considered Hexaphonic.

Stereo is the norm...or is it? as we see a divide between the tiny mono phone speakers, headphones and diminishing quality playback devices. OTOH We've got companies selling Dolby Atmos "capable" systems to residential.
I just bought a 5.1 system; it's great...but it isn't pushing boundaries. It certainly is a big improvement over the junky stereo we been using for years and years. Orchestral sounds amazing!
Just considering mixing for 5.1 is a big enough consideration....how about true 100 speakers in the ceiling Atmos!?!

There is room for growth and gas potential still for @chlorinemist : speaker per string to start? :Devil
Start out planar and then go 360 over time?

Most folks just don't have the space or inclination to carry out such lofty experiments or get distracted by the cables rather than follow a passion to pioneer imagination. They get stuck in tradition. Not everybody, thank goodness!

Anyone here ever read How To Build A Recording Studio by Philip Newell? Have a gander at Eugene Czerwinski's private studio on pg 493 (I couldn't find that image online...yet). Yes that was running a specific experiment; but those boundaries are still possible to push. Who cares if somebody else wants to buy what is produced! It's a sonic frontier man! Being willing to experiment is highly respectable, IMO.

@Gone Fission I expect that was your sentiment as well
 

Gone Fission

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@ctreitzell I admire this pursuit but I don’t expect I have the fortitude to go nearly this far. I have shopping alerts on the 6Appeal and I’m eyeing a 20% off deal on the SY-1000 but I have been fairly disciplined on trying to lock down my stereo effects rack and mono pedalboard. (I wanted to make stereo pedals part of it, but choice and practical rig design eventually said no.). With my acceptance of some pragmatic limitations, I’m still off the deep end for most.
 

mentoneman

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I appreciate and agree with your philosophy on the eq filtered full range sound versus IR solutions. I don’t think I’d ever have the patience for the hex pickup world though!

Bottlenecking $ks of tone through a IR contraption is not working for me at the moment. My iridium is not sounding any better than my old rocktron cab emulation circuits in my existing rigs.

That being said using IRs in a fully digital fractal or helix world is very sensible.
 

rustolium

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@chlorinemist, bravo. Just excellent.

I once used a GR50 live to do a lot, but haven't looked back in a long time. I have the Fishman too and use it once in while. Those CYFI pups are completely new to me and this definitely inspires a new project in my future. I could get some interesting things going combined with the H9000.

Questions:

1- How much does the location of the CYFI Nu change its tone? IE: Middle VS Bridge position.

2- What is the latency like?

If ever someone needed a RJM MMGT, its you. :)
 

ctreitzell

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2,212
It all depends upon what you want to spend your life doing :)
Follow your bliss as much as you can

Personally, I'm so much more interested in installation art sonic immersion than playing in a rock band
but that's just me
I do think the two can coexist
 

rustolium

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I appreciate and agree with your philosophy on the eq filtered full range sound versus IR solutions. I don’t think I’d ever have the patience for the hex pickup world though!

Bottlenecking $ks of tone through a IR contraption is not working for me at the moment. My iridium is not sounding any better than my old rocktron cab emulation circuits in my existing rigs.

That being said using IRs in a fully digital fractal or helix world is very sensible.

Curious what you mean about IRs not working. What are you using for IRs other than what is built in to the Iridium? I am getting amazing results with real amps and modeler/profilers. Obviously, if you are not looking for traditional guitar tone then most IR stuff out there won't work for you. Maybe I could capture a more full freq speaker IR just to see what it does, unless someone has already done that.
 

rustolium

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Messages
518
It all depends upon what you want to spend your life doing :)
Follow your bliss as much as you can

Personally, I'm so much more interested in installation art sonic immersion than playing in a rock band
but that's just me
I do think the two can coexist
Agree, no doubt. However, this is a different level of commit.
 

plexified

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480
Thanks , I enjoyed that . The Cycfi and Eventide are definately in my future. I'm in the Roland GR-55 / GK-3 / BOSS GP-10 at the moment. It started for me when I heard a Kramer Ripley that had a Bartolini Hex Pickup and individual string pan.

Your stuff sounds great. Reminds me of the Fairlight days before the movement. In a few years we will all be hex processing imho. I absolutely love the tuning and the way we can 'enhance' even a traditional guitar tone with the backdrop when done properly.

Appreciate you taking the time and look forward to more !
 




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