Unless you practice in a venue-like room
with giggable gear, there’s a good chance
your rehearsal experience is nothing like
playing out with your band. The differences—
individual musicians’ volumes, collective
volume, the monitor situation, how the room
reacts, etc.—amount to a unique situation
that affects the way everyone plays. Volume
creep wars tend to break out and, let’s admit
it, we guitarists often fire the first shot as we
turn our amps up to get that killer tone to
bloom. Or heck, sometimes we’re just trying
to hear ourselves above a drummer who has
no concept of dynamics. Essentially, many
musicians endure highly inefficient rehearsals
because they simply can’t hear their bandmates
Plugging your entire band into a JamHub
TourBus silent rehearsal studio is one way to
try to sort everything out. The idea is that your
rehearsals can be more effective and efficient
if everyone can at hear each other clearly.
With a JamHub, each musician plugs into the
same device but controls his or her own custom
monitor mix through their headphones.
Want more of your guitar? Turn yourself up.
Want less bass? Turn the bass player down.
Your bandmates are doing the same thing,
turning you and everyone else up or down as
they dial in their own monitor mixes.
Gotta Level With Ya…
If you know your way around a mixer, you can
figure out how to operate a JamHub pretty
quickly. The TourBus features seven individual
stations (six around the semicircle and one in
the back labeled “R”) where you can plug in
an instrument (using a 1/4" TRS unbalanced stereo), a mic (the XLR jack even includes +48V
phantom power), and headphones (1/4" TRS).
Each player’s piece of the pie allows them to
control their instrument input level, mic input
level, Stage mix (pan positioning for the instrument
and mic inputs), FX mix (16 effects can be
assigned to the XLR inputs), headphone output
volume, and personal monitor mix levels for
the musicians at all seven mix stations. Keep
in mind that adjusting your station’s monitor
level for each musician changes that musician’s
instrument and vocal level. In other words, if
you twist the knob for your bass-playing lead
singer in your slice of the JamHub, you’ll hear
the bass and vocal level go up or down simultaneously.
Plugging the mic into a mixing station
that doesn’t have an instrument plugged
in eliminates this potential issue.
JamHub also has a USB out for direct recording
to a computer, a built-in metronome, and a
built-in digital recorder. The unit comes with a
4GB SD RAM card and records .WAV files in stereo
at CD quality (16-bit, 44.1kHz). The mixing
controls in the center of the unit determine the
mix that gets recorded. The person at mixing
station #1 can flip the “1-R” switch to hear the
monitor mix from station #1 or the recording
section’s levels. You can record long stretches
of rehearsal in big files or divide your jams into
separate recordings by hitting a single button
after a song ends. The TourBus comes with two
remote mixing units, but the back of the unit
features jacks to accommodate up to four.
To rehearse with each musician hearing their
own personalized monitor mix is a good
baseline M.O. for getting your band’s music
right and jelling as a group. The trick is to
get over the newness of practicing while
wearing headphones that tether you to a
device in the center of the room.
I found that when you’re rehearsing with a
JamHub, it’s best to start off like you’re having
a soundcheck before a gig—it’s very important
to set proper levels for all the inputs before
anyone dials in a monitor mix. We actually
jumped the gun during our initial test with a six
piece band. We all plugged in and started playing,
and then everyone screwed around with all
the knobs in their own section. Bad idea. Each
time someone adjusted their instrument and
vocal inputs, everyone else had to readjust that
person’s levels in their own monitor mix.