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January 15
more... VideosGearReviewsRecordingJune 2010JamHub

JamHub TourBus Review

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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 or themselves.

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.

Getting Wired
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.