The AxePort Pro is small, portable and delivers great sound.
The bulk of my home recording has been with a freestanding Boss recorder, but a computer interface has long been on my GAS list. So when the chance came up to try out the AxePort Pro from CEntrance, I was instantly up for it.
This is a sleek little gizmo, packing the essentials of a low noise, high quality (96khz, 24 bit), single-channel computer interface for guitar into a blue aluminum tube just 4.5” long and about an inch around.
The AxePort Pro is really easy to use. Plug your guitar cable into the 1/4” jack on one end (with a cool lighted cover!). Run a USB cable from the other end to your computer. Pop an 1/8” headphone plug into that same end and you’re in business – the USB cable that carries the signal also powers the AxePort Pro.
There’s minimal opportunity for tweaking the AxePort Pro – just one knob to control the instrument gain and another knob for the overall headphone level. All the sound shaping gets done with your computer recording software. That’s a good thing, so that you can concentrate on playing and recording.
Off For A Test Drive
To try out the AxePort Pro, I got out my 1981 G&L L-1000 bass and hooked up to my MacBook. The sound? Full, clear, true – no clipping or distortion, even through meager iPod earbuds. The bottom end was rich sounding with a nice punch to it. It was just what I’d love to hear for practicing. Plenty of volume, too.
Next, it was time for recording in GarageBand. The AxePort Pro comes with a program for recording on a PC or a Mac and another program for effects, but both were just trial versions and there was no documentation from CEntrance other than the files that came with those programs. GarageBand was the easier route to go, a known entity.
Before starting to record with the AxePort Pro, though, you need to install what CEntrace calls a “control panel,” which comes on a cute matching blue USB drive. That program controls the wet/dry mix of sound, either straight from your axe, from your computer, or somewhere in-between (there are both Mac and Windows versions).
For me, the instructions were a bit confusing because “control panel” is also an old Mac term for a preference pane rather than a program. Once I figured that out, I had to guess the program’s name (AxePort Pro) and hunt it down on my hard drive (in the Applications folder).
I was really pleased with how good my recorded bass sounded – no problems with latency while playing along with a GarageBand drum track, even with a couple of effects added in.
I also found that by setting my Mac’s Sound Preference input and output to the AxePort Pro, I could play along with songs in iTunes – a really handy way to learn a new song or for practicing late at night.
But Still…a Few Quibbles
Despite all the good points I found with the AxePort – especially the excellent sound quality – I was left thinking that CEntrance needs to go a little further with this product. For example, there was only a small instruction pamphlet labeled “Quick Start Guide.” But what I really wanted was a detailed software installation and usage guide. There shouldn’t be any guessing during software installation. (A friend who uses Windows found the software and setup very difficult and confusing, even though he has lots of experience with digital recording setups.)
The strap clip was handy for keeping the USB, headphone and guitar cords out of the way, but also a bit frustrating – it slides on the AxePort Pro, but can also slide off during use. In addition, you can’t really see the control knobs when the device is clipped onto your strap.
At first, I thought the AxePort Pro had a problem with buzzing when my fingers came off the strings. I emailed the folks at CEntrance (they replied right away!), and suggested I might have a grounding problem. The culprit turned out to be my MacBook’s power adapter. The plug I usually use goes onto the adapter itself and has just two prongs. I switched to its 3-prong grounded cord instead – all the buzzing went away.
With that problem solved, I’d have to say that the AxePort Pro is a simple, quality solution for recording a guitar or bass straight to computer, for silent practicing, or for playing along with songs you’re trying to learn.
you’re looking for a great sounding, straight-forward computer interface for your guitar or bass.
you want a computer interface with some bells and whistles, a software package for effects, and more than a single input and output.
Street $150 - CEntrance - centrance.com
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
LegendaryTones, LLC today announced production availability of its new Mr. Scary Mod, a 100% pure tube module designed to instantly and easily expand the capabilities of many classic amplifiers with additional gain and tone shaping. Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
Originally released as the Lynch Mod in February 2021, the updated Mr. Scary Mod features the same core circuit as the Lynch Mod but is now equipped with a revised tube mix combo per George’s preference as well as a facelift in a newly redesigned electro-galvanized steel enclosure. As with the Lynch Mod, each run will be limited and the first run in Pumpkin Orange with Black hardware is limited to just 150 pieces worldwide.
The Mr. Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage on top of the cathode follower position, keeping note definition and articulation while further increasing sustain. Each Mr. Scary mod is meticulously built by hand in the USA, one at a time, and tuned using high-grade components. Equipped with a single ECC81 (12AT7) in the first position and ECC83 (12AX7) in the second, the Mr. Scary Mod can clean up beautifully when rolling down your guitar’s volume, and still adds scorching gain when you roll it back up. This is a gain stage that’s been tuned and approved by the ears of the maestro George Lynch himself.
“The Mr. Scary Mod excels with dynamics and is incredibly touch-responsive, allowing me to shift from playing clear, lightly compressed cleans to full-out aggressive sustain and distortion –and control it all simply by varying my guitar’s volume control and picking,” said GeorgeLynch. “In many ways, it’s an old-school approach, but it’s also so much more natural and expressive in addition to being musically fulfilling when you can play both the guitar and amp dynamically together this way.”
The Mr. Scary Mod installs in minutes, is safe and effective to use, and requires no special tools or re-biasing of the amplifier. Simply insert the module into the cathode follower preamp position of compatible amplifiers (includes Marshall 2203/2204/1959/1987 circuits) and
immediately get the benefit of enjoying a hot-rodded amp that delivers all the pure harmonic character that comes with an added pure tube gain stage. The handmade in the USA Mr. Scary Mod is now available to order for $319.
For more information, please visit legendarytones.com.
October Audio has miniaturized their NVMBR Gain pedal to create two mini versions of this beautifully organic-sounding circuit – including an always-on gain device.
The NVMBR Gain is a nonlinear amp that transitions gracefully from clean boost to overdriven tones. Volume increases from just over unity to about 10db before soft-clipping drive appears for another 5db of boost. Its extraordinary ease of use is matched by outstanding versatility: you can use it as a clean boost, push a stubborn amp into overdrive or create a just-breaking-up sound at any amp volume.
October Audio’s new family of mini NVMBR Gain pedals includes a switchable version that allows you to bypass the effect: one option features brand logo pedal graphics, while the other sports a fun “Witch Finger” graphic with a Davies knob as the“fingernail”.
The second version in the new lineup is an always-on device featuring the Witch Finger graphic and Davies knob, with the same NVMBR Gain circuit that lies at the core of the switchable version.
- Knob controls gain and clipping simultaneously
- Stunning silver hammertone finish
- Switchable versions are true-bypass, available with classic or witch finger graphics
- Authentic Davies knobs, including the “fingernail”
- 9V center negative power supply required
- Dimensions: 3.63 x 1.50 x 1.88 in
Witch Finger (always on NVMBR Gain) demo
All October Audio pedals are assembled in Richmond, VA, and available for purchase directly through the online shop. Street price is $109 for NVMBR Gain footswitch versions and $89 for the always-on device.
For more information, please visit octoberaudio.com.