The largest version of JamHub''s silent practice solution, the TourBus, is reviewed.
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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.
So we started over. I was at mixing station #1 with an acoustic, so I flipped the “1-R” switch to “R” in order to hear what was going to the recording. I set everyone’s instrument and vocal input level one at a time, then dialed in an ideal mix with the monitor knobs dedicated to the recorder. Once those levels were set, I flipped the switch to “1” in order to dial in the monitor mix dedicated to my own headphones.
Before having everyone play at once, we went ’round the horn to adjust panning (Stage) for each person. Spreading some players’ signals out a little to the left or the right made the headphones less noticeable because it allowed our brains to detect spatial dimensions within the instrumentation. Then we dialed in a smidge of FX for each vocal. The FX setting we chose was a two-second spring reverb. This was key, because initially everyone’s vocal felt unrealistic. Making everyone’s voice a little wet allowed us to perceive the room depth that our eyes unconsciously told our brains to expect. From there, it made sense to play a song or two to allow everyone to dial in their preferred monitor mixes.
I Can Hear Clearly Now, the Wall of Sound is Gone
Being able to hear everyone so clearly was amazing. It was like listening to a CD that we were playing live. But moments after the novelty of crystal-clean practice tones wore off, we were left with the reality of how we really sounded. Flat background vocals were sticking out, the keys and lead were battling during a section that needed one person or the other to lay out, and the bassist’s tone needed more top end because his attack was completely mushed out. Luckily, everyone in the group was pretty good about the onslaught of suggestions they were suddenly getting. Adjustments were made and within minutes we sounded better and found more nuanced issues to work out. It didn’t take long for the JamHub to prompt everyone to bring their musicianship up another level.
One thing to keep in mind is that every instrument input is a 1/4" TRS unbalanced stereo jack. Plugging a guitar in direct with a normal cord results in everyone hearing the guitar in only the left ear of their headphones. The JamHub comes with two mono-to-stereo adapter jacks that turn a normal guitar cable signal into a split mono signal, but I highly recommend using a pedal with stereo outs and a Y-cable to feed a stereo signal of your guitar into the JamHub. Take advantage of the unit’s true stereo environment— split mono just doesn’t compare.
Players who get their dirt from their amps and need them dimed to feel right with the world might have a hard time getting used to the JamHub, although power soaks, isolation cabs, or an SM57 on the grille are possible solutions for getting your signal into the unit. The trick is to keep your amp’s volume from overpowering everyone’s headphones. (Headphones with isolation designs are a good idea, too.) Many amps today also have DI outs, tuner outs, and headphone outs that can be used with minimal trouble.
The Final Mojo
There are some hurdles with the JamHub: First, getting everyone’s signal into the unit might require some different rig considerations. Second, you need good headphones. I struggled to hear everything properly during one session with a moderately-priced pair that didn’t offer decent isolation and a full, flat range. Further, having each musician’s instrument and vocal level controlled by a single knob in everyone else’s monitoring section is annoying, though understandable—especially considering the extra cost and bulk it would add to separate the features. And, finally, there is the danger of getting spoiled by the JamHub. If your bandmates wish you could roll with the punches a little better when you can’t hear everything perfectly at a gig, it may not be a good idea for you to get used to hearing a pristinely personalized monitor mix at every practice.
That being said, the JamHub is quite possibly the best thing to happen to band practice. I can see the concerns I listed above being absolutely no concern whatsoever for many bands. The “silent practice” thing is a nice selling point, too—parents and cohabitants of musicians will especially appreciate the reduced output coming from the band room. However, the JamHub’s real value is in its ability to let you hear what you normally can’t—every single note that everyone else is playing and singing.
you want to get more out of practice—and with less volume.
you loathe headphones and need amps at full growl to get your rocks off.
Street $699 - JamHub - jamhub.com
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Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.
Billy Corgan was looking for something for heavier Smashing Pumpkins songs, so Joe Naylor designed the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One pickup. Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters have a fat midrange and a smooth top end. This pickup combines the drive and sustain of a humbucker with the percussive attack and string clarity of a P90. Get beefy P90 tone plus amp-pummeling output with the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One.
Patented Railhammer Pickups take passive guitar pickups to a new level with rails under the wound strings lead to tighter lows, and poles under the plain strings offer fatter heights. With increased clarity, the passive pickup’s tone is never sterile.
Railhammer Billy Corgan Signature Z-One Pickup Demo
For more information, please visit railhammer.com.
Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
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The Generation Collection of acoustic guitars features the exclusive Gibson Player Port designed to offer a unique and immersive sonic experience.
The G-Bird, the newest addition to the Generation Collection--represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird colliding with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port to add a new dimension to the G-Bird sound. The Gibson Player Port allows players to hear more of themselves as the audience hears it. With a tone that is crisp and resonant, all of the Gibson Generation Collection acoustics are designed to be comfortable to hold and play for long periods of time. All Generation Collection guitars feature the Gibson Player Port, slim, lightweight bodies, a flatter fingerboard radius, Walnut back and sides, Sitka spruce tops, and a stunning Natural finish. Additionally, the new G-Bird, and the G-200 and G-Writer are equipped with LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup systems which amplify deep bass and crystal-clear highs.
The G-Bird represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port adding a new dimension to the G-Bird’s sound. The G-Bird features a stunning solid Sitka spruce top and solid walnut back and sides for the ultimate in crisp, resonant tone. This square-shoulder dreadnought delivers all the rich low end and well-balanced mids and highs the original Hummingbird is famous for. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with chrome Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning. The utile neck, with its easy-playing Advanced Response neck profile, is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Modeled after Gibson’s pioneering small-body parlor acoustic guitars from the 1930’s, the G-00 is a top choice for blues and fingerstyle guitar performances. Despite its more compact size, the G-00 achieves a full, balanced sound. The G-00 fills any room with rich tones-which players can hear like never before, with the exclusive Gibson Player Port. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-00 is handcrafted in Bozeman, Montana, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustic guitars. The G-00 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-00 parlor-sized body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-00 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
The G-45, a round-shouldered jumbo, adds the Gibson Player Port to its famous “Workhorse” J-45 style body, which is Gibson’s best-selling acoustic guitar of all time. On the G-45, players can now hear more clearly than ever how this beloved guitar responds to every style and technique of playing. Powerful one moment and soft the next, the G-45 delivers all sounds with incredible dynamic range in an elegant, medium body size. The G-45 is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-45 features a slightly thinner round shoulder body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-45 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Gibson’s impressive range of square-shouldered guitars have become an expressive standard for rock, pop, folk, and country artists. The G-Writer is known for its wide range of sounds, from gutsy and loud, to soft and sweet; they are superb for all styles and shine, whether strumming chords or fingering intricate solos. The G-Writer comes ready for the stage or studio with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system and the ear-opening Gibson Player Port. The G-Writer is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-Writer features a slightly thinner cutaway body, is more comfortable to play and provides effortless access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Writer is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
Gibson built its first “Super Jumbo” SJ-200 as a custom order for country and western singer and film star Ray Whitley, who desired a big, loud, and deep flat-top over which to croon. The SJ-200 quickly became a staple of cowboy singers and horseback troubadours, and then country music, 60’s folk stars, and onto every acoustic guitar genre that has followed. Ray would be proud to hear the booming sound from the Gibson Player Port on the new G-200, which comes ready for the stage or studio with a LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-200 is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. The G-200 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-200 cutaway jumbo body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and provides excellent access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-200 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
G-Bird | Generation Collection
For more information, please visit gibson.com.