13 - 02 - 2020
Torpedo Captor X - Product tour with Guillaume Pille
Rich Renken is a renowned live and studio sound engineer from Los Angeles. He has been working in the music industry for more than 30 years. We invited Rich to the Two notes headquarters to try out the Torpedo Captor X in situation, and discuss his thoughts about the product with Two notes CEO Guillaume Pille.
Read the full transcript of the interview, below.
Rich : Great to be here at Two notes visiting you here in France
Guillaume : Thank you Rich, very happy to have you.
Rich : So you have a new product, Captor X, what is it?
Guillaume : Well, the Captor X is a new portable solution for the guitarist or the bassist who wants to play his tube amp and has a problem with volume, either on stage or at home or in the studio. The idea of the product is to provide solutions so you can play the amp you love anywhere.
Rich : Can I take a look at it? It's super light, nice, love it. So, you don't have to plug in a speaker to this at all. Why is that?
Guillaume : We provide what we call a reactive load in the unit that lets you not use a cabinet. For example, if you're playing at home or if you need silence on stage, you just have to plug the Speaker Out of your amp into the Speaker In here, and plug headphones or use monitors.
Rich : And you won't hurt your amp at all not having a speaker hooked up?
Guillaume : No, you can consider this is your speaker.
Rich : One thing I noticed using the unit that whether it was on Full or the -20dB setting, there was no loss of tone, how do you achieve that?
Guillaume : The secret with a passive attenuator, it's kind of a trick but we need to actually compensate for some frequency loss, rather than trying to make it sound exactly like your amp at lower volume, we make it sound good at a lower volume. Which is a different approach that we have with our product in the case that you need your cabinet. For example you still want some volume, we have the Low setting here, -38dB. You get your Plexi at whisper level.
Rich : it sounded great there too, it was shocking, no loss of tone, it sounds the same. So, with my background, I understand cab modelling, but to somebody who doesn't understand what it is, what's going on that gives them the ability to sound, quite frankly, awesome ?
Guillaume : With our technology, you pick a cabinet, you pick two microphones and you get to move them the way you want and mix them the way you want. You're really in the position of the sound engineer in the studio trying to find the sweet spot for the cabinet. I think many people ignore that the final tone actually depends a lot on your cabinet choice and your microphone choice. It's really important to take a little bit of time to set that right.
Rich : Captor X comes with 32 cabinets and a variety of microphones. Is there a way to get other cabs or do other things with it?
Guillaume : Yes you can actually upload new cabinets. You can try all the cabinets we offer in the Two notes library in real time with Torpedo Remote. We want the people to be able to try all the stuff we offer before buying anything.
Rich : Oh got it, and when you buy it, it can go into the unit?
Guillaume : You can load it into the unit. You can buy Virtual Cabinets from Two notes but you can also do your own IRs. We provide a free software called BlendIR and you can do your own mix of IRs. You can also buy regular IRs from third-party vendors.
Once you have what we call the raw miking, you have a very good raw material to work with, we offer some options to actually polish your tone to make it more "radio-ready" if I can say so.
We have what we call the Enhancer. With the Enhancer you have three parameters called Body, Thickness and Brilliance. Body will actually increase that little bit of presence and the low mids. Something that really makes the guitar shine in the mix. Thickness and Brilliance, you will use them just to work on the low end and the high end. It's interesting to use those functions and just switch them off to realize how far you are from the raw material.
As a sound engineer maybe you don't need those but as a guitarist, like myself, I will use it all the time because it sounds so much better, easier to play, more like a studio sound.
Rich : A little more polished.
Guillaume : Absolutely.
Rich : At the club, the other night, the guitar player was using the Twin Tracker, it floored me. I was actually blown away by how effectively it moved the guitar out of the middle. But didn't just sound like that normal trick you do, where you can hear that it's just a delay. It really sounded like two guitar players playing double tracked. How did you do this voodoo?
Guillaume : Well you know, this is a stereo unit so, I was thinking about what's happening when you only have one guitarist on stage or what's happening when you play by yourself. It's not really great to play with the sound that's just right here right in the middle, so we worked on the Twin Tracker.
The idea was to create another guitarist or bassist that plays with you. You can adjust the balance between you playing, and the other virtual musician playing with you. You get to actually move them in the stereo field, it's really interesting. I think that's the setting you want especially on stage when you have just one guitarist. When you play with headphones, it's really magical.
Rich : Oh yeah, you feel this (spreads arms), rather than (centered motion) like you were saying.
Guillaume: Another interesting option, again, because it's a stereo unit, with the Space knob. It actually defines how much space you have around you. Basically, it will work with a new stereo reverb we have in that unit, to actually expand the stereo width of that reverb. The reason why we put a parameter here is, that sometimes, you have a great reverb pedal on your pedalboard but sometimes not so good, and the one we have here is a real studio algorithm and it sounds great. So you may decide to actually use this as an effect rather than just room modeling.
Rich : The next knob is Voicing knob and it has a detent in the middle. What would you use that for? That seems like something new.
Guillaume : Yes, the Voicing knob is really new with the Two notes products. That's a new function, in the case you are on stage especially, but you just need to do a tiny bit of correction. It's actually changing the voicing of the whole unit. We know every product has a tone, right? So that's the button that you use to actually change that tone. It will go from a more modern, scooped tone to a more mid focused, we call it vintage tone.
Maybe as a sound person, you'd like to have something more in the mids because it fits better in the mix. But maybe the presets don't work exactly the way you want, so, well, just try that. And it's a very powerful setting so you don't have to turn it all the way down or up and it's designed to be fast and effective. You may not need it. That's why there is a middle position that does nothing. But it's actually when you start working with a product you realize that "Yeah it's so fast, it's easy".
Rich : How do you control the software that's in Captor X?
Guillaume : When you want to edit presets - a preset being a Virtual Cabinet, microphone , miking and all the effects you can add - we actually offer different options. If you're at home, in your home studio or in the studio, I guess you probably will have a computer so you can connect the USB control into your computer and use our Torpedo Remote software.
Torpedo Remote gives you access to any parameter on the unit but also software updates, loading new cabinets, loading your own third-party IRs. It gives you full control of the unit. If you're on stage, you probably don't have your computer. That's when the Bluetooth capability of the unit is useful. You just have to take your phone or your tablet and control everything in the unit.
Rich : Apple and Android?
Guillaume : Apple and Android, any kind of device and it's just great to have that in the pocket.
Rich : Is that similar to the one I've seen with C.A.B. M?
Guillaume : Absolutely. It's very close, except we have a few more options in this one. Pretty much the same interface so anybody can download it.
Rich : It's so easy to use, yeah, that's exciting. So if I wanted to control this on the fly during a song, is there a way to switch cabs or switch models while you're playing a song from the pedalboard or something?
Guillaume : We provide MIDI control and you can control not only your presets, but also control any parameter. So you can get crazy and use your expression pedal to move the microphone.
Rich : No way!
Guillaume : To change the reverb settings, etc. That's common to all the Two notes products having MIDI control. I think it's good to provide creative options to musicians.
Rich : Are there other ways that you can use the left and right outputs?
Guillaume : There are actually three routing options you can use with that unit. Imagine when you're in the studio, you may want to record, what I call, Wet Signal. It's with the speaker simulation, the miking and everything.
Rich : Everything that would be coming out of the Captor X?
Guillaume : Absolutely. So, let's say it's the left output and on the right, you'd rather have the dry out, no effects, no speakers simulation, just your amp tone going to your DAW. And then in the DAW, using the Torpedo Wall Of Sound plugin…
Rich : Oh yeah
Guillaume : …Where you can do afterward, the cabinet modeling and the miking. You may change your mind about the type of tone you are aiming at and use Wall Of Sound just to find something else. Or just to duplicate some tracks, it's very easy to use.
Rich : I could actually have everything coming out of Captor X (from one output), (the other) output be just a DI off the back of the amp. And then, even though we're coming into the Speaker, we could still go out to a speaker cabinet, mic that up and record all three (signals) in a session. So now you have all three choices when you get ready to mix.
Guillaume : Absolutely and because you have the attenuator here you can even have the cabinet hanging out in the recording room or just in the monitoring room, having it here, at low volume, with a mic. I mean, it's a world of options.
Stereo would be my favorite choice if I just play with headphones and have a great tone playing by myself.
The other way to use the two ouputs, imagine you're on stage now. You don't have someone to take care of monitors, so maybe the guitarist will have some kind of tiny mixer or IEMS with a mixer. You can actually use one output to go to the monitors and the other output to go to front of house. You get to have the same modeling on both but you have separate EQ and separate reverb. So, the guitarist can have his own reverb sound if he wants a lot because he's comfortable with that and with the EQ he likes to fit in his mix.
But you as Front of House, you can actually say"No, I want a flat EQ, I will do it from the mixer". Or on the other hand "Yeah I'd rather cut something or something else. Just cut the low end. You like the low end to play but I'd rather not have it" And cut it here (in the Captor X) rather than cutting it from the mixer. You get the signal ready to mix.
Rich : There could be one going in Front of House, one going to the monitor and we could have a quiet miked up amp that could come to Front of House that I could split left and right and have a different vibe and get it, again, out of the middle of the mix. That's powerful.
Guillaume : Many professional bands are actually using the technique that will keep a real cabinet and mike it in a silent box and have a Torpedo. Having the option to mix them both, it's great.
Rich : Yeah that's awesome. I've already decided as a Front of House guy that this is just gonna be in my backpack. I'm bringing it to gigs and if the guitar player doesn't want to use it,fine, nothing changes. But if he trusts me, my players do, I think they're gonna be blown away just like I am.
I've been here all week doing some live gigs and some studio stuff. This is an amazing product and I'm really excited to see what happens with you guys in the future. Thanks for having me.
Guillaume : Thank you, Rich, it was great having you.
Narrator : This was Rich Renken, Sound Engineer at Rev4Audio and Guillaume Pille, CEO of Two notes. For more informations about the Torpedo Captor X, you can go to two-notes.com/torpedo-captorx.