Two Notes Audio Engineering is a forward-thinking company focused on solving some of the most frustrating challenges home and live musicians face. I can not count the times I have had a live soundman or a club owner tell me to turn down my amp. Forcing me to struggle through the gig with a tone I feel is sub-optimal.
Another struggle for myself and other musicians is getting a great tone while recording. It is challenging to push the amp volumes I desire in my home studio without rattling the windows or blowing my eardrums out.
Two Notes Audio Engineering addresses these issues and more. The company boasts over 500+ Dynamic IR captures compatible with their Torpedo devices and Wall of Sound audio plug-in. They allow the live and recording musician to have a full-sounding amp tone at any volume. Adding to this with the selection of available cabinets, a musician can change up their tone on the fly.
I had the opportunity to talk with Ross Davies, Director of Marketing. Ross walked me through the uniqueness of this fantastic collection of hardware and software collection for the hobbyist and working musician. Here is part of our conversation.
BGO – Diving right into it, your Torpedo products, look like from what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard and what I’ve noticed a great way to just go direct to front of house. To bypass the amplifier altogether and to kind of lighten up the load that you’re taking out there to a gig or on the road. Is that correct?
RD – Yeah, we have different categories of products. We have our analog and digital load boxes which function in part as attenuators. Then we have our digital cabinet technology, which we call DynIR or Dynamic Impulse Response. There’s Captor, which is our Compact Analog Reactive Load Box, Attenuator & Amp DI, and our Captor X, which is our Compact Reactive Load Box, Attenuator, Cab Sim & IR Loader. It lets users harness the power of their amp head, taking it to the optimum level, driving the tubes and getting the right tone out of it. Both devices can be plugged into a speaker cabinet, giving the user immediate control of the volume of the cabinet – a godsend for the home practice, enthusiastic.
Or, if you were playing live, like you said, you could run your amp head into your Captor/Captor X and send that to the front of house who can then send you a foldback mix for monitoring on stage. With Captor X, you can write-off a physical cabinet altogether and instead use our virtual cabinets.
With our DynIR technology, you can mic up the cabinet with two mics. You can choose between eight different microphones and you can move them around inside a virtual space, again which you can choose. Then you can apply certain post effects, including reverb and enhancers to help really create a nice full sound.
At the moment a lot of large proportion of the market are buying tube amps. But the reality of owning a tube amp at home is dawning on them. You can’t drive them to loud enough volumes that you get the benefit of owning a tube amp – without blowing out your windows of course. That’s where our Captors really come into their own.
So, that is our Captor technology; on the other side we have our CAB M+ at its core, CAB M+. is a DynIR / IR loader. What’s really interesting about it is it has a clean pre- and power-amp emulation, and this box takes pedals really well. With this in mind, it’s better thought of as an amp simulator. From the start of your signal chain all the way through to the cabinet, it’s a very powerful unit. A lot of people are using these in fly rigs at the moment, either as their cabinet emulator or as a complete amp simulator.
BGO – How do you see applications of these tools for the studio musician?
RD – For the player in the studio, these tools are superb. All units in our portfolio are engineered for seamless adaptation from the studio to the stage. Our DynIR technology and post effects that are hard coded into our unit’s DSP is studio grade. Moreover, for users simply recording a DI signal either independently or in tandem with a DynIR / post-effect processed signal, they can harness the power of our Wall of Sound Plugin; this offers great versatility when it comes to tweaking your tone to perfection and getting it in just the right place in the mix!
BGO – I guess you might be able to see behind me, there is, um, a hundred watt Marshall sitting in the corner over there that. Thankfully, I don’t live in an apartment building, I live in a very rural area. The nice thing for me is if I wake up at 3 A.M. I can crank my Marshall if I would like.
RD – I’m in a similar situation to you. I live in the middle of nowhere in Scotland. I can play my guitar late at night. But, many people just don’t have that level of isolation or the room. That’s where our products really come into their own!
BGO – Where I could see a huge benefit for myself with this type of technology would be my home recording.
Captor, Captor X and the Cab M+ have all revolutionized home recording. Much like people buy pedals, to augment their sound, there’s this growing community of amp enthusiasts who are buying amp heads. Realistically they can’t have multiple cabinets at home – so the Captor X or a Captor in conjunction with Wall of Sound is the perfect solution!
BGO – I was reading about that.
RD – The Captor doesn’t have a digital cabinet emulation in it. It has an analog cabinet simulation, but you can’t adapt it to your exacting needs. What a lot of people tend to do is line an output from it that hasn’t got the cabinet simulation active on it; they run it into their interface and record a DI guitar track. Then they use our Wall of Sound plugin to do the DynIR cabinet simulation with posts effects in their DAW. We like to think our ecosystem gives people, versatile options to create their sound. Our DynIR library is growing all the time – for example we just released a cabinet collection from Dave Friedman.
Dave Friedman went into the studio with us at Sunset Sound in LA and recorded his go-to cabinets that he has in his workshop. We’ve also done DynIR artist series releases with Pete Thorn, Phil X, George Lynch, the list goes on. We got a lot more coming this year and a lot more brands onboarding with us to do their releases. It’s very exciting times at Two Notes.
It is worth mentioning, there’s one other aspect to what we do: we work with other manufacturers to put our technology inside their amplifiers. We call this, Torpedo Embedded. Victory have done it with the V4 Kraken Pedal Amp. Revv has done it on a number of their amplifiers. Audient have done it with one of their interfaces. And there’s a lot more in the pipeline!
BGO – I’m a big Rush fan, which, I saw them on the last tour. Alex has gone from dragging around walls of amps to playing directly through a Macbook. Do you find that people are using the VST version of the product in life situations or do they depend more on the hardware?
RD – Yes, as computers are getting more and more powerful and giving players so much more freedom. A lot of artists will forgo the use of a cabinet all-together, but still love using amp heads. In this instance, they’re going to need some hardware to take their amplifier signal in to their computer. Here, a Captor or a Captor X are the perfect solution. The good thing about the Captor X is It comes with an app – Torpedo Remote – that you run on your phone or tablet. In the app, you can choose your cabinet and microphones; the best bit, it connects via Bluetooth and in real-time it updates your Captor X.
That’s why Captor X has been so popular. There are artists out there who use our products and they just take their amp head with them; they ask the live sound guy for a fold-back mix so that they can monitor through an FRFR cabinet or stage monitor!
We appeal to those guys that traditionally would have had to take pretty big rigs with them. Slimming it down to a guitar, pedalboard, an amp head, and a Captor X or a Captor of course!
We also appreciate some players want to use software. So, we have solutions to that with our Wall of Sound.
BGO – You mentioned an app. Is the unit itself is controlled by Bluetooth?
RD – The Captor X and the CAB M+ have Bluetooth built-in. You download our Torpedo remote app, it recognises your your hardware device. It will bring up all of your presets. It will bring up all of your cabinets so you can select the one that’s perfect for your needs. What’s really cool is it will even allow you to preview cabinets you don’t already own yet.
it’s a very intuitive experience.
BGO – I see you also work with Dave Friedman
RD – On our community and user groups, Dave Friedman came up time and time again as a request for a cabinet release. For his release, Dave decided to do something a bit special! We captured the cabinets that Dave has in his workshop, that he voices his legendary amplifiers on. It’s incredible the cabinets that he brought to the table and the minute we released the collection our channels all lit up.
Within 30 minutes, one of our users had already posted a video!
To be able to accommodate our users in that way and give them something that truly is breathtaking is such an important thing for us.
BGO – I ran through the different cabs and options, like years ago, I played through a Laney. I don’t need a Laney stack anymore, but I miss that amp from time to time. Being able to pull up that Laney 4×12 cab would be nostalgic and fun.
RD – The Laney release is great. They’ve got some really old legacy cabinets in the release including one of the original 4x12s that were part of the run of original cabinets that Tony Iommi used for the seminal Black Sabbath recordings.
We LOVE getting rarities! From Hughes and Kettner we got some prototypes. From Dave Friedman we got the “naked” cabinet – It’s got no tolex on it and he secured it from the backline of a 70’s Laurel Canyon rock and roll legend. Sadly, we’re not allowed to quote who it is, unfortunately. It’s really special when you get cabinets like that because all users gravitate towards the story and history.
We think for $10, someone being able to own a bit of that history, and play through a bit of history, is such great value.
BGO – Are there any plans to work directly with speaker manufacturers?
RD – We don’t do anything hardware-wise with speaker guys but they are really important when it comes to DynIR technology. We have a huge Celestion collection because they have an equally huge digital catalog. More often than not, we tend to go after cabinets as a whole. We’ve discussed artists but we also work with brands as well. We also work with people called Capture Masters – a network of recording engineers and they will release their own unique collections on our store.
There’s a good example of this: Michael Nielsen from Big Hairy Guitars released the Hidden Gem Collection with us last year. These 3 exclusive DynIR virtual cabinets were previously owned and used by Steve Vai. They were bought at an auction with a certificate of authenticity – not to mention being signed by the man himself – Michael meticulously captured the original cabinet alongside two unique variations. The result was stunning!
BGO – What about your pedal line? They seem beefy. Le Lead it looks to me and correct me if I’m wrong, kind of like a Marshall-In-A-Box.
RD – They are our take on different pre-amps. I think that the killer feature is, if you combine one of these with the CAB M+ (and you obviously turn off the pre-amp on the Cab M+), it’s complete rig with tube colorization built into the preamp. At Two notes, we’re passionate about tone shaping – which the pre-amp being such an important part of this, our preamp line were a logical step in our release schedule. They’ve been really popular, we see them cropping up a lot!
Le Bass has been very popular with bass players. When it comes to preamps, I personally have found bass players are more open to the concept of a preamp and a DI. With Le Bass, bass enthusiasts are provided with a dual-channel tube preamp, perfect for a myriad of usage scenarios.
BGO – When you think about the direction of RUSH. Geddy was quicker to ditch his rig than Alex. I think Geddy was probably about four or five years ahead of Alex in that aspect. Geddy was very quick to just go with a preamp and eventually go direct to the board and get rid of everything. I agree with you. As far as bass players doing that type of thing.
RD – It is starting to show that a portion of users are gravitating away from amp heads and combos and moving more into what we call a fly rig.
BGO – What is one of the biggest values Two Notes provides for musicians?
RD – We offer the market a great level of convenience. You don’t have to spend a fortune on amps or cabinets. For a competitive price you can get a very powerful solution that gives you a lot of tonal possibilities. I think that’s what the modern player looks for – value and versatility.
BGO – I see the pedal has channel A and channel B, do they have to be used independently, or you can use them for gain staging?
RD – Yes, yes, you can. In Cold Fusion mode you can run both channels in parallel, allowing you to balance / mix each channel; in Hot Fusion mode you can jump channel A into channel B – perfect for creating a truly fat, harmonically rich tone!
BGO – What is next for Two Notes?
RD – Well, we’re always working on new exciting solutions. This year is set to be a big year for us for a number of reasons. We’ve succeeded in cementing ourselves as a very forward-thinking company with the advent of original product portfolio. As we’ve grown, we’ve obviously had competition come into the market, which is what you expect. This year we’ll be set to just build upon our existing product line in new and exciting ways, and of course, keep offering our customers more and more options with our virtual cabinets.
I would just say watch this space because we’ve got some pretty exciting things happening here!