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Review: Torpedo Live Loadbox / Cabinet Emulator

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  • Review: Torpedo Live Loadbox / Cabinet Emulator

    A new Torpedo Live showed up at my door just before Christmas. Nice piece of equipment, looks sharp, seems easy and intuitive to get started. Naturally, I dropped everything, unboxed it and connected the output of my Bogner XTC for a quick test.

    First impression:

    This thing has a lot of nice little tweaks that you can use to adjust speaker model, mic type and location, along with a modest EQ. You can also add a tube power amp emulator if you're using the line in, and you can add a touch of reverb or slap (room emulation).

    I selected the standard Marshall 1960 4x12 with a SM57 - that's about as "go-to" a selection as I can imagine. I plugged in my ATH-M50x headphones for a first pass test - again, a widely used "basic" test platform that should sound relatively accurate and representative of most real-world situations (i.e., not an A-list recording studio). I disabled the power amp model since the Bogner is in-line, and also turned off the room ambiance/reverb/slap, since I have those in my FX rack already. EQ set to flat, I plugged in a guitar and started to play.....

    So, how does it sound? Way better than any cabinet emulator I've used in the past. Unfortunately, the straight-outtta-the-box patches still have a bit of that annoying upper-frequency grit that just sounds like a FuzzFace plugged straight into a recording console....but just a bit. It's almost usable without any real tweaking, but not quite.

    Next Steps:

    The Torpedo Live has two basic modes for building patches - "Arcade" and "Simulation". It appears that all of the stock patches delivered with the unit are built in "Arcade" mode, which is the simplest and easiest to work with. There are only a few parameters you can select - cabinet model, power amp model, room type (delay/reverb FX) and some very limited tweaks.

    In order to work with the EQ, disable the time delay FX and get into serious tweaking, you will need to work in the "Simulation" mode. Still working with the same baseline patch, I started playing around with the patch edit interface and found it to be a bit confusing at first, but once I worked with it a bit, I found it to be fairly easy to navigate. Personally, I would have found it easier if the twist-knobs incorporated the more common "push to select" function, but the workaround that the Two Notes guys came up with is usable.

    Having figured out the interface, I set about trying to get the output to sound less "direct" and more like the sound of a real cabinet.....and it was pretty easy to do. A few dB cut on the highest EQ band, move the mic back a bit from the cabinet and a touch off-center, and it started to sound really, really good. Actual use:

    Once I had a good baseline, I bolted the Torpedo Live into my rack, and took it to a real live gig to see how it functions in the real world.

    On the job:

    The job was a "direct-only" musical theater show, with a 21-piece pit orchestra. No cabinets for any of the electronic instruments, so I had to rely 100% on the sound from the Torpedo Live. Listening through my headphones, I was able to dial in levels and sounds fairly easily. Overall, the sounds I was able to get from this setup were easily as good as I could have gotten from my normal rig at pit levels (i.e., very, very low volume), and the direct connection eliminates problems with mic bleed.

    Here's the rub: It sounds good, but it is definitely not a real cabinet. I found that when playing through the Torpedo Live my relative levels between patches and channels were off. After some playing around, I think that it comes down to two things: Compression and dynamic frequency response. The modelling Two Notes has developed is very, very good, but it seems that there are still a few areas where it isn't perfect yet - and those areas are audible enough to require some attention.



    The Good:

    The Torpedo Live can sound very, very good with some tweaking, and indeed was a lot easier to set up in a live situation than a mic'd cabinet. Once I get a bit more comfortable with it, I may keep it in my go-to live rack just to have an easier solution and one less mic stand to trip over - and less signal bleed. On balance, it is by far the best sounding of any cabinet emulator I have played through, by a fairly wide margin. [To be fair, I have not played through the Palmer PDIs.]

    The control and connection locations are generally well thought-out, and clearly designed by someone who has used rack-mount guitar systems in tight, poorly lit performance situations. One nice touch is the red surround on the speaker input jack (not shown in Two Notes' product photos).

    The Torpedo also has tube amp emulation and time-delay FX (room ambience) which I have not yet tested to any degree of depth.

    The Bad:

    The factory patches don't give a good representation of what the Torpedo Live is capable of delivering, so it takes some directed tweaking to get to a sound you'll be happy with. Also, the lack of a XLR line out is unfortunate. Given that it is designed for live performance use, this seems to me to be a significant oversight. Most live performance situations give the guitarist a standard mic input to feed, so this unit requires you to carry a balanced 1/4 to XLR converter. This is easy enough to source and keep around, but it is just one more thing to carry. Neither of these is worth passing on the Torpedo Live, though, if you want to use your real tube amp in a setting where you need to provide a direct input or play at headphone volume levels.

    The Ugly:

    The price. This thing is not inexpensive, and ranks among the most expensive of any loadboxes and cabinet emulators available today. That said, it's not that much more than you would pay for a small combo cabinet, and less than you would pay for many of the high-end cabinets that it models.

    Summary:

    This is a solid piece of equipment that delivers very good sound quality and is reasonably easy to use and drop into your rack. Even when you are using a cabinet as a monitor, it will let you select different cabinet models for the output signal, which could be very useful in a situation where you need to cover a lot of different styles with a single rig. I think that the Torpedo Live is going to stay in my rack - it's that good.
    Last edited by SteinbergerHack; 01-08-2017, 12:23 PM.
    "The historical experience of socialist countries has sadly demonstrated that collectivism does not do away with alienation but rather increases it, adding to it a lack of basic necessities and economic inefficiency." ------------------ Pope John Paul II

  • #2
    Bump for a very well-done review!


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  • #3
    Sounds very interesting, but I have to concur... the lack of XLT out is a deal breaker for me. Well written!
    .com/

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    • #4
      Good review.

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      • #5
        It's been a very long time since I have visited!

        A nice review. I've been using the Two-Notes Live myself for the last 3.5 + years. I recently sold mine and upgraded to the Studio version. It is utterly amazing. Dual IRs running really widens things out nicely! Just an FYI....if you look closely at the back, it is a TRS jack. So to go into your local board, you simply get a TRS to XLR jack and you are good to go. I run mine this way as I am frequently using my XTC head with it in several venues where I can't and have no room for a cab in the pit.

        Also, take a good look at some of the LeBoutique cabs that are an optional cost (minimal) through the free Torpedo Remote app. They are absolutely fabulous and really demonstrate how great this thing sounds for recording and live. I use a Bogner 212CB with V30s. The one that one of the companies did for Two-Notes is spot on and outstanding sounding.

        Great products and well worth it!
        Last edited by Gas34; 01-19-2017, 09:10 PM.

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