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Review

Two Notes Torpedo Live

Issue #21

Two Notes is an innovative French company creating products for guitar players - products of the type that were previously reserved for studio and live sound professionals. In 2009 the company released the Torpedo VB-101 digital load box, designed to allow guitarists to capture their real amp tone direct to a recording device with emulated power amps, speaker cabs and microphones in a silent manner. Similar emulation technologies existed prior to the VB-101 but they were never paired with a high quality load box, allowing the user to record their favourite amps without miking them up at inappropriate volumes.

The VB-101 is an extremely powerful and highly specified 2U rack unit commanding a high price, making it great for studio work but perhaps less appropriate in a live scenario. So Two Notes created the Torpedo Live as a 1U version of the VB-101 that would be perfect for live performances retaining many of the features of its bigger brother but in a much more compact and rugged package designed for use on stage. 

The Torpedo Live is first and foremost a reactive 8 Ohm digital loadbox able to cope with amps up to 100 Watts in power, covering the vast majority of heads and combos on the market with ease. Two Notes has then combined this high quality loadbox with a high-powered 32-bit DSP that models a power amp, up to 32 guitar cabs (from a choice of 45) a series of bass cabs and eight well-loved studio microphones, plus studio quality ins, outs and circuitry design.

In use the guitarist runs the speaker out from their amp into the 'speaker in' on the back of the Torpedo Live. The unit processes the signal through its DSP, allowing the tone to be recorded silently through the balanced ¼” TRS out on the back straight to a DAW or an external recording device. A speaker output is also onboard allowing the signal to be passed, unprocessed, to a standard speaker cab for monitoring normally on stage or combining the processed tone with a standard guitar cab.

A front mounted headphone output allows headphone monitoring of the processed signal for silent practice with great tone or for alternative, in-ear monitoring on stage. Finally, an S/PDIF output can send digital 48/96Khz signals for pristine recording without using the D/A convertors on the unit. USB and midi control are on board allowing the user to upload custom user Impulse Responses (cab/mic combinations) to the unit or to control all parameters in realtime via their DAW or midi controller.

Of course, all of this would be useless if the sound quality wasn’t up to scratch but with high quality 24bit 96Khz AD/DA convertors and 32 bit float internal processing the Torpedo Live offers true studio quality operation and only 3ms of latency for processed signals. If you’ve ever used software based effects in your signal chain you’ll know that 3ms of latency is completely imperceptible and about the same as you’ll get standing a few feet away from your cab, making playing through the Torpedo Live feel as natural as playing through a stomp box.

Tonally, the Torpedo Live features some of the best and most natural sounding speaker and mic emulations I have ever heard and I’ve tried almost everything out there. The cabs on offer cover a broad and useful range of 1x12, 2x12 and 4x12 cabs with open and closed back variants and lots of classic options for tone shaping. With 45 cabs at your disposal plus the ability to upload your own third party Impulse Responses you should always be able to find the perfect cab for each scenario. The choice of mics, including a R121, SM57, MD421 and U87 gives you all of the best-known and great sounding options of Dynamic, Ribbon and Condenser mics. The mics' placement and distance can also be heavily tweaked, giving you even more tone shaping abilities and post EQs can be applied to the signal to boost or cut specific frequencies as required.

Having all of these options available makes the Torpedo an invaluable tool for studio and live use where the guitarist can ensure the same tone from studio to stage, running direct to the PA allowing the audience to hear exactly what you’re hearing on stage and consistent tone from venue to venue with your favourite amp and pedal board.

There is even more however, as Two Notes has also included extensive power amp modeling covering 6L6, 6v6, EL34 and 84 and KT88 power sections. This can be used with pre-amps or stomp boxes for a supremely portable live rig or for recording via the preamp out (FX send) of an existing amplifier that doesn’t have a line out or when you don't want to use the speaker out. The power amp modelling sounds incredible, adding bloom, depth and breakup at higher volume levels and giving authentic tube modeling for each tube type. There are some great sounding stomp box pre-amps on the market and combined with the Torpedo Live can make for a superb live setup that will fit in a backpack. Fantastic!

The Torpedo Live is one of those products that once you've used it you wonder how you ever coped without it. It excels at everything it does and offers a huge amount of flexibility whether in the studio or on stage. I’ll be getting one for sure and you should too.

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