Two Notes is the industry-leader when it comes to guitar cabinet emulation and guitar cab impulse responses. Their range of studio-grade products is just about essential for any professional guitarist. Now they back with the Torpedo Captor X; a compact reactive load box, tube amp attenuator, miked cab simulator, IR loader and stereo expander for home, live and studio use. Sounds like another must-have? Tom Quayle gives us the full breakdown.
Over the last few years a totally new category of guitar related product has entered the market allowing guitarists to utilise their beloved tube amps at sensible volumes with the added flexibility of digital cabinet and microphone modelling and DSP effects for recording and live use. These ‘smart’ reactive load boxes, such as Universal Audio’s OX and Boss’ Waza Tube Amp Expander, have proved massively popular thanks to a ton of useful features for both live and studio work, but these market leading products are really large and heavy, very expensive and have features that are potentially overkill for the most guitarists.
Two Notes Audio Engineering’s Torpedo Captor X is the newest ‘smart’ reactive load box, fitting into this product segment in a very interesting and unique place. It offers the bulk of the meaningful feature set from the previously mentioned products but in a far more compact and affordable package with no compromises to build or sound quality, even throwing in some unique skills of its own to differentiate it further from the competition.
At it’s heart the Torpedo Captor X is a high quality 100w 8ohm reactive load box and attenuator. Being a reactive load, it provides your tube amp with a much more accurate and true playing response compared to plugging into a fixed load, so you can attenuate your amp’s output without compromising the playing or tonal experience. There are three levels of attenuation available taking your amp from stage volume to whisper quiet as required. Built into the compact metal chassis you will also find a high powered DSP unit offering up virtual cabinet and mic technology, an impulse response loader and high quality EQ, enhancer, stereo reverb and simulated twin tracker effects. Cramming all of this technology into a device roughly one third the size of and significantly more light weight than either the Universal Audio Ox or Boss Waze TAE is no mean feat.
Unlike the UA Ox, which only has line level jack outputs, Two Notes provide balanced stereo XLR outs for connection to professional recording equipment or a PA. There is a headphone jack on the front panel with USB and midi connections (of the mini TRS variety – with the appropriate adapter included in the box) around the back, allowing users remote control over preset switching and editing from either a computer or mobile device via Bluetooth, USB or a midi switching device such as the GigRig G2 or Boss ES8.
The remote control software, Torpedo Remote, is free to download on all devices and offers a very intuitive and attractive user interface for selecting and positioning of a vast selection of mics and cabs, EQing, adding ambient reverb or room simulation and enhancing your tone as desired. A single mic or pair of mics can be selected per cabinet and moved around and mixed in virtual space using Two Note’s dynamic IR technology (including captures of the back of many cabinets too). The Captor X allows users to select from 6 presets via a hardware dial on the front of the unit, but up to 128 presets can be stored and recalled via midi or the remote control software with an unlimited number stored on a mobile device or computer for sharing or backup purposes.
The Captor X’s stereo outputs allow for a highly flexible routing system with dual mono or true stereo operation. In Dry/Wet mode the onboard reverb can be routed to one side for monitoring whilst the other channel is left dry for recording or sent to the PA with a hardware ‘Space’ control on the front panel dialling in the amount of reverb on the wet side. You can also route an unprocessed dry signal with no cabinet or mic simulation to one side for re-amping later in your DAW. In the normal stereo mode you get beautiful stereo reverbs with the width mapped to the same ‘space’ control, offering up expansive stereo tones or tighter reverbs as required. The reverbs might not quite be up there with the stunning plate reverb on the Ox, but they generally sound excellent and can be tweaked to taste from short room sounds to expansive caverns. The Dual Mono mode offers up a ‘Monitoring EQ’ on the right channel, allowing users to send a different EQ’d signal to in-ears or wedges on stage for example whilst the un-EQ’d signal goes to front of house.
The truly killer feature however is the stereo Twin Tracker mode, utilising some clever time based DSP effects to simulate the sound of double tracked guitars from a single source. It’s possibly the best version of this effect we’ve ever heard with controls for the tightness and stereo balance of the second guitar part for even more flexibility. As usual, Two Notes also provide their ‘Voicing’ dial on the front panel, giving users a master ‘EQ’ for the whole signal chain. This allows you to change the overall sonic characteristic of your amp from a more mid-focussed sound to a scooped, more modern tone.
The Captor X ships with an array of 1x10, 1x12, 2x12, 4x12 and bass cabinets with all manner of mic combinations on board, but you also get access to the Two Notes Store via the remote app where the company sell a massive range of cabs covering all possible requirements at a very reasonable price so, combined with the Impulse Response loader, the tonal possibilities of the Captor X are virtually limitless, particularly compared to the Ox which cannot be expanded in any way. It’s also worth noting that there is a bass specific EQ and Enhancer in the Captor X, so for anyone doubling on guitar and bass, this represents even further value for money.
In it’s price category there is nothing to compete with the Captor X on the market. It achieves many of the same flagship features as products costing more than twice as much and does so in a product a third of the size. Needless to say we are all highly impressed here at GI with this superb device and feel confident in recommending it whole heartedly as the perfect addition to your tube amp collection for recording and live use. It’s also worth mentioning that Two Notes will be releasing a 16ohm version of the Captor X in the future – they deserve great success with both units.
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