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Audio Sprockets ToneDexter

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by jarrodtravis, Sep 3, 2017.


  1. jarrodtravis

    jarrodtravis

    Jan 10, 2014
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsements: Fender Basses, La Bella Strings
    Hi TBers,
    Just thought I would let you know about the ToneDexter. It is mostly used for microphone simulating for Acoustic Guitar (I will let the engineers here explain how it works) but they have a firmware version that is designed for upright bass. James and another guy, whose name escapes me, who makes them recently came to a show in Wheatland, CA and helped set it up. You basically record some samples of the pickup along with a microphone into it and it models the pickup sound to sound more like a microphone. I have been struggling lately searching for a more natural sound for my upright as most of the shows I do are large amphitheaters and arenas. I have tried the Schertler Dyn B, Gage, Full Circle and nothing made me happy.
    I am playing a '51 S-9 Kay with guts. I ended up running the full circle into the unit with the modeled sound they made for me. I found the sound to be very woody and had the sound of the body of the bass mixed in with the clarity of the pickup. I am able to get it plenty loud without any feedback issues. After the first show, I am digging it. I will wait until a few more shows before I say that I am completely sold, but I would definitely recommend checking it out if this is something you have been searching for as well.
    Take care,
    J.T. Cure
     
  2. James May

    James May Commercial User

    Sep 14, 2017
    Nevada City, CA
    Principal of Audio Sprockets, maker of ToneDexter
    Hey J.T.,
    Great meeting you in Wheatland and thanks for spreading the word about ToneDexter. Very glad you're digging the sound. I'll try to answer any questions folks may have about our technology. It's something quite different. The violin and cello folks are just now starting to catch wind of what ToneDexter can do. You are one of the first bassists to be using it.
     
    Chris Symer likes this.
  3. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    Sounds like an interesting concept, similar to the Fishman Aura. Though I think that's geared towards the acoustic guitars, and it isn't trainable.

    The lack of mid eq could eventually prove to be problematic for double bass piezo amplification though, mic modeling or not. Mids are where the rubber meets the road for a lot of us when we are trying to dial in good tone using piezos on our basses.

    But still, very cool idea. I'm sure a video demo with the bass would draw some attention around here.
     
  4. James May

    James May Commercial User

    Sep 14, 2017
    Nevada City, CA
    Principal of Audio Sprockets, maker of ToneDexter
    Yes, the concept is similar to the Aura, which as you point out, is not trainable. The fact that the player can train their own unique instrument using many of the common pickups, with a mic and mic position of their choice, gives it a distinct leg up.

    I hear your point about the importance of the midrange being right. We find that if you put the mic in the right spot, and use a reasonably flat (and modestly priced) mic, the mids will be right. That's why we didn't put a midrange control on the unit. This assumes the mic is hearing what you want to hear. The beauty of our approach is that you are telling the training algorithm what the goal is. And since it literally only takes a couple of minutes for each training attempt, you can store up to 22 WaveMaps in the unit, try them out, keep what works, and easily delete the rest.

    We are overdue for some new demo videos. They are coming soon.
     
    bassfran likes this.
  5. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    This is something that I'm going to have to hear to believe given that the piezo is still the first component in the signal chain. Upright bass is just such a different animal to amplify with a piezo. I've tried a ton of acoustic preamps. The ones that did the best job always had significant mid eq sections, the ability to scoop, or most effectively for me - the ability to shift the center frequency of the mid band. That experience extends across two basses, several brands of piezos, with more amps, preamps, and DI's than you can shake a stick at.

    I'm not sure how a modeling setting would address this, but I'm definitely interested to hear what it sounds like. I'm imagining it sounding more like a mic/pickup blender that doesn't need the mic once it's trained. Is there a wet/dry or blend control on it, or are the modelers an on/off function?

    I'll be sub'd here awaiting some quality product demos.
     
  6. madbanjoman

    madbanjoman

    Feb 23, 2011
    Pittsburgh
    I am intrigued as well. Right now I have two pickups on my bass, a MSP sound board piezo and a generic bridge wing piezo. I have a K&K pre-amp mounted to my tailpiece to blend them. With tonedexter, would there be any advantage to using both pickups?
     
  7. James May

    James May Commercial User

    Sep 14, 2017
    Nevada City, CA
    Principal of Audio Sprockets, maker of ToneDexter
    ToneDexter should work with either pickup. I would try each one in turn, and see which one works best for you. You could do it, but I don't foresee that there would be an sonic advantage to using both. With ToneDexter, simpler is usually best. Soundboard vs. bridge wing might be decided on how much feedback immunity you need rather than final sound as ToneDexter can "fix" most of these pickups and make 'em sound like the mic you trained it with.
     
  8. madbanjoman

    madbanjoman

    Feb 23, 2011
    Pittsburgh
    I just got mine this weekend. Training it went pretty smoothly even with my poor bowing skill. The mic that gave me the best results was my akg 3000. My cheap wing pickup has the best feedback resistance so that is all that I have on my bass now. My MSP was more feedback prone with the tonedexter. This is not a surprise. I was mixing the MSP and the wing pickup through a k&k pre-amp to control the feedback. I will know more after this weekend as I plan on using it at my next gig, but right now I am pretty happy with how it sounds.
     
  9. richhansen

    richhansen Supporting Member

    Oct 2, 2006
    Utah
    Endorser of the KSM Foundation Bridge.
    I'm interested in getting one of these, as the video demos on their web site sound very impressive. I'm a bit confused though, since the video demos show the "pro" version that has a 3 band parametric eq, but the features section on their web site says it only has bass and treble. Are there two versions of the Tonedexter?
     
  10. James May

    James May Commercial User

    Sep 14, 2017
    Nevada City, CA
    Principal of Audio Sprockets, maker of ToneDexter
    Sorry for the confusion. The prototype model seen in the videos never made it into the production. The unit we offer has the two band EQ which seems to be enough, once you train it up. We are in process of making new videos.
     
  11. madbanjoman

    madbanjoman

    Feb 23, 2011
    Pittsburgh
    . This is what I am curious to discover this weekend. The tonedexter sounds great in my music room. I know that from my other pre-amp, the zoom ms100bt that at the gig I usually need to tweak the eq to fit the room. I don’t mind having less knobs as long as they get the job done.
     
  12. madbanjoman

    madbanjoman

    Feb 23, 2011
    Pittsburgh
    I more thing I have discovered is that the wav maps for the two pickups don’t sound good when they are mismatched. Also I was hoping that I could use the tonedexter with my MK Studio EUB, but the wav maps for my DB sound terrible when I run the MK through them. I know this is not the intended purpose of the tonedexter. What this all means at least to me is that the matching that goes on between the mic and pickup with the tonedexter is very specific.
     
  13. richhansen

    richhansen Supporting Member

    Oct 2, 2006
    Utah
    Endorser of the KSM Foundation Bridge.
    One more question for James May. I currently use an Ischell contact microphone on my double bass, which sounds good and is very feedback resistant, but lacks the "airy" studio quality of a great condenser mic. Could the tonedexter run a mic live like this, modeling the Ischell like a piezo with phantom power into the xlr? The Ischell has its own phantom power and can plug into the 1/4" input, so i don't see why it wouldn't work, even if it wouldn't run the xlr for live use. Could I "train" it to make the Ischell sound like a condenser? Also, do you ever plan on making a version that has the midrange parametric eq?
    Thanks
     
  14. James May

    James May Commercial User

    Sep 14, 2017
    Nevada City, CA
    Principal of Audio Sprockets, maker of ToneDexter
    ToneDexter will train up using the Ischell contact mic as the pickup, and sound like the (condenser) mic you put up in front of your instrument during training. You'll have to plug the contact mic into the 1/4" input jack. ToneDexter's XLR can only be used for the training mic during training.

    We have no immediate plans for another model with midrange EQ, but remember you can dial down the bass and treble and increase overall gain to get an effective midrange boost if you need it.
     
  15. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    This sounds like a classic tone-stack, which can be problematic for upright bass depending on the center point of the mid-band. Typically the last thing we want to do is boost mids as they are problematic with piezo pickups to begin with. Nine out of ten times we are cutting mids, and/or adjusting the center point of the band to taste if it's an available feature of the preamp.

    With the tone-stack, the mids can't really be cut at all. The scooped profile is really just a boosting of bass and treble, which again causes it's own problems with upright bass amplification.

    Then again, I could be completely wrong about your EQ's circuit design.
     
  16. James May

    James May Commercial User

    Sep 14, 2017
    Nevada City, CA
    Principal of Audio Sprockets, maker of ToneDexter
    ToneDexter is a new paradigm, and old ideas like piezo pickups need certain types of EQ no longer apply, since the training process itself can be thought of as an elaborate EQ that corrects for the deficiency of the pickup's tonal balance. It's more than that, but it does do that as a baseline. The tone controls are icing on a cake that is already fully baked.

    Our bass and treble EQs are digital shelving filters with the inflection points at 63Hz and 2KHz. If that turns out not to be optimum for bass, we are open to modifying the design. This can be done with a code upgrade. We are hoping to get more feedback from users.
     
    Chris Symer and sevenyearsdown like this.
  17. JohnDavisNYC

    JohnDavisNYC

    Jan 11, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar, D'Addario
    this looks really great. i want to try it.
     
  18. MDrost1

    MDrost1 Supporting Member

    Oct 16, 2009
    Grand Haven, MI
    James,
    I agree with John Davis.

    I watched and listened to the videos. It is a new paradigm. The acoustic guitar sounds are fantastic.

    I would love to hear what this can do with an arco/pizz DB situation. This could be the answer!
     
    JeffKissell likes this.
  19. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I would love to try one of these. We can talk about it until the cows come home, but hands on is the way to go.
     
  20. I would absolutely suggest you swap the shelving bass with a variable HPF. Most of us would probably need to be running it in conjunction with a HPF without it.

    This sounds really exciting. Someone asked if Fishman was going to do a bass version of the Aura and they said that it was too tricky at this stage. So I'm really keen to hear what you've come up with!
     
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.