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Blue Thunder users wanted for feedback to Rocktron

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by ingmar, May 4, 2004.

  1. ingmar


    Oct 14, 2002
    Normandy, France
    I am proposing to collect some feedback and recommendations about the Blue Thunder in order to provide a complete list to Rocktron Engineering to allow them to improve the product.

    I emailed them about this yesterday and got a response today by the Director of Engineering himself :cool: , who said that he would gladly accept such feedback and that he would work on a new revision/upgrade once he had enough input from users!

    So if you're using the unit and have any quibbles with it, list them here and I'll make sure they get the right attention.

    Greetings from Paris!
  2. Nate Groadie

    Nate Groadie

    Apr 4, 2004
    I've also emailed with Bob, great guy, fast responses, even in the middle of the night, the man must not sleep.

    Suggestions, thoughts, and dreams (a disclaimer, this might be all fantasy stuff but I'm going to write it, people will think about it, and maybe some good will come out of it). Most of these couldn't possibly be reprogrammed into a new firmware version of the existing unit.

    1. XLR outs
    2. Tuner
    3. Analog Distortion circuit BEFORE the EQ and effects with RIDICULOUS ammounts of gain (settings 1-20 for edgy/tube grit, 21-40 for overdriven chunk, 41-60, warm rounded distortion, 61-80 fat deathmetal distortion, 81-100 too much overthe top square wave synthbassesque distortionfuzz). Although I hate "modeling" maybe a distortion pedal simulator/modeler? i.e. MXR distortion, Big Muff Pi, Metal Zone, Fab Tone, Boss Distortion Plus, Fuzz Face, Foxx tone machine, etc.. something to give different distortion flavors. No two distortions were created alike.
    4. FAST patch changes via midi (current version is too SLOOOOW).
    5. Compressor with nice LEDs on front panel to show gain reduction?
    6. external FX loop, 1/4' control out jacks
    7. biamp
    8. rotary speaker effect
    9. harmonizer/pitch
    10. changeable FX order
    11. Mute/tuner switch on front panel.
    12. modular 3 prong power cord instead of a wallwart? Or at least a wallwart with a plug-tail.
    13. Separate Pre and Post EQ
    14. Easy way to switch between patches, set a master volume for the patch, check the other patch, readjust volume, switch back, save, etc... too many menu switches as it is
    15. All analog preamp section w/ bypassable effects section (no running through D/A converters unless digital FX being used.
    16. Preamp/distortion/EQ/compressor all analog.
    17. a tube?
    18. bit reduction effect
    19. bass synth effect
    20. dynamic volume/swell effect
    21. USB/Firewire connection and software for indepth-advanced full screen patch editing.

    Like I said, some stuff to think about.

  3. ingmar


    Oct 14, 2002
    Normandy, France
    THat's what I call feedback! Thanks Nate!


    Nov 24, 2001
    New York,NY
    Sorry, for sale items go in the Classifieds. -tplyons
  5. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Am I the only one here that was really happy with the BT? :eek:

    Can't think of too many suggestions but here goes:

    2. Input jacks in the front of the unit, not the back.
    3. Get rid of that blinking blue LED, or at least have the option to turn it off.
    4. Some of the presets are pretty impractical and useless IMO - "Blown A Spkr", for example.
  6. ingmar


    Oct 14, 2002
    Normandy, France
    No Adam, I like the Blue Thunder as well, it will definitely last a lot longer than my late GT6B :p , but I can find a lot of things that would be nice to have.
  7. I really like the Blue Thunder, but I had to ignore the (mostly) awful factory patches completely. It has a very powerful and useful EQ section and a good compressor. The Blue Thunder is capable of excellent tone, and tone shaping, once one gets rid of the factory patches.

    I don't use most of the effects (cause I'm a basssist, not a guitarist) so am not too concerned about the DSP except Reverb and Chorus (seldom used). The speaker simulator might come in handy if I ever do a gig without an amp. In all the years I've been playing (since 1963) I've only done that once or twice. In the studio, I usually use the house amp in an isolation booth and take a DI. Bottom line, I use the Blue Thunder live, not in the studio.

    A preamp tube is probably not in the cards. The VooDu valve is actually quite competent as a bass preamp if one needs a 12AX7 and has a really nice reverb for those fretless solos.

    Rocktron is not going to alter the basic architecture of the Blue Thunder unless it proves to have a serious problem. However, there is much that can be done in software and patch programming.

    #1 Provide an online patch library for users to contribute and also download.

    #2 Improve the terrible factory patches. These patches hinder sales in music stores, the object is to have a really impressive set of good sounds in the first ten locations. The unit is easy to program, I have aready made several nice patches that are real (gigging) world useful. Perhaps whoever did the patches was fulfilling a contractural obligation in the shortest possible time period.

    #3 The parametric EQ is great, don't change it!

    #3b Some players do not like parametric EQ. Is there room to put in the Graphic EQ code from another Rocktron product? If so, the center frequencies need to be close together in the bass range.

    #4 Investigate possiblity of using existing display device for compressor performance indicator.

    #5 Provide front panel instrument input. Show of hands. How many bassists like fumbling around in the back of a dark rack cabinet to plug your axe in? This would probably require a PCB redesign, but easy to implement. Perhaps relocate the Reference Level or Power switch to the rear.

    #6 Another show of hands, how many bassists run stereo, even in the studio? There must be someone doing this, maybe in Japan. The stereo outputs are probably not needed. But again, this would require a redesign of the PCB, but an easy job. The liberated space on the back panel could be used for a XLR output (just one) at DI (mic) level, or switchable to line level.

    #7 If possible, add more density (reflections) to the Reverb, and a density parameter.

    #8 The infernal blinking Blue LED should only blink when a guitar (not a bass) is plugged into this preamp. Another show of hands, how many bassists use tap delay, or other tap input modulation rate? How about near zero. In my opinion, the tap delay function and switch are completely un-needed guitar stuff.

    #9 Investigate implemention of Batch Copy to patch location Range (nnn to nnn): I waste a lot of time copying a template patch to a range of patch locations.

    #10 The power supply connector on the back panel will accidentally fall out or get pulled out at the wrong time, such as in the middle of a gig. Add some sort of device to lock the power supply connectors to the unit.
  8. The Reff

    The Reff

    Feb 11, 2004
    Is there a pitch shifter ( Octaver ) in the Blue Thunder ?
  9. lowmid


    Feb 2, 2005
    wah wah and filters and all the rest like the first feedback
  10. Reff,

    Thanks for bringing that up.

    The Blue Thunder does not have any pitch mod enabeled features.

    I don't need distortion, flanger, phasing, cabinet simulation, tremolo, or delay. Any, or all, of these DSP resources could be sacrificed to enable pitch mod and I would be grateful.

    Rocktron, please enable pitch mod in the Blue Thunder.

    As long as we are talking about improving the device, I would also like to upgrade the O.S. easily. Perhaps EEPROMS.
  11. The Reff

    The Reff

    Feb 11, 2004
    At least that's what kept me from thinking about buying one.
  12. rhett


    Dec 23, 2004
    Austin TX
    thought of trying a Blue Thunder to replace my MB-1; anyone had a chance to compare? anyone love their BT and why?

    for improvements:

    -add a pre tube
    -enable some expression pedal controlled wah, volume, etc
  13. Sako


    Nov 4, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    + auto wah/envelope filter kind of thing would be fantastic.

    Then I'd buy one.
  14. Yeah, good suggestion.

    Envelope Filter, or MuTron III emulator is basic bass effects.

    The Blue Thunder probably has some real talented engineers but the designers had to be guitarists to include so much stuff that guitarists love and bassist hate. Then those awful factory patches.

    Most good bass preamps have a cross-over for bi-amp operation. The stereo circuitry might be capable of being modified into cross-over enabled from software.

    If a Blue Thunder improvement requires PCB redesign it is probably an unrealistic expectation.

    Having used the Blue Thunder for a while I don't miss the lack of a pre-tube. The EQ section gets any tone I want. But I know what the tube advocates are saying, tube sound quality is not an EQ issue. If it's tube saturation you seek then take a hint from guitarists and saturate a power tube rather than a preamp tube. An EL84 with a big resistor on the output will get a better tone than any high gain preamp tube (IMHO) that can then be amplfied with a big modern S.S. power amp. No modeler I'm aware of can simulate this sound.

    Regarding Blue Thunder distortion: I don't use distortion much so my opinion is from a clinical viewpoint rather than that of an enthusiast. I don't like the Blue Thunder distortion. It is very monochromatic, limited in timbre, harsh. Perhaps I should give it more experimentation time, but if I can't get close to what I'm looking for in five minutes the interface is bad.

    The distortion needs a redesign, in my opinion.
  15. The Reff

    The Reff

    Feb 11, 2004
    Does any of you know how the Blue Thunder's distortion section compares to a Line 6 DM-4 ?
  16. Rocktron,

    Please post a reply here to let us know that you care.
  17. CetiAlphaVI


    May 27, 2005
    As an owner of the Blue Thunder since the beginnning of this year, I think I've had enough experience to add some thoughts to this thread.

    1. Replace the blue flashing light with one that is not as intense, unless you add a separate tuner patch (accessible with midi f/s). Then we can see the light flash slower as we get close to pitch from all the way across a dark stage.
    2. Add a patch for the afore mentioned tuner. We should also have the choice to program the patch to mute the output or not.
    3. The bass distortion needs updating. IMHO, it's over the top and should have a little more flexibility for those of us who want just a little harmonic grit.
    4. Stereo Outputs - Why? replace with a f/s TRS, so people who don't understand midi can buy a 2 button switch to toggle patches up or down. Paint that to match and you can make some more money. Or, better yet, make a midi mouse like Tech 21 painted to match the Blue Thunder, do the LEDs in blue, add the Intense Blue light here with a button specifically to go to tuner mode or delay tap (thus ending the need for the bright light on the rack unit itself) and sell it as an add-on option. You have the MidiMate and All-Access, therefore the capability to manufacture a unit like this.
    5. Phaser and tremelo-Why? Please delete.
    6. Add an envelope filter / auto-wah (with a hint of distortion and a smidge of post-effect eq or pitch shift beneath we could have an acceptible patch for a synth groove)
    7. A Bass Synth. Not a crappy one either. I have a Deep Impact and its good. As much as it is praised here, if you get a little sloppy or play too fast, occasionally it will do its own thing. So, if you add this make sure it can track well. Otherwise, don't bother.
    8. Better quality knobs.
    9. +1 to the guys who think the factory patches are not very usable. Why do companies do this?
    10. Get rid of the Wart! It's one of the biggest I've seen, and when I take the rack anywhere it comes unplugged. Do something like a one spot or make a deluxe version that costs $75 more and add some of these physical mods everyone is suggesting, including an internal ps and a regular 3 prong plug.
    11. Don't ever get rid of the parametric eq. Graphic eqs just don't cut the mustard.
    12. Optical Spdif output for recording with selectable 16 or 24 bit as well as 44.1 through 192

    Regarding the patch and effects changes, it would be nice if we could have a downloadable software update, or call Rocktron direct and get a replacement chip for $100 or so to upgrade to new. Then we wouldn't have to evil-bay our *old* BT to get the additional stuff we needed.

    I use the BT in the effects loop of an Eden WT330, so I like the input being in the back of the unit. I chose the BT, because I have identical patches set up, one for Pre-amp and one for EFX loop. The identical patches with preamp are for the little rehearsals where I can go direct, or if the amp would die in the middle of a gig, I would be able to use the preamp patches. It was a nice touch on Rocktrons part to include this switchable feature.

    I have a Digitech Valve F/X that has an input jack in the back, and the front. I believe the back one gets ignored if you plug into the front jack. But these guys are right. Next edition you should find a place for a jack in front (just don't get rid of the one in the rear)

    The BT has some very nice effects, but adding an envelope filter/autowah, Bass Synth would increase the useable value greatly. I have been very pleased except for the blue light and the overly gargantuan wall wart. I think ptron and nate groadie have some very in-depth excellent suggestions.
  18. Blue Thunder O.S. Ver. 1.4

    Audible click/pop when changing programs.

    This is a known bug. It only occurs when signal is present. If there is no signal, the unit changes programs silently.

    Total lock up.

    Unit goes to black screen (front display) and is completly unresponsive when I attempt to exit from CC edit mode by pushing the edit mode button. If I first rotate the Function Select switch to put the BT in a different edit area (such as EQ) and on the top layer, pressing the Edit Button will now work normally.

    This bug also seems to occur when exiting at least one other editing mode but I have not yet documented them.

    Both of these bugs are (IMO) serious problems. The second bug is serious enough to merit being called a malfunction.
  19. Razor


    Sep 22, 2002
    What do these things go for retail?
  20. thejohnkim


    Sep 30, 2003
    $340 in most places..... saw it for $330 at elderly doing a quick search.