Two Notes aims to take the fear of being kicked out of home for excessive volume out of home recording. By Peter Hodgson.
It’s been really great to see the rise of Two‑Notes Audio Engineering over the past few years. Their products are designed to help you get a great tone on recordings or through a PA system in a controllable, repeatable, easily transportable, low-weight format, whether it’s with their pedals like the Le Lead, or their active digital load boxes with cabinet impulse responses like the Torpedo Studio rack unit.
The Torpedo Captor falls into its own little micro‑category, functioning as a reactive load box like the Torpedo Studio, but without all the onboard digital stuff. It’s more like a little brother to the award-winning Torpedo Reload, which is a power attenuator, a multi-impedance loadbox, a DI and a re-amping box.
SPEAKER DELUSIONS (IN A GOOD WAY)
The idea is simple: plug your favourite tube amp into this bad boy instead of a speaker cabinet, and you’ll get a nice, clear signal to send into your mixing desk without having to deal with high speaker volume or mic placement. The Captor will make your amp think it’s plugged into a real speaker, giving you just the right kind of push-pull from the power amp.
The unit is available in four, eight and 16 Ohm versions, so whatever kind of juice your amp is pushing out, there’s a Captor to match it. The unit itself is also pretty small and unobtrusive, so it’s easy to take on the road or just plop on top of your amp or desk in a home studio.
The control layout is super simple. There’s an Out Level knob for the final volume, a Phase switch to make sure everything sits properly in the mix without any weird phasing issues, a Ground Lift for eliminating and grounding loop hums you may encounter in your signal chain, a Guitar/Bass/Off switch for the speaker simulation (so yes, it does work on bass too), and balanced line output (dry signal) and active DI outputs. There’s one Speaker In and the two Speaker Out jacks (Thru and Attenuated). The unit runs on 48 volts of phantom power or a 9-to-24-volt DC wall adaptor.
Now, that Guitar/Bass/Off switch is crucial to getting the most out of the unit. The speaker simulation itself is based on that of the Le Preamp series – which includes the aforementioned Le Lead as well as the Le Bass preamp – and the voicings are very useful. But if you would prefer finer control over the speaker-emulated sound, flip the switch to Off and use another unit like the Torpedo C.A.B. pedal, which is a high-end cabinet simulator in a stompbox format that lets you load impulse responses from wherever you happen to get yours from.
So while the built-in speaker sim of the Captor seems to be based off a 4-by-12 cab, Torpedo C.A.B. will let you send your amp signal through all sorts of crazy cab combinations and room environments. Or, if you’re working in the digital realm, you can send the non-emulated signal to the Torpedo WoS (Wall of Sound) software for comprehensive speaker and mic simulation within your DAW. I also messed around with IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube 4 with the amp model turned off so I could just use its speaker and mic room section, and this worked very well.
KEEP IT DOWN!
Then again, if you just need a quieter signal from your real amp, you can use the -20-decibel Attenuation speaker output. This quietens down your amp’s signal quite a lot, but still lets you benefit from the enhanced punch, grind and harmonics of power tube distortion.
I’ve been using a Mesa Cab Clone for my reactive loadbox and DI needs at home and onstage, and the Captor performs similarly – albeit without the three‑position cabinet voicing switch of the Mesa. But the Mesa doesn’t offer attenuation, so the Captor definitely comes out on top there. The Captor also feels more sturdy on top of an amp, whereas I always feel like my Cab Clone is going to topple and become unplugged on an especially raucous stage.
Another great thing about the Captor is that its cab sim sounds fantastic, neither colouring the sound too much nor being too transparent. If you want to really push things to the limit in terms of tone-shaping, though, you can jump into Torpedo WoS or C.A.B. and customise things until you’re blue in the face.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Torpedo Captor is a great ‘around the house’ tool for lowering the volume of your tube amp without killing your tone, a great home studio tool for getting your amp sound into your DAW without fuss, and a valuable live tool for taking the chaos element out of micing up an amp (the chaos usually courtesy of a hyperactive vocalist who humps your amp mid-guitar-solo to draw attention back to himself, sending your cab mic flying).
TOP 5 FEATURES
• Speaker emulation
• Speaker attenuation
• Ground lift
• Phase switch
• Great analog cabinet modelling
• Useful attenuation mode
• Only one guitar and one bass cab voicing
• A USB out would be useful
Innovative Music Australia
Ph: (03) 9540 0658