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Alembic Club » Miscellaneous » Archive: 2005 » Archive through February 21, 2005 » Headphone amp/drum machine « Previous Next »

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Username: byoung

Post Number: 14
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 6:10 pm:   Edit Post

Since I have a new Alembic on the way, I figure I ought to start practicing. =)

So, here's my thinking:

1) Senior management isn't too excited about having an amplifier/cabinet in the house, so I'm thinking about stuff that can drive a set of headphones (I currently have a set of Sennheiser HD500s, which I love, but 300,000 air miles have taken their toll. I'm thinking about the Etymotics).

2) I'd like to practice with something more than a metronome-- I'd like a drum machine, and potentially a CD in.
a) I'm in need of some pre-programmed rhythms, since a drummer I ain't; the drum machine doesn't need to be production quality, just sufficient for practice.
b) I do not know whether the programmability of a full drum machine is a necessity or a luxury, I'm open to suggestions.

3) Since I know that recording yourself can have profound impact on musicianship, I'd love to have the ability to record. This isn't a critical feature, but nice.

4) Portability would be a plus (I'd like something I can throw in my Pro-tec case), as would an all-in-one device.

5) I use Linux exclusively at home, but I am thinking about getting a Mac Mini (yes, feel the candied goodness-- come to the dark side). If there were any reason to be compatible (e.g. downloading recordings), this is a concern.

So, I'm thinking of something like the Korg ToneWorks Pandora PXR4 recorder. This records to Smart Media (definite con-- 128MB size limit). It has basic built-in rhythms, but I don't see any way to program new rhythms. Again, I don't know if this is an issue.

I'd like any feedback you might have. I know that's a pretty tall order, and I want to spend about $50 (hehe.) but my budget might go up to $500 for the *perfect* device(s).

I am willing to get separate devices (recorder/headphone amp/drum machine), but ideally I'd like a unified device.

Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 741
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 6:20 pm:   Edit Post

Anything you can do through headphones, you can probably also do through high-end PC speakers. Also, there are some relatively small and reasonable sounding practice amps out there now. You might be able to get something the size of an office wastebasket. Heck, you might even camouflage it to look like a wastebasket, though I can see at least one down side to that idea as I write it.

I think any of the personal scratch pad/recorder boxes will probably work well for what you have specified. Some of the current stuff even has nice effects and modelling built in. Check around for web reviews and see what people are liking and not liking about the various alternatives. The digital home recording market has been advancing pretty quickly over the past few years, so try to stick with more recently released products for the best quality. I don't know about linux support, but a Bass Pod XT might also be a good tool plugged into the computer along with some other device or software to provide the drums and recording. I would think that you won't want to be inventing drum patterns continuously, and that playback of recorded patterns will be just as good for your purposes.

Sorry, I'm in a rambling mood today...

Good luck!
Username: valvil

Post Number: 638
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 7:19 pm:   Edit Post

Hello Brad,

if you are getting the Mac Mini, it should come with Garage Band, and that might be all you need.

Username: beelee

Post Number: 37
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 7:21 pm:   Edit Post

Hey Brad,

An all in one device with all those functions, thats portable, fits in a protec bag for 50 $$$...........Thats a tall order
if something like that exists,
A Mac/pc is a nice idea, but that would go over the $500.......... no ?

Get a Tascam CDBT1 portabe bass trainer ( 149.95 )

That covers a CD Player, Headphones, Bass input, tuner, fx and more


Get a Zoom PS04 Palmtop Studio (199.95) that will cover the recorder (4 tracks) that can be sent to a computer, drum machine etc.

I use the Tascam, but have no experience with the Zoom, for size and portability and covering all the features you would like, IMHO this sounds like your best bet for about $350.00
I got the prices from an American Musical Supply cat.
I'd like to see what other suggestions evry body comes up with.

good luck in your search

(Message edited by beelee on February 02, 2005)
Username: byoung

Post Number: 15
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 11:18 pm:   Edit Post


Have you used Garage Band? I looked on the web site, and it sounds pretty cool. Does it meet expectations?

How are the drums?

Do you think I need a pre-amp to record my bass on a computer? If so, what might be appropriate?

Username: byoung

Post Number: 19
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Sunday, February 13, 2005 - 5:04 pm:   Edit Post


I broke down and acquired the Korg ToneWorks Pandora PXR4. I really like it. Features I found important:

Headphone amp
Line In (for recording from external sources)
4 track recorder (i.e. you can record against existing material)
USB support (shows up as a flash drive, works with Linux!)
100 programmed drum beats.

I just used it to record a song I'm learning, and then played against it-- worked well, not too difficult, sound was accurate (which pains me, since I now know without any doubt that my playing needs work!).

There are lots of built in effects; I've futzed with them, but effects aren't really my deal yet. They did sound cool, but I'm not in a position to debate the relative merits of different effects.

Plugging in the line in and USB to the same computer created a ground loop, but I'm not blaming that on the device.

It even has a built in tuner. I really like it, and I'd highly recommend it. It is small (4"x5"x1.4") enough to easily fit in a (bass) guitar case.

Username: valvil

Post Number: 648
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 5:34 pm:   Edit Post

Hello Brad,

I did not see your question about Garage band until now. I haven't used it, but some folks whose opininon I generally trust told me it worked great. The Pandora PXR4 is cute and gives great bang for the buck; it came out when I was still working music retail.

Enjoy the Pandora.


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