[Harp-L] V-machine

In a post a little while ago, I talked about the coming availablility of hardware hosts for computer plugins, which would open a lot of interesting doors for harp players using amp modeling and other effects.  Of course a device called Receptor that does this has been available for years, but it's a pretty pricey object at over $1500 retail.

A device called V-Machine that hosts plugins has just been announced.  Manufacturer's suggested retail is $599, which means a street price in the neighborhood of $360.  It will host VST plugins of any sort, instruments or effects.  It has two audio outs, and input for a MIDI controller, which you'd probably need for live performance, because there are limited controls on the box for modifying plugin settings.  It also has a USB connection, which can be used to communicate with a computer.  It has a hard metal case, and so is suitable for live use, though it doesn't run on batteries.

It remains to be seen how easily this thing can be used in performance.  But let's take a for-instance.  With this device selling at $360, you could add Line 6's Pod Farm software to give you access to hundreds of virtual guitar amp, bass amp, cabinet, and effects setups for another $100, and a MIDI foot controller to switch between setups for another $50.  For a little over $500, that's a lot of sounds to work with.  You'd need a PA or keyboard amp on the back end to make it loud, but most harp players work with someone who's got a PA.

I think we're going to be seeing a lot of these things at gigs very soon.  Keyboard players will probably be the first to adopt them, and will use them to host software that emulates pianos, organs, and synthesizers. You could bring a boatload of virtual instruments on stage with this thing, and there are a lot of cool synthesizers that exist only as software--this device would let you bring them onstage in a piece of hardware that's much less vulnerable than a computer. Guitarists and bassists--and harp players--will use them to host amp modelers and effects of all sorts.  To take one example, there is a $15 piece of software called octav8r that basically does what the $300 POG and the $400 HOG hardware devices do--create octave doubles and triples for incoming sounds.  Once you've got the host device--the V-machine--you can use it to add new effects like that at a fraction of the cost (and stage space) of more hardware, albeit with less instant tweakability onstage. 

Old school hardware will never go away, of course.  Technology that sounds good is good technology, period.  But lots of options are opening up.

Regards, Richard Hunter

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