Saturday, August 28, 2010


Billy Ray has this extraordinairy program and mini-speaker/amp device. He's got it installed on a high end Windows computer, and any thoughts I had of getting one anytime soon were modified after reading the system requirements for Macs. We do have a powerful windows computer as the main family computer, but I was wanting to have the JAMVOX set up in my drumroom, and be able to use it with Garageband in my Mac.

I have the minimum required RAM, so I need to add at least another gb of RAM to make it run fast. Billy Ray says it's a memory monster, so I''ll just have to resolve to add some ram to the laptop. Actually, it's a recent model and it is a lot more powerful than I thought it was.

It is a fine program and no wonder it takes so much RAM to run it. For about $150, you get the software and a speaker/amp box that gets hi fi sound and great guitar reproduction for home recording, practice and playing along. There are all kind of "music minus one" functions where you can eliminate a guitar part in a song so you can play along, but to me the coolest feature is to be able to scroll through lists of songs, which are being continuously updated, and when you select a song the proper effects and amps and settings are right there and all of a sudden, you sound like The Eagles, Pearl Jam, Led Zeppelin and so on.

It's just amazing. Yes, there are other devices and programs that do this but the sound on this marvel is just amazing. My Pocket Pod does the same thing, more or less, but the JAMVOX sounds like the real deal all the time, whereas the Pocket Pod makes it about 85% of the time, which is damn good for a handheld effect.

The ability to see every effect and instantly and easily tweek them on the computer screen is something most other effects and PODS and the like don't have. Much more complicated to tweek the real thing, and far more time consuming. For example, if getting the sound from Sweet Home Alabama using traditional effects and maybe some PODS and the like, it might take 5 or 10 minutes if you know what you're doing. Hours if you, like me, don't.

So the coolness factor is high as far as playability is concerned. For a mediocre guitarist like me, it lifts me leaps and bounds above my normal and inspires me because THE SOUND is there already. There's all kinds of other things you can do with the JAMVOX, but even if it was only a play along emulator/effects unit, that would be well worth the pricetag.

You could easily gig with one of these and a laptop and a lightweight digital amp and high output speaker. You could sound like anyone, and the tubey sounds on this product are perhaps the best I've ever heard. Or you can use the very cool desktop sized speaker/amp and it is plenty sufficient for any home use or recording. For those of you whose significant others do not appreciate your devotion to "tube amp tone" and the fact you have to "crank" your tube amp to get "that tone", you should check out the JAMVOX. It might bring peace to the household. You can get "that tone" in a very low volume.

Of course, it's made by VOX and some of the coolest setups involve the venerable AC-30 emulation. Billy Ray gives it five stars, and he is sort of a technophobe when it comes to having too many multi-function knobs on effects and electronics, much less a multi-choice computer based system. I myself like a dedicated knob for a dedicated purpure, and one purpose only. Even though this is a computer based effect module, it is so easily and instintually adjustable that it feels almost like you have a dedicated one knob for one function type of device. It's real easy to operate and mess with.

I had no problem jumping right in without having read a manual and with no instruction from Billy Ray, and manipulate the effects and sounds and change songs and various parameters like tempo and keys. Super simple and really it's nice to see a product with such an instinctive user interface, at least in the functions I was using.

I'll add that Billy Ray has it on a super huge monitor and it's easy to read and see everything. That makes a big difference too. Still, I think with practice and a setlist programmed into it, for live gigging on a dark stage it would be very viable even out of a 12" laptop screen.

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