stereo), a mic (the XLR jack even includes +48V
phantom power), and headphones (1/4" TRS).
Each player’s piece of the pie allows them to
control their instrument input level, mic input
level, Stage mix (pan positioning for the instrument and mic inputs), FX mix ( 16 effects can be
assigned to the XLR inputs), headphone output
volume, and personal monitor mix levels for
the musicians at all seven mix stations. Keep
in mind that adjusting your station’s monitor
level for each musician changes that musician’s
instrument and vocal level. In other words, if
you twist the knob for your bass-playing lead
singer in your slice of the JamHub, you’ll hear
the bass and vocal level go up or down simultaneously. Plugging the mic into a mixing station that doesn’t have an instrument plugged
in eliminates this potential issue.
JamHub also has a USB out for direct recording to a computer, a built-in metronome, and a
built-in digital recorder. The unit comes with a
4GB SD RAM card and records . WAV files in stereo at CD quality (16-bit, 44.1kHz). The mixing
controls in the center of the unit determine the
mix that gets recorded. The person at mixing
station #1 can flip the “1-R” switch to hear the
monitor mix from station #1 or the recording
section’s levels. You can record long stretches
of rehearsal in big files or divide your jams into
separate recordings by hitting a single button
after a song ends. The TourBus comes with two
remote mixing units, but the back of the unit
features jacks to accommodate up to four.
To rehearse with each musician hearing their
own personalized monitor mix is a good
baseline M.O. for getting your band’s music
right and jelling as a group. The trick is to
get over the newness of practicing while
wearing headphones that tether you to a
device in the center of the room.
I found that when you’re rehearsing with a
JamHub, it’s best to start off like you’re having
a soundcheck before a gig—it’s very important
to set proper levels for all the inputs before
anyone dials in a monitor mix. We actually
jumped the gun during our initial test with a six
piece band. We all plugged in and started playing, and then everyone screwed around with all
the knobs in their own section. Bad idea. Each
time someone adjusted their instrument and
vocal inputs, everyone else had to readjust that
person’s levels in their own monitor mix.
So we started over. I was at mixing station #1
with an acoustic, so I flipped the “1-R” switch
to “R” in order to hear what was going to the
160 PrEmIEr GuITar JunE 2010
recording. I set everyone’s instrument and vocal
input level one at a time, then dialed in an ideal
mix with the monitor knobs dedicated to the
recorder. Once those levels were set, I flipped
the switch to “ 1” in order to dial in the monitor
mix dedicated to my own headphones.
Before having everyone play at once, we went
’round the horn to adjust panning (Stage) for
each person. Spreading some players’ signals
out a little to the left or the right made the
headphones less noticeable because it allowed
our brains to detect spatial dimensions within
the instrumentation. Then we dialed in a smidge
of FX for each vocal. The FX setting we chose
was a two-second spring reverb. This was key,
because initially everyone’s vocal felt unrealistic.
Making everyone’s voice a little wet allowed us
to perceive the room depth that our eyes unconsciously told our brains to expect. From there,
it made sense to play a song or two to allow
everyone to dial in their preferred monitor mixes.
I Can Hear Clearly Now,
the Wall of Sound is Gone
Being able to hear everyone so clearly was
amazing. It was like listening to a CD that we
were playing live. But moments after the novelty
of crystal-clean practice tones wore off, we were
left with the reality of how we really sounded.
Flat background vocals were sticking out, the
keys and lead were battling during a section
that needed one person or the other to lay out,
and the bassist’s tone needed more top end
because his attack was completely mushed out.
Luckily, everyone in the group was pretty good
about the onslaught of suggestions they were
suddenly getting. Adjustments were made and
within minutes we sounded better and found
more nuanced issues to work out. It didn’t take
long for the JamHub to prompt everyone to
bring their musicianship up another level.
One thing to keep in mind is that every instrument input is a 1/4" TRS unbalanced stereo jack.
Plugging a guitar in direct with a normal cord
results in everyone hearing the guitar in only
the left ear of their headphones. The JamHub
comes with two mono-to-stereo adapter jacks
that turn a normal guitar cable signal into a split
mono signal, but I highly recommend using a
pedal with stereo outs and a Y-cable to feed a
stereo signal of your guitar into the JamHub.
Take advantage of the unit’s true stereo environment—split mono just doesn’t compare.
Players who get their dirt from their amps
and need them dimed to feel right with the
world might have a hard time getting used to
the JamHub, although power soaks, isolation
cabs, or an SM57 on the grille are possible
solutions for getting your signal into the
unit. The trick is to keep your amp’s volume
from overpowering everyone’s headphones.
(Headphones with isolation designs are a
good idea, too.) Many amps today also have
DI outs, tuner outs, and headphone outs that
can be used with minimal trouble.
The Final Mojo
There are some hurdles with the JamHub:
First, getting everyone’s signal into the unit
might require some different rig considerations. Second, you need good headphones.
I struggled to hear everything properly during
one session with a moderately-priced pair that
didn’t offer decent isolation and a full, flat range.
Further, having each musician’s instrument
and vocal level controlled by a single knob in
everyone else’s monitoring section is annoying,
though understandable—especially considering
the extra cost and bulk it would add to separate
the features. And, finally, there is the danger of
getting spoiled by the JamHub. If your bandmates wish you could roll with the punches a
little better when you can’t hear everything perfectly at a gig, it may not be a good idea for you
to get used to hearing a pristinely personalized
monitor mix at every practice.
That being said, the JamHub is quite possibly
the best thing to happen to band practice. I can
see the concerns I listed above being absolutely
no concern whatsoever for many bands. The
“silent practice” thing is a nice selling point,
too—parents and cohabitants of musicians
will especially appreciate the reduced output
coming from the band room. However, the
JamHub’s real value is in its ability to let you
hear what you normally can’t—every single note
that everyone else is playing and singing.
you want to get more out of
practice—and with less volume.
you loathe headphones and need amps
at full growl to get your rocks off.
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