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BOSE PS1 review

Click to Stay Tuned... 24-08-05

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SOURCE: VETTAVILLE.NL

Review Bose® PS1 - PODxt Live - Variax... 25-08-05

Scott Carlson wrote a personal review in a (not so) rude mood. Writing down his impressions of the Bose® Personalized Amplification System™ system while using it with his band. He's using a PODxt Live and a Variax 700 aswell. He read other reviews that helped him and put together this one to do the same.

In the review he touches the setup, the creative proces of making his tones on the PODxt and ease of use. Feedback (the bad kind) isn't an issue, it's fasts set-up and more

source:Scott Carlson; used with permission

Bose® PS1 User review Scott Carlson... 25-08-05

The Equipment

I've been gigging with a PS1 (w/ one bass unit), Podxt Live and Variax 700 for most of 2005 and wanted to share my experience with others and also hear what others have discovered using them together in a live environment.

In my opinion, the PS1 with one subwoofer is versatile enough to meet the needs of the average gigging guitarist weekend warrior. I've been able to use it on all kinds of small stages when my trio had to provide it's own PA and also as my complete backline and vocal monitor system when we played large venues with existing sound systems. Sound engineers with the larger systems have taken a direct feed from my guitar signal in the PS1 but have rarely turned it up in the main mix since my guitar tone from the PS1 has cut through so clearly.

Volume & (no) Feedback

The only concerns I have had with volume is that some of the younger audience clubs have wanted the band to play at volumes which tire out my ears from the stage (we are a trio using three PS1s), yet the club has always been pleased with the overall volume from the band and not many have asked for such high volumes.

Feedback has not been a problem once we used the mics suggested by Bose and only creeps up when we play too loudly on small stages where the units are 2-3 feet behind us. Although everyone has different taste, it's difficult for me to believe that a decent guitar player can't get their tone to sound excellent through this setup to at least 95% of the audience.

The remaining 5% will be fellow guitar player tone freaks, and die hard SRV fans, who appreciate slight differences in tone that an average audience doesn't care about as they enjoy drinking/dancing on a night out. I have a little experience with the former crowd as my band was an SRV tribute band for the past few years before changing focus to classic rock covers in 2005.

While doing the SRV tribute I used high quality tube amps and analog effects from all the popular people on the internet (Analogman, Keeley, Reese, Klon). Although I admit that the rig sounded great when set up properly, I don't think it sounded better enough to miss all of the pre-gig setup hassles I abandoned by switching to the PS1, Podxt live and Variax.

Up and away in 20 minutes

My setup now takes 20 minutes and all the equipment fits in the trunk of a regular car. I power the PS1 through a furman power factor pro and regardless of the quality of electrical current available at a venue, I now have a guitar rig that consistently sounds live like I intended it to sound.

The Mode Mood

After much experimentation, I've settled on using my Podxt Live in the Bose output mode instead of Studio Direct. There is no strong reason I can give for this decision but you need to choose either one or the other if you intend to use all the patches at a live gig. I had an easier time developing patches that I liked in the Bose output mode (maybe because you don't need to tweak mic type, mic placement and % of room).

The downside to exclusively using the Bose output mode is that all song patches I have carefully tweaked while listening through the PS1 don't sound as good in other applications (ie, recording direct, direct out to house PAs, rehearsing with the band through headphones) as they would with the AIR modeling.

 

The Creative Patching Proces

I start out creating a new cover song patch by researching what equipment the guitarist used on the recording, then I play a recorded version of the song in my iPOD through the Aux Input of the Podxt Live and work toward matching the guitar tone as closely as possible with the pod and variax. I usually also further tweak it live because what sounds good by yourself does not always sound good when playing with drums/bass.

I find that most of my patches through the PS1 start behaving like a real guitar amp (ie, sustain notes & feedback if I want it) when I use the Pod's main compressor (not stompbox compressors) to boost gain (from 4-14) with 0db threshold. After playing around alot with the Pod's main EQ, I've settled on using it flat on almost all electric guitar patches and using the amps tone controls and/or the stompbox "fx boost + EQ" when I need tweaking beyond the amp.

Since I've been working on guitar patches for almost all cover songs we perform, I try to match all levels before hand but always set volume pedal min on 50% so that I can adjust as necessary during songs and have plenty of room for solos. I use the Podxt live's mono output into channel 4 of the Bose system with the level set at about 2-3 and appreciate that I don't need to worry about overdriving the channel input even with the volume pedal at 100%.

 

Playing Live


Playing live the Podxt has been very reliable but early on I had difficulty activating only the buttons I wanted. In contrast to my analog pedal switches, the Pod's switches were larger, closer together and only required light foot pressure. A few times while both singing and adjusting volume with the pedal, I inadvertantly activated the adjacient tuner switch and killed all sound from my guitar.

I fixed this by purchasing the Line 6 external pedal and using that exclusively for volume control on all patches. This has also had the benefit of always leaving the other pedal available for wah use without changing the overall volume when first activated. It used to drive me nuts activating the wah and getting a simultaneous boost to 100% volume.

WahBlah

I can't say that I'm completely happy with the tone from the podxt Live wah as compared to my Reese TMC3, but I hope line6 updates the software in the future and allows for greater control over Q frequency and bass/treble. In the meantime, I find solace in the belief that 95% of the audience won't notice the difference even if I could adjust the wah in the future. I also got used to lightly touching the patch buttons with the side of my shoe to avoid hitting surrounding ones.

The only other consistent problem has been using the Podxt Live at outdoor daytime gigs. The sun reacts with the orange LED window in such a way that you can't read what it says anymore. I solved this problem with a five inch high cardboard square (from shoebox) that fits around the Podxt live display and I tape it there for live daytime gigs to shade the display.

Let it Sync

Although the Podxt Live doesn't have a metronome for rehearsal, I've set all of my cover and original song patches with delay settings set to note values and then input the song's actual tempo in bpm at the "pedal/tweak/tempo" screen. When the patch is then selected, it shows me the preferred song tempo by the rate of the blinking red LED near the Tap button even when delay is not selected as an active effect.

Setting the tempos invdividually for songs also has the side benefit of making the Stomp, Mod or Delay effects which use tempo to sound consistently great. I can always adjust tempo live with the tap switch if the band performs the song at a different tempo and then the patch tempo reverts back to the original song tempo if I don't save the new tap setting anyway.

Variaxiting possibillities


The variax has taken me the longest time to warm up to but I'm finally at the point now where it's my primary gigging guitar. My SRV strat still kicks it's *** when directly compared through the system and I think it has something to do with the Workbench's inability to model the Texas Special pickups. Maybe a future version will allow the user to adjust pickup height, inductance, etc. to exactly match Fender's Texas Special PU specs.

Also, the variax pickup selector doesn't create the same sound on the Spank model as it does when you rapidly flick it on the SRV strat during a song like Voodoo Chile. In the meantime, I bring my real strat to gigs as my backup to use on all SRV tunes and then use the variax for everything else.

I've been frustrated with string breakage on the Variax and have not been able to solve it by using graph tech saddles like my other guitars. After the years of copying SRV's style, I tend to use an agressive pick attack and this shortens the life span of most strings.

 

Elixer for the Variax

Prior to performing with the variax, I used inexpensive bulk generic strings on all my guitars and changed them after every gig, but these broke within the first hour of playing the variax. I then started using more expensive Elixir and/or Firewire guage .011-.049 guitar strings and can now get through one 3-4 hour gig without breaking a string.

Also, a few months ago a guitar tech carefully filed the saddles smoother and that has helped as well. Maybe a future variax model will feature graph tech saddles. The acoustic models sound great on the variax and I use the patch that someone from Bose posted. It's very cool to play a Queen song like "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and switch guitars mid-song from acoustic to Tele by stepping on one switch during the lead.

Stay Tuned

I love going from an open G tuning to regular tuning just by stepping on a Podxt live pedal and never take my Gibson ES335 to a gig anymore for slide work. Also, I like to tune down a half-step for my vocals and our female bass player prefers cover songs in their original key. With the variax, I can remain in half-step down tuning throughout the entire gig and play in regular tuning for her lead vocal songs just by stepping on one button.

The foregoing versatility has saved me from hauling 3-4 guitars to each gig. I don't miss the whammy bar on my variax as the maple neck is securely attached to the body and easily takes the abuse of using your right or left hand to bend it forward to lower string frequency. I didn't like the metal volume/tone control knobs on my variax 700 because you couldn't look down and see what state they were in.

Making Changes

I recently replaced them with traditional knobs with numbers and would recommend this to anyone who likes to adjust vol/tone during songs. I haven't really experimented much with Workbench but would like to know if anyone has created a guitar patch that sounds like Brian Mays red special. I also haven't used Line 6's "Edit" program much except to save my patches in order of setlist and move them around before a gig if something changes.

Anyway, I look forward to continuing to learn how to best use the PS1, Podxt Live and Variax together and hope I'm even more satisfied by next year. I'd be interested in hearing others practical tips they have picked up through using the combination at live gigs.

The Band Gear


My trio's Setup with 3 Bose systems:
Drummer-- 1 PS1 with 2 bass units, his crown CM310 vocal mic is in channel 1, his bass drum is in channel 2 with a preset.
Bass player-- 1 PS1 with 2 bass units, her vocals are in channel 1, active bass goes direct into channel 2 with a Fender preset, her keyboards go to channel 3.
Guitar Player-- 1 PS1 with 1 bass unit, my vocal goes to channel 1, drummers pair of SM57s placed between cymbals and drums go to channel 2 through a Horizon Combiner with the preset, my vocal delay effect goes into channel 3 from the insert of channel 1 and my guitar signal goes from the mono podxt live output to channel 4.


Review by Scott Carlson; used with permission for Vettaville.nl

source: Scott Carlson:

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