Audio Trainers For Guitar
You can benefit from an audio trainer for guitar if:
- You're ready to play along with your favorite band, but you can't keep up yet.
- You can play some chords well, but not the ones you need to play for a particular song.
- You need a compact device to practice your electric guitar silently, while experimenting with special effects.
Most audio trainers for guitar include these features and more. Some play CD's, some allow you to load MP3 files. All are great accessories that can provide hours of practice, learning, and fun.
Before shopping, decide which features are most important to you, then select the audio trainer that best matches your needs. Some of the key features to consider are:
- Playback Formats - As digital music becomes the de facto standard, more of these players are offering MP3 or other digital file support. CD playback is still valuable, and is becoming the more affordable option.
- Variable Speed Playback - A great audio controller will allow you to slow down or speed up playback while maintaining the subtle sounds of the original recording.
- Key Shift - Just because a song is recorded in Bb and you know the chords for the key of G, doesn't mean you can't play along. A well equipped audio trainer provides the ability to shift the key so you can play in a key that's convenient for you.
- Loop Control - Trying to figure out a riff or difficult chord progression? If your audio trainer has loop control you can set a start point and an end point, then listen to a passage as it repeats as many times as you like.
- Guitar Input - A place to plug in for monitoring and use of any built-in effects.
- Headphone Out - To practice at your convenience without disturbing others.
- Amp Modeling or Special Effects - Whether the device simulates a particular amp, or pedal effects, these sound modifications can provide hours of exploration and fun.
- Built-In Tuner or Metronome - You always need to be in tune and play in time, why carry additional hardware when an audio trainer can provide them?
Types of Audio Trainers
Tascam controls the market for self-contained portable audio trainers. You can still find one such trainer from Alesis, at bargain prices. Whether Alesis will release a second generation device, or let the market go to the software/interface and compact recorder manufactures (such as the Zoom H4), remains to be seen.
There is a wider selection of computer interface boxes with bundled audio-control software. The interface boxes sometimes include tuners and effects, but most capability is part of the software. Obviously, audio-control software is only as portable as your computer, and functionality varies widely. Of course, with software you can add additional products and develop a customized work-bench over time.
I hope you find an audio trainer combination that fits your needs.
Self-Contained Portable Units
These all-in-one devices pack as much as possible into a product you can carry with you. One fits in your pocket, most easily fit in a gear bag, and one packs all the functionality into an amplifier.
|The TASCAM MP-GT1 stores up to 240 MP3 files. You can vary playback speed, change pitch, and loop passages. Also: Built-in guitar effects; Guitar-in port; Headphone Out; metronome; tuner...|
|Pop any CD into the TASCAM CD-GT1mkII and plug in your guitar. Control speed or pitch; set loop points; experiment with guitar effects; plus headphone and audio out!|
|The next generation TASCAM CD-GT2 CD Guitar Trainer is ultra-compact and includes many key features: variable speed; pitch control; Looping; tuner; guitar-in; headphones-out; footswitch-in; effects; instrument canceler to mute selected playback sounds.|
|For an all-in-one solution, look at the TASCAM GA-30CD Combo Guitar Amp/CD Trainer. Built into this 30W guitar amp are the most popular effects, a CD player with speed/pitch control, dedicated CD playback speakers, line input for MP3 players, and more!|
|The Alesis PlayMate Guitarist CD Controller provides independent CD speed and pitch adjustment, guitar and stereo inputs, control to mix guitar/CD volume levels, select and modify numerous guitar effects, loop over your favorite passage, much more...|
Guitar I/O Controllers with Audio Control Software
I/O Controllers began as simple devices that allowed you to send the output of your guitar, microphone, or other cabled instrument, to your computer. These days the devices are fast, provide clean sound, and often include software for enhancing the sound once you capture it.
The speed at which manufacturers are bringing I/O controllers to market, often packaged with powerful software, is fast paced. Take a look at this sample of hardware/software audio trainers, then search suppliers like Musician’s Friend for the latest product offerings.
Take care when selecting a product that your computer setup includes the right input type (typically USB, but Firewire is quickly growing in use) and that any included software is compatible with your operating system.
|The Line 6 TonePort UX1 is a compact guitar to computer (USB) interface, delivering high quality digital sound. The included GearBox software models guitar amps, effects, vocal preamps, half-speed playback, records, and many custom controls. Also check out the GX and UX2 models.|
|The StealthPlug USB Audio Interface Cable is a very compact guitar-to-computer USB plug bundled with powerful software for less than $100. The software provides amp modeling, effects processing, recording, speed and pitch control, loops and play-along sounds, tuner, and much more.|
|M-Audio Fast Track Pro USB Interface is loaded with input and output capabilities. The included Ableton Live 4 software adds effects, remix features, playback speed control, and more. Add guitar effects, playback digital files, monitor everything with a powerful headphone out port, and more.|
Software Based Audio Control and Recording
If you already have a way of getting sound into your computer, there are a number of software packages you can choose to help you play along. The most simple may be the best, or you may want to record multiple tracks, add backing drum tracks, midi instruments, synthesized sounds, and more. Review product offerings carefully as each product tries to differentiate itself with some great features while others are weak or absent.
Note: Make certain to check Operating System support. Most of these packages are available for multiple operating systems, including Windows, Mac, and sometimes Linux, but make certain that you order the right version for your system.
|Transcribe does a few things very well. It is excellent for changing pitch, analyzing music, changing playback speed, exporting songs/clips. If you need to work out how to play a song, or a passage, Transcribe is the perfect, affordable, solution.|
|Audacity is a free sound editor that provides recording, editing (splice, cut, copy, paste, more), pitch and speed control, file export and more. Some find the volunteer-based support frustrating, but it may provide all you need.|
|Apple Logic 8 Studio packs together an arsenal of audio editing tools. The number of tools and features are too numerous to cover here. If you're looking for a comprehensive audio editing environment, take a look at Logic Pro before making your final selection.|
|Adobe Audition is a pro-level audio production package that provides tools for: virtual instruments; multi-track audio recording and manipulation; noise editing; effects; loop creation; and much more.|
|SONAR Home Studio is an affordable package of music production tools. Record instruments or vocals and mix them using audio effects. Edit audio, MIDI, and music notation. Build backing tracks or songs with hundreds of instrument sounds and tempo-syncing loops|
|Cubase 4 Studio is designed for professional music production it combines audio and MIDI recording, synthesis, editing, mixing and effects; includes 46 plug-ins to create, record, and mix. Record, compose, arrange or perform real-time time stretching and pitch shifting of audio.|