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Thread: Tone Dexter users?

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    Registered User McIrish's Avatar
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    Default Tone Dexter users?

    I know it's been out for a while, but I just started looking into the ToneDexter. Pretty incredible piece of software that uses IRs (impulse responses) to give your piezo pickup the sound of a mic'd instrument. The very best part is that it allows you to make the IR with YOUR instrument. So, it's not the sound of some other instrument slapped onto your instrument. In my case, I've used a Zoom A3 for years. It works pretty good but I can still not get the exact sound of my instruments from it. My Gibson Fern is the toughest one.

    I have not bought the Tone Dexter yet, but this is possibly a total game-changer (overused word). It might give me the ability of getting the true sound of the Fern at high stage levels. I have to compete with drums and bass, so this is a huge thing.

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  3. #2
    Player, luthier, tech Andy Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    In my opinion it is a game-changer. While I would stop short of claiming the wave maps sound "exactly like the miked instrument," I will say this: Almost every wave map I've created for mandolin sounds profoundly more realistic than any plugged-in sound I was able to achieve with conventional Baggs, Radial, or either conventional or modeling Fishman preamps.

  4. #3
    Registered User McIrish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    Thanks Andy! That's very encouraging.
    In my never ending quest to understand everything and save money, I had the thought of manually doing what the Tone Dexter is doing. In that, I mean to create an IR of my real instruments mic'd up and then load that IR into a cheap IR loader pedal, like the Mooer Radar. That would save me $275 and allow me to tweak IRs till I'm happy. I put together a step by step instructions on doing this with any DAW, Izotope Ozone and Voxengo Deconvolver. It's super geeky and not really what most people here would be interested in. But, I am pretty tenacious at finding a way to get a great live sound without breaking the bank. Of course, I have spent a couple fortunes worth of money on all the studio gear I own, so no need to buy anything extra to experiment.

    Still, I do want to try the Tone Dexter out for myself. I really wish they had provided a way to swap around the WaveMaps via a computer interface. That would have made it an instant buy.
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    But as I understand it, it is not spitting out the recorded sound, but reacting on the fly to the difference it has learned between your pickup and your recorded sound. Otherwise you could just buy IRs of a Loar, a Gilchrist, a Fern, etc. and play your KM 150. I think digital is still a ways off from making your average Kentucky sound like a Loar.

    So for now you are going to need to start with a fine mandolin, a great mic, and some recording knowledge.
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    I sometimes gig using a TD on my mandolin (Collings MF5, K&K pickup, TD wavemaps created by using a Schoeps MK4 SDC mic, but any decent mic will do the job). It is as close to a miked mando one can get when using only pickup. Personally I still prefer my old dual source rig (K&K, DPA 4061 mic, Grace Felix preamp) or - even more - a miked mandolin. Depends on your stage volume, but TD is very, very good.

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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    ... by the way, here is short vid I produced some months ago comparing miked mandolin / pure pickup / ToneDexter.
    Maybe it can help a bit.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXqzrV1VJn4
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    Registered User Ky Slim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    But as I understand it, it is not spitting out the recorded sound, but reacting on the fly to the difference it has learned between your pickup and your recorded sound. Otherwise you could just buy IRs of a Loar, a Gilchrist, a Fern, etc. and play your KM 150. I think digital is still a ways off from making your average Kentucky sound like a Loar.

    So for now you are going to need to start with a fine mandolin, a great mic, and some recording knowledge.
    Please correct me if I'm wrong as I'm one of the least tech oriented players I know. From what I'm reading, hearing and seeing, I think the TD is essentially going to be spitting out a close copy of the "learned" mic'd tone of your instrument.

    I don't think the goal of the TD is to make any low $ instrument like high $$$$$ instruments but to make the tone of your own instruments sound closer to the acoustic mic'd tone of your own instruments than the piezo pickup tone of your own instruments. I don't think they are selling IRs of Loar/gil/fern tone and, although I do love loar/gil/fern tone, I don't believe that tone is the one end all tone goal for all players and all situations.

    In other words, I don't think the point of the TD is to make a beginner instrument sound like a top notch professional instrument. The point is to make any instrument (beginner or pro level) sound like it does when played acoustic instead of how it sounds thru a piezo pickup. For example, a KM150 will sound like more like a KM150 played acoustic than a KM150 picked up.

    I realize I just said basically the same thing like 3 times.

    Please let me know if I'm off the mark as I'm considering buying a TD myself. Thanks in advance...

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    Registered User tree's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    I have a ToneDexter and use it for playing through the sound system at our (fairly large) church. I didn't spend a ton of time training it with different mics but whatever I did do seemed to make the mandolin sound more natural than the LR Baggs Radius pickup by itself, and our sound guy is happy. For my purposes, I'm happy too.
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  10. #9
    Registered User McIrish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    Ky Slim,
    You are correct. the way the TD works will only make your mandolin pickup sound closer to a microphone on your mandolin. As far as I know, no one is selling IRs of expensive mandolins anyway. besides that, there is so much that goes into the matching algorithm that taking some random IR and applying it to your mandolin is probably not going to sound that great.

    In an effort to test my theories on creating acoustic IRs of my instruments, I performed a few experiments last night in the studio. It's a 17 step process that is geeky and requires a matching EQ, like Izotope Ozone. I can list the instruction if anyone is curious. My hope was that I could create an IR of my Gibson Fern that would make the pickup (K&K) sound like it does when I mic it up for recordings. It took about an hour to get the IR created, as I was experimenting and had a bit of a learning curve. The end result was that I was able to make the pickup sound nearly identical to the mic. That's a big win. The next step would be to buy an IR loader pedal, like a cheap Mooer Radar. Then I could use the IR live in a show. Currently, it's just inside my DAW for testing purposes.

    Yes, my idea is basically doing what the Tone Dexter is doing. But, I have more control over the process, though it may be more complex and require specialized software. Still, this idea gives me the hope of being able to use an IR pedal live for around $125. The sound I got in my tests using the IR were shockingly good; and that was just the first experiment. Even with a K&K pickup, I've never liked the way the Fern sounds in a show. I'd rather use a mic, but that's 100% impossible in a rock band setting. This approach can give me the same sound without the feedback.

    Hopefully, someone finds this interesting. I'm probably a way better engineer/producer than a mandolin player, so I find this fascinating. I imagine in the next couple years that other companies with do similar things to the Tone Dexter and we can all stop complaining about our live sound. To me, this is a potential game-changer.
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    McIrish, what preamp are you using? I have a K&K and get a great sound, very similar to my mandolin. I am using a RedEye pre. I also mounted the K&K different and maybe that helps.
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  12. #11
    Registered User McIrish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    I've used a K&K preamp and didn't like it. I also have a Zoom A3 which is pretty good but still not on the level of the instrument with a mic.
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    The RedEye is far superior to the K&K preamp IMHO. While I have tried the Baggs, K&K, Orchid, and RedEye, I have not tried a Zoom. The RedEye is the latest and have been using it for a couple of years. I like it a lot better than all the rest.
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    This is an interesting thread, I am tempted to try it. I currently use a K&K pickup through a Baggs Venue Pro, into the mixer at church. It sounds OK, especially with all the voices, two guitars, a trumpet and a recorder. But I don't really like the sound when I try to solo on the melody. I like that the Tone Dexter has a mute and a boost. I think I would want it to have more EQ settings, but I can always do that at the mixer. With the Baggs, I can just set the mixer flat and not worry.

    A question for those who have used it; does it run on batteries? I couldn't find anything in the manual. If not, I assume it comes with a power brick, but I don't see one in any of the photos, just the input on the back of the unit. That may be the decision factor for me, we only have one outlet where we set up, and it is usually full.
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    Player, luthier, tech Andy Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    Quote Originally Posted by Austin Bob View Post

    A question for those who have used it; does it run on batteries? I couldn't find anything in the manual. If not, I assume it comes with a power brick, but I don't see one in any of the photos, just the input on the back of the unit. That may be the decision factor for me, we only have one outlet where we set up, and it is usually full.
    No, it does not run on batteries. It comes with its own power supply but can be powered by most pedalboard power supplies.

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    Registered User McIrish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    I bought a Mooer Radar pedal yesterday. It can load user created IRs. I will test my manually made IR in it and report back. That pedal is only $150 new. Much less expensive than the Tone Dexter for trying my ideas out. Granted, the Tone Dexter is a much more straightforward way of doing this. It seems like a fine pedal. I just like to experiment a bit and tweak the IR till I'm happy. I wish the Tone Dexter had a USB interface so you could sort through IRs easily in an app. The front panel of the Tone Dexter is a bit too cryptic for my liking. I'd be afraid of overwriting IRs accidentally.

    My guess is that within five years (max) this will be the main way people are getting a live sound. Think about it. Who wouldn't want their mandolin to sound just like it does in a studio with a great mic? I need to test it for feedback issues, but so far I am very encouraged by this.
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    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    I use the tonedexter, it has replaced the Grace designs products I used to use. Sounds so much better than anything else I have heard except a straight microphone. The tonedexter is not quite as high a quality of build as the Grace products, but a very solid pedal none the less.

    I don’t need any more EQ then is available, the treble and bass cuts are sufficient with most of the wavemaps I have made.

    The tuner is sub par in my opinion, but others seem to like it.

    I think the only limitation is making a good wavemap or two, it can be tricky. But this is also how it is a able to capture and recreate the sound of YOUR mandolin so well
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    Isn’t it about time they brought out version 2? The digital world moves fast.
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    ToneDexter has had several firmware updates that have advanced its algorithms...I hope that there will be a way to tinker “in the box” like McIrish is doing...I find the “tap the button, watch the numbers go by, tap the button, “see if you like it””sequence of programming limited in its precision, adjustments, and user experience. It does make a relatively great sound, but I would like a way to interact with the construction of the IR filter and control the outcome beyond the simple “blend” and 3band eq.
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    Registered User McIrish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    For all the absolute tech geeks, here is my instructions for creating an IR that can be loaded into an IR loader.

    Some prerequisites: A computer (PC), DAW software (Cubase/Nuendo is what I used), an EQ that performs matching (Izotope Ozone is what I used), Voxengo Deconvolver (used in free demo mode), an audio interface (to record into the DAW), an IR loader pedal (used to hold your new IR you make)

    Let me know if you have questions. I'm happy to help. I do believe this is the best way to get a great sound. I've spent so much time and money on pedals and amps to make my Fern sound as good as it does on recordings, yet it always falls short. This approach, via my instructions or using Tone Dexter, changes everything. If someone came out with a less cryptic version of Tone Dexter with a USB computer interface to sort and store IRs, that would be a hit. Everyone would want it. It's like a Fishman Aura on steroids. You get the True sound of YOUR instrument, no matter what pickup you are using. I'd say that is a game changer.

    For transparency sake, all my test so far have been in the computer. I have not loaded my IR into a pedal. I didn't have one yet. I did use an IR loader plugin in my DAW (Pulse IR loader). It sounded great. The physical IR loader pedal should be delivered today and I can do more tests and tweak the instructions as needed.

    1) Instrument with mic into preamp - to DAW
    2) Instrument into preamp DI - to DAW
    3) Get levels somewhat close to each other without any clipping
    4) Record both tracks at the same time in various ranges of the instrument
    5) Normalize both resulting recordings
    6) Export those two recordings - at least you need the one that was mic'd

    7) On the DI track, add Ozone to it and do an EQ match to the mic'd recording
    8) After you have the match, save the EQ match (you will need it)
    9) In Deconvolver, generate a test tone. Not sure how long 250ms? 500ms? Longer? - I tested with a 6sec test sweep
    10) On a new track in DAW, add the test tone file
    11) Add Ozone as an insert and apply the matched EQ to the sweep
    12) Export the sweep with the EQ and save as a wav file

    13) Open Deconvolver and add the test tone (the raw one - not EQ'd) in the test tone file line
    14) In the file folder line, add the exported test tone with EQ on it
    15) Select where to save the output file
    16) Process - the saved wav file is the IR
    17) Edit the IR in a wave editor to trim the silence at the beginning and fade the tail -
    a. if you don't trim the blank at the beginning, you will have latency
    18) Load the IR into an IR loader and test
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  24. #20
    Scroll Lock Austin Bob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    Quote Originally Posted by McIrish View Post
    For all the absolute tech geeks, here is my instructions for creating an IR that can be loaded into an IR loader.
    Thank you for the detailed instructions, but as someone who has zero recording experience or equipment, this is way over my head. I was actually thinking about buying one of these in the future, but if this is what it takes to get good sound out of it, I may have to reconsider.

    I don't have any of the hardware of software you mention in the prerequisite section. Do I really need all of this?
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    Quote Originally Posted by Austin Bob View Post
    Thank you for the detailed instructions, but as someone who has zero recording experience or equipment, this is way over my head. I was actually thinking about buying one of these in the future, but if this is what it takes to get good sound out of it, I may have to reconsider.

    I don't have any of the hardware of software you mention in the prerequisite section. Do I really need all of this?
    No Bob, you just need the ToneDexter, it does it all in the tiny little pedal.
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaMatt View Post
    No Bob, you just need the ToneDexter, it does it all in the tiny little pedal.
    Thanks Matt. I'm looking at the Setup page on the TD website, it doesn't look as complicated as McIrish's post above, but one does still need to set it up.

    From the website: "It’s necessary to create at least one WaveMap for your particular instrument by training ToneDexter with a microphone. Once that’s done, the mic is no longer needed."
    A quarter tone flat and a half a beat behind.

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    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    Quote Originally Posted by Austin Bob View Post
    Thanks Matt. I'm looking at the Setup page on the TD website, it doesn't look as complicated as McIrish's post above, but one does still need to set it up.

    From the website: "Itís necessary to create at least one WaveMap for your particular instrument by training ToneDexter with a microphone. Once thatís done, the mic is no longer needed."
    The process McIrish has described is not for the ToneDexter. It is for doing it with a computer, software, and a different pedal.
    The TD is simple to use, and only requires a microphone and a piezoelectric equipped instrument.
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    Registered User Reid Morsi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    Seems like a pretty cool product. Here is a cool demo I saw online: unfortunately no mandolin playing, fortunately you get to hear a great guitarist like Molly Tuttle!


    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wEeNOPCffHo
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  31. #25
    Registered User McIrish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tone Dexter users?

    Sorry guys for the confusion. My instructions were for the truly geeky computer guys. The Tone Dexter is a MUCH easier solution. I did put my theory to the test with a Mooer Radar IR loader pedal. It turned out the same as it did on the computer. The sound was the closest to a microphone I have ever got. For me, I think I will continue down this path, as I'm anal about sound and like to have control over all the parameters. For most anyone else, I think the Tone Dexter is pretty amazing. If it had a computer interface via USB, I would probably just bought it and not spent so much time developing an alternative approach.
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