Review: Two Notes Torpedo C.A.B.M IR Loader and Virtual Speaker Cabinet

Two Notes is back with its best-sounding, most compact cab-sim solution yet.
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Two Notes has made a name for itself with the Torpedo Studio and Torpedo Live units, which have helped countless touring and recording pros eliminate bulky speaker cabs and best-guess miking techniques from their signal chains. Now this creative French company delivers the Torpedo C.A.B. M IR Loader and Virtual Speaker Cabinet, its most compact cab-sim solution yet.

While attenuators and re-ampers have become a favorite way to bring volume levels down in venues and studios, the virtual speaker cabinet, or cab simulator, has also gained popularity in recent years. Put simply, these rack-sized processors help you sound like you’re raging through a hefty 4x12 in the front-of-house mix or on a recording, all while reining in your decibels. The Torpedo C.A.B. M takes this tech out of the cumbersome rack units and into a sandwich-sized enclosure that’s comfortable either on your pedalboard being fed by preamp pedals, or as an amp-top box between head (or combo chassis) and cab. For the former setup, Two Notes makes a trio of Le Preamp series pedals ($299 street, per pedal) that work hand-in-hand with the C.A.B M as well as in front of a conventional guitar amp. Watch for a review in a future issue.

Despite its diminutive size, the Torpedo C.A.B. M packs a lot more than you might imagine. First off, note that there’s no load box here like you get within the Torpedo Studio and Live units, so you need to connect a speaker cab to the unit’s speaker output. For silent, cab-less use, you can connect a stand-alone load box or even a speaker in an iso cab. In addition to an amp input that doubles as a line in for use with preamps (with related input level switch), the C.A.B. M has both 1/4-inch line out and XLR DI out with ground-lift switch, 1/8-inch headphone out and aux in, and connections for 12-volt power (wall wart included) and USB, the latter to enable use of the Torpedo Remote editing software in your Mac or PC.

The two knobs on top perform multiple duties, such as selecting presets, setting output volume and tweaking preset parameters, and that’s the key to the big stuff inside. The C.A.B. M carries a whopping 99 preset slots, editable from the 32 Two Notes cabinet IRs (impulse responses) included with the package, or from third-party IRs you acquire or create, along with eight virtual power amps, eight virtual mics, EQ and a big selection of room environments (dialed in as “reverb”), all processed as 32-bit/96 kHz digital audio. As such, it offers plenty to impress in the 32 factory presets right out of the box. You can also connect to Torpedo Remote to swap cabs, move the positions of up to two mics at a time, change EQ and room sound, and enable or disable the power amp (depending on whether you’re using it with a preamp pedal for an amp-less rig, or in line between a amp and cab, respectively).

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Suffice to say there’s a lot more going on than we have space to cover, but what really matters is that it sounds good. At the time of this writing, I was recording several guitar tracks in Pro Tools for an indie-rock project, and the C.A.B. M became one of my favorite means of getting the job done. It also proved a winner for front-of-house sound, and was a breeze to use. Employed with a Friedman Small Box head and tweed Deluxe-style amp, the C.A.B. M delivered a range of dynamic and realistic cab sounds and made the work so much easier than traditional miking, while enabling the sounds of several classic cabs.

It’s worth noting that the C.A.B. M was designed primarily as a live cab-sim solution, but home recordists will no doubt get plenty of use out of it. If studio work were my main use for it, and if budget allowed, I’d seriously consider stepping up to the rack-mounted Torpedo Live or Studio units (which I’ve used with great results in the past), since those offer S/PDIF digital out — rather than the C.A.B. M’s post-conversion analog output only — to avoid sending my signal through D/A and A/D again. But this little box sounded great regardless, and at a third the price of its bigger sibling, it’s a superb bundle of tricks that deserves an Editors’ Pick Award.

SPECIFICATIONS

Torpedo C.A.B. M

CONTACT two-notes.com
PRICE $299

CONTROLS Preset/parameter, volume/value, input level (-24dB, 0dB, 12dB), ground lift
PRESETS 32 cabinets, 8 microphones, 8 rooms, 8 power amps, Impulse Response capable
I/O 1/4" Hi-Z/line/amp input, 1/8" aux in. 1/4" speaker out, 1/4" line out, XLR DI out, 1/8" headphone out. Micro-B USB
POWER 12V DC power supply (included)
DIMENSIONS 2.48" x 3.77" x 4.76"(HxWxD)

KUDOS A very well-conceived IR/DI/virtual cab unit that sounds great and offers a ton of versatility for the price
CONCERNS There’s no digital out for direct-digital recording, but you step up to that with its more expensive siblings

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