Fourteen minutes into last week’s Digital Media Insider podcast, "Secrets of the Demo Gods," I asked longtime reviewer Mark Nelson if any recent music-making gear had surprised him.
Mark started praising the M-Audio Black Box, a digital guitar effect co-designed by Roger Linn, the drum-machine pioneer (and a fine guitarist himself). "It was just…inspiring. Amazing stuff would happen," Mark enthused.
Coincidentally, Roger just wrote to say his company is now shipping Version 3 of the Black Box’s big brother, the AdrenaLinn. In case you missed our Black Box review, the AdrenaLinn crosses a drum machine with a guitar-amp simulator and "beat-synched multieffects." Plug in a guitar (or other electrified instrument) and the AdrenaLinn makes it groove by applying rhythmic processing that syncs to the song’s tempo.
This is a Rhino3D model, but the real AdrenaLinn III is now shipping. Click the image for background and bigger graphics.
According to Linn, Version III "a pretty significant step up from AdrenaLinn II." It improves the quality of the amp models and drum sounds; adds stereo reverb, compression, a tuner, new modulation effects, and more MIDI control; and much more. What I find especially interesting in these days of disposable products is how easy the company has made it to upgrade the AdrenaLinn. For $99, it will send you an upgrade kit containing the chips, a chip-puller tool, a new faceplate, and step-by-step photographic instructions. A new AdrenaLinn III costs about $375.
And what of the Black Box? While editing Mark’s review, I was seriously tempted to buy one myself, even though I’m not a guitarist. With this upgrade, the AdrenaLinn pulls further ahead in tweakability, but the two boxes still target different audiences. You can read a comparison on Roger’s site.
For more on the joys of tempo-synced effects, see my article "Sync and Grow Rich" and podcast "(((Echo)))."