DISCUSSING PORTABLE SPEAKERS FOR AMPLIFYING YOUR GUITAR & VOICE & USING THE ZOOM H6 RECORDER TO COMBINE EVERYTHING INTO ONE SETUP
BLOWN AWAY THREE TIMES
Well, the idea is very simple, it hit me, once I finally decided to buy first the Anker Soundcore, a small portable speaker: and was decently surprised. But there was also the former king of portable speakers: the UE Boom, Version 2. So, when Prime day arrived, and it was 50% off I also got the UE Boom 2. And this speaker again completely blew me away. I just had realized twice, what was possible. In my Eyes: a complete breakthrough in the area of Bluetooth speakers.
Since then, I also got to test the Marshall Kilburn, which, I know, it get*s boring, another time completely blew me away. But it’s true.
So. having these lying around for a few years, an idea began to form in my mind: why not just connect your 6,3mm guitar jack to a 3,5mm Aux cable and see what happens? Usually, when talking about amplifying sound, often with phantom power and stuff like that, simple experiments like these might end up destroying your gear. But since that wasn’t my plan, I didn’t think: What’s the worst that could happen: And connected to a cable to one of the speakers.
TRYING IT OUT
Well, that’s not exactly how it happened. I first connected my guitar to my stereo, but that ended up producing almost no sound at all. Later I found out the reason: the electrical signal, coming out of the guitar is just not strong enough, or, another perspective: the amplification of my stereo was just not strong enough. The problem is this: usually, the signal coming transferred through these small 3,5mm cables is already amplified, meaning it already has enough juice. The signal coming out of a guitar: is on a lower level of amplification, hence guitar ‘speakers’ aren’t called speakers, but ‘guitar amps’ which, means: guitar amplifier. Reason being: it amplifies the signal it gets before it blasts it out. This is also the reason you need an amplifier somewhere in your sound chain when playing with passive speakers. Passive speakers don’t do anything to the power level of your signal, hence being called passive. The just: vibrate. Active speakers on the other hand: are 2-in-1 devices, they: also amplify the incoming signal, hence: the also need power.
So, why didn’t it work with the stereo then: the overall amplification was just to low. To make it happen, you just need to add a small amplifier, which you can fit into your pocket. But I didn’t get one and so got frustrated, because the overall result was pretty damn: shitty.
Also: it had
QUITE A BIG OF LAG
Which means. a time difference between you playing and the sound hitting you from the stereo again. The problem: you might get confused. And since music is, well, kind of based on rhythmic accuracy, this might lower your performance’s potential. If you ever played live, you probably also experienced this. Or: if you watched Netflix with Bluetooth headphones: there the lag is also often noticeable. The proper term for this: latency.
Summing it up, we from now on have two enemies, we wanna fight against: not enough signal juice and: latency.
Finally, only recently, I had some thoughts about playing in the streets somewhere, ‘street musician style’. Local laws sometimes banning amplification aside for street performers aside, if you wanna be heard: you can either sing and play louder or: amplify.
THE THING IS THIS
there are tons of criteria for such a portable setup, where you can plug in your guitar. And maybe also: your voice strings. Because somewhere along the line you decided that playing guitar alone most often requires some serious skills in, well, playing the guitar. Which you and I just might not have. Not assuming anything here.
something to carry all of your stuff. Then: all of your stuff. Including your mic, your mic stand, your guitar, your cables. And last but not least: yourself. Which already makes kind of a hefty package. But then, you have to add one of these:
And this is on the smaller side.
So, why not
TRY BLUETOOTH SPEAKERS INSTEAD?
First, because of the best sound for your weight and size: I tried the UE Boom 2. And: it worked. But: the latency is just too high. And also the sound, compared to something coming out of your phone or notebook: is just very: not nice. Kind of crappy.
The latency enemy is especially then a problem, when you do not only play and: get your input played on your speaker system again, but: if you rely on the feedback you get for playing. Which is the case, when you loop, meaning: adding tracks you just recorded to the overall output.
So: I tried the Anker Soundcore. And here, surprisingly, the sound is, well, the sound itself is not really good, but compared to the UE Boom, the latency is much lower. Kind of acceptable. So: this might work as a small amplifier?
BUT BEFORE, ALREADY: I TRIED THE KILBURN
And it blew me away. Cause it just: works. In terms of sound quality and loudness: The Kilburn really competes with my stereo. And since something with the cables and contacts of my, gotta admit, very good sounding stereo, is almost always a problem: for now, I just use the Marshall Kilburn as stereo most of the time. And just don’t bother anymore with fiddling around with all the cables.
THE PROBLEM WITH THE KILLBURN
Well, there aren’t many to be mentioned. Because this thing is just such a beast. Of course, it for sure is not as small and portable as a ‘pocket speaker’ like the UE Boom 2, the Anker Soundcore, or all the other Bluetooth speakers out there with decent sound. It weighs around 3kg. Which not necessarily is a: ‘just throw it into your backpack’ – weight, but compared to something like the Roland BA 330 above, it is another dimension in terms of: dimensions.
SO WHAT CAN IT DO – THE BUSKING CHECK
- Battery is running for 20H: check.
- Portability & weight: check.
- Easy plugin without any amplification: check
- Just use an aux cable as a guitar cable, you also need a 3,5mm jack to 6,3mm Adapter to plug the smaller Aux cable into your guitar: jack
- Abnormal sound quality for the size: check
- Classic vintage amplification style, basically: looks like a Marshall amplifier. Maybe because it’s the same company: check
- Use your amp as your home stereo, eliminate all cables fiddling, adding Bluetooth to your stereo and: just grab the strap on top and take ALL YOUR VERY NICE HOME STEREO with you. Onto the streets. Onto local musicians meetups. To your grandma. Into the garden. With you on your busking trip around the world: check.
- Save money by: combining your home stereo, your guitar amp, your speakers for singing, your amp for your speakers for singing [well, not thaat easy] into one single speaker: check.
For singing, the problem is this: the signal coming out of a mic is either passive and has no amplification at all, or: the microphone needs power. Either way, it isn’t as easy as using a double aux dongle and plug in your singing mic. But I found another very nice, small battery-powered All-in-one solution, for your home setup, for recording onto a device. for using recording into your DAW or onto your phone, notebook, computer:
What you do with this: plug in your mic via XLR, your guitar via 6,3mm jack, use the 3,5mm headphone jack, an aux cable, and connect it to your Marshall Kilburn: and the problem with the two signals is SOLVED. And by the way: you just added
- a pretty damn good amplifier into your signal
- the ability to studio record you busking in basically, well, studio-quality. There is no need in terms of recording specs to go higher than that
- ability to control the amplification of each signal individually: basically: mixing
- another battery-powered device, which also runs on power banks
- the ability to connect the output also via USB to your phone and well: record/ live stream your performance with the ORIGNAL AUDIO
- the ability to even add, and also control the street sound into your recording.
- you can leave out the mic. And use the Zooms Mic. It’s freaking amazing. You can even use the interchangeable dynamics Mic that is included in the package.
- Acoustic Version: Playing unplugged but amplifying your unplugged sound
- You record your voice and your guitar through the XY Capsule on the Zoom [the one with the crossing mics] out of a small distance, then: wire the Kilburn via headphone out and put it a few feet away to avoid looping the audio endlessly
- Zoom as Microphone Replacement + Guitar plugged in
- Guitar plugged into the Zoom
- Zoom on Mic stand instead of your standard mic, with the round capsule on. But you could also use the XY one up close. If you only want to take one capsule with you
I MEAN, IF THIS SETUP ISN’T ON HECK OF A HECK. THE YOU GONNA ZOOM OUTTA HERE.
Nough of bad jokes, this is how it looks like, when it’s a total mess:
WHY IS THIS THE BEST I COULD COME UP WITH
- this is the one guitar I own, that has steel strings and an output. If you wanted to get your set more down, there are options, just search for: travel guitars. Probably will write something about this option that in the future
- the mic stand is collapsable and fits into your backpack
- the mic itself: is dynamic, altough: the Zoom, or should I call it the WONDER ZOOM provides, of course, phantom power to all your devices, if needed.
- Needless to say that your entire setup [apart from the Killburn] can be and is powered by a single power bank. And you get everywhere. You can charge them everywhere. The idea is: that you don*t need a power source, because: you basically always already have at least one power bank with you when traveling. Also: this power bank charges rapidly, cause with USB C Power Delivery. And: it charges also my Notebook with 30W USB C PD. So: this is the only power bank I need.
- You can also get a bigger version of this power bank, like 20000 mAh or 24000. But the thing is: this part is completely interchangeable.
- the Zoom and the power bank together with the mic just neatly fit into this old Discman bag. Yes. Discman. That used to be a thing, back in the days.
- your guitar case: is empty, either you use it classically for collecting your well-earned dimes, or even better: to put in your tech.
- So when packed up: all you have is: guitar in case [maybe smaller?], the mic stand in your backpack or bag and this small Discman bag.
- The guitar, of course, is the biggest part.