LievenDV's Dwarf journal

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Chapter I:
Receiving the Dwarf and first impressions of the unit, the GUI and the sound

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First impressions after receiving, exploring and trying the MOD Dwarf.

Overall:
impressed, excited, full of ideas to try and tweak.
Haven’t played much instruments yet but have been playing around with the virtual and real GUI.
While doing some experimenting, I already learned a lot about the available plugins and what you can do with MIDI
Really glad I participated in this project; it is what I thought it was.
The potential of this technology has much to discover!
(for me but also for you)

A few negative points; mostly minor though.
Strongest one is the noise issue but there seem to be solutions for that I need to explore.

The Package:
++ The Dwarf, nicely in a dedicated sturdy bad, embedded in an extra safety casing.
++ A long and sturdy USB cable.
++ A sufficiently long power adapter
++ A dedicated US stick for backup? Excellent: The devil is in the details!
++ All arrived in safe condition
++ love the feel of the buttons and dials
– Lacking expectation management when it comes to tier 2 reward; Opening the box, Idon’t know what, how, when and whether it active or not. Jon told us in another thread about an upcoming communique though.

Connecting for the first time
++ As soon I was there, The GUI worked very well
++ no software installed; just a browser. Can’t wait to attach my tablet with a specific cable or BT dongle + my BT keyboard and mouse for a minimal studio setup for configuring+testing iterations.
– couldn’t connect to the local address or IP, had to switch a simple setting that was documented in the forum but not on the FAQ about connection issues

Working with the GUI
++ Adding, dragging, connecting is a breeze.
++ for some it might be a drag but being able to map virtually everything to the buttons is great.
++ midi devices, audio effects, all in one screen. I’m still impressed
++ Adding pedalboards from the site was a cool experience.
++ Managing banks and pedalboards into banks went very easy, both on GUI as device itself.
++ Adding files to the file system: super easy! My added IR’s showed up instantly
° Haven’t tried snapshots yet but browsed and had a good feeling what to expect
° didn’t take me too long to map controls to dials/butons but I think I can come up with a more intuitive table to map them
° might need extra footswitches soon.
– sighlty disappointed I couldn’t use the A footswitch in a similar fashion as B and C, turning on and off effects.
– Didn’t see how to have a pedalboard in mutiple banks though (copy paste)
– I instinctively tried to disconnect the outputs but dragging that actually creates a new wire.(perhaps holding SHIFT or CTRL drag could unplug it? :p)
– sometimes, loading a board from the site, it said said ‘victorious’ but the Dwarf dit nothing. retrying often worked
– The pedalboard overview list mode is hard to read because how it is organised

Sound
++ Felt like playing more, that’s a good thing!
++ As soon as I dialed it in right, I discovered some sounds that will need little tweaking to become usable sounds on my board.
++ Had some sweet “edge of breakup/breakup sounds” sounds that sounded great for Hendrixy clean stuff
° with a good “unified output” workflow, I will be able to do more and better testing
– instalty had rather high pitched noise. only dwarf connected to outlet, guitar going in in input 1; cable from output 1 going to input amp. Even with the suggested ground loop fix followed by reboot. Suppose I’ll need to try the “different PSU” scenario?
– I found out the hard way the pedalboards all had different levels of output. Is there a way/suggested workflow to normilze this? I had to dial my Blues Deluxe down to the lowsest possible setting to have quiet test volume.
– Getting an “organic” drive sound was ok but going for high gain without sounding like a hard clipping microwave took some effort.

To-Do for me now:

  • Find a workflow to make out output volumes similar
  • get to know more options (looper etc, was there a “recorder” device plugin already?)
  • Get my first real personal and usable board (and share it)
  • test vocals
  • test acoustic guitar
  • test bass
  • test snapshots
  • test 4 cable setups with effect loop on amp
  • learn more about using IR’s
  • buy a midi controller keyboard and start learning piano
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This is a super cool post and it’s really nice to follow your “journey” like this. Please keep it up.
I will leave you with some comments in a couple of things:

This I kind of take it really on me and honestly I think no one of us thought about this - probably caused by the rush of answering everyone’s inquiries regarding their shipping + us wanting to ship the devices asap. Maybe something to think about for tier 3 or so. Thanks for the input.

Kind of on me as well. Although we don’t have it documented because we didn’t find it before and until now it feels a bit random and other times depends on the OS and browser that you are running. Some help on documenting this from your side would be wonderful since I can’t really trigger the issue and therefore explain a “fits all” solution.

Saved as a request and something that we are wondering if (and how) we should implement.

The WebGUI needs some sprints of improvements. Let’s hope that we can get there “soon”.

Again, another browser-related issue. Actually, I get impressed that you manage to solve it with a re-try and not another browser. We are aware that some of the latest Chrome updates broke a few things here.

Let us know if you manage to get it solved. Have you read our “Dealing with noise issues” wiki guide?

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I’m trying to bring this is in a form that is most useful for all to distill praisse, concerns and inspiration :smiley: | For me it’s a good way to log my experiments.
hoped you liked it

Thanks for providing such quick feedback.
There is a lot of MOD presence on this board and it clearly grows trust in the community!

Some of my items were already raised in other threads.
I never participated in wiki’s but I’m willing to enrich it with things like this.

Even with the occasional board not loading from the site, the workflow was fast and smooth.
Especially when users provide a sound sample, you are so easily triggered to press “try”, see it loaded, change some stuff on the fly, save and presto! Smooth stuff like that makes me happy.

The “retry” was for me: refresh the browserwindow where the GUI was running, press “try” again and then it worked. so, little discomfort and low impact.

yeah a great thread. going to do some experimenting myself but there sin’t mouch more to explore since

  • all electricity is done well (rather new house with new attic and electricity)
  • standalone setup was minimal, only amp and guitar attached
  • 2 good quality jack cables

I don’t give up too easily though :slight_smile: It would be the least of my worries if I would be buyting and trying a different PSU. We’ll see, no showstopper for now!

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Oooh please implement :pray: … 3 effect buttons will be very useful. If needed page selection could be done by knob or external midi.

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I actually do and we (at MOD) appreciate it a lot!

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Chapter II:

Learning and applying the learnings…and yet coming up with more questions.

Many boards, many volumes

After I downloaded about 12 boards, I want to my little music attic to test them on a real amp with a real guitar. I noticed there is no real convention in volume/gain coming out of the outputs.

Damn; most pedalboards are LOUD! Is there a way to “normalize it”? Having a “set and forget” on the device would be easier than manually adding an extra gain plugin you need to configure. The first to-do from chapter I (" * Find a workflow to make out output volumes similar") isn’t covered yet but at least I’m one step closer

Although I tested with a DI sample and headphones, the real deal with your own guitar and amp is the best test of course. Some sounds were muddier than expected, some were sharper.

This time, a smarter pedalboard

Remembering this, I was ready for a second round of GUI tweaking without guitar.
I focussed on 2 boards and tried to get them at a same volume and fill the first “page” with assigned buttons. I’ve set up to a primer for my a rhythm board; something to use in my modern heavy metal band.

I assigned buttons for. the combination of amp gain, IR cab type and gain. The 3 middle sections of the parametric EQ gave the the board a lot of flexibility in stand-alone mode.
And that with using only one “page”.

“Ah you can name your buttons”, that’s a simple but sweet delight:D

I noticed an issue with the MOD IR cab loader and the presets though, I documented this in the bug category:MOD IR Loader Presets: ren/sav/del issue

The fact that button A is not assignable for stand-alone use is a pity.
3 buttons to use live would get me through my whole set, especially since there is a momentary option.

I also noticed that you can only assign one function to the knobs while the knobs are push AND dial. That’s a minor detail. Though, it would enable me to, for example, turn on/off a pedal by pushing the first knob and dialing in its gain by turning it.
I also saw an option somewhere that you coul set how precise the dial of the knob works (in steps) I would have liked that on every dial assigment because I would be turning a lot for some values like gain and tone.

Tweaking around, I found that setting up a “quite high gain rhythm” board was easier than a “slight breakup for Hendrixy stuff”. The latter sounded rather muddy and oomphy in the low mid.
Lesson learned: final tweaks of the board will need the specific amp and guitar in the chain.
EQ and (IR) cabs do so much for the sound, I just don’t know the best practices yet.
putting an EQ BEHIND the cabs seems to work good for me. Does that make sense?

Don’t touch that stereo?

Playing around with all those cables, inputs, outputs, mono, stereo…
you begin to wonder… What’s the use of stereo effects in a mono oriented chain…
I know there sometimes are (but not always) mono and stereo variations of an effect.

The Dwarf also features a device setting to “copy” the outputs…
If I don’t, what happens if I route L and R output to one output.
Will that raise the gain of for that output?
Sometimes you have 3 chains arriving in the same point, does that mean even more gain?

Where to click?..
The GUI started to show a little unclarity, what is the best way to zoom?
I still feel like it is a bit random when it comes to how many clicks and where you must click to zoom in/out. There is a logic but I still don’t grasp it. I should by now.
As mentioned elswhere, mousewheel zoom would help!

So far so good
I’m content with my progress and I still love playing around.
Usable sounds and boards are emerging but I had no out-of-the-box presets that worked well.
The GUI looks great but the GUI of many plugins looks either tasteless, amateuristic or very “we used to design like that in 2003”-ish. as a musician and tech lover, I can look beyond that. As somebody with affinity to graphic design and a love for great GUI’s and smooth UX, it bothers me somewhat :smiley:

++ Getting to moderate high gain sounds faster than expected

++ momentary option is an excellent function. I once had a booster pedal custom made just to have a momentary booster.

++ naming buttons you assing to the device

++ Never had the 2 different pickups in my guitar act so differently, this means the plugins certainly respons quite hard on the character and gain thats coming in from the guitar.

++ The audioplayer is handy to test your rig without a guitar nearby. I searched for one, it might he helpful to provide some samples, like in the virtual MOD online

? All pedalboards have different volumes and this isn’t easy to detect; is there a way to normalize it or a recommended elegant workflow to counter this?

? What happens with multiple (or stereo signal) being connected to 1 output? are signals added or mixed in balance to retain a same amount of gain?

– Only set the step size of a know dial assigneable in a few places

– minor downside: You can’t assign a push AND dial to one knob.

– had some mud going on in my “slight breakup” sounds, a low mid oompf. I hope I counter this in Chapter III. ot a glitch or bug, more a thing of settings.

– at this stage, it should be clear how and where to click to zoom in/out; I seem to do that wrong now and then and I still don’t know what the best method is.

– graphic design/ GUI of many plugins doesn’t help the first impression

My To-do’s now:

  • perfect the “gain” workflow across pedalboards.
  • tweak the “slight breakup” board to eliminate the mid-low oompf
  • test vocals (local hifi store is checking for xlr/jack converters, kinda pity the in/outs aren’t combo jack/xlrs)
  • test acoustic guitar
  • test bass
  • test snapshots (don’t know how to cycle them yet either)
  • test 4 cable setups with effect loop on amp
  • buy a midi controller keyboard and start learning piano (got one in sight)
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If I got it right, this is basically done with your gain staging settings (not only on the Dwarf, but also amp, pedals, etc). If you use the Dwarf in different scenarios (for example: standalone and also along with an amp), my suggestion is to save User Profiles with different gain settings for both use cases. Check here how to do it.

I’m not sure what you are talking about here, but if you push, hold and turn any knob the values will flow faster than if you simply turn it.

Most likely phase canceling issues.

Not sure what do you mean by this. Are you talking about linking the output gain levels?

I face this myself quite often and we are aware of it. Again, let’s hope that we can run a few sprints on WebGUI improvements soon.

I’m not 100% sure about what I will suggest…but do you have the built-in output compressor active on the device’s settings? Does it help?

Overall, pretty nice of you that you are sharing in such detail your experience with us. I will be waiting impatiently for the next chapter :slight_smile:

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I noticed this problem also with other multistomps, like Zoom G1On/G3/MS50g. I don’t know if any multistomp have an automatic way to “normalize” all the pedalboards.

When I’m creating a pedalboard, I try to configure the pedalboardoutput volume as same of the pedalboard input. For this, I try to configure the volume of every plugin to do the same “loud” volume that when it is off. Unfortunately, it requires a lot of hard work for adapt pedalboards already created.

(Of course, a booster is an exception)

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I encountered one or more plugins that allow you to set the number of steps you alter the value with one knob “tick”. (button assignment under “Advanced” Can’t find which one but that was but I thought it was smart. I was totally unaware of the “push for faster flow of values” feature! Thanks.

I asked what happen if you route L and R signal into a single output: most likely phase issues.
Then I saw this but I falsely remembered what it does. Now that I think of it; what was I even thinking.

I need to approach the L+R issue more liek the real world.
For effects that are only available as stereo effects, I do this (see below), assuming it behaves just like my real life pedals when going for a mono guitar chain. No reason to think the MOD behaves differently than my pedals, right? (as in; “why should I connect L and R to a single output, just use the L one”)

image

no, the comp is not on but the differences are big, too big to compensate with comp.
I was thinking of some automatic readout or a test you could do in the the op your screen. The test could consist of a dummy signal, going through your chain in the background. It could say how much your chain amplifiers or attenuates going from in to out or compare average output to a dB value you use as reference on all pedalboards.

in practice: download a pedalboard, run the test, test says: the output of this board will be avg x dB higher than your reference output. put in a gain control in the end to compensate this and presto?
I know there are a lot of different scenario’s and I oversimplified a lot here, but you catch my drift.
It is just a way to automate some of the “manual dB normalize workflow” that each user has to do manually for his/her rig.

As @SrMouraSilva pointed out, you will always encounter this with user generated patches.
I DO appreciate the deep comp on everything possibility though. I wonder who uses what settings and why

@SrMouraSilva do you achieve this by putting at least one of those mini gain polugins at the beginning and end of your chain?

image

I guess deciding for yourself what the optimal range is for you and manually setting your boards to this is the only and best way to do the thing right.
Running the same DI guitar signal track from a sound player in your chain gives you a reference though.

When I will be looking back at several points, It will be a breeze to distill my user journey and learning.
As stated in another thread, I gladly help where I can, even if it is thinking out loud alot.

I’m a digital marketing for a major Insurance company also active in Germany. I guess product meetings are a lot more interesting @ MOD than at our place :smiley:

Chapter III will be about the singer/songwriter setup, featuring vocals and electro-acoustic guitar. A topic that doesn’t get much attention (yet). It happens my most frequent thing to do though.

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No, I adjust the volume (and eventually other parameters) of every plugin of the pedalboard chain to do the same “loud” when it is on and it is off. Because I like to turn on/off the plugins individually during the performance, apply a gain at the end of the chain doesn’t work well: Imagine that exists an amp in the middle of the plugins chain that increase a lot of volume, if I turn off it, the pedalboard will decrease significantly the volume, but I need that the volume of the pedalboard continues with the same volume, regardless of witch plugin is turned on or off. :slight_smile:

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My impulsive, short minded brain didn’t think of that, totally makes sense ^^
That renders the “automatic test procedure” idea described above rather useless too I guess

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It is useless for my case. But a lot of pedalboards are made as black-box, then the output gain plugin at the end of the chain is useful!

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Chapter III: Vocal test

Since I have no microhpones with jack plugs, I had to go out and buy 2 xlr to jack plugs.

I thought I had some hiss and clicks on my recording but checking it on my pc it was better.
So, I concluded most of he noise was in my headphones.

I needed some time to find a good compression, delay an reverb setting for vocal.

chain: -minigain-comp-eq-delay-split: 2 reverbs-minigain

can’t show a screenshot because the device disconnected and I couldn’t get back to it. I didn’t have the chance to save the settings beofre the disconnect :confused:
The sample was saved before that though.
I had to reboot pc, play with the usb setting and reboot the Dwarf (2x) before it came back.

I can call the test a success but I have tweaking to do.
Perhaps some plugins that suit vocals better concerning ranges and presets aren’t a luxury

Excuse the lousy humour in the sample, I did Homer Simpsons lyrics but in a more Sinatra fashion.
(Disclaimer, I never sing Sinatra stuff :p)

++ Recording and exporting to pc is a breeze. I love that I don’t need to connect to my interface, get the buttons and settings right

++ recording takes in standalone mode is easy-peazy too now.

++ Now I can record vocal and guitar while jamming!

++ quality wise, it passed the test and it is gig worthy for vocals too.

° It’s probably better to have a good pre-amp between mic and Dwarf? but that would beat the purpose of having a compact everything-in-1-box.

° some dedicated plugins for vocals would be nice

– If the Dward had combo plugins (xlr and jack in 1), I didn’t have to buy those converter plugs

– Don’t rely on your headphones for checking your recording

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just have to say this thread is great. Really like the thorough attention to detail.

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Anything I have done with vocals needed a preamp. I either used a small audio interface, or routed my mic through the ext-in on my strega to get acceptable levels.

I did a little vocal experiment using a heavy reverb board at the end of this video. Check the last chapter to hear mod swallow my voice.

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I couldn’t agree more!

@LievenDV as a good Portuguese, this time I will only focus on the cons :sweat_smile:

Although I can understand you, this would be a completely different type of device. Even design-wise I would say that a lot would need to be changed. So maybe that would make sense if we had a device which the UI is specifically targeted to microphone usage and vocals - probably on that perspective even the pre-amps should be different. Something like the MOD DuoX is meant to be a table unit and the MOD Dwarf a floor unit (although you can use the Dwarf on a table - @Elk_wrath here does it quite a lot and in a really nice way) or you can place the MOD DuoX on the floor (although this I would see a bit less justification).

The headphones are really just meant for monitoring and not really to check the sound quality. We are aware that the headphones out tend to be noisier.

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Thanks @jon I appreciate how close you are on the topics on this forum.

None of these thngs really weigh on my judgement but as said, This journal is meant for all items I encounter in a chronological path, big or small.

I get the thing about the combo inputs and I can imagine MOD coming up with something cool in the future…something that isn’t just pre-amp but hits 20 birds with one rock, like the Dwarf does.
The most important thing is that the sound quality of what recorded is good. Headphones are just a monitor; makes sense.

Currently, I use the dwarf 50% on table (pc desk) and 50% in my little home studio…This studio is no real setup but a “place” where I can set up when I need to. It is being used as homeworking desk.
The combo of standalone and GUI mode and everything it can do and emulate absolutely outshines my usual workflow when I want to record something. I never got to recording much because of all the fuss and it drained my energy and focus. table<-> attic is fast. I’m planning to try to link it to my tablet too but for that I’ll need a converter cabme usb C to usb or something. If I can hook up tablet, BT keyb and mouse, I’d have the ultimate mobile studio. The fact that the GUI runs on the Dwarf itself is a killer feature.

Stay tuned for Chapter IV, which will probably be: testing the “Devil’s Advocate rig”. (me singing and playing guitar for my solo stuff

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You’re welcome! I’m really happy to see users (and especially new users like you) so engaged and providing such good and useful feedback for us. This is the way that we believe we can improve our devices and in general our offer for you guys and for new users that might come in the future.

No worries, we don’t take it like that. What you are doing helps us a lot in understanding the perspective of users and what makes sense to wonder for the roadmap either in mid or long term (especially).

I will :slight_smile:

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Chapter IV: Prepping for heavy metal live gig.

Ok, since a great opportinity came up, my roadmap slightly changed.

Next week, we open for a semi-famous Belgian band and I really want to take the Dwarf on stage.

Rehearsal session I:
I made 2 great patches but quikly realised I made 2 mistakes.
mistake 1: I made a patch with an audio file for practicing but forgot to map a button to turn it off. Since the file player is “on” by default. I couldn’t use the patch as a file was playing all the time :smiley:
Mistake 2: I made a patch with an amp and cabinet and I couldn’t turn these of either. a sound with a cab sim through an amp and cab is just…mush :D. sound unusable but because of me, not the dwarf.

Back to the drawing board :smiley:

Rehearsal session II:
Made patch without power amp and without cab sim.
Sounded much better.

Based my sound around the new Metal Zone emulation, followed by an EQ.
Mapped 3 of the EQ’s controls so I could control a tactical bass, mid and treble region with 3 knobs.
Mapped some controls on the MetalZone as well but didn’t really have to touch these. (besides, everything above 9 o’ clock on distortion dial was gritty mud.)

I EQ’d my sound to combine it with that of the lead guitarist and we found something useful for my rhythm section. Now…can’t I save this setting? Perhaps I can but i didn’t know how so I took a picture of my EQ settings :smiley:

Our drummer was absent but I mapped a gain contol and preset list to the file player filled with our drumtracks. I was smarter this time and mapped a switch to the on/off of the file player …
…but not smart enough. next time, I map the file player to output 2, so I can send that one straight into the PA for better drum sound :D.
I found cycling through the presets for the drumtracks on the fileplayer a bit slow. I turned the knob and the interface took a while to change the value to the next preset. file is about 4 or 5 MB.
Also, after a while, the file started playing again, even tohugh I wasn’t in loop mode

My bandmades were impressed though!

The built in noise supression in combo with the noise gate is bliss!
It took me an hour to notice I have no noise.
That is a good thing, I wasn’t missing it and took my clean signal for granted.
Set and forget, the best kind of setting <3

So far so good.

I even tried something more exotic.
I split the signal to go through a reverb butfirst it had to go through a high pass filter on a specifically high setting. I mostly play rhythm play the lowest 3 strings but on the song “Legion”,a darker and exotic tune, we double an oriental melody on higher strings.
Thanks to thigh pass filter on that split, I could have more of the reverb on those high notes and keep it moderately quiet on the lower chugging. Interesting!

I figured being able to switch between snapshots with one button would be handly though.
I might get an extra midi controller for that if it would be possible in the future.

I began to wonder is there are people who use the Dwarf as only preamp, straight into their power amp section. what gain settings to they use?

++ Noise suspression works well
++ theme color for leds on each page is a good visual support.
++ splitting signals and using filters gives you options your regular board probably can’t
++ I’m finding better ways to practice while the drummer is absent with the file player. (don’t forget separate on/off and gain for file player though.)

°° make sure you can turn off everything you don’t need when you are at rehearsal or live
°° How do I use it as only pre-amp in my setup (by using the loop in to the power amp section).?

– No setting saving when in standalone mode? (to be confirmed)
– switching between file presets on the file player with a knob went slow.
– file starts playing again after a while, even when not in loop 'on" mode

Next Sunday and Monday 2 rehearsals left and then: LIVE!
I do my vocals over the regular PA for now.

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This is my favourite series (after Breaking Bad) :smiley:
I’d love to watch a video of your next on stage performance!

About controls in offline mode, I usually configure gain, volume, tone and eq of the used amp sim so I can easily tweak main settings of my tone (just in case).

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