Two Notes Torpedo Cab M

I bit the bullet and ordered a Two Notes Torpedo Cab M cabinet simulator/IR loader/pre-amp pedal and immediately updated the firmware to make it the Cab M+. I’m still figuring my way around it, but what I’ve seen so far, I want to share my thoughts with you. There are a tonne of positives, but a few negatives that I wasn’t aware of while researching this pedal, because all the reviews focussed on the good bits.

Where to buy the Two Notes Torpedo Cab M+?

I bought my Cab M from Andertons at a reduced price, since it was the last of their pre-firmware update stock. I initially wanted to buy it from PMT as they have a store in Manchester that I can get to, but the Manchester store was out of stock so I wasn’t able  to try it out before buying to see if it was for me. My concern was that I wasn’t sure if t was for budget players like me, is it aimed at players with larger rigs than my £50 15W Fender Frontman amp.

In the end, by the time PMT received new stock of the Cab M+, Andertons reduced their prices (I assume to make way for the newer Cab M+ stock) and when there were four remaining, I decided to buy without trying the pedal first. Risky!

I do enjoy buying from Andertons (and PMT), because both have music gear finance plans available, so I’m paying £27 a month for 9 months for this pedal (and one other, plus some other accessories). In all my order value was £350 (the Cab M costing £239 reduced from £269, but as well as paying the maximum deposit to bring my payments down, I also had a £50 voucher, so I was able to bring the monthly instalments down a few pounds…

If it wasn’t for V12’s 0% APR short finance… or super Klarna, as I like to say… I’d need to save up the cash to pay full price, and when there are other priorities in life (like rent) I just can’t justify big purchases.

Why I bought the Cab M pedal

For as long as Iong as I’ve been a bedroom guitarist, the amount of time I’ve been able to dedicate to playing is limited by three factors:

  • It’s loud
  • I live in a small apartment
  • There are neighbours below us.

With these reasons in mind, my playing tends to only be during sociable hours.

I tried to remedy this by playing through Reaper with plugins, but my laptop is difficult to use at the best of times and unresponsive too, using plugin after plugin makes finding a good tone much more time consuming than it ought to be, and as a result, I’m put in the position where I must have my laptop on, and audio interface on, just to use my headphones.

This system is fine when I’m recording, but for casual practice, I’d rather keep equipment to a minimum.

Additionally, I enjoy the prospect of fidgeting less with plugins and amp sims within my DAW, and just recording what goes into the audio interface simplifies the process for me. In fact, I found myself making fewer recordings because the system required too much set up time for me, and I became a lot less creative.

Positives of the Cab M/M+

Now that you have the context of why I bought this pedal, let’s begin with the positives, because there’s lots that I like about the pedal, but relatively nothing new I can add that you can’t find elsewhere.

It sounds great

For my untrained ears, the range of tones I was able to achieve on both guitar and bass sounded credible, and I was able to enjoy some distorted tones even at low volumes – in the context of why I bought the pedal, the Cab M’s main job is to play with headphones, and that doesn’t mean blowing my ears out. It may not be rock n’ roll to say this, but you only have one set of ears folks, take care of them.

Consistent sounds

I played the Cab M through various ways of listening to it, through it’s headphone jack and through an audio interface and the cabinet simulations I heard were both the same.

Reasonably priced

The Torpedo Cab M+ retails at £269 (at time of writing), which is not cheap, but it’s a powerful piece of gear being able to work with amplifiers, mixing desks, audio interfaces and deliver headphone monitoring. There are alternatives that cost both more and less, such as the higher priced Strymon Iridium or the more budget friendly Mooer Radar, but the Cab M has far more capabilities than the Radar, and compared the Iridium, I can’t say whether it performs better, this price point is attractive enough to mean you can afford to compromise on maybe a little performance. Would you notice it? Doubtful

Bluetooth

The pedal interface is a little clunky to use and requires some getting used to, but that’s fine since using the mobile Torpedo Remote app, you’re able to control the Cab M remotely and instantly.

USB

In addition to Bluetooth capability, the Cab M’s USB port means you can customise and control pedal from PC. Any firmware updates or adjusting of cabinets will be done while connected via USB.

Presets

31 preset allow you to dial in a tone efficiently. Even if they’re not perfect from the get-go, the presets allow you to have a foundation to customise rather than building up cabinets,  reverb, pre-amp, power amp, EQ and mic settings from scratch.

Range of cabinets and microphones

28 guitar cabinets, and 4 bass cabinets is a lot of tone! It needs that 4 bass amps is a little shy compared to the guitar amp offerings, but it must be said the memory card is filled, so I suppose a compromise had to be made.

For someone who ahs been playing bass from guitar amps all his life, I’m in heaven.

Versatile outputs

With a headphone jack, a DI out jack and and XLR output, the Cab M is really versatile and lends itself to every way you’d want to listen to your signal.

There’s a noise gate

The noise gate cleans up your sound, especially when there are several pedal on at once. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than not having and saves on buying one as an addition to your signal chain.

Three gain levels

There’s a selection of three gain levels (-12db, 0db and +12db), allowing you to use the Cab M with a diverse range of signal strengths, including with an amplifier or without on, with an active instrument or with a passive instrument.

Micro SD card slot

For players that rely on their existing arsenal of IRs, and have no need for Two Notes’ default virtual cabinets, simply replace the memory card with your own IRs, and better yet the Cab M accepts up to 32Gb microSD cards.

Negatives of the Two Notes Torpedo Cab M/M+

Despite all the great elements about the Cab M, there are a few things I felt dampened the experience a little. I’m sure all can be overcome, and some may not even be the pedals fault, but they were issues nonetheless.

Steep learning curve

I get that the Two Notes Cab M is designed with professionals/experienced musiicians/sound engineers in mind, but that doesn’t take away from the steep learning curve. The Cab M had Arcade to simplify this for dilettantes like myself, but since ugrading to the Cab M+, I find I need to learn a lot more. I love learning, so I’m happy to invest some time, but for someone hoping for a plug-and-play pedal, this will take some getting used to, and I believe there are other pedal with a simpler user experience.

Difficult user interface

I find using the pedal’s navigation a little difficult to use, and avoid it, excepting for adjusting volume. Obviously the pedal has Bluetooth/USB to counter this, so it’s only a small issue

Gain levels take time

An extention of the ‘steep learning curve’ point. There are three gain settings: -12db, 0db and +12db, each for different inputs, such as if you are using your amplifier or not. There are guidelines as to which should best when, but it really comes to the equipment you’re using. I found it took some time to get the appropriate volume when I was experimenting with the different ways of using the pedal. In day to day usage, this won’t be a problem and shouldn’t detract from purchasing unless you plan to switch from headphone jack to audio interface to mixing desk regularly. Generally you’ll find what works best for you and you’ll use that.

Not really for headphone guitar practice

In the context of what I was looking for, I was disappointed to learn: the Two Notes Torpedo Cab M+ is not designed for instruments (especially not with their pedals) to be directly plugged in and then use the headphone jack (I made this mistake and thought it was bug, but it is a feature).

Yes, the Cab M allows for headphone monitoring and yes, the Cab M allows for no amplifier, but the two statements are not true together.

Instead, the Cab M allows for headphone monitoring, when playing through your preferred amplifier (from what I noticed, my amplifier didn’t affect the signal. The Headphone Out of the 15W front man is an amplified, but dry signal, so the Cab M pre-amp was immensely useful. I’m not sure how other guitar amplifiers work though).

When I plugged the guitar direct to the pedal, there was an unusable amount of noise. We’re talking 10db to 15db – as loud as the guitar. When I added a Ibanez TS9 to the signal, it became more pronounced. I was ready to return the pedal, until I re-read the documents the pedal comes with.

So, if there’s a huge amount of hiss and buzz with your Torpedo Cab M, read the pamphlet again.

In terms of not needing an amp at all, the Cab M/M+ will instead go straight to our audio interface or mixing desk. I actually found this mad e the signal sound pristine and glorious, something that gigging players and recording musicians will be relieved to hear.

In hindsight, this is all clearly described on their website.

I initially thought the advertised pre-amp will mean I can bypass my amp – indeed it is advertised as a pedal that removes the need for an amplifier. It does remove the need for an amplifier, but not when it comes to silent practise (using the headphone output). For silent playing you will need to amplify your instrument signal via an amplifier output, or a pre-amp pedal.

It might seem counter intuitive at first to have a headphone jack, but build the pedal so that headphone jack will only work in some circumstances.

But, to be honest, this is a simple result of the laws of physics: guitar signals are small, and need to be amplified. The Cab M manipulate the DI signal to sound authentic, but it does not amplify. I’m sure Two Notes have a big brother that can solve that issue.

I’m disappointed because I was hoping to be able to get rid of my amplifier completly and simply go Guitar -> Pedals -> Cab M (or something) -> Headphones, but unless I buy an pre-amp pedal to accompany the Cab M, the guitar signal will need to be boosted by something, be it a pre-amp pedal, a small amplifier, an audio interface,  or a mixing desk.

Honestly, though – it’s not turning me off the pedal – I play it exclusively through headphones and sounds great.

The noise gate!

I have some noise issues when using the Cab M pedal, but I can accept (but not prove) that this may be down to my budget amplifier introducing the high levels of noise, and this being exacerbated by a single coil guitar.

Having a noise gate is a handy feature, but on the Cab M it’s not omnipotent against noisey amplifiers like mine. One thing I did notice about the noise gate it that when it is activated, I can still hear the noise when I’m playing. When I’m silent, it cuts the signal entirely. This is a little annoying when you’re holding a note or playing softly.

This is only an issue when using my amp, on the audio interface the noise gate is unnecessary. I can only assume other guitarists won’t have this issue.

To elaborate on why the noise gate gives me problems is that gate learns based on the noise from muted strings. But the noise when a guitar is silent compared to muted is in my case different, and the noise gate only picks up again when the guitar reaches muted levels again.

No more Arcade mode

The older Cab M firmware allowed hobbyists like me to quickly dial in a tone that worked well thanks to having an option of simplified user interface – Arcade mode (versus the default Simulation mode). This seems to be out in the updated 4.01 Cab M+ firmware, and that’s a little bit of a shame.

The UI isn’t impossible, but for someone that doesn’t need to differentiate between an EL34 valve or 6L6, the Arcade mode option was nice to play around with before I upgraded the firmware.

Wouldn’t have put me off buying the device, and doesn’t stop me using it I am happy to say.

Other things to note

Finally, not a negative or positive, but I suppose worth knowing… the Cab M comes with it’s cabinet memory full. Any virtual cabinets bought from the Two Notes store will necessitate removing some existing cabinets via the desktop Two Notes Remote desktop programme (not via the mobile app).

If you have your own impulse responses that you plan on using with this pedal, then that’s not going to be an issue, and the Cab M does have a memory card for your own IRs. If you plan on juggling the various cabinets, you might be frustrated with needing to swap cabinets using the desktop Remote. Something to bear in mind, but not something I think is a deal breaker, simply part of the learning curve.

To me, I’d like to make the most use of the pedal’s functionality without relying on the desktop app, but I guess that would mean a less versatile pedal. I haven’t been using this piece of gear for long, but with time, I’ll eventually know what cabinets and presets I prefer, and I won’t need to constantly revert to the desktop Remote.

Frequent Questions About Two Notes Cab M

Some more final points about any questions you may have about the two notes Cab M cabinet simulatr and pre-amp pedal.

Where can I read the Cab M manual

Familiarising yourself with the owners manual will help you understand whether this device is for you, so you can get hold of the manual from the Two Notes Audio Engineering website, here.

Can I use the Cab M with headphones? How is the sound?

The Two Notes Cab M is really very convincing when using it with headphones – just remember that the headphone jack is for when there is an amplifier already running into the Cab M (and that there is a cabinet load if it is not a combo amp).

To listen with headphones with no amplifier, plug your headphones into the headphone jack of an audio interface or mixing desk.

How is the latency on the Cab M?

Currently, I have latency set to 2.2ms which uses an impulse response length of 40ms – the default and the lowest lag time this piece of hardware can offer, and I cannot notice any lag.

The Cab M also offers latencies of 3.5ms with 100ms IR length and 4.8ms with IR length of 200ms if you want more accurate cabinet simulations. Whichever you choose, you shouldn’t notice any latency.

Is the Cab M stereo?

The Two Notes Cab M does not have stereo output. It can be, if you own two.

The Cab M does work with stereo effects pedals though, if you have the Cab M before any stereo effects in your chain. Two Notes’ advice in their technical literature is to place the device before tape effects like chorus/reverb/delay pedals, especially if these are stereo.

I have the Cab M as the last in my chain because my tape effects are all mono any way.

Through headphones, the mono signal isn’t a problem – you’ll still hear the signal from both ears, if that’s what you’re worried about.

Overview

Overall, I think the Two Notes Torpedo Cab M is a great pedal and I’m glad I bought it. In the short time I’ve used it, the Cab M allows me to have enjoyable and convincing guitar and bass tones that I can use for silent practice and silent and quick recording.

That being said, this is a pedal more for both professionals and hobbyists that will be gigging or recording. The Cab M works for home practice too, but not where it shines, since it doesn’t remove the need for buying/owning an amplifier.

If you’re looking for an exclusive headphone practice amp, there is other gear on the market more suited to that (but you’re limiting yourself to playing at home and not recording).

In the context of a gig or a studio session, the pedal makes the need for hauling a large amplifier and cabinet to and fro redundant. It also is designed for consistent tone no matter how you’re listening to what you’re playing, and having played through an amplifier, an audio interface, using the headphone jack, the XLR output, the tones I heard were always the same, barring some noise introduced by my noisy amplifier.

For me, I think it’s works great for what I want. I was able to dial in sounds I liked on my cheap bass and on guitar as well my usual practise session, I was able to turn that into a short jam in a much shorter time than I usually manage, making my day so much more creative than I usually manage. The signal for this jam went Pedals -> Amp -> Cab M -> Audio Interface, the only processing done on this very slap dash track is using Reaper ReaFir plugin to remove noise. Going forward, I can remove the amp from recording, so long as the signal goes to an AI. Listen to the jam below:

Two Notes Torpedo Cab M Funky Jam from Panayiotis Markides on Vimeo.

This is a review of a product I bought at full price as an end customer. As such I have zero investment in writing a review aimed to sell more gear.