There comes a time when every aspiring guitarist will at some point want to record his/her playing, and therefore seek a cheap and easy method to do so. Gibson’s Memory Cable sounds like it could be the solution.
The Memory Cable is basically a 5-metre, industrial-grade guitar lead with a recording device built in to one end of it. The recorder was designed and built by Tascam; a well known manufacturer or recording equipment and so you’d expect a real piece of genius here. However, being a long-time guitarist and professional sound engineer, I tested Gibson’s new recording solution to it’s very limits and was quite surprised at what I found.
What you really want from a recording device (beginner or expert level), is something that’s simple to use, reliable when used often, and gives results of great quality. The Gibson Memory Cable, however, proves extremely difficult to navigate and indeed use in a bedroom environment, let alone at a professional level. For a start, there is no display screen so it’s almost impossible to know what’s going on. The only indicators you have are two LEDs (red and blue) that flash in a variety of patterns, forcing you to consult the manual frequently.
After 20 minutes or so of messing about with it, I finally managed to record something. The 4GB SD card has plenty of room for you to record ’til you’re all recorded out! The two recording modes; automatic and continuous, are pretty handy; you have the option to either just keep playing and record everything you do, or you use automatic mode and just record when audio passes through. I suppose the plus side to using the automatic mode would be that you can only take up the space you require on SD card. I guess the continuous mode can eat up safe on the card quite easily. Still, you can record 13 hour’s worth of audio so I doubt it’s anything to worry about.
The thing that really confused me about the Memory Cable in terms of functionality and usability, is the fact that when the device is recording, it’s current ‘state’ is indicated with a blue LED and not red. Everybody knows that the international symbol for ‘recording’ is a circular, red dot! Why can’t Gibson just stick with the same colours rather than confuse people?! Anyway, the next issue I had was getting the WAV files onto a computer! What a chore! Not all computers have SD card readers and so I had to use a friend’s to transfer the files across to mine. Once saved onto my machine, I found the actual quality of the recording to be pretty good – it’s uncompressed 16-bit, 44.1KHZ audio after all, BUT who wants to listen back to a dry guitar signal?! If you’ve ever plugged a guitar straight into a PA system, you’ll know the sound I’m talking about – it’s not very flattering.
Overall, the Gibson Memory Cable has both pros and cons. If you can get your head around the weird ‘system’ of flashing LEDs, you’ll be OK. It’s great for songwriting or ‘riff finding’ but as a means of professional recording, it’s going to need a kick up the backside to be anywhere near competitive. Some suggestions might be to have a USB transfer method rather than an SD card; every computer has a USB port and it would make life so much easier. Another suggestion would be to make the user interface a bit more friendly – we don’t want to be consulting the manual all the time to decipher the strange arrangements of flashing LED patterns. Is a small display screen really that hard to build in?!
I think Gibson have some improvements to make before this product takes off.
2 out of 5 stars!