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RTAS Plugins / Effects for Guitars / My Brain Hurts

This weekend, I have been exploring the world of virtual
computer/software based effects, virtual guitar systems, racks, etc...my
brain is about to explode and I feel like I'm drinking from a fire hose.
I'm like Dave Bowman on 2001...."MY GOD, IT's FULL OF STARS!"   I don't
have any doubt that in less than a year, my 8 space rack will be
replaced with a slim but powerful laptop for all my tone mangling
effects, reverb, chorus, delay, etc...all controlled via MIDI. Who
knows, maybe I'll even go with Live and replace my Echoplexes. Anyway,
I'm just overwhelmed by the options there are out there, plus how much
some of these companies charge for VST and RTAS effect plugins....up to
$3000 for some packages!  Wow.  

Since the soundcard on my laptop is such a piece of crap, I decided to
explore other temporary options. I did download AudioMulch (thanks to
Tony K on our list here) and was impressed with it as a simple "harness"
to insert VST plugins, route them like a real effects rack, mix, etc.
Since my soundcard is horrific, I am setting that option aside for the
time being until I get a new soundcard or laptop.

In the meantime, I have been using my Digidesign mBox and ProTools LE,
and then finding all sorts of free or demo RTAS effect plugins that will
work as plugins in my effects inserts.  Unbelievable. I found an RTAS
plug in for  Lexicon PSP42, and many other demo effects like Antares
Kantos, which is capable of producing all sorts of great synth sounds
that blow my VF-1 and Boss GT-3 away. 

And I don't even need to control this stuff via MIDI when I play. I just
create an effects AUX fader for each of the effects I use, and then mute
or unmute it, with my right hand.  I have 5 effect inserts on each of my
ProTools faders, plus 5 busses...so feasibly I could have 10 effects
plugins ready to mute or un-mute at any time. The mBox method is cool
because I can run it through the aux loop of my Mackie mixer board.  I
will be exploring the possibility of controlling the RTAS effect
parameters and changing presets via MIDI, however....if that is
possible???   That will be the icing on the cake to make this work for
me as a total system.

Does anyone have any good places to go to download free RTAS plugins
(not VST for now)? I'm looking for a high quality, but simple stereo
chorus, reverb, and delay, and eventually pitch shifting and other
filter/mod effects.  

Oh, how I long for the day of not carring gigantor racks to my gigs.
I'm dreaming of the day when I can walk  into a gig like Kid Beyond (who
sang and looped at Y2K4 last year) with my guitar, two powered PA
speakers, a laptop, and a MIDI controller on the floor.  I'm even ready
to buy a new commercial, centrino notebook in the next 6 months to make
all this work. I'm just blown away by the quality of these plugin
effects, and how they make a graphical depiction of an actual effects
unit with nobs, etc. That's just the cat's meow. 

Krispen Hartung 
View improvisational / real-time looping videos:
Interactive tour of my gear: http://www.boisemusicians.com/gear.htm