Lighsnake USB guitar cable

So, $39.99 gets you a Soundtech Lightsnake USB guitar cable, which glows when you plug it in, and contains a tiny A/D coverter to take your guitar into your computer by magic. I have no idea if it works, but it sure does glow nicely.

i just want to know how this thing sounds but the prospects are very interesting.
I think the lightsnake is a cool idea but I wonder what kind latency it might have? According to the Soundtech web site, an ASIO driver will be available soon.

Nice idea but needs some more thought. The big problem I see is that the vast majority of music apps only support a single sound card. How are you going to hear what you are playing?

Now if they could make these things work in either direction (input or ouput) and they could configure the usb drivers to sync the ADC/DAC clocks and appear as a single device then they would have something really interesting. Need another input? Add another cable.
Mac OS X. Aggregate Audio Devices. 'Nuff Said.

Ok, if you don't know what AADs are in OS X, it's a built-in feature of the system that lets you combine all your physical audio devices into a single virtual device, so that you can use all your devices at the same time for apps that only let you choose one device (which is most apps).
OSX (and soon Vista) users can gang audio cards...
very useful article for me. Thanx!

It's interesting but we all know how stable USB is (not at all). There's a good reason that Firewire is the standard for video and audio.

I would love to see one of these in Firewire form.
It's interesting but we all know how stable USB is (not at all).

Really... Gosh, I guess I'll just have to chalk up my many nights of recording in Reaper with a TonePort as a confluence of the furies. Or the fact that my EZ-Bus just plain works... All that Midi stuff going in via USB... Suprised it's working I guess.

Now if you could just tell me how all real musicians use Mac, because it's more artistic, you can officially get filed in my "People whose opinions I ignore" file.

Both work, and Firewire is not inherently better than USB. For those of us who gig with Laptops, firewire accessories can be a huge pain in the butt. I have 5 different USB devices that I use to perform, and they all hook into one hub, and I've never shown up to a show and gone "Oh, no, it's not working..."

The worst problem I can think of is my Ez-Bus refusing to recognize, and that was an issue with the drivers.

Who knows, maybe firewire has a "warmer" sound...
No: firewire, like USB is a digital interconnect; no 'warmth' will be added. But don't belittle the previous poster. The fact of the matter is that Firewire provides a faster and more stable interconnect than USB 1 or 2.0. It's been a while since I've read up on it, but if I remember correctly, this is inherent to the design of the IEEE1394 (Firewire) protocol.

Want proof? Buy an external USB/Firewire hard drive, and time a large file transfer using USB 2.0. Then time the same file transfer over Firewire. More often than not, the Firewire transfer will finish sooner.

I'm not trying to say that you're lucky that your USB audio devices work fine; what I'm trying to say is that for high-bitrate video, and multitrack audio applications, Firewire is the way to go because it does a better job at ensuring a fast and consistently stable connection

//Geek rant off.
According to the press release note at soundtech's forum suggested retail price is $69.99 and not $39.99
Just a bit of a rant, but I think this sort of thing is just silly. Taking audio straight off a guitar, or off a pedal you are running the guitar through, is just not going to sound right. The amp and the amp's speakers have so much to do with the sound that thinking you are going to be able to even come close with something like this, is, well, a bit misinformed of you. Paying $5 for a cable to run from your guitar into your soundcard so you can atleast record the general idea of what you are playing, or to play around with software effects with, is fine, but paying $70 for something that isnt going to do much more for you, seems a bit off. Personally, I record from the digital output of my amp (a discontinued fender cybertwin), and it sounds good, a hell of a lot better than anything software or the audio straight off the guitar or pedals can do, but its still not quite studio, and not quite *right* sounding. If you want that, you are going to have to break down and buy a real mic to record with, and shun any lightup usb cables that come your way.
this blog is starting to suck.
If you follow the links to the manual [PDF] for this thing you will see that it shows up [on you computer]as a "C-Media USB Headphone Set" which is exactly what this device appears as on my PowerBook - I'm guessing these C-Media Chipsets have been floating around for quite a while - looking for a home as it were. Just please please don't be as crap as the every Macmice product I've ever bought... [you think Behringer has variable quality!? Try MacMice for a real education!]
"Who knows, maybe firewire has a "warmer" sound..."

hey, when you have golden ears like mine, you can tell. *rolleyes*
In theory this thing will work just fine. I would imagine there is significantly less chance for interference using this over plugging into your line-in. Once they have ASIO drivers, it will be on my list to check out.

Those saying that you can't take a sound straight off the guitar and make it sound good, obviously haven't used any good PC based guitar FX processors. I plug straight into my sound cards line-in and use guitar rig 2 to apply FX AND model various heads and speaker cabinets. It sounds great! Combine that with cubase and it's virtually limitless.

USB Vs. Firewire is meaningless in this instance. USB will do exactly what this is designed to do without any issues. Firewire might be more "stable". But in this respect it's meaningless. USB works just fine and you aren't going to get any real world benefit moving it to firewire.
as far as i understand it, on firewire, one opens a dedicated channel of communication that is driven by the device. on usb, everything must be host controlled - the computer must send a request for each bit of information. in applications where timing is critical, like a whole bunch of high-fidelity audio, this makes a big difference. i am a pc guy all the way and i have great equipment - the USB stuff I have will drop chunks of sound occasionally. i borrowed a motu 896HD from a friend and it is rock solid. i was a total usb nut too before trying both.
I made the original post about Firewire and USB, and want to clarify a couple things. I don't use a Mac, my PC came standard with Firewire as many do nowadays.

Firewire is far more stable than USB, which is why it became a standard for quality audio and video transfer. You can do (and I have done) just fine with USB. The first time you experience a dropout or get out of synch, you might switch like I did.
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USB 2.0=480MBps

but try telling that to a Mac user. Firewire is just cooler sounding and less common, so they're bound to prefer it.
USB2 has a higher bandwith than Firewire (except for Firewire800), but that doesn't imply it is more reliable.

USB's protocol is more complex than Firewire, and that eats some of your throughput, and that can cause problems simply because it is more complicated.

There's some tests here:

that compares effective speed of USB2 and the two Firewire speeds.

I've had no problem with USB audio, however :)
Firewire is a better mechanism for large data transfers (audio, video, disk drives with lots of throughput) and USB is more suited to smaller devices such as mice, scanners, keyboards.

Speeds can be similar but there is more overhead on USB for transfers, hence why it's more suited to less bandwidth-greedy applications. But it can handle a few streams of audio just fine.

The biggest difference for me is that USB is reliably hot pluggable. Firewire was always meant to be, but in practice it's all to easy to fry motherboards - even if you don't hot plug. The amount of fried devices like laptops, computers, video cameras where the firewire port/cable has fried them is pretty large - try searching the net for "firewire port failure" or somesuch. (Yes I have experienced this myself as well).

But why are you guys arguing? They both have their uses, depending on your needs ad equipment. Next we'll be playing the "Mac/PC's are better" game...
But the problem with this cable is that YOU CAN'T FLUSH THE STALE ELECTRONS OUT! Analog cables have the advantage that you can just hook up a DC battery and flush the old electrons out once they get sounding kinda stale. With some digital wamma-jamma in between, there's no way you can resupply your cable with fresh electrons. So this cable may sound good right out of the box, but after a few intense jams, it'll get noticably tired sounding.
I've had way more troubles with USB devices than with firewire devices on both Mac and PC. Almost zero with Firewire, and huge problems with most devices on USB.

On firewire, I use MOTU stuff, a Continuum Fingerboard, a Kyma, High-Def video, and Lacie hard drives (all this on both PC and Mac). My experience has been good.

On USB, my creative webcam uses way too much CPU for some reason (drivers?), I am getting breakups on my digidesign M-Box (I can't spend any more time debugging it) -- this is on Mac and PC (I am cursed!). I couldn't get a video digitizer to work (vhs and DVD in) via USB on two boxes (but my friend could).

My USB keyboard (made by apple) on my Apple sometimes fails to recognize after sleep!

So USB seems, statistically, to be more problematic in my experience. Of course, I am cursed by gypsies. YMMV.

I sure wish USB worked as well as firewire for me. I know a central USB driver download system would have helped things out a fair bit.

Also a community 'this driver sucks' rating system would help.
anyone know if you can use this thing to feed a software guitar amp program, like Guitar Rig?
hey, did any one else get that joke about firewire having a "warmer" sound?

"fire"-wire.. huh, huh? *nudge nudge* :)

Well, I'm the guy who made the snarky comment...

First of all, thank god one person got the whole "Firewire is Warmer" thing.

As far as when I drop a packet or experience synch loss, I have... Wait until you fry a $1,000 keyboard and a Mac Mini with firewire. That's what got me off of Macs and firewire for good. Frankly, when you start talking about reliability, the ability to hot-plug without toasting your gear IS a big deal.

(FYI, Apple had a grounding problem in the Mac Mini... Also in the 9600 series, but that just blanked your HDD, didn't light up your Eridol like an X-mas tree.)

The idea of a toastable computer from plugging in a cable to a couple of passive coils with me as the ground... Not attractive. I've gotten nasty shocks from far less complex gear. For just that reason, I would think that USB might really be the preferred form factor. Firewire is always hot, where USB has to be told to trickle power to the device.

I've actually had more problems in the past hooking up FW devices. YMMV, but that was my experience.

Also, let's face it, these aren't made for the high end audiophile market. This is the answer to the question "What's a cheap USB in I can use with a pirated copy of Guitar Rig?"

"Better" is a very subjective term... But when you start saying USDB is "Not at all" stable, well, USB is pretty darn stable. Perhaps not as stable as YOU'd like, but stable enough for several companies to offer realtime modeling over USB. As the old saying goes, perhaps you had something set up wrong on your end. (At least that's what apple told me after fyring my Keyboard...)

As far as there being good reason why Firewire is the standard... It isn't. If it was the standard, then %95 of all music gear would use it, and this conversation would be moot. However, USB is also widely used, I know of professionals who use Guitar Rig. I'm one who uses Toneport over USB, and I have it doing realtime processing of Voice and Guitar for live performance. Without a hiccup.

Many of the problems with USB go back to third party chipsets, bad drivers, and a poor initial 1.1 spec. However, USB 2.0 devices with an Intel chipset work great. I don't know what you had going on, but it could well be that your dropout or out of synch problem had more to do with a bad chipset, bad drivers, or a poorly designed device than the USB 2.0 spec itself.

Anyway, sorry if I came back too harshly, but blanket statements like "USB is not stable AT ALL" amount to disinformation. Again, as I gig with a laptop, it's easier and cheaper to use USB peripherals, and many of the newer ones are only offered with USB... I've made the switch, and I'm thrilled. Add into that the fact that I don't have to worry about getting shocked by gear gone neon...
" Who knows, maybe firewire has a "warmer" sound... "

big smile after reading that

" No: firewire, like USB is a digital interconnect; no 'warmth' will be added. "

big laugh at the guy who wrote that!!
Terrible product name. They should have licensed "Whitesnake."
hmm, has anyone tried using this with a mixer or a four track? is this going to cause pages of angry responses?
Not to fan the USB vs FireWire/IEEE 1311/iLink flames, but...

For 90% of uses they're interchangable.

The differences are that USB generally requires a host computer at one end and puts a heavy load on the CPU when transferring data. This reliance on outside processing allows USB chipsets to be extremely cheap.

FireWire devices can 'talk' to eachother without a host computer and incur very little CPU load when transferring data. This more complex protocol & hardware design makes FW chipsets moderately expensive.

But, they both transfer data. Fast. Same stuff gets there in about the same time. FW costs a bit more upfront, USB costs a bit more in CPU horsepower.

Then there are edge cases where you need device-to-device connectivity, only one type of connection or the other is offerred, etc. But those are generally unique to unusual needs and not worth debating with other who have different unique requiremnts.
USB 2.0=480MBps

but try telling that to a Mac user. Firewire is just cooler sounding and less common, so they're bound to prefer it.

Actually, they're bound to know that USB2's transfer rating includes overhead data, and firewire's does not. When you account for the overhead data being transmitted, USB2's actual speed is
about half of its rating.

I have an external drive that is both firewire and usb2 capable, and having just last week completed a test run of about 35 GB of sound samples to that drive with each interface from the same computer, I can tell you that connecting to firewire was faster by at least 30%. And that's daisy-chained to a firewire audio interface.

That said, I cannot vouch for the stability improvements that people claim for firewire -- my experience is the opposite. But that may just be because I don't drive my USB devices the way I do the firewire devices.

And really, for plugging your guitar into your computer, it just doesn't matter.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
This is from the book "Serial Port Complete" by Jan Axelson.
There's a chart listing all of the diff types of serial comm.

It lists Firewire at 400M bits/sec max and USB at 12M bits/sec max and IEEE-488 (parallel) at 1M.
One of the previous posters said it's not quite right to record guitar direct, then mentioned how he recorded from the digital out on the amp. I would like to point out that recording from the digital out on your amp is exactly the same as running direct. The warmth he is talking about from the amp comes from every part of the amp, including the speaker. Traditionally, you would mic the amp.

However, today modeling software is so good that you can plug directly in to your computer, and tell your computer which amp you want your guitar to sound like. Marshall half stack, Vox amp, or Yamaha practice amp? Just choose it from the list and you have a comparable sound.

And by the way, if you had questions on price, the cheapest price is at Sewell Direct for $39.95. It's preorder only and won't be realesed until next week. Check it:

USB to Guitar
...It lists Firewire at 400M bits/sec max and USB at 12M bits/sec max and IEEE-488 (parallel) at 1M.

USB 1.1 is 12Mb/sec

USB 2.0 is 480Mb/sec
I bought it........IT SOUNDS LIKE RUBBISH!

Thats what you get for $50 I guess.
And "stale electrons" are why NASA could not have possibly traveled to the moon in '69, hence the big coverup conspiracy.
Can't flush the stale electrons?!?! HAHAHA! there are some crazy posts here, but that one takes the cake. You've gotta be joking, right?
I purchased this cable and so far it seems like a cheaper alternative to purchasing a new soundcard or audio interface. I was recording through an effects processor with RCA to 1/8 inch into the soundcard. i know this is crude, but it got the job done. The Snakelight provides a clearer sound with no hiss.
The model I purchased has an output to monitor through your amp.
Hey guys, I saw this item in a shop the other day and i thought i needed a bit more info on it first, how can you hear yourself play? Would it work if you pluged it into an output on your amp? If it does I'll get it because then you can use the pedal effects and you can hear yourself.
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Welll firewire is better in the audio world than USB 2.0 is. No matter what people say.

I am not even going into the latest version of firewire either... woah momma...

I realize that Apple had to go with USB 2.0 to make their iPods smaller, but even my old F/W iPod photo imports mp3s tons faster than the next gen iPod did.

Having said that. All of the analog to USB gadgets I have used have done a decent job.

The firewire version (esp the better ones) however does a better job IMHO.

USB is great for connecting devices together etc. But Firewire still has a major lead in moveing data around real fast.

Anyone that says otherwise either doesn't know what he or she is saying, OR is shilling for some company they work for.
I don't even bother with MIDI anymore. I just hook up my Martin with a Fishman Classic 4 pickup right to my Mac's audio input. It works without problems and is easy to set up. All I needed was a converter for the audio jacks and I hooked it up. And, I don't have any noticable quality loss.
people its the mhz not the MB.firewire runs at 400mhz and usb at 44 mhz
USB still stinks for audio when compared to firewire however.
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