Darkglass Electronics

This company is doing so much cutting edge stuff for bass players I figured we could use a dedicated thread for them.

I got a Darkglass Element today and my experience has been a mixed bag so far.

This isn’t a Darkglass issue but the pedal I was sent was obviously used. I blame Amazon for this. Even if I decide to have an Element, this one is going back and I’ll order another one from somewhere.

The touch sensor for changing IR’s, bluetooth pairing, etc. is weird. Sometimes it reads the touch, sometimes it doesn’t. I messed with the sensitivity control in the software but that hasn’t made a difference. Then I touched it too long and all the lights lit up. It seems this means it’s ready for bluetooth pairing but then I couldn’t get them to turn back off without disconnecting and reconnecting the power. I don’t know if this is a problem with this unit or if it’s just the way it works. I’ll find out when I get the new one.

The documentation is really sparse for something with this much functionality and from reading and watching reviews there is some disagreement on what it can and can’t do.

For instance, one reviewer was insisting you can plug two instruments in at the same time. I don’t see where he got that from.

Then there is the tuner function. Touch all three sliders at the same time to turn it on/off. What is this even doing other than giving you a light show? How accurate is it? How can you tell what note you’re tuning to?

There are a ton of ways to connect the Element. Like putting it between your head and cabinet or using the out on the cabinet to connect it there. But they don’t provide any technical specs on what it can really handle when doing this. They provide some drawings and say, “Be careful or you can destroy your stuff.”

I’ve sent Darkglass two emails trying to get more information but I haven’t gotten a response from either of them. The questions I had seem to be pretty straight forward.

  • EDIT: This was my bad. They had responded but GMail sent it to spam for some reason.

Can it act as an audio interface for a Samsung phone? I got no response and I still haven’t figured this one out.

Can you power it through the USB interface. This is a a big no. I figured that out pretty quick when I got it.

Can the Instrument IN take a Line Level signal or a Mic Level signal. I haven’t figured this one out. I would think it can take a Line Level signal if it can take a Speaker Level signal but I don’t know about it being able to take a Mic Level signal. That might be too low. But this all comes back to the lack of documentation. I have no idea how it does what it does which makes it hard to extrapolate.

Now for some good stuff…

It really is an amazing box. It’s feels lighter than my phone but all the connections feel completely solid.

The sliders work as promised. I would say they work much better and are more responsive than I expected. This is why I think there is a problem with the IR switching touch sensor. The sliders work so well it makes the bad performance of the IR switching touch sensor stand out like a sore thumb.

Updating the firmware was very simple. Literally, click a button in the software. It checks to see if there is an update and if there is one, it automatically applies it.

The Darkglass Suite is very clean and pretty intuitive. It did surprise me that it would automatically update the Element when you would click on something. I expected there to be a second stage to this where you click on something and then click on something else to apply the change. I made a number of accidental changes when I was just trying to figure out what all the software did. I still have no idea what some of the things were before I accidentally changed them but it is incredibly easy to use.

With all the changes that have been made to the Element I want to point out some of them.

Each slot can hold a cabinet IR (either the ones provided or you can upload your own) and they have added a choice of either a bass or guitar amp to go with the IR.

Each amp has On/Off, Drive, Resonance, Presence, and Volume.

Each slot can also hold the settings from a six band graphic eq that also has it’s own volume.

Overall, it sounds fantastic. Turn all of that off and it still sounds great. With it on, there is a huge range of sound you can get out of it. So… Many… Options.

I’m more than a little overwhelmed and now there is a rumor that Darkglass is going to add a drum machine.

Tomorrow I’ll try to get the DAI talking and let you know how that goes.

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They are great company but their stuff is geared more towards “modern” genres. Even their vintage voiced stuff don’t really sound vintage to me.

Take a look at this, I’d choose VT over Vintage Ultra:

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I’ve owned a VT Bass DI and currently own the NeuralDSP Darkglass B7K/VMT Ultra sim (which sounds, as far as I can tell, exactly like the pedals).

I would say they are both great - seriously great - but I wouldn’t call the VT Bass DI better. The VMT is pretty tonally versatile - the switches really change the character of the distortion. And for the distortion aspect I do like it better.

But these are two seriously top tier preamps. Two of the three best I have used (along with the EBS ValveDrive).

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I agree, I wouldn’t call any of them better or worse just different sounding. I demoed NeuralDSP Darkglass Suite and it’s awesome, you can barely hear any difference to real counterparts.

NeuralDSP is taking lead in the market, have you seen their Soldano sim?

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Not yet. Need to check out the Granophyre too.

They are both literally and figuratively the Darkglass of sims, yeah :slight_smile:

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Yeah THIS kinda sucks b*lls. Pretty sure they could have powered this device via USB-C.

I was an early adapter with the DG Element. At start it only could be used as a DI/headphone cabsim device. All the extra stuff came later so that also explains why a lot of the new features aren’t explained in the manual. I agree that this is something DG needs to address on the website.

Didn’t knew about the tuner! Oh and I had issues with the touch sensitivity at start as well. Till a point that I thought that I had a faulty device but the buttons are a bit “stiff” at start and you need to learn how to press the button. Just make sure you use the whole thumb for pressing a button (how stupid this sound you will get use to it and after that it was a non-issue for me anymore).

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The main reason I chose the Element over any other DAI was because I want to record my son who plays through an older Vox 15. It’s a 15 watt tube amp that only has an out for an extension cabinet. No DI or other outs.

My original plan was to get a DAI and use a microphone for recording him.
$150 for DAI with USB 3
$100 for a microphone (like a Shure SM57)
Or
$250 for an Element

With the Element having both the option to use the Instrument IN and use the software guitar amp and cab sim or use the connection from the VOX 15 extension cab out to the Element using the Amp IN connection.

My assumption is the Extension speaker OUT is a parallel connection like you find on many other cabinets. Can anyone see a fault in this logic?

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Not at all. I think it’s pretty cool that you just hook up the Element to your USB port and you can start recording.

I’ve read somewhere that you can’t sent input to your Smartphone but you can sent output to your DG Element (via bluetooth). I used my Drum Beats+ app to mix drums in my signal on my Element. I don’t think you can use it as a DAI on your smartphone or tablet as long as the DG suite app doesn’t support it. Maybe in the future they would add a record function in the app? :man_shrugging:

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Thanks. I thought it may have just been me.

I thought so too. There are a lot of weird things about the Element. It has a strange combination of capabilities. It would be interesting to hear what the thinking was behind why they built it the way they built it.

Has anyone tried recording with the DAI? If you have anything to compare it to, what did you think?

Has anyone messed with the Amp sims? What did you think compared to other amps you’ve used?

The Amp sims in the DG suite are just basic power amps. You can only switch between a bass and guitar PA. You can control the Drive, Resonance (which is particular nice with headphones), Presence and Volume. I would say they are good enough for the job by powering the signal. You can pick more interesting amp sims in your DAW.

Yes, just now because I got curious. I just did a very quick record on my DAI and with the Element. I set the Element with a sample rate of 44800 and a buffer size of 64 samples which has an input latency of 1.33 ms. That is quite good imo. I would say the choice of cab sims in the DG suite are amazing.

Only thing I noticed is that I had to put the PA master volume on 100 and the drive on 50 to get a decent input signal into the DAW. You can fix this in the DAW as well ofc. Hope this info helps @eric.kiser. I think the DG Element is an excellent piece of gear.

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Yes. Thank you. All of that helps a lot.

Congratulations on what I hope to be a great piece of gear once that sensor gets ironed out. I know you’ll ping me when they upgrade the EQ to parametric :slight_smile:

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LoL! I thought of you as soon as I went into it. It has two different eq modes and thought for sure one would be parametric. No luck… yet. I did see where people have been requesting it and Darkglass has been good about adding features.

There is a known “issue” with the Element that some of the controls only like to function when the Element is on a hard surface. They just need that extra bit of resistance. Are you holding it in your hand or is it on a hard surface?

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Weird. Yes, it’s on a hard surface. Thanks for the tip.

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That Plumes pedal is kinda awesome. I just wish they would do more Archetype sims for bass.

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I was thinking that whole amp sim might be worth it just to get the Plumes sim :slight_smile:

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Sorry for derailing the topic Eric but the Plumes is connected to Granophyre sim of NeuralDSP which is Darkglass sister company. :smiley: Just loving the tone of this pedal.

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Hi Eric, Yes I’ve just started to use mine as a DAI (despite having it for over 6 months, I’ve only used it as a headphone amp so far). It works very well and compares to my RME Fireface UC. Just be sure to download the ASIO drivers from the Darkglass Suite website to avoid latency:

… and then the device will show up in your DAW (I use Reaper):

Enjoy your recordings!

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I’m cool with it. I know about Neural DSP and their relationship to Darkglass. :+1:

@T_dub liked his Plumes but without a blend knob, I’ve been hesitant to consider it over the TS9B.

I’m guessing this isn’t an issue here since you’re working with it in the DAW? Use two tracks of the bass line, apply to one, and blend to taste?

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