Darkglass has been putting out some killer pedals this past year. While the Darkglass Element looks like another pedal, I assure you it is not! This can be a great solution for those of you chasing tones while practicing, jamming, or recording!
The Darkglass Element Cabism Headphone Amp: What is it?
We recently went over the basics you will need to record guitar. Whether it is for practice, or it is for professional purposes. We talked about simple ways to record your guitar using an interface. But what if you could bypass that interface?
The Darkglass Element Cabism Headphone Amp might be a great solution for you. It should be said that the device is mostly marketed as a bass product, but I find it just as useful for guitar. If not more!
The name is certainly a mouthful, but that’s because this little guy by Darkglass does a ton of different things and is packed with features. Darkglass has been knocking it out of the park with their products and have an impressive roster of artists including Meshuggah, High on Fire, Tesseract, Knocked Loose, and many more.
What seperates the Darkglass Element from just another headphone amp is the fact that it can be used as an interface. This means you can run your rig through the Darkglass Element and into your recording setup. But it can also be used live to run your signal to the front of the house.
Of course it is also a headphone amp, and can be used for jamming and practice with the two headphone outputs. So yourself and a friend can easily jam in a quiet setting. Or you can listen to backing tracks together.
The Darkglass Element looks like a simple headphone amp at first glance. But when you do a deep dive into the features and design, you see that it is much more than that. The Darkglass Element is crazy:
- Instrument / line / amp input with switchable 0dB, -12dB, -30dB pads
- 900W amplifier (with external load) may be connected to input
- Parallel output for connection to an amp
- Aux In: 3.5mm TRS input lets you practice to backing tracks
- Bluetooth: Stereo audio (A2DP) supports impulse loading via Darkglass Suite
- XLR output: balanced output for connection to PA, audio interface, etc.
- Impulse response: 5 impulse slots and bypass setting
- Headphones: 2 stereo outputs with individual volume controls and blend
- USB: A USB-C Mac/PC connection for loading cabinet simulation impulse responses and controlling other settings
If this sounds confusing, then you’re not alone. But we are going to break down all of the features that the Darkglass Element is capable of, and attempt to explain it as easily as possible. Let’s take a look at some of the standout features.
Knobless Design: That’s right, there are zero knobs on this interface/pedal. The sliders on the face of the tactile and completely touch sensitive. Both of these sliders can act as output controls, and show levels in real time.
AUX In: This is perfect for people that are practicing with headphones, along to a backing track. While you can do this with a traditional interface, the pedal design of the Darkglass Element makes practicing much easier.
Impulse Responses: This is where this “pedal” really shines. It comes pre-loaded with 5 impulse responses that are tailored to bass guitar settings. But you can easily download tons of impulse responses from the Darkglass Suite. The list is pretty expansive!
This allows the Darkglass Element to be an “all in one” solution when it comes to recording. You can store literally any kind of impulse preset and pull it up on the Darkglass Element as you switch amps. More on that later!
“One comprehensive device, that out of the box offers a bank of 5 cabinet simulations, and the ability to change them through the Darkglass Suite, a multi-channel USB-C audio interface, Bluetooth technology to listen to backing tracks while playing, rehearsing, or studying. Two headphone outputs to allow interaction among musicians.
XLR output to connect the Element to your external audio interface or PA system. With a uniquely innovative approach, the Element provides in one device an immensely practical tool to empower modern musicians.”
–Darkglass Official Website.
So how many different ways can you actually use this Darkglass Element? The answer is a lot!
Darkglass Element: Applications
The first way we are going to look at the application of the Element, is straight through pedal board, and into the device. Shown below.
But something is missing right? The amp and the speakers are missing! That’s because you technically don’t need them. You can just plug your pedal setup directly into the Darkglass Element and select an impulse response from the Darkglass Suite. This will replace your amp and speaker sound.
Now this method is certainly not my favorite. It works fine for practice and jamming along to backing tracks, but it lacks the character of the actual amplifier. The impulse response sounds very convincing, though. But it is just not quite there.
The second way to use the Darkglass Element is probably my favorite. It utilizes your full rig, and gets what I believe is a great sound. Show below.
I have to admit, this sounds great for guitar and bass alike. Once you have loaded an impulse response to react to your amplifier, you are ready to record in my opinion. This gets a killer tone, but it does take a little bit of scrolling through the mic presets to find a great one that works with your rig.
This means you can use your amp as the “pre” for your tones, and then use the Darkglass Element for the speakers. But there is one more way to run this device, and I think it may be optimal for recording…
This is my favorite way to use the Darkglass Element, by far. If your amp is 100 watts or less, it can go into the “amp in” input. You can now choose the impulse responses in slots 1-5 or the bypass signal. From here, the signal is passed through to the XLR output and via the blend and volume controls to the headphone outputs.
That’s right, you can blend the sounds with the tactile sliders. Once you have the perfect sound dialed it, you can make note of it. This can be a great solution for people recording guitar tracks with their full live rig, without pissing off the whole neighborhood.
This of course goes for practice as well!
Darkglass Element: Final Thoughts
The Element is a great deal for anyone looking for a simple solution for practice, or recording. The ability to download just about any impulse response allows you to make this pedal usable for many different amps and instruments.
I even plugged up an analog synth up to the Element, and the impulse responses worked great to change the tone of the synth. Of course where it shines is guitar and bass. You could download an impulse response for each amp in your studio, or for each setting on your guitar modeler.
How you use it is completely up to you. The Element can be used as a simple headphone amp, surely. But it can also be so much more if you want it to be!
The possibilities are absolutely limitless. Great Job Darkglass!
Darkglass Element FAQs
Can the Darkglass Element be used as an interface?
Yes. It can be used to record tracks into your computer.
Does the Darkglass Element have built in IR?
Yes, it comes with 5 built in cabinets. But can be expanded.
Can the Darkglass Element use third party IR?
No. But many different IR can be downloaded from the Darkglass Suite.
How big is the Darkglass Element?
A little larger than your standard pedal. It fits easily on most boards.
Can the Darkglass Element be used live?
Yes! It is perfect for sending your signal to the front of the house board.