Late at night, the engineering lab at the University at Buffalo resembled the typical scene of windowless wire work, but it was a haven from the blizzard that persisted outside. Within the shelter of their lab, Shane Nolan and Ryan Jaquin began a musical quest — a “mission to expand the functionality of the electric guitar.” The team was never satisfied with the traditional status quo musicians clung to for the last half-century — an analog wave cresting into the digital sunset. Finally, the team had a breakthrough and something unique — the Airpatch — was born. So from the frozen tundra of Buffalo, the two musicians engineered a brand new way to use their effects pedals, wirelessly, right from their instruments.
As we near 2020, the music industry is changing, and it’s changing rapidly. Musicians are downsizing bulky, cumbersome amplifiers for new compact solutions, software is becoming more and more advanced, and effects pedals are all the rage as boutique builders and digital powerhouses offer instant access to unique sonic possibilities. Musicians haven’t lost sight of their values; instead they are embracing what empowers them the most — greater access to music, infinite new sounds and musical expression, and endless bounds of creativity. And new trends are more convenient, bringing inspiration right to their fingertips.
In some ways, it’s no different than the rise of digital streaming and similar shortcuts to our world of information and sound. Music stays with us forever, but the delivery is changing big time. In their final year at the University at Buffalo, the team pitched their vision and the Airpatch device across New York State, accruing multiple first place finishes in business plan competitions by demonstrating their new device and drawing the eyes of hundreds of inquisitive musicians. Nolan sums it up by saying “When you have an idea and a good plan to make it grow, you’re off to a great start. However, we succeeded because we put our best selves out there, showed that we believe in what we’re doing and demonstrated our commitment to making it a reality.” The team used their prize winnings to form the company Aviate Audio and set out to continue elevating musical performance.
For Nolan and Jaquin, the foundation was always the same, an electric guitar connected to an amp with a mess of guitar pedals in between. This is the platform on which guitar titans have stood since the 1960s. “There are thousands of different guitar effects pedals available today; Airpatch is a way to bring your favorite pedals right onto your guitar,” said Jaquin. “The benefits range from practicalities such as removing the need to be near your pedal board, to eliminating the ‘tap-dance’ of trying to activate multiple pedals at once, to new creative abilities like momentary switching for your effects,” explained Nolan. And Airpatch does it all wirelessly. The device can also be used for bass and synth players who want to add unique control to their effects. Airpatch is adding to their ability to shape sounds on the fly, going from spacy and subdued to strobing and detuned with a press of a button right on your instrument.
In addition to introducing Airpatch to more guitar players, the team has a range of creative tools planned they feel will bring musicians up to speed with the creative flexibility that has become the standard in other industries. Airpatch, as an accessory to pedals, is just the beginning.
Aviate Audio elevated Airpatch to the next level, developing prototypes that were featured on social media and used in focus groups to gather feedback from other artists. Airpatch continues to gain momentum with pedal lovers as a way to add to their playing experience with problem solving amenities and new features that allow them to break out of the box. The team is reaching out to as many musicians as possible as they continue to share their vision.
Airpatch officially debuted at Summer NAAM in July. 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. Will the delivery of Airpatch usher in a new era of fiery guitar magic? What started as just a passion project developed into Aviate Audio — and the odds are in favor of those who are persistent in making their dreams a reality.