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Archive for the ‘Review’ Category
Tuesday, February 5th, 2013
Way back in July 2012 I was told about a pricing mistake at Musicians Friend for the Auralex MudGuard. It was actually a 4-pack of them for $110, just $11 more than a single unit. I don’t know if it was an error or just clearance but it seemed like a pretty good deal. I told some friends and got a little group buy going with 3 guys in California – Eric @rhythminmind; Cory @createmusicpro; and Andrew @cremasterandroo
Cory made the order and got them a few days later. After he shipped mine to me in Vancouver from Orange County I owed him $68. Still less than buying one in store or any other competing product.
The Mudguards have arrived
Off-axis microphone isolation
If you’re not familiar with this sort of product, it’s a barrier that mounts behind a microphone intended to reduce the pickup of off-axis sounds – noise, other instruments, or reflections from the room. A compact portable vocal booth is the concept.
There are several of these on the market in a wide range of prices. The SE Reflexion Filter was the first of these products to my knowledge. That one is certainly a more sophisticated design then the MudGuard, however in my previous experience with the SE, it wasn’t worth the effort or high cost.
Opinions vary greatly about their effectiveness and value in the studio. In every discussion I’ve read on these there’s always some guy that claims he can build one himself for $10. I’ve never seen a DIY option that didn’t look like a steaming pile. My own attempts at a DIY stand-mounted absorber have been garbage, definitely not something I’d want to be seen in a paid session. (more…)
Saturday, September 29th, 2012
A while ago James at Soniccouture contacted me about their new crowd-sourced sampling project called Crowd Choir. 1000 participants from all over the world contributed 4000 voice recordings to the project. The result is a 500MB sampled choir spanning 3 octaves. 1000 voices in 1000 different mics in 10000 different rooms. Pretty cool idea and it turned out very well. I don’t normally review sample libraries but I made an exception because it’s a unique idea, it’s useful, inexpensive and it’s for a charity.
Soniccouture Crowd Choir
Wednesday, August 1st, 2012
Recently I bought the MXR M-80 Bass DI +. It’s much more than a DI box, it’s a bass preamp with clean and distortion channels, and 3-band EQ. It’s also a shortcut to awesome bass tones.
MXR Bass DI+
Sunday, July 15th, 2012
It seems like every few weeks there some new piece of audio software that claims to make your music bigger, louder, deeper, and more badass in every way. Every new plugin is announced as a total game changer.
Like that means something.
The Virtual Console Collection
Steven Slate’s Virtual Console Collection is one of those so called game changing plugins. There was SO MUCH HYPE about this product that I was completely put off by the idea of it and tried to ignore it for a while.
VCC is a plugin that claims to make your mixes sound more analog and to make your DAW react exactly like an analog console. Not only that, but you get a choice of several consoles that you can use in any combination.
Say you wanted your guitars mixed on an SSL, drums on a vintage Neve, bass on a vintage RCA tube console, everything else through a Trident console and finally all those tracks summed through an API. Impossible in real life, but accomplished in a minute with VCC. (more…)
Monday, June 4th, 2012
I was at the downtown Vancouver Tom Lee Music today to browse the guitar gear. I posted a pic on instagram of the Mesa Mini Rectifier head and had a few people ask for a review, so here are my thoughts after playing though it about 10-15 minutes.
I first went into the iso booth to try out the Fender Blues Jr III, a pretty well respected tube combo. I didn’t care for it, I didn’t try it with any pedals but I just found it’s tone to be be very painful in the highs. With the gain up, the overdriven tone just didn’t have a character that I found appealing.
The Mesa Boogie Mini Rectifier was also in the booth, it’s out of my price-range ($999.99) but figured I’d give it a try. It was connected to a small cab which I assume is an oversize 1×12. The mini Rect is a 25-W 2-channel head with two voicings per channel. Each channel has gain; treble; mid; bass; presence; master volume; and 10/25W switch. Channels are foot-switchable and there is also an FX loop.
Channel 1 can be set to ‘clean’ or ‘pushed’ voicing. Clean mode was a nice but very plain clean tone. Pushed ranges from an edgier clean to very cool crunchy tones. I preferred Channel 1 on 10W as it helped get that crunch tone at lower levels.
Channel 2 can be set to ‘vintage’ or ‘modern’. Vintage mode is a higher-gain sound that I didn’t really care for but would probably work great in a mix. The modern mode is very high-gain, bright, thick, and compressed. Modern mode sounds best in 25W. 10W sort of clips the sound and makes the tone very hard in a bad way.
The modern mode was by far my favorite. It begs you to play power chords. I was playing punk/hardcore riffs on an HH Telecaster and it sounded great. Rolling back the volume on the guitar does not really clean up the tone like other amps do, which is about the only complaint I guess. Modern mode is less dynamic than the other modes.
Overall, it’s a cool amp that does in no way sound or feel cheap. It’s not the most versatile amp but it sounds and feels way better than any software version of a rectifier I’ve tried. It’s a small amp but still quite loud too, I had the master on about the lowest setting and was probably hitting close to 90dB in the booth. I wasn’t really able to push the power tubes because it was just too damn loud. I liked it but wouldn’t buy one myself.
Sunday, May 6th, 2012
The TC Electronic Flashback is a digital delay pedal with 9 distinct delay styles; a looping function; and Tone Print, an extra mode that can be loaded with downloadable artist preset. The pedal has stereo in/out, buffered or true-bypass and controls for FX level, Decay, feedback and mode plus a 3 way toggle to divide the timing.
The pedal is powered by 9V battery or standard DC pedal power. The bottom of the pedal is removable with one screw revealing the battery compartment and a pair of DIP switches. The first switch activates the buffer circuit which helps keep the signal strength consistent in a large pedal board. The second switch mutes the dry signal for use in a parallel signal chain.
Delay time can be set in two ways. First by using the delay knob, the time range is from 20 ms up to 7 seconds, except in slap mode which goes up to 300ms. Having this very long delay time available takes some getting used to, coming from analog pedals. Basically anything past 12 O’clock will be too long for anything but special effects.
The other way to set tempo is with the unique audio-tap function. Push and hold the bypass button, strum the guitar, lift your foot and the delay is in time. This is a very fast and intuitive way of setting tempo.
The toggle switch takes your delay time from 1/4 notes, to dotted 1/8th notes or 1/4″ + dotted 1/8th. When the pedal is used with dual outputs, most of the modes will have a mono output unless this third toggle position is selected. (more…)
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Once in a while I make my way downtown (Vancouver) and waste an hour or two messing around with whatever guitars, amps, and pedals that catch my eye. On these outings I grab some gear, go into an iso booth and compare. For example, on my first trip I compared an Ibanez TS9 to a BBE Green Screamer and MXR GT-OD – each a Screamer style overdrive – and in 5 minutes found I liked the TS9 most. It takes a great deal of self-control to walk out of the store with just one pedal or nothing.
It occurred to me that writing down some first impression reviews of the gear I try out may have some value to someone. I’m certainly not well known for my guitar playing but you guys seem to respect my opinion on gear and sound, or else you wouldn’t read AGZ.