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shortcuts gear & games


Specimen Horn Amp Clarity meets efficiency with this Specimen apparatus, the Horn Amp. The speaker/amp duo combines an eight-watt, single-ended circuit capable of accommodating a guitar, banjo, violin, or harmonica with a 24-inch horn speaker that delivers defined, unsuppressed sound. Bonus: the Horn Amp’s retro-luxe appearance creates a conversation piece worthy of displaying. —megan dawson


Verellen Meatsmoke preamp pedal On a quest for a more explosive sound at a less perilous price, Helms Alee guitarist Ben Verellen designed the Meatsmoke preamp, made to compress robust tone into a single rack-mountable amplifier. Encased in thickset steel that’s ideal for relentless abuse, the Meatsmoke packs 200 more watts than its sister Skyhammer preamp and runs directly into a DAW, mixing board, or tape machine. —megan dawson


Halo 4

Wii U

After a five-year hiatus, the Halo franchise finally returns with its newest installment and follow-up to the mammothly successful Halo 3. Resurrected by 343 Industries, the game promises relevant connections with previous Halo installments, challenges that go beyond the predictable first-person shooting scenarios, and invigorating, high-quality sound, most of which was organically recorded using fire, ice, water, and even homemade explosives. —megan dawson

Nintendo amps up its first-generation Wii this season with the Wii U console. Easing into a more modern concept with a part-touch-screen, part-classic-Nintendo controller, the six-inch GamePad has a camera and built-in microphone (likely designed with Nintendo’s new social network in mind) that will allow users to video chat. The screen also allows gamers to continue to play games without delay once the TV set is shut off, appeasing frustrated wives, girlfriends, and moms around the world. —megan dawson




ALARM Magazine #40