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#288 — APRIL 2018

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A PER FECT CIRCL E VINYL UDG R , ECOR D C & AUD ARRY B IO AT-LP3 -TECHNIC AG A TURN T A BLE SEE P G. 8 FO R DET AILS

INTERVIEWS — Circa Survive, Kimbra, Ben Harper A Perfect Circle, The Hard Aches + more

REVIEWED — Vox Continental, ADAM T5V Monitors, Phil Jones Bass Session 77 Amp, DA30 Electronic Drum Monitor Amp,

EFFECTS NEW For Your Pedalboard

Denon VL12 Prime Direct Drive DJ Turntable, TC Helicon Perform-VG Vocal Processor, Fender American Original ‘70s Jazz Bass + more


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EFFECTS NEW For Your Pedalboard

HX Effects features 100+ effects taken from the award-winning Helix hardware and software processors, all in a compact pedalboard-friendly format, and up to nine effects can be run simultaneously. In addition, legacy effects from the acclaimed Line 6 M-Series and Stompbox Modeller pedals are also included. Effortlessly edit effects using the eight capacitive-sensing footswitches, six scribble strip LCDs, and colour-coded LED rings. Simply touch a footswitch with your finger to instantly jump to any effect and quickly adjust its parameters. HX Effects also offers a choice of analogue bypass or DSP bypass with trails, and an industry-leading 123dB of dynamic range delivers tremendous depth and ultra-low noise. Extensive routing and control options provide flexibility in the studio or on stage, and facilitate easy integration with traditional pedalboards and amps. •

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aperfectcircle.com

the new album OUT APRIL 20


Contents

A Perfect Circle

08

Giveaways

10

Industry News

11

Music News

12

Product News

16

Cover Story: Underoath

18

The Hard Aches

- PG. 20

Ben Harper - PG. 19

Cosmic Psychos 19

Foreword

Circa Survive Ben Harper

Kimbra

20

A Perfect Circle

22

Kimbra

24

Advice Columns:

- PG. 22

Musicology 25

Electronic Music Production

26

Guitar

Underoath worship aside, this issue is packed to the rafters with great content. We talk new releases with Kimbra, A Perfect Circle, The Hard Aches and more. Record Store Day is mere weeks away, so we got a heap of insight into mixing and mastering for vinyl, vinyl pressing and home hifi systems, as well as a myriad of features with some of the country’s finest independent record stores.

Bass 27

Percussion

28

Record Store Day Special

30

Studios301

32

Zenith Records

33

Vinyl Revival

34

Product Reviews

52

Directory

54

Show & Tell

Get Social:

Underoath changed everything for me. I remember getting the bus after school to the city to purchase Define The Great Line on release day. I swear I listened to that CD so many times that I wore the damn thing out. To this day, it still absolutely astounds me every time I listen to it. I didn’t think we’d ever get another Underoath record, yet here we are, with the band gracing the cover of Mixdown in support of their exceptional new record Erase Me. Unreal.

for breaking news, new content and more giveaways visit

WWW.MIXDOWNMAG.COM.AU FACEBOOK.COM/MIXDOWNMAGAZINE

@MIXDOWNMAGAZINE

On top of all that excitement is all the goodness you know and love. Product news, reviews and columns for you all to deep dive into. I’m not even sure how we managed to fit it all in this month. Thanks for reading! NICHOLAS SIMONSEN - EDITOR

@MIXDOWNMAGAZINE

MADE BY MUSICIANS, FOR MUSICIANS MAY ISSUE #289: STREET AND ONLINE DATE: WEDNESDAY MAY 9 AD BOOKING DEADLINE: MONDAY APRIL 30 EDITORIAL DEADLINE: TUESDAY MAY 1 ARTWORK DEADLINE: WEDNESDAY MAY 2 For more information on Mixdown Magazine contact us at: (03) 9428 3600 or email mixdown@beat.com.au

PUBLISHER Furst Media

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Ben Driscoll

EDITOR Nicholas Simonsen mixdown@beat.com.au

EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Alex Watts, Jacob Colliver, Will Brewster, Tex Miller

ONLINE EDITOR Jessica Over jess@furstmedia.com.au

MANAGING DIRECTOR Patrick Carr

ART DIRECTOR Ben Driscoll

6

ADVERTISING Patrick Carr patrick@furstmedia.com.au

CONTRIBUTORS Rob Gee, Peter Hodgson, Christie Elizer, Nick Brown, David James Young, Adrian Violi, Michael Cusack, Augustus Welby, Luke Shields, Alex Watts, Tex Miller, Jessica Over, Aaron Streatfeild, James Di Fabrizio, Adam Norris, Alex Winter, Will Brewster MIXDOWN OFFICE Level 1, No. 3 Newton Street, Richmond VIC 3121. Phone: (03) 9428 3600

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Giveaways Last Month’s Giveaway Winners

A Perfect Circle Eat The Elephant Vinyl Giveaway US rockers A Perfect Circle are about to release their highlyanticipated fourth studio album Eat The Elephant, the first full-length body of work from the band in 14 years. It’s due to arrive on Friday April 20 and thanks to our friends at BMG Records, we’re giving away a shiny new Eat The Elephant vinyl absolutely free.

TC ELECTRONIC PEDAL BUNDLE GIVEAWAY TC Electronic are renowned for their groundbreaking developments in music technology. Their effects pedals are some of their greatest examples of innovation, and the Tube Pilot Overdrive, Crescendo Auto Swell, and Iron Curtain Noise Gate are no exception. Thanks to Amber Technology, we had all three of these incredible pedals to give away last month and the winner is:

UDG Record Carry Bag Giveaway You’ll never have to worry about breaking a record again with the UDG Ultimate CourierBag. It’s the perfect option for those who like to travel light, securely holding 40 records or an audio interface and cables in one compact case. Thanks to our friends at Electric Factory, we’ve got one of these fantastic bags to give away.

Audio-Technica AT-LP3 Turntable Giveaway The Audio-Technica AT-LP3 belt-drive turntable lets you take your analogue listening experience to the next level, providing excellent high-fidelity performance with fully automatic operation. Thanks to our friends at Audio-Technica Australia, this month we’re giving away an AT-LP3 turntable absolutely free.

Eugene from Melbourne, Victoria. Congratulations!

ZOOM H1N HANDY RECORDER GIVEAWAY Designed with musicians in mind, the Zoom H1n Handy Recorder captures high-quality sound like never before. It’s the perfect companion for any creator, with emphasis on simplicity and functionality enhanced by its compact, ultra-portable design. Thanks to our friends at Dynamic Music, we had one of these handy devices to give away and the winner is:

Andreas Salvanos from Adelaide, South Australia. Congratulations!

For your chance to win any of these awesome prizes, head to our giveaways page at mixdownmag.com.au/giveaway and follow the instructions.

*These giveaways are for Australian residents only and one entry per person. For full terms and conditions visit www.mixdownmag.com.au/terms-and-conditions

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RRP $169.99

SOUND-MUSIC

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BEN HARPER AND CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE Following on from their GRAMMY Award winning, Billboard No 1. debut GET UP!, multiplatinum-selling artists Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite collaborate once again on their new album NO MERCY IN THIS LAND. A musical expression of the kinship between the two, the album recounts both Ben and Charlie’s personal stories and adds to the sonic history of American struggle and survival.

OUT NOW ON LP/CD/DIGITAL

The brand new album from cherished Australian singer-songwriter, Mia Dyson. Recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and produced by Ben Tanner (Alabama Shakes) with Dyson’s long-time drummer Erin “Syd” Sidney. Featuring the hits Gambling, Fool, Being Scared & Diamonds. Available on Australian exclusive pink vinyl.

OUT NOW ON LP/CD/DIGITAL

LINDI ORTEGA

MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER

The three-part concept album ‘Liberty’ finds Lindi Ortega scaling back the boot-stomping, throwback country approach that she’s known for, instead polishing a set of music that reflects her Mexican lineage.

A celebration of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s acclaimed 30-year recording career, featuring new versions of some of Carpenter’s most beloved hits as well as one brand new song.

OUT NOW

OUT NOW

LIBERTY

SOMETIMES JUST THE SKY


Industry News Aria And Virgin Begin Travel Scheme For Musos The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and airline Virgin Australia have jointly come up with a scholarship to help emerging Australian musicians with their travel expenses. The scheme is called ARIA Emerging Artist Scholarship Presented By Virgin Australia, and it helps with travel costs for Australiawide and international flights.

Opportunity Knocks #1: Bigsound BIGSOUND, Australia’s largest music conference and showcase, has opened applications for artist showcases at www. bigsound.org.au. It’s held September 4-7 in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, spread over a number of venues. BIGSOUND has a reputation as the event where export-ready Aussie acts receive attention from international delegates as well as scoring management, record and booking deals from Australian companies. Gang of Youths, Flume, Tash Sultana, Courtney Barnett, San Cisco, Violent Soho, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Methyl Ethel and The Jungle Giants are just some of the acts which used BIGSOUND as a major launching pad. This year alone, Stella Donnelly, The Beautiful Monument, and Nice Biscuit went on to sign recording and/or booking deals. Showcasing artists are eligible for the $100,000 Levi’s Music Prize which has resulted in $25,000 each for Stella Donnelly and Alex Lahey to achieve their export goals. This year’s prize will also increase to award $5,000 to each winning artist in travel from Stage & Screen. This year, buoyed by 2017’s 40 percent rise in attendance, BIGSOUND is widening its format. It’s focusing on the next generation of industry leaders, and encouraging them to play a larger role in the debates and discussions that take place. There’ll also be a greater profile of indigenous music, with organiser QMusic hiring a dedicated First Nations producer to ensure everything is conducted in a culturally-appropriate manner.

Opportunity Knocks #2: Guitars In Bars Guitars In Bars, the series of state-wide free and ticketed events showcased as part of the Adelaide Guitar Festival, returns July 13-29. Last year, 555 artists played 160 events across South Australia. Guitar Festival artistic director Slava Grigoryan said the concept had been a huge success since its launch in 2016. “There is no substitute for playing to a live audience, whether you’re starting out or you’re an established performer,” the gifted classical guitarist said. Guitarists and venues who want to be involved can register online at adelaideguitarfestival.com.au by Friday May 25.

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The first scholarship went to Brisbane band Cub Sport, and was open to any Australian artist (represented by a current ARIA member) that appeared in the ARIA Top 100 Albums or Singles Chart during the 2017 calendar year and had not been previously nominated for an ARIA Award. Cub Scout are independent, managing themselves and releasing their music through their own record label. Keyboard player Sam “Bolan” Netterfield said, “The costs associated with touring both domestically and internationally are significant and can be the limiting factor in many independent bands’ careers. This travel support will play a direct and pivotal role in allowing us to continue pursuing our global vision by returning to international markets to play shows [and] connect with fans as well as expanding our creative and professional network.”

Gibson Guitars Heading For Bankruptcy? We’ll know by Wednesday August 1 if the legendary Gibson Guitars company will go into bankruptcy, as that’s when the 116-year old Nashville-based company has to pay up most of its 500 million dollar debt. Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz told the New York Times that he’s trying to restructure the debt before then. But if the creditors don’t support his moves, then it’s goodbye. Gibson Guitars turns over $1.2 billion a year. It was already in financial trouble when Juszkiewicz and some investors came on board in 1986 to take over. His move to make Gibson a music lifestyle company with additional ranges of high-end audio equipment didn’t work with consumers. “No, it wasn’t a great decision,” he admits. “It didn’t work out very well. I think it was a rational decision, but it turned out to be a very poor decision, and it’s a decision I made. It is what it is.” The Justice Department raided the Gibson factories and offices in 2011, accusing it of importing banned woods from India and Madagascar. Gibson has been selling some of its factories and getting rid of underperforming items to pay off the debts and stave off what some insiders are suggesting is inevitable. Some of the greatest guitarists in history – including Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Page, Slash and Eddie Van Halen – are Gibson men.

More Aussie Research On Mental Health Five Australian entertainment industry professionals attempt suicide every week. The rate of roadies’ deaths is ten times that of the generation population. Eighty percent of people in the music industry admit to having some kind of mental health issues. The

industry might seem glamorous, but those who work in it live lonely lives because they work at night and on weekends, and often have very little social interaction with friends and family.

for them to pursue a commercial record label deal or venture out as an independent artist.

As a result, the charity Entertainment Assist and the Australian Alliance for Wellness in Entertainment has commissioned Everymind to collect more data on mental health in the Australian entertainment industry. It will also investigate whether current wellness programs are working. Findings from the study will inform the development and implementation of a Prevention First Framework for Mental Health in the Australian Entertainment Industry.

Laneway Festival might have to move from its long-time Melbourne site in Footscray as new apartments and the $6.7 billion West Gate Tunnel project are turning the once-sparse area into a buy region that is not conducive to a festival. The restriction of space also means that Laneway has to cap its Melbourne show at 15,000, which is the lowest of all its other cities which are closer to the 20,000 mark.

Entertainment Assist GM Susan Cooper says, “Mental health and wellbeing in the Australian entertainment industry is our shared responsibility. It is vital that individuals know how to support their colleagues and get support when they need it. We’ve identified the problem. It’s now time to work on the solution together.” The survey is looking for “perspectives from all areas of the industry”. You can contribute at: bit.ly/MHEntertainAAWE.

Anna Laverty Takes Up Residence At Newmarket Studios Producer, mixer and engineer Anna Laverty (Florence and The Machine, Nick Cave, Courtney Barnett, Lady Gaga) will be taking up residence at North Melbourne’s Newmarket Studios for a six month stay, commencing Friday June 1. Laverty studied in London under producers Paul Epworth and Ben Hillier, and worked on releases by Bloc Party and Depeche Mode amongst others. Back in Australia, she worked on releases by The Peep Tempel, Something For Kate, Eagle and the Worm, Cut Copy, Meg Mac, New Gods, Jae Laffer, Loose Tooth and East Brunswick All Girls Choir. Of her opportunity to work at Newmarket for six months, Laverty says, “I’ve always loved the sound of the records that come out of the studio and can’t wait to get in there and play with all the new (old) toys!” Newmarket’s high-end recording equipment includes a Kawai Grand Piano and an extensive collection of vintage mics, and has four purpose-built tracking rooms.

Universities Launching Their Own Record Labels The music departments of the Australian National University in Canberra and the University of Newcastle are getting into the record label business. Dr Kim Cunio, a recording artist and composer himself, says that 2019 will see the ANU School of Music set up its own digital label to release works of primarily jazz and classical artists that Australian companies no longer sign because their return is not as great as other styles. The University of Newcastle has already begun issuing releases through its Baraya label. (Baraya means ‘sing’ in the Gathang language). The first was by local musician Radical Son. The Head of School of Creative Industries Paul Egglestone said Baraya would connect emerging musicians with mentors and help them lay foundations for promising careers, plus act as a launchpad

On The Move #1: Laneway

On The Move #2: The Basement Sydney’s longest running nightclub The Basement is on its way to a new site. It’s been in Circular Quay for a number of decades, initially as the city’s best jazz club, and later diversifying into electro and hip hop. Rumours in late March were that the place was closing down, unable to keep up with the $10,000-a-month rent as patrons dropped, and that the owner of the building, the AMP Society, wanted a new tenant. But Basement owners say, “Long-term it doesn’t make sense for us to continue in the current space as we are looking to find a permanent home and long-term solution that is better suited to us. We are looking at a number of options, so watch this space as we look to move The Basement into a new era and continue as one of the longest running live music venues in Sydney.”

Apra Sets Up Workstations Around The World Given that their members spend a lot of time travelling around the world, music rights organisation APRA AMCOS has set up professional workspaces in Los Angeles, Nashville and London. In Nashville, a partnership with shared-office company InDo in the heart of the city provides desk space, office amenities, writers’ rooms and performance space. In London, it’s at the RAK Studios where Adele, Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead and Midnight Oil have recorded. In LA it’s at IgnitedSpaces, which is a hub for various types of entertainment companies. There are plans for one in Berlin as well.

Now Look Ear Research shows around 15 percent of young Australians are at risk of hearing damage from nightclubs and live music, so it’s important for musicians and music lovers to protect their hearing in these circumstances. What Plug is a new Australian website which has collected reviews and data on 20 highfidelity earplugs to provide information on their noise-reduction properties as well as comfort, sound quality, ease of use and price. It was developed by the HEARing Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and its member, the National Acoustic Laboratories in partnership with Choice. The plugs are given rigorous scientific tests in their labs. “There are several devices on the market, but the team recognised that choosing between a bewildering array can often be overwhelming,” says HEARing CRC researcher Dr Elizabeth Beach (National Acoustic Laboratories). “It’s great to see there are so many options for people wanting to proactively manage their hearing health. But it can be challenging to find the earplug that’s right for them.” mixdownmag.com.au


Music News

Iron Maiden Are Getting Their Own Pinball Machine After 40 years in the business, British rock legends Iron Maiden have accumulated a lengthy list of accomplishments, but we’re not sure any can compare to the new pinball machine designed to honour the band’s legacy. Stern Pinball, the world’s largest manufacturer of pinball machines, has created a new line called “Legacy of the Beast” to pay tribute to the iconic career of Iron Maiden. The machine focuses its narrative on Eddie, the band’s mascot, and immerses players in a quest soundtracked, of course, by 12 Iron Maiden hits. If you’re an Iron Maiden fan, this is one piece of merchandise you need to add to your collection.

Catch Tropical Fuck Storm On Tour Around The Nation Tropical Fuck Storm, the supergroup formed in 2017 by members of The Drones, High Tension, and Harmony, will be hitting the road on a seven-date national tour next month. TFS will be touring in support of their forthcoming debut LP, A Laughing Death In Meatspace, following appearances at Golden Plains, The Smith Street Band’s Pool House Party, and Boogie Festival. The band are bringing a host of big names with them on tour, including Orlando Furious, ORION, Hexdebt, Fourteen Nights At Sea, and Peter Bibby’s Dog Act. Thursday May 3: The Foundry, Brisbane, QLD Friday May 4: The Cambridge, Newcastle, NSW Saturday May 5: Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW Saturday May 12: Howler, Melbourne, VIC Saturday May 19: Badlands, Perth, WA Sunday May 20: Mojo’s, Fremantle, WA

Sleeping With Sirens Are Returning To Australia This Month Sleeping With Sirens are about to set off on a huge Australian tour, marking their first string of shows in our country since 2015. The American alt-rock/metalcore group will visit five Australian cities in support of their latest LP Gossip. The announcement follows their previous visit to Australia three years ago which saw the band sell out a national tour. This time around, Sleeping With Sirens will have support from Chase Atlantic, Lower Than Atlantis, and The Faim.   Saturday April 21: Big Top, Sydney, NSW Sunday April 22: Festival Hall, Melbourne, VIC Tuesday April 24: Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide, SA Wednesday April 25: Metro City, Perth, WA Friday April 27: Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane, QLD

Alitiha Joins The Contortionist/ SikTh’s National Tour Melbourne outfit Alithia are about to take their unique brand of psychedelic tribal post-prog rock around the country, joining The Contortionist and SikTh on their Australian tour next month. US progressive metal heavyweights The Contortionist are touring in support of their 2017 LP Clairvoyant, and they’re bringing along UK djent pioneers SikTH for their first ever shows in our country.

Slash Teams Up With Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators For New Album Slash looks set to continue his work with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators with the announcement that the group has been in the studio hard at work on a new album. The Guns N’ Roses guitarist has worked with Kennedy on multiple other occasions, including for his 2010 self-titled solo debut. The group then went on to release two albums under the name Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators: Apocalyptic Love in 2012, followed by 2014’s World On Fire. While the name of the new LP is yet to be shared and details on the release date are scarce, it looks like the record could be arriving within the next few months.

Don’t Miss P.O.D’s First Australian Shows In 15 Years American rockers P.O.D are returning to Australia for the first time since 2002 with the announcement of a five-show headline tour later this month. The band will bring tracks from their 2001 album Satellite through to their 2015 LP The Awakening to audiences in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, and the Gold Coast, giving you the chance to hear everything from ‘Alive’ to ‘Youth of the Nation’ and ‘Boom’. Tuesday April 17: 170 Russell, Melbourne, VIC Wednesday April 18: The Gov, Adelaide, SA Friday April 20: Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW Saturday April 21: Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane, QLD Sunday April 22: Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast, QLD

Pink Floyd Prepare To Reissue Live Album Pulse On Vinyl Pink Floyd has announced a viny reissue set to feature various performances from the band’s 1994 Division Bell tour across the UK and Europe, in addition to a full performance of The Dark Side Of The Moon. Due for release on Friday May 18, the Pulse reissue is a four-LP box set featuring unique inner and outer sleeves, plus a 52-page hardback photo book, all encased within a thick card slipcase. ‘One Of These Days’, a track omitted from the original live CD version released in 1995, is a new inclusion to the remastered album, in addition to an entire side dedicated to the show’s encore.

mixdownmag.com.au

Wednesday May 2: The Zoo, Brisbane, QLD Thursday May 3: Max Watts, Melbourne, VIC Friday May 4: Manning Bar, Sydney, NSW Saturday May 5: The Gov, Adelaide, SA Sunday May 6: Rosemount Hotel, Perth, WA

Def Leppard Announce First Volume Of Career-Spanning Box Set Series British hair metal legends Def Leppard have announced the first addition to a series of boxsets, with Volume One covering the band’s work from 1980 to 1987. The box set is set to contain remastered copies of four Def Leppard records, including 1980’s On Through The Night, 1981’s High n’ Dry, 1983’s Pyromania and their world conquering fourth LP, 1987’s Hysteria. Volume One will also boast the live album Live at the LA Forum 1983 and Rarities Volume 1, a compilation album featuring rare B-sides and early demo recordings handpicked by frontman Joe Elliott. Def Leppard’s original self-titled EP is also set to feature in the box set as a nifty little three inch CD.

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Product News

Moog’s DFAM (Drummer From Another Mother) Is Here At Last Innovative Music Australia | innovativemusic.com.au Moog has expanded its range of quality music equipment with the new DFAM (Drummer From Another Mother), the first addition to the Mother eco-system of semi-modular analogue synthesisers. DFAM provides an interactive, hands-on approach to percussion creation, requiring no patching and no prior experience. Three analogue envelopes ensure DFAM behaves almost like a living organism with its realistic response, while the device also features Tempo, Run/Stop, Trigger, and Advance controls for further versatility.

Gruv Gear Releases Fretwraps In Wild Range Of New Colours CMC Music | cmcmusic.com.au Gruv Gear’s Fretwrap string mutes have fast become the go-to innovation for bassists and guitarists looking to keep string sustain under wraps. Fretwraps help you to maintain control of stray harmonics and sympathetic resonances, and allow you to enjoy two-handed tapping in style. To make your Fretwrap more personal, Gruv Gear has added a wider range of colours and patterns for you to choose from, offering subtle dark tones of streaky ebony to patterns of animal skins and even bright neon colours, all of which are available in various sizes to suit your chosen instrument.

Yamaha Introduces Next Generation Of Loudspeakers And Subwoofers

Get Portable Power With The Samson Expedition XP300

Yamaha Music Australia | au.yamaha.com

Boasting 300 watts of power and a lightweight sixchannel powered mixer, the Samson Expedition XP300 is an all-in-one sound system you can rely on. The XP300 offers exceptional sound quality with a quick and easy setup, and features Bluetooth connectivity to enable wireless streaming through laptops, tablets and smartphones. Its unique speaker-locking design enhances portability, allowing the entire system to be condensed into a single unit weighing just under 24 pounds. The XP300 is an ideal choice for small venues and rooms, and the perfect accompaniment for everything from presentations to parties and karaoke.

Yamaha has announced the latest additions to its professional audio lineup with the arrival of the DZR/DXS-XLF powered loudspeakers/subwoofers and CZR/CXS-XLF loudspeakers/subwoofers. The DZR range includes eight full-range DZR models and four subwoofers featuring unrivalled low frequency sound production, while the CZR collection boasts five passive models with a focused, professional sound. The CZR series also incorporates high power handling with a lightweight design, and the DZR lineup offers onboard Dante I/O capability in the “D” versions of the range.

Electric Factory | elfa.com.au

Fender Introduces Rumble Studio 40 And Stage 800 Amplifers

Radial’s AC-Driver Preamp Is Coming Soon

Fender Music Australia | fender.com.au

The AC-Driver from Radial Engineering is a small but powerful preamp for acoustic instruments that will make its presence known on any stage. Offering total control over your tone with adjustable EQ and volume, the AC-Driver is not just versatile, but wholly reliable with a rugged steel chassis able to withstand even the harshest touring environments. Excessive low frequencies are eliminated through a variable low cut filter, while the system also features a quarter-inch tuner output and dedicated mute footswitch for silent tuning on stage.

Fender has added another two excellent products to its renowned range with the introduction of the Rumble Studio 40 and Stage 800 bass amplifiers. Designed to deliver legendary tone in an ultra-portable package, the Studio 40 and Stage 800 amps provide endless possibilities in digital amps for the modern player. The Studio 40 is Fender’s first digital bass amplifier and along with its companion in the Stage 800, makes exploring contemporary sounds easy and grants new inspiration through more than 15 amp models and 40 effects.

Amber Technology | ambertech.com.au

Fender Reveals 60th Anniversary ’58 Jazzmaster Fender Music Australia | fender.com.au Sixty years on since Leo Fender introduced the Fender ’58 Jazzmaster, the celebrated company is paying homage to the original prototype with a 60th Anniversary edition of the groundbreaking guitar. The original ’58 Jazzmaster was the first Fender guitar to feature a rosewood fingerboard and also offered a revolutionary offset waist. Its tribute model is made with an ash body and maple neck, sporting vintage-style floating tremolo in the bridge and maintaining classic features to ensure you get a chance to experience the ’58 Jazzmaster in its original form. 12

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JD McPHERSON

THE ‘60s TELECASTER. AMERICAN ORIGINAL SERIES. CLASSIC DESIGN MADE NEW.

©2018 Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. All rights reserved. FENDER, FENDER in fanciful script, TELECASTER and the distinctive headstock commonly found on Fender guitars and basses are registered trademarks of FMIC. Registered in the U.S. and foreign countries.


Product News

Warwick Offers Quality Amplification With Bass Combo BC 40 Amber Technology | ambertech.com.au Part of an elite series of compact amplifiers specifically tuned to meet the needs of electric and upright bassists, the Warwick Bass Combo BC 40 introduces improvements to circuit design and component integration to provide an amp for any occasion. The BC 40 features Class A circuitry, three-way EQ with controls for bass, mid and treble, plus a handy Dynamic Distortion Limiter (DDL) for distortion-free reproduction at high levels. Also included is a dual conductor “mini” power cable, enabling easy connectivity for the busy bass player.

Markbass Announces Marcus Miller Signature Series Cabinets

Tune Your Guitar Automatically With Roadie 2

CMC Music | cmcmusic.com.au

Sound & Music | sound-music.com

Bass icon Marcus Miller has teamed up with Markbass for a huge collaboration of signature products, starting with the four bass heads on their way to stores and bolstered by the forthcoming arrival of two new cabinets designed to deliver Miller’s signature tone. The Marcus Miller 104 and the Marcus Miller 102 cabs offer controlled low end with smooth, crisp highs at 800W RMS and 400W RMS respectively. Each cabinet is able to operate as a floor monitor or in a standard vertical position thanks to an angled design, and both are set to arrive in Australia next month.

Tuning just got a whole lot easier thanks to the innovative Roadie Tuner, an automatic guitar tuner with new updates in the form of Roadie 2. The device works on almost any string instrument, fine tuning it automatically when you place Roadie 2 on a peg and strum any string. It features a host of standard tuning options, while also allowing users to save alternate custom tunings. All of this is made easier through the device’s mobile companion app, granting the ability to store profiles of your instruments, refine tuning options, and keep track of tuning stats. The app also has a handy feature that keeps an eye on the quality of your strings, letting you know when you’re due to change them.

Fender Offers Premium Portability With Paramount Travel Guitars Fender Music Australia | fender.com.au The Paramount PM-TE Travel guitars from Fender are the perfect solution for on-the-go players who want portability without sacrificing tone. Available in either Standard or All-Mahogany models, the Paramount features all-solid openpore mahogany back and sides for superior tone, and offers a Fender- and Fishman-designed PM preamp system specially voiced for each Paramount body shape. The distinctive Fender headstock shape is maintained in the Paramount design, and a premium hardshell case provides the ideal accompaniment for the travelling guitarist.

Rane Seventy-Two And Twelve Are Arriving Soon

Innovative Music Australia Welcomes Blue Microphones To The Family Innovative Music Australia | innovativemusic.com.au Innovative Music Australia have proudly welcomed renowned microphone brand Blue Microphones to their catalogue. With a history dating back to a 1995 collaboration between American musician Skipper Wise and Latvian recording engineer Martins Saulespurens, Blue have developed their brand over the years to become known for creating some of the most recognisable and respected contemporary microphone designs in the industry. They’ve established themselves as an essential mainstay of the microphone market with products for all skill levels, such as entry-level microphones like the Snowball or Yeti and professional flagship models from the Bottle or Spark series.

Steinberg Introduces UR-RT Interfaces With Rupert Neve Transformers Yamaha Music Australia | au.yamaha.com

Electric Factory | elfa.com.au The first products out of the new-look Rane DJ camp are soon to arrive in Australia to meet all of your DJ needs. The Rane Seventy-Two, a two-channel premium scratch mixer, and Rane Twelve, a 12” motorised hybrid controller turntable, each carry the Rane reputation of rock-solid build quality with reliable heavy duty components. The Seventy-Two is the first two-channel mixer to feature an onboard touch display for an enhanced user experience, while the Twelve offers a high-speed MIDI with a vinyl feel that produces a next generation digital vinyl system.

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Steinberg has unveiled the UR-RT and UR-RT4, a new range of premium audio interfaces featuring switchable transformers on front inputs from the legendary Rupert Neve Designs for rich harmonies and enhanced sound. The UR-RT series is designed to offer outstanding audio quality through onboard D-PRE preamps for condenser and dynamic microphones, plus I/O connectivity for guitar, bass, MIDI and headphones. For the producer on-the-go, these interfaces are an ideal portable production solution for PC, Mac and iOS devices, with included Cubase AI music production software and the iOS Cubasis LE iPad music production app.

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NEW ALBUM GRAVITY

29.6.18

NEW ALBUM VIOLENT NOISE

4.5.18

TH E I R F I R ST STU D I O AL B U M I N 8 Y E A R S! I N C LU D E S T H E S I N G L E S

O N MY TE E TH

AN D

R AP TU R E

O UT N O W


REINVENTING

UNDEROATH

Everything was a mess when Underoath broke up in 2015. There were no original members remaining in the band, conflicts had become insurmountable, and the bonds that had once held six men together were well and truly busted. It would take two-and-a-half years for the Floridian post-hardcore merchants to arrive at a place where they felt compelled to not only be in the same room as one another, but to share a stage together. In March of 2016, the classic lineup of the band reunited and spent the next 18 months on a world tour during which they played both 2004’s They’re Only Chasing Safety and 2006’s Define the Great Line in their entirety.

“We saw how much appreciation people had for Underoath touring again,” says Spencer Chamberlain, the band’s lead vocalist from They’re Only Chasing Safety onwards. “What was the most surreal thing was asking each night who’d never seen us before. There’d be at least a third of the crowd responding to that positively.” Chamberlain goes on to explain how the experience of doing this run of shows allowed him to think about instances in which he, as a music fan, came to bands later than others while still considering himself just as much of a fan. “I love Alice in Chains, and it doesn’t make me any less of a fan that I never got to see them with Layne Staley,” he says. “I’ve been listening to Deftones since junior high, and I didn’t get to see them play until I was 25 years old. I never got to see Nirvana, and they’re one of my favourite bands. Just because you’re younger or from a different generation, it doesn’t make you any less of a fan. So many people discovered the band after we broke up, and that absolutely weighed on our minds as we performed.” When the Safety and Define tours drew to a close, attention was drawn to the next stage of Underoath in the present tense. In secret, the band began work on what would become their eighth LP, Erase Me. As Chamberlain himself will attest to, making a new Underoath record was a lot easier said than done. “We couldn’t just jump right back in,” he says. “The process puts a lot of pressure on all of us. I don’t think anyone asking for a new record while we were out on the road touring realises that. When you’re writing, making songs, there’s naturally going to be conflict. Aaron [Gillespie, drums/vocals] and I knew we wanted to do it as early as our second rehearsal back, and we had so many different ideas of what we wanted to try. If it wasn’t for people around the world selling out the tour so fast, the rest of the guys might not have been convinced it was a good idea.” Erase Me is a challenging record for the band. It’s the fourth to feature the classic lineup in its entirety, but the similarities to that era more or less end there. The album leans closer to alternative rock than it does to the chaotic post-hardcore with which they made their name in the mid-2000s. Chamberlain, in particular, is barely screaming anymore – his trademark vocal style which defined his role in the band for nearly a decade. Instead, he joins the clean vocal fray alongside drummer Gillespie in earnest. 16

“Anyone who thinks that things are the same now as they were back in the day is lying. We don’t want this to be a nostalgia band; this is the sound of us reconstructing our whole lives.” “The truth is that I’ve been singing in bands since I was in high school,” Chamberlain explains. “In the band I was in before Underoath, that’s when I tried out screaming for the first time. That became kind of a phase that I got into at that point in my life. As I became interested in heavier and heavier music, the bands I was playing in became more reliant on screaming. The fact I’m known as a screamer is really just about the circumstances in which the music I was making was put on the map.” Elsewhere, the album blends the band’s original fiery intensity with some relativelyunexplored territory. Although perhaps polarising at first, Erase Me will intrigue long-time fans into repeat listens. They may have based their comeback on

nostalgia, but Chamberlain assures that the honeymoon period is over. “We never wanted to go out there and be something we’re not,” he says. “This was never about recapturing the glory days of 2006 or something like that. We didn’t want to be one of those bands that go mining their most popular records and try to recreate them. To me, when bands do that, they just end up making records that sound like the B-sides from that era. Anyone who thinks that things are the same now as they were back in the day is lying. We don’t want this to be a nostalgia band; this is the sound of us reconstructing our whole lives.” Above everything else, Chamberlain wishes to assert that Erase Me is the sound of Underoath as a united front. While that may seem a given, it’s been far from the truth in the band’s occasionallytroublesome past. “It’s always been divisive,” he says. “You’d have me and Aaron versus Tim [McTague, guitar]; or Tim and Chris [Dudley, keyboards] teaming up. There’d be battle after draggedout battle. With this one, we learned how to work together again. Everyone’s voice is heard. This is a family, and we wanted to keep it that way.”

BY DAVID JAMES YOUNG

Erase Me is out now via Fearless/Caroline Records

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P L AY DEAR BOY

SOMETHING #HEREFORTHEMUSIC

DIFFERENT THE CALIFORNIA SERIES ™

N E W P O RT E R ™ C L A S S I C IN COSMIC TURQUOISE


Music Interviews David and bandmate Alex Upton recorded Mess over a punishing three weeks at Holes & Corners studio in Southbank, working six days per week and then flying out to play live on weekends. David and Upton were joined by guest vocalists including Craig Selak of the Bennies and Jeff Rosenstock. Producer Sam Johnson, whose credits include records by The Smith Street Band and Camp Cope, stepped up to mix the album. “It was nice setting ourselves such a tight deadline, because it meant there was no fucking around,” says David. “We got in there and got it done. We didn’t have a chance to stop and think – it was go, go, go.” The result is a DIY-flavoured slice of lyrics-driven alt-punk that delivers a message about mental health without reducing itself to a sonic pamphlet.

The Hard Aches Take A Stand Musos are in thrall to the image of the mad genius. From Brahms to Bowie and onward, mental illness and addiction are almost required to finish the picture of the tormented visionary. Now, indie-punk twosome the Hard Aches are setting out to demystify mental illness with their new album Mess. Turning concert crowds into ad hoc support groups, the band hope to weaken the stigma surrounding anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions, says frontman Ben David. “I think the ‘woe is me, my life’s so hard’ attitude is an easy, cop-out way to write music,” says David. “Artists glorifying their own mental health issues doesn’t put that positive spin on it for the people who are listening to it. The message just comes out as, ‘Well, we’re sad too, so we can all be sad together.’ But it’s deeper than that: we can all be sad together, but we can also get better together.”

“As much as mental health is a serious topic, we’re not a ‘serious’ band in that you’re not gonna have to sit there and listen so intensely that you’re not going to enjoy it,” says David. “We’re just more conscious of what we’re saying and how we’re saying it.” “I haven’t slept in a week / too much thinking to get done,” sings David on ‘Happy’, a single recorded in duet with friend of the band Georgia Beq of Camp Cope. One of Mess’ most intimately autobiographical tracks, ‘Happy’ tells the story of finding that a previously “strong” friend was suffering from mental health difficulties. “‘Happy’ is probably the song off the record that I most vividly remember putting together,” David says. “I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who was having a hard time, and I was seeing a side that I hadn’t seen before of this person who’s really dear to me, whom I’ve always seen as this really strong person. It really knocked me back because it resonated with me and my own experiences. It made me really realise that we all have a lot of the same experiences with mental health. It made me want to put that on paper. The words just fell out onto the paper.”

guitarist on and off for years, he was brought in fulltime circa 2006 to replace their previous guitarist, the late Robbie Watts. Loudmouth Soup, the latest LP from the Psychos, is their fourth LP to feature McKeering and their tenth overall. In classic Psychos fashion, the album was churned out with little to no fuss – what you see is exactly what you get. “We probably finished it about June last year, I think,” says McKeering. “From memory, anyway – I can’t remember, if I’m honest. “I know that I was working up in Canberra at the time, and I flew back down to Ross’ place to do it. We were out at the farm for probably two or three days recording, and that was it. We sent it all over to get mixed by Silvia in Holland, so that was a lot easier for us. If we made a mistake, she knew how to fix it.”

Kicking Back With Cosmic Psychos “Sorry I missed your call – I thought you were callin’ at seven!” It’s 6pm, not 7pm, on a Wednesday evening when Mixdown finally gets a hold of John McKeering. The guitarist for legendary pub rockers Cosmic Psychos – better known as Mad Macka – has gotten his schedule mixed up, but it doesn’t seem to faze him in the slightest. “Whatever, y’know?” he reasons. “All good. We worked it out!” Macka is about as laid-back and endearing as one might expect. His goofy smile and famous beer belly have been part and parcel of the Psychos for well over a decade now. After playing as a guest 18

Ross, of course, is Ross Knight – vocalist, bassist and the founding member of the band. Silvia, meanwhile, is Silvia Vermeulen – a Dutch engineer who produced Loudmouth Soup and whose CV includes artists as diverse as Within Temptation, Ron & The Splinters and The Onyas. The personnel for the record is completed by drummer Dean Muller, who makes his fifth appearance on a Psychos album with Loudmouth Soup. “Dean sang a couple of songs on this latest one,” says McKeering. “I only ended up singin’ the one – just ‘cause I couldn’t come up with many ideas. I used to do a lot of singin’ back with me old band. Well, I say singin’. I mean yellin’.” He laughs. “It’s no big deal, mate. It’s fun to do it a bit now – not all the time. I’m happy to leave it at that, y’know?” Macka is happy to let his guitar do most of the talking – and when you’re as a good a player as he is, you can’t really blame him. He notes that how you hear the instruments on their recordings is essentially the same as their live setup – not least of all because a lot of the tracking is done live to begin with.

Now, the Hard Aches are spreading Mess across Australia, joined by punk act Antonia and the Lazy Susans and ‘literature-rock’ three-piece Sincerely, Grizzly. The Mess tour also includes a stop at Melbourne’s Corner Hotel on Friday April 13, where the Hard Aches will be supported by ‘90s-nostalgia rockers Face Face. “You’re not alone if you come to a show – you have a big support network of people you may not even have met,” says David. “We try really hard to promote a space where everybody feels welcome. We want everybody to feel like they can go up to anyone and become friends.” The band are also collaborating on a campaign with Don’t Fret Club, a program aiming to educate musicians and fans about conditions like anxiety and depression by way of zines, podcasts and events. “I want to shine a light on mental health in a different way than I have ever done before,” says David. “We’re trying to break that stigma of mental illness being a weakness and say that it’s okay to feel shitty, but we’re here for you, so it’s okay to ask for help. This isn’t just a publicity stunt. It’s something that we feel strongly about, and it’s going to be prominent in everything we do.” BY ZACHARY SNOWDON SMITH

Catch the Hard Aches on tour around Australia from Friday April 13. Their album, Mess, is also out Friday April 13 from Anchorhead. Singles ‘Mess’ and ‘Happy’ are available now.

“There’s always plenty of muck-ups,” he says. “We’re goin’ in cold a lot of the time with these new songs – Ross will have just come up with them, and we’re still learning them as we go. We gotta get a few takes under our belts to get ‘em going. There was one song on the latest one where it had a real complicated bit that Ross made up. I dunno, maybe it wasn’t that complicated, but it took us three hours. That’s up against a few songs that we probably did in about ten minutes.” Macka laughs, before concluding, “I reckon it was alright!” Moments later, Macka is interrupted by the arrival of his guests for the evening. It so happens to be the three gents from Dune Rats, who undertook a huge co-headlining tour with the Psychos back in 2015. The two have stayed good friends over the years, and often spend time together in-between their respective touring commitments. That brings us to the next point – the Psychos are about to hit the road for the foreseeable future. It’s an all-Aussie adventure that will even bring them to some places for the first time ever. “Never played Cairns, never played Mackay, and never played Townsville,” says McKeering. “So we’ll be there soon. It’s all good!” BY DAVID JAMES YOUNG Cosmic Psychos are currently touring around the country on the Loudmouth Soup tour. The album is out now via Go The Hack Records

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Music Interviews Months later, solo album Pixie Queen would drop. If that wasn’t enough, sixth album The Amulet arrived last September. Did you get all of that?

Coordinating Life With Circa Survive Anthony Green is on the verge of a burnout. The vocalist and songwriter is speaking to Mixdown from the American mid-west, reflecting on a busy day that still has more to come. “I got up at 6am this morning to get my kids ready for school,” says Green. “I was working from home right up until they got back, when I headed for the airport. I took a three-hour flight and then a half-hour drive out to Columbus, where I’m playing a solo acoustic show tonight. I like to take one-off gigs whenever Circa or Saosin aren’t on tour. It’s kind of a challenge, trying to figure out how to balance everything. Still, I’ve always been up for a challenge.” Indeed, fans of Green have been spoiled for choice in the last few years. Circa Survive’s fifth album Descensus was released in 2014 and toured through 2015. 2016 saw Green return to the fold of Saosin, the post-hardcore band with which he originally made his name, releasing the album Along the Shadow that May.

It’s exhausting enough to read through, leaving one questioning whether Green has had any sleep between recording, touring and fatherhood. “When you have open communication with people, it’s really easy to coordinate,” says Green. “I have a lot of really dedicated, patient people in my life. The guys in Saosin are all busy, all working – they have full-time work away from the band. My full-time work is music – if I’m not playing it, I’m making it. If I’m not out with Circa, I’m working on Saosin or my solo stuff. As long as there’s always a dialogue between all of us, we’re always on top of the blueprint. Even if we have to book things a year in advance, we make it happen.” Green’s initial return run with Saosin was done under the guise of celebrating ten years since the release of the band’s first EP, Translating the Name. Before The Amulet, Green’s last major tour with Circa Survive was for the 10-year anniversary of second album On Letting Go. Having done retrospectives with the two bands he’s best known for fronting, Green expresses the highest level of gratitude for hitting such major milestones. “For me, doing anniversary shows are such a celebration,” he says. “It’s a really special thing. I really value it, and I’m so grateful for it. It feels like a triumph in every way. You think about what you were struggling with in the moment, and [that] makes you look at where you are now. To make music with a message that’s lasting, and to still have people care ... it’s such a huge victory.”

He raises an interesting point, and makes you wonder about his aspirations for writing. Is the weight focused on finding something unique to say – something that hasn’t been phrased in such a way before – or is it more important to say something that’s truthful of yourself? He thinks for a time before replying.

Thinking back to when I first heard Ben Harper, I was surprised by just how much time has passed. From the midto-late ‘90s his music appeared everywhere across Australia, and the Californian native has acknowledged many times how instrumental this country was in sustaining his career. From early album successes like Burn To Shine and Diamonds On the Inside, to his Grammy Award-winning album with Charlie Musselwhite, Get Up!, Harper’s music has never stayed still long enough to gather dust. With the release of a new Musselwhite collaboration, No Mercy In This Land, we ply the well-read muso for the secret to survival. “I haven’t had a method or ritual,” Harper explains. “It’s incredibly mysterious, the process. I’ve never had any one particular charm or object of focus that I thought would bring out the better part mixdownmag.com.au

“He comes along a lot whenever I play in Southern California,” Green says. “It got to me when I first started seeing it – it fucked me up! I was like, ‘What is this kid doing? Does he not realise how distracting it is?’ Over the years, I’ve come to love it. I’ve embraced it as just a part of my shows whenever I’m in the area – whether it’s Circa, Saosin, solo or even The Sound of Animals Fighting.” Does the offer stand for the rest of the Sesame Street gang to come visit a Circa Survive show? “Absolutely,” says Green. “Cookie Monster and I have a lot in common.” BY DAVID JAMES YOUNG

Circa Survive’s Australian Tour kicks off Thursday May 24 in Adelaide. The Amulet is out now via Hopeless Records.

For now, Green is living in the present, which involves touring The Amulet with Circa Survive. It will see the band arrive in Australia this May for a run of headlining shows, playing most major capital cities. Green is particularly enthusiastic when it comes to the band’s

of songwriting other than a blank piece of paper and a pen. I try to keep writing until I feel that it’s something that’s either uniquely me, or uniquely said. A song that’s a keeper has a certain texture to it that informs your senses, and the way that it informs you ends up being your metric. It ends up being what you’re reaching for, where you set the bar.”

Ben Harper On Burning The Rule Book

current run. “This has been the easiest record we’ve ever settled into,” he says. “The transition from the album coming out to playing the songs live has been seamless. It feels like these songs have already been a part of the set for years.” He’s ready to take on allcomers: casual fans, die-hards, even that one kid who always brings a puppet of Ernie from Sesame Street to sing along through. Yes, really.

“Those are two important ways to write a song. To say something that is unique in the entirety of songwriting, to say something that’s unique to you, to make a contribution to the genre that you’re working in – or maybe you aren’t writing in a genre, even better – the power is in the mystery. If the mystery of songwriting were revealed, we’d move on to some other artform. That’s why it is a fascination. The way the words pair and fit with melody, and then turn into something that turns into something larger, or that has the potential to grow. What makes it unique could simply be that it’s catchy, that it’s rhyming in a unique way. It could be the challenge of not rhyming. I have a couple of songs that don’t have one rhyme in the entirety of them, and that’s always fun to flesh out. So you do have to kind of burn the rule book every time you’ve made a record, and not be held to pop constraints – or any songwriting constraints.”

his list), in addition to the crafting of lived experience. When he starts speaking of John le Carré, it doesn’t take long to see the connection. “le Carré is a fascinating cat who writes about espionage in the Cold War. He’s lived some of that, because he’s ex-British Secret Service, but a lot of it is also from the seat of his pants. Bottom line is, the minute you sing it, it’s appropriate to you whether you’ve lived it or not. Some things I haven’t lived, I’ve written, and then lived down the line. There’s a certain element of foreshadowing that goes on in the writing process at times. There’s a line in the most recent album, the title track, that’s directly about Charlie’s mother’s murder. I very hesitantly but purposefully wrote around what happened and presented it to Charlie, which he ended up singing. That very poignant and powerful verse, it’s the verse that closes the song. So you can witness it being lived, and thereby live it by proxy. Again, you burn the rule book after every song. “One thing that won’t change is, you will get back what you put into it. And as you grow older, you have to work that much harder at all of it. But if you continue, what you put into it will feed back to you - as long as you’re disciplined enough to stay after it.” BY ADAM NORRIS No Mercy In This Land is out now via ANTI-

Though it may seem an odd segue, exploring (and surmounting) writing constraints seems to be something Harper is keenly interested in as the conversation veers into literature. An enthusiastic David Foster Wallace fan, Harper’s reading and writing tools are geared to the innovative and imaginative (Murakami is also high on 19


Music Interviews

A perfect circle f I N D A nE W p ER S PECTI V E

It’s no secret that A Perfect Circle revolves around just two people. No disrespect to the project’s remaining roster of contributors over the last couple of decades, but a follow-up to 2003’s Thirteenth Step was only going to arrive if Billy Howerdel and Maynard James Keenan rediscovered their collaborative spark. Following 2004’s politically-tinged covers record, Emotive, the band’s two linchpins turned towards other projects. After putting out a record with Tool in 2006, vocalist Keenan moved onto the experimentally-minded Puscifer, while in 2008 multiinstrumentalist Howerdel released an album under the Ashes Divide alias. A Perfect Circle actually got back on the touring circuit in 2010 – with guitarist James Iha, bassist Matt McJunkins and drummer Jeff Friedl rounding out the group – but a third record of original material remained a distant prospect. But fans can now rejoice, for that long-awaited release is finally here. The arrival of Eat the Elephant was never quite assured, mind you. “There were some false starts,” says Howerdel. “The biggest one was the last time we were in Australia, 2013. We were in a van in Adelaide heading to the gig and I was playing James [Iha] a few new ideas, and I really thought at that point we were going to kick off our new record right after that. But for whatever reason we didn’t, and Maynard was still full blast into Puscifer mode at that time, so it took a pause. “Then there was a hole in [Keenan’s] schedule and he gave me a ring and thought that he could have some time in the next year or two, and here we are.” Howerdel has been working towards the album for close to ten years, with the majority of the tracklist coming to life during the last three years. As expected, Eat the Elephant stems entirely from Howerdel and Keenan’s collaboration. Although McJunkins and Friedl each make a fleeting appearance, Howerdel far prefers a studio-oriented process.

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“We went on tour last year, we did ten weeks in the States and we started messing around with some things, getting ready for tour,” he says. “And with the two songs we were doing then – ‘Hourglass’ and ‘Feathers’ – it felt good, but it was more that the discovery really happens in the studio. The loose ideas are there, but the discovery happens. “Maybe it was going back into my comfort zone, writing the way I always have, which is in solitude, getting the basic ideas and then going into the studio and fleshing them out. It’s a non-verbal thing – I know what I want them to sound like, but I don’t know how to explain it. So we just went down that road again.” Joining Howerdel in the studio this time around was producer Dave Sardy. Sardy has produced records for mainstream pop acts like Noel Gallagher, Fall Out Boy and Catfish and the Bottlemen, as well as working with leftfield bands like Autolux and the Black Angels. Howerdel oversaw production of the band’s earlier releases, but Eat the Elephant’s drawnout production process impelled him to step away from the boards. “I asked my manager to look around for producers and see who could help make the record with me,” he says. “I wanted, on the technical standpoint, to take a different approach – to get away from some of the busy work like file management, scheduling, and everything else that goes along with production, but also to sit back on the couch and pick up the instrument instead of sitting in front of the computer

and managing all parts at the same time. It was just to see the bird’s eye view of the song.” Sardy’s employment was, in many respects, liberating for Howerdel, but the altered production method did take some getting used to. “When you’re trying to do something you’ve always done and trying to explain to someone what’s in your head, it can be very challenging. If I have a part that I know the ambience could be a certain way, I could go into Logic with a mouse and keyboard and chop it up. And the other way is to sit back on the couch and say, ‘Hey, how about we try and make this ambience like this.’ “I think the record might have a different sound just from that lack of connection to the controls, and having to say [what I wanted] and then having Dave interpret and then go forward from there. In that way it was great having Dave’s musical mind in the room and being able to bounce ideas or getting new ideas from him.” While Eat the Elephant deviates somewhat from Thirteenth Step, it ticks a lot of quintessential A Perfect Circle boxes. Along with Keenan’s unmistakable vocal timbre, there are moments of intense, heavy riffage, soft, melancholic instrumentals and highly memorable vocal refrains. A variety of textures are incorporated, from electronic programming and vocal layering to beds of synthesiser and string arrangements. “You don’t want to repeat yourself, but we stayed anchored to the past a bit,” Howerdel says. “I wrote most every one of these songs on piano or keyboard, which is a much different approach. I’ve always written songs on bass or guitar before. That in itself takes you down twisted roads you’re not used to going down.” By Augustus Welby Eat The Elephant is out Friday April 20 via BMG

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Music Interviews

KIMBRA’s Good INtentions

In conversation, Kimbra speaks with the sort of neither-herenor-there accent of someone who has spent her adult life shifting countries. Her sentences are punctuated by phrases that accentuate her Americanisms, often beginning with ‘It’s like’ and ending in non-questions, such as ‘Ya know?’ or ‘Right?’ She speaks quickly but carefully, often interrupting herself mid-sentence upon discovery of a more concise way to elaborate a point.

After working on the tracks using MPCs and Native Instruments Maschine, Kimbra then went to LA to collaborate with producer John Congleton, who added further live instrumentation and helped to provide focus. “A lot of the time my demos would be a little too complicated, there’d be too many ideas,” she explains.

“I definitely think the work you create is often a product of your environment and not just external physical environment, but internal as well. An emotional environment,” she says. “New York is a very bold city. I think in a way, it led me to establish a real independence here and that meant starting my own studio in my apartment. I live in the centre of Manhattan, so I’ve been influenced by the stimulus of the whole city and it feeds into my day. I think it’s meant that I’ve been more confrontational with myself as well. I’m facing up to more of my own life and learning to write more about my experiences from a more direct place, because the city forces you to do that and you have to have a strong sense of who you are to get by here.”

“John really pushed me to bring my vocals out of everything, stop crowding things with little details. He had that punk rock background where he wants to go for the thing that feels, I mean, primal; that fundamental feeling that hits hard. A lot of those songs that we think about that are just so damn exciting to listen to, someone wasn’t flouncing around for days nailing the hi-hat pattern. So I think it comes from someone being there on the sideline at all times to keep bringing that to my attention.”

Kimbra has been busy crafting her third album, Primal Heart. The record feels like a focused effort in creating grooves, beats and layers that best serve each individual song, completely sidestepping any decorative production or guest features. Much of this can be put down to the fact that each basic track began with the artist alone in her studio, where she surrounded herself with the equipment that would best achieve the sound she was after. “It felt like a moment to really put my stamp on my sound,” says Kimbra. “One of the first proper synthesisers I bought was Prophet [Dave Smith Prophet 6] and that is all over my new record. I bought a Wurlitzer and started getting really into playing bass, invested in great speakers. More than anything I have my collection of drum machines that I would program beats on so that I had these go-to sounds that would inspire me always. I think that sense of independence has kind of come through in my confidence as a producer and a writer when you have your own space to work in.” 22

It’s no wonder Congleton’s instincts were to not let the production distract from Primal Heart’s personal narrative, as the songs themselves are as emotionally transparent as Kimbra has ever sounded. “Every record’s a reaction to the last, right? It just didn’t excite me to think about making another record of psychedelic sonic intrusions every second,” she says, referring to 2014’s The Golden Echo. “I just finished my second trip to Ethiopia and spent time with this woman who opened my heart to a capacity for love that I didn’t even know existed within me. I saw this courage and strength in them and in the world around, and in my own life I was

confronting a lot of pain. I’m not an entertainer that just jumps up and puts on a monkey suit. With maturity and growth comes a courage to speak to the heart of things, and I think that’s starting now for me as I get older.” Bucking tradition, Kimbra has been touring ahead of the album’s release with a stripped down band of two additional players and an array of gear that she laughingly refers to as her “spaceship”. Part of the point of the new setup is to not only replicate the sound of Primal Heart, but to allow Kimbra greater ability to improvise and direct the flow of the performances from night to night. One of the key tools she uses for this is the Korg Kaoss Pad, which allows her to manipulate the sound with her hands whilst singing. “I discovered the Kaoss Pads on The Golden Echo,” she says. “Anytime someone had laid down a cool part on the piano or Wurlitzer, I’d want to make it more vibey. When I was setting up my studio I thought, ‘What would it be like to run my voice through it?’ Because my hands are such a big part of how I shape sound, I was then able to use them to manipulate the voice on the fly. “I work with Ableton Push live, so that gives us a lot of freedom to just balance between different triggers and change the tempo up of songs on the fly, just be really intuitive. Everything is sculpted in a way to make you viscerally feel something, and the way my voice is now enveloping the space with the use of all these amazing manipulators, it’s able to resonate in a new way. I’m not playing over a super loud drummer, I’m now controlling the beats and the voice, and that aspect is quite freeing, because in a way it seems like there’s actually more room for these songs to resound in the space.” By Alex Watts Primal Heart is out Friday April 20 via Warner Music

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Advice Columns MUSICOLOGY

A History of the Guitar Effect Pedal 1941-1977 There was a time not long ago when effects were strictly a studio tool, the result of experimentations by engineers and musicians, such as Les Paul, who began to create echo effects by manipulating reel-to-reel tape. Once guitars became amplified in order to be heard above the big bands of the 1930s, manufacturers began to look at ways to add further expression to the instruments. An example of this was the Rickenbacker Electro Vibrola Spanish guitar that was produced between 1938 and 1942, and featured a built-in motor that moved the bridge in order to create a vibrato effect.

GIBSON MAESTRO FUZZ-TONE To meet the sudden demand, Gibson released the FZ-1A Fuzz-Tone and moved an estimated 40,000 pedals in late 1965, and several other companies quickly released similar models, such as the Burns Buzzaround, Macaris Tone Bender, the Electro-Harmonix LPB-1, which later became the Big Muff Pi, and the Arbiter Fuzz Face, which was used by Jimi Hendrix on Are You Experienced in 1967. At the same time another major invention was hit upon almost by accident. The allconquering success of The Beatles meant that the Vox amplifiers they famously used had become extremely popular in America, and consequently the UK company who made them, Jennings Musical Industries, needed a US distributor. Striking a deal with the Thomas Organ Company in LA, the shipping costs were soon found to be too prohibitive, leading to Thomas Organ actually buying the rights to manufacture Vox locally. Brad Plunkett, a then 20-yearold engineer, was charged with the task of finding a way to make the amplifiers cheaper to produce, and in attempting to replace a mid-boost switch with a cheaper potentiometer, he found that turning the pot created a strange pitch fluctuation. Realising he was onto something, Plunkett took a volume pedal from a Vox Continental organ and replaced its workings with the pot and a 9-volt battery. Pressing the pedal down accentuated the lower frequencies and raised the highs, resulting in a harmonica-like ‘wah’ sound.

DEARMOND TREMOLO CONTROL Rowe Industries then created first the DeArmond Model 600 Volume Pedal, followed in 1941 by the DeArmond Model 601 Tremolo Control, also known as the Trem-Trol, Model 60 or 60A when it launched commercially as the first standalone guitar pedal in 1946. The unit created a tremolo effect by running a signal through a water-based electrolytic fluid, with an electric motor driving a spindle that moved up and down to create fluctuations in the signal, resulting in volume modulation. It had two controls— increase and speed—and found an early adopter in Bo Diddley, who used it on his 1955 number one hit ‘Bo Diddley’, thus changing the rhythm of rock ‘n roll forever. Such early pedals were not extremely practical for stage use as they were fragile, bulky, and expensive; however, when transistors became widely available in the 1960s it meant that pedals could become lighter and more affordable.

VOX WAH-WAH The Thomas Organ Company employed the Vox Ampliphonic Orchestra to demonstrate their products for marketing purposes, and the group’s guitarist, Del Casher, made one such recording using the pedal, named the Cry Baby, to be distributed to instrument stores in 1967. This caught the attention of Frank Zappa who hired Casher to play in his band, and in turn is said to have introduced the pedal to Jimi Hendrix, who would use it on ‘All Along the Watchtower’, ‘Voodoo Child (Slight Return)’ and more. Unfortunately for Thomas Organ, nobody registered a trademark on the unit’s name and in 1966 Dunlop released their own Cry Baby, which became very popular and helped to dominate the sound of funk and disco in the 1970s.

In 1962 came the world’s first distortion pedal—the Gibson Maestro Fuzz-Tone, which retailed at $40 (US). The pedal was based on a circuit designed by Nashville studio engineers Glenn Snoddy and Revis Hobbs, who had been trying to emulate a sound that Snoddy happened upon by accident when an output transistor in a console caused a bass signal to distort, whilst recording the 1961 country ballad ‘Don’t Worry’ by Marty Robbins. However, Gibson marketed the pedal as being designed to alter the tone of guitars and basses in order to emulate the sound of different types of instruments, such as brass. Although they produced 5000 units in 1962, sales were not good until Keith Richards used a Fuzz-Tone on The Rolling Stones’ ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ in 1965, after which the pedal’s sound became highly in demand. Ironically, Richards has stated that he was in fact attempting to recreate the sound of a horn line on the song’s iconic riff.

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With effects pedals becoming their own industry, several companies were formed in the 1970s to address the market, including the formation of Roland’s BOSS subsidiary in 1973. The company began to manufacture compact pedals in 1977, releasing the classic DS-1 distortion pedal the following year. In 1976 Electro-Harmonix released the first of their Memory Man echo/delay units, the Solid-State Echo/Analog Delay Line. The idea was to recreate what had previously only been possible in the studio by manipulating tape, and utilised a bucket brigade delay integrated circuit, which passes the signal through several stages, each creating a signal delay before the output. The pedal was a watershed moment, allowing guitarists to affordably and easily achieve and control delay onstage. BY ALEX WATTS

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Advice Columns ELECTRONIC MUSIC PRODUCTION

Thunderbolt 3 & The Future Yeah that’s right, we’re going to talk about computer connections. Maybe that doesn’t seem all that relevant to making music at first, but if you’re someone who makes music with a computer, you’ll know that mucking around with proprietary cables, audio latency, and tweaking buffer settings and the like can be one of the most endlessly frustrating things you have to deal with. Fortunately, it’s looking like audio and computer manufacturers are finally ready to bring widespread usage of the incredibly fast Thunderbolt 3 standard to consumer level products, likely making perceptible latency and cable confusions a thing of the past, or at least less of a pain - hopefully. Firstly, we’ve got to clarify some things about Thunderbolt 3. We’ve grown up in a world where each connection has its own type of cable and connector. USB cable goes in the USB slot, Firewire in the Firewire, etc. Thunderbolt 3 has taken that logic and thrown it out the window as it uses a USB-C cable/connector. USB-3.1 devices also use a USB-C connector. USB 3.1 is not the same as Thunderbolt 3, despite looking the same. You can use a Thunderbolt 3 cable as a USB 3 cable, but vice-versa gets iffy. There’s far more data going through Thunderbolt - best to just use a cable that advertises itself as Thunderbolt 3-suitable. The main differences are in performance and capabilities. Thunderbolt 3 is the fastest data transfer protocol available with a top speed of 40-Gbit/s (that’s 5 gigabytes a second), while USB 3 maxes out at 10-Gbit/s. You can use a Thunderbolt connection as a video, audio and power connection via the one cable. You can also daisy-chain multiple Thunderbolt devices so they share a Thunderbolt port; USB devices need to connect to their own port. Both USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3 can handle a serious amount of power, up to 100 watts, which means that as more audio gear and computer manufacturers adopt either USB 3.1 or Thunderbolt 3, bulky external power supplies will become a thing of the past. Everything is going to run via USB C cables, and it’s going to be magical. Previous iterations of Thunderbolt have been more of a niche corner of the market, so what makes me think Thunderbolt is actually going to take off this time? Couple of things: Intel announced they won’t be asking for royalties on this Thunderbolt protocol mid-last-year, so there are plenty of computers now hitting the market Thunderbolt 3-enabled. Secondly,

Universal Audio has already managed to get the world’s first Thunderbolt 3 audio interface on the market, boasting basically-zero latency. The buzz around that release is bound to have peaked other manufacturers’ interests. So manufacturers, consider this an open letter to you. Please start putting Thunderbolt 3 connections on everything. I welcome our new USB-C overlords, I welcome near-zero latency on our audio interfaces, I welcome not having 20 power supplies each with specific specifications, fighting for power outlets in my little studio. Come at me with your Thunderbolt enabled studio monitors, 4K screens, audio interfaces, drum machines, synths everything. Also, make the cables cheap please because I’ll need a lot of them. Cheers. BY MICHAEL CUSACK

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Advice Columns guitar

bass guitar

Learn the Fretboard

Players

The concept of ‘knowing the fretboard’ may seem logical and simple enough, but how many people really know it inside out? Obviously, quickly identifying note names is a good starting point, but then what about scales, modes, arpeggios (ascending and descending) and chord voicings? Then add multiple octaves, fingerings, positions, tempos, time signatures, rhythms, groupings and consider the pressure of applying this to improvising on the spot and the various degrees of chord progressions/changes that you might encounter. Perhaps there is room for improvement?

Growing up (and pretty much still to this day), I loved reading music magazines and CD liner notes to see who had played on what or who was doing what gig. It was great to keep on top of the latest players, but also to see which established musos were moving around and doing different things. The age of the internet makes it easier to find and see great new players or expand your horizons and knowledge, but sometimes it’s also a bit overwhelming and tricky to really see who’s doing what with the sheer amount of info, clips and media. Over the coming months, I’m going to list some names of players to check out. These are players that I’ve been digging (both old and new), players that friends and other musos mention, and some randomness too. Of course, there are so many amazing players floating around the world that we could list tonnes and still not scratch the surface, so take it as you will, but hopefully you’ll find something you dig.

One idea I was shown a few years back prompts the thinking of the fretboard as a whole (not just a series of shapes and patterns). It involves playing across six strings using three notes per string starting from as low as possible on the guitar. Figure A uses G natural minor. The important thing to remember is that we’re trying to start as low as possible (it doesn’t have to be a root note) and want to focus on knowing the actual notes rather than playing patterns we are already familiar with. With this in mind, you can see that we start on F and play F, G, A on the sixth string. Bb, C, and D then follow on the 5th string, with Eb, F, G on the fourth. Now to continue into a second octave we have A, Bb, C on the third string, then a slight position shift up the fretboard with D, Eb, F on the second string, and finally G, A, Bb on the first string. Again, remember we don’t have to start and finish on the root note; it’s more about playing three notes on each string and playing all over the neck (not necessarily in patterns/shapes that we’re used to).

Evan Marien A graduate of the renowned Berklee College of Music where he studied with the likes of Matt Garrison, Joe Lovano and Lincoln Goines, Marien has been establishing himself as a seriously talented player with chops to burn. Jazz, rock, fusion, funk, and electronic (amongst everything else) seems to be fair game, and Melbournites may have recently seen Marien here alongside Virgil Donati, Steve Hunt and Alex Machacek performing repertoire from the legendary Allan Holdsworth. Further highlighting his rhythmic and harmonic abilities, Marien was also one of the last bass players to play with Holdsworth. Check out his Evan X Dana project with drummer Dana Hawkins for some deep groove/electro/funk craziness.

Now that you’ve conquered Figure A by running it a few times and working on fingerings, let’s move the starting note up. G in the third fret on the sixth string is next in line, and if we follow the same premise we end up with Figure B. Continue this process up the neck starting on A, Bb, C and so on until you run out of room on the neck. By then you should have an increased view of G minor all over the neck.

Carlitos Del Puerto Cuban born Del Puerto has played with a who’s who of international artists in a range of styles, such as Stevie Wonder, Chick Corea, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Ricky Martin, Roy Hargrove and more. Playing both double and electric bass, he is in demand for live and session work and has some serious heritage from his father Carlos De Puerto, a renowned player and educator. Do the usual YouTube and internet search and you’ll see him funking it out on electric and playing heavy bop and jazz on double, all with a great feel and sense of time. Think of the possibilities when using other scales and modes. Figure C takes D Mixolydian and applies the same concept. F# in the second fret on the sixth string is our lowest (fretted) note on the guitar from this mode, and will therefore be our starting point. Again, move the starting note up and you’ll progress up the neck whilst hopefully getting a feeling for other combinations and paths for navigating these scales. Yes, there are lots of ways to navigate scales/modes in this fashion, but this three notes per string idea is a great starting point to hopefully get you moving around a bit. Try using a metronome to really push your brain and technique and also consider looping a suitable chord accompaniment (static chord or progression) to really hear the harmony. Most importantly, don’t get overwhelmed with all this. The guitar is a great instrument for the fact that you can make a good start on it with very little knowledge. Add a few chord shapes and scale shapes in and you can get a lot happening fairly quickly. Furthermore, there are a lot of players that don’t and won’t expand their knowledge a lot throughout their career. Whilst it isn’t essential to know the fretboard inside out to play guitar, I don’t see that it can do any harm. In fact, it does the opposite. There’s nothing wrong with some extra skill and knowledge on your instrument of choice. By Nick Brown

Henrik Linder No doubt you’ve heard or seen the band Dirty Loops in the last few years. Playing funked out fusion versions of pop songs (think Bieber, Britney, and Adele) with great grooves, heavy harmonic reworkings and improvisation, the band have received well deserved acclaim. A product of the Stockholm Royal College of Music, Linder combines chops and intricate lines with groove and pocket, showing inventive ideas and musicality. Citing influences such as Gary Willis, Jimmy Johnson, Marcus Miller, Matthew Garrison and John Patitucci, Linder has a really interesting creative streak and always seems to drop a couple of ear bending licks into his playing. By Nick Brown

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Advice Columns PERCUSSION

Pop Reggaeton Applications There’s a bit of a trend these days that combines Latin type groove influences in pop music. One of the most popular applications is something called reggaeton. The style itself isn’t new and has been a staple for many years, particularly overseas in South America, and can be heard in Latin clubs combining RnB with Latin music; however, we’re now hearing artists like Ed Sheeran (‘Shape of You’) or even Justin Bieber (‘Sorry’) using this type of groove in their pieces. But what is reggaeton? I thought I’d share some basic applications and some variations to play with. Figures A and B show the two basic variations I come across most of the time. The first one has a heavy push on the ‘a’ of 1 and 3 on the snare drum. The second variation has the emphasis on the same ‘a’ of 1 and 3, but on the bass drum instead. These don’t take too long to get a feel for, and from here there’s a bunch of different ways you can interpret and expand on them - and since it’s pop music, anything goes. This isn’t a traditional, Latinspecific exercise today. As you’ll also notice, the basic framework is only two beats long and is repeated. If you look at figures C through to F, you can see our two main motifs with basic hi-hat patterns added - both quarter notes and eighth notes. This gives you a nice feeling of where the groove sits and how you can feel it. From here, there are only very minimal alterations to the bass and snare parts, but the hi-hat can be a little freer, drawing influences from salsa and cascara patterns. There’s even a bit of rumba in there. Figures G, H and I are centred around Figure B as the base. Figure G simply shifts the

hi-hat to mimic the bass drum part, giving a very solid but spaced groove with a heap of room for variations later. Figure H starts to be influenced by the traditional cascara pattern albeit only a section of it - but it really starts to add another element to the groove and emphasises the 16th subdivision a little more. Figure I is exactly the same as Figure H with the exception of a ghosted snare drum after the first bass drum. Again, a simple addition, but it adds some dynamics to the bottom part and further supports the 16th subdivision. Overall, these variations feel good and this helps the band to feel the groove, too. Our last two figures are centred on Figure A as a base. Figure J again uses the cascara as an influence just like Figure H. The feel created is similar, but the snare drum part is ultimately the only main difference. Another point of difference, that really changes this groove is that I’ve added bass drums to give a ‘four on the floor’ feel - bass drum playing on all four beats. This creates more of a dance vibe at which point the hands can be freer to play around because you have such a strong ostinato happening in the feet. You could

double the hi-hat in the left foot with the bass drum and play the hi-hat/right hand part on the ride cymbal or cowbell for example. The very last figure (K) is what I typically play for a rumba-type groove. It may not be 100 percent authentic, but it’s what was taught to me to play as the drummer. The percussionists in a salsa band will be playing other parts and this groove supports them. That said, in pop applications, it works really well. You can see the bass drum and snare drum parts carried over from Figure J, but we employ a ‘16th note alternating hands’ disco-type vibe on the hi-hat. The only difference is that instead of playing a back beat, we’re coming down to the snare drum on the ‘a’ of 1 and 3 and the ‘and’ of 2 and 4 as per the original reggaeton groove from Figure A.

IN TR OD UC IN G AD AM AU DI O T SE RI ES

These are simply my ideas taken from years of experimentation and working with other musicians. You can really muck around with these as the applications are not traditional, nor are you going to get into any trouble. That said, I’m definitely drawing on some Latin/salsa influences here. As mentioned, you could substitute the right hand to the ride cymbal, cowbell or even the side of the floor tom. Perhaps you could play the whole cascara pattern on the hats. You could be crazy and play a clave pattern with your left foot. As I said, there are options and no strict rules. Have fun! BY ADRIAN VIOLI

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Features RECORD STORE DAY SPECIAL

DIXONS RECYCLED RECORDS What sets your store apart from other record stores? We not only have one of the largest selections of second-hand records in Australia, but also have an enormous selection of CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays and cassettes. What’s your best advice for record collectors? Get in early before the mad rush begins! Do you specialise in any particular genres? No, we pride ourselves on having an eclectic range of genres – from ABBA to Zappa. What’s been the best record find you’ve ever made? A stash of original Popol Vuh records in a regional op shop. How do you source your records? We source all our records from the general public. As we’ve been offering a premium price for good records since 1976, we’re usually the first place people come to offload their precious collections. Are you holding any special events for Record Store Day? Twenty percent off all stock (excluding new vinyl). Visit Dixons Recycled Records at 100 Railway Road, Blackburn, VIC or 414 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, VIC.

HEARTLAND RECORDS What sets your store apart from other record stores? We have a huge selection of both new and used vinyl and CDs spanning most genres, our prices are excellent, and the store is super organised to make life easier for our customers. What Record Store Day releases are you most looking forward to? Great list this year and so many to choose from, here are a few: Brian Eno & Kevin Shields – Weight Of History, The Cure – Torn Down, David Bowie – Now, Mac Demarco – Old Dog Demos, Mastodon – Emperor of Sand (picture disc), The National – Boxer Live, Neil Young - Roxy Live 1973, Pink Floyd – Piper At The Gates of Dawn (mono), Prince – 1999.

GREVILLE RECORDS

What sets your store apart from other record stores? We have a rock ‘n roll cure for any ailment you may have. What Record Store Day releases are you most looking forward to? The David Bowie, Wilco, and Neil Young live records, and the Rowland S Howard 7 inch single. What’s your best advice for record collectors? Embrace the fact that record collecting is a beautiful, rewarding, and never-ending road of unexpected discoveries and joy ... and it’s the only obsession that you’ll never regret. Are you holding any special events for Record Store Day? Some amazing in-store performances all afternoon –Jaala, Tendrils,Sophie Koh,Leah Senior and an incredible and very special band we will announce closer to the day. Plus we’ll have boxes of exclusive Record Store Day releases, and lots of marked down stock. What’s the best thing about collecting records? The search and the happiness of finally finding album you really love on an original vinyl record. What do you love most about Record Store Day? The happy vibe of catching up with so many customer friends who have been coming here for years. Why should record collectors visit your store? Because we love you, and you will leave with a bag full of awesome new tunes. Drop in to visit the team at Greville Records at 152 Greville Street, Prahran, VIC.

RELOVE VINYL What sets your store apart from other record stores? We have both new and secondhand music. We stock not just approximately 7000 vinyl records, but VHS, cassettes, sheet music, DVDs, CDs and music books. We offer personalised service as we can source pretty much any title via our contacts and record suppliers How do you source your records? We source new vinyl records from Australia’s largest importers and labels; Universal, Sony Music, Rocket, and Warner Music. We also sell second-hand vinyl records on consignment which means we have a steady stream of records coming in nearly every day from our vendors.

What can people expect if they visit you on Record Store Day? We are filming the first few hours this year and then we’re going to post a time lapse film afterwards, so wave your purchases in the air like you just don’t care and get on film.

Are you holding any special events for Record Store Day? We are having Kitsch Vinyl Bingo. We have plastered our roof with some of the kitschiest vinyl artists of all time - Nana Mouskouri, Kamahl and others. Choose one of the titles on the roof and not only do you get to keep the title, but inside there might be a voucher to win any vinyl purchase on the day - new or used.

How many records do you generally stock? We have 8,000 new records in the store and around 1000 second-hand, plus sale stock too; in other words, plenty! This year for RSD we’re also putting out over 600 quality second-hand LPs on the day.

How many records do you have in your personal collection? We have about 440 vinyl records in our personal collection, everything from Eminem, Nine Inch Nails, and Mötley Crüe to old favourites such as Elton John, Neil Young, and Donna Summer.

What do you love most about Record Store Day? It’s amazing how so many people all fit in the store at the same time, but do it with such class. Everyone looks out for each other and the vibe is great. People all seem to get what they want and leave happy.

What do you love most about Record Store Day? As an independent record store, we are hugely proud of the support that RSD brings to our business. We get exclusive RSD titles and it generates excitement for both older vinyl collectors and the new generation starting their collection for the first time.

Visit the team at Heartland Records at 420/422 Victoria Street, North Melbourne, VIC.

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Find Relove Vinyl upstairs on Level 2 @reloveoxley, QLD.

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Features

RECORD STORE DAY SPECIAL

RECORDS, POSTERS, MEMORABILIA What sets your store apart from other record stores? Apart from a very eclectic variety of vinyl albums, 12” & 7” singles, CDs and cassettes, we also have a large range of posters, books & other music memorabilia. We have a big selection of all the classic rock, punk, funk, soul, ‘80s, Aussie, blues, hip hop, dance music and even a large selection of jazz, classical and world music. A common comment we get is how people like the old school ‘70s vibe about the place. If you could add one rare record to your collection, which would it be? Probably the Velvet Underground album with an intact banana skin.

RESIST RECORDS What sets your store apart from other record stores? Resist is a punk and hardcore specialty store, stocking the latest vinyl, cassettes, CDs and merch from your favourite bands. We have a great Rare & Out Of Print selection which has anything from limited pressings to out of print titles.

What’s your best advice for record collectors? Buy lots of records, store and handle them properly because they really are investments.

What Record Store Day releases are you most looking forward to? The Casket Lottery “Anthology” Box Set. These records (Choose Bronze, Moving Mountains, and Survival Is For Cowards) have been out of print for a long time, so it’s great to see them re-pressed.

What do you love about vinyl records? All the stuff you’d expect. Warm sounds, surface noise, human interaction to be able to drop the needle wherever you want, great covers, liner notes with lyrics and the experience of hearing a complete album concept.

Which record do you think will be the most popular on Record Store Day? For us, I think it will be the Touche Amore Demo 12”. It’s a ten year anniversary pressing of the band's demo 7'' released as a one-time 12''.

What is your most requested record? All the classics still get requested constantly. Led Zeppelin I, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, and of course anything Dylan, Stones or Beatles.

What’s your best advice for record collectors? To keep your records well protected in plastic sleeves.

Why should record collectors visit your store? Because of our fun vibe, exceptional customer service, and expert vinyl music knowledge. Also we are open seven days a week from 11am to 7pm. Find RPM at 113 Marrickville Road, Marrickville, NSW.

How do you source your records? We use distributors from all over the world, and as we import the majority of our stock, we tend to stick with the same suppliers. If there’s a title in print, we can source it. Find Resist Records at 38 Chapel Street, Marrickville, NSW.

THE RECORD STORE SOUNDS ESPRESSO What sets your store apart from other record stores? It’s a retro style café/record store/bar where you can have coffee or have a drink and play tunes. What’s been the best record find you’ve ever made? The first press of AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds was at a record fair; still to this day was the best find. You never know what you will find. What can people expect if they visit you on Record Store Day? A surprise. Are you holding any special events for Record Store Day? That’s a surprise, too. Tell us a highlight of your past Record Store Day events. The highlight would be people coming in and checking out the music and fighting over the records, but leaving with a coffee and records that they came in to find.

What do you love about vinyl records? The goosebumps they give you at high volume! What’s your best advice for record collectors? Buy an Ortofon 2M blue hifi cart. It changed our lives. Which record do you think will be the most popular on Record Store Day? The Air Sexy Boy 7” die-cut picture disc should be fun. How many records do you generally stock? We have about 1500-2000 records listed in our database at any one time, and then we also have about 20 crates of $10 uncatalogued second-hand records to dig through. Are you holding any special events for Record Store Day? Yes indeed. We are putting on a free BBQ from 12pm – 3pm, we’ll have DJs playing live sets in store from 12pm – 6pm. Beers will be a-flowing. We’re also co-presenting a record fair at Cafe Lounge (just across the road) from midday – 5pm. Oh, and we’ll be giving away a custom, limited RSD slipmat with any purchase over $100.

What do you love most about Record Store Day? That we get together and do what we do best: play and listen to music.

What’s the most unusual record request you’ve had? This never gets old, but we specialise in electronica and every once in a while, someone will come in and go, ‘Have you got that record that goes …” Hearing people sing techno is hilarious.

Find Sounds Espresso at 268 Victoria Road, Marrickville, NSW.

Find The Record Store at 255b Crown Street, Darlinghurst, NSW.

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Features RECORD SPECIAL

MIXING AND MASTERING FOR VINYL We’ve all heard the stories about vinyl making a resurgence. Not only are records selling again, but records are being made again in decent numbers. Walk into JB Hi Fi and you’ll find a record section the likes of which hasn’t been seen in 25 years. Labels are re-releasing classic albums in deluxe box sets with new vinyl masters, and new bands are putting their latest records out on vinyl too. And that’s where Studio 301 in Sydney comes in. This legendary studio knows that mastering for vinyl is both an art and a science, and they’re uniquely qualified and equipped to turn your music into a nice shiny LP that sounds great. We caught up with Chief Mastering Engineer Steve Smart (Midnight Oil, Icehouse, DZ Deathrays, Tash Sultana, Empire Of The Sun) and producer/engineer Lachlan Mitchell (The Jezabels, Billy Thorpe, Nitocris, The Vines, The Hard-Ons, The Whitlams) to find out more. “When you’re mastering for a vinyl release there are what you might call restrictions that are placed on the way you both mix and master,” Smart says; the low frequencies and the high frequencies, the stereo content of low frequencies, and peak transients. “You can’t have too many low subfrequencies around 30Hz, 40Hz because the more sub low frequencies you have, the more erratic the groove will perform and you may end up with a situation where the groove is untraceable by a stylus. So within sensible reason you have to curtail those frequencies if you’ve got vinyl production in mind. And if a low frequency is panned left and right in stereo, that may cause problems as far as excessive vertical movement when you’re cutting the record.” Mitchell says it’s important to work closely with the mastering engineer to flag potential issues. “Since CDs and MP3s came around you could get away with more, and a lot of people think of vinyl as being the most authentic format but it’s not as forgiving as a lot of things and you have to be very careful.” “The groove from high frequencies on a vinyl record looks like saw teeth, very jagged,” Smart says, “and if those saw teeth are too excessive, when it’s traced by the stylus it can end up simply just distorting. Also after you’ve had it cut and when you’re plating the lacquer to get your stamps and your masters off that for pressing, the jagged edges of the groove from higher frequencies can actually tear the silver off the lacquer shell.”

transferring of them, because when CDs came out, a lot of labels just dumped those mixes onto CD.” Smart continues; “The record labels went into ka-ching mode and released all their back masters onto CD, but digital technology in its infancy was not crude but fairly basic in terms of its AD/DA conversion. So when you called up a wonderful master of something like Steely Dan, for instance, the tape was transferred via those early digital systems onto the format, which at that time was a digital video tape, then manufactured into CD. Some of those original master tapes were specifically equalised for vinyl cutting, so they potentially would have had RIAA curves cut into them for vinyl. So the original master tape that was used for those early CDs may not have actually have been the right master to choose for that. With the benefit of developing technology in converters, you often find that things have been remastered for CD and in that instance they’ve gone back and paid a little more attention to the details of the playback of the tape itself and the transfer through better digital equipment to get a more satisfactory result these days.” The ideal situation for Mitchell and Smart is for an artist to approach their recording, mixing and mastering with the expectation that it could make it to vinyl. “Exactly,” Mitchell says. “That’s important in any facet of the recording stage, whether you’re remixing or programming or producing: always have a plan. Steve and I have worked together for many, many years and he really knows his stuff and all the gear that’s coming out. Music is a very subjective thing and you’ve got to know what people want creatively and what they want to hear at the end, so we discuss ideas and approaches so there are no trainwrecks down the line. Even prior to having that discussion with the band, Steve will get bands to send references of some albums they’re inspired by so we can keep that in mind. Often at Studio 301 I’ll bring a band that I’m mixing down to meet Steve so they can talk about the final result.” By Peter Hodgson For more information on Studios 301 and their services, head to studios301.com

It works both ways too: at the dawn of the CD era, masters that were originally prepared for vinyl back in the day were then popped onto CD without being optimised for that format - and in a case of ‘chicken and the egg,’ there have been albums released on vinyl recently that were mastered with CD or MP3 in mind. “Early digital was a bit shit with AD and DA,” Mitchell says. “A lot of those mixes themselves were incredible, it was just the 30

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Features RECORD SPECIAL

ZENITH RECORDS

Over the past five years, Paul Rigby and his team have resurrected Australia’s only record pressing plant, Zenith Records, and turned it into not just a viable business, but an important addition to the record market in the Southern Hemisphere. “To date we’ve done two and a half thousand titles since we’ve been here in five years,” says Rigby. “A lot of what we do is [runs of] 200s, 150s, which a lot of other plants around the world won’t do because they need to keep a balance between their cutting and plating output. That’s why we run two shifts a day with plating, because 150 seven-inches is two days work; there’s a fair bit of work in preparing those plates and polishing them, punching them and whatnot.” The business has worked hard to address production issues and ensure that their output is of the highest possible quality, while hoping to change any misconceptions about the standard of Australian vinyl. “In the ‘90s and early 2000s with vinyl where it was at that time, quality wasn’t a big concern,” says Rigby. “A lot of the product back then was a bit hit and miss, not just from us but from everyone. We just had to make sure that the records were clean, the cuts were good, the pressings were good, [and] the plates were good. It’s a known quantity, you just need to develop techniques and processes and ways to ensure that you get consistent quality and you learn from your mistakes.” The plant itself resembles a factory floor like many others, with various figures huddled over large industrial machinery, each worker attuned to the calculations and steps necessary to achieve the desired final product. The walls are lined with discs that have been created in the space, with titles from smaller local bands to some of this country’s most celebrated artists. As a reflection of this demand, and as a way to deal with the inevitable fallibility of the machinery, Zenith is about to undergo a major upgrade to its facility that will enable it to pump out greater quantities, even if one machine breaks down. “We’re running three presses at the moment, we’ve got six additional presses waiting at the docks,” says Rigby. “We pretty much need an extra 7” press and we need two extra 12” presses, but with that means we’ve got the capability to do picture discs and 10” as well. If we’ve got extra capacity, one machine goes down, we’ve got an extra one to back it up. The instillation of this new gear is going to be massive.” Examining some of the recent titles that are sitting in boxes and on shelves, it’s obvious that many local labels have been taking advantage of the fact that they can speak to someone in Brunswick about their project rather than await an email from the other side of the world. For Rigby, this convenience and level of customer service is an essential part of their business. 32

“They can attend the session; if there’s any issues they can talk to the cutting engineer, he can do some test cuts, evaluate options and do it quickly,” he says. “If someone’s got an issue if they’re going overseas, it might be two weeks before they hear back. We’ll listen to it on the day or the next day and A/B compare. There’s often jobs that really need to get out quick, and that was driving the need to have a plant here. There was one last week that was a four-week turnaround, big release, we had to hand glue 100 covers just to get the first lot out, we’ll do that. That sort of stuff you just wouldn’t get. An offshore plant is going to finish the job and then send it, they’re not going to send you dribs and drabs. And it’s good because people can come down and pick their stuff up, or if it’s in Sydney it’s a next day service.” BY ALEX WATTS

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Features

RECORD SPECIAL

Where To Begin In The World Of Analogue?

So you want the ultimate analogue experience, but you don’t know where to begin. From styli to phono preamplifiers, analogue audio does get a little tricky. But if you understand the four key components and how they work, you’re more likely to avoid the hi-fi traps and begin slinging your favourite LPs sooner. The four core components to any analogue setup are as follows: a turntable, a phono preamplifier, an amplifier, and speakers. The turntable converts the record’s physical information into electrical signals; the phono preamplifier elevates it to a line level; the amplifier then separates left and right channels, telling each speaker what sounds to make, magnifying the level according to your desired volume; and the speakers convert it all back into physical information in the form of sound waves. Simple, right? Sort of. But the important thing to note with all this is that without one of these four core components, there’s no music. Nada. Nothing.

most Bluetooth speakers are singular, singular meaning mono, and mono is only half the fun. In an analogue system we recommend a stereo pair: separate lefts and rights. That way, you enjoy all the effects of true stereo imaging. This kind of two-piece setup is simple, clean, and perfect for small spaces. It’s the ultimate analogue beginner setup.

Now, at first this all sounds like a lot of gear, but any or all of these components can be integrated to reduce clutter and achieve a cleaner aesthetic. Reputable turntable and amplifier manufacturers like Pro-ject or Rotel both offer inbuilt phono preamplifier options, and we here at Vinyl Revival carry a large range of integrated amplifier/speaker sets from guys like Audio Engine and Klipsch; however, any integration will affect the overall performance of your setup, so it’s best to entirely avoid those cheap little all-in-one’s. Analogue is much like a game of whispers in that there is an initial message passed along from component to component until it’s spoken back to the group. When components are integrated, signal interference ensues and degrades the original message - and that message is of a far higher quality than any digital format. It’s why records sound so good. Separation of these four components offers the best sound quality and ability for future upgrades, but there’s no right or wrong here. The perfect system is the one that meets your expectations and achieves the desired effect.

A more traditional setup, and something far more dynamic and detailed, is the three-piece: a turntable, an amplifier with an inbuilt phono pre, and a pair of passive speakers. It takes up more space, but the effect is grander and your ability to upgrade becomes less inhibited. Separating the phono stage from the turntable reduces signal distortions and allows you to upgrade preamplifiers as you upgrade styli (needles). It’s one of the least expensive and most effective improvements you can make to the overall sound quality of an analogue system. Again, the separation of amps and speakers offers greater flexibility for upgrades, but it’s the combination of brands and styles that allows you to tailor a system to your favourite tunes that’s most important. Love acoustics and instrumentation? Perhaps

If a clean, uncluttered aesthetic interests you, then a turntable with an inbuilt phono preamplifier is the way to go. When matched with a set of active speakers, you get all four core components for the effect of only two. Active speakers or powered speakers have inbuilt amplification within one or both of the speaker housings; think Bluetooth speakers or computer monitors. If they plug into the wall, they have an inbuilt amplifier. In most cases, these are small digital amplifiers that match the requirements of the speakers they’re married to; however,

the warmth of valve amps is your preferred signature, rock and pop more your thing. In this case, solid state amps or horn-loaded speakers might just give you the attack and the tempo you’re looking for. Isolating components decreases signal interference, yes, but it also creates more room for future experimentation, and that’s when the real fun begins. I once heard the role of an audio specialist was akin to the role of a sous chef: meaning any old dude can purchase fresh apples and walnuts, but that doesn’t mean they can make a Waldorf salad. Point being, it’s the right combination of ingredients that will determine dope tunes from dud systems - and that’s where we come in. Knowing the core components is key; they’re your building blocks, and without them you won’t get too far. It’s our job to help tailor them into the ultimate analogue experience for you. BY MATTHEW RICHTER For more expert advice on the world of vinyl, visit Vinyl Revival in Fitzroy and Brunswick or head to vinylrevival.com.au

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Product Reviews SE ELECTRONICS V7 BFG Billy Gibbons Dynamic Mic Sound & Music | sound-music.com | Expect To Pay: $169.99

ZZ Top occupies a strange place in the pantheon of modern music. If you asked the everyman on the street what they thought of the band, nine times out of ten the best reaction you could hope for is to have “SHE’S GOT LEEEEGS…” screeched in your face. Their comical, Muppet-like appearance and oversexed, bikes n’ babes subject matter tends to lead most people to drop them in the box marked ‘novelty’. Unbeknownst to many, however, their influence is a little further reaching than you’d expect. The seemingly simple, fuzzed out guitar wizardry of the one and only Billy Gibbons has garnered a cult following that far outreaches the few songs you know from karaoke bars the world over, and modern rock bad asses like Josh Homme and Jesse ‘The Devil’ Hughes count him among their key influences. All that being said, even the most avid Top fan would scarcely call him a singer’s singer, so it seems odd that sE Electronics would etch his signature on the side of their V7 dynamic microphones. Upon lifting the lid, this confusion becomes a little less distracting. The mic itself is almost as showy as the man to whom it is attributed. Its polished steel chassis certainly looks the part and comes surrounded by more added extras than your run of the mill vocal mic. There is a leatherette pouch, mic clip and thread adjuster, a wind sock for when you’re playing one of the windier Hells Angels 34

conferences, a microfibre cloth for maintaining that sheen, and a pouch full of picks garnished with cartoons of Mr. Gibbons himself. It’s a fun little package, but there’s more than just add-ons and bling that makes this mic worth your brogue. I’ve reviewed an sE dynamic mic before and was suitably impressed by the liveliness and clarity of such a modestly priced unit. This is where my mind went racing when staring back at the bespectacled mug emblazoned on each side of the box. I liked the first V7 I tried for all its female and soprano vocal friendly high register detail; surely the guy who sang ‘Lowrider’ should require a much more bass focused frequency graph! Strangely enough, said graph is almost identical to the non-signature model bar a few tweaks and peaks here and there. In an effort to understand the thinking, I embarrassingly attempted an impersonation of that southern, drawling baritone and noticed something I had not accounted for. Far from leaving me lacking, all of that shimmer served to balance out and enhance the lowest tone I could muster in a descriptive and colourful way. As opposed to choosing a mic that leans toward the guttural, sE and Gibbons have chosen rather cleverly to brighten it up, which makes for a crisper and more ear-friendly listening experience, particularly in the live setting.

On the whole sE Electronics are not setting out to change the world with their designs. Many of them take an existing rubric and expand on it ever so slightly with a few choice adjustments. In the instance of the V7 BFG, this makes for an ultimately useful and distinct take on the industry standard. BY LUKE SHIELDS

HITS • Brilliant highs and thick around the middle in a blingy package that suits the Signature MISSES • None

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Product Reviews ERNIE BALL MUSIC MAN Majesty Monarchy CMC Music | cmcmusic.com.au | Expect To Pay: $6795

There’s a lot to be said about John Petrucci’s stamp of approval. His list of equipment over the years features some of the most revered guitars, amps and pedals to ever hit the market. Let’s be honest, the guy has pretty impeccable taste and the insane chops to back it up, so basically any gear he attributes his name to is going to turn heads around the world. The newest Petrucci signature model from Ernie Ball Music Man, the Majesty Monarchy is a true testament to that ethos. A sleek, modern guitar that makes a statement the moment you lay eyes on it. I have played a lot of guitars over the years, but I’m always astounded when a Music Man lands itself in my hands. Their guitars are built with such finesse, from the obvious things like fretwork, binding and figured tops, down to the cleanest looking bridge cavities and inlays that I’ve seen on a production model guitar. The Monarchy that came across my desk this month featured a beautiful Royal Red finish with chrome hardware. A regal finish for a majestic guitar. Petrucci is renowned for being a very dynamic player that goes anywhere from glistening clean passages to the highest of high gain riffs and solos, so naturally the Majesty is a guitar built for accommodating a wide array of tones and sounds. The DiMarzio Sonic Ecstasy pickups sound

incredibly clean and articulate. One of the coolest features is that the middle position on the pickup selector gives you an amazing Strat-like, out of phase sound. The Majesty also features a piezo system and a gain boost circuit, and whilst I probably wouldn’t have much need for these features myself, it just goes to show that Music Man and Petrucci have made it their mission to make an astonishingly versatile guitar that is suited for any player. I was really blown away by the size of the guitar’s body and how light it was. My history with mahogany body guitars has been that they weigh a tonne, but surprisingly the Majesty is super lightweight. What was unsurprising was

how rich the guitar sounded and how easily it played straight out of the box. It’s certainly what you’d expect from a guitar with such a hefty price tag attached. I’ve never been a huge fan of locking tremolos as they’re just so finicky and temperamental. Music Man’s custom floating trem system is an absolute winner. It’s sleek, comfy, and easy to adjust. The Schaller locking tuners do a great job of keeping the guitar in tune, even after a relentless attack of divebombs. Whilst the price of the Majesty Monarchy might seem intimidating, it is priced that way for good reason. This is without a doubt a “forever” guitar. The build quality

is impeccable down to the finest detail, it has nothing but the best specs and hardware on the market, and its finish is a work of art. On top of all that, it’s lightweight, comfortable, a dream to play and sounds insane. The price tag is completely and utterly warranted. BY NICHOLAS SIMONSEN HITS • Impeccable build quality • One of the most versatile guitars on the market MISSES • Are you f**king kidding?

FOCUSRITE Clarett 8Pre USB Audio Interface Innovative Music | innovativemusic.com.au Expect To Pay: $1399

It’s been a while since I had my hands on a Focusrite Clarett audio interface, with the previous Thunderbolt model landing on my desk several years back. There were some restrictions with this in that it wasn’t exactly PC friendly, and it certainly wasn’t a friend to your hip pocket either. But a lot has changed in the last couple of years, and now with the release of the Clarett 8Pre USB audio interface there have been a number of improvements. A smaller size, a smaller price tag, greater AD/DA conversion and a wider compatibility makes this an audio interface that many of you may well now stop and consider. If you’re looking for eight high quality microphone preamps in one single rack space with conversion worthy of backing them up, then the Clarett 8Pre USB might just be for you. Focusrite haven’t left anyone out of the game with this new interface, supplying both Standard USB and USB-C cables for connection to either a Mac or PC. You do need USB 2.0 support on your machine, but that’s pretty much a given these days. Unfortunately, the old dinosaur running Windows XP might be in need of an upgrade, but any modern machine will be ready to go with this piece of kit for the front end. With its unashamedly red front mixdownmag.com.au

panel, you are pretty much made aware of who has built this unit. From their old Red series of years gone past to the newer Scarlett and Clarett ranges, nothing cries out Focusrite in the rack like an anodized red facia. It’s on that front panel that you get the simplest and sleekest of styling, with just the connections and controls you require. Two combination XLR/TRS inputs are there, along with two headphone outputs. Eight gain control pots, which feel really nice on subtle adjustment, a Monitor volume and two headphone volumes are also found along with ten channel LED metering so you know what is going on in and out of your system. It’s pretty sparse, but it certainly does the job. On the rear, you get the other six inputs, along with ten analogue outputs, Word Clock, MIDI on good old-fashioned DIN connectors, ADAT on optical connections and SP/ DIF on coaxial. So, you are all covered

for connectivity with other hardware and getting your signals in and out of either a PC or a Mac. Of course, this is not just any eight input audio interface, as Focusrite have laid it all down with the Clarett on this one. The mic preamps offer a stunning clarity, with an input impedance and frequency response based on the original ISA mic preamps. This is backed with 24-bit/192kHz analogue to digital conversion, so you can hear what is on offer. This interface is going to deliver results unlike anything else in the price point, stacking itself next to units that cost a lot more. The quality of audio capture is just pristine. For those of you looking to step up from your existing Focusrite Scarlett interface, you’ll hear where the extra money has gone. The results are instantly noticeable and are certainly a standout for this unit. This is

not about finding the cheapest way to get eight microphones into your computer, it’s about audio quality, and you will understand this when you hear the results for yourself. BY ROB GEE

HITS • ‘Air’ effect in the preamp is stunning • Easy setup and use with additional mobile app control • Plenty of I/O with perfect latency on a USB connection MISSES • It should have come out sooner

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Product Reviews MAD PROFESSOR Kosmos Ambient Reverb Pedal Dunphy Imports | madprofessor.com.au | Expect To Pay: $350

When you’re lying on your back at night and you think about the universe, what do you think it sounds like? Some would imagine a thick, heavy silence like you would hear underground. Science suggests that with nothing for sonic vibrations to reverberate against in The Grand Vacuum that this would be the most accurate assumption. Science be damned though; when I think of the sound of the universe, I hear everything all at once. I hear the unending, catastrophic, caterwauling orchestra of every atom singing simultaneously accompanied by the lilting, effervescent melodic freedom of floating endlessly untouched by time, stave or physical limitation. It seems that the brains behind the Mad Professor brand of pedals tend to agree as somehow they’ve managed to distil this limitless symphony into one modest blue box, the Kosmos Ambient Reverb. I’ve played a good number of The Professor’s units now and I’m not ashamed to admit that I like them a lot. They have a way of taking a seemingly complicated harmonic and tonal question and responding with an alarmingly simple answer. Like Boss and MXR, their catalogue is extensive and jam packed with wildly nuanced tricks of the trade. Their fuzzes and drive pedals are that little bit more of what is missing from the heavy hitters in the category, their time based effects are just that little bit more finessed, and it seems they have a penchant for swiftly sorting the wheat from the chaff with as little fuss as possible. How very Scandinavian indeed.

Unassuming as it is, the Kosmos is no exception. Here the Finnish engineers dive headlong into the pool that units like Strymon’s BigSky and Eventide’s Space Reverb splash around in. Where those two wallow in a horizon full of options, to the point where you need an engineering degree to really get the most out of them, Kosmos cherry picks the absolute essentials from their offering and turns it into a greatest hits collection. There are eleven individual reverb archetypes to choose from, all of which are honed in by the familiar trio of Level, Tone and Time. The chameleonic Control knob is really the reason why this little stompbox stacks up against the motherships though, as it flexes a different muscle depending on which sense of space you’re after. On the simpler settings it adjusts the amount of pre-delay or ducking at play, allowing your dry signal to shine or wash out according to purpose. In the Shimmer and Delay/Reverb combo settings, it blooms a whole other set of craziness, sending you spinning as deep into space as you dare to venture. With the touch sensitive nature of the switch you are afforded a swelling tide of reverberation, for which the Control knob reins in the speed, countenancing your ascent beyond gravity. Contrarily enough, Mad Professor has managed to simplify the most mercurial aspect of effects pedals. The Kosmos is a distilled version of some of the most complicated reverb machines known to man, but what it gains in simplicity it certainly does not lose in

scope. There are as many different sounds and textures on board as there are stars in the sky, from there the only limitation is the bravery of your imagination.

HITS • Simplicity without limitation • Technicolor without oversaturation

BY LUKE SHIELDS

MISSES • None

Every inch of this guitar is exactly as you’ve heard. The one-piece maple neck is molasses thick yet begs to be caressed. The 9.5” radius fretboard lilts effortlessly over its edges and sends you screaming across its length with the greatest of ease. All the hardware is true to the tales; brass saddles, deep ashtray bridge plate, one-piece, jet black pickguard and a nitro cellulose finish with the consistency of a Werther’s Original in the sun. And what of the sound? By God the sound of this thing is every bit the chiming, brilliant sheen that you’ve heard on every record in your collection; not thin and jangly like some of the imitators, but clear and bright as a liberty bell with a girth and balance that none other than a true Tele can lay claim to.

While some of their fiercest competition crumbles to ruins, Fender yet again does well to stay the course. The originality of their flagship models has not dimmed over the years and, as opposed to messing with the formula, they have paid loving and loveable tribute to the prince of tone that is the ‘50s Telecaster.

FENDER American Original ‘50s Telecaster Fender Music Australia | fender.com.au | RRP: $3199

Late one night as I was knee deep in some research (read: distraction and procrastination) for a review much like this one, I happened upon one of the strangest and most perverse cultural phenomenon known to mankind. Listed alongside a number of different pedal shootouts, I spied a particularly long video curiously titled ‘Unboxing’. Intrigued, I chanced a wayward click and what ensued left me nothing short of agog. I watched, in its entirety mind you, an entire half hour film of a person of unknown origin opening the packaging that encased a Lego toy car. Immediately hypnotised, I watched as they pieced together the item, sat its driver in his place and pushed it back and forth across my computer screen a while. Once the bar along the bottom was completely red, I came shunting back to cold, hard awareness. What had I just witnessed and why had it bewitched me so? In the time since I have come to begrudgingly accept that the unboxing video makes up a good portion of the data on YouTube’s intimidating servers, but it wasn’t until I flicked open the latches on this Fender American Original ‘50s Telecaster that I truly understood the worth of such a genre. Having read the sticker plastered to the top of the hideous cardboard box, I had a fair idea of what I was in for. After all, 36

the butterscotch blonde ‘50s Tele is one of the most widely recognised gold standards in guitar imagery. If there’s one thing that Fender are good at, however, it is the big reveal. I slid the lacquered tweed hard case out of its brown sheath with all the care and affection of an archaeologist unearthing a giant, Paleolithic tibia. I laid said case languidly across my bed and gently unlatched its hinges. In a moment that was a heady mix of treasure beaming golden light upon pirates faces and Indiana Jones’ consternation in the presence of The Arc Of The Covenant, I had naught to do but laugh in astonishment. Replete with luxurious red velvet lining, this case contained an image of the Holy Grail and as I lifted it cautiously out of this womb, it felt as though I was holding a piece of history.

BY LUKE SHIELDS

HITS • Everything MISSES • Nothing mixdownmag.com.au


Product Reviews

DENON VL12 Prime Direct Drive DJ Turntable Electric Factory | elfa.com.au | Expect To Pay: $999

It’s been a long time since the reign of the 1200 ruled over turntable use and the choice was pretty much stitched up before you even thought about which turntable you should buy as a DJ. Nowadays, there are plenty of options, especially with the recent resurgence in vinyl, so it can be a little harder to find the turntable that is right for your needs. But with all the budget options out there, it is good to know that good quality, direct drive turntables are still being built by brands like Denon, specifically designed from the ground up for DJ use. The first thing that struck me about the VL12 Prime turntable was the loo. Once assembled and powered up, it’s hard not to like what you’re presented with. It’s certainly a very slick looking unit, featuring all the standard features that DJs have come to expect from a turntable, but all dressed up in a high-priced suit. The brushed black chrome look, along with the blue lit platter edge, looks mint. You can adjust the colour and brightness of the platter rim, with controls found around the side of the unit, working through an RGB colour spectrum because Denon want to make sure your turntable suits the mood of the room. But the adjustments around the side don’t just cover looks, they also work for function too, with a torque adjustment allowing you to control just how much grunt the platter has. I’ve used fairly high torque

turntables in the past and like that extra grip, so it was all the way up for my liking. Of course, feel is one thing and looks are another, but when it comes to a quality turntable, you need performance and sound to excel. To start with, a three stage adjustable tempo range is on offer, allowing you to use the 100 pitch adjustment fader to achieve up to 50 percent variation in speed from the original speed of the record. This can be snapped back to perfect pitch with the quartz lock function that holds your record tight at its original speed. The output, supplied on a pair of RCA connectors, with ground terminal, has plenty of volume. This is a loud turntable. It definitely delivers solid

levels with plenty of low frequency response, so you get the most from your records. What might have sounded dull and lifeless on other turntables will come to life on the VL12 Prime. It’s saying a lot, but I think there would be a few wooden-floored, leathercouched, audiophile listening rooms that would appreciate this turntable in operation. Take into account the sturdy base and antishock feet that take care of any unwanted vibration from the desktop and you get an overall listening experience that excels in both the home and club environment. Looks, feel and sound, the Denon VL12 Prime direct drive turntable offers it all. Certainly this is the new contender for the turntable that everyone wants to have.

BY ROB GEE HITS • Great styling • High output, incredible sound • Plenty of options beyond the norm for a direct drive turntable MISSES • None

ERNIE BALL MUSIC MAN StingRay CMC Music | cmcmusic.com.au | Expect To Pay: $4250

The Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay bass has come a long way since it was developed by the original Music Man team, which included one Mr. Leo Fender. It’s a classic instrument which has helped to propel the sounds of punk, rock, alternative, funk, R&B and country for decades now and it doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon, with regular limited-edition variations on the theme. This particular StingRay is one of eight models in the lineup, which includes the Classic (with the original two-band EQ and various other original appointments), the StingRay Neck Through, and Old Smoothie, a recreation of StingRay prototype #26, designed for Sterling Ball during his time spent testing and developing the original prototypes back in the ‘70s. The model we’re reviewing today, however, is the standard model - the state of the StingRay art. The body is ash and the neck is made of maple, with an option of maple, rosewood or Pau Ferro fretboard. Ebony is available only on the Stealth Black option. The fretboard radius is a flattish 11”, a modern update compared to the StingRay Classic’s curvy 7.5” radius. The scale length is 34”. The neck joins the body via Music Man’s famous six-bolt system, which promises perfect alignment with absolutely no shifting either up and down or side to side, in addition to providing excellent string energy transfer between the body and neck, which in turn enhances sustain and resonance.

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The bridge is the standard string through body Music Man model, and the tuners are by Schaller and feature staggered string posts. The review model has the standard Music Man humbucking pickup with oversized pole pieces and Alnico magnets, but options include dual humbucker or humbucker-plus-single models. The electronics feature a three-band active preamp with treble, middle and bass boost or cut (plus a volume control, of course). What really stands out about this particular bass - other than the fact that it’s a StingRay and therefore an instant classic - is its finish. The body is Firemist Gold, which really pops under bright lights, especially since it’s offset by black hardware right down to the pickup poles. It gives the bass a quite minimalist vibe and maybe even, dare I say it, a slight Dingwall-ish look.

This StingRay naturally has a lot of attack and a very musical midrange, which makes it a great rock or blues bass, but the high end is tamed just enough by the rosewood fingerboard. A lot of bassists prefer maple fingerboards for slap-and-pop styles but if you need a little more high end to really bring out the smack, just hit the EQ controls. In fact, any initial impressions that this bass may not be super-flexible due to only having one pickup are instantly brushed off as soon as you see what that EQ can do for your sound. You can dial in huge variations for various styles, and if you’re the kind of bassist who likes to run through heavy distortion you’ll find that the ability to sculpt your signal with three bands of EQ before it even hits your distortion box lets you really zero in on the perfect ratio of note content and grit.

This really is an exceptional bass which is aimed at the working musician, and there’s something about that Firemist Gold finish against the black hardware that makes it feel really significant. Even though it’s just another high-quality, immaculately-built standard StingRay, it gives the impression of something beyond. BY PETER HODGSON

HITS • Great EQ • The finish is stunning in person MISSES • Only one pickup 37


Product Reviews TC HELICON Perform-VG Vocal Processor Amber Technology | ambertech.com.au Expect To Pay: $439

In stark comparison to bass players and drummers, the singer in the band has by far the easiest job. I mean, sure it’s rough being the centre of attention all the time and keeping your instrument tuned is a veritable hedge maze of guesswork, but relative to lugging 8x10 cabinets up darkened, narrow stairwells, that’s a breeze. When compared to the tap-dancing that a guitar player has to do to keep tone in check, even the most dedicated front person has little to think about other than simple delivery of soul. How easy it would be to eschew all that burdensome physicality and rely on the beat-up Shure 58 at every venue as the be all and end all of your backline needs. TC Helicon changed all this a few years ago with the advent of their VoiceLive products, a range of incredibly powerful, mic-stand-mounted super-computers designed to complicate a singer’s thought process in as creative a way as possible. With the Perform-VG they have taken the idea and compassionately simplified it down to the absolute essentials of intuitive vocalisation. It looks a little bit like a gaming console controller. With its rubberised buttons and sleek, burgundy housing it could almost be some sci-fi super villain’s Machiavellian torture device. On the contrary, the Perform-VG is designed to do everything it can do to help. On the right

hand side you have a series of buttons dedicated to the enhancement of your guitar accompaniment. Studio grade effects like an epic yet clear hall reverb, subtle, jabbing echo and juicy chorus are fully programmable to suit the sweet spot in every tune. On top of this TC have added an anti-feedback capability, which is particularly important where a guitar and vocal are working so closely together. Body resonance thickens and enhances even the boxiest of six-strings, and all of this is available at the touch of a button. With your guitar signal dictating the key you’re playing in real time, you have a similar set of heroes lifting your voice out of the doldrums. The reverb and echo on the vocal side marry perfectly with their

guitar counterparts, via the tap tempo that controls both in tandem. The real kicker of this whole shebang, however, the thing we really all came to see, is the harmony function. Gone are the days when Diana Ross needed The Supremes to fill out her arrangements. At the flick of a switch you have a rich three-part harmony sat neatly behind your top line and, if you have the accompanying footswitch at your disposal, the timing of said harmony is as occasional as you like. One thing to look out for where pitch shifting is concerned is the distinct and unforgivable wheeze of low-bit rate, digital, grubby fingerprints. TC has always been keenly aware of this issue and has managed to keep it as clean as possible, and this newest addition to their lineup is no exception. The harmonies

are lush, realistic and not overbearing in the slightest, tracking almost better than ever before. Canadian designed Perform-VG from TC Helicon is a simple yet thorough vocal bag of tricks. If you’re a solo performer or a duo looking for more than just chords and words, then look no further. BY LUKE SHIELDS HITS • Quick, easy and thorough with clean and realistic harmony potential MISSES • No looper

PRESONUS Studio 1824 Interface Link Audio | linkaudio.com.au | Expect To Pay: $699

I don’t know about all of you reading this, but I for one have been using PreSonus hardware in some form or another in my one personal recording setup for the last decade. This does not mean I’m biased in any way. I don’t favour this brand over others just because I have used their products, but I have definitely found certain PreSonus devices offered me a solution that I could not find elsewhere. That said, I don’t use PreSonus for my main audio interface; however, I have tested and tried just about every model that has been released in the last ten years. It’s not become my main interface purely because my system is based around another specific piece of hardware. This does not devalue what PreSonus has to offer in any way. Their products have proven year after year to offer quality and control to meet certain uses and price points for a range of operations. So, I always enjoy giving a new PreSonus interface a test run when it lands on my desk. I know this much before even opening the box; this is going to be a painless experiment. They are well designed units that integrate seamlessly with whatever computer system I choose to run them with, so I know even before setting up the Studio 1824 audio interface that it will be a joy to play with. Now that it’s taken me about as long as the kettle took to boil in order to get this unit 38

setup, it’s easy to see why I enjoy using PreSonus products. There are no lengthy installation procedures that have you emailing tech support just to get your new interface recognised by your computer. It’s pretty straightforward, and you’re up and running and set to go in a big way. This is designed to be the central hub of what can ultimately be a larger recording setup with added peripherals. You get eight analogue inputs, either mic or line on XLR/TRS connectors, and eight analogue outputs on TRS. There are two separate master outputs and two headphone outputs too. Add to this SP/DIF, eight channels of ADAT in and out, MIDI in and out and Word Clock, and you have a pretty serious basis for a major recording setup. Loaded with Presonus’ DMAX microphone preamps and offering up to 24-bit/192kHz audio recording, this is more than just

your beginner’s interface. But even if you are just starting out and want to do it on a scale that will allow you to grow, the Studio 1824 comes bundled with a range of software options in order to get you going. You get PreSonus Studio One Artist DAW software included with the unit, along with a host of plug-ins from Arturia, Lexicon and more.

HITS • High I/O on a single rack spaced device • Great sounding mic preamps • Plenty of bundled software • Very easily set up and expanded if needed MISSES • None

If you’re looking for high quality preamps included in your audio interface and want to be able to record up to eight microphones at once without shelling out big bucks or needing added hardware, then this might be the interface for you. Easy to install and easy to operate with solid construction and a sleek design, PreSonus have delivered again in their complete range of audio interfaces for all levels. BY ROB GEE mixdownmag.com.au


Ortofon Proudly Distributed by Electric Factory Pty Ltd sales@elfa.com.au (03) 9474 1000


Product Reviews Radial engineering J33 Phono Preamp DI Amber Technology | ambertech.com.au |Expect To Pay: $349

You’ve got to hand it to those Canadians; they certainly know how to build a solid DI box. The team at Radial Engineering have come up with so many clever products over the years, but they have certainly revolutionised the DI world with a specific direct box for just about every task at hand. Be it on stage or in the studio, these units are built for the rigours of one and they offer the quality required for the other. You know that no matter where you use a Radial DI, you’ve made the right choice. That is why so many of you will surely want to get your hands on the J33 Turntable Direct Box. This is a great little problem solver that doesn’t compromise on build or audio quality - exactly what Radial is renowned for doing. If you’ve ever used any Radial DI, you’ll know they are built like the proverbial. The solid chassis is always built into the same framework with a folded metal plate wrapping around three sides of the box, with overhanging edges to protect the connections and controls from unwanted damage. This means you can leave this box lying about on stage and not be concerned about it being trodden upon. It’s quite alright; it’s designed to handle this sort of abuse. Everything is will protected under the rim of the casing, yet it’s all kept neat and tidy in a very compact shell. It’s solid,

heavy and built for stage use, but it will certainly perform in the studio or even in a home audio environment when even the most scrupulous of ears will be impressed with the results. One side of the casing has a stereo RCA input, along with the standard ground lug for connecting your turntable. You’ll also find outputs in the form of a stereo RCA pair, a stereo 6.5mm TRS jack and a stereo 3.5mm TRS jack. The other end of the casing offers two balanced XLR outputs for running into your stage box, mixer or preamp inputs in an audio interface. This is a thirsty little unit in operation, but it will accept phantom power from the XLR connections if available, which is ideal for stage use. Otherwise, a 15 volt power adaptor is connected between the two XLR outputs for use with the other connections. The sound is just what you should expect from Radial, clean and vibrant. There is very little noise to be heard, with a low pass filter on the input stage and a rumble filter available for stage use to reduce any resonant feedback. Be it a turntable on stage running into a big PA system, or an audiophile listening suite in a trendy inner-city townhouse, you can expect beautiful audio from this unit. A clear, yet warm audio response is delivered to each of the optional outputs, so you can connect

to any device you wish to integrate with the Radial J33. It just goes to show what spending a few dollars can do for your vinyl collection. Don’t settle for any old budget phono preamp you find on eBay. With the Radial J33 on offer, you will want to hear more from your records, and you will. By Rob Gee

HITS • Warm audio delivery • Low noise • Stupidly solid build MISSES • PSU connection placement isn’t ideal. It’s just nit-picking, really

P H IL J O NE S b a ss Session 77 Combo Amp EGM Distribution | egm.net.au | RRP:$699

Amp designer Phil Jones has spent the last few decades creating a range of clean, responsive bass amps powered by arrays of small drivers, rather than pumping the sound through one big-ass speaker. His gear has long been favoured by cashed-up pros, but the Session 77 is aimed at the more affordable end of the market. It’s a 100-watt combo with two seven-inch drivers and a two-inch tweeter, and it weighs only around 12 kilograms. You can easily carry it into a gig in one hand with your bass in the other. The Session 77 uses all-digital circuitry and will work on any AC voltage from 100 to 260 volts without a voltage selector. It features a single channel preamp with a three-band EQ, with a separate auxiliary input for backing tracks. Otherwise the feature set is quite minimal: Jones has intentionally kept the quality high but reduced the cost by paring down the complexity of the circuit in order to fulfil the most basic needs of bass players, rather than loading up the amp with features that not all players are going to need. There’s a High/Low/Mute switch for the input (with a clipping LED to let you know if you’re hitting it a bit hard), a master volume control, a level control for the aux input, and separate headphone and line out jacks. And that’s it! It’s extremely simple and effective.

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By keeping the circuit simple and the quality high, the Session 77 brings out the character of whatever bass you plug into it, whether it’s the Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay reviewed in this issue, an old Ibanez TR five-string, or even my Squier Bass VI (an instrument generally run into a guitar amp, but which has a certain charm when used as a proper bass too). The simple EQ and lack of further tone-shaping options like bass boosts, mid shifts or treble boosters means you’re basically amplifying your bass’ natural tone and tailoring it for the room you’re playing in, but it also means it’s a great platform for active electronics like those of the Music Man, or for pedals, preamps and processors. The volume level is downright neighbour-angering, and yet it does it all without breaking a sweat thanks to that digital circuitry.

This is not the amp for you if you want a million different controls, but if you’re a player who is confident in your playing skills and the natural sound of your bass, it’s a very effective way to take the sound coming out of your instrument and cram it into the ears of your audience with minimum fuss and maximum reliability. By Peter Hodgson

HITS • Loud as hell • Light as a feather • Very faithful reproduction of the input signal MISSES • Controls might be too limited for some

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Product Reviews ORTOFON Concorde MkII Scratch DJ Cartridges Electric Factory | elfa.com.au | Expect To Pay: Scratch II Twin Pack: $349 Scratch II Single: $189 Scratch II Stylus: $69.

It’s been over twenty years of abusing the same pair of turntables that has seen me have some good times and some bad times when it comes to cartridge and styli choices. I’ve burnt through a few in that time and regretted a couple of choices, always falling back to the old faithful. But even the stalwarts of one’s stable are not without their failings, and the amount of Blu Tack and five cent coins that have been used for modification over the years just begs the question of why I never seriously looked for a better option. With that in mind, I was more than open to giving the Ortofon Concorde MkII Scratch cartridges a run to see just how they handled. I first came across Ortofon cartridges in the late ‘90s and have to say, at that time, they really didn’t do it for me. Very stuck in my ways, and very used to the shape and feel of my traditional Technics headshells, I felt totally out of place lifting an Ortofon over a record. The weight balance and the position didn’t seem right, so I went back to the old faithful. Of course, this was a cartridge and headshell that wasn’t really designed with DJ scratch techniques in mind, so it never really stood up to the task at hand quite as well as it should. I do recall, even with my refusal to want to like the Ortofon cartridges way back then, they

did step up the performance game. Well, that was last century I am talking about, and it’s a far cry from what is on offer now with the latest release of the Concorde MkII Scratch cartridges. These things just work. Whilst I am still not 100 percent sold on the feel of the cartridge when placing it on the record, old habits and all, the second these touch down I have to reassess my bias. The stylus finds its groove right away, pun totally intended. It locks down into place and grabs at the record’s surface without feeling like it’s going to skitter as if someone had been messing with your anti-skate mechanism. It’s loud and clear too, with what Ortofon claim to be a 10 mV output that delivers a full frequency response and brings your low frequency basslines to life. But best of all, it works well in both directions. With a spherical design to the stylus tip, it doesn’t grab at the groove’s edges or contours no matter which direction it travels. For regular playback it offers a super smooth travel, but the same goes in reverse. This is perfect for scratch techniques where you need traction in both directions. And if you just want to sit around and listen to the Beatles in reverse, you’ll hear the mixed messages with greater clarity than ever before.

There is no more fighting the edge of the stylus when tracking in reverse as this needle just glides along the grooves in both directions. Certainly a must-have for any scratch DJ looking to improve their sound and technique, but really, it has plenty to offer each and every DJ that simply wants quality sound and greater tracking stability.

HITS • Big, full sound • Locks into the groove perfectly • Tracks just as well in both directions MISSES • Just doesn’t ‘feel’ like a traditional headshell

BY ROB GEE

ELEKTRON Digitone Digital Synthesiser Innovative Music | innovativemusic.com.au Expect To Pay: $1099

The electronic music machine makers from Gothenburg in Sweden are at it again with a new offering in their ever-growing range of thoughtful synthesisers, sequencers, samplers and drum machines. For those of you who are not aware of Elektron, then you must have been living under a rock, or a blues guitarist perhaps. Either way, it’s time to pop your head up and have a listen, because what’s on offer here is really going to change the way so many of us perceive FM synthesis. It’s not just another grey box with a very Swedish design and cool colour palette; this is a new way of finding your sound within a machine and giving it life. Have a look at the Elektron Digitone with me and see if you can hear some new inspiration from what it has to offer. Elektron have delivered FM synthesis like no other in the Digitone. It takes additive and subtractive synth methods and brings them together for an FM synth engine that really dispels some of the mystery of FM synthesis and makes it very easy to understand. The compact yet rather crowded screen offers so much information, so you can always see just how your movements on the controls are affecting the signal path at the same time as hearing the results. This eight-voice polyphonic synthesiser really does make synth-play fun again. It’s a slick European design, with controls that are easy to work with and thoughtfully laid out. Newcomers mixdownmag.com.au

to sound synthesis and old hats will all find something to work with in this little box. It has plenty of those all too familiar sounds on offer with the wide range of presets that come loaded in the box, and a whole host of sounds that will challenge your perception of just what FM synthesis is capable of. It’s more than just an oscillator with a filter, and LFO and VCA. This is a complete engine designed to help you design sounds that work for your needs. Something I really love about the Digitone is the complexity that the Elektron sequencer delivers. There is really no limit to your imagination with this feature as it allows you to program every step with total control. You

can actually assign different presets to each step in the sequence, as well as assigning and adjusting EQ, filter and effects parameters for each step. Think about it: you can have totally unique sounds with every note as a sequence plays out, something that simply isn’t possible with an analogue synthesiser. Plus, you can micro adjust each step to add a more human feel to the rhythm of the notes and give it less of a digital vibe. This means the Digitone is really working overtime when running the sequencer to deliver what can sound like several synthesisers operating together. It seems pretty complex, and I suppose it is, but the workings of the step sequencer make it very easy to adjust each individual note and create some truly diverse

patterns. Not only does the Digitone offer a great range of sounds, it delivers in ease of use too, so you have no excuse for serving up a boring sound. BY ROB GEE HITS • Incredible expanse of sound possibilities • Great control with the sequencer • So much variety and so simple to operate MISSES • None

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Product Reviews Audio-Technica AT-LP3 Belt-Drive Turntable Technical Audio Group | tag.com.au | Expect To Pay: $469

Here’s one for those of you who are fans of the listening chair and have your own space set aside at home for simply listening to a favourite record. What you don’t need is any of the bells and whistles that a DJ-inspired turntable would normally offer. In fact, you don’t really want a direct drive turntable at all, and would be much better suited with a stable belt-driven unit that delivers even and consistent playback. If you want all this without blowing your entire budget on the hardware, then the Audio-Technica AT-LP3 is certainly worth a listen. What I do like about this unit is that it is not trying to offer you features you don’t need. This is a pretty simple turntable, but it does what it is supposed to. The belt-driven platter is stable and offers a good smooth start-up and an even continuous payback. The rubber mat may seem like unfamiliar territory to many DJs, but it creates the perfect surface for a non-slip rotation of your records, whilst keeping them stable beneath the stylus. The controls are fairly sparse with a speed selection, record size selection and a start/ stop button. An adaptor is also included for 7” records.

Aside from the platter, the tone arm is the most important device on a turntable to achieve an even and steady playback. The AT-LP3 offers a balanced tone arm with a solid and adjustable counterweight to get the right tension on your stylus. Although the arm itself is straight, the headshell is mounted at an angle to ensure the stylus sits comfortably in the record grooves with the least amount of side pressure from the outer regions right into the centre of the record.

This is not a turntable designed for DJ use; it has been built to deliver clear and concise playback of a record from start to finish. It does just that, and paired with a good preamp and decent amplification system there is no reason why you shouldn’t fully enjoy all of your record collection with the aid of the Audio-Technica AT-LP3. It’s simple and that is its charm.

really needed. So, you know that at a comfortable monitoring level, the amplifier and the drivers are not being pushed to the point of exhaustion, and you’re getting optimum performance from them at all times.

pristine clarity. The low end is there too, even though you are only dealing with a five inch driver. The rear ported design does offer some restrictions on placement, as it can result in excessive false bottom end when placed too close to a wall, but this can be accounted for in placement and EQ. In short, these are a great studio monitor pair for critical listening in the home studio environment. You really get a sense of what ADAM are trying to offer you in their ribbon tweeter design and can certainly hear more of what is happening in the sound than you will be used to. What’s more, they come in at well under the going rate for similar offerings from other speaker manufacturers. You’d be hard pressed to

HITS • Simple, sleek design • Smooth playback • Clear sound MISSES • A little lightweight in build

BY rob gee

ADAM T5V Studio Monitors Federal Audio | federalaudio.com.au |Expect To Pay: $759

ADAM studio monitors have been around long enough for most of us to recognise them at a glance. They have certainly made their way with ribbon tweeter designs and shown us all how fast transient attack times can really liven up our monitoring and create a more accurate representation of the mix. But for many, these monitors have sat just out of the price bracket that our home studios have been able to permit for monitoring budgets. With the introduction of the new T Series of monitors, it is great to see that an affordable home studio option is now very much a possibility within the ADAM design range. I was keen to hear just what was on offer from the T5V, which will most likely become the popular favourite for small recording setups where size is an issue, but sound is of great importance. ADAM have introduced their U-ART Accelerated Ribbon Tweeter in the T Series, which takes a lot of its design from the flagship S Series, but doesn’t come with quite the price tag. This is paired up with a redesigned low frequency driver and DSP controlled crossovers to offer a sound catering for the small cabinet to fit in a small space. Backed by a D-Class amplifier that delivers 50 watts to the low frequency driver and 20 watts to the tweeter, these little speakers have the capability of delivering high SPLs, even when they aren’t

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With the Accelerated Ribbon Tweeter that ADAM is so well known for, you get a beautiful, crisp high frequency response from these monitors that allows you to really hear what is going on in the mix. These make ideal editing monitors, as the fast transient attacks make start and stop points on even the fastest of sounds easily noticeable. There is no floppy, lacklustre sound here, as it is all delivered with

find a better studio monitor of this design for a similar price. ADAM have certainly delivered on quality for a price point with the T5V studio monitors. By Rob Gee HITS • Articulate high frequency response • High SPL from dual D-Class amplifiers • Smart design for both looks and sound MISSES • Rear porting offers some spatial restrictions mixdownmag.com.au


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Product Reviews SQUIER Contemporary Telecaster HH and Stratocaster HSS Fender Music Australia | fender.com.au | RRP: $899

When a person walks into a guitar shop, there are only so many ways that the ensuing conversation will go. Some people venture inside knowing exactly what they want, be it a spare set of strings or ’72 Tele, some are just in for a gawk, and others are barking up the wrong tree altogether (no, we don’t buy vinyl!) One of the most rewarding conversations is the one where a precocious youngster tentatively creeps in ahead of his allowance/parents. That kid is floored by the shiny expensive things and thoroughly distracted in their quest to find their first ever riff stick. If the salesperson in question is genuine enough, they will lead the apprentice riff-master to the humble corner of the store where the Squier guitars are stabled so that an appropriately priced instrument may select the fingertips it will be in charge of callousing up from this moment on. With the Squier badge on the headstock, generations of salespeople and novices alike have left feeling safe in the knowledge that they have picked up an instrument that will hold its own during the ritual of initiation. Such is the place that Fender’s subsidiary range has taken within the vast expanse of the instrument world. Sad as it is, many of us have long since outgrown our first Affinity or Bullet Strat; however, in spite of that levelling up we still see that same script logo and remember fondly our first forays into

fumbling through Hendrix and Metallica solos. The last few years in particular have seen this arm of the empire lift their game tenfold with Vintage Modified and Classic Vibe models blurring the line between American and Asian factory quality, and this new Contemporary range smears the colours even further. Tricked up with a more modern sensibility than their aforementioned cousins, this series is aimed at a more recent memory in sixstring history. The glorious Ocean Blue Metallic finish on the Strat I see before me is like something ripped from the Super Strat playbook. From the matching headstock to the jet-black, HSS configured pickups and knobs, it looks every bit the late ‘80s/early ‘90s shredder. The Tele, on the other hand, looks a little more finessed. A dark metallic red finish gives it a debutante ball sense of style,

while the twin P90 style humbuckers offer a warmth and girth as well as super low noise floor that more traditional models sorely miss. Both have super slim, unfinished maple necks that are comfortable in the hands no matter how long you’ve been at it. In the culinary world they say the first taste is with the eyes. The same can be said in the guitar world, especially where your first entry point is concerned. At the end of the day, if you like the look of the axe propped up in the corner of your bedroom then you’re going to want to pick it up more. Squier’s Contemporary range has this covered, but that’s not where the success ends. These guitars sound as good as they look and that combination is bound to inspire a healthy new set of gunslingers from here on out.

HITS • Super sleek look and feel without even thinking about Custom Shop price tags MISSES • A little unfinished around the edges, but that’s par for the course

BY LUKE SHIELDS

VOX Continental Yamaha Australia | au.yamaha.com Expect To Pay: 61 Key - $2499 73 Key - $2699

Unlike so many other keyboards that use the same controls to handle all the functions, the VOX Continental is designed with separate control sections for each of its four modes, and as a musician this is something that really helps you get into the right headspace for each musical situation you’ll find yourself in. It’s like having four separate keyboards for four totally different purposes. The Continental is available in 61 and 73key versions, each of which has the same brain loaded with about 10.5 GB of sounds. There are four main sound options: Organ (with CX-3, VOX and Compact modes), E.Piano (Tine, Reed and FM modes), Piano (Grand, Upright and E.Grand) and Key/Layer (Key, Brass, Strings, Lead, Synth, Other). The mode you select determines which control bank is active, so in Organ mode you have access to touch-sensitive illuminated drawbar controls. Switch to E.Piano or Piano mode and these lights go off because you don’t need them, while in Key/Layer mode they become various sound controls. The bend lever also does something different depending on which mode you select: in Organ mode it’s a Rotary slow/fast control, in E.Piano mode it’s Tremolo on/off, and in Key/Layer mode it’s your pitch bend. And since pianos don’t have bend levers, it’s not active at all in piano mode. 44

There are various master delay and reverb effects, an insert-effects bank with chorus, phaser, flanger, compressor, drive and wah, a nine-band EQ, a dynamics knob, and perhaps most exciting of all, a Nutube 6P1 vacuum tube. This new technology is a vacuum tube that looks like some kind of a chip, but functions just like a real preamp tube. It’s been employed to great effect in various VOX amps, and in the case of the Continental you can use it to add warmth and to sprinkle harmonic fairy dust over your sounds. In their marketing, VOX says, “The VOX Continental uses a simple and intuitive interface that allows quick accessibility of every function. The high-quality sound engine section is centered on organ, electric piano, and acoustic piano, and provides a wealth of stage-ready sounds.” What they should say is “Dude, y’know how

an iPad ‘becomes’ whichever app you’re using at the time? Well depending on which button you push, the Continental is either your grandma’s church organ, an electric piano with a glass of whiskey and an ashtray sitting on the top while a mysterious middle-aged guy in a suit plays Steely Dan songs in a dark club til 3am, a beautiful acoustic piano in an auditorium, or a rad synth.” It’s geared towards great sounds that are easily accessible, and the Nutube really helps to sell the illusion that you’re playing a real organ, electric piano or analogue synth.

HITS • Genius user interface design • Incredible organ sounds • Nutube adds a whole new layer of mojo MISSES • None. It’s perfect and this reviewer misses it already

BY PETER HODGSON

mixdownmag.com.au


Product Reviews FENDER American Original ‘70s Jazz Bass Fender Music Australia | fender.com.au | RRP: $3699

Adolescence is, for everyone, a difficult and tumultuous period in our lives. All that upheaval and hormonal fluidity wreaks havoc on the simplicity and peaceful exploration of childhood and upturns almost everything we know about ourselves. Some find solace zeroing in on a vocation or at the very least a set of hobbies, like learning an instrument for instance, while others lean into the tempest and discover things about themselves and the world at a rate of knots. The same could be said, albeit extraordinarily metaphorically, about the progression of modern music from its infancy in jazz and blues to whatever the hell it is today. In the product outline for the American Original ‘70s Jazz Bass on the Fender website, they describe the ‘70s as the music history equivalent of teenage-hood; an intense period of personal exploration and reimagining, and this instrument goes a long way to encapsulating that ferocious tenacity. Elsewhere in this issue I talk about the exquisite experience I had uncovering a ‘50s Telecaster from the same series. Being allowed to disrobe this Jazz Bass was no less scintillating insomuch as there is just something extra about this particular era in Fender’s history for me. First and foremost, nothing screams distinction quite like a natural ash body, lathered in lacquer and gussied up with a stark, black

scratch plate. Glance gradually upward toward the head of this piece and that distinction becomes black tie ball worthy. The deep U maple neck is dripping with white binding and block inlays between immaculately finished vintage tall frets. In an effort to make this iteration all the more buttery under the fingers, the fretboard is a moderately flatter 7.25” radius. Everything else is era specific, from the saddles to the machine heads. Even the sultry curve of the hip bevel, rounded edging and finger rest above the neck pickup is plucked from history and as sassy as you’d expect. All that is merely propeller-head fodder though. With a spec sheet full of universally sought after inclusions, it should be easy enough to set and forget the way it sounds, right? Not so much. As with all of the heavy hitters from history, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,

but not necessarily the fastest way to satisfaction, and Fender have clearly gone to great lengths to preserve the juicy, thunderous harmonic overtones that made their original ‘70s models so intrinsic to the rampant sonic exploration that the players who chose them were responsible for. This is the instrument that inspired some of the most notable players of all time, from Bootsy to Jaco, to permanently expand the horizons of what it is to play the bass, and as such it is imperative that Fender afford this tribute the same intuition and character. In short, it sounds as good as it looks, if not better. There is so much clarity, resonance and air in the note that it almost feels like it’s breathing every phrase like a whale breathes its song.

an instrument worthy of its heritage, they do just that and do so without the cockiness and bravado that impinges many of their fellow Hall of Famers. This particular ‘70s Jazz Bass, and indeed the entire American Original series, is testament to the steady eye that Fender has both in the future and in the past. BY LUKE SHIELDS HITS • Everything MISSES • Nothing

When Fender looks back at its lineage it does so with humility and gratitude. When they tell us that they are going to produce

PRESONUS HD7 Headphones Link Audio | linkaudio.com.au | Expect To Pay: $70.80

There’s plenty of time in the home studio when you need to work with headphones for any number of reasons. Sometimes you’re overdubbing and can’t risk the chance of spill into other microphones, sometimes you’re doing critical listening, and other times you may just be working well into the night when a lot of noise cannot be made. For whatever reason you need a set of cans, it doesn’t always have to be the most expensive product on the market in order to get the job done. That is why it’s worth having a look at, and a listen to, the Presonus HD7 headphones when you’re next considering another monitoring option for your home recording and mobile monitoring needs. It doesn’t need to be over-complicated when it comes to a good set of cans. Ultimately, what most of us want is headphones that are lightweight, comfortable and offer a good low frequency response and a crisp top end. Well, believe it or not, the HD7 headphones from PreSonus offer all these things and they do it all for under a hundred dollars. Yes, it is possible to listen on a budget and be comfortable doing so. The easily adjustable headband fits comfortably on any sized head, even my overly large noggin’. A quick shuffle on top and it slides right into place, allowing your ears to be totally covered by the soft over-ear pads. These are not the most complex of designs; they’re pretty 46

simple, really. But they’re comfortable enough and don’t create fatigue with extended periods of use, so they certainly do the job in the comfort department. These are not intended to be critical listening, professional grade studio reference headphones. But, the price tag doesn’t reflect this either. They do, however, sound pretty good for the money. There is a decent amount of low end from the neodymium drivers, and they’re not too muffled in the top end either. You can certainly get away with using them for editing audio projects, listening to music, and for recording overdubs and

quiet practise. What all this amounts to is a good pair of home studio headphones for a realistic price. There is no need to spend money on cans that are indestructible if you are going to use them at home and look after them. Also, if you’re just using them for overdubbing or editing, you don’t need to invest in precise reference quality audio. At the same time, if you need several pairs of cans for working with groups, this is a budget alternative that will get the job done.

HITS • Lightweight, comfortable design • Budget monitoring option • Plenty of low frequency response MISSES • You do get what you pay for

BY ROB GEE

mixdownmag.com.au


Amplifying your life since 1949 For more than 60 years, Ampeg has produced some of the music industry’s most innovative and memorable gear, satisfying the needs of musicians of all levels. From the largest tours to the corner pub, artists depend on Ampeg amps to get their message across, regardless of style or stature. Now distributed in Australia by Amber Technology, and available through our national network of MI Retailers. Find your closest MI Retailer at ambertech.com.au

Distributed in Australia by Amber Technology ambertech.com.au | 1800 251 367 | sales@ambertech.com.au


Product Reviews PHIL JONES BASS Double Four EGM Distribution | egm.net.au | RRP: $879

Phil Jones Bass amps are well-known for being stage-ready and crazy loud, and they use unique small speaker arrays to achieve their power. For instance, the 16-H Bass Horn speaker has a whopping 16 PJB Piranha Type A speakers and extensive baffled bass ports, and it’ll blow your head off. But you don’t always need that kind of power. The Double Four is a little amp that looks like a bass head until you get a little closer and realise that it’s actually a tiny combo that takes advantage of Jones’ small-speaker-butbig-sound technology. The Double Four is a single-channel bass amp with a simple three-band EQ (bass, middle and treble), a passive/active/mute switch with clip LED on the input, a master volume, a headphone jack for practising, and a line out for recording. There’s also an aux in with its own level control. It’s very similar to the Session 77 combo amplifier, but is purposely designed for use around the house rather than onstage or in the studio. The speakers are a pair of four-inch PJB NeoPower Type C drivers, and the total power output is 70 watts. But just because it’s a practice amp doesn’t mean you have to cut corners with your sound. The cabinet may be around the size of a lunchbox but it’s built to the same standards of all PJB cabinets, which means it employs heavy bracing and acoustic damping to ensure the clearest, most

faithful reproduction possible. It also means freedom from a problem that plagues many practice amps: farty low notes. That solid construction and heavy damping means your low B will sound as punchy and clear as any other notes. As with the Session 77, the Double Four will faithfully reproduce the input signal, whether it’s an active or passive bass plugged directly in, or a processed signal making its way into the amp through a preamp or effects unit. It also means the auxiliary input sounds nice and faithful too. Heck, if you wanted to you could use this amp to play music in between sets, should you be playing a small enough room that you can get away with an amp of this size. Because yes, this is marketed as a practice amp, but it pushes out enough volume for at least small gigs, and the line out means you can also plug it into a PA system to effectively use the amp as your onstage monitor while the PA system sees it as a direct box. This isn’t the most full-featured practice amp ever: there’s no distortion, no compression or limiting, no switchable graphic EQ or any of that extra fun stuff. But it’s totally no-nonsense and will give you back exactly whatever sound you put into it, and in a market sector full of amps that unflatteringly colour the sound, that’s a huge deal. By Peter Hodgson

HITS • Loud for the size • No-fuss controls • Great build quality

MISSES • No overdrive or compression

HITS • Roadworthy design • Simple controls

MISSES • ‘CD’ input? Can we update that?

NUX Da30 Electronic Drum Monitor Amplifier Pro Music Australia | promusicaustralia.com Expect To Pay: $339

There couldn’t be a more perfect time for a unit like the Nux DA30 personal drum monitor to come along. Not only are electronic kits more popular than ever due to their easy setup and their more affordable mobility on the road, but there are all sorts of other devices out there that can benefit from a unit like this. Think about the Singular Sound’s BeatBuddy pedal, for example: a drum machine pedal for guitarists and bassists which needs to be plugged into a full-range system to reach its full potential. Or perhaps you’re in a pub-level band that has selected prerecorded backing tracks to fill out the sound, and you need an easy way of getting the signal to the musicians onstage so you know what the hell you’re playing along with. The DA30 is a 30-watt unit with coaxially mounted 10” low frequency and 1” high frequency drivers. It has two 1/4 inch phone jacks (Channel 1 and 2) plus the Stereo CD-IN RCA jacks (labelled CD in, which feels a little out of date to be honest). There are separate volume controls for each input, plus a master tone control section with bass and treble controls for fine-tuning the response of the amp to the particular room or stage.

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The kick-back design ensures that the sound is pointing up at the drummer or whoever else needs that sound blasted in their face, while a sturdy front grill keeps the driver and tweeter safe from any actual kicking. Note that this is a mono amplifier: if you’re playing a digital drum kit onstage you’re probably going to want a nice focused mono signal rather than having a stereo signal coming at you and causing all sorts of weird phasing issues. There are plenty of other ways to use this amp: for keyboards, as a basic bass amp… I ran a wet signal from my Seymour Duncan Vapor Trail Analog Delay pedal into the DA30 so I could have a dry signal in my main amp and a wet one coming out of the other side of the room. This is a very simple, roadworthy unit that doesn’t have a lot of extra bells and whistles, but is designed to give you a nice clear sound onstage. You shouldn’t expect it to make you sound better than you are but you can rely on it to make sure you’re hearing your playing nice and clearly no matter what horrors an unsympathetic house monitor is inflicting upon you. By pETER HODGSON

mixdownmag.com.au


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Check www.promusicaustralia.com.au for your closest dealer.


Product Reviews YAMAHA P-125 Keyboard Yamaha Music | au.yamaha.com | Expect to Pay: $999.99

The Yamaha P-125 - which follows on from the highly popular P-115 - is a compact digital piano that combines realistic piano performance with a user-friendly minimalistic design. It’s designed to be portable and very accessible - in other words, you’re not bogged down in complicated menus just to find a sound, so it’s a great choice not only for those who need a digital piano for themselves, but also for situations where many people might be using the same instrument: piano teachers, schools, bars with open mic nights, that sort of thing. Given how solid and piano-like it feels, the P-125 is surprisingly affordable at an RRP of $999.99, which means you’ll be able to find one for a lot less than that in stores. Everything about it shouts ‘quality,’ from its weighted keys to the three-dimensionality of its newly-improved two-way speaker system, which sends the sound both upward and downward for a very realistic acoustic piano feel. Yamaha uses a Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) 88-key piano keyboard which provides a heavier touch in the low end and lighter touch in the high end, similar to an acoustic piano. Among the other upgrades from the 115 are the choice of three sound variations in addition to each base sound (piano, electric piano, organ, clv/vib, strings, bass). The most fun of these is the bass option that adds a

hi-hat to every note you play for instant jazzmaverick moments. But each of the sounds is very well-voiced - which is handy since you can’t tweak them the way you could on a full-featured synth. There’s a Table EQ feature which gives you optimal acoustics even if you’re playing on a hard, flat surface, but Yamaha offers plenty of accessories to get the most out of the P-125 including a matching stand, a variety of pedal options and a soft but durable carry case. Another big addition is the use of intelligent bass parts in the 20 on board bass-anddrum tracks, which follow your left hand to construct a backing that moves with you. The tracks sound great and they cover styles from pop and rock to jazz, Latin, kids’ music and Christmas.

The sheer sonic versatility and ease of use means the P-125 evokes the feeling of having an actual piano in the room, except you never have to tune it, and unlike a synth workstation you’re safe from the risk of little kids thinking it’s the console of the Millennium Falcon and obliterating all your presets while they try to beat Han’s Kessel Run record.

HITS • Realistic-feeling keys • Great sound projection • Idiot-and-kid-proof controls MISSES • No pedals included

Oh, and at the time of writing there’s a very handy additional feature about to be announced which we can’t talk about because it won’t be made public until after the magazine hits the streets, but make sure you visit Yamaha Australia’s website to find out more. You’ll know it when you see it! BY PETER HODGSON

WARM AUDIO WA73-EQ Single Channel Mic Preamp Studio Connections | studioconnections.com.au Expect To Pay: $1185

I’ve often said that most home studios can certainly achieve professional results by simply setting up one single channel of serious front-end for their recording setup. You don’t need a large format console or eight channels of AD conversion if you’re just recording a single track at a time. Rather than wasting money on unnecessary track counts that will never be used, why not invest in one seriously good input section and get the most from your recording? Whether it’s in a professional studio looking for added variety in their sounds or the serious home recording setup, the WA73-EQ from Warm Audio is certainly going to get the earbuds tingling. I’ve had some time with it this month, and I think you should all take a listen.

design. The WA73-EQ is one such unit that has beautifully captured the essence of the ’73 sound in a modern, single channel build with three-band sweepable EQ. For those of you looking for stunning classic warmth in your vocals and instrument sounds, this is certainly one piece of hardware that will bring the front-end of your recording signal path to life.

Over the years there have been a handful of preamps that have really stood the test of time with classic design that resulted in classic sound. Whilst some lean towards the very vintage American sounds of the ‘50s and ‘60s, there is no mistaking the place that British preamps and EQs have in rock and pop history. And of course, the original 1073 preamp is one that has left its mark on countless records. It is with no mistake that so many have followed in that tradition and created preamps that exhibit the audio qualities of the original ’73

Given the price point of these units, they are exceptionally well built. British made transformers, along with British made concentric switch potentiometers, offer some of the finest military spec components for optimum performance. The switches all engage firmly and with intent, whilst the pots are smooth and offer just enough resistance to ensure accurate fine adjustments. These are all mounted to the casing, then hand wired in so there is no stress placed on the boards or their mounting brackets during operation.

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These are the little touches that often get overlooked, but they can mean the difference between a cheap piece of junk and a quality piece of kit. The WA73-EQ is most certainly the latter, and you’ll hear this fact when you fire it up. The stepped gain structure of the preamp is warm, familiar, and a totally classic ’73 sound. The EQ circuit allows you to get the most from the sound with the three-band parametric design that adds character when engaged, rather than just adding noise. All in all, this is a really nice piece of hardware that would shine in any studio and would certainly bring any home recording setup into the next league. Don’t just accept the preamps you have on your audio interface; your music deserves better, and giving it a classic sound like that of the WA73-EQ will bring your recordings to life.

HITS • Classic ’73 style preamp tone • Exceptional build quality • Quality pots and switches MISSES • I can’t hear any, it’s bloody good

BY ROB GEE

mixdownmag.com.au


Directory EVOLUTION MUSIC

(Music Instruments Retailer) A | P | E | W|

8/2 Northey Rd, Lynbrook VIC (03) 8787 8599 info@evolutionmusic.com.au evolutionmusic.com.au facebook.com/evolutionmusicaus

AA DUPLICATION

(Printing/CD & DVD Duplication) A | P | E | W|

84 Nicholson St, Abbotsford VIC (03) 9416 2133 sales@aaduplication.com.au aaduplication.com.au facebook.com/AADuplicationServices

EASTGATE MUSIC

(Music Instruments Retailer) A | P | E | W|

1131 Burke Rd, Kew VIC (03) 9817 7000 sales@eastgatemusic.com eastgatemusic.com.au facebook.com/Eastgatemusic

JABEN AUDIO

(Headphone Specialist Retailer) A | P | E | W|

Shop 2 398 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC (03) 9670 8231 info@jaben.com.au jaben.com.au facebook.com/jabenau

HYDRA REHEARSAL STUDIOS

(Rehearsal Rooms) A | 18 Duffy Street, Burwood VIC P | (03) 9038 8101 E | hydrastudios@bigpond.com W | hydrastudios.com.au facebook.com/hydra.rehearsal.studios

EASTERN SUBURBS SCHOOL OF MUSIC

(Music Lessons) A | 10 Floriston Road, Boronia VIC 7 Sahra Grove, Carrum Downs VIC P | 0421 705 150 E | essm@essm.net.au W | essm.net.au facebook.com/easternsuburbsschoolofmusic

SKY MUSIC

(Music Instruments Retailer) A | P | E | W|

4/2181 Princes Hwy, Clayton VIC (03) 9546 0188 info@skymusic.com.au skymusic.com.au facebook.com/skymusiconline

FIVE STAR MUSIC

(Music Instruments Retailer) A | P | E | W|

102 Maroondah Hwy, Ringwood VIC (03) 9870 4143 websales@fivestarmusic.com.au fivestarmusic.com.au facebook.com/fivestarmusicoz

NEWMARKET STUDIOS (Music Production Studio)

A | 87-91 Arden Street, Melbourne VIC P | (03) 9329 2877 E | callum@newmarketstudios.com.au W | newmarketstudios.com.au facebook.com/newmarketstudios

VINYL REVIVAL

(Vinyl and Record Specialist) A | 405 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC P | (03) 9419 5070 A | 128 Sydney Rd, Brunswick VIC P | (03) 9448 8635 E | info@vinylrevival.com.au W | vinylrevival.com.au facebook.com/vinylrevivalmelbourne

MELBOURNE MUSIC CENTRE

(Music Instruments Retailer) A | 525 North Rd, Ormond, VIC P | (03) 9578 2426 E | info@melbournemusiccentre.com.au W | melbournemusiccentre.com.au facebook.com/melbournemusic.centre

(Music Instruments Retailer) A | P | E | W|

1/30 Station Rd, Indooroopilly QLD (07) 3878 4566 info@music440.com.au music440.com.au facebook.com/music440

BINARY MUSIC

(Music Instruments Retailer & Education) A | 48 Bloomfield St, Cleveland QLD P | (07) 3488 2230 E | sales@binarydesigns.com.au W | binarydesigns.com.au facebook.com/binarymusic

MODERN MUSICIAN

(Music Instruments Retailer) A | P | E | W|

106 Murray Street, Hobart TAS (03) 6234 5537 nick@modernmusician.com.au modernmusician.com.au facebook.com/modernmusician

MONA VALE MUSIC

(Music Instruments Retailer) A | 55 Bassett Street, Mona Vale NSW P | (02) 9986 0589 E | info@mvmwarehouse.com W | www.monavalemusic.com facebook.com/monavalemusic

DAMIEN GERARD STUDIOS

(Recording Studios) A | 230 Crown St, Darlinghurst NSW P | (02) 9331 0666 E | bookings@damiengerard.net W | damiengerard.com.au facebook.com/damiengerardstudios

SOUNDS EASY PTY LTD

DEX AUDIO

(Music Technology & Instruments Retailer)

(Audio Visual Retailer) A | P | E | W|

MUSIC 440

393-399 Macaulay Rd, Melbourne VIC

(03) 8378 2266 mail@dexaudio.com.au dexaudio.com.au facebook.com/dexaudioaustralia

A | Suite G05, 15 Atchison St, St Leonards NSW P | (02) 8213 0202 W | soundseasy.com.au facebook.com/soundseasy

ARCADE SCREENPRINTING

(Screenprinting & Design Service) A | 15/17 Hutchinson St, St Peters NSW P | (02) 9550 6965 E | info@arcadescreenprinting.com.au W | arcadescreenprinting.com.au facebook.com/arcadescreenprinting

GLADESVILLE GUITAR FACTORY

(Music Instruments Retailer) A | 280 Victoria Rd, Gladesville NSW P | (02) 9817 2173 E | mail@guitarfactory.net W | guitarfactory.net facebook.com/GladesvilleGuitarFactory

TURRAMURRA MUSIC (Music Instruments Retailer) A | P | E | W|

1267 Pacific Hwy, Turramurra NSW (02) 9449 8487 general_sales@turramusic.com.au turramusic.com.au facebook.com/TurramurraMusic

COASTAL MUSIC

(Music Instruments Retailer & Repairs) A | 5/148 Lake Road, Port Macquarie NSW P | (02) 6581 3016 E | sales@coastalmusic.com.au W | coastalmusic.com.au facebook.com/coastalmusic

BIG MUSIC

(Music Instruments Retailer & Recording Studio) A | 85 Alexander Street, Crows Nest NSW P | 1300 55 24 20 W | bigmusicshop.com.au facebook.com/bigmusicshop

SUNBURST MUSIC

(Music Instruments Retailer & Recording Studio) A | 122–124 Coogee Bay Road, Coogee NSW P | (02) 9665 9088 E | sales@sunburstmusic.com.au W | sunburstmusic.com.au facebook.com/SUNBURSTMUSIC. CoogeeAustralia

Not In The Directory? C O N TA C T

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J E S S @ F U R S T M E D I A . C O M . A U

T O

S E C U R E

Y O U R

P L A C E

mixdownmag.com.au


Show & Tell Chris Robertson, Guitarist for Black Stone Cherry What piece of equipment do you have to show us today? Today and everyday I love to show my Paul Reed Smith signature guitar. To have a guitar with my name on it along with the name of the greatest guitar builder ever is absolutely amazing. How did you come across this particular item? This guitar came about after talks with the artist relations department at PRS guitars. I had a couple guitars modified to this spec and people seemed to want one as well. What is it that you like about it so much? For me the pickup combination is the selling point. I’ve always been a fan of single coil neck pickups and humbuckers with a coil split ability in the bridge position. The tonal varieties are amazing. How do you use it and how has it shaped the way you write music? I use these guitars a lot when writing and recording, they just feel like home. There is a certain comfort level I have with these that I don’t have with other guitars. Tell us a little about what you have coming up? We are on the road touring, touring, touring! Currently we’re doing shows in the States with Gov’t Mule and some other bands up until the end of May then we’re hitting Europe for dates through June. We are a live band at heart and will always be. Our new album Family Tree is coming out April 20 – so we’re looking forward to that too. Family Tree is out Friday April 20 via Mascot Records.

Quality Since 1946 GUITAR & STUDIO EQUIPMENT

Plugs

EH Series XLRs

Patchbays, Cables, DI Boxes/Splitters AVAILABLE in AUSTRALIA For your nearest stockist Phone: 02 9482 1944 54

mixdownmag.com.au


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