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INTERVIEWS — Taylor Hawkins, The Butterfly Effect, Jimmy Eat World, Yola + more


REVIEWED — Waldorf Kyra VA Synthesiser, Warwick RockBass Lee Sklar Bass, Vox Mini Super



#308 – DECEMBER 2019

Beetle Amp, Mackie SRM Flex Column PA, Prodipe Natural Acoustic Amps, Samson Expedition XP312W PA + more






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CONTENTS 8 10 11 12 16 18 20 22 24 26 32 48 58


Giveaways Industry News Music News Product News Cover Story: Cold Chisel Taylor Hawkins, Pennywise Jimmy Eat World The Butterfly Effect Tired Lion Yola Musicology Guitar Bass Gift Guide Product Reviews Directory

I’m too young to remember a time without Cold Chisel. It’s just always been there, lurking in the background, the soundtrack to a million barbecues, RSL happy hours and truckstop dinner transactions. They are part of the furniture here in Australia and for good reason, they have written some of the most potent and powerful songs in the Australian canon. It goes without saying that it’s an absolute honour to have them on the cover of our annual Christmas special. So go grab an egg nog (or even just a beer) sit back and have a read. It’s been a big year.

Cold Chisel

Merry Christmas Everybody





The Butterfly Effect

Taylor Hawkins

PG. 20

PG. 18

For breaking news, new content and more giveaways visit our website.












#302 –



#301 –

JUNE 2019

APRIL 2019

MAY 2019



INTERVIE Beartooth WS — , James Amyl & The Sniff Blake, Frank Iero, ers + more






for your



REVIEWE IK Multi D — media iRig Kali LP-8 Micro Amp Studio , Monitors,






INTERVIE Anberlin, WS — West Theb Polish Club arton, Hake & More n, Blue Micro ROKIT G4 phones Yeticaster Warwick Monitors, TC Helic , KRK RockBass on Star Bass Blender, + more


REVIEWE Paul Reed D — Smith SE Rumble Custom LT25, TC 24, Fend Helicon er GO Inter faces,

INTERVIE Periphery, WS — Duff McKa The Cranberri gan & More es, Circles, Xotic XSC Interface, Guitar. Apogee Element UNO SynthVox AC30S1, IK 46 Multimedi + many a more

REVIEWE Marshall D — Studios Jackson Serie Adrian Smit s, Markbass CASA , h, Deno n SC50 00,

Sennheise EarthQuak r True Wireless Headphon Woodsmaner Dispatch Mast es, er, Ashd + many own more




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PUBLISHER Furst Media Mycelium Studios Factory 1/10-12 Moreland Road East Brunswick VIC 3057 (03) 9428 3600




EDITOR Paul French


CONTRIBUTORS Rob Gee, Christie Elizer, Nick Brown, David James Young, Adrian Violi, Michael Cusack, Augustus Welby, Luke Shields, Alex Watts, Aaron Streatfeild, James Di Fabrizio, Jack Swann, Alex Winter,

Jessica Over, Eddy Lim, Lewis NokeEdwards, Josh Martin, Taylor Douglas, Ben Eizenberg, Ciara Allen


























Kyser Care Wipes Keep your guitars fresh and clean with Kyser’s range of Kyser Care Products, now available in convenient, individually wrapped wipe sachet packets of ten. Their String Cleaner, LemOil and Instrument Polish wipes will keep your guitar looking and playing good even under dry conditions, and thanks to our friends at CMC Music, we’ve got a few bundles to give away!

Last Month’s Giveaway Winners PreSonus PM-2 Condenser Microphones Perfect for recording acoustic guitars, drum overheads and more, PreSonus’s new PM-2 Matched Small Cardioid Condenser Microphones are exactly what your project studio needs. To celebrate the launch of this awesome new piece of kit, we’ve got a PM-2 to giveaway thanks to our friends at Link Audio. Drum roll please - the winner is: Jim from Melbourne, VIC

Novation Launchpad Mini MkIII

Audio-Technica M50XBT Headphones Audio-Technica are a legendary name in the audio industry, and the M50xBT headphones prove testament to their longevity and quality. Their incredible sound quality makes them suitable for both critical and casual listeners alike, and Bluetooth connectivity lets you listen to music on the go without worrying about tangling up cables. Courtesy of the homies at Technical Audio Group, we’ve got a pair of these bad boys to give away this month – ho ho ho.

Geared towards the laptop producer, the Launchpad Mini MkIII is the latest entry to Novation’s longstanding beatpad series. With 64 colourful RGB pads and a range of new expressive features, the Launchpad Mini MkIII is also now powered by USB-C for an ultra swift experience, meaning more music and less setting up. Thanks to the homies at Innovative Music, we’ve got one of these awesome units to giveaway this month, and the winner is: Jenna from Strathfield, NSW

For your chance to win any of these prizes, head to our giveaways page at and follow the instructions. *These giveaways are for Australian residents only and one entry per person. For full terms and conditions visit

Distributed by 8

Available on selected Shure products from an Australian Authorised Shure Dealer. 1st Nov 2019 – 31st Dec 2019. Visit for terms and conditions.

RARITIES COLLECTION F L A M E M A P L E TO P ST R ATO C AST E R ® T H I N L I N E H SS •Mahogany Body •Violin Burst Flame Maple Top •Solid Rosewood Neck •9.5” Radius with 22 Narrow Tall Frets •Modern Deep “C” Shape Neck •Custom Shop ‘69 Strat® Middle & Neck Pickups •Custom Double Tap™ Humbucking Bridge Pickup

AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY FROM NSW Guitar Factory Parramatta•Musos Corner VIC A&B Music •Guitar Station•Music Junction SA Derringers Music


DW Music Sound Centre•Mega Music Guitar Brothers

INDUSTRY NEWS Sydney Faces Life After Lockouts Since it was clear that the NSW government was looking at pressing the “destruction” button on the Sydney lockouts, for much of 2019, live music activists have been working out the best way to go forward, especially to protect music venues. Among suggestions was to end the “complaint culture” (for residents to sit and discuss issues first), get the government to provide grants to start new venues, and diversify the whole night-time economy so it’s not just centred around music and booze. Last month the Global Cities After Dark Sydney conference heard from experts from abroad on how cities such as Berlin, Amsterdam and San Francisco worked out their issues. City of Sydney plans to set up a new entertainment precinct in the industrial zone of North Alexandra next year. Delegates came up with an extended plan on how to move things further. In the first year, it would create a new culture of optimism and creativity rather than the doom of gloom since the lockouts came into effect in 2014. Within five years, create and amplify the stories about the people, events and places that made Sydney great and be inspired by them. Within ten years, put into plan ways to create an inclusive community, reclaim public spaces and ensure that people living in apartments don’t feel isolated.

Who’ll Get The Grant McLennan Fellowship? The winner of the 2019 Grant McLennan Fellowship will be announced at a ceremony in Brisbane on Wednesday December 11. Delivered in partnership with Arts Queensland and APRA AMCOS, the $25,000 Fellowship offers the recipient an opportunity to travel to New York, London or Berlin for up to six months and use the experience of being immersed in a foreign and vibrant musical culture to further develop their own artistic skills. The three cities were where the GoBetweens co-founder spent a lot of his creative time. The finalists are session guitarist, producer and Golden Age of Ballooning; Harriette Pilbeam of Brisbane dream pop band Hatchie; singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Georgia Potter aka Moreton; and Cairns based singer songwriter Leanne Tennant.

Number Crunching $19,000 asked for by scalpers for fake tickets to Lizzo’s Australian shows. 49 US dance chart #1s now notched up by Madonna. 8 nominations each for Felicity Urquhart and Lee Kernaghan in the country music Golden Guitar awards in Tamworth this January. 40 fans that Ariana Grande bought lunch for in Lexington, Kentucky. She cancelled the show there due to intense sinus problems, but the 40 decided they’d meet at the arena. When the singer heard, she got word to them to pop over to the diner next to the arena for a feed – go Ari. 8 fans who got to watch KISS play their only Australian show not to be cancelled last month – on a tiny boat two hours off the coast of Port Lincoln, on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.

Rolling Stone Is Back In Australia Two years after it shut up shop under another publisher, Rolling Stone Australia is returning in 2020. This time it will be through Sydneybased Brag Media, whose titles include Tone Deaf, The Brag and The Industry Observer.


It will feature original and syndicated Rolling Stone content, with the local content strategy led by managing editor Poppy Reid and editor Tyler Jenke. Rolling Stone Australia has been in this country since 1970 through half a dozen publishers. Two of its editors, John O’Donnell and Ed St. John went on to run EMI, Warner and BMG Records. The last publisher, Paper Riot, went into liquidation in January 2016.

Tencent Gets Extra Funding For Universal Stake Chinese music empire Tencent expects to finalise its US$3.3 billion purchase of a 10% share of Universal Music Group in a few months. Initially it was expected that the deal would be finalised by this month, but Tencent is talking to some other cashed-up companies to go in as a consortium. If enough put their hands up, Tencent & Friends could buy a 20% share. Earlier in the year a number of big companies had shown interest in getting their foot in Universal Music – the largest record company in the world. But some got cranky or bemused that Universal’s terms were, "We take your money but you have no say whatsoever in the running of the company," and hoofed it.

The Teskey Brothers Blitz The Music Victoria Awards... The Teskey Brothers dominated the November 20 Music Victoria Awards in Melbourne with no less than four wins. These included the three major categories – Best Group, Album and Song. Sampa The Great and Courtney Barnett also nabbed two awards each, G Flip got the Premier’s Prize for the Best Breakthrough Act and Tones And I copped a special outstanding achievement gong. Inducted into the Hall of Fame were community radio stalwarts 3PBS FM and Vika & Linda Bull.

… and Stella Donnelly & Carla Geneve Scoop The WAMAwards Stella Donnelly took centre stage at the WAMAwards in Perth, scooping the new category Artist of the Year, Best Album and

Best Pop Act. Also dominating the night was rock act Carla Geneve who took out awards for Best Rock Act and Best Single (both for the second year in a row), as well as Best Guitarist and Best EP for her debut self-titled EP. Media personality and songwriter Johnny Young (‘The Real Thing’) and the band The Scientists were inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Fast Track Applications Close Next Month The deadline for applications for the Fast Track Fellowship is Monday January 13. It is run by The Victorian Music Development Office (VMDO), in partnership with the Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR) and Association of Artist Managers (AAM). Open to Victorian music artist managers and independent labels, it relocates recipients overseas to immerse themselves at an international music company for a two month period. Head online for details.

Bad Apple Launches Distribution Service First Nations label Bad Apples Music, set up by rapper Briggs, has a new distribution channel. Bad Apples Distro will concentrate on working with unsigned names. The first releases are from award-winning Melbourne band The Deans of Soul and indie rock act Key Hoo.

What Makes A Pop Hit? German and Norwegian scientists analysed 80,000 chords in 745 pop songs listed in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart between 1958 and 1991 and found there is a formula. It’s a mixture of knowing what to expect and being charmed by the unexpected is what makes classic hits – such as James Taylor’s ‘Country Road’, Tina Turner’s ‘What’s Love Got To Do With I’, or The Beatles’ ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ – so “irresistibly enjoyable”.

Venue Update Sydney’s Venue 505 will close on December 17 after a decade, as the operators “want more downtime” as they also run Old 505 Theatre in Newtown.

Perth’s Capitol closes for three months of renovations on January 1 and will returng with a new name. Brisbane live music venue Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall closed, apparently due to financial problems, according to the Courier Mail. After being homeless since July, Melbourne’s Cherry Bar, previously at AC/DC Lane, re-opens this month at the old Pony site in nearby Little Collins Street. RIP Boney. After ten years in darkness, Sydney’s Hopetoun Hotel will return next year but, alas, without the live music that made its name. Blame it on past noise complaints. Patrons and live music activists have answered the call by The Sly Fox, in Sydney’s Enmore in the inner west, to stop the local council from pulling back its 24 hour licence to midnight which would have seen the venue close for good.

New Generations Fellowship Launched In a new industry partnership, Powerhouse Museum, the NSW State Government arts body Create NSW and music management and touring company Astral People are calling for early career contemporary artists, music producers, songwriters and composers residing in NSW to apply for a new Generations Fellowship opportunity that will pair mentoring with financial support. It’s valued at $100,000 and supports three solo artists or groups to carry out six months of professional development during 2020-21. The Fellowships are designed to connect artists with established industry experts, support intergenerational knowledge and create career pathways within the music industry. Each of the three successful artists or groups will be provided with $25,000 in financial support, a studio space at the Powerhouse Museum (Ultimo) or Museums Discovery Centre (Castle Hill), and industry mentoring and networking facilitated by Astral People. Applications close on December 16 – head online for more information.

After 15 years of showcasing major acts,


The Lineup For Download Festival 2020 Is Here

Tones and I Breaks ARIA Chart Record For Longest Running #1

Emo kids rejoice: My Chemical Romance are not only back together, but they’ve been announced as the headlining act of Download Festival next March. Playing in Australia exclusively for Download, they’ll be joined by Deftones, Jimmy Eat World, Clutch and Baroness. Aussie talents gracing the stages will include Hands Like Houses, Thornhill, In Hearts Wake and Clowns. The festival will be taking place at the Melbourne Showgrounds, while Sydney’s leg will be returning to Paramatta Park. Tickets are on sale now at Download’s official website.

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Tones And I’s ‘Dance Monkey’ is a catchy, viral sensation and the ARIA chart reflects exactly that. The track has been in the number one spot for a record-breaking 16 weeks – beating out the previous record holder, Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape Of You’. ‘Dance Monkey’ has also gone six–times Platinum domestically and is making massive waves overseas too – charting number one in thirty countries including the UK, where the track stayed at top spot for seven weeks and went Platinum.

Polaris Detail New LP and Tour Dates

Bluesfest Announce Even More Sideshows

It’s been over two years since Polaris released their ARIAnominated record The Mortal Coil, the debut album that well and truly put this group into the spotlight. After making their mark on the international tour circuit, the boys bunkered down in the studio to record their second LP, The Death Of Me. The band has already dropped the first single ‘Masochist’, and if that’s anything to go by this album is shaping up to be an absolute belter. The Death Of Me arrives February 21, the same day their Australian tour is set to kick off in Adelaide.

Bluesfest Touring have announced another run of premium international acts set to perform sideshows alongside the Byron Bay Bluesfest this April. Dweezil Zappa will be bringing his coveted Hot Rats tour to venues around the country, while Australian bassist and songwriter Tal Wilkenfeld will also be taking on some solo shows of her own. You can also expect to see the likes of Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles, Amadou & Mariam and the Allman Betts Band playing shows in Melbourne and Sydney. Head online for tickets and details.

Violent Soho Are Back Violent Soho have finally blessed us with a new track, ‘AOK’, their first release since 2016. The track is pretty chill compared to their prior works, swapping the noisy guitars for some dialled down acoustic and slide guitars, and the breezy music video, shot by the band’s own Luke Henery, reflects the vibe of the music. Violent Soho have also hinted at a new album in the works, but in the meantime catch them playing at Good Things Festival in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane this month.

Tool Reveal Australian Tour Dates Holy shit, Tool are returning to Australia! This February, the band are set to play a string of huge arena shows in Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Playing to Australian crowds for the first time in seven years, the performances will be in support of their fifth-studio-album, Fear Inoculum, which was released back in August. Fear Inoculum is Tool’s first album in a whopping 13 years, so it’ll be pretty special to see it performed live. This band is well known for putting on epic live shows so tickets for this one won’t last long. Head to Frontier Touring to snap ‘em up today.

Iron Maiden Are Bringing Their Legacy Of The Beast Tour Down Under

Steve Lacy Announces Aussie Tour Dates

WOMADelaide Has Added 50 Acts To Their Lineup

Hard rock legends Iron Maiden have officially detailed the Australian shows of their Legacy Of The Beast Tour. The tour involves crazy production based off their mobile game by the same name, which is based in many different "Maiden Worlds". The Legacy Of The Beast Tour takes inspiration from the game, with a stage show depicting different ‘Worlds’ and experiences set to appropriate songs. With positive reactions from other cities this performance has taken place in, this show is sure to be monumental. The tour will be taking place this May in Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Grammy Award winning multi-instrumentalist, producer and fashion icon Steve Lacy has announced a string of Australian tour dates this February. At only 21 years old, Lacy has worked with massive names such as Kendrick Lamar, Kali Uchis, Solange and Tyler, The Creator, as well as being the man behind the guitar for contemporary soul outfit The Internet. Lacy released his debut LP Apollio XXI this year, and this tour marks his solo debut in Australia. We can’t wait to catch Lacy live in the flesh – head to Chugg Touring to lock in your tickets now.

Adelaide’s own music, arts and culture festival WOMADelaide have added a whopping 50 additional acts to their already massive 2020 lineup. Joining the likes of previously announced artists Mavis Staples, Sleaford Mods and Hiatus Kaiyote is none other than Ziggy Marley, son of reggae legend Bob Marley. Alongside Marley are local faves Ngaiire, Kate Miller-Heidke, Briggs and Late Nite Tuff Guy. WOMADelaide goes down from March 6-9 next year at Adelaide’s Botanical Gardens.



Solar Guitars Are Now Available In Australia INDUSTRIE MUSIC | INDUSTRIEMUSIC.COM.AU Solar Guitars, the musical instrument venture of Swedish shredder Ola Englund, has finally made its way down under courtesy of Industrie Music. Fitted with top-notch hardware and electronics such as EverTune bridges and Seymour Duncan Solar pickups, these guitars have attained an incredible reputation for themselves in a very short amount of time, and Englund shows no signs of slowing the Solar output anytime soon. Check them out and order your own via Industrie Music’s website.

The Singular Sounds Aeros Loop Studio Is Shipping Now

Stay Clean With Kyser’s New Care Wipe Sachets

Download IK Multimedia’s Drum Anthology Today




Quite possibly one of the most advanced looping devices on the market, the Singular Sounds Aeros Loop Studio is now available in Australia. With the ability to create 36 unique loops per song, unlimited overdubbing and a record time of 48 hours, the Aeros also features an intuitive 4.3” touchscreen display and Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity, putting it into an entire category of its own. There’s simply nothing quite like it: try it out today and you’ll be amazed.

Keep your guitars fresh and clean with Kyser’s range of Kyser Care Products, now available in convenient, individually wrapped wipe sachet packs. The brand’s String Cleaner wipes will remove oily residue to reduce buzz and brighten up your strings, while their Lem-Oil wipes will keep your fretboard from drying out in warmer weather, and to complete the Holy Trinity, Kyser’s Instrument Polish will bust away grime and invigorate the body of your guitar - perfect for summer.

IK Multimedia have made their new Drum Anthology sample pack available to download for UNO Drum users. With ten new libraries jam-packed with five decades worth of sounds from vintage Roland, Wurlitzer, Tama and Korg models, the Drum Anthology is organised according to style and era for your convenience, and acts as a fitting tribute to the history of the machines that changed music forever. Check it out today via IK Multimedia’s website.

Ernie Ball Ships Superior Formula Gaff Tape CMC MUSIC | CMCMUSIC.COM.AU

PreSonus Announce Eris HD10BT Headphones LINK AUDIO | LINKAUDIO.COM.AU New from PreSonus, the Eris HD10BT Headphones look like they’ll make a significant dent in the professional headphone market this festive season. Featuring studio-quality audio performance via a pair of 40mm drivers, wireless Bluetooth connectivity with up to 16 hours of battery life and the luxury of Active Noise Canceling technology, the Eris HD10BT Headphones are perfect for both casual and critical listeners. These headphones are expected to land in stores early in December – better chuck them on your Christmas list!


As musicians, we all know how important Gaff tape is to our lives. Ernie Ball have provided a be-all-endall solution to all your onstage cable or label woes with their Superior Formula Gaff Tape, constructed from a high-quality cotton cloth with synthetic rubber adhesive which is both extremely tough, moisture resistant and easily tearable for ultimate convenience. Don’t come unstuck: head to your music store and grab a roll today.

PRODUCT NEWS Fender Embrace Modernity With The New American Ultra Series FENDER MUSIC AUSTRALIA | FENDER.COM.AU Revealed early in November, the American Ultra series aims to usher in a bold new era for Fender. Presenting the ultimate combination of precision, performance and tone, the American Ultra series features new neck profiles, side-mounted jacks, compound radius fretboards and upgraded hardware and electronics, marking the company’s most advanced series to date. The American Ultra range comprises of all-new Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jazzmaster, Jazz and Precision Bass designs, and we can’t wait to play them all.

Steinberg Update Cubase To Version 10.5

Pioneer DJ Launch The Mammoth XDJ-XZ Controller

Technics Launch The SL-1210MK7 In Australia




Cubase users rejoice: Steinberg have released an expansive software update to their flagship DAW. Cubase 10.5 brings with it a swathe of new features, including video rendering and exporting, spectral comparison EQs, new mixer colour coding and an update to their Padshop 2 granular synth engine. There’s also a new MultiTap Delay to get weird with time-based effects, as well as retrospective MIDI recording, a new score editor feature and more. Download it today!

Pioneer DJ have launched the XDJ-XZ, a brand spanking new all-in-one DJ controller offering flexible multimedia support to appeal to a wide range of mixologists. Taking inspiration from the company’s previous CDJ-2000NXS2 and DJM-900NXS2 units, the XDJ-XZ features a 7” touchscreen, options to suit both external hardware and software, built-in effects and 16 multi-coloured MPC-style performance pads to capture, trigger and tweak samples mid-set. Drop into your music store and see what all the fuss is about.

After a nine year absence in the region, Technics turntables are now available in Australia, and what better way to launch than with the release of the SL-1210MK7. A direct descendant of the legendary SL1200 direct-drive turntable, the Technics SL-1210MK7 features a coreless direct drive motor, an aluminum die-cast platter and new DJ-focused functions such as reverse playback. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for more news from Technics soon.

Introducing Ernie Ball’s New Strap Blocks CMC MUSIC | CMCMUSIC.COM

RØDE Launch The VideoMic NTG RØDE MICROPHONES | EN.RODE.COM Ensure your videos sound as good as they look with the new VideoMic NTG from Australian audio industry stalwarts RØDE. The VideoMic NTG features a flat frequency response with low self-noise and a unique infinitely variable gain control, while a USB output with headphone monitoring lets track your levels easily. The inbuilt rechargable lithium-ion battery also offers over 30 hours of use, letting you enjoy broadcastquality audio no matter where in the world you’re filming.


Keep your precious axe safe and secure around your shoulders with Ernie Ball’s new Strap Blocks, available soon from all good music stores. Made from a durable silicone rubber material, these Strap Blocks are super easy to install, require no modifications and should slip snugly over most strap buttons, making sure you don’t suffer any onstage mishaps. They also come in a handy four pack – perfect for both your main and backup guitar!

WE’VE DONE IT AGAIN. Scarlett is already allowing more than three million musicians, songwriters and producers to record, mix and play back audio in studio quality everywhere, all the time. Now, featuring six conďŹ gurations of ins and outs with the best performing Scarlett mic preamps the range has ever heard, updated with Air, high headroom instrument inputs, and high-performance converters, the 3rd Generation is the best in class USB interface range on the market today.

To find a dealer near you or for more information contact Ph: 03-9540 0658


COLD CHISEL When Cold Chisel were first kicking off in the late 70s, its members were invested in the band itself and only the band. In 2019, however, it’s a different matter entirely. Vocalist Jimmy Barnes has just come off a tour in support of his album My Criminal Record, while guitarist Ian Moss is still on the road at the time of print to commemorate the 30TH anniversary of his Matchbook LP. Throw in pianist Don Walker maintaining a prolific solo career and drummer Charley Drayton maintaining stateside session work, it’s a miracle Chisel are able to get anything done. “It’s all about creating windows,” says Walker. “We set one aside for recording, and another for touring. The one for recording is generally much easier, because typically we only need three weeks maximum to get one done. “In fact, I think we were able to get it done in a lot less time for this album. That’s in contrast to the time we need to set aside to go out on tour – we’re normally booking some 12 to 18 months in advance, most of the time.” Moss also notes the gratitude he has for the position Cold Chisel find themselves in. “It’s not like it was back when we started – none of us exactly have day jobs to worry about anymore,” he says. “We always make sure we have plenty of time together, but to make it all coincide with our lives outside the band can make it a little tricky. “You have to keep the cycles as separate as possible, too – when we were touring in support of The Perfect Crime, the idea of writing a new record couldn’t have been further from our minds. It’s only after the dust settles you can really start to think about what’s next.” With this, we arrive at Blood Moon, Chisel’s ninth LP. Like 2012’s No Plans and The Perfect Crime before it, there’s a rumble of the band’s pub-rock past in amidst the slicker production – a feeling that the Cold Chisel experience is one that’s very much lived-in, as opposed to attempting to cheaply imitate their glory days. One can narrow this down to the songwriting expertise at work within the fold of the band – particularly that of Walker, who wrote a lot of what you hear on Blood Moon. “We all really know one another’s space, and the way we each approach singing and songwriting,” he says. “Most of this album


“IF YOU HAVE SOMETHING THAT INSPIRES YOU, A THREAD TO PULL UPON, DON WILL BE THE ONE TO REALLY GET THE BEST OUT OF IT.” was the product of co-writing between a combination of two of us within the band. The songs were brought to the band pretty much complete, but there’s room within each sketch for individual self-expression. “Songs are written with the knowledge of how the other members will react to it, and it’s when we get that exactly right we’re able to create something with the signature sound of the band,” Moss explains. “We’re not about putting anyone in a straitjacket.” When queried on his own songwriting dynamic with Walker, Moss notes there’s an unspoken understanding of how the other operates that allows for the two of them to create something that plays to their strengths – be it a hard-hitting rocker or a pensive ballad. “Take a song like ‘Out of the Fire,’ for instance,” he says, alluding to a single from Matchbook. “I’d been working all night on it, and I knew I needed to stop working after I

saw the sun coming up. When Don came in, he was able to give it a really strong twist – particularly in the lyrics and in the middle-eight. He came to the rescue! That’s the way we’ve always worked – if you have something that inspires you, a thread to pull upon, Don will be the one to really get the best out of it.” Blood Moon was tracked at Studios 301, located in Sydney’s innerwest. For Walker, being the band’s piano player is a role he takes very seriously – and, in the case of the studio, literally. “I’ll do demos on a keyboard, but never in the studio,” he says. “We have two pianos set up – there’s a grand piano, which belongs to the studio, and there’s a $700 saloon piano that I bought and got set up. As massive as the studio grand is, I never touch it. My piano is remarkable – I’ve been using it since The Perfect Crime, and I also tracked it on the last Tex, Don & Charlie album. For me, there’s nothing quite like strings and hammers on a real piano.” As for Moss, he’s been playing guitar long enough to know exactly what he wants to get out of his set-up. “I’ve only got a few guitars – I’ve never been the type to go all out for a collection,” he says. “I’ve got a couple of Gretsch guitars, a couple of Strats and a couple of homemade ones that were made by Greg Fryer. The pickups on those are made by a guy called Rob McQueen – he’s not even a guitar player, but he makes these fantastic pickups. “I run those through either one of my Marshalls or one of my Hiwatts. It all depends on the tonal variations, or what tuning I’ll be in. Whether you can pick any of that just from listening to the record, though... I have no idea.” BY DAVID JAMES YOUNG

Cold Chisel’s Blood Moon is set for release on Friday December 6 by the band’s own label imprint with Universal Music. Catch them on tour around the country this summer.

MUSIC INTERVIEWS Get the Money, the third album credited to Taylor Hawkins & the Coattail Riders, is out now. It’s an exuberant hard rock expedition that’s not worlds apart from the Fooies. Hawkins’ anxieties peak through the resilient exterior, however, especially on tracks like ‘I Really Blew It’ and ‘You’re No Good At Life No More’. “I’m relatively healthy, I’ve gone through the most part of my wild years. I’m enjoying the later version of who I am,” he says. “But I have a ten year old girl who’s about to start going through high school. It’s so scary, you’re so protective of them. “You think of these pressures that they’re growing up with now, social media and all this crap. It’s nothing at all like what we grew up with. I look at our fucking president and I just think, ‘What is happening right now?’ But he’s a symptom of this fame obsessed, Instagram obsessed, reality TV obsessed culture.” Hawkins’ distaste for the divergent aspects of contemporary culture might explain why Get the Money does so much looking backwards. The record unashamedly draws on Hawkins’ musical loves, including Queen, ELO and the driving hard rock music that emerged from his native Los Angeles in the 1980s.

Taylor Hawkins & the Coattail Riders Taylor Hawkins is 47-years-old. For the past 22 years, he’s been the grinning drummer in the Foo Fighters, one of the world’s highest earning rock bands. He joined the band as a hard-partying 25-year-old, but a lot has changed over the last couple of decades. For starters, Hawkins is now married with three children. He’s also an accomplished solo artist.

Along with three Coattail Riders albums, Hawkins has performed lead vocals on a selection of Foo Fighters songs over the years. So does he ever regret not putting more energy into his own project? “I’ve got so much more comfortable being a frontman and being a singer and a songwriter later in my life,” he says. “If I was serious about this shit I should’ve done it a long time ago, right? I think my strength lies really in being a supportive member to someone like Dave [Grohl]. That’s my strength – being a good drummer to Dave and being a good helpful guy live, being a background vocalist. “I couldn’t ask for anything better than the gifts I’ve been given. We wouldn’t be having this interview if I wasn’t in the Foo Fighters. There’s no stadiums calling for Taylor Hawkins & the Coattail Riders anytime soon.” Maybe Hawkins is right, but Get the Money is an intriguing

If you’re feeling like it’s Groundhog Day, you're not going mad – the band were only in the country a couple of years ago touring behind the 20-year anniversary of Full Circle. “I guess we could be doing this for like the next five years or something, ‘cause we kept putting out records,” says guitarist Fletcher Dragge. “It’s pretty crazy for sure, I mean every time we turn a corner it’s another 20-year anniversary of a record, which is totally surreal. It doesn’t really register with me, for me this isn’t really a job it’s kind of just like, what we do, and people go mad. “I know that it’s definitely special when you can go play a record that was written 20 years ago and people still want to come out and see it and it still has meaning to people and it’s still important in people’s lives. That’s pretty special so it’s going to be pretty friggin’ cool.”

Pennywise With a history of over 30 years as a band, Pennywise have managed to not only stay relevant but thrive as a band to this day. The Californian punk rockers are back in Australia early next year for their 20–year anniversary tour of their 1999 album Straight Ahead.

As with many punk bands, Pennywise lyrics are politically charged – angry and screaming for change. With the sweetness of managing to stay relevant while feeling the bitterness that the political climate hasn’t changed since the lyrics were written, Pennywise are grateful that their music resonates with a wide range of people. “The lyrics are kind of timeless. You want to talk about politics right now, you’ve got ‘My Own Country’ or ‘American Dream’, or ‘Greed’. I think ‘Greed’s a perfect song for someone like Donald Trump. So, if you’re sixteen and you’re watching the news and see what’s going on – school shootings, whatever it may be – you’re going to find a song that resonates with you on that topic matter, so I guess that’s something to be said for the lyrical content.” “Since writing it 20 years ago, [‘Greed’] still has meaning today and is still relevant, unfortunately,” Dragge laments. “A lot of times there hasn’t been enough change. It still has the same impact as I did 20 years ago, when I was thinking about some bullshit back then. It’s still bullshit today but I guess that helps us stay relevant in a strange way.”


project regardless. The records reunites Hawkins with Jane’s Addiction bass player Chris Chaney – an original Coattail Rider who played with Hawkins in Alanis Morissette’s mid-‘90s backing band. A number of famous names show up in the tracklist including Grohl and Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell, as well as Chrissie Hynde, Joe Walsh, Guns N’ Roses’ Duff McKagan, Queen’s Roger Taylor, Heart’s Nancy Wilson, Yes vocalist Jon Davison and the unexpected inclusion of country pop singer LeAnn Rimes. “It’s like, ‘What would it be like to have LeAnn Rimes sing on a psychedelic stoner rock song?” says Hawkins. “Nancy Wilson, I just love her voice. Dave? Well, I’m always going to ask him to come over and lend a hand. Duff McKagan is just a friend and we’ve written a couple of songs together and we like to mountain bike together.” Hawkins has spent the majority of his adult life in one of the world’s biggest rock bands; it’s understandable he has some famous friends. That said, he’s not oblivious to the benefits of persuading his well-known associates into the studio. “It doesn’t hurt, I understand,” he says, “but at the same time, that honestly really wasn’t the intention. I wasn’t sure every time if it was going to work anyway. “It’s really just chasing trains. To sing a song with Chrissie Hynde or to sing a song with Perry Farrell, that’s more of a fulfilled dream than it is a career move. “I don’t have any lofty ambitions for this record. I’m already in a band that does more than I ever thought I could be in a band doing. It’s just having a fun – some of it’s an experiment and some of it’s a childhood dream.” BY AUGUSTUS WELBY Taylor Hawkins & the Coattail Riders’ new album Get the Money is out now via Shanabelle/RCA Records.

“How crazy would it be if someone got elected to be president of the United States of America that was like, raised on the punk rock ethics? That would be huge because punk rock has a pretty good moral compass and is usually on the right side of things, as far as I’m concerned.” As for the Australian tour next year, Pennywise fans can expect absolute mayhem. Straight Ahead is one of their fastest and most politically charged albums, and Dragge says that the band are super keen to get back on Aussie soil and indulge in some classic touring antics. “The Aussie fans always deliver,” Dragge exclaims. “We’re a band that’s known to party, and our fans have always been known as fans who like to party. You’re not going to see a bunch of people there standing around, you’re going to see a bunch of people drinking beers and Bundaberg rum. The fact that you got No Fun At All, one of the greatest punk bands of all time and Strung Out, another one of our favourites, opening that show I think it’s an undeniable night of craziness.” “I always compare [Australia] to California in the late 70s/ early 80s when I was a kid – surfing in the morning and skating in the afternoon, drinking beer on the beach. It’s before the cops went into full crazy gun-mode and it was a lot looser of a vibe.” “You guys are notorious partiers and beer drinkers and we come from a beach town that’s known for partying and punk rock.” BY CIARA ALLEN Pennywise embark on the Straight Ahead tour 20TH anniversary tour with Strung Out and No Fun At All this February. Head to Live Nation to grab your tickets today.


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MUSIC INTERVIEWS After over 25 years as a band, Linton says there’s not too many nerves when it comes to releasing a new album at this point. “I actually get really excited because usually we’ll work on those songs for a long time,” he says. “I think we just write, Jim will write the songs and then we try to just put together the best songs that we can, you know and hopefully people like them. “It’s different than our last record Integrity Blues. I feel it’s more rocking, more guitar riffs. It’s stripped down, more rock. We’re really happy with it and think it’s one of our best.”

Jimmy Eat World Promotional runs tend to be a slog for even the most seasoned of groups, however, Jimmy Eat World’s Tom Linton doesn’t seem too fazed. The guitarist for the veteran MidWestern emo rockers joins me on the phone mere days after returning from whirlwind European promotional tour, where the band played a string of shows to promote their new record Surviving.

In the lead up to releasing the album, frontman and lyricist Jim Adkins shared a cryptic message claiming that he’d been a passenger in his body for almost 40 years without realisation (‘I didn’t know it because I was letting a voice inside my head tell me all sorts of lies to continue life at the minimum. As I grew older that minimum got lower…and then lower.’ ). Perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s plenty of selfreflection embedded within the lyrical content of Surviving, with the lyrics of ‘Diamond’ providing one stark example of Adkins’ newfound existential perception - ‘I cut out at least half of my friends, but no one noticed or mentioned’. When prompted about how this change in Adkins’ life affected him, the band and how it influenced the album, Linton says that like anyone, Adkin is simply evolving as a person as he ages. Surviving, it would seem, is about acceptance and realising nothing’s perfect. “I just think that we’re all older now, we all just turned 44, and we’ve looked at what we’ve done in our lives, and we made mistakes,” Linton admits of himself and his bandmates. “We just try to learn from those mistakes and keep going. We know we’re going to make more mistakes.” Another lyric that points to this idea of that we’re never “finished” as people is on ‘Delivery’ - ‘Don’t worry where we end up/ Ending up’s not real/ The life we build we never stop creating’. It’s clear that Jimmy Eat World’s songs and

In 2012, after thirteen years of a relentless touring schedule, three albums, two of which cracked the ARIA top five, Boge departed the band among tensions - both musical and personal - and many assumed that that was indeed that. During an all too brief talk on the phone, Boge went into surprisingly candid detail about his leaving the band, a brief and by his accounts brutal stint as a solo acoustic cover singer - some may call it character building - a chance reunion with former bandmate Kurt Goedhart and the rebirth of The Butterfly Effect. “I just bumped into Kurt a gig in The Valley in Brisbane and after about twenty minutes, it just felt like old times and we’d realised how much we missed each other,” he states with obvious excitement. He then went on to say that he emailed the rest of the band and was met with an almost instant and unanimous reaction to bury the hatchet and get back to doing what they do best.

The Butterfly Effect In some of the best news that a lot of rock fans will hear in a long time, Australian alternative metal band The Butterfly Effect have reunited for a series of shows both domestically and overseas with the definitive line up of Clint Boge, Kurt Goedhart, Glenn Esmond, and Ben Hall.

Boge’s love for the band and playing and touring together is almost infectious. Even over the phone it’s obvious why he is one of the best frontmen in the country. I had to ask what it was like going from The Butterfly Effect to being a solo covers singer in bars in Brisbane. I can imagine it would be a long way down from selling out some of the biggest venues in the country and headlining festivals to being the anonymous guy on the stool in the corner of a pub. His response? “With huge TVs playing the footy behind you and drunk people yelling ‘Play ‘The Horses’ ya c…t !’” Boge laughs. “Man, I don’t know any songs after about 1990!“ Anyone who’s ever done gigs like that can attest to the fact that it can be soul destroying, yet getting through it intact can be rewarding. It’s no secret that Boge has struggled with depression in the past, and while I was reluctant to broach the subject, Boge had no qualms in opening up. “Man, sometimes I couldn’t get out of bed, it was just too hard, but at least I


sentiments have become so ingrained in the lives and memories of their fans, however, hearing about examples of their impact on listeners never seems to get old for Linton. “It’s the best compliment you can get when someone says something like that,” the guitarist says earnestly. “When a song of ours has made them a better person, or got them through a rough time, that’s the cool thing about playing music is that is that you see that happen every once in a while.” When asked why he thinks the band have managed to keep fans interested across three separate decades with popular music changing all the time, Linton believes that connecting with their fans has a lot to do with it. “I think we try to get to know our fans. Usually when we play we’ll go hang out by the bus if they want stuff signed. We just try and make our fans happy. Our fans are the best!” Linton also concedes that a band delivering a great live show each time they play helps maintain a loyal set of listeners. “I hope it does, (yet) there are some nights that are just gonna be off a little bit,” he admits. “Some nights where Jim gets totally sick., I’ll tell him ‘don’t like, overplay’ and chill out and he’ll still try play as hard as he can and give it his all.” BY ALEXANDER CROWDEN

Jimmy Eat World’s new record Surviving is out now via Exotic Location Recordings / Sony Music Australia. Catch the band play in Melbourne and Sydney at Download Festival next March – head online for all the details.

had something to write about.” Anyone familiar with The Butterfly Effect’s music can attest to the fact that their lyrics are not afraid to address the darker emotions of life. Turning what can be a terrible situation into something positive like music can be extremely beneficial and therapeutic, not just for the artist but for the audience as well. And now for the big news. Having released the single ‘Unbroken’ earlier this year, the question on every fan’s lips has to asked, and that is “Will there be an album to follow?” I barely get the question out and Boge responds with a resounding and passionate “YES!” The band is currently writing and recording a new album, which is supposedly due out later next year. One of the problems with recording earlier albums was that the band wanted to get a little more experimental which was at odds with Boge’s desire to stick to what they were known for. “We’re getting on a lot better than we used to, priorities have changed with people growing up and having families and growing up in general”. The impression one gets is that like everyone, even musicians grow up - it’s now twenty years since The Butterfly Effect formed - and with that growth comes a maturity, empathy and understanding that only comes with adding more candles to the cake each year. BY MATT DWYER

The Butterfly Effect are touring for Good Things Festival this month. Stay tuned for more news from the band in upcoming months.

MUSIC INTERVIEWS Quartey has a long history working as a musician, largely as a session vocalist with the likes of The Chemical Brothers, Bugz in the Attic, Chase & Status, Will Young and Massive Attack, as well as a member of the Bristolian country-soul band Phantom Limb. For many years, pursuing a solo career had seemed not only unattainable, but undesirable. “I was terrified and I wasn’t really in a place where I could admit I was terrified,” Quartey says. “I bought into a stereotype, which was of the Strong Black Woman, even though I wasn’t strong. I was terrified of so many things. I was terrified of social media. I had a very negative environment that I was in that made me scared of a lot of things. “Every time I tried to do something, I was ever so slightly ridiculed. I was only really accepted when I stayed the hell in my lane. I wasn’t ready to be a leader and if you do start to write songs for yourself, the process of writing songs on your own is a real mental departure from what I was used to doing, [which is] being collaborative.”

Yola Released in February, Walk Through Fire is Yolanda Quartey’s first full-length record as a solo artist. The British musician debuted the Yola moniker with her 2016 EP, Orphan Offering, which bagged the UK Artist of the Year gong at the inaugural UK Americana Music Association Awards.

Removing herself from this environment gave Quartey the courage to write and record Orphan Offering. But while the EP is a statement of Quartey’s independence, Walk Through Fire is a collaborative effort through and through. Quartey made the album alongside The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who not only produced the record but also co-wrote the majority of its songs. It was recorded in Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound studio in Nashville and released through the label of the same name.

UNIFY Gathering unleashed their monster line-up in September for their four day heavy festival from 9 – 12 January 2020, and it looks damn good.

The result is a record encompassing strains of country, folk and classic soul, as well as rootsier and rockier departures. “[Auerbach and I] talked about the music we were into and found a lot of common ground,” says Quartey. “We started exploring that common ground and I was talking about wanting to be genre fluid – to be happily situated in the middle of a number of genres. “So you can hear the influence of one poking out a bit more than another from song to song, but in every song you can hear little traits of all genres.” For instance, ‘Faraway Look’ showcases Quartey’s taste for classic pop singer-songwriters entwined with threads of cinematic soul. ‘Walk Through Fire’, on the other hand, hews more to the rootsy side of her taste. “That’s the difference between something like ‘Ride Out In the Country’, which is more the country rock side of things that I’m into, and then ‘It Ain’t Easy’ is very classic country sounding, but with a soul feel as well,” she says. “‘Still Gone’ has that soul feel and then there are little bits of all the other genres that poke their heads out in that song. “I wanted to be free to explore this particular nexus of genres so then as I move through albums, I’m able to edge towards something and bring other influences into the fray of the stuff I’m already doing.”

Despite Quartey hailing from North Somerset in the West Country of England, Walk Through Fire is very much a Nashville

Catch Yola on her debut Australian tour next April at Byron Bay Bluesfest – tickets available online.

Located in the stunning surrounds of South Gippsland, the festival, as branded ‘a celebration of good friends, great times and heavy music’, saw the likes of Underoath, Karnivool, In Hearts Wake, and Taking Back Sunday roar through jam-packed sets in 2019. The return sees the festival expand leaps and bounds with more days, more acts, more food vendors, a more sustainable approach and a move to a more inclusive line-up.

“It’s so funny, when I found out Silverstein were playing I just thought of my 14 year old self, and how I really wanted a Silverstein shirt and the only place to go to get them [was] this place called Joint Venture and it was kind of like a bong shop,” she laughs. “But this will be our very first show in January so we will be dusting of the cobwebs in December for Festival of the Sun and UNIFY will be the next one after that but I’m super looking forward to it. To play again will feel too surreal. It’s been too long.”

Instagram page @lineupswithoutmales reports the festivals vast improvement to reach a 50/50 gender representation ratio, this year coming in at 33% with acts like Tonight Alive, Make Them Suffer, The Beautiful Monument and Eat Your Heart Out leading those statistics. Another welcome addition to that line-up is the ‘Cinderella Dracula’ of Australian rock music, Tired Lion, who are psyched to be included in such a diverse lineup. “It’s so important and great that the Australian music industry put that diversity topic under a microscope so we’ve started to have this conversation and we’ve started to progress and it’s becoming more positive. UNIFY are at 33%! It’s not 50% yet but it’s still a pretty damn good effort,” says frontwoman Sophie Hopes. “We’re just fighting for the same equal opportunities as the guys get. We don’t want to get rid of the men, no, keep the men. Just add more women, that’s it!” UNIFY will be Hopes and co.’s first concert for 2020 and they’re excited to join friends bands and female and non-binary inclusive acts, but they also join one of Hopes favourite bands.


Singer-songwriter Vince Gill sings backing harmonies on ‘Keep Me Here,’ while bluegrass exemplars Molly Tuttle, Ronnie McCoury and Stuart Duncan all contribute to the title track.

“I came to him with a song [‘Shady Grove’] and I was like, ‘Well this is something I have. It’s true to who I am. What do you think, could we colour in around it?’” Quartey says. “Because it’s definitely got a country sound to it and there’s definitely soul in it. And he was like, ‘Yeah let’s colour in around that space.’”

Following an insightful panel discussion on ‘Gender and Music’ at this years’ event as facilitated by Michelle Grace Hunder with guests Jenna McDougall, Dale Tanner, Shontay Snow, Alex Reade, and Joel Martorana, the festival has made gender equality a key focus for 2020.

Tired Lion

production. There are songs co-written by Bobby Wood, Joe Allen and Nashville stalwarts Pat McLaughlin and Dan Penn; the latter of whom wrote classics like ‘The Dark End of the Street’ and ‘Do Right Woman, Do Right Man’.


In addition to being alongside amazing talent on the lineup, the band also has a special surprise in store within their band formation. “We’ve got a secret guest filling in as well from a pretty rad band so that’s something to allude to,” Hopes teases. It’s no wonder the band are going all out for UNIFY. They’ve had a quiet 2019 with only a handful of gigs but Tired Lion haven’t been completely MIA. Hopes has been locked away working on new material for their sophomore album and the follow on from their mammoth debut, Dumb Days. “It’s been really quiet on that front but behind the scenes I have been working my butt off just working on new material and taking my time with it for the first time ever. I’ve always felt really rushed in the past with getting new music out there and just slamming it so I just wanted to take a different approach to it this time and just chill and go at my own pace and it’s been really rewarding. I’m writing some pretty interesting stuff. I’m just going for the whole ‘I want to produce something that I think is art and that I think is fucking cool and I want to listen to’.” BY TAMMY WALTERS Tired Lion are playing at UNIFY Gathering this January 9-12 in Tarwin Meadows, Gippsland. Tickets are available online.

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THE UK’S OBSESSION WITH PREDICTING THE CHRISTMAS NUMBER ONE There are two kinds of people when it comes to Christmas music. The first switches off the radio the second they hear Michael Buble, can’t understand the fascination with Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas is You’, and is quick to voice their distaste when anyone mentions their love for the jolliest time of the year. The second person has been counting down the days until it’s socially acceptable to dive into every Christmas playlist on Spotify, even though they’ve been secretly listening the whole year round. But in recent years, a third type of person has emerged with a new response to the festive season: the UK residents obsessed with predicting the Christmas number one. For those who aren’t aware, the song that takes out number one on the UK Singles Chart on December 25 is a huge deal in Britain. To give an Australian context, it’s sort of the UK equivalent of triple j’s Hottest 100. Bets are made on who will come out on top, media outlets speculate over who the winner will be, and the results are always hotly debated. Yet like most cultural phenomenons, the UK Christmas number one can be traced back to humble beginnings. The first artist to take the crown was Al Martino (who you may recognise for his part in The Godfather as Johnny Fontane) in 1952 with his track ‘Here in my Heart’. The real competition, however, didn’t heat up until just over


twenty years later, when releasing festive tunes in an effort to take out the Christmas number one became the latest and greatest marketing ploy. Slade and Wizzard led the way in 1973 with a Christmas single each: ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ and ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’, respectively. Slade’s track soon rose to sit atop the charts on December 25. From that point on, the chart position became the most prestigious of the year and the competition for first place only grew. More often than not, the tracks that rise to the top of the UK Singles Chart at just the right moment are charity singles – three different versions of Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ have claimed the top spot– or even novelty songs, like Benny Hill’s ‘Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)’ in 1971 through to Bob the Builder’s ‘Can We Fix It?’ in 2000. But in 2002, a new contender arrived to shake up the competition: reality TV singing programmes. In what is, frankly, a pretty genius marketing move, the winners of reality TV singing competitions were soon releasing their first single in the lead-up to Christmas– just in time to claim the time-honoured Christmas number one. It was a bold move that paid off, with X Factor winners holding seven Christmas chart toppers to date. Of course, not everyone was especially fond of this growing trend, a feeling that culminated in what is now known as ‘Rage Against X Factor’. Perhaps the most widely talked about year of the competition for the UK Christmas number one is 2009. After years of distaste with reality TV winners taking out the top spot, fans decided to launch an online

campaign to knock 2009 X Factor winner Joe McElderry off the winning podium before he could reach it. Taking to social media, a campaign to elevate a different song to the top of the charts began. The catch? The song chosen was Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name’, which was released in 1992 and is the antithesis to the uplifting pop of McElderry’s single. Yet the powers of social media prevailed as against all odds, ‘Killing in the Name’ sold 500,000 units in a week to be crowned the 2009 UK Christmas number one – 17 years after its initial release. The competitors for this year’s crown are already being ranked by bookmakers, media outlets and fans alike. At the time of writing, Dan Smith is narrowly in the lead with his cover of REO Speedwagon’s ‘Can’t Fight This Feeling’. The song featured in this year’s John Lewis advertisement, another Christmas tradition that defines the UK’s festive season. Following Smith is Chris Kamara, former English footballer and current Sky Sports presenter, whose Christmas album is making its way up the charts.

out on the top spot which was claimed by Ed Sheeran. The campaign continued last year but was foiled once again, this time by YouTuber/dad blogger LadBaby, whose novelty cover of Starship’s ‘We Built This City’ (also known as ‘The Sausage Roll Song’) reached number one with all proceeds donated to foodbank charity The Trussell Trust. Given the release of a feature film of the same name, it’s safe to say ‘Last Christmas’ has a better chance than ever to be crowned champion. But with the countdown to Christmas getting shorter every day, it’s anyone’s guess who will come out on top. At the end of the day, the important thing to remember is this: if Benny Hill can do it, anyone can. BY JESSICA OVER

Other artists in with a shot at glory include Adele (pending her long-awaited album release), Robbie Williams (with his very first Christmas album), and of course, whoever wins this year’s season of X Factor. But of all the contenders for 2019, the song that is perhaps most worthy to win for nostalgia alone is Wham!’s 1984 hit, ‘Last Christmas’. In 2017, a group of dedicated fans launched a social media campaign a la Rage Against X Factor in an effort to honour the late George Michael, narrowly missing

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Extending chords

So, we know that a suspended chord (typically) replaces the 3rd with either the 2nd or 4th. This creates an open, airy sound that isn’t Major or minor without further information (melody, other chords etc). The 7sus4 chord then, takes a dominant 7th (1-3-5-b7) and replaces the 3rd with the 4th creating 1-4-5-b7. Again this has that open sound but with the added dominant 7. Figure A uses an F#7 chord and then turns it into an F#7sus4. For us guitarists it’s not always easy to stack chords in ascending interval order but this F#7 is a good start that won’t break your fingers!

Figure B then adds some more 7sus4 shapes around the neck. These use a variety of inversions but all contain 1-4-5-b7. G7sus4 is built around a G Major barre chord in the 3rd fret (with the root on the 6th string), A7sus4 comes from the open A and A7 voicing you’ve all probably played at some stage, C7sus4 is from the 5th string root barre chord shape and finally E7sus4 takes advantage of the open E string and a higher voicing spelt A-D-E-B. Obviously the barre chord shapes can easily be moved around the neck if needed!

You might hear these chords played in place of and alongside/alternating with dominant 7 chords to create extra movement and variation. Figure C does exactly that. In the key of C Major the progression moves from the I chord to the IV chord and then the V chord as both 7sus4 and straight dom7. This could then resolve back to the I chord or stay unresolved to add tension.

By definition a chord contains two notes or more (as opposed to just a single ‘note’) with Major and minor chords being built as triads (1-3-5 or 1-b3-5). Extending to the 7th adds some extra flavour to the sound – Major 7, dominant 7 and minor 7. Unfortunately the somewhat constrained setup of the bass guitar often limits our ability to include all four notes. Often then we ditch the 5th leaving us the root, 3rd and 7th.

Figure A shows Amaj7, A7 and Am7. All of these chords are ordered root, 7th, 3rd with the root on the low E string and obviously being movable shapes up and down the neck. Have a good listen to the sound of the voicings with the 3rd on top. Then if we want some A string root voicings let’s check out Figure B.

Now we have Dmaj7, D7 and Dm7 with the voicings ordered root, 3rd, 7th. These voicings can also be moved up and down the neck, and combined with the E string root shapes, give you lots of options all over the fretboard. Additionally the A string root voicings give you a different sound due to the order the notes are stacked. Let’s put some of these 7th chords into practice now in the form of a 12 bar blues in C (Figure C). Using the I-V-IV (C-F-G) we’ll make all the chords dominant 7ths. Starting with C7 (root on the low E string) we can then use F7 and G7 with the root on the A string. This keeps all the voicings close and creates some cool movement in the higher notes. Notice in the C7 the two highest notes are Bb-E (7th-3rd) and these two notes move down a semi tone to create the 3rd-7th (A-Eb) of the F7. Its interesting to see that the semitone movement creates the next chord with the intervals stacked the opposite way. This also then means that moving the higher notes of the C7 chord up a semi tone creates G7 (the 3rd and 7th, B and F).

There are also many examples of bands/composers/songs using the 7sus4 chord straight up as the opening chord of a song or new section. This usage acts as a substitution for the straight dominant 7 chord and adds some extra intrigue to the sound. Similar to sus4 chords, the 7sus4 has been used in jazz/fusion/funk (amongst other styles) moving in repeated intervals/patters to further reinforce the unresolved, open sound. Figure D starts on C7sus4 and ascends in minor 3rd intervals.

Now if we add in some syncopation to the rhythm (Figure E) and try playing it over a medium funk groove we get a pretty cool acid jazz/funk/soul sound. Remember that adding rhythmic elements can help create movement and interest, especially with the open and ambiguous sound of 7sus4 chords.


Like always, dig deeper and work out some 7sus4 voicings for yourself (remembering that guitar isn’t always great for stacking chords in order due to the restrictions of note placement/fingerings etc). Then try incorporating some into your own playing – as V chords or alternating and combining with V dom7 chords, or as a standalone unresolved sound. Have fun with these and keep an ear out for the popping up, you’ll be surprised where you might hear them! BY NICK BROWN 26


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Martin DX Johnny Cash Guitar



RECOMMENDED FOR: Bass players looking for a versatile workhorse for studio or stage. SOUND/VERSATILITY: Based on the Warwick Streamer model, Adam Clayton’s signature RockBass invokes tones reminiscent of a ‘50s or ‘60s Precision Bass; punchy in the low-end with a distinctive honk when playing up the neck. This model features the classic combination of a maple neck and an alder body, and the Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound pickup is complemented with passive MEC electronics for even further tonal variations. USABILITY: You’d expect the signature bass for the man who holds down the low-end for U2 every other night to be pretty damn good. With features such as wooden thumb rest, two-piece bridge, Tedur nut and bronze frets, the Adam Clayton RockBass plays and feels good, and while the body shape is a bit

RECOMMENDED FOR: Obviously fans of the Man In Black, but it’s also a killer mid-tier dreadnaught with a brand heritage worthy of legend status. much at first, it’ll definitely grow on you. CONSTRUCTION: Although I didn’t really dig the aesthetic combination of the aged Cream White finish, maple neck and black fretboard block inlays, Warwick’s Adam Clayton RockBass model is very solid in the quality control department. This specimen is well-balanced, comfortably weighted, boasts a nicely-finished neck and feels great in the hands – which is really what matters the most. OVERALL: If you’re hunting an affordable, reliable bass that looks a bit eccentric yet puts a lot on your plate, the Clayton RockBass is the one for you.

SOUNDS/VERSATILITY: Johnny Cash was a traditionalist when it came to acoustic tones, and Martin’s latest tribute to the Man In Black certainly upholds this. The guitar oozes a crisp, inviting tone best suited for open chords and hybrid picking, however, it definitely holds its own with single-note passages played higher up the neck. An inbuilt Fishman MX preamp even lets you plug into the PA, making this one even more formidable for gigging guitarists. USABILITY: Martin’s D series is one of the most recorded – and copied – acoustic guitars in history, so the Johnny Cash tribute model doesn’t stray far from familiarity. It’s simple yet extremely

Recording King RK RPS 7ETS

Faith Nexus Series Acoustic Guitars



RECOMMENDED FOR: Guitarists with a penchant for vintage/roots rock, blues and country.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Guitarists looking for a visually striking jack-of-all-trades acoustic guitar suitable for a variety of genres.

SOUND / VERSATILITY: Don’t be fooled by the small body of this parlour guitar. It packs a punch when strumming chords and has great projection and balance when used for traditional blues and country finger style playing. It’ll be right at home for the folk/ roots players as well, with a character and midrange bark that set sit apart from other full sized acoustics. The built-in Gold Foil pickup also sounds killer when plugged. USABILITY: The small parlour size makes it super comfortable to play with a slim neck and a low action, making this one wellsuited for smaller hands or younger players. As is tradition with parlour guitars, the neck

meets the body at the twelfth fret, so access to the high frets is not on the menu, but it’s not really built with shredding in mind. CONSTRUCTION: The Spruce top really sings, while 25.4” scale length, cross lap bracing, bone nut and saddle add up to create a great little guitar. The aforementioned Gold Foil pickup is also a very welcome touch. OVERALL: If you’re looking for a vintage style parlour guitar that has an authentic old timey sound and vibe, the RPS -7ETS could be just what you’re looking for. Great sound and feel and very hard to put down.

VERSATILITY: The Nexus series is specifically tailored for those who especially love a little colour in their lives. The two rich colour choices – Cognac and Copper-Black – are carefully hand-applied, ensuring the guitar’s beautiful wood grain is still able to peek out beneath the finish. The series is available in two of Faith’s most popular guitar shapes: the Venus and the Neptune. USABILITY: Faith Guitars are known for their excellent playability right out of the box, chiefly thanks to renowned luthier Patrick James Eggle’s rigorous setup standards. The Venus body shape is undoubtedly a crowdpleaser and easily fits players of all statures. On the other hand, the Neptune is akin to a baby-jumbo size and brings some additional

practical, and will sound as good mic’d up in the studio as it does plugged in onstage. CONSTRUCTION: Made from high pressure laminate (HPL) and boasting a Black Birch laminate neck and Richlite fretboard, the Martin DX Johnny Cash feels quite sturdy, and the Jett Black finish, custom star fret inlays and CASH logo at the 12th fret really add a lot to the aesthetic of this guitar. OVERALL: All-black acoustics aren’t for everybody, but if you’re a big fan of Johnny Cash’s musical output, the Martin DX Johnny Cash model is a very faithful tribute to one of the greatest to ever do it.

oomph without the extra heft of a full-sized jumbo guitar. CONSTRUCTION: The Nexus series of guitars utilises solid mahogany for their top, back, sides, and neck, with a Macassan figured ebony fingerboard to top it off. Each guitar is finished in a pristine high gloss lacquer that accentuates the mahogany’s figuring while adding a layer of protection against the elements. Onboard electronics are handled by Fishman: a Presys 2 preamp for the Venus model, and a Sonitone preamp and pickup for the Neptune. OVERALL: The Nexus Series is an excellent choice for all discerning guitarists who want the most bang for their buck.


GIFT GUIDE Faith Nomad Series Travel Guitars

Fender Seaside Ukulele Pack



RECOMMENDED FOR: Musicians/buskers constantly on the move who don’t want any compromise on sound.

RECOMMENDED FOR: If you’ve got a kid and want them to pick up the music bug, this Seaside Ukulele Pack might be a strong option to get them started. It’s probably also suitable for adults too, but we’re all about prolonging those vibes right?

VERSATILITY: While not exactly being a guitar you can carelessly throw around on the ground, Faith’s Nomad series feature smaller-scaled axes that are absolutely perfect for camping, festivals, and gigs overseas. While other travel-sized guitars often skimp out on various sonic qualities, the Nomad series ensures you’ll always have a great-sounding guitar on hand at all times. USABILITY: Playing a guitar from the Nomad series is a walk in the park, thanks to its supremely comfortable 590mm scale length and excellent factory setup. The Nomad series consists of two body shapes: the Neptune (a baby-jumbo size), and the Saturn (a smaller dreadnought shape). While both guitars come in more manageable packages, they still produce and project tones that are very much full-bodied.

CONSTRUCTION: Faith’s Nexus guitars are built from solid mahogany for their necks, backs, and sides, with solid spruce for their tops. Fretboards are made with Indonesian ebony, while bridge pieces are constructed from Macassan figured ebony. Both body shapes also feature a quality Fishman Sonicore Pickup and Isys T preamp. OVERALL: While most people would prefer a travel-sized guitar for its unrivalled portability, some choose it for their difference in voicing. A small-scale guitar is often the perfect companion for most traveling performers, and Faith’s Nomad series is an excellent contender for this specific category.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: The soprano-voiced Seaside Ukulele is a great option for beginners. There’s only so much ground you can cover with a uke, but this one definitely sounds like it’s a solid model, handling strumming, plucking and fingerpicking with ease. The ukulele is also a lot louder than I expected it to be, and will certainly suffice in a lounge room for practise. USABILITY: The small soprano size of the Seaside makes this a great option for little hands to get started on fretting notes and chord shapes. The Ukulele Pack also includes a three-month subscription to Fender Play’s

Squier Classic Vibe Starcaster

Art Series ‘Bon Voyage’ Tenor Saxaphone



RECOMMENDED FOR: If you’re looking for an affordable semi-hollow body guitar with some quirks to differentiate it from a standard ES-style guitar, this might be the one for you.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Jazz Cats, Classical Kids, Buccaneers, Nautical types.

SOUNDS/VERSATILITY: The Starcaster is one of Fender’s best rediscovered, cult guitars – there’s a lot of them - and this Squier definitely holds true to the sound of the original units from the ‘70s. It’s got a sweet janky driven tone, and can definitely produce some sweet cleans courtesy of its dual Seth Lover style humbucking pickups. USABILITY: Some Squier models can be a bit hit and miss, but the Classic Vibe Starcaster is a pretty solid model. Even though it’s a semi-hollow bodied instrument, there’s minimal feedback, and the neck and feel

of the body are easily playable, with a nice action even when playing high up the neck. CONSTRUCTION: The build quality on this Classic Vibe Starcaster is phenomenal! I love the Sunburst finish, the headstock carve is sweet, and the humbuckers sound pretty mean when pushed too. OVERALL: I’m a Jonny Greenwood fanatic, so I’m probably biased here, but I’ve not been as excited about any guitar this year like I have been the Classic Vibe Starcasters, and I’m so happy to report that Squier did not disappoint.

Chambord CAS-50 Alto Black Truffle

USEABILITY: Visually striking and playable as anything, the ‘Bon Voyage’ is a departure

CONSTRUCTION: The Fender Seaside Ukulele is made from mahogany, which is quite a warm, durable wood, ensuring that it’s both durable and maintains its sound quality. The pack also includes a soft case and a clip on tuner. OVERALL: A viable option for either sparking passion in a younger relative or simply exploring some high end sounds on four strings.

from the traditional brass aesthetic. Perfect for anybody looking for a seachange. CONSTRUCTION: Unsinkable. OVERALL: A beautiful looking and playing instrument, the ‘Bon Voyage’ is the perfect present for anybody with a love of saxaphones and/or the ocean. Just as collectible as they are playable, the ‘bon voyage’ is the perfect gift for players and seadogs alike.

MarkBass Marcus Miller Signature Amplifier Range



RECOMMENDED FOR: Jazz Cats, Steampunks, Arty types, Avant-garde Orchestras

RECOMMENDED FOR: Bass players of any level of skill and profession. Marcus Miller has played with greats such as Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis, and his signature range of amplifiers reflect that experience and breadth of tastes.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: Château are here to change the face of Brass instruments for the better with their vivid hand painted decals and impressively robust sound. Tuned to a high F#, the larger bell on the CAS-50 is designed to increase volume and resonance while the beautifully ornate brasswork really has to be seen to be believed. Don a pair of Morpheous glasses and get jazzy.

CONSTRUCTION: Like a Velvet Hammer, beautiful yet tough as nails.

USEABILITY: Don’t let the aesthetic fool you, these are very much professional quality instruments, from their ribbed construction to their mother of pearl inlays and Pisoni HT pads, the Chambord CAS-50 Alto is a sax

OVERALL: A fresh new take on one of the signature sounds of the modern era, the Château Chambord CAS-50 Alto Black Truffle is a horn with personality. Perfect for standing out in a crowd.


SOUND/VERSATILITY: Chateau like to tell a story with their instruments. The ‘Bon Voyage’ Tenor Sax is the first release from Chateau’s new art series and comes adorned with a beautiful maritime scene, sure to capture the imagination of even the most landlocked sailor. Using a ten stage polishing process that gives the artwork a 3D appearance under light, these are some of the most visually intriguing saxes on the market and with three decades of saxophone crafting behind the brand, you best believe they sound as good as they look.

online learning platform, which is a nice little added feature.

made for serious playing.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: The sound of the entire range, from the small combos up to louder heads and cabinet combinations offer a huge variety of sound and tone. USABILITY: Unlike some other signature products, the Marcus Miller range isn’t designed to nail a specific tone, look or sound, but instead to provide practical tools to amplify the working bassist, such as Miller himself. The range offers small practice amps, such as the Micro 60, but at the opposite end

provides the Little Marcus 1000 for gigs of literally any size. CONSTRUCTION: All the cabinets, including the combos, are incredibly well constructed and thought out. They’re designed to withstand the rumble they create, and maintain a balance between volume and size. OVERALL: Overall the Marcus Miller range from MarkBass offers a product for everyone (or a couple of products for someone!). Designed from the ground up as a solution to more complicated bass rigs, the tones are easy to dial and the amplifiers are produced with the working player in mind, so they’re simple.

GIFT GUIDE MarkBass Jeff Berlin Players School Combo

Fender Mustang LT25 Amplifier


FENDER AUSTRALIA | RRP: $329 RECOMMENDED FOR: Guitarists wanting an almost infinite range of amp tones and effects for practicing, jamming and recording.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Bass players who need a simple solution to both practice and small gigs. The Jeff Berlin Players School Combo, designed after the Players School of Music founder Jeff Berlin, is designed as a practice that works best when dialed flat, and the EQ need only be used to fix odd room acoustics. SOUND/VERSATILITY: While marketed as a practice amp, and admittedly not need much versatility, the Players School Combo can be pushed or pulled to fit into all styles. While designed to be run fairly clean, this makes the amp perfect for layers pedals. USABILITY: The 15” speaker built into the well-constructed cabinet receives signal from a 300W solid state preamp and makes the amp very usable in both a proper rehearsal, small gig and home practice scenario.

CONSTRUCTION: The cabinet is well constructed and designed to withstand the rumble from 300W RMS. OVERALL: This is a great practice amp for any bass player, whether amateur or pro. The tones are clean, but can be pushed, but also provide a tidy bed for pedals to leave their mark on, before you drive the performance home with your hands.

Vox MV50 Range

RECOMMENDED FOR: Guitarists not only seeking a pint-sized practise companion, but a simple solution for recording demos and ideas into their laptop in their bedrooms or on the go. CONSTRUCTION: These mini amp heads tend to be referred to as lunchbox amps, so that should give you a good idea of the dimensions of the Vox MV50 range. There’s also convenient carry handle up the top to make things easy for lugging them around. OVERALL: If you’re looking for an amp that pairs well with pedals and will fit into a backpack, the Vox MV50 range might just tick the boxes for you.

Lewitt 250 DM

SOUND/VERSATILITY: Obviously it’s not an amplifier built for live performance, but if you’re just looking for something practical to jam with in your bedroom, IK Multimedia’s iRig Micro Amp is a pretty safe option. There’s three channels to choose from, while controls for gain, bass, mids, treble and volume give you a lot of flexibility in the tone department. Plus, there’s a built-in audio interface; how good is that?!? USABILITY: This little fella functions just like any old amp, save for the fact it’s been subjected to the shrink ray treatment. The iRig Micro Amp can also be hooked up to

your smartphone to record via GarageBand on iOS or any another mobile DAW via a micro USB cable, letting you capture ideas as soon as they pop into your head. CONSTRUCTION: Although there’s no handle to lug this thing around, the IK Multimedia iRig Micro Amp is still incredibly portable, weighing in at a featherweight 1.26 kg. When you account for the fact that it doubles as an audio interface, that’s completely astounding. What kind of magic is this? OVERALL: A very useful, very portable solution to jamming or recording on the go, the iRig Micro Amp is everything you’ve come to expect from IK Multimedia.


RECOMMENDED FOR: Singers, FOH engineers, buskers.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Solo acts, acoustic duos or even lounge jazz trios looking for a simple, lightweight and reliable solution to rehearsal and performance.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: The Lewitt 250 DM is an extremely high quality moving coil mic for the stage and studio. It’s ergonomic chassis, incredibly low handling noise and, sweet, airy top make it a favourite across stages worldwide. An extremely handy microphone to have on hand.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: Featuring three channels with a choice of TRS, XLR and RCA inputs and a three-band EQ on each, the Prodipe Natural 5 is suitable for amplifying solo acts or ensembles performing in an acoustic setting. Guitars played through the amp boast a woody tone with an emphasis on the midrange, and there’s also reverb available on each channel to give your playing some extra depth when needed.

USEABILITY: The Lewitt 250 DM is a sterling choice for all vocal applictaions (and even doubles as an awesome snare mic, given the opportunity.) With it’s rugged build quality and pleasant, silky voicing, this one is sure to put a smile on that special someone’s face.

OVERALL: Damn I wish there was one of these under the tree when I was a kid. It’s that good.

Prodipe Natural 5 Acoustic Instrument Amplifier


CONSTRUCTION: Built like a sherman tank, you’d have to be working pretty hard to break this one.

CONSTRUCTION: The Fender durability is second to none. It’s a byword for toughness and reliability.


RECOMMENDED FOR: Players looking for a compact amp head that pairs well with pedals.

USABILITY: After you plug the amplifier into a speaker cabinet, the Vox MV50 head gives you three controls to shape your tone with, letting you adjust gain, tone and volume via the unit’s faceplate. The VU meter is a cool little touch, and lets you monitor your signal as you approach closer to glorious overdrive.

USABILITY: The programming on the Mustang is intuitive and user friendly. It also comes with a headphone out for silent practicing and an input of MP3 players or other sound sources so you can jam along

with your favourite albums or backing tracks. Never has it been so easy or inspiring to practice, the Mustang will take you from average Joe to pro in no time flat. It also has a USB so you can update the software as well as connect it to a DAW for easy recording.

IK Multimedia Irig Micro Amp


SOUND/VERSATILITY: With three models to accommodate for a range of genres - the gritter MV50 Rock, the spanky MV50 Clean and the classic, chimey MV50 AC – the Vox MV50 range certainly covers a lot of bases. Analogue enthusiasts will be stoked to hear that there’s no modeling used in these amps: somehow, Vox have crammed a NuTube triode valve, an analogue preamp and a solid state preamp to present quite a tantalising offering from such a compact package.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: The Mustang LT25 is the product of decades of research and refinement at Fender HQ, crafting some of the best sounding guitar amps on the planet. The Mustang is loaded with a collection of over thirty presets covering a wide range of music - from country to metal and everything in between, It’s loaded with just about every effect you’ll ever need , which can all be changed/tested at the touch of a button.

OVERALL: A wise man once said, you can never have too many microphones.

USABILITY: The term plug ‘n play is grossly overused, but it applies perfectly to the Natural 5. The amplifier is very intuitive, and

almost functions as a mini PA – there’s even a Line Out to make your job easier in a live setting. CONSTRUCTION: I love the tilt legs on the Natural 5; they’re great for angling and elevating the amp to avoid noise complaints from pesky neighbours. The dimensions and meager 11 kilogram weight of this Prodipe Acoustic Instrument Amplifier make it super portable, and it’ll easily squeeze onto your front seat next to you. OVERALL: A comprehensive solution to both practise and performance, particularly if you’re playing in a folk, blues, soft-pop or jazz setting.


GIFT GUIDE Sonicware ELZ_1

Novation Launchpad X



RECOMMENDED FOR: Those looking for an immersive, portable synthesiser with a myriad of sound engines and sequencing capabilities.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Anyone looking for an intuitive pad-style MIDI controller for production and performance, particularly Ableton 10 users.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: Considering this is Sonicware’s synth debut, there’s so much to dive into with the ELZ_1. Simple leads, pads and percussion sounds are easily achieved with the presets. The FM synth engine is awesome for warbling, bell-like tones, while the SiGRINDER Granular Synth and waveformgenerating and DNA Explorer modes let you get real gritty for some lo-fi sonic goodness. There’s also modulation options galore, and the inbuilt effects are sublime, especially the reverbs and delays. USABILITY: I’m not going to lie – it’s definitely worth reading the manual to get properly acquainted everything this bad boy offers. However, the interface of the ELZ–1 is surprisingly inviting, and menu-diving isn’t as tricky as it seems on the surface. The 64 step

sequencer is super straightforward and very, very rewarding to play with. CONSTRUCTION: This thing is a little tank! It’s built almost entirely from solid metal, and the 37 mini keys, rotary encoders and buttons all feel pretty sturdy. Some users might not like Sonicware choosing 1/8” input and ouput jacks over standard 1/4”s, but for a unit of this size, you really can’t complain. OVERALL: What’s not to like? The Sonicware ELZ_1 is definitely here to stay, and even if it doesn’t make it into your band’s setlist, it’s endlessly inspiring to fiddle with. Two thumbs up here.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: The Launchpad X features 64 full-sized RGB performance pads, which are both pressure and velocity sensitive to really let you get expressive on the fly. The Capture MIDI button and utility functions also allow for some serious knob tweaking and can present some wonderfully random results, even if you’re just using stock Ableton loops. USABILITY: If you’re familiar with any kind of MIDI pad controller, operating the Launchpad X will flow like the breeze. Tapping out beats in record mode is simple, inputing sequences into the grid is as easy as multiplying values of four, and even loop tweaking and faux-keys playing is of second nature.

Novation Launchpad Mini Mk3

Novation Launchkey Mini Mk3



RECOMMENDED FOR: Short on desk space or looking to make your next hit while traveling on the road? This is what you’ve been looking for.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Another piece of entrylevel kit perfect for the budding bedroom producer, particularly those looking to teach themselves the basics of keyboard-based production styles.

SOUNDS/VERSATILITY: Like the aforementioned Launchpad X, the Launchpad Mini Mk3 offers a lot in the versatility department. Whether you’re using this thing live, in the studio or even on the go, you’ll find no shortage of tools to shape samples, loops, grooves and even entire tracks with. USABILITY: Novation are the kings of creating straightforward and user-friendly pieces of production gear, and the Launchpad Mini MkIII really underscores this. Everything here is packaged so even absolute beginners can take the product out of the box and get started on making beats - no need for any YouTube tutorials here.

CONSTRUCTION: As the name would imply, the Launchpad Mini Mk3 is pretty small, and while it might take a while to get used to the smaller pads, they don’t detract from how this thing operates whatsoever. USB-C connectivity makes producing faster than ever, and the build quality is very solid to boot. OVERALL: If you’re fresh to the world of laptop production and want to avoid the chore of inputing MIDI notes into a piano roll with your mouse, the Launchpad Mini Mk3 is perfect for you. It’s relied upon all around the world, and with the right software and sample packs at your disposable, you’ll never be short of inspiration.

Novation Summit

SOUNDS/VERSATILITY: Similar in sound to Korg’s Prologue synth and at times reminiscent of a Prophet, the Summit really knows no restraints in the sound department. Lush pads, growling basses and trembling leads are easily achievable, and Novation have even managed to cram an FM engine into it to create spooky ambient tones and stack them on top. The Summit definitely has the potential to be the lone, do-it-all synth of your studio setup. USABILITY: God this thing is good! Essentially fusing two of Novation’s acclaimed Peak engines together, the Summit offers 16 voices of creamy analogue goodness, with


USABILITY: In addition to the 25 mini keys and the 16 backlit performance pads, the Launchkey Mini features new arpeggiator and fixed chord modes, making it extremely practical for generating songwriting ideas

OVERALL: The X is undoubtedly the best entry in Novation’s longstanding Launchpad series, and I’d consider it an essential production tool if you’re running Ableton Live 10 as your main DAW - these two pair together better than hummus and carrot sticks.

and adding some zest to your performances. The eight assignable rotary encoder knobs also make tweaking soft-synth and DAW parameters incredibly intuitive! CONSTRUCTION: Novation have managed to squeeze touch-strips on the Launchkey Mini to control modulation and pitch bends - a very welcome feature for a keyboard of this size! USB-C functionality also makes it super speedy and responsive to CPU hungry DAWs, and obviously, it’s small as well. OVERALL: You really can’t go wrong with this little guy. It’s the perfect entry-level production tool for electronic and hip-hop producers, and makes learning the basics engaging and fun.

Ashun Sound Machines Hydra Synth

DISTRIBUTED BY: INNOVATIVE MUSIC EXPECT TO PAY: $3699 RECOMMENDED FOR: The serious synthesist looking for the be-all end-all of polysynths without delving too deep into vintage territory.

SOUNDS/VERSATILITY: While its size and appearance might trick you at first, it’d be foolish to doubt the potential of the Launchkey Mini Mk3. Like many other Novation products, the Launchkey Mini unlocks its full potential when paired with Ableton Live, where you’ll able to trigger events, play samples and create full tracks with ease.

CONSTRUCTION: Novation have gone all out with the Launchpad X. The colourful pads are firm and ergonomic - even for lefties while the dimensions of the unit make it an extremely portable production tool. USB-C connectivity also makes the Launchpad X speedier than ever before - a tweak that’s noticeable immediately.


three oscillators letting you beef up the sound even further. You can also divide the two engines for layered or split patches, and there’s even a comprehensive digital effects section with distortion, reverb, delay and modulation to make your patches even more exciting. CONSTRUCTION: Analogue enthusiasts will drool at the sight of the Summit: with 50 rotary encoders, dual envelope faders and 55 illuminated push buttons, there’s so much to dive into here. OVERALL: If you’re using Christmas as a good excuse to splash your cash on some high-end, powerful studio gear, I’d put the Novation Summit at the top of the list. This thing is bananas!

RECOMMENDED FOR: Performers and producers looking to experiment with whacky wavetable sounds, but still utilise the synth in a practical sense. SOUNDS/VERSATILITY: You really can’t get much more versatile than wavetable synthesis, and you’ll find no shortage of sonic inspiration here. The ASM Hydra Synth, while daunting at first, is so rewarding, and is great for creating immersive soundscapes, haunting metallic pads and even menacing Decepticon effects that’ll definitely have the FBI knocking at your door. The arpeggiator here is also insanely powerful, and should be considered as its own kooky melodic instrument in itself! USABILITY: With a whopping 219 waveforms, three oscillators, a Wavestack function for layering five voices and mutators for FM synthesis, pulse width modulation, hard sync

and harmonic sweeps, I’ve never played a wavetable synth as usable as the ASM Hydra. There’s also two filters which can be run in series or parallel, as well as five LFOs. There’s a lot to unpack, but once you get started, you won’t want to stop. CONSTRUCTION: The thing that I loved the most about the construction of this unit was the ribbon controller, which lets you perform the Hydra almost like a Theremin or Ondes Martenot. The desktop version is also fitted with 24 performance pads, meaning it’s usable even without a MIDI keyboard! OVERALL: Considering this is ASM’s first ever product, they’re really ticking all the boxes here. The Hydra is powerful, inspirational and incredibly well-designed, and I feel like it’s got the potential to be considered a modern classic.

GIFT GUIDE Moog Matriarch

IK Multimedia iRig Keys I/O 25



RECOMMENDED FOR: Everybody needs to own a Moog at some stage in their life - this might just be the one for you. SOUNDS/VERSATILITY: With four VCOs giving you a total of four notes of paraphony, the Matriarch expands on the classic Moog sound and makes it even better. It nails that gooey, ‘70s synth sound heard on classics from Stevie, Marvin and Michael, but can also get pretty snarky when you explore the semimodular side of things - with the right patch points, you’ll approach Trent Reznor territory, which is a great place to be. USABILITY: The Matriarch features a dual analogue ladder filter with parallel, series and stereo modes, while two LFOs and six waveforms to create everything from pulsating chordal textures to warbling ring modulation. There’s also pulse width modulation, hard sync and FM inputs to modify your signal even

further, with a mixer modular also allowing for white noise and an external input. CONSTRUCTION: Taking cues from the colourful layout and retro aesthetics of the Grandmother, the Matriarch is as much as visual treat as it is a sonic one. However, it’d be rude not to mention how much the 90 semi-modular patch points add to the playing experience here - and there’s even stereo delay and a 256 step-sequencer to make things extra crazy, just for good measure. OVERALL: Just like your favourite distant cousin, the Matriarch might just that longlost relative that will make this Christmas the best one yet.

USABILITY: If you’re totally new to the world of DJing, the Pioneer DJ DDJ-200 is the ultimate product to learn the basics with. Bluetooth connectivity lets you eschew the laptop and hook up your phone

USABILITY: The iRig Keys I/O 25 combines a MIDI keyboard with a studio-quality audio interface, making it the perfect pairing for producers on the go or those looking to restrict their workflow to the bare minimum. The action of the keys and eight mini-sample

pads feels good, and the touch strips and preset buttons help to speed up your workflow monumentally. It also boasts phantom power, and is compatible with Apple, PC, Mac and iPads. CONSTRUCTION: The iRig Keys I/O 25 is one of the smallest MIDI controllers available on the market, so the fact that IK Multimedia have managed to squeeze a 24-bit audio interface inside of it as well is phenomenal. OVERALL: Perfect for spontaneous jams, writing demos and even live performance, the iRig Keys I/O 25 is undeniably one of the coolest production tools a modern producer could have at their disposable.



SOUNDS/VERSATILITY: This one’s a bit dependent on your own personal taste and what you’ll be DJing, but in the versatility department, there’s definitely a lot to play with here. A standard three-band EQ and two-channel mixer will let you fade in and transition from track-to-track fluidly, while eight performance pads on each side allow you to flesh out your sets by triggering samples and effects – this is the perfect time to press the airhorn button.

SOUNDS/VERSATILITY: The iRig Keys I/O 25 is a MIDI controller, so it doesn’t actually output any sound. However, IK Multimedia do bundle this little fella with a bunch of soft-synths such as SampleTank 4 SE, Miroslav Philharmonik 2 CE, Syntronik Pro-V, Ableton Live 10 Lite and the T-RackS 4 Deluxe mix and mastering suite, so you’ll be making tracks straight out of the box in no time.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (gen 3)

Pioneer DJ DDJ-200 Smart DJ Controller

RECOMMENDED FOR: Entry-level DJs, or instrumentalists masquerading as one.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Producers and keyboard players looking for a self-contained solution for making their tracks in the box.

for a clean, almost screen-free experience, and the Beat and Phrase sync functions will get you out of trouble with no worries if you happen to fall off the grid. CONSTRUCTION: I don’t think the term ‘backpack DJ’ exists yet, but surely it will after people adopt the DDJ-200. It’s incredibly lightweight and tactile, and the jog wheels have a good amount of grip ‘n slip. Pioneer are the masters of modern DJ gear, so I wouldn’t expect anything less here. OVERALL: If you’re looking to kick off a career as a mixologist, or even just a budding hobby as a house party DJ to gain clout amongst friends, the Pioneer DJ DDJ200 is a no-brainer.

RECOMMENDED FOR: The budding home producer looking for a no-frills interface to get them started on their craft. SOUND/VERSATILITY: Focusrite’s Scarlett 2i2 audio interface has been a mainstay within the entry-level bracket for a minute now, and the third generation of this red box really does prove why it’s lasted so long. With high quality audio converters and two AIR preamp inputs on the front, you’re absolutely spoilt for what you’re paying here in the sound department. USABILITY: This thing is so easy to use - simply plug in your instrument or microphone, use the front facing knob to adjust your monitor mix and input levels, then hit record on your DAW and you’re good to go. Can recording get any more simple? We think not.

CONSTRUCTION: The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is both sturdy and lightweight, with its compact dimensions letting you lug it around in a backpack for whenever a song may call your name. It’s also red, which means it goes faster - right? OVERALL: Whether you’re a hobbyist or looking to pursue music as a career, you really can’t go wrong with a Scarlett 2i2. Focusrite have also bundled the third generation of Scarlett interfaces with some pretty nifty software, including a Pro Tools and Splice starter kit, letting you whip this thing out and make beats straight out of the box. Delightful!

PreSonus Eris 3.5 BT Monitors

Audio Technica AT-LP60-BT Turntable



RECOMMENDED FOR: Podcasters, gamers, content creators and entry-level producers.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Novice record collectors looking to test the waters before diving in.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: While they’re not marketed as studio monitors, there’s nothing stopping you from utilising the Eris 3.5 BT Monitors in your bedroom studio. They’ve got a great balanced sound, with the composite drivers allowing for a tight bass response that’ll remain clean even when blasted at high volumes, while the 1” silk tweeter output glimmering high frequencies without sounding too bright.

VERSATILITY: The AT-LP60-BT Turntable is by all means a technological marvel – its main attraction is its wireless Bluetooth functionality that easily pairs to speakers, headphones, or other devices, doing away with all kinds of annoying wires and cables. Wired capabilities are also available, allowing the user to connect to more traditional speaker setups. Both 33-1/3 and 45 RPM playback options are available, with the package handily including the 45 RPM adapter for your vintage records if required.

CONSTRUCTION: The AT-LP60-BT is a DC servo-controlled, belt-driven turntable, with an aluminum platter. It features two sturdy feet to reduce surface vibrations, comes topped with a removable hinged dust cover, and has a choice of two colours: white or black.

USABILITY: Up to eight different Bluetooth devices are able to be stored in the ATLP60-BT’s onboard memory. Operating the turntable itself is uncomplicated business – simply hit start to begin spinning some

OVERALL: This entry-level turntable is a fantastic option tailored for the new wave of millennial vinyl enthusiasts anxious to play their vinyl on something that won’t break the bank.

USABILITY: PreSonus aim to make their products as intuitive as possible, and the Eris BT 3.5 monitors certainly reflects this. Setting up the Eris BT monitors with your computer and audio devices is easy, and the inclusion of Bluetooth connectivity allows for even greater control via your smartphone.

The acoustic tuning knobs on the back are a great touch to adjust the characteristics of your monitors for different rooms, too. CONSTRUCTION: Rugged, lightweight and compact, these monitors will squeeze onto your desk space or bookshelf with ease. They also don’t look too tech-y, making the perfect companion for an entry-level turntable setup. OVERALL: PreSonus have bagged a winner with the Eris 3.5 BT monitors. They sound awesome and are incredibly good value for money, and are perfectly suited for both creating content and listening casually.

wax, and the function button to pair up your chosen device if desired. To further add to its convenience, the turntable’s fully automatic capabilities ceases playback and returns the tonearm to its resting nook at the end of a record.


GIFT GUIDE Audio-Technica ATHM50xBT Headphones

PreSonus HD-10 BT Headphones



RECOMMENDED FOR: Music lovers craving a pair of studio-grade wireless headphones.

RECOMMENDED FOR: The everyday commuter who needs some peace and quiet in addition to great sound quality.

VERSATILITY: Audio-Technica’s M series of headphones have been widely praised for their excellent sound quality, comfort, and reliability. The ATH-M50xBT is another step forward for the innovative company, adding Bluetooth capabilities to their acclaimed M50X headphones. A full charge allows up to 40 hours of continuous use, ensuring ample use throughout the week. USABILITY: Aesthetically, the ATH-M50xBT retains all of its sleek and stealthy looks from its predecessor, in addition to its exceptional sound signature. What’s new are its earcups, which now house convenient buttons that handle calls, music playback, and volume adjustment. Touch controls located on the left earcup even provide

Mackie MC-250 Professional Closed Back Headphones

easy access to your device’s voice assistant. The package also ships with a separate 3.5mm audio cable coupled with a singlebutton inline control for physically wired connectivity. CONSTRUCTION: These headphones feature an enveloping over-ear design for stellar sound isolation. Both earpads and headband are lusciously padded and permit long hours of listening with ease. Sound is powered by a pair of 45mm large-aperture drivers, which deliver a balanced and accurate bass response. OVERALL: You can never go wrong with a pair of Audio-Technica Headphones. With terrific sound quality paired with both wired and wireless output, this may truly be the perfect gift to your loved ones.

CONSTRUCTION: The collapsible fold-up design and rugged construction of the Mackie MC250’s allows for ease of portability and storage, and the comfortable padded headband and ear pads let you wear them for hours without experiencing any fatigue. There’s also a nifty carry bag for when you’re on the go, which I thought was a very welcome touch! OVERALL: Mixing is always a bit of a chore, but the Mackie MC-250 headphones do a great job of making the experience as pleasant and comfortable as possible, and if you’re looking for a pair of durable, high-grade cans for everyday listening, these ones are definitely worth considering.

USEABILITY: The SiX provides the perfect introduction to the broader SSL layout, with super flexible routing options, extremely intuitive EQ/comp sections and the kind of audio quality that you’ve been missing all

those years. Pair it with the right interface or A/D converter and you will be well on your way to world class capture. CONSTRUCTION: Exactly what you expect from an SSL product-rock solid and sleek. The SiX comes off the back of over 50 years of servicing the professional studio and broadcast market and stays true to the lofty standards set by SSL consoles past. OVERALL: A Studio Classic for the home or project space (and at a more than attainable pricepoint) the SiX should be on the wish-list for anybody looking to make that transition into the world of truly professional audio quality.


RECOMMENDED FOR: Singer-songwriters in need of a high-quality device to get ideas out of their head and into the world.


SOUND/VERSATILITY: C’mon……It’s an SSL. Think crystalline clarity, a broadband frequency response and headroom for days! Named after its input channel count, the SiX is equipped with scaled down versions of the same preamp, EQ and routing circuits that made the brand the icon that it is today, all conveniently housed in a super mobile desktop configuration. The inclusion of a G-series bus compressor (a simplified variant of one the most coveted ‘glue’ compressors of all time) only sweetens the deal.

Apogee Duet Audio Interface


USABILITY: I wish all audio interfaces were this simple! The Apogee One works fluidly with both Mac and Windows, and includes a connectivity kit to even hook it up to your iOS devices for portable recording. Navigating the unit is made easy by the

OVERALL: If you’re looking for a new pair of headphones to treat yourself with this Christmas, look no further. With more and more phone manufacturers moving away from the headphone jack, the PreSonus HD-10 BT is an excellent pick for the foreseeable wireless future.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Home recordists or podcasters who are ready to make that first leap into pro land (and without taking out a second mortgage). Anyone looking for a small scale version of that classic SSL sound.

Apogee One Audio Interface

SOUND/VERSATILITY: Don’t be put off by its size – the Apogee One is a serious piece of kit. With two impressive analogue inputs and outputs and a glistening 24-bit/96kHz AD/DA conversion rate, it’s capable of churning out studio-quality recordings straight out of the box. The built in condenser microphone is also surprisingly sufficient for recording vocal demos and acoustic guitars both separately and simultaneously when you’re in a pinch.

CONSTRUCTION: These headphones are comfortably padded across all contact surfaces, ensuring utmost comfort over extended listening sessions. The excellent sound quality is powered by a pair of 40mm drivers that deliver balanced and great-sounding audio across the entire frequency spectrum. Additionally, the over-ear and closed-back design guarantees maximum natural isolation and minimal sound leakage.


RECOMMENDED FOR: Audio professionals looking for an affordable, high-quality set of cans for the studio.

USABILITY: Contrary to other models on the market which are packed with unnecessary features and functions, the Mackie MC-250 headphones are incredibly straightforward: just plug them in and you’re good to go. There’s no hidden tricks here – just studio-grade, high quality audio.

USABILITY: Apart from its excellent sound quality, the HD-10BT features intuitive touch controls for easy manipulation on the fly. It also offers Active Noise Cancelling (ANC), which reduces ambient noise by up to 18 decibels. This feature is an absolute life-saver on lengthy flights or train rides and allows

you to enjoy your media without any unwanted intrusions.



SOUNDS/VERSATILITY: With dual 50mm drivers and a frequency response of 10Hz – 20kHz, the Mackie MC-250’s are extremely transparent, making them particularly suited to mixing tracks in the studio. Delivering a punchy lowend response and crystal clear high frequencies, you’ll hear nuances you never knew existed while tracking, and if you’re a casual listener, albums and videos will sound better than ever.

VERSATILITY: The HD-10BT offers studio-grade sonic fidelity in a convenient, cable-free package. One full charge grants up to 16 hours of battery life, which is perfect for trips both short and long. The included hardshell case even packs a variety of cables and adapters, which allows this pair of headphones to be plugged into an audio interface, mixer, or a regular 3.5mm outlet. An inbuilt microphone even lets you answer calls with no extra hassle.

oversized control knob, and Apogee’s included Maestro software gives you simple and intuitive direct monitoring.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Anyone looking to get their mitts on one of the most acclaimed audio interfaces in recent years.

CONSTRUCTION: Just like Bruce Springsteen, the Apogee One is born in the USA, featuring an eye-pleasing die-cast aluminum chassis that is both sturdy and lightweight. Its inconspicuous dimensions also make storage and transportation a walk in the park!

SOUND/VERSATILITY: Favoured by the likes of Flume, Grimes, Jack Antonoff and Shawn Mendes, the Apogee Duet boasts a mean reputation, and it’s easy to hear why. Vocals, keys and guitars sound beautifully crisp through its world-class analogue preamps, and its discrete circuitry AD/DA converters means you’ll receive incredible results even in the dullest of rooms.

OVERALL: It mightn’t look like much, but the Apogee One is easily one of best bang-for-your-buck audio interfaces available on the market today, and if you’re a self-accompanied musician, it really is a no-brainer.

USABILITY: There’s nothing convoluted about the Apogee Duet: all you need to do is plug in and record. The touch buttons on the face of the unit are simple and effective, USB MIDI I/O makes connecting external keyboards and controllers super easy, and

USB bus power means that you can power the interface with a laptop alone – although there’s a DC input just in case. CONSTRUCTION: The Duet features a tough die-cast aluminum construction, and is just as pretty on the outside as the circuitry on the inside is. Definitely one of the most aesthetic audio interfaces you could treat your studio to. OVERALL: I’ve never heard anyone speak ill of the Duet, and it’s considered an industry standard for a reason – it’s sleek, slim, sounds superb and works across multiple platforms. What more could you need?


Yama ha Music Australia proudly distributes Vox




SHOP ONLINE product/AC30S1

GIFT GUIDE PreSonus Studio 24C Interface


DISTRIBUTED BY: LINK AUDIO EXPECT TO PAY: $249 RECOMMENDED FOR: Musicians and producers of any level. The 24C acts as a great entry level interface for budding engineers, or alternatively, a great on-the-move solution for professionals that connects via USB-C to either Mac or PC. SOUND/VERSATILITY:While only offering two inputs and two outputs (most likely used for monitors), as well as a separate stereo headphone out, the XMAX-L mic preamps sound great and the size of the unit offers great versatility. USABILITY: Being of such small size but high quality, the 24C is a very usable interface packed into such a small package. It’s bus powered so doesn’t require annoying power cables and extra mess.

CONSTRUCTION: The 24C is an all-metal chassis, complete with metal knobs. It’s built for life on the road if need be! The rear panel features a Kaspersky lock to securely fix the interface to your desk or similar, and is small enough to be tucked away and out of the road so you can fill your studio and racks with even more gear to compliment the 24C. OVERALL: The 24C is a solution for artists of any level, whether recording demos at home, or complex overdubs on the move, e.g. on the road, at rehearsal or in different studios.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Singers recording at home, studio engineers. The PX-1 is a large diaphragm condenser mostly designed for vocals, but with a frequency response from 20Hz all the way up to 18kHz, can handle most applications. SOUND/VERSATILITY: A quick look at the frequency response graph on the PreSonus website confirms that the PX-1 is one of the most balanced mics I’ve used. The frequency response is more or less flat until about 7kHz and its octave, 14kHz. This mic is ready to be coloured by creative micing or analogue preamps. USABILITY: The balanced and uncoloured response make the PX-1 a great solution for almost any application, allowing colour to be added later in the signal chain or during mixing.

PreSonus FaderPort

Aston Stealth Microphone



RECOMMENDED FOR: This product is recommended and designed for DAW users working primarily in the digital world, but who miss or need the tactile feeling of a fader for either mixing, automating or recording.

RECOMMENDED FOR: This microphone is recommended for anyone who needs to record a source and wants good results. The Aston Stealth is a top-level microphone in a tidy, inconspicuous package.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: The Faderport is a single channel/fader that can be toggled between sends and returns, offering automation options for effects and parallel processing. It can be switched between different channels, offering a highly versatile tool for mixing and recording. USABILITY: Being such a small product, the FaderPort can easily be stowed away in a bag and used on the fly or incorporated into a more permanent set-up at home or a professional studio. CONSTRUCTION: The FaderPort is well built and laid out, offering a motorized fader,

360° encoder and 23 other buttons for play/ stop, skip, panning, assigning automation with your DAW, and doesn’t feel overdesigned or finicky for even a second. OVERALL: The FaderPort is the single channel version that introduces users to the world of more involved DAW controllers, but would be endlessly handy even for engineers and producers with more channels at their disposal. The FaderPort would still come in handy!

SOUND/VERSATILITY: The Stealth is designed to be used with one of its four voices that alter the character and colour of the microphone. They’re designed for vocals, guitars and drums. This makes the Stealth a super versatile mic, offering four mics in one - and they’re believable voicings too. USABILITY: Having different voicings at the flick of a switch makes the Stealth a super versatile microphone, as it can be used easily as a stereo pair for a stereo signal, or dual Stealth’s can alternatively act as completely different microphones on different sources.

Aston Shield GN Pop Filter

QSC CP8 Powered Speaker



RECOMMENDED FOR: The Aston Shield is a product for anyone wanting to record vocals or other wind-prone instruments either at home or in a professional studio. Traditionally, pop filters are used for vocals to prevent in removing unwanted air from hitting a microphone diaphragm, but equally for instruments such as kick drums or horns that move a lot of air.

RECOMMENDED FOR: The QSC CP8 is a total solution for someone looking to amplify sound in a medium to large space. The CP8 is designed and shaped to be ideal as a foldback wedge for a band, or alternatively as a Front of House speaker via the threaded mounting insert.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: The Aston Shield is a well-made and re-designed version of a pop filter, featuring a stainless steel shield instead of the more traditional mesh (or stocking) that is used. The malleable gooseneck make it easily move-able and attachable, providing a super versatile product. USABILITY: Thanks to the gooseneck clamp, as well as easy integration into a mic cradle


with the Aston shock mount, the GN Pop Filter is incredibly usable. CONSTRUCTION: The stainless steel filter is embedded into a solid frame and helps the filter retain a nice curve for supreme microphone isolation, session after session. OVERALL: Something about small improvements to existing products really catches my attention, and the stainless steel shield seems to make sense while being more robust, less malleable and therefore tearable, and easier to clean.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: At its peak, the CP8 can push around 1000 watts of air around, from 53Hz up to 20kHz. The balanced response, as well as QSC’s on board Directivity Matched Transition technology, make for a super versatile speaker. USABILITY: While offering a lot of power, the CP8 remains a super compact speaker, measuring 411 × 273 × 256 mm and weighing just over 9kg. This makes it ideal for smaller parties as well, as it can easily be moved around, mounted and secured without heavy lifting or strain.

CONSTRUCTION: The PX-1, while being a robust microphone, won’t take well to be dropped or thrown around. The capsule is well insulated, the filter solid, however care should always be taken when handling a microphone. OVERALL: The PX-1 is not only a great first ‘proper’ microphone for entry level producers, but also a great all-rounder for experienced engineers with much more expensive mics at their disposal. The PX-1 could easily find its way into regular use for any genre and instrument.

CONSTRUCTION: The Stealth is a Class-A mic preamp and diaphragm encased in an internal Sorbothane shock mount. All of this is wrapped up in a metal chassis that won’t let you down. The chassis features side rejection, and a handy wheel to toggle between voicings. OVERALL: Overall the Stealth from Aston Mics is a no-brainer. It’s all rounder, it’s built to last and it’s built to be inconspicuous. It would be a great addition to any mic collection, even if you already own one.

CONSTRUCTION: The 8” low-frequency cone and 1.4” compression driver for highs are safely protected behind an 18 Gauge powder-coated steel grille. The grille itself is secured to a solid enclosure. OVERALL: The QSC CP8 is a great solution to both installed and portable needs and applications. It can be safely secured to a pole, or used both vertically or horizontally as a monitor or main speaker.

GIFT GUIDE Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ Microphone

Sennheiser XSW-D Vocal Set



RECOMMENDED FOR: Audio-Technica is a company always looking at the needs and requirements of its customers. The AT2020 was a first microphone for many, including myself, and the AT2020 USB+ is simply a more user-friendly version for modern needs. The AT2020 USB+ is recommended for podcasts, voiceovers, field recordings and foley, recording on the move and any other application where a standard XLR microphone won’t work.

RECOMMENDED FOR: The roaming live vocalist who needs the finest mic performance to match their onstage acrobatics.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: The AT2020’s in general offer a pleasantly even frequency response, adding little colour and providing a clear and concise palete for colour and vibe to be added to at a later date. This makes the AT20202 USB+ a superbly versatile microphone, as it can capture can different signals with clarity and confidence. USABILITY: The USB connection makes the AT2020, already an award-winning microphone,

even more usable and practical. The AT2020 is light-weight, includes a tripod for mounting on desks or other flat surfaces and features a headphone out for latency free monitoring. CONSTRUCTION: The metal chassis safely protects the microphone’s diaphragm from damage and the windshield fixed into the chassis ensure clear sound in almost all circumstances.

SOUNDS/VERSATILITY: Sennheiser make some of the best live performance microphones in the industry; that’s a matter of fact, not opinion. The XSW-D Dynamic Vocal Microphone is extremely transparent and boasts an eye-poppingly good low end, while its cardioid pattern makes it suitable for everything from husky soul vocals to distorted, brutal growls.

OVERALL: The AT2020 USB+ is a phenomenal solution for users where an XL microphone won’t work, would be impractical, or would require the purchase of another piece of gear. The USB output integrates easily into different systems, allowing easy and high-quality recordings on the fly.

USABILITY: Connecting the XSW-D’s wireless XLR female transmitter to the male receiver is simple, and the 2.4 GHz digital transmission means you’re able to use it anywhere in the world without issue. Sennheiser have graced this unit with a whopping range of 75 metres, and

Sennheiser IE 400 Pro

Sennheiser IE 500 Pro



RECOMMENDED FOR: Professional touring musicians who require a precise in-ear mix while performing on noisy stages.

RECOMMENDED FOR: The highest tier of touring musicians and industry professionals. The IE 500 Pro in-ear monitors deliver a level of performance and quality rivaled by none.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: The IE 400 Pro in-ear monitors are used by some of Australia’s finest session musicians on stages around the country, providing pristine, studio-quality sound even while performing at the rowdiest and ramshackle of festivals. They boast a crisp midrange, crystalline high frequencies and a hefty punch in the low end courtesy of the 7mm drivers, while the new TrueResponse technology ensures you’re never battling with pesky artifacts or distortion in your onstage mix. USABILITY: These in-ear monitors aren’t complex to use, and Sennheiser bundle them with a bunch of foam and silicone tips in three different sizes and two cable types to make sure

the IE 400 Pro monitors fit your personal needs – and ears. CONSTRUCTION: I’m usually not one to use in-ear monitors due to how invasive they tend to be, but Sennheiser’s IE 400 Pro monitors are quite comfortable, due in part to their flexible, ergonomic design. There’s no chance of these bad boys coming loose mid-set, and the 1.3m cable length won’t tangle easily. OVERALL: A practical solution for the touring musician, the Sennheiser IE 400 Pro in-ear monitors are a no-brainer for discrete monitoring in a live situation.


RECOMMENDED FOR: Musicians and producers who find joy in seeking out the most intricate of details in their mixes, or even just passionate music fans looking to discover nuances in their favourite records they’ve never heard before.

CONSTRUCTION: With their patented Innova, in/over ear construction and Teslaflow venting system, the Nuraphone G2’s definitely stand out from other headphones on this list. OVERALL: The ultimate gift for the music or tech obsessed.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: From slinky neo-soul and warm lo-fi indie to pounding industrial techno, the Sennhesier HD 300 Pro Headphones deliver a level of quality that is certain to impress mixing professionals and producers. The linear frequency response of these headphones is quite incredible, ensuring a natural transparency that encourages intelligent mixing decisions and critical thinking, and if you’re simply just using them to listen to music casually, you’re in for a treat. USABILITY: Whether you’re performing


OVERALL: Sennheiser’s recent wireless series has wormed its way onto stages around the world in a very short time, and it’s easy to tell why when you use the XSW-D Vocal Set. Tip-top quality suitable for the demanding performer.

pair of headphones; the difference is, these ones are a zillion times better. Rock up to the gig with a pair of these, and the sound tech will love you forever, CONSTRUCTION: Ergonomic and built with memory foam to ensure that they remain comfortable even after hours of wearing them, the IE 500 Pro monitors also feature impeccable shielding and a twist-free cable design for the ultimate onstage experience. OVERALL: With the IE 500 Pros, Sennheiser prove that they’re the ones setting the standards in the IEM market – you can’t get much better than this.


RECOMMENDED FOR: Music Obsessives, Audiophiles, Commuters

USEABILITY: Headphones have become something of a modern standard and there is quite simply no headphone experience out there quite like The Nuraphone G2.

USABILITY: The Sennheiser IE 500 Pro in-ear monitors are about as simple in use as any old

CONSTRUCTION: The microphone included in the Sennheiser XSW-D vocal set is surprisingly lightweight, yet feels rugged enough to withstand a pummeling in live conditions. The transmitter and receiver are inconspicuous, and the included mic clip is similarly well-made.

Sennhesier HD 300 Pro Headphones

Nuraphone G2

SOUND/VERSATILITY: A truly revolutionary product, The Nuraphone sounds like nothing you’ve heard before. Using breakthrough adaptive AI, the Nuraphone measures the Otoacoustic emissions inside the ear canal, using this information to create a personal listening profile accounting for the strengths and weaknesses in ones hearing. This translates to a truly revelatory listening experience, allowing the listener to hear things in true colour, exactly as the mastering engineer intended!

SOUND/QUALITY: Premium to the umpteenth degree. These in-ears deliver the highest level of audio quality available in such a compact package, with the dynamic 7mm wideband transducers delivering the finest sound reproduction I’ve ever experienced from a pair of in-ear monitors. Even under maximum sound pressure, the IE 500 Pros won’t come unstuck, with the TrueResponse drivers refining the natural strengths of the diaphragm for a scarily good audio experience, rivaling even the best over-ear cans on the market.

its five hour battery life should be more than enough to get you through a few gigs without needing a charge.

onstage, behind a mixing desk in the studio or simply traveling home on the train, the Sennhesier HD 300 Pro Headphones won’t feel obstructive or excessive, and require very little set up or thought in use. No secret tricks here. CONSTRUCTION: Padded to the extreme, sleeker than a space ship and with a tough black finish, the HD 300 Pros are built to last and look good while doing it. The removable 1.5m cable is also perfect for clumsy users like myself… OVERALL: A no-brainer for those working day-to-day in varying audio professions, Sennheiser’s HD 300 Pro headphones won’t let you down even on the tightest of deadlines.

ULTRA. NEVER PLAY A STRAT® THE SAME WAY AGAIN. The American Ultra Stratocaster ® in Plasma Red Burst features custom wiring that lets you add the neck pickup in – any time you want – via the S-1 switch. American Ultra Series: All-New Body Contours. Ultra Noiseless ™ Pickups. Our Fastest-Playing Necks.

©2019 Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. FENDER, FENDER in script, STRAT, STRATOCASTER and the distinctive headstock commonly found on Fender guitars and basses are trademarks of FMIC. Registered in the U.S. and foreign countries. All rights reserved.


Shure Portable Videography Kit



RECOMMENDED FOR: Beat makers, Home Producers, Project Studios, Purveyors of Low End. SOUND/VERSATILITY: If you’ve been in a home studio in the last 15 years, than you know the sound. This latest incarnation of the Rokit series stays true to the singular voicing and sonic character of its predecessors, but with some favourable modern tweaks in the power amp and port design, resulting in an even better low frequency extension and a sweeter sounding top end. USEABILITY: Having their design roots in what is in essence, a modern industry standard; these are extremely useful studio monitors, both for cross-referencing and as a primary near-field pair. CONSTRUCTION: The G4’s feature that same

RECOMMENDED FOR: Filmmakers, Videographers, Vloggers etc.

bomb-proof KRK build quality that we’ve come to expect from the Rokit series, but housed in a slightly updated cabinet shape and port design for better recoil and definition. The iconic yellow drivers still remain. OVERALL: Having influenced the sound of modern music for the better part of 15 years, the KRK Rokit series are definitely in the running for ‘modern classic’ status. The G4’s provide some of the best return on investment of anything in broader studioscape and are the perfect gift for anyone with a passing interest in music production.

Soyuz ‘The Launcher’

options from your humble mic closet. An extremely useful tool for any recording setup. CONSTRUCTION: It’s Russian, which is shorthand for tough. OVERALL: An awesome present, for the old soul or the young at heart.


USEABILITY: The M-85 is the kind of utility microphone that will never go out of styleIt’s impressive gain-before-feedback properties and solid sensitivity readings, mean it compares favourably to any mic out

OVERALL: A perfect first microphone for anybody ready to turn it up, the M-85 is an exquisitely designed, professional quality microphone at a pricepoint so low, it looks like typo.

there, and it’s broadband capture and classy fullness mean that it is likely to get plenty of use.


RECOMMENDED FOR: Guitarists or bassists with a bit extra cash to splash who crave something a little bit more out of their typical audio interface.


SOUND/VERSATILITY: Prodipe are a French Audio company with a purpose; to produce legimitely Pro products that come in (well) below traditional ‘Pro’ pricing. Employing the same level of R’n’D and design nous as many of the better known prestige manufacturers. The M-85 is their flagship handheld vocal mic and boy does it deliver. With a rich fullness and silky top, it has a robustness of tone that never seems to cross the line into muddiness, even at close proximity.

SAMSON Expedition XP312w Portable PA


USABILITY: The Audient AD4 features two inputs and two inputs, which should be enough for most bedroom producers. The nature of its built-in preamps make this better suited to those recording bass and guitars, but there’s no reason why you can’t

OVERALL: An ideal entry into the world of video/post audio, the Shure Portable Videography Kit is the kind of gift that really gets the creative juices flowing. With it’s easy to use interface, quality capture and top notch accessories, it really is the gift that keeps on giving.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Singers, Engineers, Home Studios, people looking for incredibly well designed gear that won’t break the bank

Audient ID4

SOUND/VERSATILITY: Whether you’re recording trap beats, wonky electronica, straight rock ‘n roll or down-tempo indiefolk, the Audient ID4 interface won’t let you done. Its high performance AD/DA converters and analogue preamps ensure you’ll be receiving studio-quality recordings no matter where you’re tracking, replicating the gain stage of a classic valve amplifier for a distinctive studio sound.

CONSTRUCTION: Top notch. In typical Shure fashion, all components in the kit are built to last. Even the accessories like the tripod mount and windjammer indicate a certain level of build quality far beyond what you would normally see in a camera peripheral.


RECOMMENDED FOR: Studio Rats, Creative Tracking Engineers, Horn players, anybody looking to add a bit of vintage charm to proceedings.

USEABILITY: Extremely useable, whether for its intended purpose of making new equipment sound old, or to bring another colour to your ever-expanding sonic palette. Add a reamp box or effects chain to the fold and you are verging on limitless sonic

USEABILITY: An extremely practical gift for anyone with even a passing interest in post production, the Shure Portable Videography Kit has everything you need to get out there and get creative. The sheer quality of the mic/monitor combo, coupled with the easy to use iphone app makes it perfect for

beginners to attain very useable sounds with a minimum amount of experience.

Prodipe M-85 Lanen Vocal Dynamic Mic


SOUND/VERSATILITY: Billed as a ‘prePreamp’, The Launcher aims to put some vintage colour between mic and interface, providing an antidote to the somewhat clinical tendencies of the modern recording chain. Employing a boutique hand-wound transformer and a ‘secret analogue circuit’ designed to add vintage flavour to even the most plain-jane sounding microphone.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: The Shure Portable Videography kit is the perfect one-stop recording solution for the boom operator in all of us. With it’s high quality MV88+ usb-c microphone, tripod mount, windsock and a pair of Shure SE215 in-ear monitors, the kit itself contains everything you need to launch into the world of audio production for post/streaming and all recorded directly to your smartphone.

track vocals with it, with built-in phantom power letting you plug in your favourite condenser microphone for crystal clear recordings. The ID knob can also double as a mouse cursor, which is an incredibly useful feature! CONSTRUCTION: Designed in the UK and built in China, the Audient ID4 is study and compact, fitting snug on your studio desk with ease. OVERALL: I’m surprised I haven’t heard more about the ID4; it really took me by surprise, and I think a lot of fretted instrument players will get a lot out of it.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Street Performers, Bedroom Jammers, Aerobics Instructors, Public Speaking types etc. SOUND/VERSATILITY: With it’s broad dispersion, impressive throw qualities and handy two-band EQ, the XP312w is versatile enough to tackle almost any small scale PA/ Musical application. It’s Bluetooth Streaming capabilities and wireless UHF integration are sure to make it a crowd favourite at Weddings/Parties/Anything. USEABILITY: Boasting 300w of power in a fully portable 17kg enclosure, the Samson Expedition XP312w is one of the most practical PA solutions out there. With its mobile design, impressive output and rechargability, the XP312w is an obvious choice for street performer and

public address applications. The on-board 4-channel mixer and variable control reverb also make the XP312w a ideal candidate for small scale rehearsal applications/bedroom jamming. In short, Handy AF. CONSTRUCTION: Lightweight but sturdy, the foldable handle, castors and pots are all of high quality. OVERALL: A super versatile, extremely portable PA solution for the home or workplace. Probably one of the handiest gifts on this list, it would be hard to be disappointed with one of these under the tree.


Steinberg Ur22c Recording Pack

DISTRIBUTED BY: YAMAHA MUSIC AUSTRALIA | EXPECT TO PAY: $699.99 RECOMMENDED FOR: Drummers and percussionists looking to blend electronic drum sounds and effects with their acoustic kit to really spice up their performance. SOUNDS/VERSATILITY: Love trap drums, but don’t want to switch out your vintage Gretsch kit for a TR-808? The EAD10 will be right up your alley. This intuitive electronic/ acoustic drum module from Yamaha lets you integrate a wide array of drum sounds, ranging from thumping arena rock kits, snappy funk kits, classic 12-bit hop-hop sounds and many, many more, as well as a range of very practical effects, gated reverb included. Any Phil Collins fans out there? USABILITY: The EAD10 is relatively straightforward to set up – simply mount the module, clip the sensor onto the hoop of your kick drum, plug in all respective cables and you’re hot to trot. A condenser


microphone built into the EAD10’s module component picks up the nuances of your hits to trigger toms, hats, snare and cymbal sounds, while a host of retro looking knobs lets you find and tweak effects with ease. CONSTRUCTION: The module component of the EAD10 looks inviting and is laid out to enable user convenience, while the sensor is deceptively hefty and built entirely from metal, because we all know drummers are prone to breaking things. OVERALL: This one’s a winner. The EAD10 is great in the recording or rehearsal studio, and boasts the potential to be an extremely useful live tool.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Comprising of an audio interface, microphone and pair of headphones, this one’s for beginners looking for an affordable entry into the vast world of laptop recording without compromising on sound quality. This pack is also perfectly suited to all those budding podcasters out there, giving you all you need to get your thoughts and feelings out on the airwaves. SOUND/VERSATILITY: Steinberg’s UR22C audio interface offers 32-bit audio quality, letting you enjoy crystal clear recordings of guitars, keyboards and other audio sources, while the included ST-M01 condenser microphone is quite clear in the midrange and boasts a distinctive character best suited for vocals; if you’re into ASMR, you’ll vibe this one. The ST-H01 headphones aren’t too bad either! USABILITY: It’s worth reading the manual

Drawmer CMC-2

TC Helicon Blender



RECOMMENDED FOR: Budding mix engineers, sound designers etc.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Bands looking to explore the concept of noise-free, headphone based rehearsals, or even an amateur home studio operator looking for a cost-effective headphone splitting and talkback unit.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: With over 40 years in the biz, Drawmer are a name you can trust. Their dedication to transparency and pristine sound quality have made them a familiar sight in control rooms and studios around the world. The new CMC-2 continues this legacy and more. The CMC-2 is a multipurpose active monitor controller for the modern studio, allowing for A-B switching, headphone monitoring and mono sub or check speaker routing.

CONSTRUCTION: Drawmer is a name synonymous with quality. Build quality on this one is professional to the core.

USABILITY: If someone buys me a monitor controller for Christmas, they probably know me a little too well. Monitoring is such an important part of the creative process and being able to A-B multiple sets of monitors and headphones truly and transparently is an

OVERALL: While it might not be the most exciting addition to your studio, let it be said that a good monitor controller can make the world of difference to your workflow. The perfect gift for the coming of age engineer.

extremely empowering gift to anybody even remotely serious about mixing.

Phil Jones Bass Bighead Pro HA-2

SOUND/VERSATILITY: A step-up from the popular HA-1, the Phil Jones Bass Bighead Pro HA-2 is a rechargable 24 bit audio interface that doubles as a headphone booster amp, and can also be used as a preamp to drive power amplifiers. It features both passive and active instrument inputs to suit different pickup types, while a two-band EQ lets you shape your tones from something to nothing in a split-second. USABILITY: With a line out, input, DC power port and voltage control on the back of the

USABILITY: The controls included on the Blender are pragmatic and flex well to suit the workflow of you and your bandmates. A talk button engages an onboard

CONSTRUCTION: No complaints here. Steinberg are usually quite tight in the quality department, so it doesn’t surprise me that the UR22C Recording Pack is solidly built at all. OVERALL: Whether podcasting, streaming, recording or mixing, the UR22C Recording Pack is one hell of a Christmas gift. Mum, I hope you’re reading this.

omnidirectional microphone to allow you to chat to everyone using the headphones, which is nice for cutting through the din of your over-enthusiastic bandmates. CONSTRUCTION: While not exactly feeling particularly rugged, the TC Helicon Blender is definitely made to be played, and the buttons and rotary encoders feel tactile enough for most applications. OVERALL: Save your ears from spiky frequency clashes – this is an investment you won’t regret.


DISTRIBUTED BY: EGM DISTRIBUTION\ EXPECT TO PAY: $599 RECOMMENDED FOR: Audiophiles seeking the most pristine of headphone amplification systems to complement their high-end turntable or hi-fi setup, but want something they can also use to record ideas on the road.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: There’s a lot to talk about here. Each individual user is able to set their own mix levels from six outputs with a built0in compressor adding a nice sheen to each input, while each user is able to set their own personalised mix using TC’s free Blender mobile application. It’s still a good idea to use a decent pair of headphones to receive the best mix possible, but the TC Helicon Blender still delivers a pretty decent audio quality.

if you’ve never operated or set up an audio interface or microphone before, but once you’re acquainted with its features, the UR22C recording pack is super straightforward. USB-C connectivity ensures that the interface is swift in operation, while the Loopback function is great for pairing high quality audio with a video source for streaming.

RECOMMENDED FOR: People looking for the finest in Portable PA solutions unit and a stacked EQ/volume/gain controls on the front side, using the PJB Bighead Pro HA-2 isn’t complex at all, and its rechargable lithum ion battery with eight hours of playback time means you can operate it unplugged to mass effect. CONSTRUCTION: This thing is tough. It features a cool chrome chassis, and the design of the unit is strikingly sleek while remaining discrete. OVERALL: The Phil Jones Bass Bighead Pro HA-2 headphone amplifier/audio interface is definitely the best gift an audiophile could ever wish for this festive season – and if you’re celebrating solo, it’s worth treating yourself to one. Go on – you deserve it.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: With it’s huge volume, and pristine frequency reproduction, the EV EVOLVE 50 is as good sounding as portable PA’s get. Consisting of a sub, stand and Column unit and rated at 1000w, the EV Evolve 50 is sure to blow the socks of anyone who comes into contact with it. USABILITY: Aimed at soloists, smaller lineups, DJs and venues, it could be the ideal solution for many. The ability to run two units expands options for bigger bands while still remaining super compact. Plenty of headroom, quick to set up, easy to manoeuvre and ultra-portability means you can easily fit the system in the back of your car or move it away for storage. The I/O is concise, but does allow for some expansion if you want to run additional sources or

into further backline. Most importantly, the EVOLVE 50 sounds damn good, with the sub and column combination creating clean volume and a great spread. CONSTRUCTION: Professional quality from start to finish. Bravo. OVERALL: The EV Evolve 50 is a premium portable PA solution for those who need a bit of clean volume in their life. With a stunning tonality and headroom for days, it is the column PA for those who feel like getting serious.


GIFT GUIDE Meris Enzo Multi Voice Synth

Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 VLPP2+



RECOMMENDED FOR: Anyone who’s ever wanted to make their Telecaster sound like Aphex Twin.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Standard-size pedal board users who want the most out of their pedals. The Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 VLPP2+ is designed to provide the best possible power for different pedals, so that the pedals themselves can perform at their peak.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: The Meris Enzo is undeniably the king of all guitar synth pedals, letting you dial in lush ‘80s style polysynth pads, funky Moog leads and even icy arpeggios that sound they’re plucked straight from a vintage Buchla. There’s plenty of controls to shape your patches with, and you can even bypass the synth engine and utilise the Enzo as a powerful pitch-shifting device. USABILITY: The Enzo is obviously a lot more advanced than your average stompbox and bears a bit of a learning curve, but once you wrap your head around the basics, your curiosity will guide you the rest of the way. Tweaking the ADSR and filters opens up the magic inside of this unit, and plugging in

an expression pedal really lets you get weird and whacky. CONSTRUCTION: Like all Meris devices, the Enzo is supremely crafted. I really dug the sleek edges and multiple knob functions, and the vibrant gold finish looks killer - the taptempo knob is a neat touch for the arpeggiator function as well. OVERALL: As a keyboard fiend, it’s refreshing to play a synth pedal that actually feels like a synth. The Enzo mightn’t replace any synthesiser in your studio, but if you’ve got the spend, it’s an incredibly huge flex for your pedalboard.

1 Spot 1SPOTPRO7 Power Supply

CONSTRUCTION: Constructed from solid metal and designed to fit into a pedal board practically, the 1 Spot 1SPOTPRO7 Power Supply is also engineered to provide plenty

RECOMMENDED FOR: Guitarists and bassists who like to strut their stuff onstage. I mean, we all know that the guitarists will, but if you play bass and get one of these things, who knows what may happen. of power no matter which pedals you’ve got chained together. The 1 Spot 1SPOTPRO7 Power Supply offers up to 1900mA of draw. OVERALL: Many pedal users start their journey with a 1Spot from Truetone, and for good reason: they’e simple and well made. When it’s time to upgrade, moving to another Truetone products makes sense. The 1 Spot 1SPOTPRO7 Power Supply provides everything you need, plus a little more, just to make sure you’re powering your pedals so they can perform at their best and you can focus on music.

T-Rex Fuel Tank Chameleon

USABILITY: The choice of four voltage options makes it easy to assemble a board containing pedals that require voltages without resorting to custom made power supplies. Some times the power supplies can take up more space than the actual pedals and cause hums, spikes and power problems that can under or over power pedals which can really ruin your day.


USABILITY: Given that it operates on a 2.4GHz frequency band, the Line 6 Relay G10 can be used anywhere in the world without picking up any rogue radio interference. Using the unit is as simple as plugging in and turning on, and a total battery life of eight hours (200 in standby mode) means

CONSTRUCTION: Built from a combination of metal and hard plastic, the Relay G10’s transmitter and receiver are constructed to withstand the stresses of touring, and their slight dimensions means that they’ll squeeze easily onto your pedalboard or into your pocket for storage and safekeeping. OVERALL: Join the wireless revolution! The NBN might be a bit rubbish, but the Relay G10 definitely isn’t: a viable and costeffective solution for touring musicians of all kinds.


RECOMMENDED FOR: Guitarists who use a variety of pedals without the hassle of using a variety of different power adaptors.

options to accommodate pedals made by different companies with varying power requirements. Good. Clean. Power.

SOUNDS/VERSATILITY: With a frequency response of 10Hz – 20kHz and a total transmission range of 50 feet, the Line 6 Relay G10 wireless unit ensures that you’ll experience no signal loss or drop in audio quality, even when you’re perched atop of the drum riser tapping out a blistering solo.

that you’ll be safe to use this bad boy frequently without a hassle.

Downtown Express Bass Multi Effect Pedal


SOUND/VERSATILITY: The T-Rex is quiet asa a mouse, as you’d expect from a power supply, with four different voltage

OVERALL: Voodoo Labs overall are very well known in the pedal power world, and for good reason. The Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 VLPP2+ is just another feather in their hat.


RECOMMENDED FOR: Guitar, bass and keys players who are graduating beyond their 1Spot and need something with a bit more grunt.

USABILITY: The options provided and the switchable voltages make for a very usable pedal, that is simple to set-up and customise to your own needs.

USABILITY: The layout and design of the Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 VLPP2+ make it great option for powering your pedal

CONSTRUCTION: The Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 VLPP2+ is well laid out, constructed from a solid metal chassis and designed to be used and abused. The black powder coat won’t distract you on a dark stage, and the outputs are clearly labeled for correct usage.

Line 6 Relay G10


SOUND/VERSATILITY: The 1 Spot 1SPOTPRO7 Power Supply provides seven outputs for powering pedals, all ranging between 100mA and 500mA, and toggle-able between 9V and 12V, with a dedicated 18V out without multiple cables.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: The Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 VLPP2+ features eight outputs for multiple configurations when powering your pedals. Four of the outputs are standard 9V that can be toggled to 12V when needed, two of the 9V outputs feature Battery Sag Control so pedals with transistor-based distortion or harmonic effects can work as they were designed to.

board with confidence. The eight outputs are linkable, offering anything from 9V up to 24V.

CONSTRUCTION: If it’s anything like other T-Rex products, it’ll be built like a (pardon the pun) tank. The IEC power input gives it an even tougher construction. It’s also surprisingly small and discreet, depending on the board construction you could even place it under the board. OVERALL: The design department at T-Rex have really come up with something special with the Chameleon. T-Rex have an enviable reputation for making products that sound great with a build quality that is second to none and the Fuel Tank Chameleon continues this legacy.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Bassists who would like a studio quality preamp as well as the most popular effects for electric bass SOUND/VERSATILITY: Your one -stop shop for bass tone shaping. Compressor, three band EQ and overdrive-each switchable or on its own, or you can use the mute switch for silent tuning. USABILITY: One great asset of the Downtown Express is that you don’t need to programme it. You can change sounds on the fly with a turn of the knob. It can be used as a pedal between your bass and amp, or as a studio quality DI for both recording and live. With the growing popularity of playing direct in live situations, this is practically a Swiss Army Knife of bass tone shaping.You can eve

reorder the compressor and overdrive circuits depending on your signal chain preference. CONSTRUCTION: It’s a pedal, so it’s built to be stepped on. Solid and made to last. OVERALL: Whether live on stage, in a studio or at home using a DAW, the Fender Downtown Express Pedal is bound to become an essential part of any bass players rig.

GIFT GUIDE TC Electronic Spark Mini

Smolder Acoustic Overdrive Pedal



RECOMMENDED FOR: Guitarists who need a clean boost pedal without the alteration of tone that comes with a drive pedal.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Acoustic guitarists who want to expand their sonic pallet into rock territory.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: Like all TC products, the sound is superb.You can’t go wrong with this pedal- it has an on/off switch and a boost control of up to 20 dB It does one thing, but does it very well. USABILITY: The Spark Mini is a great pedal to have in your effects chain. If you’re using multiple guitars you can go fro a humbucker equipped guitar to a single coil and by engaging the spark you can change tones without losing volume. You can also go change dynamics on your instrument without getting lost in the mix. Wanna take a clean solo but still be heard? The TC Spark Mini has got you covered. It’s a great addition to any signal chain.Clean boost pedals can be addictive. Some players turn them on and leave them on to fatten up a signal.

CONSTRCUTION: Solidly built - steel casing and steel on/off switch. Built to be stomped on for years. OVERALL: The TC Spark Mini is perfect for that clean boost without being an overdrive pedal or colouring your tone. A real bonus is that it takes up little valuable pedal board real estate.

CONSTRUCTION: Pink is my favourite colour. I play a pink guitar, and this pedal is pink. Enough said – do they make pink amplifiers? I want one. Anyway, it’s incredibly sturdy, and the footswitch feels like it will withstand some tough use if you’re that kind of player. OVERALL: I really dig the TC Electronic Brainwaves. It’s a quirky pedal for the quirky player, but if you’re keen on getting Whammy-esque tones from a regular-sized stompbox, it’s definitely worth checking out.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: The Nano+ is the perfect foundation for any rig, big or small.. Ultra-compact and portable, the Nano+ is the perfect space saving solution for artists on the go. It’s dual rail design means even the smallest pedals grab hold of Nano+ and hold on for dear life. The Nano+ includes 36” of Pedaltrain’s professional grade hook-andloop pedal fastene. It also comes with a soft case (featuring a heavy-duty metal zipper and reinforced stress points). USABILITY: The perfect foundation for your pedal rig, the Nano+ gives you all the perks we’ve come to expect from PedalTrain, but in a cute small scale option, allowing for plug-

in and play optimization for touring artists and gigging shred-lords. CONSTRUCTION: Made to be stepped on! OVERALL: If you don’t have a pedalboard already, the Nano+ will come as a revelation. It makes set-up so simple that you will be hitting yourself, for not getting one sooner.

Ernie Ball Music Man Instrument Cables



RECOMMENDED FOR: Guitarists and bassists looking for a string-dampening utility to perform tapping, slapping and muted sounds more cleanly live and in the studio.

OVERALL: IT can be tough doing a three hour gig with just an acoustic guitar and little else. The Smolder takes the humble acoustic guitar to new places and opens the possibilities of sound right up with the stomp of a foot.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Rock Dogs, Guitarists, Touring artists

Gruv Gear Fret Wraps

USABILITY: Making use of the Fret Wraps is pretty self-explanatory: simply wrap one around the first fret of your bass or guitar (or even higher if you’re tapping intricate

CONSTRUCTION: Designed by our in-house team of experts, the Smolder Acoustic Overdrive is an all-original Fender circuit. The chassis is crafted from lightweight, durable anodized aluminum, and the Amp Jewel LED gives your pedalboard the classic Fender look. The switchable LED-backlit knobs show your control settings on a dark stage at a glance.


RECOMMENDED FOR: Tom Morello wannabes. Also, it works pretty well as a chorus effect, and you can pull some pretty sick layered POG sounds out of it too.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: When paired with correct technique, the Gruv Gear Fret Wraps really open up your fretboard to allow for a broader arsenal of tones. By removing overtones and sympathetic resonance, you’ll be able to slap harder, tap faster and bend bass strings without that annoying rumble of your strings vibrating above. They also sound awesome for slinky Motown bass lines when paired with flatwounds, or even for chugging out syncopated Nile Rodgers inspired disco phrasings.

some flavor when plugged into a full-range acoustic amp or PA.

PedalTrain Nano+ Pedalboard W/Soft Case


USABILITY: Very, very intuitive once you spend an hour or two with it. The momentary MASH footswitch is super fun once you get the hang of it, and you can even set it up as an easy option to change tonal presets on the fly.

USABILITY: The Drive knob controls the amount of distortion, while 3-band EQ and Filter controls let you shape your sound to taste. We even included cabinet simulation to add

Tc Electronic Brainwaves Pitch Shifter

SOUNDS/VERSATILITY: Pitch shifting is one of those effects that can be a bit jarring when overused, but TC Electronic have tried to make things as versatile as possible with the Brainwaves. Using the momentary switch provides that classic Whammy sound, but the three customisable TonePrints let you experiment with an array of modulated, detuned and layered sounds too.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: It’s tough to add overdrive to acoustic guitars—not only can it sound un-musical, it can also cause tonedestroying feedback. Designed specifically for use with acoustic instruments, the all-analogue Smolder Acoustic Overdrive elegantly solves these issues with Fender know-how. To soften the bright attack of a piezo pickup we included a Pickup Compensation control that smooths out the highs.

RECOMMENDED FOR: All audio professionals looking for a high-quality audio cable that’ll last a lifetime. melodic lines), play a tune, and you’ll hear the difference it makes. CONSTRUCTION: Made from a tactile fabric and featuring an elastic strap to easily shift position up and down the neck, Gruv Gear’s Fret Wraps are made to be played, and with proper storage, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t last a lifetime. OVERALL: Gruv Gear’s Fret Wraps can add a lot to any professional recording or performance, and although they sound great on guitar, I’d consider them to be an essential gig-bag accessory for any gigging bassist.

VERSATILITY: Ernie Ball have long been recognised for their excellent instrument accessories, and their instrument cables are no exception. The legendary music company offer a range of professional-grade cables which aim to cover all of a musicians’ bases. The series includes classic PVC-jacketed instrument, speaker, XLR/microphone and patch cables, in addition to braided and vintage-flavoured coiled variants. USABILITY: These cables are easy to handle and are instantly identifiable with Ernie Ball’s font etched onto each end. Multiple layers of shielding material ensure low handling noise while preserving the clearest

tone possible. The braided cable jackets even provide tangle resistance to an extent. CONSTRUCTION: Apart from the braided cable, the rest of the line-up is constructed from durable PVC and houses dualconductors to produce the most natural and unadulterated tones possible. These cables are definitely built to last. OVERALL: Ernie Ball’s products are all constructed with three things in common: superior components, reliability, and lifespan. It’s a perfect philosophy that extends across all their product lines. The braided cables even offer a staggering 22 colour variations, so there’s definitely something for everyone here.


GIFT GUIDE Ernie Ball Music Man Picks

Ernie Ball Music Man Straps



RECOMMENDED FOR: Beginners, intermediates, and pros alike.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Guitarists who want to add some style to their axe without sacrificing comfort or durability.

VERSATILITY: Ernie Ball offer a large selection of picks – or if you prefer to be fancy and technical, plectrums. These range from bogstandard cellulose picks, injection-moulded nylon picks, to their latest release – an updated selection to their Prodigy series. The Prodigy series is cloaked in a stealthy black finish and features a slightly sharpened point for increased articulation and accuracy. New to the line are a selection of different shapes and sizes that’ll easily find a home in every guitarist’s collection. USABILITY: The most fascinating pair of newcomers to the Prodigy Pick series are the 1.5mm Black Shield and Black Large Shield. As tactfully described, the Black Shield features the same sharp vertex as the Black Standard, but mimics it on all three of its edges, forming a shield shape of sorts. It’s an interesting take on both conservation and economics – an

enlarged surface area means more pick to grip on to, while three picking points provide more bang for your buck when one corner begins to eventually wear down. CONSTRUCTION: These Prodigy Picks are constructed from Delrin, which is a kind of thermoplastic polymer. This material ensures high durability and a non-slip surface. Ernie Ball claim the machine-bevelled edges decrease drag and introduces extra control, allowing for more technical players to hit their notes with ease. OVERALL: A guitarist can never have too many picks in their life. Besides – if you play with a pick, you already know how ridiculously easy it is to lose it in the blink of an eye. The more the merrier!

Klotz ‘59er Vintage Instrument Cable

CONSTRUCTION: The manufacturing process of each Klotz cable involves precise machinework, followed by manual inspection, assembly and testing, ensuring each product is absolutely flawless before being exported overseas. In addition to its stellar build quality, the ‘59er Vintage Instrument Cable features dual gold-tipped connectors at each end to prevent corrosion, all while adding to the cord’s good looks. OVERALL: This is the perfect gift for the audio professional looking for one of the best instrument cables currently available on the market.

VERSATILITY: The Klotz KIK Instrument Cable retains their signature high-quality German craftsmanship, but with a wallet-friendly price. These cables are a perfect choice for bedroom practice but can serve equally well in a recording studio, or even as a backup alternative. Plus, they’re also available in a variety of different colours and lengths. USABILITY: These are Klotz’s best-selling cables due to their excellent reliability. Their design involves a combined soldered and crimped conductor connection, which increases mechanical resistance and renders the sturdy cable more or less unbreakable with proper use. CONSTRUCTION: The KIK Instrument Cable has a capacitance of 115 pF/m, and features a double screened cable fabricated from a bare copper spiral shield with conductive plastic,

Kyser Capos



RECOMMENDED FOR: Guitarists looking for an all-encompassing cleaning and care kit for their instruments.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Almost all stringed instrument players – guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, you name it.

USABILITY: Each attractive bottle is immediately intuitive in its use. The lemon oil conditioner excels in hydrating dried boards without adding stickiness, while the instrument polish easily wards off oil and grime. The included cleaning cloths are even conveniently colour-coded to match each bottle’s sprightly design, eliminating the


OVERALL: A faithful and reliable guitar strap is absolutely essential if you occasionally play while standing, let alone bouncing around on stage. You can spend mountains of money on your guitar, but all it takes is one nasty fall from hip-height to kiss all that goodbye.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Musicians of all calibres looking for a great instrument cable that won’t break the bank.

Kyser Care Kit

VERSATILITY: Kyser’s infinitely useful care kit makes an excellent gift for all every single guitarist out there. The pack includes a bottle of lemon oil fretboard conditioner, string cleaner, instrument polish, and three Ultra Opper Fiber cleaning cloths, effectively covering all day-to-day maintenance requirements.

CONSTRUCTION: The standard Ernie Ball straps are 2” wide and are constructed from a durable polypropylene webbing, with the exception of the PolyLock Neoprene series, which are additionally available in a 3” width. Neoprene is a particularly comfortable material that is equally flexible and sturdy, allowing for extended playing sessions without added strain.


RECOMMENDED FOR: Musicians looking for nothing short of a premium instrument cable.

USABILITY: This particular cable boasts a low capacitance of 115 pF/m, and features both a conductive plastic shield and a bare copper spiral shield to minimise interference. Its hybrid PVC and textile jacket ensures life-long ruggedness and longevity, while its anti-kink shrink sleeves makes coiling a breeze.

USABILITY: There are over 11 plain colours in Ernie Ball’s classic Polypro Straps, and 20 different variations in their Jacquard Straps. These nifty designs could be considered art in their own right. You can pick from various clusters of ornamental flora, waves of psychedelic paisley, or even stark tribal or Persian carpet-esque designs. If those don’t tickle your fancy, there are straps made from Italian leather coupled with synthetic fur

lining, or even heavy-duty locking straps that don’t require any extra parts.

Klotz KIK Instrument Cable


VERSATILITY: The German audio company Klotz pride themselves on constantly revising their products to suit the everchanging demands of modern musicianship. Clad in a vintage tweed textile jacket, Klotz’ ‘59er Instrument Cable is a throwback to days gone by, combining old-school looks with present-day technology. This luxurious cable is offered in three sizes: 3m, 4.5m, and 6m, and is also available in straight-to-straight or straight-to-angled configurations.

VERSATILITY: A quality strap can add that extra bit of definition some guitars desperately need to stand out. Thankfully, Ernie Ball has a huge range of extendable guitar straps that will suit guitars, basses, and even ukuleles. The series includes a wide variety of colours, patterns, and construction materials to choose from, and will undoubtedly be a perfect gift for your muso mates this Christmas.

chances of cleaning mix-ups or mishaps. CONSTRUCTION: The trio of cleaning products come plastered with their own colourful and stylish font and are easily applied via a fool-proof spray bottle. Each individual bottle contains 4 oz worth of cleaning goodness, and along with the cleaning cloths, are all made in the USA. OVERALL: An absolutely unbeatable package for guitarists who love their instruments spick and span. Special mentions go out to the string cleaner; apart from improving playability, this little guy will save time and money spent on restringing by increasing string longevity.

VERSATILITY: The Kyser Quick-Change capo is where it all began for the Texas-based, family-owned company. Kyser offers a myriad of clamping options to pick from, and each capo performs their function to an exemplary standard. Apart from capos tailored for different instruments, Kyser also offers capos that only cover three to five strings for alternate tunings. Most of them come in a wide range of colours too. USABILITY: Kyser capos are known for their elegant yet simplistic design. Only a single hand is required to operate the accessory; an appealing notion to both beginners and professionals alike. Each capo delivers

which provide fantastic protection from noise and interference. The connectors are goldtipped to both maximise their lifespan and minimise corrosion, while the rubber sleeves are flexible enough to accommodate a short bend radius. OVERALL: Apart from being a great all-round cable, the KIK Instrument Cable is a wonderful option to have in the pouch of your gig bag or in the trunk of your car for when everything goes wrong.

sufficient pressure evenly distributed across its clamping surface, resulting in buzz-free transposition every time. CONSTRUCTION: Each Kyser capo is forged from sturdy, lightweight aluminium, then hand-drilled, assembled and finished in Texas, USA. Kyser’s Quick-Change capo is a definite crowd favourite with its stately top arm furled upwards into a spiral, mirroring the snazzy ‘K’ in the Kyser brand logo. OVERALL: Every guitarist needs a capo at some point in their life, so why not get one that’ll last you for years to come?

GIFT GUIDE Kyser Humidifier

Ernie Ball Axis Capo



RRECOMMENDED FOR: All acoustic guitarists who either travel constantly or live in a dry, arid climate.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Six or seven string guitars players looking for a solution to their capo needs, without needing multiple capos for different instruments and string counts.

VERSATILITY: Guitars are often hefty investments. As such, they definitely need to be protected at all costs. If a guitar dries out, the body will eventually crack. Kyser’s Lifeguard Humidifiers ensure your instrument’s wooden body is properly moisturised and hydrated at all times. This particular humidifier comes in a range of sizes, befitting most conventional acoustic and classical guitars, and even exists in a special miniature version suited for ukuleles. USABILITY: The Lifeguard Humidifier is extraordinarily easy to use. Simply immerse it in water, shake off the excess, then plug it straight into your instrument’s sound hole before storage – that’s really all there is to it.

CONSTRUCTION: These humidifiers are made from a durable rubber material that is flexible enough to fully seal an instrument’s sound hole. An enclosed absorbent sponge ensures no water drips into the instrument’s interior itself.

SOUND/VERSATILITY: The Axis Capo is designed to be used with both flat fingerboarded instruments and curved radiuses alike, without frets buzzing out because separate capos are needed. The capo features a dual radius design, as well as single-handed operation so it can be quickly pulled on and off during songs easily.

OVERALL: Parts of Australia are prone to year-round dry weather and can lead to unforeseen, gut-wrenching damage to your favourite instruments. In order to properly protect your musical companions, make sure you’ve got the proper tools on hand to do so.

USABILITY: The inconspicuous looks, ergonomic and practical design make the Axis one of the most usable capos I’ve had the pleasure of using. Whereas some capos need to be fine tuned a little to ensure all strings are fretted cleanly, the Axis frets quickly and accurately.

CONSTRUCTION: As with most Ernie Ball products, this is not only well constructed, but also designed to meet the needs of the player. Easily placed and removed with a single hand, as well as handles that won’t get in the way, and available in four colours to match your instrument and aesthetic. OVERALL: Not only may this be the next capo you’ll buy, but it’s the last capo you’ll buy. The width and reach of the capo makes it usable for both 6 and 7 string acoustic and electric alike.

Peterson HD Clip On Strobe Tuner AMBER TECHNOLOGY EXPECT TO PAY: $109 RECOMMENDED FOR: It’s great for guitarists, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t utilise the Peterson HD Clip On Strobe Tuner on a cello, violin, mandolin or even an Oud – if that’s your kind of thing. SOUNDS/VERSATILITY: With 28 sweetened tunings and alternate temperaments to suit an array of string and wind instruments, Peterson’s HD Clip On Strobe Tuner sets a high benchmark for the clip on tuner market. The Sustain mode, which holds the display of your tuning image for three seconds, is also suitable for tuning instruments with a short decay, such as banjos or ukuleles. USABILITY: The concept of strobe tuning is a bit different from your traditional tuner, but the Peterson HD Clip On really isn’t hard to figure out. The rotating strobe allows you to tune your instruments within +/- 0.1

centime – which equates to 1/1000th of a fret. If you’re picky about pitch, this is the tuner for you. CONSTRUCTION: A carbon-fiber hinged clip makes sure your tuner won’t fall from your headstock, while the stainless steel chassiss and metal carry case ensure that the Peterson won’t cop any damage on the road. OVERALL: Don’t be that person playing out of tune on stage. Grab a Peterson HD Clip On Strobe Tuner, and you’ll enjoy pitch perfect performance at all times!



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ERIS, REMASTERED. We made sure these monitors maintained the clarity and flat frequency response that Eris has become synonymous with. Eris XT monitors deliver the same smooth, accurate character of their predecessors, and add improved transient response, a wider top-end, and tightly-focused lows. The 100° x 60° elliptical wave guide provides a wider stereo image for a larger sweet spot, while the narrow vertical dispersion reduces reflections from your desk. The silk dome tweeter delivers a smooth, refined sound that accurately reproduces transients and high frequencies. Both the weave and nature of the Eris XT custom-woven composite low-frequency driver deliver a constant dispersion pattern throughout the frequency range. A larger cabinet and improved port deliver deeper bass response. It’s Eris, remastered. Rest assured that your clients and fans are getting what they deserve: your best work. Visit us at to learn more.


High-Definition Active Studio Monitors

Eris E5 XT

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Eris E8 XT



Waldorf Music are set to excite a few synth nerds and gear heads with the Kyra VA Synthesizer on its way down under. A lightweight and ergonomic piece of hardware set to physically downsize your studio or live set up whilst up scaling your entire sound. Suited for the most immersive of musicians, this piece of hardware is hitting the charts and being named one of the most powerful synths ever – and rightfully so. Hook up your MIDI controller and explore the 26 sound banks, A through Z, each containing 128 patches – resulting in a possible 3328 different sounds that range from impeccable reproductions of such classics as the Juno and 303 to flawless new pads, dirty leads and sound FX. Before we delve any deeper into its overall sound, it’s worth investigating the Kyra’s exhaustive list of specifications and incredible lineup of features, because frankly, there’s very little on the market to compare it to. The Kyra brings digital synthesis as close to the realms of analogue recording as possible. As such, it features 32-bit digital conversion with a 96kHz sampling rate across the board. This prevents common complications of digital conversion such as oscillator aliasing and filter stepping. This can be downsized to 48kHz if your computer can’t handle the eight stereo 24-bit streams the Kyra can send via USB 2.0, as well as the stereo return from your DAW. For multi track recording or live performances, you will happily make use of its four balanced stereo outputs. A true multi-timbral delight, the Kyra is capable of playing eight individual ‘parts’ at once – effectively working as eight different synthesisers simultaneously, all recorded independently via the aforementioned stereo streams. The sound for each individual ‘part’ is sourced from two alias-free oscillators, two sub groups and is then open to 32-note


polyphony. Each oscillator group features saw, pulse, wavetable, noise and detune, as well as real hard sync, ring modulation and frequency modulation between them. The sub groups contain four wave types, two octave pitches and detune, packing a huge low end punch for beefing up brittle pads and creating dense swells. Next come three assignable LFOs, each with a whopping 128 different wave shapes plus monophonic, polyphonic, random, antiphase and quadrature stereo phase settings. Wave shapes are displayed to you on the 256x64 pixel graphic OLED display that is automatically set to show the numerical value of each parameter as you adjust it, with Waldorf thoughtfully adding the ability to fine-tune this value and navigate through the other available settings. The filter section painlessly emulates a classic analogue ladder filter with either 2-pole 12dB/octave or 4-pole 24dB octave low pass, band pass or high passes available at the press of a button. The handy and sizable Frequency knob, complete with resonance and ADSR controls make squeezing out frequencies or accentuating certain passages easily, while a second and third envelope generator section assigned to amp and aux respectively. However, my favourite feature in this section is undoubtedly the dual filter option. This works in parallel or series and adds amazing stereo depth to your pads! Next comes the six channel mod matrix with three destinations giving a total of 18 possible routings. It’s also worth noting that the LFOs are also available here as well as a MIDI clock sync source, giving you even further potential to create whacky, wobbly sounds. A transpose function, five available octaves and a beautiful portamento perfectly complement the extensive effects section –

five parameters tweaked via their own knob for each EQ, formant, distortion, limiter, delay, phaser, chorus and reverb, all of which sound pretty formidable. I’m also going to stop here for a moment to let you digest all of that, and to kindly remind you that everything we’ve listed so far is capable of working simultaneously on its eight independent parts. This is thanks to 4096 18-bit, 32x oversampled PCM wavetables, which generate its expansive array of sounds and take away the need for any substantial CPU power. But we’ve saved the best until last because here comes the arpeggiator section. Words cannot describe its versatility; you’ve really got to sit down with it yourself. Designed again for a live or studio setting there are 128 different patterns to explore that can be arranged going up, down, random or in chords – with three octaves, tempo knob and a number of different beats available to flick through in real time – perfect for building intricate highs and lows throughout longer mixes and soundscapes.

of six oscillators. If you’re brave enough, you can even double this up to a brutish 12 oscillators in Dual Mode, which really is quite the experience – my bones are trembling just thinking about it. Users can then control the intensity and spread via two knobs. Combining all of this with the ‘panorama’ function for additional stereo spread and detune as well as dual filters and triple LFOs you can only imagine the possibilities. For this reason alone, the Waldorf Kyra has the ability to add a massive amount of depth to any live performance or studio recording. This is by far its strongest feature as most of the preset patches are pads. However, acid house fans will be excited to know there is an abundance of patches paying homage to the genre’s characteristic squelch. And, of course, the real magic in the Kyra reveals itself when you dive in and create your own patches - but we’ll leave that up for you to discover. BY JACK SWANN

This might sound like a lot to take in but in reality when you get your hands on one it becomes incredibly intuitive, although it is wise to brush up on the basics of synthesisers if you haven’t already so you can properly understand the routing and intricacy of the layers you can create. Each parameter is assigned as a primary or secondary function on a knob or button; this means you can control everything with ease in real time and there is no need to flick through exhaustive lists – the ‘shift lock’ button is sticky which will free up one of your hands. Perhaps the most interesting feature above all is the ‘hypersaw’ mode, which bypasses the two oscillator groups and instead uses an internal algorithm comprising of a total

HITS: ∙ One of the most powerful synths ever made ∙ Record eight independent parts at once MISSES: ∙ Steep learning curve ∙ Expensive


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Grandmother Semi-Modular Analogue Synthesiser INNOVATIVE MUSIC | INNOVATIVEMUSIC.COM.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: $1499 Every now and then, the creative geniuses at Moog Music really get it right. Yes, pretty much every instrument they have ever released is on my wish list, but there are some standout models that simply capture everyone’s attention. I remember when the Little Phatty came out some years back and you couldn’t even sell your grandmother for one in the first six months because they were that popular. It seems fitting that Moog has now released a new semi-modular synth that is again set to be the most popular keyboard on the market, the Grandmother. Based on the classic Moog modular synth system, the Grandmother takes a number of modular elements and hardwires them into one frame with a 32-note keyboard and some funky colour coordination so that no other synth on the market looks or sounds quite like it. The beauty of the Grandmother is that you don’t need to think ‘modular’ to operate it—don’t get in a panic thinking you’ll need a degree in physics to understand how to pull a sound out of this device. It wants to be heard and makes it easy for you to do so, but has the added advantage of being able to change the signal path

within the unit via the modular patching functions. There are two oscillators, an arpeggiator, modulation, filter, envelope, and even a spring reverb tank to name just some of the sections found wired logically to the output. With 41 patch points, you can get into the heart of the Grandmother and really let your creativity go wild. The Grandmother allows you to patch into the signal path at any point, ensuring it also becomes a great tool for working without synths as well. Combined with the Mother-32 it becomes a handy keyboard to the rack unit and can allow you access to those classic Moog filters for use with other synths when you just want to add it as an effect. Some of the sounds you get from the Grandmother are sweet, dreamy soundscapes, while others venture into the realm of visceral distortion. For all of you going through a Synthwave moment, like so many of us are, the Grandmother’s arpeggiator allows for some beautiful dreamscape sequences that could be the base for any great hit. For performance, recording and sound design, you really are going to love working with this synth. It is, for me, the coolest device Moog has come up with since the

Little Phatty, and I’m sure it’s going to be even more popular than that was. The big question is: Have you got yours on order yet? These guys are going to be in demand right from the start, so don’t mess around. You need to hear a Moog Grandmother to understand what it is capable of and how easy it is to work with. When you hear one, you will need to take it home.

HITS: ∙ Incredible Moog sound ∙ Easy layout and control ∙ Modular ability means greater scope for creativity MISSES: ∙ None



Mini Superbeetle British Racing Green YAMAHA MUSIC AUSTRALIA | AU.YAMAHA.COM | EXPECT TO PAY: $749 The Vox Mini Superbeetle offers the classic, chimey Vox sound, re-imagined for a new generation of players. The Superbeetle is styled like a classic Vox, with a sweet British Racing Green tolex enclosure and iconic hatched brown cloth stitching over the 10” speaker. The cabinet features vintage style rails to secure the matching head into place, completing the aesthetic and making the Vox Superbeetle a great statement piece in a lounge, even before the amp is powered on. Due to its size, the Superbeetle is mostly designed for home practice and small gigs, however is capable of moving 50 watts from the speaker. And with the tones easily accessible via a simple to use preamp section, it offers iconic Vox cleans and dirty tones alike with just six chicken-head knobs. Despite the NuTube technology and the small size, this is a classic Vox amp that looks great, feels right and sounds phenomenal. Once the Superbeetle is powered via the included AC adapter and turned on, the preamp section makes for a very easy quest for tone. Left to right, the top panel features Volume, a Standby/Power switch and LED indicator, followed by Reverb and Tremolo to dial in the chime. The Tremolo is iconically warm and rich, as it’s powered by the NuTube technology. It can be blended


in for a little movement or a full blown, borderline jarring effect. The reverb is a nice compliment whether dialled to max or subtly used to fill out a sound, resembling a nice, bright hall or plate reverb, but is listed as a digital spring. The top panel also features Bass and Treble controls, and a dimed Treble offers tones similar to Vox’s well-known Top Boost input, making sure that Vox’s iconic sparkling top-end is available in droves. The gain control offers super rich and warm, tube-like tones, despite the Mini Superbeetle being powered by a NuTube preamp, and teeters on fuzz when dialed to ten. On top of all this, the Mini Superbeetle takes pedals just as well as a larger AC15 or AC30, particularly when paired with warm overdrive units and enveloping modulation effects. The Vox Mini Superbeetle maxes out at 50 watts, when run at 4 ohms. The unit then runs at 25 watts @ 8 ohms and 12.5 watts at 16 ohms, and can be used in conjunction with multiple speaker cabinets. This offers plenty of headroom for clean tones, but also plenty of volume for solo home practice or even small band practices. Signal is pushed out through the single 10” Celeston Customer speaker, which is hidden behind iconic brown cloth and styled as only Vox are. The head itself is powered by NuTube

technology, and for those playing at home, NuTubes are effectively vacuum tubes, and operate in the same way, creating as much rich harmonic response and warmth than a conventional (and much larger) amplifier. All in all, the Vox Mini Superbeetle is classically Vox, inherently Vox, and unapologetically Vox, but re-designed for a more modern player. Not only is operation super easy, but the classically styled head and matching cabinet would look at home in any lounge room or living area, or maybe nestled into the corner of a lounge in an apartment that smells of rich mahogany. The price is right, and so is the tone, whether you’re new to Vox or a browncloth aficionado, the Mini Superbeetle would be a worthwhile investment. It can be used as a head alone with an external cabinet, for both fairly loud or completely silent practice via the headphone out that retains the character and clarity of the matched cabinet. BY LEWIS NOKE EDWARDS

HITS: ∙ Small size, big sound ∙ Looks great ∙ Head can be used with different cabinets MISSES: ∙ Digital ‘spring’ reverb isn’t very spring-y


PJB M7 Micro 7 Bass Amplifier EGM DISTRIBUTION | EGM.NET.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: $649 Any other bassists sick of lugging around a rig the size of a small car? I mean, I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve almost put my back dragging my speaker cab around town, and don’t even get me started on my amplifier. Of course, it’s nice to have the rumble that a big 8x10 or 2x15 cabinet offers, but back blasting aside, is it really worth it? Modern PA systems are so bottomheavy and powerful that many old school bass amps are almost made redundant, and you may as well save your back by picking up a decent combo amp. Despite my qualms, I must admit: when I picked up the Phil Jones Bass M7 Micro Bass Amplifier, I was skeptical that it would hold up to the task. Powered by a 50 watt power amp and with a 7” driver and 3” tweeter handling the speaker duties, the PJB M7 shares similar specifications to many a practise amp, but it holds the potential to be so much more than that. There’s no reason why you couldn’t utilise the PJB M7 in a rehearsal studio, and its output should be more than enough to cut it for smallermedium venues, particularly if you’re mic’ing it up or employing the use of a DI box for some extra oomph. In the tone department, the PJB M7 packs quite the punch, and carries a lot of versatilty. The level, treble, midrange and bass controls let you shape the tone of your instrument to cover almost every genre

you could think of. Playing a flatwound equipped Jazz Bass and with the tone knobs rolled off, the PJB M7 output a thumping Motown ready tone that Jamerson would certainly approve of, while bumping the midrange resulted in a stank honk with a heap of character – perfect for slapping and popping. Driving the level knob also gives a you a significant amount of grit which would suit those playing punk or rock styles with a pick, and if you start clipping, you can turn back the master volume to make sure you don’t cop any cranky looks from your lead singer. The PJB M7 even features an incredibly useful passive/active control, letting you flex the amplifier to suit the varying characteristics of passive and active pickups, which I reckon is an awesome feature for anyone rocking two different basses in their set. If you are going to be practising with the PJB M7, you’ll be stoked to see that there’s a whole bunch of features to make the process simple. The amp features an Auxiliary input with its own independent volume control, letting you jam along to backing tracks on Spotify or even hook up your laptop to play along with a YouTube tutorial. There’s also a Line Out jack, which is always a handy feature to have up your sleeve, while the Mute switch lets you easily flick the PJB M7 into standby mode without

needing to turn the entire amplifier off. Measuring around 30 centimetres on all sides and featuring a tough kick-proof grille and a sturdy enclosure, the Phil Jones Bass Micro 7 bass amplifier is built to withstand punishing live conditions, and will easily pop next to your seat on the train if you’re carting it between home and your band’s jam spot. It’s a super convenient combo that’ll allure both older players looking for a lighter rig and younger punters looking for something easy to cart about from gig to gig, and it’s definitely an affordable alternative to many other bass amps on the market.

HITS: ∙ Super compact and surprisingly versatile ∙ Active/passive switchable MISSES: ∙ A built-in tuner would lure in beginner bassists



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Dirty 1930's RPS-9P-TS EGM DISTRIBUTION | EGM.NET.AU |EXPECT TO PAY: $599 Recording King started as a house brand for Montgomery Ward in the 1930sm originally made by companies like Gibson and Kay. The brand was discontinued in 1939 and original Recording King guitars, which are becoming increasingly rare can fetch large prices on the vintage guitar market. In fact original Recording King guitars are one of the few guitars from a bygone era which are still within the financial limits of musicians who play and record with them, as opposed to collectors. The brand was revived in 2007 by The Music Link in Hayward, CA. Current Recording King products use vintage designs and replicas of pre-World War II parts. Because of their construction and sound, the new Recording King models lend themselves to music styles of a bygone era - country, blues and even early jazz. A flick through any books on blues and country will reveal to the keen eye many Recording King guitars due to their availability and affordability at the time. In fact, in the recent Coen Brothers movie “The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs”. Singing cowboy Buster Scruggs played by Tim Blake Nelson is seen playing a Recording King guitar while crooning the classic tune “Cool Water”. The small parlour size makes it super comfortable to play with a slim neck and a low action straight

out of the box. As is traditional with parlour guitars . The neck meets the body at the twelfth fret so high access is not on the menu, but it’s not really built with shredding in mind. The Recording King RPS-9P-TS has great projection and balance when used for traditional blues and country finger style playing and has a surprising volume when you start strumming some fat open chords .It’ll be right at home for the folk/ roots players as well, with a character and midrange bark that set sit apart from your standard full bodied dreadnaught. One of the biggest advantages of a small bodied parlour guitar is how perfect they are for unamplified vocal accompaniment. The slightly reigned in projection and clear voicing make them the perfect underlay for troubadour or singer-songwriter material (particularly of the old-timey ilk)

guitar for around the house. Both playable and portable, it’s the kind of guitar that is nice just to have around the lounge room or……parlour? If you’re looking for a small body guitar at a great price, Recording King could be just what you’re looking for. Its unique character makes it highly addictive and after a few minutes you may not want to put it down. I certainly didn’t. MATT DWYER

HITS: ∙ Nice mid range presence MISSES: ∙ Not much

With it’s spruce top, 25.4” scale length, cross lap bracing, bone nut and saddle, the workmanship is of a notably high quality. It’s small, light body and ergonomic neck make it an easy guitar to play…very easy. It’s lack of boominess at the soundhole, would also make it great recording guitar for certain applications. The diminiutive body and relatively hushed projection make the RPS-9P-TS the perfect


Phil Jones Ear Box EGM DISTRIBUTION | WWW.EGM.NET.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: $359 Onstage monitoring is an interesting topic in 2019. In-ear monitoring has become more accessible, feasible and affordable, while profiling amplifiers can provide a direct signal to onstage monitors, blasting yourself and your bandmates with your meticulously dialled tone as sound bounces around the stage. Traditional amplifier head and cabinet players monitor at the mercy of their environment, muffled as they attempt to stand as close to their amp as they can to get as direct a sound as possible from the cabinet. In-ear monitor users take the alternative route and give in to trebly, harsh signal from their in-ears. Phil Jones Bass, in an endless quest to solve the little issues that we as musicians face, have produced an onstage solution for bass. The Phil Jones Bass Ear Box, a little dual-driver speaker enclosure is an onstage but out-of-the-way monitor designed to give you the attack and articulation you need to play your best every gig that won’t be affected by room acoustics, nor will it bleed heavily into other sound sources on a stage. The Phil Jones Bass Ear Box is a small piece of gear that weighs in at about a kilo. Dual Phil Jones Bass Neodymium magnet 12ohm drivers push sound from 250Hz up to 20kHz out at ear height once they are mounted to a vertical microphone stand and plugged in via a Neutrik NL 4 cable. The drivers are mounted inside a sleek, classily finished


black splattered box, which will easily hide the monitor away on side of stage while it’s doing its job. Measuring about 18cm x 10cm x 15cm and inconspicuously finished and designed, the Ear-Box can hide away on a dark stage once integrated into your setup. It can handle heads up to 1000 watt RMS, so it will be easily integrated into almost any rig. Straight front bass cabinets (besides 810s that do reach head height, but are too hefty to cart around to most gigs) usually blast sound to a bass players legs or feet. The Ear Box won’t reproduce a boomy, muffled low end – just the attack and articulation you need to hold down your playing and anchor the band. In a busy club or noisy bar, the mids and highs are the problem area as it becomes messy and mixed in with chatter and background noise; this is where the Ear Box shines. An EQ before the Ear Box itself can further attenuate frequencies and really hone in on what you need to hear. This product serves the user, but spoils the band with a well-balanced stage sound because you can hear the sounds you need onstage, and there’s no need to tweak EQ, spoil your tone for the audience, or turn up your amp and ruin the onstage mix.

a grey area, between being at the mercy of onstage monitors or in-ear systems has been fixed. The box is inconspicuous enough to hide away, even at the recommended head height and remain hidden. The band won’t hear your monitor unless it’s directed at them, so you’ve got your own little secret weapon. You can hear the attack and intricacies of your playing for better or worse, even when crowd noise is at a high. The Ear Box is designed for smaller clubs and gigs, such as bars, cafes or even little outdoor shows, and while it won’t compete with a blasting drummer in a metal club, it’ll keep you monitoring confidently for pretty much everything else. BY LEWIS NOKE EDWARDS

HITS: ∙ Inconspicuous MISSES: ∙ N/A

The Phil Jones Bass Ear Box really is an entirely new product, but one we’ve needed for a long time. A large inconvenience, and


Natural 5 & 6 Acoustic Instrument Amplifiers DRUM PARTNER/MUSIC PARTNER | DRUMPARTNERS.COM.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: NATURAL 5 $1049.00, NATURAL 6 $ 1349.00 Under general circumstance, amplifying acoustic instruments can prove to be quite troublesome: either you’re plugging straight into the PA and being forced to deal with the icky sound of your dry signal, or you’re combating whirring feedback and tempestuous white noise from your usual amplifier. Although a range of brands have made amplifiers dedicated solely to acoustic instruments, very few possess any notable character or mojo, and for that matter, tend to fall into the gear-hole abyss. Enter Prodipe’s Natural Acoustic Instrument Amplifier range. These French-designed contraptions are constructed for not just the acoustic guitarist, but for an entire ensemble, offering a comprehensive solution to rehearsals and even intimate performances. With two models available in the series – the 5” speaker equipped Natural 5, and the slightly beefier 6.5” fitted Natural 6, these amps play host to a wide range of TRS, XLR and even RCA inputs, allowing you to run acoustic guitars, keyboards, microphones and auxiliary sources such as a sampler or iPhone to run backing tracks. This makes the Prodipe Natural range a no-brainer for any jazz group or singer/ songwriters who make a living performing night-after-night in smaller venues, and the relatively compact dimensions and weight of

both the Natural 5 and 6 (11 and 13 kilograms respectively) ensure that they’ll easily squeeze into your boot or even on the backseat for transportation between gigs. With two TRS inputs, an XLR input, an RCA I/O and a single Direct Out, the Prodipe Natural 5 packs much less than its bigger sibling, but it’ll certainly suffice for solo artists, duos or even trios in a pinch. Each input also features a three-band EQ, gain knob and a control for reverb, which should allow you to shape each player’s tone or into something pretty enough for a live setting, while inbuilt phantom power lets you plug in your favourite condenser microphone to ensure your singer’s vocals sound as crisp live as they do in the studio. I tested the Natural 5 out solo with an acoustic guitar and condenser microphone for my vocals, and was quite impressed by the woody acoustic tone I received from the amp. Unlike the flat tones of other acoustic amps, the Natural 5 had quite a warm midrange, perfect for finger-picked passages and chords alike, while the 1” tweeter projected highfrequencies without sounding too jagged or icy. I was also surprised to hear that my vocals didn’t sound secondary to my guitar in the mix, and the inbuilt reverb didn’t disappoint. The Natural 5 also boasts a pair of very handy legs to tilt the amp for some sweet sound

isolation – if you’re rehearsing from the confi nes of your apartment, your neighbours will love this feature. For those needing some extra grunt, the Natural 6 should keep you happy, with four inputs and outputs and an impressive eight reverb presets making it a surefi re pick for downtempo folk, jazz or blues ensembles. Prodipe stake the claim that the 50Hz to 20kHz bandwidth of these amps should let it play nicely with drums, synths and bass sounds, so I thought I’d put the Natural 6 to the test with a singer, keyboard, bass guitar and a Roland SP-404 plugged into the RCA input to trigger some drum loops. After a few tweaks to the mixer section, I can happily report that the Natural 6 defi nitely didn’t crumble under pressure. The low-end frequencies, whether via a kick drum, thumping semi-hollow bass or the rumbling bottom notes of a Rhodes, delivered a nice punch that a normal guitar amp might lack. The Natural 6 also features a pole socket for stand mounting, which is certainly a welcome feature for live performances. Prodipe have definitely tapped into a good little niche with these Natural Acoustic Instrument Amplifiers. They’re compact, abundant with useful features and sound

surprisingly good: for those acts gearing up for the corporate festive function season, these amps will definitely be your mate. BY WILL BREWSTER

HITS: ∙ Warm acoustic tones and very usable vocal sounds ∙ Compact size and affordable pricing MISSES: ∙ Not much


Dynamic Microphone Range DRUM PARTNER/MUSIC PARTNER AUSTRALIA | DRUMPARTNER.COM.AU EXPECT TO PAY: TT-1 PRO VOCAL $99.95, TT-1 PRO INSTURMENT $99.95, M85 $149.95 From the incredible fidelity of their ‘60s recordings to the groundbreaking technical advancements of the ORTF (Office de Radio diffusion Television Françoise), when it comes to the white-lab-coat school of audio engineering, the French have always been at the top of the class. The country’s strong roots in broadcast and orchestral recording have meant that France has always been one of the world’s premier exporters of audio engineering talent but, in terms of actual contributions to microphone design, they have always been somewhat overshadowed by the Austrian and German classics of yore. That is until now. Prodipe are a French Audio company with a purpose; to produce legimitely Pro products that come in (well) below traditional ‘Pro’ pricing. Employing the same level of R’n’D and design nous as many of the better known prestige manufacturers, Prodipe are set to create some major waves amongst FOH engineers and studio veterans alike. It was with this in mind that I jumped at the opportunity to put their Ludovic Lanen designed dynamics through their paces, starting with the TT-1 Pro Pro. The TT-1 Pro has long been a cult favourite amongst savvy engineers and forum dwellers for a number of years. A real insider’s microphone, the TT-1 is often praised for its sonic fullness, versatility and rugged construction (and exceptionally low pricepoint). 54

Equally adept at live vocals as it is in front of a guitar cab, the TT-1 Pro has garnered a reputation as something of a ‘giant killer’ amongst modern dynamic mics. Whereas the TT-1 Pro is more concerned with versatility of application, the slightly more specialised TT1-Pro Instrument is an instrument mic in its truest form, with its slender profile and signature robust voicing (think SM57 without the midrange chirp or a front address version of an e609). Superbly engineered by the great Ludovic Lanen, the TT-1 Pro Instrument is a utilitarian, multi-purpose microphone capable of producing a more than workable sound across a wide variety of sound sources. Like all Lanen mics in this review, it has a classy fullness to it that never seems to cross the line into muddiness, even at close proximity. I found the smooth voicing and broadband frequency response of the TT1-Pro Instrument to be the perfect antidote to janky sounding snare drums and brittle guitar sounds that often plague young bands. The low-mid fullness also make it a great go-to for toms. The third and final Lanen mic to be tested was Prodipes contribution to the world of handheld vocal dynamics, the M-85. With its silver ball-grille and transparent voicing, the M-85 definitely has a very different vibe to the aforementioned models, sounding almost like the exact middle ground between a sm58 and

a DPA. As a stage mic, I found it to provide ample resistance to plosives/handling noise and it’s impressive gain-before-feedback properties meant that it compared favourably to the classic handhelds pitted against it. It has the same broadband capture and sonic fullness that we have come to expect from a Lanen mic, albeit with an airier top. This fullness and ability to handle plosives would also see the SM-85 as a good backup or beginner mic for podcast. In conclusion, Prodipe’s new line of Lanen designed dynamics are a force to be reckoned with. By combining the savoir-faire of French engineering with the most efficient Asian manufacturing in the business, Prodipe have managed to create the ultimate outlier: truly

Pro quality mics at a fraction of the cost of the bagboy’s. Get on them early, because when word gets out about the level of audio quality we are talking about here, they won’t be a trade secret for very long. BY PAUL FRENCH HITS: ∙ High fidelity output ∙ Rugged construction ∙ Extremely good value for money MISSES: ∙ Could do with a sturdier mount




RockBass Artist Line SklarBass AMBER TECHNOLOGY | AMBERTECH.COM.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: $2,099 Leland Sklar is one of the most acclaimed and sought-after session bassists of all time. His work alongside the likes of Phil Collins, James Taylor, Warren Zevon and Toto is testament to his versatility as a musician, not to mention his skill as a bassist. So, the recent announcement of Warwick’s Artist Series Sklar Bass – alongside RockBass – would have delighted many a Sklar aficionado. At over $10,000, the German-made Warwick Artist Series Sklar Bass clearly may not be within everyone’s price range. While understandably not rocking the same finesse and craft as the Warwick, the RockBass is, however, a superb alternative. This bass features a beautifully crafted semihollow Mahogany body with an AAA flamed maple top, while the set, three piece neck consists of maple. It comes with two passive MEC vintage single coil pickups, as well as active two-way electronics and controls for volume, balance, treble and bass. Its 34-inch scale and four kilogram weight mean that the RockBass Sklar Bass I is far from cumbersome. Whether you prefer to play sitting down (as Lee Sklar sometimes tends to do himself) or standing up, the RockBass is an all-round comfortable instrument to play. One design-related feature that lacks, however, is the bevel cutaway, featured on the aforementioned and more expensive Artist

Series. After a couple of hours of playing, my right forearm did begin to feel the strain from hanging over the edge of the bass body. It would have been nice to see the cutaway – one of the more conspicuous modifications made by Sklar to the antecedent Warwick Star Bass – makes its way onto the RockBass as well. However, no complaints to be made about the action here. The strings are set at an ideal height, so fret buzz is very minimal. I personally prefer a slightly lower action on my basses, mainly because it makes fast passage work a tad more accessible. It stays in tune rather well, and the intonation is great, albeit a bit tough past the 19th fret mark. This isn’t a huge problem though – as Leland himself says, if you find yourself playing up there too much, your band may need to look for a bassist. After plugging the RockBass Sklar I through my MarkBass rig, I was immediately captivated by the beautiful, boomy tone the instrument produced with the bass EQ turned up. I’ve played basses where, if you turn the bass EQ up, it can sound muffled and indiscernible. The great thing about the RockBass Sklar I is that the bass tone sounds full without losing any definition. The sustain is impressive, a feature that will definitely suit those who adhere to Sklar’s ‘Less-Is-More’ approach to bass playing.


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On the other hand, I can’t say I was as impressed when I turned the treble up; the tone is on the tinny side and ends up sounding a bit like the lower register of an acoustic guitar. There’s also a slight hiss from the pickups that feeds through the amp, which I found a tad distracting. Having said this, I can’t imagine that those who use the RockBass will be heavily reliant on its high-end tone; after all, that’s what the guitarist is for. It also features, much to my amusement, a “Producer Switch” next to the EQ and volume dials. If you’re ever in the studio and the producer starts banging on about your tone, flick this switch and just keep doing you – unless you’re recording with Rick Rubin, chances are they’ll never know it’s a gimmick. All in all, the RockBass Sklar Bass I is a terrific instrument for those (quite understandably) reluctant to fork out $10,000 for the premium model. The resonant low end will provide a

solid bedrock for any live jam or mix that you’re working on, while the relatively thin neck and low, responsive action make it suitable for faster, more intricate basswork. BY DAVID TOMISICH

HITS: ∙ Boomy low end with plenty of definition and sustain ∙ Highly responsive action ∙ Great to use while sitting or standing MISSES: ∙ Lacks the bevel cutaway ∙ Treble EQ settings don’t quite cut it


One USB Audio Interface AMBER TECHNOLOGY | AMBERTECH.COM.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: $459 Apogee continues to deliver industry standard recording quality with its Apogee One USB audio interface. A compact and portable device fit for use by beginners right through to professionals. This two I/O system is designed and assembled in the USA; Apogee make very few compromises when it comes to delivering the best possible audio and monitoring quality. Complete with second generation sound quality, the One’s analogue to digital conversion, mic preamp technology and 24 bit 96kHz sample rate produce a well refined and crisp audio capture with very little noise. This quality goes both ways; One’s stereo output also delivers audiophile quality sound via its digital to analogue conversion. This is useful for all audio playback during recording, mixing, mastering or simply listening to music off of your device. The box includes a break out cable for microphone and instrument connectivity via an XLR and 1/4” jack, as well as a USB 2.0 cable. The interface is powered via this USB connection although it also has a separate power supply available for purchase. A builtin omnidirectional condenser microphone and mic clip is included. This is very handy to capture ideas on the go or to record other types of audio such as podcasts and voiceovers. However, it does lack any internal

memory so you will still be required to have the device plugged into your computer or iOS device at all times. On the surface the Apogee One features a sleek silver body die cast in an aluminum chassis. A single central dial is used to easily control all of its functions. Pressing this dial lets you select each of its four settings: built-in mic input, external mic input, guitar input and output – turn the dial, set the desired level and you’re ready to roll. A three tier LED stereo level meter is included on the front panel making it extremely simple to set the desired input and output levels; helping you to easily avoid clipping whilst you’re tracking. You are able to record either of the microphone inputs and an instrument simultaneously, with a gain range of 0 to 62dB. The external XLR input also conveniently features 48V phantom power and is compatible with all dynamic, condenser and ribbon microphones. You will need to download Apogee’s free Maestro software to record to your Mac, PC or iOS. This program is designed to use in conjunction with your DAW, aiding low latency monitoring and allowing you to remotely control all functions and settings of the device. However, if you are using an iOS device you will need to purchase a connectivity kit sold separately.

The Apogee One is also tailor made to maximize workflow for Logic Pro X users – the Maestro software automatically integrates, eliminating the need to flick back and forward between two windows to adjust its settings. Furthermore, the Logic Remote App on iOS devices can wirelessly control settings when it is connected to your Mac. The downside here is for users of other DAWs; while it still functions fine, it’s definitely better suited to Apple’s flagship audio production hub. Also, due to a somewhat simplistic and pigeonholed design, this interface does lack a bit of versatility you tend to get with other USB interfaces of a similar price range. For instance, you have no dual input system available to record the stereo input channels of a keyboard or synthesiser; you also lack any MIDI connections. As such, the Apogee One USB audio interface is best suited for a solo or duo project comprising of a singer and a guitar player – this would be perfect for beginner musicians that are after top quality recordings without the need for any bulky hardware. BY JACK SWANN

HITS: ∙ Built-in omnidirectional mic ∙ Industry standard conversion quality MISSES: ∙ No stereo input


SRM Flex Portable Column PA System AMBER TECHNOLOGY | AMBERTECH.COM.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: $2,349 The Mackie SRM Flex Portable Column PA System is a four-unit, modular PA designed for smaller gigs, parties, presentations, DJs, or anyone needing to be amplified in a practical, cost effective and professional sounding setting. Constructed from a single high-output subwoofer and three six-driver wide-dispersion array speakers that stack onto one another, the SRM Flex boasts the power to blast your audience like never before. The onboard mixer features physical controls so there’s no confusion when adjusting on the fly, and no scrolling through LED menus to locate your needs. What’s more, the SRM Flex is controllable via an app from your smartphone or tablet. The set-up speakers come with a carry bag for easy transportation of the array speakers, and a protective cover for the subwoofer/mixer combo. Setting up is also easy, so you can be ready quickly for the show. Whether playing small or large gigs, or even just making an exciting announcement at a party between songs, clear sound is important. The Mackie SRM Flex Portable Column PA System offers great sound very easily, that is also tweakable via two channels of three band EQ, and further augmented by three great reverb types and three EQ voices, switchable between Music, Speech, and Live. This offers a simple solution to not only the


less tech savvy who need a PA system handy for events, but also satisfies the needs and requirements of the most particular of us. The three six-driver speakers can be stacked onto one another and then mounted into the sub to create a loud, wide and clear PA system. The mixer is installed into the sub and has clear controls for tweaking the microphone inputs, Bluetooth source or auxiliary source. The mixer itself is listed as a six channel mixer, featuring two mic/line inputs with combo XLR/jack inputs, that have two band EQ (HI & LOW), independent volume and reverb mix knobs that then travel to a master volume and the EQ Voicing option. There’s a Bluetooth/auxiliary channel for playing music or backing tracks, and all this is amplified at up to 1300 watts of power and recommended for audiences of up to 100 people. The mixer can be controlled via an external app, so you can mix your own show from the stage or have a tablet/phone equipped mix engineer in the audience, ensuring that the audience is receiving the best version of you. The SRM Flex also features Mackie’s Power Factor Correction to ensure power and signal remains consistent to the unit. The 10” subwoofer offers the low end, and up to six drivers across the three array speakers handle everything else. If six drivers aren’t needed, two or four can alternatively be used

for smaller crowds where such a large range of coverage and power is needed. Clear sound is about headroom, and the power that the Mackie SRM Flex Portable Column PA System provides offers plenty of headroom. What’s more, the SRM Flex features an XLR output for either sending signal direct to a FOH mixer or a second Mackie SRM Flex Portable Column PA System if 1300 watts isn’t enough. Whether you’re a comedian, musician or party-host, the SRM Flex can handle it all. Music can be played, then dialed back while you make a crystal clear announcement using the Speech EQ voicing, then turned back up via your smartphone after you make some witty remarks, propose a toast and receive a cheer. Musicians performing on less than ideal PA systems in venues can perform confidently on their own gear with clear sound, and from smaller to larger venues the SRM Flex is your go-to, whether daisy chained to a second unit or not. Musicians can also rehearse at

home, with enough power for vocals and other amplified instruments to be heard above drums and loud amps. Forget hiring a PA and having to figure it out on the fly, amplify yourself and your music with the Mackie SRM Flex, and do it with confidence yourself. BY LEWIS NOKE EDWARDS

HITS: ∙ Easily transported, easily packed away ∙ Easy to use mixer ∙ Controllable via smartphone app MISSES: ∙ Nothing to report here




Expedition XP312w ELECTRIC FACTORY | ELFA.COM.AU | EXPECT TO PAY: $1429 Maybe I’m getting old, but these days I find myself becoming more and more enamoured with the banal practicalities of the audio caper. High quality mic stands, padded gig bags and amplifiers under 20kg- this is where my enthusiasm lies these days. It was with this mind that I was particularly excited to be reviewing the new Expedition XP312w portable PA system from Samson for this months Mixdown. Having seen some photos upon release and casually glancing at the spec sheet, I instantly knew we would be friends. No assembly required, wireless integration straight out of the box, castors, retractable handle, bluetooth streaming and all of it coming in well below my 20kg threshold- more than enough to satisfy the curmudgeon in me. On a visual level, perhaps the main thing that caught my eye was just how easy it looked to move around. With its retractable handle and castors, you can literally wheel it around like a suitcase. Ask a flight attendant or anyone who travels a lot for work and they will tell you there is tangible value in that. It’s a simple notion but one that cannot be overstated. When you are moving from gig to gig, date to date, party to party these little things add up; they start to nag; you get a wireless setup, then an amp modeller, then you sample the guitars in Ableton and tour with nothing. It’s a

slippery slope. Being able to pack down in less than 30 seconds is an incredible luxury. This kind of simple practicality is definitely one of the XP312w’s strong suites. It’s a product that will no doubt encourage continued use for years to come based on practicality alone. While this portability and convenience is definitely enough to bring a wry smile to this reviewers face, it would all be remiss if it were at the expense of proper musical functionality. Luckily the XP312w more than delivers on that front; itss 4-channel mixer and bundled wireless setup are good enough to rival anything in the broader portable speaker market and the XP312w’s impressive throw and thunderous max SPL mean that it shouldn’t be too difficult to drown out rival buskers or street performers should the situation call for it (and believe me, it sometimes does.) Perhaps the biggest test for a portable PA of this nature (and possibly one of the XP312w’s crowning achievements) is its ability to extract adequate low end without compromising overall portability. The XP312w is definitely a more than capable box in this regard. It’s light enough that it can be wielded with relative ease and it’s 12” woofer and 300w power amp provide ample bass at a remarkable clip (especially when you factor in that the XP312w can

sustain this kind of power output for 12 hours between charges). That's some efficient amplification by anyone’s standards and even if you are the kind of person who forgets to charge things, those Lithium ion cells should always give you a little something in the tank, just don’t completely drain them! If there was one gripe that might be worth bringing it up, it’s probably the lack of a mid-control, but I found these limitations could be worked around relatively easily with better mic technique and using the onboard EQ of whatever you plug into it (and in retrospect, could I even be bothered notching out 300hz anyway?) All in all, the Samson Expedition XP312w is a sonically pleasing 2-way speaker with supreme portability and convenience on its side. Just at home behind a fitness instructor as it is in a jam room, this multipurpose PA is versatile enough that it will always come in handy, be it for music or other. The inclusion of the Concert 88a Wireless system adds even more value to the package. It definitely gets the tick of approval from this grizzled, old chunk of coal. BY PAUL FRENCH

HITS: ∙ Extremely portable and convenient ∙ Good projection/dispersion properties MISSES: ∙ No Mid Coontrol ∙ Only a single XLR input


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(Music Instruments Retailer) A | 4/2181 Princes Hwy, Clayton VIC P | (03) 9546 0188 E | W | /skymusiconline

(Audio Products Distribution) A | Brookvale, NSW P | (02) 8090 6508 E | W | / koalaaudio







(Music Production Studio) A | 87-91 Arden Street, Melbourne VIC P | (03) 9329 2877 E | W | /newmarketstudios


(Music Education) A | 311 High Street, Kew VIC P | (03) 9853 8318 E | W | /kewlearnmusic





(Music Instruments Retailer & Education) A | 48 Bloomfield St, Cleveland QLD P | (07) 3488 2230 E | W | /binarymusic


A | Shop 2 398 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC P | (03) 9670 8231 E | W | /jabenau

(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 | W | /vinylrevivalmelbourne

(Record Store & Café) A | 268 Victoria Road, Marrickville, NSW P | (02) 9572 6959 E | W | /soundsespresso









(Music Instruments Retailer) A | 8/2 Northey Rd, Lynbrook VIC P | (03) 8787 8599 E | W | /evolutionmusicaus

(Rehearsal & Recording Studio) A | 3/3 Melissa St, Auburn NSW P | (04) 1160 5554 E | W | /keynote1

(Music Instruments Retailer) A | 1131 Burke Rd, Kew VIC P | (03) 9817 7000 E | W | /Eastgatemusic

(Headphone Specialist Retailer)

(Rehearsal Rooms) A | 18 Duffy Street, Burwood VIC P | (03) 9038 8101 E | W | /hydra.rehearsal.studios

(Music Lessons) A | 10 Floriston Road, Boronia VIC 7 Sahra Grove, Carrum Downs VIC P | 0421 705 150 E | W | /easternsuburbsschoolofmusic

(Music Instruments Retailer) A | 102 Maroondah Hwy, Ringwood VIC P | (03) 9870 4143 E | W | /fivestarmusicoz

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

(Audio Visual Retailer) A | 393-399 Macaulay Rd, Melbourne VIC P | (03) 8378 2266 E | W | /dexaudioaustralia

(Audio Visual Retailer) A | 2065 Dandenong Road, Clayton VIC P | (03) 9545 5152 E | W | /TheAudioExpertsAus

(Luthier) A | Wynnum, QLD P | 0408 338 181 E | W | /conwaycustomguitars

(Music Instruments Retailer) A | 55 Bassett Street, Mona Vale NSW P | (02) 9986 0589 E | W | / monavalemusic

(Recording Studios) A | 19 Grieve Rd West Gosford NSW P | 0416 143 030 E | W | /damiengerardstudios

(Screenprinting, Embroidery & Promotional Products) A | Unit 22/7 Lyn Parade, Prestons, NSW P | 0423 740 733 E | W | /MakeMerchandise

(Music Technology & Instruments Retailer) A | Unit 1 / 19 Hotham Parade Artarmon NSW 2064 P | (02) 8213 0202 W | /dsoundseasy

(Music Instruments Retailer) A | 280 Victoria Rd, Gladesville NSW P | (02) 9817 2173 E | W | / GladesvilleGuitarFactory

(Music Instruments Retailer) A | 1267 Pacific Hwy, Turramurra NSW P | (02) 9449 8487 E | W | / TurramurraMusic

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Mixdown Magazine #308  

Here we are: the December issue of Mixdown Magazine is here! We've gotten into the festive spirit and created a comprehensive Christmas gift...

Mixdown Magazine #308  

Here we are: the December issue of Mixdown Magazine is here! We've gotten into the festive spirit and created a comprehensive Christmas gift...