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TIRED OF SELLING NAME BRANDS WITH NO MARGIN? CONSIDER: ALBION ALL VALVE GUITAR AMPLIFIER DEALER OFFER 3 Reasons to Buy Albion: 1. OUTSTANDING QUALITY FOR THE PRICE 2. UNIQUE FEATURES 3. INTUITIVE DESIGN Designed By: Steve Grindrod, Master Amplifier Designer (ex Marshall, VOX), Albion, Huntingdon, UK. Media Campaign • Australian Guitar: Readership Giveaway 2 Page Spread, Amp Review • Guitarist Australia: Readership Giveaway – Front Cover Insert, Amp Review • Mixdown Magazine:¼1/4 Page Ads, Reviews x 2 Dealers Tagged in Advertising Endorsees • The Snowdroppers – Australia’s Hardest Working and Hottest Up-and-Coming Band • The Vanguard, Newtown, Sydney “Top Ten Live Venues in the World” – The Independent Newspaper, UK TERRITORY PROTECTION: We are seeking dealers on a territory-by-territory basis that will give the right support to the brand.

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W I N ! AN ALBION

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T C T 3 5C TWIN CHANNEL COMBO

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|| TESTING 123

ALBION TCT100 HEAD AND GLS412 CABINET

THE NAME ALBION MAY NOT BE FAMILIAR, BUT THEIR OWNER AND CHIEF DESIGNER HAS BUILT SOME OF THE BEST KNOWN AMPS EVER. BY Reg BaRBeR

a

lbion Musical Instruments are a new company, but their founder and chief designer, Steve Grindrod, served as Chief Engineer for Marshall Amplification for over 30 years. He has also spent close to a decade as Managing Director and Chief Designer at Vox Amplification. Albion might be the new kid on the block, but they are a new head on very experienced shoulders. HEY, HEY, HEY, IT’S PHAT ALBION! The Albion TCT100 head is a two channel, EL34 powered amplifier with features aplenty. The amplifier’s two very differently voiced channels cover a wide range of tonal variations. It is easy to dial up some familiar and not so familiar sounds very quickly. When you turn a knob on this amp it really does change the tone considerably. The pre-amp channels on the TCT100 differ in that the first has the EQ before the gain stages and the second has the EQ after the gain stages, adding to their very different voicings. There is also a lot more gain on tap on the B channel than there is on the A channel, nothing new there, but you have a lot more control over each channel than on your average amplifier. Each pre-amp channel has a ‘tight’ button that acts as a high pass filter. This is very useful with higher gain settings to tame some of that highend sizzle. Both channels have a mid frequency shift button to change the frequencies affected by the mid EQ knob, and there is a huge amount of cut and boost possible with the EQ controls. Both channels have gain, drive and volume level pre-amp controls, giving this amp plenty of control over the gain stages and a huge amount of ‘tweakability.’ A very useful feature on the TCT100 is the ability to mix the two pre-amp channels simultaneously. This allows you to have a bi-amped tone with just one amplifier, or by using the included footswitch, you have the ability to use the mixed pre-amp signals as a third channel for solo boosts, nice one! The clean settings on this amp are just as impressive as the dirty tones. There is more than enough headroom for some beautiful clean tones, and

WHAT WE RECKON PROS CONS Feature packed Mixable pre-amp channels Well priced

74 II aUSTRaLIaN gUITaR

Heavy Cab

the inbuilt reverb sounds great. Both channels have a very wide mid-EQ sweep and a ‘shift’ switch that changes the frequency spectrum of the mid control. Channel A has some rich bluesy tones with a ‘Fenderish’ flavour and Channel B yields some very authentic early Marshall tones, not hard to believe considering the same person that designed Marshall amps has designed the TCT100. A unique and well thought out feature of the TCT100 is the ability to control the power amp response. There are three controls that allow you to change the EQ and dynamic response of the power amp section. This means you can tighten up the sound of the TCT100 for faster playing styles or leave it sounding loose for some big open rock chords. The TCT100 features a power cut switch that drops it down to a bedroom useable level and the tone is still strong, even at lowest of low volumes. The matching 4x12 cabinet is as solid as they come, and features a 15mm plywood construction with Albion drivers. There are removable castors that are very easy to pop in and out, allowing you to put the cab on the floor for greater bass response, and still move it around easily. This cabinet weighs in at 41.2kg, but it sounds heavier than it feels. Both the head and cabinet are finished off with a very glossy lacquered maple trim and whether you like their aesthetic or not, they sure don’t look like any other amp.

FEATURES PRICE Head $1399 Cab $599 MADE China SPEAKERS Albion IMPEDANCE 16 ohm/8 ohm CHANNELS Clean Dirty OUTPUT 100/33 watts

very useable tones. The clean sounds can go from country twang to jazzy warmness. The dirty tones can go from a warm blues through to high gain screaming lead and rhythm tones. The TCT100 sounds great at lower volumes with the ability to drop it down to 33 watts. There are master volume controls on both the pre and power amp sections. The Albion TCT100 does a lot of sounds, and does them well. THE BOTTOM LINE The design of the Albion TCT100 has been well thought out, it has plenty of useful features and it sounds great. The whole Albion range has been designed by a legend of amplifier design, and it shows in the intuitive layout, useful features and versatility of the TCT100. What would you expect to pay for an amp of this pedigree? Check it out, you’ll surprised!

PLENTY OF FEATURES, BUT DOES IT SOUND GOOD? The TCT100 head and matching GLS412 cabinet sound great. There is a wide palette of

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Australian Guitar May 2011 the In 25 words or less us about the project you’ll be using this exciting Peavey pack fo

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T35 With• a Fdark covering and basket-weave-type grille, ree delivery to your door the T35 looks quite classy indeed. A dedicated acoustic guitar amp, the top control panel features • SAve over 28% oN tHe an input jack with push button for natural or NeWSStANd PriCe shaped EQ, volume, bass, a middle frequency and level• control, treble and chorus depth and speed Never miSS A SiNgle iSSue controls (along with a push button to turn it on or off). • As tisHe PerFeCt giFt For A all the rage, and often the intended use for these rigs, there is also a microphone input guitAr-obSeSSed FrieNd section with XLR input, tone and volume controls, making the amp a cool solution for solo artists, duos • you Could WiN AN AlbioN or those in band gigs needing some extra volume. tCt35C tWiN CHANNel Combo Rounding out the T35's control panel is a CD/aux input (which can obviously also handle an iPod/ MP3 player) and master reverb and volume controls.

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PLUGGED IN... Setting the EQ controls flat, I found the T35 to be quite neutral-sounding (which is a good thing). You have to remember you're playing through a 35-watt amp with a 10-inch speaker, so it isn't going to be an absolute reflection of your guitar, but there were no nasty frequencies and the clean headroom was

TCTGLS I had a squizz at the TCT100H 100-watt head and GLS412 speaker cab. Construction-wise you’re looking at Birch Ply for all cabinet work, with interlocking panels, tough vinyl coverings and the most distinguishing cosmetic feature of all (for me at least!) – the piano finish, stainedwalnut face and baffle plates, which make for a really classy look. The TCT100H is a twin-channel valve head with a host of nifty features. From left to right we have on/off, alive/mute, full/33 per cent power, and phase switches, master output, mix balance, reverb mix, a feedback loop ratio button and deep and edge Controls. We then come to dual channel controls (both identical) with gain, drive, bass, middle, treble and channel volume controls along with tight, smooth and EQ shift push buttons. So basically a heap of options, which we’ll examine a little closer later on. MADE IN... The build country of origin seems to be a favourite question among the public, and with Steve hailing from the UK you’d probably expect somewhere in England. Well, Albion amps are made in Shenzhen, China. Personally that’s not a problem for me, but I know many people PG. 48

MIXDOWN NO. 202

will instantly think they’re sacrificing quality for cheaper overheads and workmanship. It’s interesting, then, that it’s not something Albion are shying away from. In fact, Steve himself goes as far as to say: “It is no secret that our products are built in Shenzhen, China. But what we would like you to appreciate is that we actually own our factory. It is also probably the most heavily invested and integrated audio factory on the planet. I live here, next to the factory, full time, and work side by side with my manufacturing team on a daily basis. This enables me to constantly monitor products as they are built. To the best of my knowledge there is no other guitar amp company who can claim this, especially those brands who build in China using an unknown O.E.M. factory”. I found this to be a refreshing statement, and one that fully acknowledges it can produce products in that climate at a lesser price without compromising quality. TONE Enough about its origins – let’s plug the thing in! While it looks a complex beast (and it can be), it’s easy to get a decent sound straight out of the box. Set some EQs, volume and reverb and you get a good clean sound with plenty of headroom. There are then options to work the drive and gain controls and move the edge and depth controls for some extra “oomph” and top-end sparkle. The ability to blend the two channels is a twiddler’s dream, giving you the option to combine clean and dirty together or scooped with fatter sounds, and then alternate between them (of course, there is a footswitch supplied which can access these functions too). For harder styles there is plenty of gain on tap, and working the master volume, gain and drive controls can push from bluesy to saturated. I have to also mention the power reduction switch

FEBRUARY 2011

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In 25 words or less tell us what you will be plugging in and what the first song is you will fire up on this AlbIon TCT35C TwInCHAnnEl CoMbo: good. The EQ section was effective and very useful forMy Details: dialling in (or out) some unwanted tones, and theFirst Name: sweepable mid control is a great idea. I know theSurname: tops and bottoms are sometimes the most Address: recognised, but the middle can really give body thicken things up. Reverb State: is a nice Postcode: and touch to add Daytime Telephone: ( ) some space to your sound and works on both guitar E-mail Address: and vocals. You then also have the option of chorus to Please Send this Gift Subscription to: further work your guitar tone. Getting the blend between your guitar EQ (if it has one) and the amp First Name: is the key, so I'd recommend starting flat and then Surname: tweaking to taste. Address:

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LIVE AT THE TROUBADOUR Daytime Telephone: ( ) ForE-mail Address: the price, I thought the T35 was a solid little performer. It's good volume for its size (and you can Enclosed is a cheque/money order for A$ suss out the T80 if you want more juice), highly portable made payable to nextmedia Pty Ltd and looks great. The tilt leg is a clever design, and OR please charge my credit card: helps with projecting your sound and working as some Visa if you Mastercard Diner's Club foldback need to American Express hear yourself (hands up how many guys have sat around trying to angle their amps so they can hear them? Come on, I know you have!). Name on card: / Acoustic amplification is oftenExpiry Date: hard to reproduce authentically, what with so many sonic nuances, Signature: but for a small sized amp best used in smaller sized Please tick if you do not wish to receive special offers or information from nextmedia or its partners. please refer to www.next.com.au for the full privacy notice. applications, the T35 gives great bang for your buck.

*Offer available to Australian and New Zealand residents only. Expires 13/07/11. Prices include GST. This form can be used as a tax invoice. NextMedia Pty Ltd ABN: 84 128 805 970. This is a Game of Skill. Competition entries received from new and renewing subscribers to Australian Guitar between 18/05/11 and 13/07/11 will be eligible to enter by answering the question “In 25 words or less tell us what you will be plugging in and what the first song is you will fire up on this Albion TCT35C Twin Channel Combo”. Albion TCT35C Twin Channel Combo valued at $1099 will be awarded to one winner. Entries will be judged on the 19/07/11 by the Australian Guitar editorial team at next media, Level 6, 207 Pacific Hwy, St Leonards NSW 2065. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

By Nick Brown

Price: RRP $549

Distributor: Australis Music Phone: (02) 9698 4444 Website: www.australismusic.com.au

Mixdown Feb 2011

ALBION TCT100H HEAD & GLS412 CAB Albion amplifiers – haven’t heard of them yet? I bet you will soon. Literally just launched at NAMM last month, they are a collaboration between Steve Grindrod (previously Chief Engineer and Director of Research at Marshall and Vox Managing Director and Chief Designer) and Richie Onori (maybe best known as part of retro rockers The Sweet, and a man with plenty of experience in the music products field also). Sporting an impressive line of guitar and bass cabs and amps, Albion are ready to turn a few heads with their designs, tone and price.

Me Gift (Please tick one) 12 Issues (2 years) at $85.00 6 Issues (1 year) at $49.00

Ibanez have long been recognised as guitar makers of solid repute. Probably most famous for their electric models, they also produce a comprehensive line of acoustic guitars. Not to leave these typically unplugged players out in the cold, they have their own series of dedicated acoustic amplifiers designed to amplify your acoustic tone if need be. Coming in 80, 35, 20 and 10-watt models, the Troubadour has most bases covered in the acoustic world. Let's have a look at the T35. PRIMUS JOE SATRIANI

running down the length of the side make it easy to grab and go, so even the smallest of operators can pick it up and move it. This makes it a great solution for the solo performer, or those non-musician types requiring decent volume in a portable package – wedding celebrants, public speakers and schools come to mind.

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REMEMBER THE TITANS I'd always been aware of the Wharfedale brand (more so for its hi-fi gear), but had little experience with their range of pro audio gear, and I must say I'm pleasantly surprised. The 12" Titan was light, portable and smaller than some other 12-inchers on the market. The recessed handles were solid, well-placed and easy to manage and the I/O and EQ section make for a great little setup with minimal fuss. You can hoist it onto any standard speaker stand for mounted use or lie it on its side for a foldback, too. I found the on-board EQ to be sufficient for minimalist setups but would no doubt incorporate some extra mixing/outboard EQ for more detailed setups. Best of all, I'd have no problem using the Titan or recommending it to others looking to go the powered speaker route at this price point.

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These things are so damn good, we’ve been unable to contact our reviewer since we dropped it off and we suspect he may have jumped a plane somewhere with his new friend. Thanks to our friends at Leading Source Wholesale we have one Albion TCT35 valued at $1099 to giveaway to a lucky subscriber this issue. To win let us know what you’ll be plugging in to the TCT35 and the first track you’ll be firing up on it.

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response even further – switchable feedback loops, ‘edge’ (presence) and ‘depth’ controls, output phase and 33% SPEAKER power switching. As you may Natural have guessed, 12" refers to the 12-inch sounding digital reverb and inch LF driver, a series FX loop roundbut off being a two-way active speaker also find a two-inch 8ohm HF horn on board, the,you'll amp functions. The amplifiers making for afeature wide frequency response. And handling a seam-welded steel LF 500w HF 100w, you've then got quite a bit of juice chassis to securely on board – or, hold the heavy-duty chain a few together for lots of juice. transformers, There is aheavygood array of ins/outs on the back, with two duty FR4 printed balanced inscircuit (and high or low gain on channel A for boards and chassis switching say, a guitar and a mic), CD/tape mounted valvebetween, bases. input on channel The supplied footswitch B (RCA plugs) a balanced output also a very useful forhas daisy chaining speakers together, hi and low EQ feature, the cable controls and bass response (BR) optimiser switch for connection can be easily increased from low left endto if needed. These then work as basic user-changed mixing functions, right to more adequately and, as mentioned, you can plug suit stage set channel up. a your guitar into A and a vocal mic into channel Finally the finish is B. It's pretty bare bones, but provides good volume a rich plum Birch Ply response clarity with the advantage of some basic with all customand cabinet hardware in EQing.resulting Furthermore, you can easily (and I have done a just distinct retroplenty style of times) use this for functions with that nodding back to the limited space (wedding ceremonies, awards, smaller halcyon days of Tinpan gigs). Then you needed to step it up a little, it's dead Alley in the ‘60s.if Fittingly this is exactly easy to – where just incorporate a small mixing console and designer chief you'reand away! engineer Steve Grindrod got his start before YOU GOT ME LIFTED heading up Marshall’s amplification Research Standing at about 56cm x 31cm x 39cm the 12" Titan and Development is reasonably small and weighs in around the 14kg department for nearly mark. It is super light for its size, and the two handles three decades.

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Long known as a hi-fi company, Wharfedale branched into the pro audio arena in the late '80s with the development of speakers and the like. Fast forward to 1998, and with this line gathering momentum the Wharfedale Professional brand was established as its own division to cover all things pro audio, be it speakers, mixers, monitors, mics or amplifiers.

GET ACTIVE Active speakers have really come to the fore as the guts for sound systems, ranging from home/backyard/ cafe/small gigs right through to big clubs and band situations. The fact that the speakers are self-powered The new Albion TCT35C is a twin channel, all valve, eliminates the need for power amps, meaning you just switching amplifier with reverb and a 12 inch, 80 watt need aEach mixer or can a mic/instrument speaker. channel hasplug differing voicing structures directly into (Channel A has the pre-gain, is post-gain) the speaker forEQ tonnes of Channel volumeBwith minimal hassle. butWharfedale both go from are ‘clean to scream’ for functionality right up with ultimate these technologies, and and wide tonal response. TCT model amps also feature the Titan 12" active speaker is one such wide ranging power amp controls widening the example. tonal

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(down to 33 per cent), which lets you really fire the amp at lower volumes – great for rehearsal, recording or giving you a more solid amp sound at bedroom levels. The GLS412 is a solid (and big) brute of a cab with heavy duty handles and castors, and plenty of punch even at the loudest of low end settings – cool. LOOK OUT! The biggest surprise with the Albion is the price. You could well expect to pay double for this lot of features and tone, yet it isn’t. Steve really is onto something her,e and with a list of prominent names using their amps already, the future does indeed look positive. I’d need another three pages to go into this amp in depth, with its features, switching, blend controls, etc. My advice would be to check it out for yourself. Maybe even play it first, then guess the price and see how close you really are – you might be surprised. By Nick Brown

Price: RRP $1399 (TCT100H Head) $599 (GLS412 Cab) Distributor: LSW Pty Ltd Phone: (02) 9718 4900 Website: www.industrygear.com.au


Mixdown May 2011

ROAD TESTED

IB

ALBION AG40DFX Albion Amplification is a joint venture between International Audio Group and Steve Grindrod. IAG has a huge factory in Shenzhen, China, which makes everything from high-end hi-fis to luxury yachts, while Grindrod spent almost three decades as chief engineer and director of R&D at Marshall. Not a bad job to have on your resume. A LITTLE FROM COLUMN A, A LITTLE FROM COLUMN B The AG40DFX and its bigger brother, the AG80DFX, feature a hybrid preamp section with high voltage FETs (field effect transistors) and a 12AX7 valve, supplied with a high-voltage DC supply, a unique feature among small guitar amps. Grindrod says the high voltage FET is the closest electronic device to a valve, without drawbacks such as cost, heat and high part count. The power section is solid state, but is designed to give valve-like tone. The 40-watt, single 12-inch speaker AG40DFX has two channels – normal and overdrive. Each has a gain control, while they share a tone stack with bass, middle and treble pots. There’s also a DFX (digital effects) section, which gives you 16 effects (mostly delays and reverbs with a few modulation effects as well, selectable by a rotary pot and displayed on an LED read-out) and a mix pot for blending in the right amount of effect. The AG80DFX gives you two whole tone stacks – one for each channel – as well as a pair of 12-inch speakers, each fed from a 40-watt RMS power amp running in stereo for 80 watts. Each amp has an effects loop and footswitch jack, with supplied twobutton footswitch toggling between channels A and B and engages the effects. TONE TEST TIME The normal channel is able to go from sparkly clean to glorious warm crunch depending on where you set the gain control. I tested it with an Ibanez RG550MXX with stock Ibanez pickups, as well as an Ibanez UV777BK with DiMarzio Crunch Lab and LiquiFire humbuckers, and the channel quite clearly emphasised the unique characters of each pickup. The high-output Crunch Lab pushed it almost into Korn’s-latest-album-rhythm-tone territory, while the RG550 sounded sharper and tighter. The overdrive channel sounds pretty chunky, with a nice even compression and lots – and I mean lots – of bass. Metal players will love this channel, as it has plenty of low end and a very usable high-end range. The amp never sounds too fizzy, and the midrange is nicely voiced to add body and tone, rather than hollowness and honk like some midrange controls do. The dynamic range is somewhat limited, though, so players who need to go from a whisper to a scream may not dig this amp. However, those who deal in more aggressive styles that require consistency from note to note will find a lot to like. The effects are very cleverly voiced, and I particularly liked the gated reverb and the slapback delay, the latter of which is timed so tightly that it gives your playing a

Randy Rhoads-like double-tracked feel. It’s a shame that you can’t set the speed of the delay and modulation effects, but they’re still quite useful, especially when mixed in subtly rather than at full concentration. So does it sound like a real valve amp? Well, yeah. Does it feel like one? Not quite. The effect is akin to being in the control room of a studio and playing through an amp that’s out in the room, then hearing it back through the studio monitors, maybe with some limiting or compression applied. The living, breathing interactivity of playing in the same room as a roaring valve amp isn’t there, but the sounds are certainly much more valve than solid state. Some may feel this is a really good compromise – after all, the increased dynamic range of real valve amps doesn’t necessarily work for all types of music, and in some cases you might require valve warmth without valve dynamism. In these instances, the AG40DFX has you covered. ONE STOP ROCK SHOP The AG40DFX is a great all-in-one solution for players needing a clean sound, an overdrive sound and a handful of spatial and modulation effects. It has a great distorted tone for rock and metal players, nice cleans for blues and country folk, and is at the very least more reliable than a full valve amp. It won’t be for everyone – those who are looking for more dynamics-heavy boutique tones should move along – but a lot of players will find a lot to love with this unit. By Peter Hodgson Price: RRP $499 Distributor: LSW Pty Ltd Phone: (02) 9718 4900 Website: www.industrygear.com.au

Ste ind sun res rec “B Iba dis ten of dif ga

TW Th of and his the Jem pe see de Th and Th ton like un oth Wh you bo So pe con lig res the wit ho Th the be the leg up To Vai


Guitarist Australia May 2011


John Payne – “Asia”

Andy Johnes Record Producer

Rami Jaffee – “Foo Fighters”

“I started dialing in the gain and got the most mean tone and that was just the clean channel!!! ...so versatile from warmth on the clean channel to the grit distortion on the lead channel.”

“It’s so cool to have the blend channel function. Great tones can be achieved by mixing a clean sound with an overdriven one... at high gain it sits in the track perfectly.“

“I have my name on 130,000,000 albums, Stones Zep, Van Halen, Joe Satriani... I love the TCT100H & GLS412 setup.”

For four decades Steve Grindrod has devoted himself to designing world leading guitar amplifiers, as head designer for Marshall Amplifiers and then VOX. He is considered by many to be a true industry legend that has influenced modern day amp design in every way, shape and form. He now heads British musical instrument company Albion Amplification, and is dedicated to bringing you world leading amplifier products at honest “value for money” prices. Utilising high quality components, appealing player features and practical design these amps are the next phase in Steve’s illustrious career.

Dealer Enquiries Welcome

Enquiries: sales@industrygear.com.au Website: www.albionamps.com

ALBION ALL VALVE GUITAR AMPLIFIER DEALER OFFER  

3 Reasons to Buy Albion: 1. OUTSTANDING QUALITY FOR THE PRICE 2. UNIQUE FEATURES3. INTUITIVE DESIGN Designed By: Steve Grindrod, Master Ampl...

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