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T TEN THE POWER OF

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SAMSON 510i Expedition 510I Reviews on...

Presonus

StudioLive 16.4.2 Digital Mixer

M-Audio Venom Synthesizer AKG 820 Perception Mic Line 6 Pod HD300 Industry interview with:

Steve Grindrod GEAR &&

INDUSTRY NEWS

TUTORIALS by ALAN RATCLIFFE | ALISTAIR ANDREWS| KURT SLABBERT & JON PIKE WWW.MUSEONLINE.CO.ZA

www.AUDIOSURE.co.za


CONTENTS Proud Supporters of SA Music!

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EDITION 14 APR/MAY ‘11

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Editors Note and Index Cover Feature: Samson Xp510i Cover Feature: Samson XP510i Gear News Gear news Instrument review: M-Audio Venom Studio Review: StudioLive 16.4.2 Digital Mixer Studio Review: StudioLive 16.4.2 Digital Mixer Studio Review: AKG Perception 820 Tube Microphone Instrument Review: Line 6 POD Hd300 Instrument Review: Line 6 POD Hd300 Industry Feature: Steve Grindrod Event Review: Marshal Music Gibson Launch Band Tips: 10 Tips on Writing Music Guitar Maintenance with Alan Ratcliffe Play Better Bass with Alistair Andrews Play Better Bass with Alistair Andrews Play Better Guitar with Kurt Slabbert Play Better Guitar with Kurt Slabbert Your Private Universe with Jon Pike

EDITOR’S NOTE

I

really do feel like MuseTech is going from strength to strength. It’s been an important goal of ours to maintain and indeed strive to improve the quality of our reviews, tutorials and general news reporting. Variety has also been high on our agenda and I do think that this month’s offering ticks all the boxes. Firstly on the review side we look at Samson’s cleverly packaged XP510i portable PA system. This package is the perfect PA for small gigs with great features and minimal fuss. Then we also look at one kickass digital mixer (Presonus Live 16.4.2) designed specifically to make recording live bands a real cinch. In fact this mixer proved such a hit our reviewer, Nic Roos, immediately started enquiring about prices to purchase one. I don’t think you can get a better endorsement than that. We also look at AKG’s new perception 820 – a tube mic all serious studios should consider looking at. The Line 6 Pod HD300 also gets the shakedown from Alan Ratcliffe and anybody who knows Alan’s reviews will appreciate that nothing goes unnoticed with him. We actually wanted to review the flagship HD500 but alas stock was not available. M-Audio’s new Venom synthesizer also interested us a lot. It’s the company’s first new keyboard since the Avid takeover and for the price it’s an absolute steal for what you get. Stefan took it through its paces, suitably impressed in the end. I also had the honour of meeting Steve Grindrod. Ever heard of him? Neither had I but a little research told me he’s quite the man when it comes to guitar amp technology. With almost 40 years in the business, both with Marshall Amps and Vox, Steve’s designs and innovations can be heard on countless albums over four decades. Anyway he was out here to promote his new brand, Albion Amplification and made for a very interesting conversationalist. Read all about it on Pg 24. Elsewhere you’ll find the same top tutorials, gear news and other bits ‘n bobs. Enjoy. Dave Mac


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COVER FEATURE By Dave Mac

Samson XP510i Portable

First Impressions My impressions of Samson as a company is that of a dynamic organisation with their ear close to the ground when it comes to filling the gap for decent quality audio gear at reasonable prices. They also tend to be rather innovative with their product lines, living proof of which is the popular Expedition 308i PA system. In fact the success of this product has lead to them introducing a slightly higher spec version, the XP510i, subject of this review. The package consists of a pair of 2-way speakers with 10inch woofers and a 500 watt Class D powered mixer. On first inspection the XP510i is neat, concise and seems well thought out for an all-in-one portable PA system. It is perfectly suited to the market it is addressing with all the right features and some very smart innovations.

Anatomy Firstly, a look at the powered mixer; the mixer houses a 500 watt (2 x 250 W) Class D amplifier equipped with a total of four line/mic stereo inputs complete with XLR and stereo jack connectors (plus phantom power for your mics), one channel with stereo jack ins, one with optional stereo jack in or RCA and one channel with just RCA which also doubles up as your iPod channel. All channels include volumegain rotaries as well as 2-band EQ. That’s a total of 7-channel inputs which is ideal for this configuration. The first four channels, with the mic/line inputs, also include the 24bit DSP effects which are basically 10 reverbs. This is great for adding a bit of depth and ambiance to your vocals or possibly a guitar/keyboard etc. Each of the four channels can have the effect activated/

deactivated individually, however, there is a single master rotary to control the depth. Likewise there is also only a single knob to select which of the 10 reverbs you wish to use. So one setting fits all is the name of the game with this option. Two additional nifty features include a monitor out channel with separate volume control and a set of RCA-outs for plugging in a recording device.

cable. But that’s not all folks... (!) Once you’ve stuck all your cables away and neatly put your mixer back in the cabinet (two easy to turn rotary plugs ensure the mixer fits snugly) the two speakers slide into each other making one package to carry weighing a paltry 22.6 kg’s (see fig below). This feature is amazing and means that the XP510i lives up to its name as a truly portable PA system.

Naturally there is a master volume out knob too. Master outputs are twin jack connectors. Finally we have the iPod docking bay (iPhone fits perfectly too) to plug the device into. What’s particularly useful with this docking station as opposed to simply plugging a 2-to-1 cable into a channel of the mixer is that when docked, your iPod/iPhone will charge at the same time. All connections are found on top of the unit which is really handy and makes for easy access and plugging in. The speakers each house a 10inch woofer and a 1-inch titanium tweeter in a 60° x 90° horn. The plastic molded enclosures have a useful handle on top for carrying and are angled so they can be used as floor monitors too. They also have integrated 1-3/8-inch speaker stand mounts. But perhaps the most impressive feature of all with these cabinets is the clever portability in their design. You see one speaker houses the powered mixer (which can easily be disconnected, depending on your preference) whilst the other cabinet stores your speaker leads and mixer power

The amp kicks out a maximum of 250 watts per channel so right off the bat you need to realise that this is not a massive system. Whilst Samson’s sales material claims the rig to be suitable for a “DJ entertaining 500 people at a large club,” that I'm afraid is slightly exaggerated although the overall delivery of the sound is adequate with good dispersion from the speakers. If you’re after some bass best to place them on the floor or a solid raised surface as they are understandably lacking in some real presence when pole mounted. Overall though the sound is well balanced and there is a built in limiter on the mixer to avoid any nasty blow outs. This rig is the perfect setup for a singer/songwriter performing in a small to medium sized coffee shop or restaurant or for small band practice sessions. It of course will be ideal for presentations requiring integration of musical performance and speech which, incidentally, the mixer also has – a speech/music button to toggle between desired requirements.

Sound


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PA with iPod dock

COVER FEATURE

“This rig is the perfect setup for a singer/songwriter performing in a small to medium sized venue” ! Well built ! Good feature list on mixer

Cons: ! Struggles a little at really high volume

! Single control of all FX Also try out the XP 308i if you’re looking to save a few Rands. A slightly smaller rig (150 watts per channel) it contains all the same marvelous features except the onboard DSP effects and will adequately fulfill the one-man-band role too.

Conclusion

Features:

There are aspects that really impress with the XP510i. Firstly it has been very well thought out in terms of portability and versatility. The fact that you can plug up to four mics in, or up to seven line inputs means that any average sized band can utilize this for intimate gigs or rehearsals. However it’s the one or two man band setup that I think will be the most interested in this package. You can plug your mics in, plus have 2 or 3 guitars/keyboards plugged in, plus a sampler, drum machine or any playback device (iPod or otherwise) that you desire without the hassle of plugging in and out dur ing performance. Add to that the useful reverbs and you’re pretty much set to play. If you’re delivering your performance to an intimate crowd in the aforementioned environment then the XP510i could prove a really smart investment.

! Dual 2-way speaker enclosures, ! ! ! ! ! ! !

powered mixer with built-in 500 watt (2 x 250) Class D amplifier Packs up into a single portable unit that weighs just over 50 pounds 10-channel mixer with built-in iPod dock, four mic/line inputs, three stereo inputs and phantom power Custom 10-inch woofers in 2-way vented enclosures with 1-inch high frequency driver Ten studio-quality 24-bit digital effects Integrated 1-3/8-inch speaker stand mounts Enclosures tilt back for use as floor monitors Cables included

Pros: ! Great all in one portable PA package

! All components fit into one unit for carrying/transport

! Versatile connectivity options

Suggested Retail price: XP510i - R 8,995.00 | XP308i R 6,995.00 Supplier: Audiosure | Tel: 011-790.4600 | 031-534.6460 | 051-430.4455 | 021-555.1617 Web: www.audiosure.co.za


V-HLA10 R 16,317.00 V-HLA12 R 29,333.00 V-HLA15 R 35,834.00

Prices are recommended retail, incl. 14% VAT


...more compact, more affordable The new Aero 8A was designed to provide audio professionals with exceptional line array performance from an ultra-compact enclosure.

Features Powered ultra-compact two-way line array module Class D two channel amplifier 250W LF + 100W HF One 8� loudspeaker with neodymium magnet assembly New M-60N Neodymium compression driver SERPIS BPS-191 high frequency plane wave generator Captive rigging system intergrated in the cabinet design

Powered Line Array R 19,667-00

Prices are recommended Retail, Incl 14% VAT

D.A.S Audio Products exclusively available through For trade enquiries or to find your closest retailer call:

Tel: 011 2503280 luis@hybrid.co.za | marco@hybrid.co.za | bernard@hybrid.co.za | www.hybrid.co.za


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GEAR & INDUSTRY NEWS

Sterling by Music Man: The John Petrucci Signature Series Models Highly respected in the metal/prog community, John Petrucci of Dream Theater is known worldwide for his incendiary chops, creative songwriting and incredible tone. His devotion to his craft inspires legions of players across the globe. Sterling by Music Man® has announced an expansion of the John Petrucci signature series. New models feature appointments you have come to expect, from one of metal’s most respected players. For 2011 they have introduced the new JP60 and JP100 models to their line up. This compliments the awesome JP50. Says John, “I’m so happy to be part of the Sterling by Music Man family! The new JP100 continues in the tradition of amazingly beautiful, high quality instruments at friendly and affordable prices.” Distributed by Musical Distributors | 021-799 4950 | www.bothner.co.za

SurgeX Power Protection SurgeX Advanced Series Mode® Technology is superior to conventional MOV circuitry or MOV-Hybrid designs and is completely non-sacrificial. Their zero let-through technology provides the most reliable protection available. It stops all surges up to 6,000 volts (unlimited surge current) without producing harmful side effects such as earth contamination or common-mode Sx1215i disturbances. SurgeX SX1215i Surge Eliminator & Power Conditioner - provides guaranteed surge protection and power conditioning for audio, video, broadcast and computer equipment. The units are 15-amp load-capable and have 10 industrial grade earthed AC receptacles (8 switched, 2 always on) plus a front panel courtesy receptacle. The SX1215RTi has remote turn on capability for use in AC power distribution systems and can be interfaced with other SurgeX products with remote turn on capability. Switched receptacles can be controlled with an SX1215RLi applied voltage (5-30 vdc) or contact closure switch connected to the Phoenix connector on the back panel. The connector can also be used to cascade multiple units or provide status to a central controller. The unit features both common mode and normal mode Impedance Tolerant® EMI/RFI filtering for a comprehensive power conditioning solution. The SX1215RLi is designed for broadcast / recording studios, custom design/build installations and sound reinforcement applications. The unit features both common mode and normal mode Impedance Tolerant® EMI/RFI filtering, SurgeX ICE® -Inrush Current Elimination and COUVS® SX1215RTi Catastrophic Over/Under Voltage Shutdown for a complete power conditioning solution. Distributor: Audiosure | 011 790-4600 | 021 - 555-1617 | 031 569-9260 | 051 430-4455 | www.audiosure.co.za

Shure unveils new and exciting products for 2011 At the NAMM Show in January 2011, Shure introduced several new products for a variety of different applications. The ground breaking PSM 1000 In-Ear Personal Monitoring System, offering professional users a range of new sophisticated features, the Shure SRH550DJ and SRH940 headphones and the SE215 Sound Isolating Earphones with detachable cables. The PSM 1000 In-Ear Personal Monitoring System offers a dual channel, full-rack professional monitoring solution. It is designed to tightly integrate with Shure Wireless Workbench software for the most efficient set-up and control plus with a true diversity-equipped,

SRH940 PSM 1000

SE215


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Grammy-award winner Ricky Lawson discovers sE

GEAR & INDUSTRY NEWS

In the world of drummers, none come bigger than Ricky Lawson. The legendary sticks-man has played with some of the biggest names in the business, including Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Quincy Jones, Al Jarreau, Bette Midler… such is the calibre of Ricky’s CV that he’s even become known throughout the music industry as “Drummer to the Stars.” As well as being twice nominated for Grammy awards – winning one – Ricky also regularly appears in Top 10s of the world’s best drummers, be it for his contributions to Pop, R&B or Soul. Ricky not only knows about hitting drums, he also knows how to record them, and he is a recent convert to the sound of his sE4 matched pair condenser mics that he’s now using as main overheads in his California-based studio. “I’m using a set of sE4 mics right here in my recording studio in Los Angeles. I have a nice little set up here with a G5 [Mac] where I can record, mix and master all within one facility.” “The matched pair of sE4’s are being used as my main overheads on the drum kit. They’re each about as big as a real nice cigar… and they sound just fantastic!” Distributed by Tuerk Music Technologies | (011) 792-8402 www.tuerkmusic.co.za

Visual Sound - the new V2 Series Pedals V2H2O

V2JH

V2RT66

As used by the ultimate guitarists. U2, Kings of Leon, Metallica, Fleetwood Mac, Larry Carlton and many more. Everything Visual Sound has learnt about making effects pedals since 1995 has gone into the design of the V2 series. Here are a few things you might appreciate about these first class effects... Reliability: Custom designed switches rated at 10 million hits | Circuit protection against AC (vs. DC) adapters | Hand wired jacks | Knob protection built into the die-cast aluminum housings Noise Reduction: No more white noise with distortion or compression! New Features: H2O, Jekyll & Hyde and Route 66 all upgraded | Single effects now available No expense was spared in making the V2 Series as good as they could possibly be. The best parts, the best designs, and the best tone you could ask for. Distributed by Tradelius Music Group | (031) 502-3080 | www.tradelius.co.za

The S90XS and S70XS YAMAHA Synthesizers If you’re looking for the ultimate keyboard instrument for performing and creating, Yamaha have put it all together for you in this exceptional instrument, the S90XS and S70XS. The keyboard features the ultimate in piano sound sampling technology. A truly realistic, naturally expressive instrument with convenient, comprehensive control. Real-time controls for tweaking of the sound as you play. Audio recording to USB memory. Extensive computer music features. Ease of use, plus compact size and portability. S70XS Introducing the S90XS and S70XS Music Synthesizer. Designed specifically for players, particularly those who want the highest quality piano sounds and expression, the S90XS / S70XS is a performer's dream. Yet, casual players and hobby musicians will appreciate the exquisite sounds, advanced features and superb playability just as much as top professional artists. The S Series features all the Voices, Performances, arpeggiators and Virtual Circuit Modeling effects found on the flagship MOTIF XS Music Production Synthesizer. Plus Yamaha has added a huge 142 megabytes sample dedicated exclusively to high-quality piano waveforms, for a total of 456 MB of instrument samples. These piano sounds are the new samples taken from Yamaha's worldrenowned S6 concert grand piano. These samples fully capture the rich texture of the S6, and provide a warm concert grand piano sound beyond any keyboard ever produced. Distributed by Global Music | (011) 454-1131 | www.yamahaproaudio.co.za S90XS


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REVIEW

M-Audio Venom

By Stefan Wyeth

”A powerhouse of synthetic sound and inspiration”

M

edia giants Avid have launched their first MAudio product since the company ’s acquisition. This hype driven release comes at you in the form of the new Venom synthesizer, another first for M-Audio. Their bold leap into the deadly realm of hardware synths has been highly calculated from both a practical and a market viewpoint in order to give us the best for the price. The Venom is a 49-key, 12 voice, multi-timbral, virtual analogue synthesizer with audio interface and the Vyzex integrated software editor to give you comprehensive control and patch management. Its design and appearance is unmistakably reminiscent of the legendary Virus TI Polar virtual analogue synth from Access music with an all-whitewith-grey-knobs scheme, taking the modern rather than the vintage aesthetic approach. The sound engine, on the contrary allows you to choose from 94 oscillation waveforms from some of the greatest true analogue synthesizers in history, allowing purists to get their fix of warmth and texture regardless of their budget. I/O options include 1/4” main outs and mic and instrument inputs, stereo RCA inputs, expression and sustain pedals, MIDI I/O and USB as well as a phones out on the front panel. The Venom’s main console is focused around the 4 performance control knobs with which 30 parameters on the 3 envelopes, 4 LFOs and 16 node modmatrix may be accessed. As a live instrument the Venom proves very powerful indeed. The two modes of operation(512 single and 256 multi patches) along with the in-depth Vyzex software will allow you to easily design your sounds and setup multi-timbral performance patches. The Venom is also equipped with a mutli mode arpeggiator with tap tempo making it even more suited to live use. The Venom’s versatility presents a number of options when playing live. As it is both an interface and a controller its integration with Ableton Live would allow access to the Vyzex plugin as well as provide assignable MIDI controls for further hands on operation. The 4 part multi mode also allows you to use the Venom as the entire rhythm section of your band with 4 layers of latched arpeggiation possible and a great range of drums and rhythmic sounds to select from. Use the Venom as an effects processor for guitar or vocals on stage or simply as a very powerful standalone synth keyboard with the ability to tap tempo and layer sounds while playing. The Vyzex editor also gives you the power to preload and assign 2 bar MIDI sequences which can then be triggered live as part of your set. The easy and rather appealing interface will quickly become part of your musical makeup rather than just another accessory.

Every musician, regardless of their discipline searches for character of sound when choosing an instrument. This tends to be very difficult when dealing outside of the 20k upwards price bracket, which makes the Venom a formidable contender as it is by far the most versatile in its price range. The true power of the instrument lies in its sound. A great deal has gone into the analogue modelling sound engine to ensure its great tonal characteristics and the filter really does have it’s very own feel to it. The patches, combined with the sound creation capabilities of the Vyzex editor allows one to not only create styles of pop and dance music, but the edge to delve into slightly darker genres too. The smooth warmth of the analogue with a bright digital sheen, the aggressive mod and glide controls enable one to achieve snappy, up-close and personal direct sounds and anything in between. A huge effort has been made to streamline this instrument into a powerhouse of synthetic sound and inspiration. Despite being a so-called entry level synth I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to hear the Venom on new record releases or even on tour with the likes of Nine Inch Nails.

Pros: Bang for the buck. 12-voices. 4-part multi-timbral. Powerful, full-featured synth engine. Can process incoming audio through internal effects. 30 synth parameters available through performance control matrix. . Separate volume controls for mic and instrument gain. . Arpeggiator with tap tempo.

. . . . .

Cons: . Mic input is 1/4-inch, rather than XLR. . Audio interface limited to 44.1 kHz.

M-AUDIO Suggested Retail Price: R 7,599.00 incl. 14% VAT (estimated) Supplier: Midi Music Tel: (011) 417 3400 | (031) 564 3886


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FEATURE REVIEW

The PreSonus StudioLive

By Nic Roos

I

n 2008 PreSonus, revered studio-orientated manufacturer, released the StudioLive 16.4.2, their first mixer, aimed at both the live and studio market (hence the name). With more people mixing ‘in the box’ on affordable DAWs the idea of working with a desk has increasingly been left to live sound and big studios. Only recently have manufacturers incorporated an audio interface into a mixer for easier connectivity to computer. The StudioLive is part of this new generation of mixers, able to function as a FOH mixer while recording onto your laptop via Firewire. Easy to use and packed with features, it’s become very popular globally. To list all its features would take up the whole magazine. What follows are some highlights.

Anatomy The StudioLive 16.4.2 is a powerful 16channel, 4-subgroup digital mixer and Firewire interface with onboard processing on each channel, six auxes and two digital effects busses. A major feature is that each channel boasts the same revered, high

“The best mixer for band-orientated live mixing and recording.”

headroom Class A XMAX mic preamps found on PreSonus’ FireStudio interfaces, each with a line-in and an insert point for outboard gear.+ The high-definition AD converters, with JetPLL anti-jitter clock syncing, have an impressive 118dB dynamic range. The Fat Channel is a collection of digital processors on each channel/bus, including a gate, compressor, 4-band semi-parametric EQ and limiter, all with great presets and user presets. Each channel also has phase reversal and a HP filter. There are two effects busses with dozens of reverbs and delays, also with presets and user presets. For live applications, a 31-band graphic EQ is found on the Master Section and I’m told there will be a free firmware update, adding six mono graphic EQs for the six aux buses. The StudioLive’s ease of use is another big feature. Unlike most digital desks where functions are controlled through a paging system on an LED screen, the StudioLive provides easy access to most controls on the board itself while only a few system functions are controlled on screen. For a desk packed with features it has an ingeniously simple layout. Each

channel/bus has its own Select button which calls up that channel or bus’s settings. This also allows the Fat Channel to take up more board realestate, giving you quick access to processor parameters. Apart from the Master Section meters, there are 16 meters in the Fat Channel section that can display processor settings, channel input, output and gain reduction levels, aux output levels, aux and effects send levels as well as a fader-position locater display – a cost-effective alternative to motorized faders. Channel settings can be copied to one another and mix settings for the entire board can be saved and recalled as Scenes. The StudioLive is 100% compatible with most DAWs, showing up as a multi I/O interface. 32 in/18 out Firewire recording and playback streams make it a versatile recorder well beyond its 16-channel designation. The StudioLive tracks at either 44.1 or 48 kHz sample rates. While higher sample rates would be more luxurious (and expensive), would your computer cope with 16 tracks at 96kHz coming at it simultaneously for an hour at a one-take live show? Yeah, I didn’t think so.


16.4.2 Digital Mixer The desk ships with a special software bundle: Virtual StudioLive allows you to control the mixer from your computer and if you download the StudioLive Remote app you can control your StudioLive in VSL through a wireless network…wait for it… via your iPad! This means that, should you, at a gig, need to move away from the desk to replace a faulty mic, you would still have control over the mix. Also in the software bundle are Capture, a ‘set it and forget it’ live recorder designed specifically for the StudioLive, and Studio One Artist, PreSonus’ powerful yet ‘bloat-free’ DAW designed by two top exSteinberg designers. Also included are Native Instruments’ Guitar Rig 3 LE, Toontracks’ EZdrummer and a special Native Instruments Kore sample set. Should you have another StudioLive on hand you can daisychain both together via the second Firewire port in a master/slave configuration, giving you 32x34 recording and playback streams and various linking options.

In Use The XMAX preamps deliver on their promise of transparency, deeper low end, smoother highs and headroom! Oh, sweet headroom! Transients are well represented. The Fat Channel processors are all high quality tools that sound surprisingly musical. The speed and ease of use cannot be overstated, with virtually no learning curve. Tracking in Capture was as simple as arming the appropriate tracks and hitting record. Tweaking is quick and easy, a two- or threebutton affair – Select channel, select parameter, set parameter. Simple! I felt completely focused on the music I was mixing and not bogged down by the process, as if thought and execution were one.

Apart from providing great front end, the advantage of a mixer interface is its ability to mix down pre-recorded tracks too. Once mixed, desk parameters can be saved for full recall later. Similarly, in a live context, Scenes of each act’s mix can be saved and recalled after sound check. Working in Studio One is a joy. Think Cubase meets Pro Tools without the bloated extras. It’s incredibly stable with a ‘drag and drop’ GUI and includes great sounding sample packs, soft synths, instruments, comprehensive plug-ins and third-party VST and AU compatibility. More than just a recorder, sequencer and mixing tool, the Pro version of Studio One allows you to master and sequence whole albums.

Conclusion While similar mixers exist in the same price range, such as the Phonic Summit, some with more features, the StudioLive looks like the best mixer for

muse | thirteen

FEATURE REVIEW

band-orientated live mixing and recording. The pre-amps alone, with their smooth transparency and generous headroom, set it apart from the competition but in conjunction with the Fat Channel’s wealth of processors, the tremendous (shall I repeat it?) tremendous ease of use, its recording capabilities and integrated software, the StudioLive 16.4.2 is a big winner. Of course, if 16 channels aren’t enough for you, there is the StudioLive 24.4.2, adding, amongst other things, another eight channels to play with. It would have been nice to be able to use the StudioLive as a control surface in Studio One or other DAWs. I’m told there are as yet no plans for this kind of upgrade but it is not entirely out of the question. Alternatively, do it the old fashioned way of automation in real time during final mix-down. Personally, I’m blown away. It’s easy to see why the StudioLive is so popular. Anyone working with bands in South Africa’s small but thriving music scene should definitely sit up and take notice. For more information, visit www.presonus.com.

SA Distributor: Tuerk Music | 011- 792 8402 | www.tuerkmusic.co.za Suggested retail Price: StudioLive 16.4.2 R 25,995 | StudioLive 24.4.2 R 35,995


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muse | sixteen

Muse Reports

GEAR REVIEW

AKG Perception 820 Tube Microphone “...a great way to get your hands on a tube mic from a respected brand at an affordable price.” design features dual 'back to back' 1-inch diaphragm capsules which combine with ECC 83 dual-triode tube circuitry to deliver the 820's warm tube sound. The architecture is designed to enhance even-order harmonics which in turn

if necessary. The mic itself is just under 81/2" in height with a 2" diameter and weighs just shy of 2 lbs. Sharing the signature look of the current Perception line, the 820 has a chrome silver grill and head basket with a "vintage" light-blue brushed-metal body.

Versatility With a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz (±5 dB) and its ability to handle SPLs of up to 155 dB (with the pad engaged) this makes it a modern, multifunction tube mic: It can handle chores such as recording drums and guitar amps traditionally, jobs for dynamic mics - as easily as it does vocals and acoustic instruments.

Sound

A

KG’s Perception Series was launched in 2005 essentially to introduce affordable microphones to the market. Notably though, tube microphones have been surprisingly missing from their range, notwithstanding of course the C 12 VR, the only other AKG tube model still in production. But at a price of well over R35,000 it’s not the type of mic you’ll find in the average recording studio. So the 820 is a welcome addition as the new flagship for the Perception Series. There are two significant features that make this microphone particularly interesting; it has a tube design and its polar patterns and other controls are located on a separate remote control unit.

Anatomy Yes it’s made in China but the Perception 820 looks as good as its European tradition belies. This is a beautiful looking piece of kit, well built, heavy and solid with superb finish and top notch switches and knobs all round. Internal

form the backbone of a tube microphone's distinctive sound. The actual microphone has no on-body controls as, once it is connected to its control unit via the supplied seven-pin power/microphone cord, all setup is controlled from there. The remote control unit itself is cast in classy silver and looks like a scaleddown high-end hi-fi amplifier, with a pleasingly minimalist front panel. The prominent central dial here is used to control the microphone's polar pattern and nine detented positions are available, from omni-directional mode at the 7 o'clock position, through cardioid at noon, through to figure-of-eight at 5 o'clock, with intermediate positions available between these poles. The other controls on the front panel include a 20dB pad switch and a bass roll off option which provides 12dB per octave high-pass filtering below 80Hz. As far as actually feeding the signal from the remote control unit to your audio interface or mic preamp of choice is concerned, a regular XLR cable is required, although this is not included. You'll also find a ground lift button on the back panel which will help eradicate hum

Whilst the word ‘warmth’ is the obvious description to use on a tube mic the 820 is just that but in a subtler way. With the nine polar positions one has plenty of choice and you'll find what you need to get a great sound almost regardless of the source you're looking to record. Sonically it is much clearer and clean sounding than you may expect from a tube mic, and its warmth seems to be more of an absence of harshness in the top registers than the thickness in the mids that is sometimes associated with a tube mic.

Verdict By now you may have gathered that the 820 gets a massive thumbs up from us. It easily competes with mics almost twice its price and its bulletproof design coupled with its amazing versatility make it a utility microphone every studio could do with. This is indeed a great way to get your hands on a tube mic from a respected brand at an affordable price.

Pros: Solidly built. Nine polar patterns. Remote switching capability. Great sound quality.

Cons: No stand-by switch.

Distributor: Rockit Distribution | Tel: 021 511-1800 | Suggested retail: R 8,995-00


S Gain, Subsonic, bridge-dual and ICL switches, let you select your preferred operation configuration to make the most out of your PA Location of the actual and future connection bays. Back removable plate can host the interfaces for DSP Processor, Analog Processor,EtheRAM Control, EtherSound, Cobranet, AES3 Input, etc.

Industry reference Neutrik速 Speakon速 connectors are directly soldered to the power supply board to shorten the output current path and its return, to dramatically improve the damping factor.

The amp's QuantaPulse EVO brain, in the line of our classic function controllers, watches over more parameters and is far more compact as a result of SMD technology. Communication between the power supply and the Audio amplifiers is absolute

All low power electronic components are SMD, mounted upside down on the circuit board and shielded from the cooling air flow, which is very positive where needed, but otherwise is a source of UFD (Unidentified Flying dust).

21 step detented level controls are integrated with four LEDs to display the amp status at a glance: ICL, PMS, SIGNAL and TEMP.

Newly designed short tunnel cooling system forces air directly onto the high efficiency heat-sinks and the o/p devices bolted directly to them

Output Power (4立) 1kHz, 1.0% THD+N S-2000 S-3000 S-4000 S-6000 S-6004 S-6044

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- R13 109.00 - R15 167.00 - R18 000.00 - R22 592.00 - R23 867.00 - R23 867.00

RAM Audio available exclusively from For trade enquiries or to find your closest retailer tel. 011 2503280 | luis@hybrid.co.za | bernard@hybrid.co.za | marco@hybrid.co.za | www.hybrid.co.za | www.hybrid.co.za


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muse | twenty

REVIEW

by Alan Ratcliffe

Line 6 POD HD300

Line 6's new POD HD line of amp/effect modellers are the much anticipated updates to the POD line of amp and effect modelling floorboards. The basis of the POD HD range is a selection of 16 all-new HD amp tones coupled with 80 – 100 effects models (depending on model) taken from Line 6’s

First impressions The HD300 has a solid feel to it thanks to the all metal chassis, switches and pedal. The knobs, switches, pedal and even the toe switch under the pedal all have a solid feel and firm action. The metal “roll bar ” between the footswitches and knobs also inspires confidence as a road-ready piece of gear. My usual gripe with multi-fx floorboards is the “wall-wart” power supplies that most use, which is usually the single biggest source of problems with these units. The HD300 does use a wall-wart, which is understandable as an entry-level model (although the bigger models also have this problem and can’t claim the same excuse). It is however, a better than usual supply, with thicker power cable and a range of clip-on adaptors for different territories (sadly, no round 3-pin adaptor though). The HD300 also lacks a power switch, which is inconvenient in a

successful M9 and M13 stompbox modellers. Each of the three models in the HD range share the same amp models, sound quality and 80 of the same effects. The HD300 is the entry-level floorboard in the HD line.

home or studio setup where you often want to be able to turn off without unplugging.

Controls The onboard controls are the bare minimum for amp and effect control, which makes them quite easy to use live although they do not offer quick a c c e s s t o d e e p e d i t i n g. T h e pedalboard is well thought out to make use of the six switches: a tap/tuner button; a switch to toggle between the three modes for the last four switches; and the last four switches which can be toggled between calling up four patches in a bank, a manual mode which allows you to turn effects on and off and a mode to control the looper functions. The pedal has a toe switch to turn the wah effect on and off.

Connection The HD300 has more connections than you would expect from an entry

level unit, including both unbalanced ¼” jack and balanced XLR outputs as well as a ¼” headphone socket. It also has a USB port for connecting directly to a computer, allowing direct recording and playback as well as letting you edit and save patches via an easy to use and comprehensive patch editor/ librarian. Alongside the expected ¼” guitar input, there is a 3.5mm input socket which allows you to connect a CD or MP3 player for jamming with prerecorded music or backing tracks. The rear panel also sports an extra XLR connector labelled “L6 Link” which lets you connect to Line 6’s DT50 amp and integrate control and patches together. What is notable is more what the HD300 doesn’t have – an effects loop. So aside from putting a few effects between guitar and the HD300, there is no way to expand on the effects capabilities. It also means that it is not possible to use the common “four cable method” with an amplifier.


muse | twenty one

REVIEW Amp Models

Effects

Sound

While 16 amp models may seem minimal compared to some other modellers (including older PODs), Line 6 stress that the emphasis is on quality rather than quantity and the models are all new, higher resolution models with improved feel and tone over the older PODs. Amongst the 16 models, most of the expected classic amps are covered alongside a few boutique models and they do cover a comprehensive range of musical styles – just about everything you could reasonably expect to need. Also, as with all of the newer PODs, the HD300 can be updated via USB and it is expected that Line 6 will expand and add to these models with future updates (and possible dedicated expansion packs too).

Effects are a comprehensive set of 80 models which are generally very high quality and most are very usable and musical. The effects are divided between six effects location slots: three with user selected effects; one fixed reverb only slot; a fixed noise gate slot; and a volume/wah slot. There is, however, one major bugbear – each selectable slot can only hold just one effect at a time and each effect is limited to a specific slot. This means that there are many effects which cannot be used simultaneously – for instance, the first slot has all the distortion, compression, pitch and envelope effects, so if you want to use overdrive you cannot use a compressor, harmoniser or autowah at the same time. This is very limiting and probably means that most users will resort to using at least a separate pedal compressor and overdrive before the HD300.

The good news is that the new amp models are great – they all have a noticeable tonal edge over the last generation PODs and more importantly, they respond much more convincingly to playing dynamics and guitar volume control changes. I was especially impressed when I took the Twin amp model and paired it with a blue speaker and compared it to my Fender Twin kitted out with Weber Blue Dog speakers – bar a few small differences, it nailed the tone and feel convincingly.

In conclusion The HD300 sounds great, is easy to use, is compact and solid enough for travel and makes a great headphone practice tool. The limitations in effect placement and the lack of effects loop will force many to use it with other pedals or to upgrade to the HD400 or probably the HD500 though.

Main features . . . . . . . . . . .

16 HD amp models 16 Speaker cabinet models 80 effect models Up to 6 simultaneous effects 128 user presets 24-second on-board looper with dedicated controls 1/4" Main, 1/4" headphone and XLR outputs MP3/CD input Expression pedal Comprehensive software editor/librarian Metal chassis, pedal and footswitches

Supplied by: Active Music Distribution | 011 466-9510 | info@activemusicdistribution.com Suggested Retail Prices: HD300 - R 5,595.00 | HD500 - R 8,995.00


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muse | twenty four

FEATURE

Muse Report

S

Steve Grindrod:

50 Years of Guitar Amp Design

ometime in March this year Steve Grindrod paid his first visit to South Africa. Now for those not familiar with the name, Steve has been designing and engineering amplifier and speaker products for two of the world’s most famous guitar amp companies for almost four decades. From 1973 to 2000, Grindrod served as Chief Engineer and Director of Research and Development for Marshall Amplification. In 2000, Grindrod was invited by Vox to become Managing Director and Chief Designer, a position he held until 2008. The products of Grindrod’s work have been heard on countless recordings and are

“There’s always something in retrospect that I feel could have been done slightly different or improved upon but ultimately the product has to go into production so one has to move ahead.” Celebrating his 50th year of producing guitar amplifiers – he designed his first one at 13 years of age “out of necessity,” he adds – this 63 year old, somewhat hippyish looking eccentric guitar player is clearly a perfectionist and can tell you about design flaws that some of the most esteemed players and reviewers of his products are unlikely to have ever picked up on. On enquiring about his years at Marshall and Vox Steve is reasonably non-committal, suffice to add that after 36 years with the companies he’d had enough of the ‘bean-counters’ and non-musical people having such a big say in his designs. He relates a story where at Vox

amplifiers should be. My objective is simple; produce the best possible amplifiers for the most reasonable price. I don’t want to be the cheapest on the market, but I want to be the most affordable for what you get.” And what you get is quite something as Nic Roos, the Sleepers lead guitarist and Muse Magazine reviewer will attest to. Says Nic, “Albion amps are like boutique amplifiers such is their feature set and sound quality, but amazingly at way more affordable prices. In fact some of the top brand names do not have features I can list on the Albion amps.” “It is no secret that my products are built in Shenzhen, China. But what I would like you to appreciate is that we really do own our factory. 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

“Albion amps are like boutique amplifiers such is their feature set and sound quality...”

featured on more concert and club stages than could be counted. He has since embarked on a new adventure with International Audio Group to form Albion Amplification, a partnership he says has offered him the creative freedom to produce the kind of guitar amplifiers he has been wanting to design for sometime; “There’s no such thing as the perfect design, not when you’re the designer,” he explains.

he was instructed to ensure that a particular segment of an amp needed to have valves instead of solid state technology, this despite the fact that he knew and had advised ‘the suits’ that solid state would sound better for this module. “All they knew was that valve was considered as better and that’s what their customers wanted. They had no idea of sound quality or for that matter any understanding of when and where valves should be used. In the end I set up a ‘blind test’ for them – one with valve and one without for the effects loop on this particular amp and asked them to listen. Of course in the end they chose the one I wanted without even realising it,” he chuckles. It’s these sort of restrictions and “dealing with corporate bullshit” as he puts it, that made leaving Vox and embarking on this new venture so appealing to him. “Albion Amplification is 100% designed the way I think

using off-shore manufacturing who can claim this dedication. Most brands who build in China use a nameless, unknown O.E.M. factory. We don’t!” states Grindrod emphatically. Shooting the breeze with Steve, it’s no wonder then that all products reviewed by us thus far have received a massive thumbs-up for innovation, build quality, sound, feature set and affordability. Here’s a man that has had such a major influence on amp design for over 40 years finally able to produce guitar amplifiers totally with his own vision and it shows in the Albion range. Originally branded as Wharfedale, the products underwent a name and styling change but the heart and soul of each amp as reviewed by us remains the same. To read our previous reviews online follow these links... http://museonline.co.za/?p=958 http://museonline.co.za/?p=517 http://museonline.co.za/?p=1260


eight

muse | twenty six

FEATURE

By Sergio Pereira

You know how the saying goes: “absence only makes the heart grow fonder”…

GIBSON IS BACK!

G

ibson. It’s a prestigious name for every serious guitar player. Yet 4 years ago, South African shredders got a shock as the famed guitar brand disappeared from local instrument retail stores without an explanation or even a goodbye note. Sadly, six string aficionados could no longer purchase Gibson guitars from stores nationwide and had to rely on overseas orders to get their fix; it need not be said that our local postal service probably did a good job in raping and pillaging more than a few packages and leaving many guitarists unhappy and frustrated at this situation.

Bringing Back The Power However, Marshall Music’s flagship store in Woodmead heeded the calls from virtuosos countrywide and decided to do everything in their power to get Gibson back on our shores – and guess what? They succeeded and are now the official and exclusive dealers for the brand in SA. In other words, as licensed dealers, they are able to sell the guitars at the same competitive prices as the online and overseas retailers and supply you with the Gibson of your dreams – after all, choosing a guitar is a very personal experience and you shouldn’t just settle for any old piece of wood. Additionally, if you stay far away from the store (but still within the borders of South Africa), don’t sweat; you can order the guitars directly from them and they’ll ship it to you and cough up for the courier fees.

Celebrate Good Times To celebrate the awesome news of this illustrious partnership, Marshall Music Woodmead threw a bash at Tanz Café in Fourways, Johannesburg, on the 25th of January 2011. The venue was painted red that night as the party was ignited by enthusiasts, guitar collectors, party goers and local rock stars, such as Prime Circle, Wonderboom, Watershed and Chromium, who use and abuse Gibsons on a regular basis. Also, on the night, a raffle was held and a prized Gibson Les Paul got handed out to one lucky winner, who must probably be polishing that guitar and posturing like Slash from Guns ‘n’ Roses every day since. Arno Carstens and Flies (a cover band featuring the members of Just Jinjer) provided the entertainment for the evening and churned out some quality rock ‘n’ roll with the mandatory “local is lekker” flavour. At the end of the evening, the performers further thrilled the audience by unexpectedly joining forces for an impromptu jam session right on stage. Interestingly enough, amidst the sound of music, it was worth noting that the artists also used Gibson guitars for their performances – Arno strummed along on the J-200, while Flies’ Gavin Morein let his fingers do the talking on the Gibson Les Paul model.

The Future Of Gibson In South Africa After such a smashing event, Marshall Music Woodmead’s resident guitar specialist Stuart Goodwin explains that this was only the beginning of great things to come from the partnership between Marshall Music and Gibson. “Marshall Music Woodmead are the first official dealers. The next one will be Marshall Music Cape Town; they’ll be holding a launch in about a month or two, so look out for a big party in Cape Town. We’re also hosting the Gibson Acoustic competition every Tuesday night at Tanz Café, which is a competition for singers/songwriters to showcase their skills. The first prize will be a R20 000 Gibson acoustic guitar.” When Orville Gibson started manufacturing mandolins in the

late 1890s, no one could’ve predicted that down the line he’d be instrumental in creating not just a recognisable brand, but a cultural icon. Even though Gibson was gone for a while here, it was never forgotten. In fact, you know how the saying goes: “absence only makes the heart grow fonder”. Remember, Marshall Music Woodmead is the only official dealer of Gibson in South Africa, at the time of writing, so if you want to purchase one, you’ll have to chat directly to them.

Marshall Music Woodmead Tel: 011 804 | www.marshallmusic.co.za


Band Tips: Ten Tips on Writing Music

muse | twenty eight

TIPS

Muse Reports

1. Write the lyrics for your Song Many musicians write their own melodies as well as the lyrics. If you already have lyrics, consider them when writing your melody. Some questions to ask yourself before composing the music are: What words do I want to focus on? Are there note lengths or timing that will accommodate certain words better than others will? a. Consider the following line: I DROVE my CAR down the HIGHWAY. The emphasized words DROVE, CAR and HIGHWAY give the listener an idea of what is going on, even if these are the only words they hear. On the other hand, if you sing the same line but emphasize different words: I drove MY car DOWN THE highway. The listener might have no idea what you're singing about. b. You can emphasize words with a louder note, changing the note itself, a longer note or including a rest before or after the note. Experiment with your song and see what sounds the best.

2. Listen to and learn from other composers There is something to be learned from every single musician or band out there. Listen to how your favourite musicians construct their songs - examine the style, the tone, how different instruments work together and so on and so forth. You can implement many of the same ideas into your own music or even take some of their riffs and tweak them to fit your style. This is a great way to come up with new melodies.

3. Use music composition software Music composition software can be a musician's best friend. These programs aid in the writing process

by organizing your work and allow you to see what you're playing. Quality software packages provide features including a metronome to keep beat, playback, so you can listen to what you've composed, input, so you can hook your instrument or microphone directly to your computer and notate a song you play or sing and tons of editing tools so you can easily compose a riff.

4. Look for musical inspiration Before writing a piece of music, it's critical to feed your mind inspiration. Inspiration comes from all around us: our emotions, relationships, nature, people and experiences - some songs are even about surreal situations. A big part of finding inspiration is putting yourself in situations that rouse inspiration and then recognize it when it comes. We all have different people come into our lives; relationships have always been a hot topic for song-writers. To generate other ideas get out of the house, go somewhere, and do something. This could even be something as simple as walking in the park or down the street. You'll be amazed where inspiration can be found.

5. Have fun You first started writing music because you love music. If you're not enjoying composing music, then do something else for a while. People tend to do what they love best.

6. There is no wrong answer in music composition Writing music is one of those things you can do and never make a mistake. Some melodies are catchier than others are, and everyone will write some bad

stanzas. It's all right; that's why we have revisions. Remember this while writing music: it will make you feel better and help you avoid writer's block.

7. Define your music composition goal Are you writing music for yourself or for other people? This alone will totally change the tone and style of your music. If you are writing for yourself, you have more freedom to write what and how you want. In contrast, if you are writing for other people, it is a good idea to identify your target audience and write music they will enjoy.

8. Seek advice and opinions People are always willing to give advice and opinions; take their comments into consideration when writing music. Give your music to family members and friends to get their opinion of your songs. Though people close to you may be biased, their comments are still valuable.

9. Do something different It's easy to get stuck in a rut and all of your songs begin to sound the same. Even if you've found a great combination of notes or a catchy beat, changing it can be good and help you grow as a composer. An easy way to try something new is pick up an instrument you haven't played before. Sometimes you find yourself playing the same old keys or strumming the same chords on your guitar. A different instrument can lead you to melodies you may not have thought of otherwise.

10. Practice, practice and more practice There is no substitute for hard work and practice—it is the only formula that will guarantee you will become a better songwriter. Source: TopTenReviews.com


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500WRMS/ch 8 ohms 750WRMS/ch 4 ohms 1500WRMS Bridge/ch Damping Factor: >600 R 6499 Retail incl.

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eight

muse | thirty

TUTORIAL

A

by Alan Ratcliffe

Recording Electric Guitars

n electric guitar is capable of a wide range of sounds and is unique in that the amplifier and the speakers are as much a part of the sound as the instrument itself. This means that to record the "true" sound of the electric guitar, you need to capture the sound coming from the speakers. The key to getting a great guitar sound is to constantly experiment, trying lots of things until you get the sound that is most pleasing to your ears.

Amp Modelling v. Miking Amp modelling effects such as the line 6 PODs, Boss GT series of multieffects or Native Instruments Guitar Rig software can offer a quick and easy way to record an electric guitar with decent tone and offer a range of amp tones to choose from. However many players are more comfortable with a real amplifier and will give their best performance when using one.

First & Foremost The single most important detail in getting great electric guitar sounds is that the sound coming out of the amp should be great. This is determined by the guitar, amp, speakers and the person playing it. So make sure the guitar is free from buzzes and rattles, the strings are relatively new and the intonation is set properly. If needed, take it for a professional setup before recording. Similarly, the amplifier (particularly valve amps) need to be in a good state of repair and any problems should be sorted out before you go into the studio.

Miking Open backed guitar cabinets emit sound from both the front and the rear of the cabinet, and you must often capture both to reproduce the real and best tones of the amp. Usually a guitar amp is miked close up with the mic up against the grille of the amp to capture a dry isolated sound. It also pays to add in an ambient mic a short distance away from the amp as well as a room mic a few metres away. This gives you a range of sounds to play with. In smaller home studios, or those with an unflattering room sound, you may

want to omit using the room mic. If you are going to use a room mic, take time to find a spot in the room where the amp sounds good and a spot distant from the amp which sounds good. Use your ears and walk around the room listening for "sweet spots" where the amp sounds good - you'll know them when you find them. Try different mics at different distances, positions and angles. Move the amp around the room: try putting the amp in a corner, on a concrete floor, on a wood floor, on carpeting - basically just try everything you can think of! CLOSE MIC The close mic gives a dry, punchy, detailed sound. Usually dynamic mics such as the Shure SM57 or Sennheiser MD421 are used for close mic as dynamic mics can easily handle the extreme volume levels from electric guitar amplifiers. Set up the mic right against the amp's grill cloth, pointing it straight at the amp will give a clearer, more detailed sound, but with more highs and a harsher edge. Angling the mic slightly will soften the tone at the expense of a little detail and highs, and moving the mic towards the edge of the speaker will result in a mellower sound, as will moving the mic away from the cloth slightly. Speakers vary a little, so if the amp has a multi-speaker guitar cabinet, there is

usually nothing to gain by miking more than one speaker. So listen to each to see which sounds better and mic that speaker. AMBIENT MIC A mic placed a few inches to a few feet back can fill out the sound and create interesting tonalities. Just be careful of the delay which causes phasing - cancelling certain frequencies when mixed with another mic, which can be pleasing or horrible, depending on the frequencies cancelled. So experimenting with distances is very important. If you are recording to a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), it is possible to sidestep any phasing issues while keeping the ambient mic's tonality by dragging a mic track into time alignment with the other mic tracks. ROOM MIC For the room mic, place a condenser mic anywhere from half a metre to two metres in front of the amp (at the same height as the amp) and point the mic at one of the speakers. The further the mic is from the amp, the more bass and less midrange it will have and the more the room sound will be captured. If you have enough tracks on your recorder, print each mic to a separate track (if possible) to be able to decide the balance between them later, otherwise if recording to one single track, be very careful not too add in too much room mic.


www.audiosure.co.za


muse | thirty two

TUTORIAL

by Alistair Andrews

PLAY BETTER BASS

The Relationship Between Bass And Drums As bassists, it is essential that we learn to trust and openly communicate with our comrades on the drums. Bassists and drummers should have a healthy, honest and trusting relationship. Below, I have outlined several key points that you should consider when working and locking in with your drummer. Both the bass Player and the drummer are responsible for keeping the rhythm section together. Nothing drives a song like the bass and the kick working together. Even if the bass is playing a cool groove or some kind of slapping pattern, it should still be locked in with the kick so that they are hitting the major "groove points" together. Most professional bass and drum masters understand the subtleties of “beat placement.” Essentially there are three ways of playing “time” in any musical situation:

1) On TOP of the beat (slightly ahead of the metronome Click) 2) In the MIDDLE of the beat (dead center with the metronome click) 3) BEHIND the beat (slightly behind the metronome click) It is not always that bass and kick need to hit every note together. Each instrument may add independent 8th or 16th notes, but as a general rule the quarter, half and whole notes should be locked together. Sometimes there is a need for space in the music; it sounds better if the drums and bass parts are not both busy at the same time. However, if the bass player tends to keep a very steady low end (less busy) feel free to "play around the beat" more. You do not want to have the bass and drums going in different directions wildly.

Listen to bass players like Rocco Prestia, Jaco Pastorius, Flea and Mark King for bass lines that are busy but perfectly locking in with the Drums. In a lot of rock classics the kick drum plays on every second quarter note, while the bass lines are straight 8th notes or in a shuffle swinging 8th. In rock and pop styles of music, the solid relationship between the bass drum and snare drum is vital to a deep groove and feel; the dependence of keeping time on the hi-hat or ride cymbal. Good drummers take the dependence of right hand (or left) as time-keeper,

and apply it to the bass drum and snare drum where it belongs, thus freeing up the right hand to play more interesting patterns on the cymbals. The legendary Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare combination is a wonderful example of how drum and bass can sound as one unit. They are Jamaica's most prolific drum and bass duo: since they started working together in 1975, they have played on more tracks than any drum and bass partnership I know of. They have backed and produced virtually everyone on Jamaica, from Peter Tosh to Sean Paul.

Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare

... Continued on pg 34


muse | thirty four

TUTORIAL

The Relationship Between Bass And Drums ... Continued from pg 32

by Alistair Andrews

Besides the music the sound (tone) also plays a very important role, both for live playing, and in a recording context. The key to EQ'ing drum and bass tracks is to contain each track in its own space to keep your tracks from competing for the same frequencies. It's important to remember to do this all in moderation if you want a natural sound, but the rules are always different depending on the genre and the sound you're going for. To highlight “snap”, “attack” or a “plucked” sound, make gradual tweaks of the frequencies between 800 Hertz and 2

Kilohertz. Just make small adjustments, listening carefully and checking how your bass and kick reacts to moderate increases or decreases in each of these frequencies. This is a way of finding where a particular sound “lives.” In other words, the main frequencies that give this sound its main “colour.” If you boost a frequency in the kick it could be a good idea to cut the same frequency in the bass. If you boost the same frequency in both instruments you might get an artificially hot mix that does not sound as loud as it should.

This image shows how EQ could be used to create space in the mix.

DYNAMICS—Soft, loud and all points in-between. The bass and drums should aspire and utilize dynamics as a rhythm section, thus propelling and lifting the musical ensemble to higher levels of tension and release. When there are moments of opportunities to rise and fall with the music, define these sections and work them out dynamically.

Oftentimes, this will expose how well you and the drummer are locking in and how much you are really listening to each other. This seems like a given, yet dynamics are often overlooked by many performers. Try just getting together with your drummer and have a bass/drum rehearsal. Find the moments in the song that you can add dynamics.

Till next time, LET THERE BE BASS!!!


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Pedaltrain Mini

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muse | thirty six

TUTORIAL

by Kurt Slabbert

H

PLAY BETTER

i and welcome back to Play Better Guitar, I hope you have all had a great start to 2011. In this issue I have decided to look at some licks in different styles of playing, almost a fun lesson, and some extra licks for your lick bag. We will get back into the caged positions from the next issue, but for now let us have a little fun.

So let us begin with a little blues. This must be one of my favourites as well as one of those styles where nuances and personality really permeate through the music. Blues is one of those styles that can be slow, fast, happy, and sad and everything in between, using all forms of slurs and bends to get the notes sounding good and believable. So let us begin with an A Mixolydian inspired lick. Here we go!!

Lick 1 Here we have a typical A Myxolidian Blues type lick, once again the feel you put into this lick will determine how it will sound and feel. This style of music usually goes from strong attack to gentle legato, so always change your feel, and play it your way, make it your own!

Lick 2 Lick 2 is very similar to Lick 1, the difference being that it is written with a triplet feel. Please play this with a metronome so you can hear and feel the vast difference between swung 8th and triplets; it might be slightly trickier but is so sweet on the ears.

Lick 3 Here we’re going to take the same idea and add some elements from the Lydian b7 scale, which is the 4th mode of the melodic minor scale. Therefore we have elements from 3 scales, being A Minor Pentatonic, A Mixolydian and A Lydian b7. The Lydian b7 is going to add an outside sound. Always make sure that at the end of a lick when playing outside that you resolve the lick properly, that means you land on a strong note like a chord tone which in this case that would be A, C#, E or G. These 3 scales are the preferred scales for guitarist Robben Ford, definitely an amazing feel player, be sure to check him out.


GUITAR

muse | thirty seven

TUTORIAL

Fun Lesson:

SOME EXTRA LICKS FOR YOUR LICK BAG... Lick 4 Now that we have got some cool notes let us add some fire. It is nice to mix it up going from really slow to some really quick passages. The next lick is definitely some fire; practice it slowly building it up to tempo and once again make it your own; try and find other creative ways of using it. This run incorporates the use of 8th notes and 16th note triplets. The use of triplets can bring some spark and interest into your improvisation.

For this lick be sure to try using legato style playing incorporating pull offs, focusing on the beats and the landing notes on the beats of bar 3.

What about sound for this style of playing? I think it is very personal as to the sound you prefer as a player and I think the best way to look for a sound is to listen to other players and see what they are using. This can be a great starting point, however cloning another player shouldn’t be your ultimate goal but instead try and find a sound that suits your playing style. Go visit your local music shop and try out some pedals and different amps even different guitars until you find something that works for you. Copyright Kurt Slabbert Good luck with your endeavour till next time, work hard!!! Bluenoise Productions kurt_slabbert@hotmail.com


muse | thirty eight

YOUR PRIVATE UNIVERSE by Jonathan Pike

T

his year I want to take Your Private Universe in a slightly different direction. Over the past 14 issues we have looked at conventional recording and processing techniques for a number of the usual instruments you are likely to record at home. I want to continue with recording and processing tricks in this coming year, however I am going to focus on much more unconventional methods that can help you to get some weird and wonderful sounds. Making your recordings stand out in this modern world where there is so much competition can be very difficult and often you will need to try some very different techniques to create a ‘new’ and ‘exciting’ sound. In this issue we are going to look at some unusual techniques for recording vocals. Once again, to remind you; when it comes to recording vocals, it is very dependent on the genre of the track as well as the particular feel you want. Some people prefer recording the signal very ‘dry;’ that is with minimal room ambience and other effects and then applying ambience and effects at a later stage. Others will try to get the desired sound in the recording process so little has to be done in the mix. Each approach has its pros and cons, but I will be focusing primarily on recording with the desired sound. One very interesting and quite popular vocal recording technique is to record the vocal through a mega-phone; this will give you a filtered and slightly distorted sound somewhat similar to running a signal through both high and low pass EQ filters with some applied distortion. I would suggest setting up a dynamic vocal mic like the Shure SM58 about 15 cm in front of the megaphone. There are a number of bands that have used this technique to

Techniques forio the home stud

Unconventional Recording Techniques:

VOCALS

great effect (Muse and Tom Waits to name just two). This technique can lend a unique sound to a vocal, helping to create emphasis on a certain phrase or part. Check out Muse's cover of Feeling Good on their album Origin of Symmetry for a great example of this in action. Another way of achieving a similar effect is to run a vocal through an electric guitar amplifier, apply tonal or distortion effects to the signal with the amplifier’s controls and record the signal back in. This will give you more control over the exact tone and distortion you desire, but will of course give a different sound than the megaphone. Another trick used by Tom Waits is to put a microphone at one end of a long PVC pipe and sing into the other end. This gives a very unique sound with an unnatural ambient character that can help

your vocals to stand out. You can hear the effects clearly on his album Mule Variations. Of course Tom Waits has a unique style to his music so bear in mind these techniques are going to result in an unnatural vocal sound, but if you want something more unconventional they can be used to great effect. There are almost endless ways you can get weird and wonderful vocal effects in the recording stage. Some other examples are to record your vocal through a Vocoder or to apply the much used Autotune to your vocals. The Vocoder will give you that synthesized sound that was first heard on Cher’s track Believe, and Autotune will give you the vocal sound synonymous with the HipPop star T-Pain. These techniques however are nowadays considered to be a bit overdone and cheesy. There is really no limit to what you can do to vocals to create the unconventional, just make sure that the vocal sound you settle on works well with the genre of music you are creating.



Muse Tech -Apr/May '11