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BE A PLAYER! ISSUE 01 Autumn 2008


Classic Player




Beginner’s Guide






Buying an



DrumIt Five






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Q&A 19/8/08 21:02:15

lets make music

Designing Schools For The Future At Dolphin Music we recognise that teachers and music professionals require more than musical instruments to successfully deliver their curriculum. For this reason we have developed a suite of specialist services designed to meet those needs. Add to this our extensive portfolio of musical instruments’ great education pricing and fast delivery and you know the future of your department is in safe hands. Services: Installation | Training | Accoustic Consultation | Music Education Consultation Recording | Computer Music | Orchestral | Drums | Percussion | Pianos | Keyboards | DJ | Lighting | PA | Guitars

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Be a player! MusicPlanet Magazine Venture Point West, 70-72 Evans Road, Merseyside L24 9PB T +44 (0)151 448 2086 E

Director of Marketing, Dolphin Music Paul Harris E T 0151 448 2696 To advertise: Please contact Chris Fleischhack E T 0151 448 2085 Contributors: Jeannette Appleton, Peter Bickerton, Helen Burge, Martyn Casserly, Robert Collins, Mark Cousins, Anita Curbishley, Trevor Gilham, Steve Harvey, Owen Hopkin, Sarah Kelsall, Ellie Laycock, Richard Lennon, Miguel Mascolinas, Paul Oldfield, Oz Owen, Peter Pollard, Ivan Silva, Lee Varey, Sheldon Wood, Andy Wright, Jade Wright A big thank you to all the suppliers, manufacturers and distributors who helped us put together this first issue of MusicPlanet – good work everyone.

The Official Magazine of Dolphin Music Who are Dolphin Music? Dolphin Music is the UK’s Number 1 online retailer for all your music equipment needs. Dolphin Music has nearly a decade of experience in servicing musicians throughout Europe with equipment, and we are focused on providing our customers with what we like to call the Dolphin Experience. What is the Dolphin Experience? Our approach from day one has always been to look after our customers. We understand that musicians have different needs to those of a general consumer. We also understand that when it comes to gear, the customer must be assured of honest, reliable and trustworthy people to deal with. That’s why all our staff are highly trained and experienced individuals. Where do I go? Although primarily online, we have stores in Gateshead, Huddersfield and Liverpool. Our product experts are trained thoroughly and can help you with any issue you may have. We pride ourselves on not being pushy sales people and are actually here to help you decide what to do. So even if you’re not thinking of buying, but just need a bit of help, feel free to call or email us! 0844 248 8117 All contents copyright Dolphin Music Ltd, 2008 While we make every effort to ensure the content contained within MusicPlanet is correct at the time of publication, we cannot take responsibility for nor be held accountable for any errors or omissions. Due to constant fluctuations in pricing, we cannot guarantee to be accurate with product price details at the time of publication. The opinions expressed in MusicPlanet Magazine are not necessarily those of Dolphin Music or Note Media Ltd. For up-to-the-minute price information, please check the Dolphin Music website at MusicPlanet Magazine ISSN 1758-0951 (print) ISSN 1758-096X (online) Published by Note Media Ltd

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Welcome to Musicplanet…


ello and welcome to MusicPlanet, the first issue of Dolphin Music’s new free customer magazine. But why is the UK’s number 1 online music equipment retailer producing a magazine? The aim of MusicPlanet is to provide a forum for musicians to interact with each other, manufacturers, and the music industry, and also welcome those who would love to get into making music. Our vision is to have a community of musicians at all levels – interacting, communicating and providing relevant content on all genres and all musical instruments. The growth in home studios has led to a revival in people playing musical instruments, and not just the popular rock’n’roll instruments, but also brass & woodwind, pianos and even the Stylophone! At the moment, the MusicPlanet website at delivers a digital version of the printed magazine with some extra digital content for you. We will be developing the website in the future with blogs, forums, articles and videos, so keep an eye on it as time goes by. In the same way that we want to provide you with a place to express your opinions on the website, we also want you to be a part of the magazine, so please send your thoughts on the magazine to Please enjoy the Official Magazine of Dolphin Music. Jason Tavaria Joint MD, Dolphin Music Rob Williams Joint MD, Dolphin Music


Editor: Neil Worley E Designer: Kate Lucas E

Owen Hopkin

Owen’s our drum expert. He’s been hitting wood and complex metal alloys for nigh on 20 years. His parents called it sonic vandalism, Owen still maintains it’s art. A 9-to-5 escapologist by trade, he’s The Crimea’s drummer and Xfm’s go-to man for all things digital and on-line. Houdini had been known to hit him up for tips. And he likes holding famous stuff.

Mark Cousins

You might think you recognise this man – it has been said he bears more than a passing resemblance to Angus Deayton. In fact, Mark writes TV and film production music for BMG Zomba. He’s also a leading authority on matters of music technology and recording, and has written more words on the subject over the last few years than he cares to remember. 0844 248 8117


Steve Harvey

Steve is MusicPlanet’s acoustic expert. Having co-founded Acoustic magazine, he was its Editor for three years and is now a regular contributor to Guitarist magazine. Over the years, he’s amassed a sizeable collection of desirable acoustics and has played and written about every significant acoustic body shape in existence. Clever man…



20/8/08 11:33:05

ISSUE 01 Autumn 2008


CONTENTS FEATURES Subways 06 The Still determined to follow their own path

The Subways

33 Review dbx DriveRack PX 43 Group Test Powered studio

reviews 47 Gig The pick of the summer’s live events

monitor round-up 51 Review AKAI MPC5000 53 Preview 2box DrumIt Five 62 Review Toontrack Superior2.0 64 Six of the Best Studio mics 67 Review Native Instruments Guitar Rig Session 69 Reviews In Brief

an acoustic guitar 57 Buying How to choose the right model for you


digital music 21 Making Getting started in computer music hours in Liverpool 29 48 The best music venues on Merseyside ‘Phats’ Hayward 35 Jason One man’s continuing musical mission

heroes – Snake Davis 74 Unsung Successful session saxophonist


18 Six of the Best Digital Recorders 27 Review Fender Classic Player Jaguar Special HH

13 News 34 Win a Jaguar Special HH 39 Music Clinic

43 Monitors round-up

Your questions answered 52 Win a pair of Yamaha MSP7s 72 Top Five Best Sellers


Jason ‘Phats’ Hayward


Buying an acoustic guitar



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Autumn2008 0844 248 8117

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Making digital music




Fender Classic Player Jaguar Special HH review 0844 248 8117

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14/8/08 13:23:19


s of small homey embarked on a serie with their parents, the w to play, write and perform on the ho The Subways, country tours, learning the band, now called EPs. These are e, tim me sa way. At the ed ord ec lf-r ited-edition, se put out a series of lim collectors’ items. red ide ns co y ull now rightf

you have the that it can be done. If he Subways are proof nfidence and you’re willing to put co talent, if you have the hard yards, a band can come from the r ve co d an ft n’t involve in the gra bal competitors. It does nowhere to become glo estment, hype or a magazine l inv buckets of major-labe d of that particular five minutes. It’s un declaring you’re the so nation to follow through on it and mi ter de f, elie lf-b about se at shows. That’s at songs and play gre the ability to write gre e Subways one of the most inspiring Th precisely what’s made o why new chapters keep being als bands in Britain. And ng story… added to their fascinati ger called Billy Morgan in the arguably na tee a It begins with rden City, home hire town of Welwyn Ga unremarkable Hertfords es, forgotten ’90s punks S*M*A*S*H of goalkeeper David Jam d Wheat factory in the centre of town, de and, thanks to a Shred our. Having fallen in love at an early t od a surprisingly pleasan Nirvana and Oasis, Billy decided that as age with bands such nd of his own. Unable to find likehe wanted to form a ba persuaded his equally young girlfriend, ly minded musicians, Bil up the bass guitar, and his brother, k Charlotte Cooper, to pic drums. Billy re-christened himself the ng rni lea rt sta Josh, to g off in a van grandfather and, settin Lunn in honour of his



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THE SUBfarWisAY as that of 10,000 pretty much the same

d the three Their story so d recordings had turne bands, but the gigs an rock‘n’roll machine, experienced ine teenagers into a genu nd their years. In spring 2004, The yo be far d ne and harde etition with a unsigned band comp Subways entered an were Michael Eavis and clan, and s dif ference – the judge ing slot at that summer’s Glastonbury the prize was the open the challenges of the UK’s unsigned Festival. Brushing aside ddenly, The Subways found Su community, they won. nal stage, rocking the mudtio na the on es of viewers on themselv impressing thousands splattered crowd and y say, is history... the r Brothers, the BBC. The rest, as the attention of Warne The Subways attracted m their appearance at 2004’s up. Fro which snapped them 05, they became one of Britain’s 20 o int d Glastonbury an

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Charlotte Cooper, Billy Morgan (centre) and Josh Morgan 0844 248 8117

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From small-town Hertfordshire to appearances with some of the biggest names in the business, Robert Collins charts the ongoing rise of an inspirational UK act.





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iii e between have such a long tim “We never planned to Charlotte on one of the band’s rare ins us scenes the two albums,” expla e went on tour for over two years Side-stepping the vario road. “W must-see rock bands. built up only to be subsequently the m y all over fro s ak bre r Eternity. We got to pla wrote Fo g un Yo of that came and went – er-fickle British music media – they se ea rel we after the – and ev stralia, the US, Europe knocked down by the ir own terms. The gigs were wild – the world – Japan, Au this time. But during 2006 Billy started the on y rel y pu an ed m t wd fro succeed new songs throughou ging and we had to start cancelling rling himself into the cro with sin Billy’s penchant for hu came a nightly highlight, and the ms ble s pro g vin ha be of doctors’ visits, he wa cision available launch point debut album, Young For Eternity, After several months de s. a ow d sh an s, ord the ch d l de ca s on his vo that could singles that prece operation in KEYKIT diagnosed with polyp rden City had a band removed. He had the ng and be to m hinted that Welwyn Ga the time the album arrived, then, The the ON for LID E de TH ma was recoveri LIFTING D the next few months time to rehearse appeal to the world. By alongside the Arctic Monkeys as the THE SUBWAYS’ SOUN early 2007 and spent s thi ed ing us nd We sta ey . Th re ck A. ba we s US th Subway invasion of the his vocal streng g tish mainly Gibson SGof the ttin y Bri letely prepared ge t pla “I mp es y co lat Bill re the we of s e d make sure we uit and dropped twin spearhead an circ sics and Juniors becaus lly ow Clas nta sh k me ially tal for a month tru ent ht 07 ins ess 20 Nig e are Late dio in Jun de P-90 pickups, whichsingle-coil pickups. played the American . We went into the stu er and October to finish off.” Bait Shop in an episo ord nding the rec sou at y to ar nch pe cru ap to my ty for an AC-50 ck in Septemb into Orange Coun I use Vox amps –ACC for my low and then went ba de this album any series The OC. high end and an ma30C p am ic nk we could have ma through in the last ust thi of the teen drama TV um, All Or Nothing, was released aco n’t n do lly Fish a rea s “I plu – end en alb be son nd ’ve Gib co to my “What we The band’s se d crashed for the piezo I built-in other way,” insists Billy. trumental in making this album as signature model er a three-year gap an 335 Tom DeLongewh ins red tou en earlier this summer aft , welcomed back into the rock fold we be s en ha me ars e ye few that he gav t been for the time aves in 2006. I d out to be. Had it no wouldn’t have straight into the Top Ten y of fans who long craved for new ne with Angels & Airw tur s it’ I so as 335 od the go from arm cal surgery, I use stereo leads ic and electric with open arms by an love with. recovering from my vo , All Or Nothing or Strawberry t en split the acoust m on and sp can in l fal to Lostboy in their Subways tracks pickups and switchwthe songs like developed songs like all really important songs on the ee Subways – now all off during the shory.for are nk Life is good for the thr round of success wasn’t easily thi I ich Ma wh , and e nia Blond Kalifor recovering from the cond early 20s – but this se of life in a rock‘n’roll bubble had time was spent with me touring. And the rest of lot A tars . gui d um lan alb Lak use Charlotte “I lid years of achieved. The pressure and Charlotte’s romantic relationship, 2 head and an ry in 2007 after two so g the record.” with an Ampeg SVT al is the BOSS surge kin ma t en sp 8x10 cab. My main ped brought an end to Billy and lung-busting performances took s wa ve. I love my of that year g ODB-3 Bass Overdrilov solid lowwhile non-stop tourin chords – hence the three-year gap Lakland. It gives acomely, the h l wit ca ed TION producer – vo bin s ly’ end sound. This, what makes that their toll on Bil BUTCH COkinNgNthaEC E TH ty and All Or Nothing. rni Ete ord was its rdrive pedal, is nd that I use r rec Fo ove t g un Yo n ee betw portant ally in ma im beautiful distorted sou An on iconic records such .” sk set de our hind the through most of Butch Vig, the man be , Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream as Nirvana’s Nevermind Securing his services was final proof . and Sonic Youth’s Dirty come an important band – Vig isn’t d be ha s ay bw Su e Th t tha . ords with just anyone a guy who makes rec times when he was touring with few “We’d met him a e of our shows arlotte. “He came to on ly had Bil Garbage,” explains Ch t tha s him some demo in LA and we played ntact from then, but we never really co in pt ke .” produced. We to produce the album r favourite tch Bu g kin as of ht ug ou tho of h nc bu ge hu a to “We’d decided to listen ht producer for us,” recalls Billy. “We rig the wrote down CDs in order to find Butch when we initially didn’t actually include cause we never thought that he’d be the list of candidates what with him being this legendary – us th wi rk want to wo nny suburban and us being three ski r ce du pro s as -cl rld wo were at a bit English kids!” ral other producers, we “But after meeting seve e, “None seemed to understand arlott of a loss,” continues Ch record. We decided to take a the m fro d nte wa we at went over to wh some demos and we chance and send Butch ile he was mixing the Against Me wh New York to meet him excited by the demos and we loved ite qu ed em se record. He he had.” the production ideas a shot in the dark when we sent him e tak to ed cid “We de ly, “but he really s we’d done,” adds Bil that CD of all the demo t up for coffee and the rest is history! loved the songs. We me sically. The guy read our minds; we ba He was unbelievable,



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12/8/08 14:51:42



THE CREAM OF THE SUBWAYS’ CATALOGUE Young For Eternity The title track of their wham-bam-thankyou-ma’am debut album, Young For Eternity highlights everything that’s great about The Subways. A celebration of the pleasures of youth, highlighted by Josh’s thundering drums and Billy’s throat-melting vocals, Young For Eternity was too heavy to release as a single, but that didn’t dilute its undeniable greatness. Turnaround Could this highlight of All Or Nothing be the best Subways song to date? At the very least, it’s Charlotte’s finest vocal performance, the icing on the cake baked from the finest punk rock ingredients: a dash of Queens of the Stone Age, a few drops of Smashing Pumpkins and three heaped spoonfuls of Ramones. Tasty. 1am (demo) Widely available online, the demo’s scruffy recording can’t disguise the song’s canny simplicity and raw power. A minor riot of melody and rhythm clocking in at under two minutes, 1am perfectly demonstrated that something special was brewing in Welwyn Garden City...

ted the in soundchecks and tes write songs for this album to us ed nc ue infl nk this songs out on tour. I thi uld enjoy playing live. For wo we t tha s ng so ier d Boys av he first performed Girls An d an ote wr example, we nday tour.” on the Taking Back Su write album number two to ty rni ete Taking an en it’s try standard, but so oft has become an indus the tardy band’s popularity l in accompanied by a lul the potential problem facing The s wa is Th . es tun for d an n albums is a long time betwee a few ars ye ree Th d Subways. ha y the me the band if was still and no one could bla se ba fan ble cita ex their nerves about whether tour in late spring proved that the there. A low-key British and the presence to dominate es band still had the tun d on, but it would be outdoor are pe ap y the ge sta y everything an and the celebration of stages at Glastonbury Festival that would prove to be d metal at the Downloa ts. tes us litm l re so the crucia n’t have worried: “We’ URE It turns out they need waited for us!” enthuses tic tas fan SUB CULT se the all g yin have years, pla grateful that our fans y-style face “Being on tour for two ing countries to these crazy ily sported Paul Stanle day as pp az ha am o se wh the e, all ott in arl g Ch es venu re writin d Download the same ted the songs we we paint when they rocke g sold out, and every night audiences really affec ly. “We wrote all the time on rin sp Bil s ngs again, Kiss. “The tour thi during that time,” says s and self-analysis on this ppy to hear the old so es the audience were ha new ones. We were quite tour and all the crazin g were infused in all the vin and excited to hear the load performance as a lot of adventure we were ha up with. The more shows we wn ng mi co re nervous before our Do tioning whether we were heav y and material we we d the more balconies es an qu y en pla d ’ be d we r ha rde le ha op of people’s pe did, the think we changed a lot enough to perform. I day, and we loved being up speakers I’d dive off!” to a lot more music since t opinions about us tha y new crowd. It was a very “We’ve been exposed ,” adds Charlotte. “We’ve inl ty ma rni a Ete r of Fo nt g fro there in the Pyramid t also recording Youn music, like Refused, bu also us when we played on dday, and ier for av nt he me to mo ing en ud list pro been too. We were on at mi d up to Death Cab For Cutie. We Stage at Glastonbury, ne very melodic music, like azing live bands, like the Foo t so many people tur tha am d of people were so surprise lot a got to play with some Sunday. We wrote a lot of the re we re the d, mu ck watch us. Despite the Fighters and Taking Ba y. “We dancing , too!” d,” admits Billy candidl “We’d been quite worrie would remember us! It had ople wondered whether pe g to 30,000 people at midday yin pla t bu ile, wh s to rest been a really put those worrie on the Friday at Glasto think preparing for these festival .I ar was a and we had great fun touring we did this ye dates with all the early went on stage ready to rock it good idea, though. We whatever happened!” harged live shows are quickly The Subway ’s super-c national treasure, but there’s of a becoming something nd than hyperactive mosh ba the to re mo ch Because so mu s stage-diving habits. pits and Billy’s notoriou bands so frequently fall by the g in the big in an age when youn pe and promises of life wayside, blinded by hy for the workload heading their league but unprepared Subways have demonstrated way, the ever-charming nds with the drive to put in ba more than once that the rewards. Wild on stage but p the hard work can rea nd that’ll never make tabloid ba a is s thi it, off d exactly relaxe t the music – which is headlines. It’s all abou how it should be. MP album All Or Nothing is out t The Subways’ lates hers. ot Br er rn Wa on now

d so much wavelength and we ha were all on the same We were just pulling the songs . fun making this album th out of our sleeves!” tch Vig has worked wi Billy’s being modest. Bu rock musicians of the last ative some of the most cre seal of approval that’s putting his s it’ d an s de ca two de For a e that lof ty company. The Subways alongsid Billy’s displayed a remarkable s, writer barely into his 20 ums, possessing a genuine alb maturity over his two re elements behind what makes co s aided on understanding of the tural songwriter, he wa a great pop song. A na thm section’s development into All Or Nothing by his rhyl unit. More than anything, the a melodic and powerfu on- and off-stage turned up the adventures of the band the amps – for the songs on d excitement level – an o. tw er mb nu album




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12/8/08 14:52:00

“The Satchurator is the most musical, most dynamic, multi-function distortion pedal I’ve ever played through.” Joe Satriani


Drawing on Joe Satriani’s knowledge accumulated from decades of groundbreaking performances, both live and in the studio, VOX unveils a breakthrough in guitar tone – The Satchurator™ distortion pedal. Designed to Satriani’s exact specifications. The Satchurator produces Satriani’s signature tone and adds new features and improvements never before combined in a distortion pedal. Featured on Joe’s new release, ‘Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock’.

photo courtesy of™ manufactures state-of-the-art portable sound booths and isolation enclosures for the professional, home recording and broadcast studio.

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To learn more about our products please contact us at™ or or call Dolphin Music on 0844 248 8117.

8/7/08 2:46:04 PM


The latest gear and events for bands, players and DJs

Take ultimate control of Cubase

Steinberg teams up with Yamaha to develop the most integrated front-end controller ever for Cubase 4 Who better to build a fully integrated hardware controller for Cubase 4 than Steinberg, the developers of Cubase itself? Designed in collaboration with Yamaha, who acquired Steinberg from Pinnacle in 2004, the new CC121 Advanced Integration Controller replicates many of the essential software features of the Cubase mixing environment in hardware. It enables you to distance yourself from the confines of the mouse for a more tactile approach to mixing. The CC121 has a single 100mm motorised touch-sensitive fader, which can be used to take control of any channel in Cubase. Alongside the fader is a dedicated pan knob and a selection of channel control buttons, for solo/mute, record arm, automation read/write and effects settings.

Alongside this is a bank of 12 rotary encoders and six buttons designed to provide you with full control of Cubase’s built-in 4-band parametric EQ. With these sections alone you’d have a powerful controller that would make mixing in Cubase a more enjoyable experience. However, the CC121 doesn’t end there. You also get an eight-button transport section, jog wheel and an innovative Ultra-Precision Advanced Integration Controller knob which can be assigned to any visual parameter in Cubase by simply clicking on it. The CC121 is plug-and-play compatible with Cubase 4 with no additional setup or parameter assigning necessary before you get started, and

Brass and woodwind events at Dolphin Music stores Want to play an instrument, but not sure how to start? Now’s your chance as Dolphin Music stores are hosting a series of events aimed at helping you choose an instrument. First of all Dolphin has teamed up with Yamaha to demonstrate a variety of brass and woodwind instruments. Yamaha representatives will be in Dolphin Music stores to answer questions. The Huddersfield store will be showcasing the saxophone on 15 November with Rico Reeds, Cannonball Saxophones and sax legend Snake Davis. While the Gateshead store will be staging a World Of Brass Weekend, with special discounts available on a range of instruments. For more details, call the relevant store; details are in the box, right.

WHERE AND WHEN 18 September Gateshead Store Back To School, Yamaha 2pm-8pm 20 September Huddersfield Store Back To School, Yamaha 10am-4pm 15 November Huddersfield Store Saxophone day. 10am-4pm 14-16 November Gateshead Store World Of Brass Weekend. Normal opening hours 18 October Huddersfield Store Clarinet Day. 10am-4pm Huddersfield Store 01484 427455 Gateshead Store 0191 493 2244

includes a Cubase Ready LED, which shows when the unit is connected and ready to use. The CC121 Advanced Integration Controller will be available in the autumn and could prove to be the ultimate hardware front end for project studio owners using Cubase 4. Pricing is yet to be announced, so keep a keen eye on the Dolphin website for more details.

JBL ANNOUNCES CONTROL 2P Achieving a detailed reference mix in small environments is about to get easier, thanks to the JBL Control 2P Compact Powered Reference Monitors. The Control 2P is a 5-inch 2-way powered stereo system boasting a high output level without distortion and a linear frequency response with impressive low-frequency performance for its size. jbl’s specifications claim a low end that runs right down to 80Hz, with a maximum SPL of 115dB. The system includes two speakers, one of which incorporates the 35 Watts per channel power amplification and user controls – including a highfrequency contour – while the other speaker is a passive system. In addition the JBL Control 2P speakers have a built-in headphone jack and are magnetically shielded, so they can be placed near your computer monitor without interference. 0844 248 8117

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It’s not often that a new software synth builds the kind of anticipation that has surrounded Spectrasonic’s new Omnisphere since it was first announced at NAMM in January this year. However, Omnisphere is no ordinary virtual instrument, promising to deliver unique and innovative sounds using a variety of real-time synthesis techniques combined with a huge library of psychoacoustic sounds. Omnisphere is based on Spectrasonic’s new STEAM audio engine, which is capable of variable waveshaping synthesis, granular synthesis, timbre shifting FM, polyphonic ring modulation and sample playback among other techniques. Omnisphere will be released on 15 September. Pricing is yet to be confirmed.


IK Multimedia’s Total Workstation line of sample instruments, powered by SampleTank are now available pre-installed on the Muse Research Receptor hardware plug-in player. The Total Workstation Rack combines SampleTank 2.5, Sonik Synth 2, Mirsolav Philharmonik, SampleMoog and SampleTron with the Receptor’s unique hardware to create a powerful hardware instrument. Over 10,000 sample-based sounds are included, and with Muse Research’s UniWire technology they can be integrated into any DAW as a normal instrument plug-in without putting any strain on the host computer’s CPU.

INTO THE BLUE WITH DOLPHIN Blue Microphones has grown from a small firm making hand-built microphones in California to one of the most innovative developers in the world. These mics, including the new Dragonfly large-diaphragm condenser (Dolphin ID 35877, £449) are now exclusively available in the UK through Dolphin Music. The Dragonfly will be joined by the rest of Blue’s range, which includes dynamics, the Woodpecker ribbon mic, a wide range of smalland large-diaphragm condensers and three tube-based large-diaphragm condensers. Dolphin will also be stocking Blue’s specialist high-specification audio cables.



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Unleash the digital DJ within

Serato and Numark have been collaborating to develop their new high-end NS7 product that’s specifically aimed at digital DJs. The fruits of Numark’s partnership with Serato Audio Research have been revealed with the release of the new NS7 computer DJ system. The NS7 system combines two motorised seven-inch turntable platters with a 2-in/4-out audio interface and a DJ-orientated MIDI control surface. The two turntables use a direct-drive mechanism and feature adjustable torque with a real vinyl surface to give you a professional turntable feel. Control and audio signals from the NS7 are sent over USB 2.0, with control signals providing more than double the resolution of standard MIDI. This gives you an even greater level of control over your mixing, improved accuracy

of scratching and better response in Serato’s ITCH software. The system also provides dedicated MIDI controls for many of the functions available in the software. However, these are all assignable to different controls, should the need arise. The audio section has a single balanced 1/4-inch input for use with microphones, and stereo RCA inputs for use with other line-level DJ equipment. Separate outputs for the main speakers (on both XLR and RCA) and booth monitors (RCA) enable you to set up pre-mixes from the booth, or from the headphones. NS7 is expected to be available later this year. Dolphin ID 37711 Price £899

New exotic Dean guitars FIND A NEW REASON Propellerhead is giving you the opportunity to expand your sonic palette in Reason with the launch of three new bundles. Propellerhead Studio Combo bundles together all four Reason hypersampled sound libraries – Reason Drum Kits, Reason Pianos, Abbey Road Keyboards and Reason Electric Bass – for a price of just £199. The Propellerhead Rhythm Combo combines the Reason Drum Kits and Reason Electric Bass for only £119. And the flagship bundle Reason Premium Edition includes all four sample libraries along with a full copy of Reason 4 for just £399. Whether you only need to expand your rhythm tools, your entire sonic arsenal or you’re looking at taking the leap into Reason 4 for the first time, there is a bundle for you. And with these extra instruments added to your collection you should have all the sounds you’ll need for every occasion.

Dean Guitars have a range of new electric guitars available, including the ML Exotic and ML Knight. Both of these guitars has a 24.75-inch scale mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard. Dean’s signature stylings are evident on each of the new models, with a variety of different finishes available for each. With exotic woods like Bubinga, Mapa Burl and Spault, top-quality hardware including Dean Humbucker or EMG pickups and a Floyd Rose tremolo on the ML Knight these new guitars are sure to sound as good as they look. Each of the woods has its own unique look, feel and tone so be sure to try each of them out to find the best instrument for you. Final pricing has yet to be decided, but by the time you read this the new models should be available. Call or visit Dolphin Music for more details. 0844 248 8117 0844 248 8117

14/8/08 13:47:37


David Gilmour signature model

Fender Custom Shop set to honour David Gilmour by reproducing his signature Black Strat for mere mortals to own and play… Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour is being honoured by the Fender Custom Shop with a signature guitar based on his famous Black Strat. Gilmour’s Black Strat has been a cornerstone of the Pink Floyd sound, defining the tone of many of Gilmour’s greatest guitar solos. Featured extensively on Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall and his recent solo album On An Island, the Black Strat has recently won a vote in Guitarist Magazine for the best ever guitar tone, with readers singling out the 1979 track Comfortably Numb as the guitar’s finest moment. Developed by the Fender Custom Shop in conjunction with Gilmour and his long-standing guitar tech Phil Taylor, the David Gilmour Signature Series Stratocaster is a complete reproduction of the look, feel and sound of Gilmour’s Black Strat. It

features a black lacquer over three-colour sunburst alder body with a black pickguard, one-piece maple neck, custom pickups and electronics, and a shortened vintage tremolo arm. The guitar is available in two variants; The Relic (£3,200), with aged parts and worn paint, and the New Old Stock model (£2,700) with all-new parts and finish and an additional white plastic backplate. Both come in a custom black case by G & G, with plush green lining and embroidered logo, a set of GHS David Gilmour signature strings, an Evidence Audio cable, a deluxe Fender strap and a David Gilmour plectrum. You’ll also get a copy of David’s three-disc Live In Gdansk CD/DVD and Phil Taylor’s book The Black Strat, which chronicles the guitar from 1970’s Atom Heart Mother to now. Both models should be available in November.

EVENT OPAL DEVELOPMENT BEARS FRUIT Event Electronics has recently completed the development of a whole new range of monitors, which the company hopes will set a new standard for nearfield monitors.

The Event Opal has been designed by Marcelo Vercelli as an 8-inch, 2-way speaker with the same dynamic and extended mid-range as the most expensive 3-way systems. To achieve this, Marcelo and the Event R&D team have developed innovative new technologies at every stage, including completely redesigned woofers, tweeters, amplifiers and cabinets. The EX8 driver operates from 30Hz to 10kHz with power handling of up to a staggering 1000 Watts, while the high-power neodymium motor offers 24mm of linear excursion, aimed at creating an extremely detailed and responsive low end. The unique X-Coil system increases the driver speed and lowers total harmonic distortion, resulting in a mid-range that Event claims surpasses even the best 3-way systems. The range will include two further monitors, which share the same DNA as the Opal, the Type 25 and Type 28. All are expected soon. Check the Dolphin Music website for more details.

Ultra-Pure Professional Valve Oil is used by some of the greatest trumpeters, including Wynton Marsalis, Dave Douglas and Arturo Sandoval. It keeps your valves playing smoothly and prevents them sticking or behaving sluggishly, even in incredibly dry locations and under stressful touring conditions. The oil is non-toxic, odourless, and long-lasting, ensuring your playing experience is kept as enjoyable as possible. Dolphin ID 38364 Price £4.99


Legendary Manchester venue Band On The Wall has been awarded a £3.2 million redevelopment grant by the Arts Council of England and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The aim is to provide new facilities for performances, education, recording and a music archive. The venue has been important for local bands, including Joy Division, The Buzzcocks and Art Blakey. Building work on the venue has already begun, and it’s scheduled to re-open in Spring 2009. Contact 0161 834 1786

Big sounds in little packages Ashdown Engineering has launched two new diminutive bass amps that will fit easily in your gig bag, but fill the room with sound when hooked up to a bass cabinet. The Little Giant 350 and 1000 weigh just 3kg and 3.5kg respectively, but provide you with a whopping 350 or 1000 Watts of amplification and a powerful range of features. Both pack switchable active/passive instrument inputs, a 7-band parametric EQ, Deep and Shape switches and EQ bypass, along with separate i/o level control and metering. Combination 1/4-inch jack and Speakon outputs are included with a pre/post switchable DI output. 350 is available now, the 1000 is due mid-Sept. Dolphin ID 35477 (Little Giant 350) Price £225 Dolphin ID 35478 (Little Giant 1000) Price £325 0844 248 8117

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14/8/08 13:48:08

dolphin deals Here at Dolphin Music, we like to give that little bit extra to our loyal customers. So, as well as giving you this cool magazine to keep you well informed of what’s hot in the music industry, we have put together a great selection of our best and most exciting deals. This is only a small selection of what we have to offer, so we have tried our very best to display a varied mixture of goodies from across our (huge!) range. We understand that everyone is different, so if nothing here fits the bill, please call or email one of our dedicated team of experts and they will be delighted to help you.

Happy shopping! Prices correct at time of print, phone or check online for latest prices.






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Portable recorders have come of age lately, offering high-resolution recording and a wealth of features squeezed into devices no larger than an iPod...

Yamaha Pocketrak 2G £215 Dolphin ID 35408 The Pocketrak 2G has many of the same features you’d find on other portable recorders, but it’s small enough to fit in your pocket. Weighing in at only 49 grams, the Pocketrak 2G is the smallest portable recorder currently available. Squeezed in alongside the retractable USB jack and cutting-edge Eneloop battery is a built-in stereo microphone that tilts up to 90 degrees, while a built-in speaker enables you to audition your recordings on the move. The built-in solid-state hard disk can store up to two gigabytes of audio and can be used as an MP3 player. It can also serve as a data stick for storing and transferring non-audio data.

M-Audio MicroTrack II £199 Dolphin ID 33304 M-Audio’s MicroTrack II builds on the success of the previous model by extending the input range of the built-in microphone preamps, enabling you to record with extra gain to capture quieter sources without internal noise problems. To prevent the preamps being overloaded when turned up, M-Audio has also built-in an analogue limiter that cuts the input gain when the signal strength exceeds the threshold, ensuring distortion-free recordings. Like the original model, the MicroTrack II has balanced 1/4-inch inputs capable of delivering 48V phantom power to professional microphones.

Edirol R-09HR £247.95 Dolphin ID 36261 The R-09HR initially appears to be a minor update of the successful R-09 design, with the option of recording at sample rates of 96kHz instead of the 24-bit/48kHz maximum recording resolution of the R-09. But it doesn’t stop there. Edirol has fitted the R-09HR with an OLED screen and improved the circuit design and built-in microphones to reduce the noise floor of your recordings. Furthermore, the Edirol R-09HR has a built-in speaker, enabling you to listen to your recordings without the need for additional speakers or headphones.



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Autumn2008 0844 248 8117

14/8/08 14:06:02

Zoom H2 Handy Recorder £149 Dolphin ID 24689

››› Portable Digital Recorders

Zoom’s H2 Handy Recorder goes one step further than the competition by providing you with two pairs of stereo microphones. The front pair are set at 90 degrees to each other, while the rear pair provide a wider stereo field, set apart at 120 degrees. You can use either stereo pair individually or capture a surround recording using all four microphones simultaneously, enabling you to take advantage of a variety of recording techniques including quadrophonic surround sound. The H2 also doubles as a USB microphone when attached to your PC or Mac, bypassing the internal SD card memory and providing up to four channels of audio directly to your DAW via USB.

Tascam DR-1

£219 Dolphin ID 36208

The Variable-Angle Microphone Mechanism built-in to Tascam’s DR-1 enables you to angle the microphones to point directly at the source even when the recorder is placed flat on a table. Also built-in to the DR-1 are some useful effects, including an analogue limiter and auto-gain control, a low-cut filter and a useful instrument tuner. There’s also a vocal-cancel feature that can be used to strip the vocals from the centre channel of a recording. The DR-1 also enables you to overdub recordings, so you can make primitive sound-on-sound recordings without needing a DAW.

Korg MR-1 1-bit £449 Dolphin ID 24572 While almost every other digital recording device we’ve come across uses PCM recording at bit rates of 16–24-bit and sample rates of 96 or even 192kHz, Korg has adopted the advanced 1-bit DSD recording format, which is also used by SACDs. This format has a frequency response that goes all the way up to 100kHz and has a staggering dynamic range of 120dB. In addition to the unusual recording format, the MR-1 has a 20GB internal hard drive and comes with Korg’s AudioGate software for converting recordings into the more standard PCM file formats.


To buy, or for expert advice call

0844 248 8117 Or logon at And enter the Dolphin ID in the Search box at the top-left of the screen. 0844 248 8117

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14/8/08 14:06:35

what a revolution sounds like. Korg first defined the concept of the workstation with the legendary M1. Now, the new M3 Music Workstation/Sampler revolutionises everything a workstation is and all it can do for you. The M3’s all-new OASYS-derived Enhanced Definition Synthesis delivers sounds so realistic you’ll swear you’re coaxing them from the instruments themselves. Second generation KARMA interactive phrase-generating technology fluidly adapts as you play, creating shifting musical backgrounds to fuel the imagination. Capture and further shape your playing with a new hi-res sequencer and advanced sampler. Take command of your musical performances with a powerful control surface, dynamic drumpads, and the colour touch screen’s KAOSS capability. Plus, you can use the M3 with your computer as virtualised hardware with the included plug-in editor software, and single cable audio/MIDI communication via the EXB-Firewire option. Only Korg brings so much sonic power, inspiration and flexibility to a single instrument. The M3 defines a new class of workstation that sounds, and is, awesome.

M3. A SONIC REVOLUTION. Download the free update from

KARMA® (Kay Algorithmic Realtime Music Architecture) and the KARMA Logo are registered trademarks representing patented technology licensed from Stephen Kay, Karma Lab LLC,

In practice

Making digital music


Computer-based recording has redefined music production in recent years, trading traditional musical conventions such as the ability to play an instrument or the need to understand compositional ‘rules’ for a passion for music and a keen ear for how a track is pieced together. In particular, the advent of loop-based audio applications such as Ableton Live and GarageBand has enabled composers to experiment with the


In this feature we’re going to break down the process of creating a loop-based track using a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Although we’re going to concentrate on just two entry-level DAWs – Steinberg’s Sequel 2 and Ableton’s Live LE – the same principles can be applied to any contemporary audio application.

THE BUILDING BLOCKS Listen to any piece of music and you should be able to identify a number of key building blocks that

yourself, many DAWs come with a wealth of loop-based content designed to help you build up your tracks piece by piece, using the various components as you see fit. In the absence of any beat-matching technology, though, this ‘jigsaw puzzle’ approach can soon become a cacophony, but thanks to a DAW’s ability to automatically time stretch loops, everything should stay in perfect sync irrespective of the original tempo the loop was played at.


building blocks of music, layering different drum loops, bass lines and so on to create a kind of musical collage. Indeed, with just a laptop and a splash of imagination you could be creating release-quality music in matter of hours. As inspiring as this all seems, though, the task of putting together your first track can seem rather daunting. With so many different applications to choose from – not to mention a seemingly endless list of terminology and no clear step-by-step explanations of the progression from A to B – it’s all too easy to get lost in technicalities rather than enjoying the process of making music. However, by breaking down the task into the key essential steps and acquiring a better understanding of the possibilities offered by the various software packages, you can soon start assembling your own music with little or no previous experience.

make up the track: drums, bass, maybe some keyboard and guitar hooks, and vocals. Although you can choose to play these parts

Is your PC up to it? Most off-the-shelf computers should be more than capable of running a basic audio application. However, you’ll need to ensure that you’ve got around six Gigabytes of free drive space if the package includes a large amount of looped sound content. is commonly termed an Arrange page. The Arrange page shows the progression of the song over time from left to right, organised into a

Once you’ve selected the appropriate loops from the DAW’s media browser, you can start to assemble your song using what

➥ ➥

TOOLS OF THE TRADE Choosing the right application

Ableton Live LE £94.99 Dolphin ID 33245

Steinberg Sequel 2 £69 Dolphin ID 28038

Apple Logic Express 8 £129 Dolphin ID 33445

Live LE is the entry-level version of Ableton Live, an application that’s fast becoming one of the most popular means of creating loopbased music both in the studio and on stage. The learning curve is slightly steeper than packages like Sequel or GarageBand, but it’s packed with tools and features that make it, in essence, a thoroughly professional product.

Built on the same technology that powers Steinberg’s popular professional audio application Cubase, Sequel is an easy-to-use and intuitive solution for those starting out in music production. There’s more than 6GB of audio content included with the application, and the range of functions is wide enough to include all of the essential features of a typical studio-based DAW.

The cut-down version of Apple Logic Studio, Logic Express 8 offers the same powerful production tools as its big brother, including full notation and 24-bit/192kHz resolution. Plus you get 36 instrument plug-ins and 70 effect plugins from the full version of Logic. It’s a bit more expensive than the other two offerings here, but you do get a lot of stuff included. 0844 248 8117

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Taking your first steps in music production needn’t be too taxing thanks to the huge choice of intuitive, loop-based audio packages out there. Mark Cousins puts you in the picture.




14/8/08 14:33:35

NOCTURN - The Stylish Automatic Intelligent Plug-in Controller Nocturn is an intelligent desktop controller that gives every plug-in the pimpin’ of its life. Just boot up a plug-in and the parameters automatically assign to each control. Nocturn combines eight touch-sensitive dials, eight buttons and a cross-fader with Novation’s unique ‘speed dial’ and exclusive Automap Universal 2.0 software to deliver the most lethal plug-in controller in history. Check it;

Checkt! dis ou

Understand the difference! Novation’s Automap Universal 2.0 delivers a whole new level of software control Nocturn’s transparent control GUI lets you check at a glance how everything is assigned. Instant ‘learn’ function lets you re-assign every control in seconds. Simply click and touch. Each encoder has a bright eleven-LED ring; ideal for laptop DJ’ing in a dark club environment. Novation’s unique ‘speed dial’ lets you instantly take control of whatever your mouse is focused on!

Custom transparent GUI; check at a glance how each control is assigned

To see how your plug-ins can be officially pimped, visit

For more details call 0844 248 8117 or visit

In practice

are the differences between the two types of loops presented to you. One loop type, for example, will display a waveform view of the material contained within it. This type of loop is known as an audio file (it can also be referred to as an audio clip or audio event) and contains an actual recording of an instrument or phrase, whether it’s two or four bars of acoustic drums, a piano melody or something else. As they’re based on actual recordings, an audio loop tends to provide plenty of authenticity and ‘flavour’, although, as we’ll see in a minute, the authenticity might be at the expense of a certain degree of flexibility. The other principal type of loop breaks down the ‘information’ into two constituent components – the raw note data (also referred to as MIDI data) and an accompanying software-based virtual instrument. In Sequel 2, for example, this is called an Instrument Part, with the MIDI data displaying as a series of blobs, and controls (available from the track’s Inspector) provided to modify certain qualities and parameters relating to the instrument. Although more complicated than a straightforward audio event, an Instrument Part offers powerful flexibility, enabling you to change the pitch and duration of each note as well as the character of the sound used to play it – maybe changing it from a deep, subby hip-hop bass patch to a buzzy electronic bass sound, for example.



Create a new Project (select File>New Project) and open the MediaBay at the bottom of the window. From here, you can specify various criteria to narrow down your search to ten or so different loops.


Drag the loop into the Arrange Zone and Sequel will create a new track for it. Add further instruments and loops to subsequent tracks as you require, selecting the various parts from the MediaBay.


Start to piece together your arrangement, either by dragging the small arrow on the right-hand side of the loops to extend them or copying a loop to another location by holding down the [Alt] key and dragging.


Now open the Mixer page and start to balance the levels of the respective tracks. You can also apply effects (such as reverb and EQ) to each loop by clicking on the Track Inspector tab.

series of different tracks, such as bass, drums, guitars and so on; loops that you’ve selected from the media browser can be dragged onto a corresponding track lane. The loops are represented as a series of blocks that indicate their duration. As you duplicate and move these blocks around the screen – perhaps bringing certain crucial loops in at the start of the piece with others coming in later – you effectively start to structure your song. Alongside the basic techniques and tools for copying and duplicating loops, you will also find a number of other Arrange tools that enable you to further refine how the loops are used in the song. Rather than using the whole loop, for example, you could choose to slice small segments from


it using the Scissors tool – losing a beat to provide a suitable musical pause, perhaps, or cutting out smaller elements of the sound (an individual note or drum hit, for example) to be used elsewhere in the song. If you’ve used ‘tuned’ loops – a bass line played in the key of C major, for example, or a guitar strumming a chord – you may need to adjust the relative transposition of the loop up or down to match the key of the other material. In some

cases, it might be that the loops automatically conform to your song’s existing key signature settings. If not, you can adjust the Transposition parameter and perform the job by ear (a technique that can also be the source of some interesting creative tuning effects).


Important points to note as you start to assemble the various loops you’ve selected into a finished piece 0844 248 8117

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Determining where the loops come in and out of your track is very important in terms of musicality. It’s also just as important to consider how it’s mixed: putting additional emphasis on particular loops, for example, as well as effects (reverb or compression, perhaps) that you might want to use to change how a loop sits in the mix. In addition to the Arrange View of your song, a DAW will also present you with a Mixer View. On this screen each track is displayed horizontally, along with a variety of tools to change how the track and, of course, the mix as a whole sounds. The process of creating a good mix begins with carefully considering the level and pan settings for each



➥ ➥


14/8/08 14:30:24

In practice

loop. All of the various elements playing together at high volume will make for an uneasy listening experience and probably result in distortion across your main output (also indicated by red peak LEDs lighting up). A better approach, therefore, is to structure the principal instruments and build the additional supporting elements around them, ensuring that individual elements all have space to breathe. Pan, of course, sets the relative position of the loop in the stereo image, from the left speaker to the right speaker. With everything panned centrally your mix might begin to sound cluttered and ill-defined, so



actively exploit the full width of the stereo image to give better definition and focus between the loops.


Further manipulating the sound of the individual loops will require the use of some form of effects plug-in. Typical effects include equalisation (this changes the relative timbre of the sound by raising or lowering different frequencies in much the same way as the treble and bass controls on a hi-fi), compression (used to squash the dynamic range of loop and effectively make it sound

‘louder’ and more intense) and reverb (which simulates the effects of room ambience). By mixing and matching effects (usually placed in series in the signal path) you can control how the loop appears in the mix, maybe applying some compression and bright equalisation to make one loop sit towards the front of the mix, while another has reverb and a darker equalisation applied to sit it at the back. Getting creative with plug-ins enables you to bring individuality to the loops and the track as a whole. More extreme plug-ins – Auto Filter,


Erosion, Redux and so on – can distort and re-shape a loop to the extent that’s it’s unrecognisable from its original form. Equally, using automation – which adjusts the settings of faders, pan pots and effects over time – will make your mix more dynamic and interesting.


The final part of the creative process is to export your mix as a two-track, stereo audio file, in an audio format that’s suitable for your particular objective. Use a high-resolution, uncompressed format such as a 24-bit, 44.1kHz .WAV file if you want to burn the mix to a CD-R. Alternatively, create a compressed MP3 file, which renders down the mix to reduce file size. This format is preferable if the file is being uploaded to the internet – to a MySpace page, for example – or being sent via email.



Click on the Arrangement View Selector (top right) to set the Arrangement View. Open the File Browser to browse your loops, which can include clips files from Live 7 LE’s content as well as .WAV files from your own collection.


Double-clicking on a loop will enable you to view its properties. In this case we can see the results of the tempo-matching process, and we also have the option to change parameters such as tuning.

What we’ve explored here are the techniques and processes of producing music with loops, but equally, it’s also been a perfect opportunity to introduce the concepts of a DAW and how music and audio is handled in the digital domain. As you’ll soon find out, this way of working is great for both kick-starting the creative process as well as learning how to use a DAW, enabling you to achieve professional-sounding results with the minimum of fuss. As we’ll see, though, mastering this process and learning how to turn raw ideas into a finished piece of music take time to perfect, but with many exciting tools and possibilities to discover along the way, it’s a journey well worth undertaking. MP

Next time 3


Importing a MIDI-based clip gives you even more control over the clip’s properties than you have with audio clips. In this example, the Grid Editor is being used to re-program the drum loop from scratch.


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Live LE’s Session View is a more traditional mixer interface. From here you can balance the various elements and shape your mix or apply further effects to the loops in the Live Set.

In next issue’s In Practice we’ll be taking a look at the principles behind acoustic treatment and considering how you might be able to improve the sound of your studio. 0844 248 8117

14/8/08 14:26:52



12:11 pm

Page 1

Elegance, innovation and personalisation combine to create NUMA - the first professional keyboard controller to realise that not everyone plays the same way.

The new Studiologic Grand Touch keyboard features our most sophisticated graded touch action yet. Increased throw-distance simulates a full concert grand piano.

Using new touch-sensitive technology, the userinterface allows clear, efficient and intuitive programming.

The most advanced custom velocity response system ever developed guides you quickly and easily to your personal optimum dynamic touch.

Slide the aluminium cover to increase surface area for your laptop or other control surface. Also includes removable transparent music stand.

Untitled-1 1

1/7/08 10:16:09

Planet Gear WIN



Want a guitar that stands out from the crowd, and has big-name quality? Martyn Casserly straps on the new Fender Classic Player Jaguar and rediscovers an overlooked masterpiece. £569.99 Dolphin ID 37747 (Sunburst) Dolphin ID 37748 (White)


When Fender first introduced the Jaguar back in 1962 it took the world by surprise. Gone was the brutal simplicity of the Telecaster or Strat, replaced instead by a more complicated beast that boasted some unusual features. Although initially only a moderate success, it wasn’t until the early nineties when bands such as Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Placebo, and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers adopted the Jag as their weapon of choice that its potential was finally realised. Now Fender has added it to its Classic Player range, making the Jaguar more affordable than ever and opening up its unique vibe to us all.


The first things that catch the eye are all the switches and dials. In total there are eight, but don’t let this put you off, they all make sense in no time at all and are the heart of the guitar’s flexibility. On the upper horn are a slider switch and two dials. The slider is a kill-switch, which totally mutes the guitar once engaged (handy for those tremolo moments that you want to control by hand). The two other controls allow you to dial-in single coil or humbucker tones for each individual pickup – always handy. On the lower section of the body are three slider switches, two of which simply turn the neck or bridge pickups on or off. The third is a low-cut filter, which essentially takes some of the bass out of the signal allowing the tone to stick out more. Lastly, of course, we have master volume and tone controls complete with vintage-style knobs. Visually the Jaguar is stunning. From its body shape that resembles a lopsided strat (shared of course with the


Construction ➔ Alder body, maple neck ➔ Rosewood fingerboard ➔ 24-inch scale length ➔ 22 medium jumbo frets ➔ Dot inlays Hardware ➔ Chrome-plated control panels ➔ Adjusto-Matic bridge ➔ Vintage-style floating tremolo ➔ Tremolo lock ➔ Vintage-style tuners Electronics ➔ Two Enforcer humbuckers ➔ Tonal blend controls ➔ Kill-switch ➔ Low-cut filter control ➔ Master volume and tone controls ➔ Fender Super 250R (10-46) strings Extras ➔ Deluxe gigbag

ACCESSORIES Essential add-ons

Fender Mini ‘57 Twin Amp £32.41 Dolphin ID 34131 Not just a practice amp this little beauty – former Black Crowes guitarist Marc Ford can be seen recording with one on YouTube.

Ibanez TS9DX Tubescreamer Turbo £79 Dolphin ID 16003 Adds a Mode switch with four distinct preamp voicings to the original TS-9’s Drive, Tone and Level knobs.

Jazzmaster), through to the chrome-covered control plates and tremolo, the retro vibe is tangible. Originally meant to appeal to surf-rock players of the sixties, the design still looks exciting and edgy today, offering a viable alternative for those who want to play something a little bit different.


The 22-fret rosewood neck features a shorter 24-inch scale-length (as opposed to the regular Fender 25.5-inch), which seems to soften the string tension a touch, making the guitar very comfortable to play. Add to this the spongy tremolo system, which is perfect for those 50s-style wobbles, and suddenly the Jaguar has an effect on you. Rather than the normal riffs that might leap almost subconsciously from your fingers, somehow the feel, look, and general originality of the guitar coaxes you into different areas. Altered chords appear, stranger voicings, it’s almost as if the Jag knows something you don’t and wants to share. Whatever it is – I like it!


With clean tones the Jaguar is crisp and full-bodied. Dialling in the humbuckers warms up the sound without it becoming muffled, and switching the pickups back and forth reveals pleasing combinations. With overdrive the two Enforcer humbuckers really show their class. You’d always expect some spank and grit from a Fender, but these pickups add more grunt and attitude. Lead lines soar, while angry rhythm work is rewarded with excellent open tones. Put them together with the kill-switch and you’ve got a real modern workhorse with bags of retro cool. Obviously surf-style players will enjoy the Jag, but alt-rockers will also find much to make them smile. MP

➔VERDICT ● Great looks ● Huge tonal flexibility ● Classic Fender sounds ● Easy to play ● Originality In a world of ‘me-too’ manufacturers the refreshing nature of the Jaguar is a welcome relief. Classy looks, plenty of tonal options, and great feel. If you’re stuck in a rut, this kitty might well dig you right out.


To buy, or for expert advice call

0844 248 8117 Or logon at And enter the Dolphin ID in the Search box at the top-left of the screen. 0844 248 8117

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14/8/08 14:10:06

24097 - PocketTrak ad -MP



Page 1








48 HOuRs on the scene in... It’s officially Britains’ Most Musical City and European Capital of Culture 2008, so what better place to take in some gigs? The Liverpool Echo’s Jade Wright explains.


rom the heady days of the Cavern, through Eric’s, the house music years at Cream and now Korova and The Zanzibar Club where The Coral and The Zutons were spawned, Liverpool’s music scene is intrinsically linked to the venues that inspired it. A stone’s throw from the rehearsal rooms The Zutons share with the city’s up-and-coming unsigned acts lies Mathew Street. It’s the top spot on the itineraries of the thousands of tourists who make the pilgrimage to get their pictures taken next to the statue of John Lennon, buy a souvenir or wander down the steps of the rebuilt Cavern Club – the original closed in 1973 and was demolished by Liverpool City Council. But, while they may have come to tread the same steps as John, Paul, Ringo and George, they also take time to look at the spot where Eric’s once saw the birth of the second great wave of Liverpool bands, including the Mighty Wah!, Echo and the Bunnymen and the Teardrop Explodes. Wandering further along the street music wafts from the many pubs and bars hosting the stars of the future in return for a few quid and a pint of Liverpool’s finest Cains beer. Mathew Street in 2008 seems worlds away from the dingy sidestreet of legend, and mixed in with the salty breeze from the Atlantic is an unmistakable sense of optimism. Liverpool is a small city, easily navigable on foot. In minutes you can stroll from Mathew Street to the Philharmonic Hall via the Neoclassical splendours of St George’s Hall, passing scores of live music venues on your way. The problem is choosing which to visit…

Friday evening (late) Korova – 39-41 Fleet Street

With a clientele which reads like a who’s who of Liverpool’s music scene, start your time in the city with the uber-cool kings of the indie scene.


Korova is a bar run by electrorockers Ladytron. Arctic Monkeys usually pop in when they’re in town and Dave McCabe from The Zutons is never far away. In fact, one look around shows that everyone there is in a band. Some are working there, others drinking. There’s normally a singer or two behind the bar, and a drummer supervising a delivery outside. They host live bands every weekend, and Friday nights are always popular. The Rascals, Mark Ronson, Rumble Strips, The Kooks and of course Ladytron have all played there recently. There’s a restaurant in the back room – every bit the epitome of shabby chic, lots of antiques and thick red velvet – that’s surprisingly good value. Their jambalaya rice balls are fantastic, and at £8, there’s still change for one of their great speciality beers. At 11pm each night the restaurant is transformed into a dancefloor, where you can dance until the wee small hours. If you’re planning on going, log onto their website and become a member first, it’s free and it will get you a 20% discount on food and drink.

or... Barfly – 90 Seel Street If you fancy something a bit more hectic, head down to packed student favourite Barfly. With three spaces and live music every night, they take bookings from signed and unsigned bands from all over the world, although competition for slots is tough. 0844 248 8117

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Korova 39-41 Fleet Street t 0151 709 7097 Barfly 90 Seel Street t 0844 847 2424



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12/8/08 14:55:21

Ellie Laycock


Hard Day’s Night Hotel, McCartney suite

Saturday (early)

Mathew Street

Mathew Street

venuedetails The Grapes 25 Mathew Street t 0151 255 1525 The White Star 2-4 Rainford Gardens t 0151 231 6861

Hard Day’s Night Hotel North John Street t 0151 236 1964 Carling Academy 11-13 Hotham Street t 0151 707 3200 Zanzibar 43 Seel Street t 0151 707 0633 The Magnet 45 Hardman Street t 0151 707 0633 3345 33-45 Parr Street t 0151 707 1050



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or... Carling Academy Liverpool The Academy occupies the former home of the legendary L2 in Hotham Street round the back of Lime Street. The building has been extensively refurbished to provide two venues in one building a 1,200 capacity main hall upstairs and a smaller 500 capacity venue on the floor below.

Saturday (late)

Zanzibar – 43 Seel Street

Egg Cafe Top Floor, 16-18 Newington t 0151 707 2755


No trip to Liverpool is complete without a pilgrimage down Mathew Street. It’s hard to think of Liverpool’s music scene without also contemplating the city’s most famous sons, The Beatles. Try as you might to imagine a Mersey sound without them, the fab four cast a long shadow. Start off in The Grapes. This is where the fab four drank in their Cavern-playing days. The evidence remains in a 1962 photograph taken of John, Paul, George… and Pete Best, as they relaxed after one particular gig. You may even bump into their old promoter Sam Leech in the back room. Buy him a pint and he’ll tell you all you ever wanted to know about Liverpool’s most famous sons. From there, go for a pint in the White Star, just around the corner. This former 19th Century ships’ chandlers is named after the great shipping company The White Star Line, and The Beatles were known to frequent the back room – just have a look at their nameplates on the chairs. And if you’re feeling flush, pop into the bar of the new Hard Day’s Night Hotel, again just a stone’s throw away. It’s the world’s only Beatle-themed hotel and worth visiting for their superb lifesize photographs that adorn the walls.

The bar that launched The Coral and The Zutons features a host of live music every night. It’s popular with everyone from students to the more mature music lover, and Noel Gallagher has even been known to pop along for the occasional impromptu gig. It’s not quite as exotic as the name sounds – there doesn’t seem to be an African theme – but it’s a fantastic bar and venue nonetheless. The studiously understated clientele are a friendly bunch, and on any given night you’ll hear a mixture of indie-rock, electro and funk. The Zanzi, as it’s known to its friends, has regular band nights, where acts turn promoters for the evening and join together to put on a bill of likeminded artists, but more often than not, there’s a bigger band in, with support from local acts. Either way, the standard is normally high, and it’s well worth a visit on any music fan’s trip to the city.


Feeder sampling 3345’s bar stock

or... The Magnet Indie favourite, with bands on most nights. Downstairs DJs play a frenetic mix of hip-hop, drum and bass and Northern Soul. It gets packed at the weekends, so it’s worth heading down early if you can, or resign yourself to the resultant crush.

Sunday (lunchtime) 3345 – 33-45 Parr Street

Parr Street is the hub of Liverpool’s music scene, and the biggest studio in the country outside London. It hosts relaxed acoustic gigs throughout the week, and its award-winning restaurant cooks up a mean Sunday lunch to help you recover from the night before. The studios are run by Echo and the Bunnymen’s managers, and play host to the biggest names around, including Coldplay, Echo and the Bunnymen, Rihanna, The Beautiful South and The Charlatans. It’s also home to producer Ken Nelson, who has won three Grammy awards during his time at Parr Street, thanks principally to his work on Coldplay’s albums, Parachutes, Rush of Blood to the Head and X & Y. There’s also a hotel upstairs, normally used by visiting artists and bands, so the celeb count is high, but the strict doorstaff keep out the riff raff. mp

or... Egg Café The Egg is something of a Liverpool institution. It’s a fantastic vegetarian and vegan cafe that hosts acoustic performances and poetry readings throughout the week. It also provides some of the best value dining in the city, with three courses and a tea or coffee for £8.50, but it doesn’t have a drinks licence, so bring your own wine or beer for a small corkage. 0844 248 8117

12/8/08 14:55:49

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19/8/08 20:54:40

After setting standards in the studio for 60 years, AKG hits the stage with a range of premium microphones that your fans and ears will thank you for using.



Dynamic Vocal Microphone

Condenser Vocal Microphone

D 5 – LESS FEEDBACK Laminate Varimotion capsule delivers significantly more gain-before-feedback than any other mic in its class.

C 5 – STUDIO-LIKE CLARITY Patented condenser capsule delivers legendary AKG studio-quality sound, now on stage.



Premium Dynamic Vocal Microphone

D7 - THE ULTIMATE DYNAMIC Premium capsule delivers exceptional audio quality combined with incredible feedback rejection.

Planet Gear

dbx DriveRack PX

to worry too much about feedback we could apply more creative compression to the individual channels using insert effects.


Designed to optimise the performance of any powered PA, and simplify the sound engineer’s task. Miguel Mascolinas finds out if it delivers the goods.


£279 Dolphin ID 37059 Mixing a live performance is a taxing job that involves numerous simultaneous tasks, any of which could improve or spoil the music. Thankfully there are several bits of kit that can help to make life a bit easier in one way or another. dbx’s DriveRack PX is one such item, fitting into your live rig across the master buss.


➔ Auto-EQ with 28-band real-time analysis ➔ Three-band parametric EQ ➔ Stereo feedback elimination ➔ Subharmonic synthesizer from the dbx 120A ➔ Classic dbx compressor ➔ PeakStopPlus Limiter


The DriveRack PX provides a number of useful functions, which in many cases should reduce the amount of other external gear you need on your master buss. The primary function of the unit is to act as a speaker optimiser, designed to get the most out of powered speaker systems, with presets already in place for many popular powered PAs, including the almost ubiquitous Mackie SRM350 and SRM450 models. DriveRack comes with a measurement mic, which is used with the unit’s Auto-EQ function to analyse the room and compensate for any problems in the audio environment. Once you’ve analysed and created an EQ curve to compensate for room deficiencies, you can use the parametric EQ to apply creative shaping to the output. Once you’ve compensated for a room you should hear a more natural sound coming from the PA. This makes life considerably easier when you start mixing. In addition to providing both a 28-band graphic EQ and a three-band parametric EQ, DriveRack PX also has an Advanced Feedback Suppression (AFS) system. This has 12 notch filters that enable you to ramp up the levels knowing that DriveRack will automatically compensate for any feedback issues that occur. In our early experiments with the DriveRack, just using these features was enough to really improve the quality of the sound in the room. With the EQ and AFS systems running we were able to focus on the creative aspects of mixing the band. Finding space for each instrument in the mix is much easier when your room is correctly compensated for. Furthermore, since we no longer needed

All doesn’t stop with EQ-based effects though. DriveRack PX comes with dbx’s classic Overeasy compression algorithm, PeakStopPlus limiting dynamics processors and a subharmonic synthesizer for adding extra low-end frequencies to your mix. Using compression and limiting across the master buss is a useful, but tricky technique, as it is just as easy to ruin the mix as it is to make it better. If you aren’t familiar with buss compression, it’s best to start with a fairly low ratio and a high threshold, so you don’t overdo it. However, we found the dbx Overeasy algorithm fairly forgiving. The limiter is even easier to use and guarantees that you don’t over-drive the amps in your powered speakers. With the loud funk/metal act on which we were testing DriveRack, we were able to push the compression fairly hard to get a tight, thumping sound, which pounded your chest. However, it did require a little bit of control from track to track as different songs brought with them very different dynamic levels. The subharmonic synthesizer was also incredibly useful with our live act, as it gave the low-end a good amount of punch, which you could feel right in your chest.


ACCESSORIES Essential add-ons

Gator GR-2S Shallow Case £67.99 Stock Code 38446 This unit is going to have a hard life being traipsed all over the place. Don’t just chuck it in the back of the Transit, move it safely in its own case.

Dolphin Music XLR/XLR 10m cable £9 Stock Code 34934 Most powered PA features balanced XLR inputs that need to be plugged into the desk. You’ll need long leads.

The DriveRack PX is one of those bits of kit you don’t realise how much you need until it’s taken away. The improvement in sound quality we achieved at the two test gigs was incredible. Not only does the DriveRack itself improve the sound, but it enables the engineer to concentrate on the more important aspects of his task, knowing that the DriveRack is taking care of everything else. MP

➔VERDICT ● Set up and use in a couple of minutes ● Provides EQ, dynamics and subharmonic synthesis in one unit ● Replaces several other rack units The dbx DriveRack PX is a joy to use, and we’re looking forward to making it a permanent part of our live rig.


To buy, or for expert advice call

0844 248 8117 Or logon at And enter the Dolphin ID in the Search box at the top-left of the screen. 0844 248 8117

033_MusicPlanet_01.indd 33




18/8/08 11:19:56


Win a Fender Classic Player Jaguar Special HH! Strap on the new Fender Classic Player Jaguar and rediscover an overlooked masterpiece! When Fender first introduced the Jaguar back in 1962 it took the world a bit by surprise. Gone was the brutal simplicity of the Telecaster or Strat, replaced instead by a more complicated beast that boasted some unusual features. For your chance to own one of these classic instruments (RRP ÂŁ569) answer the following question.

Question: In which year was the Jaguar originally introduced?

Win A Fender Jaguar!

A) 1918 B) 1962 C) 1999

To Enter visit No purchase necessary. Visit for full details of competition entry.


mp_jag_comp.indd 1


Autumn2008 0844 248 8117

18/08/2008 09:08:30



Having shot to fame with the massive hit Turn Around, Jason Hayward always believes the next hit is just around the corner, as Oz Owen discovers…




ew places in the UK are overflowing with talent like Brighton, cultural beacon of the south coast and mecca for creative types of all persuasions. For Jason Hayward, aka Jason Phats, founder member of feel-good chart-toppers and multiplatinum selling outfit Phats & Small, Brighton has witnessed over two decades of a music career that’s seen him score considerable success as DJ, musician and producer. It was a love of all music that led to an early fascination for dissecting the music by artists as diverse as The Specials and Neil Young, but it was a love of early 80s synth pop – spearheaded by masters The Human League and Heaven 17 – that would see his life dedicated to a love of music. His compact studio space now houses a massive collection of hardware and software that kicked off back in 1984 when

a 14 year-old Jason acquired his first synth, a Korg MS-10 – a beast of a machine by anyone’s standards. There’s nothing like hitting the ground running! The studio is still being added to regularly, with recent acquisitions from the likes of Dave Smith Instruments and Moog keeping his sound fresh. He’s also just signed a deal with Ministry Of Sound’s Data Records, which sees him paired up once again with long-time collaborator and ‘voice of Phats & Small’, Ben Ofoedu. “I’ve just produced the video for the new single. There’s a tiny trailer on YouTube – if you search for Phats & Small Can’t Stop you’ll find the trailer. Doing that was great fun, but I really have to watch myself though – taking on too much stuff to learn. But it’s been really good fun. The technology’s there so you can do these things yourself these days. That’s the next 0844 248 8117

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12/8/08 15:03:11

which pretty much says it all. It’s been superb. I just plug a Røde NT2 into it and I’m away.” “I had Paul Carrack [Roxy Music, Squeeze] recording some vocals down here a few years ago. He was using an expensive BLUE microphone, but he was so happy with the result that we got from the Røde plugged into the 430 that he said, ‘leave it, I’m happy with that!’ There are so many rules when it comes to music production, but ultimately you have to trust your ears.”


KEYKIT SELECTED GEAR FROM A HUGE COLLECTION ■ Apple: 3 desktops Macs, 1 laptop, Logic 7 & 8 ■ SSL Duende ■ Universal Audio UAD Nevana fully loaded with all UAD plug-ins ■ Waves Platinum Bundle ■ Ableton Live 7 and all plug-ins ■ GForce plug-ins ■ Ohmforce plug-inss ■ FXpansion plug-ins ■ Native Instruments Komplete 5 ■ Celemony Melodyne ■ Yamaha NS10M monitors ■ KRK V6 monitors ■ M-Audio Oxygen 8 keyboard ■ Focusrite: ISA430 Producer Pack, Platinum Compounder, Platinum VoiceMaster, Platinum Mix Master ■ TLAudio: C1 Compressor, EQ2 Parametric Valve EQ ■ Lexicon PCM91 ■ Sherman QMF Quad Modular Filter Bank ■ Røde NT2 microphone ■ Moog Voyager V3, Little Phatty Stage II ■ Dave Smith Instruments: Prophet 8, Evolver ■ Novation: Bass Station, Super BassStation, DrumStation, Supernova, ReMOTE SL61 ■ Roland: VP-9000, Super JD990, JV-1080, Juno-106 ■ Korg: Legacy Collection, MS10, Zero8 ■ AKAI: S1100 x 2, S3000, S3200 x 2, S6000, MPC 2000XL ■ Technics SL1210 x 2 ■ Pioneer CDJ 1000 mk3 x 2 ■ Vestax PMC 50A



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thing – a feature length film and I’ll do the music too! I envisage ‘Brighton’ written across the South Downs in big white letters, Hollywood style! It’s been one of the most exciting things I’ve done recently. The single will be out… probably October, but maybe September. After the closing parties in Ibiza. “We’re also working on an album at the moment, so we’ve been beavering away on that. I never stop working, never stop writing songs. I carry a dictaphone around with me 24 hours a day, so I’ve always got plenty of ideas, plenty of songs to work on. And I’m still working very closely with Ben, the singer – we’re rekindling our love of good, catchy, hooky songs.” The dictaphone may be where a lot of Jason’s ideas first get locked down, but it’s the studio where those ideas will be hammered out, and after so long making music, be it remixes or original material, he’s got the production process down to a fine art. “For recording vocals, I use Focusrite’s ISA430. I got it back in 2000, the original MkI version, and it’s just fantastic. I think it’s a re-creation of a Neve channel,



With huge quantities of hardware and software at his fingertips, no one is in a better position to illustrate the differences between the two, and define the roles that both play in Jason’s sound. “I think they’re totally different instruments, like the acoustic guitar and the electric guitar. Everyone goes through periods when they think music’s exciting because it hasn’t sounded like that for a while – like the last few years everyone’s loved the Electro thing, for instance, and at first you could tell without a doubt that it was produced inside computers. I mean, I can hear that now, the more experience I get and the more I play with pro-level kit, my ears have definitely become tuned to it. It’s enjoyable to hear that digital sound, but then you get bored of it and then you want to return to that analogue sound again. “I’m loving the analogue at the moment, and the MIDI thing as well – it just sounds different, it triggers differently, computer speaking to computer. It clocks differently. It took me ages to get used to the transition from an Atari ST to a Mac. I just hated it at first because they’ve got a totally different sound, a different groove. But analogue’s doing it for me at the moment, I’m just loving it. “But then on the processing side of things, since I bought the Universal Audio UAD kit and SSL Duende there’s been no looking back. Having all that at your fingertips has been wonderful, absolutely wonderful! “I do tend to do a lot more of the actual signal processing in the computer, mostly because of the recall settings. That’s one of the things that bugs me about using the analogue stuff… There’s been a couple of occasions when I’ve been fiddling about on the Prophet 8 and I haven’t saved the sound and then I’ve changed something in Logic and it’s done a program change and I’ve lost my settings. It all goes digital in the end though, it all goes into the computer and from there I’ll process it… So I’ll record stuff live into Logic and then process it from there. “With those UAD plug-ins, well… You just can’t beat the hardware, but I haven’t got the cash or the space for a Fairchild compressor. I’d make room for one, though! When you have dedicated chips, well… That’s the


12/8/08 15:03:31




difference between using the chips in the Mac or using the dedicated chips inside the UAD system or Duende. There are all these arguments on the forums now, people saying that you can get the same results through Logic as you can with these high-end systems, but it just makes the job easier. “I use Duende and the UAD a lot, I max them out. I’m just thinking of getting some more in, actually, but it will mean me getting an expansion chassis, though. I could do with another two UADs and the chassis – which is ridiculous money, about a grand or something.” “When it comes to monitoring, I’m looking at some big Genelecs right now. Those KRKs that I use, they’re great, but I need something that’s going to make the room throb. This is probably going to be the most extravagant spending for me. I can’t believe I’ve left it right until last, because it’s so important. I think I’ve been thinking about my neighbours more than anything!”


For many artists, it would be difficult to listen to a single that was so ubiquitous for such a long period as Turn Around – the debut single for Phats & Small – but not for Jason. “That record makes me smile – it was done so innocently! It was a year that I was very prolific, I was doing a lot of remixes for DMC, and I was helping a lot of people out in situations where they’d run out of deadlines for a mix, or someone hadn’t delivered. I’d get a phone call and someone would say ‘can you do a mix for me? Yeah, I need it, er… tomorrow?!’ “So I was boshing out all these mixes, and just doing what I loved, and wasn’t really making any money out of it, and I did Turn Around in 12 hours with an Atari ST and a sampler. It’s just the simplicity of it – it all just fell into place. I grabbed a few records from my collection and an a capella record that had been gathering dust and it just happened…! The filtering was done through the MS-10 and the BassStation, and it was just seven tracks of MIDI on an Atari ST. That year I just made lots and lots of records. I strongly believe that if you keep throwing the ball at the hoop, eventually it will go through. And if it doesn’t – then just keep trying!” MP The next Jason Hayward single Can’t Stop will be released in mid-October on Data Records. 0844 248 8117

035-037_MusicPlanet_01.indd 37


TOPTIPS Jason’s advice for making it in the music business…

1 No matter what anyone tells you – never give up. You’re in the wrong industry if you can’t take a knock back. 2 If you’re starting out, pick yourself up a cheap Mac and get yourself Logic, it’s got everything in there. It will teach you about every aspect of production. 3

Watch what you’re signing, and treat every record you make as if it’s a hit, because it just could be. You can’t second-guess what’s going to happen. Turn Around took 12 hours to make, and went on to sell 3.5 million copies. Records like that don’t come along every day. No one can predict them, or knows how they happen. Remember – where there’s a hit, there’s a writ. So be very careful!



12/8/08 15:03:50

WITH 60 CLASSIC COMPRESSOR AND EQ EMULATIONS ACROSS 16 CHANNELS, A HARDWARE CONTROLLER, AND ALL THE ADVANTAGES OF A PLUG-IN. It’s the arsenal of vintage and classic gear that gives top producers the edge they need to truly nail a mix. Such an array of classic processors simply isn’t a reality for most of us, but with Liquid Mix 16, their sound is. Liquid technology delivers genuine emulations of all the most revered signal processors used throughout 20th century recording history. No host-based plug-in can do this. No other DSP-based solution delivers anything like the variety. Liquid Mix does, and with Liquid Mix 16, it’s never been so affordable. Ready to nail that mix? Contact your local pro-audio dealer, or find out more online. Need more channels? Look online for the original Liquid Mix (32) and the expansion card. IMPORTANT INFORMATION: FOCUSRITE, the FF logo, LIQUID TECHNOLOGY, LIQUID MIX CONTROL, LIQUID MIX and the LIQUID MIX 16 logo are trademarks of Focusrite Audio Engineering Ltd. DYNAMIC CONVOLUTION is a trademark of Sintefex Audio Lda. All other product names, trademarks, or trade names are the names of their respective owners, which are in no way associated, connected nor affiliated with Focusrite or its LIQUID MIX products and which have not endorsed Focusrite’s LIQUID MIX products. These other product names, trademarks, and trade names are used solely to identify and describe the third party products the sonic behaviour of which was studied for the LIQUID MIX products, and to accurately describe the functionality of the Liquid Mix products. The Liquid Mix products are an independently engineered technology which utilises the patented process of Dynamic Convolution to actually measure examples of the sonic impact of original analogue products upon an audio stream, so as to electronically emulate the performance of the original product studied. The result of this process is subjective and may not be perceived by a user as producing the same effects as the original products studied.

For more details call 0844 248 8117 or visit


Got a problem related to performing or recording your music? Then drop MusicPlanet’s team of experts a line and we’ll come up with a solution. To submit your question to MusicPlanet’s Clinic team simply email with the word Clinic in the Subject line.

GET A CAB? If you can’t get the sound you want,

feedback occurred. Alternatively, some outboard graphic EQs, such as the Samson S-Curve 215 (Dolphin ID 31922, £159) have LED faders that light up to indicate the loudest frequencies, which are commonly the ones that are feeding back. MM

think about changing the amp format


I’m thinking of buying a new valve amp for practising at home as well as gigging, but wanted some advice on which to pick. Our band plays mainly classic rock covers in pub/club type venues, and up until now I’ve used an old 100 Watt Marshall head and 4x12 cab. The problem is that I can never really turn it up loud enough to get the sound I want before the rest of the band complain it’s too noisy. Any ideas?



Dave Williams, Stroud


In all honesty, unless you’re playing big venues you’re probably better off with a quality combo. Many of the great tones we hear on records are created by the amplifier being pushed really hard, which drives the power stage. This simply can’t be done without turning up the volume. Most manufacturers worth their salt offer 15, 18, 30 or 50 Watt models which will do the job nicely. Good examples are the Vox AC30 (Dolphin ID 10039, £450.21), Orange Rocker 30 (Dolphin ID 12484, £614.99), Cornford



I’ve just purchased my first small PA rig. I’m using it to play my songs in small bars – it’s mainly just for me to sing vocals and to amplify an acoustic guitar. I’ve managed to work out most of the functions, and am fairly happy with the sound I’ve been getting. However, I usually have feedback problems long before the system is up to full volume. Is there any way I can reduce this? Steve Johnson, London


I’ve just recently bought a pair of Behringer’s TRUTH B2031A monitors, and I was just wondering if you had any advice on positioning them in the spare room I use for my studio. Do I really need to buy some speaker stands, or will they be fine sat on my desktop either side of my computer?

Orange Rocker 30: a quality combo Hurricane (Dolphin ID 7965, £999.99) and Laney VC30 (Dolphin ID 24880, £374). The advantages of a combo include less lugging things in and out of the van and more space at home where the 4x12 used to be! But if you really love your current setup then maybe buying a power attenuator will be the answer. It goes between your head and cab and acts as a master volume control. Just turn up the amp full blast, then set an acceptable level on the attenuator – bingo! MC

Feedback is the bane of live production – there are many ways it can be produced and many methods for taming each one. However, one of the first things you should be looking at is the relative positions of your microphones and speakers. The most common microphones for live performance are cardioid dynamics, such as the Shure SM58 (Dolphin ID 2022, £74.50). These offer excellent rejection to signals from the rear, helping to reduce feedback, and are best at rejecting sound

Martin Eastwood, Newcastle


coming from 120 degrees to either side. So place your speakers in front of you at roughly this angle to the microphone, facing the audience. To get even more gain without feedback, you need a PA with a graphic EQ on the outputs. If you have good ears you can ‘notch out’ the exact frequency that is feeding back. If you aren’t sure you can do this take a bit of time before you play to notch up each frequency until it feeds back, then notch out the frequency that needed the least pushing before

Positioning monitor speakers is a fine art that needs to take into account many factors. With a rudimentary understanding of the principles, though, and the opportunity to experiment with various placements in your room, you should find an adequate solution. The first point to remember is the golden triangle – with your ‘sweet spot’ (in other words, the point in your room where you listen) and the two monitors forming an equilateral triangle. You also need to make sure the monitors are firing at your ears correctly, which will involve pointing them inwards slightly and ensuring the mid-point between the woofer and the tweeter is aligned with your ears. It might be that your existing desktop or workstation allows for this, especially if you have a raised shelf

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A graphic EQ unit can help you identify and eliminate feedback problems 0844 248 8117

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18/8/08 12:04:55

A&H Xone:4D: far more than just a MIDI controller

SYNC’ING FEELING? Introducing a laptop to your DJ set can bring a new degree of complexity


I have recently been performing DJ sets using both CD decks and a MacBook running Ableton Live. I am controlling the set up with a Novation Nocturn MIDI controller and have got a good overall sound using my DJ mixer. The only major problem I am having is keeping everything in sync. I have no problems when using the CD players to mix, but I can’t seem to be able to get things in time when I want to play back music from the laptop. The main problem is that I can’t change the speed of the music in Ableton like I can on the CD decks. Is there any way I can get round this problem, or a way to make things easier? Spin, Birmingham


Luckily there are a couple of ways you can attack the problem you’re having. One would involve purchasing a more advanced controller, or mixer, that includes jog wheels capable of controlling Ableton. This would allow you to change the pitch of the audio playing back from your MacBook in real time and therefore mix between the two mediums seamlessly. You could opt for something basic like the EKS XP5 Digital DJ controller (Dolphin ID 34875, £129), or invest in something more fully fledged such as the Allen&Heath Xone:4D (Dolphin ID 36978, £1468.95). The latter is not just a MIDI controller but supplies a full audio interface and DJ mixer. The second solution would be to use a device that converts audio signals to MIDI clock. This allows Ableton to sync to the correct tempo and locks the mix between decks and laptop. This is a pretty groundbreaking area, but there are more and more manufacturers incorporating this technology into their products, so keep an eye out. MC

like those provided on workstations such as Quiklok’s dual-level Z600 (Dolphin ID 4766, £499). Monitor stands, of course, provide a more adjustable solution, as well as improving the isolation between the speakers. Look for heavier designs that will support the monitor properly. The less the monitor and stand move, the more acoustically effective they are. You should also be careful not to position the monitors too close to any of the walls in your room, as this can produce an unnecessary – and often muddy – boost in bass frequencies. Before you settle on a particular solution, though, try moving the position and orientation of your equipment around, listening carefully to the sound you achieve. MC



I’m going to be storing my Taylor 310CE in the loft for a few months. Should I slacken off the strings? Jim Fry, Dorset


Firstly, let’s take the issue of storage. Under no circumstances store any


FOR REAL MUSICIANS Want your multitrack with lots of knobs? Want to hit a button instead of scrolling a menu? - Then get a load of these cool Fostex MR digital multitrackers. Power up, plug-in and start recording - it’s that easy. Guitar amp and mic simulation plus crunching analog guitar distortion is right on-board. And you get stellar, un-compressed sound quality, phantom powered mic inputs and sparkling digital effects. Whether you go for the MR16HD/CD with 16-track playback, CD mastering, 4 fully-featured inputs, AUX outs and 4-track simultaneous recording to hard drive, or opt for the convenience of the battery or mains powered MR-8mkII which records direct to CompactFlash, you’ll have everything you want. Hedonistic extravagance for real musicians.



MR-8mkII Distributed in the UK by SCV London. Call 020 8418 1470 for your nearest dealer

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18/8/08 11:28:26 5/8/08 07:07:15



›››MUSIC CLINIC guitar – acoustic or otherwise – in your loft. Guitars are made from an organic substance and although the wood would have been ‘cured’ prior to being used in manufacture, it’s still subject to the atmospheric conditions around it. It’s the same principle as wooden garden gates. They swell up in the winter when it’s wet and shrink in the summer when it’s hot. The same could be true of your guitar if you don’t control the conditions around it. The temperature of your loft swings from icy cold to baking hot, sometimes on a daily basis. Subjecting an acoustic to such temperature extremes will cause havoc and almost certainly damage the guitar. If an acoustic is to be stored it should be kept in a case and at a constant room-like temperature. Anything else and you’re asking for trouble. Secondly, it’s true that some manufacturers do slacken off strings prior to transporting an acoustic, but only by a small amount. Remember that your guitar is designed and built to work in conjunction with the tension that the strings create. Eliminating that tension altogether can

cause the neck to warp. In effect, the tension created by the strings helps to keep the guitar stable and rigid. SH



As a guitarist I have been reading a lot about software amp emulation and effects recently, and while I’m a little apprehensive about bypassing my amp entirely (I have collected some beautiful amps over the years), I am intrigued at the prospect of using the various effects built into amp emulation software. Is there any way I can combine the best of both worlds, or should I get a hardware effects processor? I considered recording the amp and then running the signal through the effects, but this would place the effects after the amp, which I guess would not be an ideal situation. Grinko, Manchester


Your guess is correct, recording the amp first and then running it through the effects would not be the ideal way to use the effects in amp emulation software, although that

doesn’t mean you couldn’t get some good sounds this way. Many studio effects are added after the guitar has been recorded. However, it is entirely possible to run the signal from your guitar into the computer and then back out to your amp for recording. To do this you will need to DI (Direct Inject) the guitar signal going into the computer, process it and send the output signal into your amp. If you have a spare input channel you could then record the amp at the same time. Or if you don’t, you can always record the DI guitar first and add the amp processing afterwards. There are a couple of things you should look out for when doing this, firstly the output from your audio interface is almost certainly line-level, while your amp will be expecting a guitar signal, so plugging it straight in could overpower the amp and even damage it. In effect, what you need to

do is reverse-DI your signal, which you can do very simply with a passive DI box, attaching your leads in reverse. This will sort the impedance, but you will still need to be careful with the output level. Radial Engineering makes a dedicated unit for this purpose, the Pro RMP (Dolphin ID 25168, £82), which addresses both the level and impedance matching. MM

Radial’s Pro RMP is a useful passive DI box

Transparency If there’s one thing you don’t want from a monitor it’s sound colourisation. The sound should be transparent and pure. It’s as simple as that. And that’s what you get from the superb Fostex PM Series Mk2. Minimal resonance, sparkling highs and deep lows.

From only £115 inc VAT.

PM Series Mk2. It’s all in the detail Distributed in the UK by SCV London. Call 020 8418 1470 for your nearest dealer

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18/8/08 11:28:47 5/8/08 06:56:27

Number one by design.


The Studiophile BX Deluxe Series What happens when you surpass what people expect from a near-field reference monitor? You end up with the USA’s best selling* monitor in its category—the M-Audio Studiophile™ BX5a. Now our obsession with perfection has led us to raise the bar again. Meet the Studiophile BX5a Deluxe and the Studiophile BX8a Deluxe. The BX Deluxe monitors sound balanced at a wide range of volumes, so your mixes will translate across diverse listening environments. They also provide detailed sonic imaging, seamless frequency integration and an amazingly cohesive sound. The BX Deluxe monitors are designed to deliver an exceptional monitoring experience that’s true to your music. Hear for yourself at your local M-Audio dealer. * Source: MI SalesTrak To learn more about M-Audio’s complete line of monitors, please visit

Studiophile BX8a Deluxe

Studiophile BX5a Deluxe

• 130 watts of bi-amped power • 8” Kevlar low-frequency drivers • 1” natural silk high-frequency drivers • XLR balanced and 1/4” TRS inputs • OptImage IV wave guides

• 70 watts of bi-amped power • 5” Kevlar low-frequency drivers • 1” natural silk high-frequency drivers • XLR balanced and 1/4” TRS inputs • OptImage IV wave guides

For availability and pricing information please visit the Dolphin website at or call the sales team on: 0844 248 8117 © 2008 Avid Technology, Inc. All rights reserved. Product features, specifications, system requirements and availability are subject to change without notice. Use of the enclosed software is subject to a related license agreement. Avid, M-Audio, the “>” logo and Studiophile are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Avid Technology, Inc. in the U.S. and in other countries. All other trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

Monitor round-up

Powered monitor group test

Picking the right pair of active nearfield monitors could make all the difference to your studio setup. Andy Wright examines some of the available choices.


nvesting in a pair of studio-grade active monitors could easily be one of the most important and beneficial improvements you can make to your home studio. Although it’s tempting to think that a trusted pair of hi-fi speakers will provide an enjoyable and reliable working environment, you’re more likely to end up producing recordings that simply won’t translate over a range of systems. You would also be missing out on the subtleties and nuances that are so important when working with tools like compression and equalisation. Realising just how vital a good set of monitors have become to the


project studio musician, a number of key manufacturers now produce a range of attractively priced, highperformance active monitors. But how do you go about distinguishing between the various models on offer? Is it best to go with established monitoring brands? Can a small 4-inch woofer provide a performance that matches that of a monitor with an 8-inch woofer? And, ultimately, which monitors best suit your kind of music and production activity? In this round-up, we take a broad overview of the types of active monitors available in the sub-£700 price bracket – from affordable,

ACCESSORIES Essential add-ons

space-conscious 5-inch models, through to larger 8-inch designs. Rather than being swung by any immediately impressive and flattering characteristics, though, we’ve taken a long hard listen to all of the monitors in question – identifying how they might positively affect your working process over time, as well as the sonic characteristics that really count. Ultimately, of course, it’s still worth using your own ears before you make the final decision, but this guide should at least help identify the principle characteristics and differences between the various options out there you’ll need to choose from.

Samson MS200 monitor stands £59 Dolphin ID 32063 Mounting your monitors using stands improves their performance, creating a more accurate representation of your mix.

Dolphin 3m cable XLR(m)-XLR(f) £5 Dolphin ID 34932 Most active monitors feature a balanced XLR connection for the input, which will need to be fed from your mixer or audio interface’s outputs.

Auralex Mopads £34 Dolphin ID 2331 If you’re placing your monitors directly on a desktop or a shelf, it’s well worth considering some form of isolation pads – like Auralex’s Mopads.


Genelec 8020A £399 (pair) Dolphin ID 35641

Standing just 242mm tall, the Genelec 8020 seems to defy the laws of physics, delivering an impressive studio-grade performance from just a 4-inch woofer. Although the bass extension doesn’t quite match the larger monitors, the Genelec 8020s really delivered in respect to their detail and neutrality. They enabled us to hear right into the depths of the mix, as well as delivering a surprising amount of separation and detail between sounds. The top end wasn’t quite as pin-sharp as some of the more ‘hyped’ monitors, but this seems to help create a more transferable mix. Built-in Iso-Pod isolation stands undoubtedly help the performance of

the 8020s, and there’s also an array of DIP switches to help fine-tune the monitors to your room’s acoustic. The level control is also handily accessible from the front of the monitor, although unfortunately, it also doubles as the power switch.

➔VERDICT Don’t let their size deceive you – the Genelec 8020s deliver a surprising amount of power and bass-extension. The 8020s excelled at providing a detailed representation of the mix, making them a perfect choice for critical listening environments without lots of space to spare. 0844 248 8117

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FEATURES ➔ Bi-amplified 40 Watt active nearfield monitor ➔ 3/4-inch metal dome tweeter ➔ 4-inch bass driver ➔ 66Hz–20kHz free field frequency response




18/8/08 11:45:32

Monitor round-up

KRK Rokit RP5 G2 £249.99 (pair) Dolphin ID 37568

The second generation of KRK’s Rokit series features many of the design innovations first developed on the company’s VXT and Exposé monitors. Overall, the Rokit RP5 G2s seem keenly targeted at the needs and demands of the project studio market. Using a 5-inch design keeps down the cost and space requirements, yet they still deliver a sound that isn’t overtly boxy or lacking in bottom end. We particularly liked the mids delivered by the Rokits. Vocals, for example, tended to be clear and upfront, allowing you to extract plenty of detail and information from such an important area of the mix. The inputs

FEATURES ➔ 1-inch Neodymium Soft Dome tweeter ➔ Glass Aramid Composite Cone Woofer ➔ Front-firing port ➔ Curved front plate eliminates diffraction distortion

provide XLR, TRS and RCA (phono) connections, making it easy to incorporate the Rokits into a range of setups, and a HF adjust control (both positive and negative) allows you to contour the top-end to match your particular tastes.

➔VERDICT An effective balance between sonic performance and price – the KRK Rokit RP5 G2s cost under £300, but deliver a sound clearly influenced by KRK’s top-of-therange monitoring solutions. A good sense of bass, tight and defined mids, and an airy top-end that isn’t overly harsh.

Yamaha MSP7 FEATURES ➔ Bi-amplified 70 Watt active near-field monitor ➔ 5.25-inch Kevlar lowfrequency driver ➔ 1-inch silk-dome high frequency driver ➔ 60Hz–22kHz frequency response

ESI nEar 05 eXperience £153 (pair) Dolphin ID 30850

At £153 the ESI nEar 05s are astonishing value, particularly when you consider the price of an affordable passive monitor can fall into this bracket. They might not be built to the same level of visual and technical charm as some of the more expensive 5-inch monitors, but the nEar 05s still include plenty of studio-grade features, including a Kevlar woofer, as well as a generous 70 Watts of bi-amplification. While the sound of the nEar 05s isn’t super-wide, we still found them suitably un-coloured and detailed enough for studio work. The top end extends well without sounding too pushed, and the mids possess 44


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enough detail to pull the mix together in an effective way. As well as being an excellent choice for cost-conscious users, it’s also well worth considering a pair of nEar 05s as your secondary small-scale monitors in a larger setup.

➔VERDICT ESI nEar 05s deliver a performance that far exceeds what you’d expect from a sub-£200 pair of active nearfields. Although they lack some of the depth and precision of some of the more expensive monitors, a generally neutral sound and clear top-end aids effective mixing and recording.


£495 (pair) Dolphin ID 34225

Having somewhat invented the first ‘universal standard’ for reference monitoring with their ubiquitous NS-10s, Yamaha’s monitors always demand scrutiny. Certainly, it’s clear to see that things have come a long way since the rather mid-heavy sound of the NS-10s, with the MSP7s revealing a surprisingly open and neutral sound. The woofer is slightly larger than the majority of other monitors on test – measuring 6.5 inches – with a 1-inch titanium-domed tweeter to cover the top-end of the frequency spectrum. The weight of each monitor also indicates plenty of power in the amplifier, with a total of 120 Watts split between the two drivers. Although maybe not terribly exciting on first listen, we kept being drawn back to the MSP7s for their neutral sound, excellent imaging, and wide sweet spot that made them a pleasure to work with over time.

➔VERDICT A worthy (and considerably more audiophile) addition to the NS-10’s legacy – the MSP7 delivers a clear top-end that doesn’t tire over time. The bass extension is also very natural and delivers a well-reasoned amount low-end woofer movement without any excessive hype.

FEATURES ➔ Bi-amplified 130 Watt active nearfield monitor ➔ 6.5-inch cone woofer ➔ 1-inch titanium dome high-frequency unit ➔ 45Hz–40kHz frequency response 0844 248 8117

18/8/08 11:46:03

Monitor round-up

JBL LSR4326P £619 (pair) Dolphin ID 13716 FEATURES ➔ 130 Watts of bi-amped power ➔ 8-inch Kevlar woofers ➔ 1-inch silk high-frequency drivers ➔ 40Hz–24kHz frequency response

M-Audio BX8a Deluxe £299 (pair) Dolphin ID 37858

Although some 5-inch monitors produce an impressive bass-end, there’s only one real solution to achieving effortless sub-100Hz extension – buy a bigger monitor! In that respect, M-Audio’s BX8a Deluxe was easily the most impressively sized monitor we tested, striking a dominant presence in any setup. Looking to the rear, the BX8a Deluxe controls and inputs are relatively straightforward: with just an XLR and TRS connector for the inputs, and a simple gain adjustment for the monitor’s level. With 8-inch woven Kevlar woofers, and a 130 Watts of bi-amplification, these monitors deliver undeniably

big sound – extending well down to the bottom of the mix where smaller monitors can fail to give a full and effortless representation. The only downside was a slight lack of detail in the mids, although the top-end felt suitably clear and well defined.

➔VERDICT If the low end of the mix is important to you, then M-Audio’s BX8a Deluxe provides a good dose of power and bass extension beneath 100Hz. Ideal for anybody producing hip-hop or dance music who needs a suitably ‘vibey’ pair of monitors.

It would be easy to talk at length about the accurate imaging and wide frequency characteristics of the JBL LSR4326Ps, but what’s particularly distinctive about these monitors are the controls and features they offer. Of all the monitors here, only the JBLs offer direct digital connectivity, including AES/EBU and S/PDIF. Add to that an intriguing HiQnet system for connecting the monitors as part of a 5.1 array, and a USB connection to run JBL’s Control Centre software. Using the supplied mic, you can also calibrate the monitors to your room’s acoustic, activating an optimised EQ profile using the small RMC button on the front of the cabinet. If this level of control and customisation appeals to you, then the JBLs are well worth a listen, offering the potential to really tailor the speaker’s performance to overcome potential inadequacies in your studio.

➔VERDICT An impressively forwardthinking design including room calibration, remote USB control, and JBL’s HiQnet 5.1 array system. Plenty of hands-on control from the front of the monitor makes the JBLs ideal for perfecting the monitors’ performance in a given room.

FEATURES ➔ Bi-amplified 220 Watt active nearfield monitor ➔ 6.25-inch self-shielded Neodymium woofer ➔ 1-inch self-shielded Neodymium tweeter ➔ 55Hz–20kHz frequency response

Adam A5 £465.98 (pair) Dolphin ID 36432

By using Adam’s own ART (Accelerated Ribbon Technology) ribbon tweeter technology, the company has certainly made its A5 monitors stand out from the crowd in terms of the way they represent treble. In theory, a ribbon tweeter provides a far more electrically effective way of moving air (in comparison to more typical ‘voice coil’ designs). This results in faster transient response, better high-frequency imaging, and a more extended top-end. In that respect, the A5s sound great on drums, and really enable you to pick apart the top end of a mix, although the slightly more ‘upfront’ sound of the ribbon tweeters might not be to everybody’s tastes.

If that’s the case, though, you can always use the tweeter level control (to the back of the unit, along with two other room EQ controls) to tailor the output accordingly.

FEATURES ➔ Bi-amplified 50 Watt active nearfield monitor ➔ ART tweeter ➔ 5.5-inch Rohacell/ Carbonfibre Woofer ➔ 55Hz–35kHz response

➔VERDICT Superb high-frequency imaging and transient response set Adam’s A5s apart from the crowd, making them a must for anybody who prefers a crisply defined top-end with plenty of percussive detail. A worthy entry-level ‘multimedia’ version of Adam’s ribbon-driven monitor design, that wouldn’t sound out of place on any desktop.


To buy, or for expert advice call

0844 248 8117 Or logon at And enter the Dolphin ID in the Search box at the top-left of the screen. 0844 248 8117

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18/8/08 11:46:22

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19/8/08 09:15:09

planet live

Missed a gig you really wanted to see? Perhaps a MusicPlanet reporter was there. This is what we thought of the summer’s more esoteric acts…

New York Dolls, Hyde Park, London At the very beginning of the summer, 70s survivors Kiss played a high-profile headline slot at the Download Festival, accompanying their trashy brand of pop rock with an armoury of lights and explosions. A month later 70s survivors the New York Dolls also played a festival, invited by Morrissey to the Prince of Misery’s day at the O2 Wireless shebang in Hyde Park. Safe to say, they let rip with their trashy brand of rock to considerably fewer punters than the guys in the face paint. Once, both these bands were contemporaries, putting the fun back in rock and roll and giving the finger to prog and the baggage that came with it. This isn’t the place to reflect on their divergent paths, but in the present, the contrast is striking. Because where Kiss are overblown and dated, the New York Dolls still burn with the excitement that must have set Manhattan alight back in 1973. Of course, these are old men now. And the fact that three-fifths of the classic Dolls’ line-up

has passed away doesn’t help. But this is a band that comes armed with some of the best rock and roll tracks of any age; songs of sex and street life that epitomised punk before it even had a name. David Johansen can’t quite hit the high notes these days, but Babylon, Jet Boy, Pills and the ever-fantastic Trash still pack a sonic kick to the groin. They’re not afraid to bring out the new tunes either, Dance Like A Monkey proving age is no barrier to punk rock spirit. Despite their massive financial success Kiss never came close to equalling the mighty influence of the Dolls. Too raw, too extreme and too dangerous, music wouldn’t have been the same without them. We’re lucky to have them around. Review by Robert Collins

Honest Jon’s Chop Up! Barbican, London

Damon Albarn has come a long way since his band’s fight with Oasis took Blur to the heady heights of the singles chart. Unlike his rivals, Damon has looked to constantly re-invent himself. 1997’s Blur saw the band turn to grunge, with the single Song 2 possibly being the most defining grunge song after Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, and 1999’s 13 experimented with Gospel and electronica. Damon continued to experiment with music outside of Blur, joining Mike Patton and Dan The Automator on the Lovage project, which no doubt inspired his later hip-hop explorations with Gorillaz. However, it was 2002’s Mali Music album recorded with Toumani Diabaté and Afel Bocoum among others that helped to cement Albarn’s

reputation as a musician who thrived in collaborations. After visiting Mali with Oxfam and recording over 40 hours of music, Damon launched new label Honest Jon’s from a record store in London to promote the album and other world music artists. To celebrate the artists on this label, Honest Jon’s arranged the Chop Up! at London’s Barbican, bringing together many of the artists to share a stage. In typically under-stated fashion Damon took a back-row place behind his harmonium for most of the night, leaving his label-mates to take the front stage. The fusion of African rhythms, vocals and solo performances with more Westernthemed bass parts and structures can sometimes fall flat, but tonight everything merged perfectly. Tony Allen’s exquisite drumming provided a driving force from start to finish, 0844 248 8117

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while the funky jazz of the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble met perfectly with Toumani Diabaté’s spidery kora playing and Afel Bocoum’s bluesy acoustic guitar. When Damon finally took to the front of the stage for a closing performance of Sunset Coming On – the standout track on Mali Music – backed by Simone White and Candi Staton, the crowd was electrified. It was a shame it had to finish at all. Review by Miguel Mascolinas

SeriousMusic Golden Lion, Bristol

Anticipation is high and it’s standingroom only, due partly perhaps to the fact that SeriousMusic gig relatively infrequently, making their shows something of an event on the local calendar. A five-piece live band, they cram a bewildering array of



➥ ➥


18/8/08 11:51:47

planetlive all-consuming, the metronomic beats of drummer Matt Albon meshing perfectly with the huge, thundering sub bass and spiky piano, Rhodes, Clavi and Hammond lines fired by the keys. SpokesMao is joined by the band’s other live rapper Chalk MC, whose machine-gun delivery and deft rhymes complement perfectly the rapid fire, conscious lyrics of the Colombian. He raps, incidentally, both in Spanish and English, which is quite something to behold. Album tracks like Food For Soul, crowd pleaser Un Tono and Recall are delivered with ferocious, bouncing energy and the crowd loves it. New tracks Acid Tongue and Spirits reveal a harder-edged future direction for the band, and scratch DJ Cutterz Choice features heavily on several apparently improvised

breakdowns, and the band and MCs are as adept at freestyling salsa, dub and bouncy hip hop as when sticking to the script. An impromptu stage invasion closes the show and SeriousMusic leaves the crowd calling for more. See them.

Review by Sarah Kelsall

Radiohead Victoria Park, London

Rarely does one band change the face of the music industry so abruptly as Radiohead managed

Sheldon wood

equipment onto the small stage. Turntables sit atop huge beer barrels, the drum kit is supplemented with sampling pads and there’s not a guitar or bass to be seen. Instead, producer Hollin Jones performs both lead and bass instruments on a mothership of live keyboards hooked up to various amps. Debut album The Heights is a heady blend of hip hop, funk, jazz and dub with a strong Latin influence thanks to Colombianborn MC SpokesMao. Produced at Portishead’s Bristol studio, it was going to be intriguing to see how the band would translate its slick, layered style to the live arena. Taking the stage to a slow-building and unexpected samba workout, SeriousMusic immediately dispelled any notion of a beats’n’shouting hip hop performance. The sound is

My Bloody Valentine Carling Apollo, Manchester My Bloody Valentine is a band that many assumed would never return. It was part of their myth: after two perfect albums – Isn’t Anything (1988) and Loveless (1991) – they vanished, amidst rumors of mental breakdown, bankruptcy and tales of the loudest gigs ever. Fifteen years later, they’re back. As soon as the first notes of I Only Said were played, the whole power of the My Bloody Valentine live experience hit you like a tsunami: the extreme loudness of the guitars, the bass shaking your guts, the strobe lights and the psychedelic projections. It felt more like an art performance, with sound and visuals so intrinsically married as to be more important than the band themselves. MBV played classic tracks from their albums, but the highlight was set closer The Holocaust, which turns 1988 single You Made Me Realise into the loudest 20 minutes in your life. Those brave enough not to wear the free earplugs distributed before the gig, had no choice but to protect their ears. It wasn’t music anymore, but an art statement, an experiment, pushing and challenging the audience – some people couldn’t cope and had to leave. No discernible notes, just a loud rumble and sheer white



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noise. From time to time, slight changes in the pattern could be noticed, while frantic visuals hypnotised the audience. When eventually the images slowed down, we all just felt the end was coming soon, and My Bloody Valentine went back into You Made Me Realise to an ecstatic audience. One last chorus, and it was over. Afterwards, the crowd leaving the venue looked tired. Some faces were stunned. Some simply appeared relieved that they’ll still be able to hear clearly – when the tinnitus recedes after a couple of days. We did it. We survived My Bloody Valentine, the loudest band on earth. Reviewed by Ivan Silva

last year with the unique pay-whatyou-choose distribution method for the band’s latest album In Rainbows. However, this little episode is likely to be only a footnote in the history of a band who’ve been busy pushing the boundaries of their musical world since their inception in 1992. Having defined a whole genre of melancholy rock with 1995’s The Bends, Radiohead moved on to bigger things with 1997’s OK Computer and then again shifted gear into glitchy electronica with Kid A and Amnesiac. At Victoria Park, Radiohead once more showed their determination to not look back, opening their set with three tracks from In Rainbows, driving the crowd into a frenzy with the galloping beats of 15 Step, the driving bass of Bodysnatchers and Thom Yorke’s beautifully shifting vocal on All I Need. This set the stage for the five-piece to work through nearly every song from In Rainbows as well the excellent Bangers & Mash from the In Rainbows boxset, which saw Thom supplementing Phil Selway on drums. Earlier hits, such as Paranoid Android, Karma Police and Creep were ignored in favour of fitting in more of the band’s experimental work, and even when they went back to their earlier catalogue only Just could be considered one of the more radio-friendly choices. This gave the band an opportunity to play less well known fan favourites, like How To Disappear Completely and Planet Telex. “Thanks, we were frightened,” said Thom as he sauntered back on stage for the encore to play Cymbal Rush from 2007’s solo album The Eraser, before the band came back on for the closing You And Whose Army and the incredible swirling syncopation of Idioteque. Those expecting more of a greatest hits selection for their £40 could be heard mumbling words of discontent as they made the long walk back to the tube, but among the majority of attendee’s, ourselves included, it was all huge smiles and gleeful faces. mp Review by Miguel Mascolinas 0844 0844815 2480888 8117

18/8/08 11:51:30

dolphin music




Unit 6, Central Station Liverpool, Ranelagh Street, Liverpool, L1 1QE

16 Garden Walk, Yellow Quadrant, Metro Centre, NE11 9XY

11-15 Market Street, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, HD1 2EH

Tel: 0151 706 0441

Tel: 0191 493 2244

Tel: 0148 442 7455

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Planet Gear

AKAI MPC5000 With its brand-new flagship music production centre and sampling workstation, AKAI hasn’t skimped on new features. But does it cut the musical mustard? Andy Wright samples the delights.


£1,549 Dolphin ID 36476 AKAI’s MPC sampling beat production workstations have long been a staple of studios and producers worldwide, used in the making of such seminal albums as DJ Shadow’s Endroducing, and countless others. The newest member of the family also happens to be the biggest and most fully featured they’ve built to date, the flagship MPC5000.


The interface will be familiar to anyone who has used an MPC in recent years, with the 16 pads for programming beats and sequences dominating the front panel of the unit. The MPC5000 is designed to be the centrepiece of your studio, able to perform many or even all of the tasks you might normally associate with music production. As a result it’s furnished with an impressive set of ins and outs round the back, comprising combined jack/XLR stereo inputs; a phono input stage with RIAA preamp for sampling from turntables; S/PDIF coaxial in/out and optical ADAT out with eight channels. There are stereo master outs plus eight separate mix outputs, six MIDI ports and a USB socket for connecting a computer.


On the face of the MPC5000 is a control section to the right, a hinged display panel (bigger than on previous models) plus twelve Q-Link controllers comprising four faders and eight knobs. These are assignable and can control external MIDI equipment but also get mapped automatically to important parameters on whichever edit screen you are currently working with. Making settings and entering data is therefore intuitive and fairly speedy. The unit ships with 64MB of RAM, expandable to 192MB via a user-accessible memory port and there’s a CompactFlash card slot for media up to 2GB. A great new feature is a built-in 80GB hard drive which supports up to eight tracks of direct-to-disk recording of any external source such as guitars, bass or vocals. It can also be used to mix down tracks internally and burn them to disc using the optional CD-R/DVD drive for a complete production solution. The MPC5000 functions like other MPCs in the sense that you work with samples, sequences and songs. You can sample your own material and edit it using the extensive


➔ 64 voice drum/phrase sampler ➔ 16 MPC pads ➔ Built-in synth plus arpeggiator ➔ Hard disk recording ➔ Onboard effects ➔ 12 Q-Link controllers ➔ 64MB RAM

sample looping and audio processing tools, including Chop Shop 2 for beat slicing and automatic time stretching. Or you can import existing sample data and record audio direct to the hard drive. You even get a 650MB sample set of crunchy beats from Loopmasters pre-installed. There’s a powerful mixer section where you can balance levels and also apply any of the onboard effects to audio tracks. There is an excellent selection of effects on offer to spice up your productions and two master effects – compression and EQ – to boost and sweeten the final mix.


The other major new addition, apart from those mentioned and the many workflow and capacity improvements, is a built-in analogue synthesizer. With three oscillators, 20 voices and a built-in programmable arpeggiator, it is perfectly suited to hip hop, r’n’b, grime and other similar kinds of music with its selection of fat basses and gritty leads. For those preferring a more hands-on approach to making sample-based music, the MPC5000 represents the most total solution available for sampling, recording and programming – capturing the vibe that has made the MPC series such a success over the years. MP


ACCESSORIES Essential add-ons

Dolphin Music MIDI Cable 3m £5 Dolphin ID 34988 For connecting the MPC5000 to other MIDI devices, you will need MIDI cables. This range from Dolphin is extremely cost-effective.

AKAI EXM-E3 128MB Expansion Board £95.99 Dolphin ID 38397 Bumps up the onboard memory of the MPC5000 from the standard 64MB to a very useful 192MB.

● Powerful sampler ● Well designed ● Great new synth ● Hard drive recording ● Multiple inputs and outputs ● Extensive audio tools Keeping the things that made the MPC series great, the MPC5000 builds on earlier successes by adding some handy new features like a hard drive, built-in synth and a set of real-time controllers. A great hands-on music production solution.


To buy, or for expert advice call

0844 248 8117 Or logon at And enter the Dolphin ID in the Search box at the top-left of the screen. 0844 248 8117

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18/8/08 11:55:38


Win A Pair Of Yamaha MSP7s! Yamaha’s monitors always demand scrutiny. The MSP7 delivers a clear top-end that doesn’t tire over time. The bass extension of the 6.5-inch bass drivers is also very natural and delivers a wellreasoned amount of low-end woofer movement without any excessive hype. For your chance to own a pair of these fantastic studio monitors of the 7-inch bass drivers answer the following question.

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Autumn2008 0844 248 8117

18/08/2008 10:35:23

2box DrumIt Five Preview WORLD EXCLUSIVE

Out of the box

Owen Hopkin visits Stockholm to investigate a product under development that’s destined to become a big player on the electronic drum scene.


tockholm is the picturesque location for MusicPlanet’s world exclusive visit to the premises of burgeoning electronic drum maker 2box. Since we first heard about it at the NAMM show in January of this year, we’ve been desperate to get a close-up of this brand-new product. We reckon it’s going to cause a big stir in the world of electronic drums when it goes on sale later this year. It’s called DrumIt Five – and it’s very orange indeed. If truth be told, were we to have a world exclusive anywhere in the world, we may just have settled on Sweden’s capital city. Its gentle hills and delicate patchwork of islands paint the most glorious of backgrounds. And DrumIt Five itself is no eyesore, and with its relatively modest anticipated price tag of around £1,600, you could almost say it’s even more attractive than some of the Swedish – ahem – citizens. From a country already punching above its weight in the worlds of artists (Abba, The Hives, The Cardigans) and instrument makers (Ddrum, Clavia), DrumIt Five and 2box may well be the next names etched on the walls of the country’s hall of fame. Yes, it’s entering a very competitive market, but this Swedish revelation is ready to jostle for space with the behemoths of the digital drum world and, from the glimpse we had of it, might well create itself some space.


Before DrumIt Five is even ready to hit the shops, it already has credentials many kits would kill for. The brainchild of Bengt Lilja and Rik van der Brugghen, it comes with two lifetimes’-worth of experience in the digital music industry. “I was a musician interested in new technologies and triggering electronic sounds,” says Bengt. “There were no solutions available at the time and that’s where the idea for the Ddrum came from. Rik and I worked on that together.” Ddrum was the first go-to electronic drum brain for forward-thinking musicians looking for inspiration. Until it was sold to an American company a few years ago, Ddrum was a huge commercial success, with more than a few admirers. A combination of great sounds and ease of use saw its core values seized upon by manufacturers who could clearly see the potential in electronic drumming. This in itself would be enough heritage for many a new product, but DrumIt Five also benefits from the pair’s next career move, which saw them mastermind a range of Nord keyboards at Swedish synthesizer giant Clavia. In the form of the Nord Lead, the duo launched another very successful product. Here, control over digital sounds and their triggering was key. 0844 248 8117

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The heaD Who’s for a beating?

The black mesh heads that cover each of the DrumIt Five’s drums add a great look and feel. Typically the reserve of the market’s top end, 2box has brought the technology kicking and screaming into the semipro world. like acoustic drums, the heads are held in place with tension screws, which allow for an almost limitless range of ‘feels’. Regardless of the tension, the drums stay disconcertingly quiet despite a few of MusicPlanet’s greatest metal drumming moves. This is clearly good news for long-suffering neighbours, parents and partners the world over. The mesh heads are also easily changed for real drum heads. Clearly more noisy – the drum’s bearing edge produces a fantastic, even tone – this gives the DrumIt Five as real a look and feel as possible without straying into the acoustic world. Added to the different-sized drums, we’d venture there isn’t much Bengt and Rik could have done to make acoustic players feel more at home. Rubber heads are another work in progress for 2box. Different types with different properties are currently being researched with the aim of creating a rebound which is as realistic as possible.


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18/8/08 12:03:05

Advertising Promotion

LINE 6 JM4 LOOPER £257.33 Dolphin ID 37551


JM4™ Looper provides guitarists with the tools they need for endless musical inspiration. Featuring professionally performed and recorded jam tracks, soundon-sound looping and a full arsenal of legendary Line 6 tones, JM4 Looper sparks inspiration in ways other looping pedals can only dream.


JM4 Looper boasts over 100 Endless Jam™ tracks and drum grooves energetically performed by professional session musicians. Many of these pro players, including top talent from LA and Nashville, helped propel countless rock, R & B and country artists into world-famous music industry icons. Every jam is jam-packed with world-class talent, exceptional ability and experience worthy of sold-out stadium tours and multi-platinum albums. Taking time from their busy schedules, our pros joined forces with some of the finest recording studios in the world to bring these jams to life and ensure an amazingly lifelike jamming experience. Steve Vai’s studio, The Mothership, as well as Sound Asylum in Canoga Park, California, Sound Emporium in Nashville, Tennessee, and London’s legendary Abbey Road Studios, are just a few of the places the band captured rhythm-section chemistry and the kind of extraordinary musicianship only seasoned pros can produce.




Jam 103 Swing Rocker is solid, slamming, and right in the pocket, pushed along by Tony Franklin’s pulsing, gritty bass and Simon Phillips’ stomping beat. Jam 100 Outlaw Country Club is a smooth, twangy, midtempo bounce inspired by the greats of Outlaw County. It features a truly amazing ensemble in Brent Mason (lead guitar), Dave Pomeroy (bass), Steve Turner (drums), John Hobbs (keyboards), Pat Bergeson (acoustic guitar), and Paul Franklin (steel guitar). Jam 150 Walking Jazz is light and airy but dynamic with Tony Franklin’s walking-bass backbone. Hear drummer Gregg Bissonette switch from sticks to brushes! The secret weapon behind each jam in JM4 Looper is the Endless Jam Engine. The Endless Jam Engine breaks each jam into sections and arranges everything between the intro and outro into an Endless Jam, keeping the jam tracks sounding fresh instead of boring and overly repetitive.

FEATURES ➔ 100+ Jam Tracks ➔ 200+ Artist Presets ➔ 150+ Song Presets ➔ 350+ Amps & Effects ➔ 12 Line 6 Amp Models ➔ 7 Smart Control FX ➔ 36 User Created Presets ➔ 24 Minutes of Looping ➔ Mic/Aux Input Effects ➔ SD Card Slot ➔ Comprehensive I/O’s


Recording your jams with JM4 Looper is super-simple. The dedicated footswitches for Record/Overdub, Play/Stop, Half Speed and Undo make for easy practicing, songwriting and creation of an entire backing band on the fly. Layer guitar tracks, bass tracks, keyboards, and even vocals using the balanced XLR microphone input. Both the balanced XRL input, which features a Mic Trim knob, and the 1/4” Aux input, share a dedicated 3-band EQ and effects including Compressor, Delay and Reverb. Add color and pro tone to any vocal or instrument track you record. With internal storage of up to 100 recorded jams, totaling 24 minutes of recording time, JM4 Looper lets you capture all your riffs and musical ideas. With a 2-GB SD card you can store up to 6.5 hours of recorded jams and even export them to your DAW for further tracking, mixing or editing.


Line 6 pedals and stompboxes are heralded around the world for their jaw-dropping versatility, legendary tones and sonic capabilities. Affording you a huge head start on the road to rock stardom, JM4 Looper delivers these classic Line 6 benefits while helping to sharpen your skills at the same time. After jamming with JM4 Looper, your playing will never be the same. PM

➔HIGHLIGHTS ● Exhilarating jam tracks ● Inspired Rhythm Section Chemistry ● Sound-on-sound looping ● Legendary Line 6 tones ● Lifelike jamming experience JM4 Looper lets you capture all your riffs and musical ideas, sparking inspiration in ways other looping pedals can only dream.


To buy, or for expert advice call

0844 248 8117 Or logon at And enter the Dolphin ID in the Search box at the top-left of the screen. 0844 248 8117

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12/8/08 15:15:34

2box DrumIt Five Preview

Having neatly placed another feather in his cap, Bengt decided to take a break from the business. “I was painting my basement at the time and I had a flash of inspiration. At that point, I decided it was about time Rik and I got back into electronic drums.”

If kooks could kill

As Bengt ushers us into 2Box’s modest workshop and office space, we’re struck by the dictionary definition of a hive of activity. Cymbal and drum stands litter the floor, two large computers flash 3D hardware designs, leads hang from hooks in spaghetti-like clumps and various bits of rubber top prototype drums on a small table. Standing proudly amid the chaos is DrumIt Five itself and, well, it looks amazing. The first thing you notice is its unashamed ‘orange-ness’. It’s utterly glorious and positively radiates from the drums. Matched with a black bottom and the hardware’s frosted grey, it looks incredible. Ostentatious? Absolutely. Vibrant? Of course. It’s everything a modern digital drum kit should look like and will certainly catch the eye in the scrum that is retail floorspace. The five drums that we see hanging from the rack are in different sizes: there’s a 12-inch snare, 8-inch and 10-inch rack toms, a 12-inch floor tom and a 14-inch, satisfyingly round, bass drum. Bengt tells us that the first model is unlikely to be available in exactly this format, but the size differentials instantly make it resemble an acoustic kit and would make even the most die-hard drumming technophobe feel at home. Sure, the sizes are a little truncated when compared to a traditional rock kit, but future custom options will see these gripes disappear. On each of the drums (including the bass drum), are black mesh heads, but more on these beauties later…

Cymbal ideas

Flanking the main body of the kit are four rubber cymbals, one of which is set up as a hi-hat. Round, thick and re-assuringly thwack-able, the material used provides a surprisingly lifelike rebound, whether the cymbal is being crashed or ridden. With three playing surfaces (bell, edge and body), as well as the 54


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ability to choke, the thick black pads seem electronic in appearance only. The hi-hat is just as impressive. The pedal allows vertical motion and there’s enough give in the clutch to resemble the action of open hi-hats. All of this eye-catching goodness is hung from grey aluminium hardware. Two thick poles arc around the kit horizontally, with the top pole supporting the rack toms and cymbals, the bottom supporting the bass drum with an added supporting vertical screw on the drum’s base to ensure maximum stability. The snare drum, hi-hat and floor tom are supported by two auxiliary arms and legs that swing from the rack’s main structure. It allows maximum manoeuvrability, enabling the drums and cymbals to get into the most awkward of positions. On top of this, the snare drum’s cradle allows a 360-degree tilt, and the custom-built mounts enable the drums to be adjusted to suit the most awkward of playing styles. Being that we’re in Scandinavia, perhaps it’s inevitable that DrumIt Five is also one of the greenest bits of music technology you’re ever likely to encounter. There’s barely a sniff of chrome anywhere on the kit (chrome’s bad for the environment, kids), and aluminium makes up the lion’s share of the drums and the hardware’s construction. This is good for two reasons: firstly, it makes DrumIt Five incredibly light but also portable and durable; secondly, virtually the entire kit can be recycled. We’re guessing the chances of you wanting to recycle the kit, however, will be pretty slim.

Unfinished business

Despite our positive first impressions, Bengt keeps reminding us that DrumIt Five is still a work in progress. “It’s not going to be perfect. We’re trying to re-create human nature – it’s never going to be perfect!” In the short term there are still tweaks to be made before its retail release which is due in October. Most pressing is a studio session to record some of the brain’s samples. “It doesn’t matter how impressive the technology is, if the samples sound bad, the kit will sound bad. It’s as simple as that,” says Bengt. Despite considerable interest in the instrument fueled by Bengt and Rik’s history, and an impressive showing at Frankfurt’s Musikmesse trade show, the 2box founders still believe there’s work to be done on the kit in the long term. The real litmus test, says Bengt, will be when the kit is put in front of real players. “It has to get out there and be played. We’ll get feedback from drummers and take it on board. A project like this is never really finished – it’s constantly a work in progress.” We can say it’s a more impressive ‘work in progress’ than we’ve seen for a while. We’d also bet the modest number that hits the shops this autumn will provoke a similar response. We hope to get our hands on one of the very first units in time for a full review in Issue 2 of MusicPlanet – so keep an eye out. mp

The brain We have the technology As DumIt Five is the brainchild of those behind Ddrum, it’s perhaps not so surprising to learn that the technology behind DrumIt Five is staggeringly impressive. It comes with 128 editable kits, all monitored with 24-bit playback. There are 20 dynamic ranges for each drum and cymbal, with each sound within those ranges made up from a combination of samples – virtually eliminating the ‘machine gun’ effect of repeated samples. Throw in the ability to instantly change the balance of the kick, snare and toms from volume pots on the brain, and a function to adjust the levels of the sample combination, and you have a very sophisticated sound module indeed. Not impressed yet? OK, how about the software for your PC and Mac that, via USB, will allow you to drop in your own samples and update the software on DrumIt Five’s brain? On top of that, the brain is compatible with Roland pads and vice versa, allowing players the utmost of flexibility and the broadest of sound palettes. 0844 248 8117

18/8/08 12:03:29

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Buyer’s guide

CHOOSING AN ACOUSTIC GUITAR The choices you face when buying your first acoustic guitar can seem endless and daunting. Should you opt for steel or nylon strings? Cut-away or full-body designs? Onboard electrics? Steve Harvey talks us through the options.


uying your first acoustic guitar should be simple enough, shouldn’t it? Just pick the one you like the sound and look of and it’s done. But in reality, things just aren’t as simple as that. The number of brands and options on offer can actually make the choosing the most difficult part of the whole process. The vast range of guitars to be found in the average music shop isn’t a bad thing, though. The fact is that modern construction techniques – particularly the use of CNC machinery – have raised the standards of even low-budget and entry-level instruments to new heights. If truth be told, a £250 guitar in 2008 is probably just as good as one that cost £400 in 1990.


The first choice you need to make is whether you want a nylon- or steel-string guitar. Typically, a set of nylon strings comprises three nylon strings and three wound with steel (the upper and lower three strings respectively). Acoustics referred to as steel-string guitars use strings made of metal, usually either nickel or steel, although sometimes both. As you’d expect, nylon strings sound very different from steel strings. Classical and Spanish guitars are strung with nylon strings – listen to Eric Clapton’s Tears In Heaven for an example of the nylon-string sound. Nylon strings are often a good choice for beginners – particularly young children – because fretting (the act of pressing a string against the fingerboard) requires less pressure than it does with steel strings. By contrast, steel strings can feel like cheese wire to unaccustomed fingers, but they sound very much more contemporary. When you hear the likes of Coldplay, Bon Jovi or McFly play an acoustic, it’s a steel-string that they’re playing.



Above: Tanglewood TW47 B, Dolphin ID 37269, £449 Right: Tanglewood TW28 CSN, Dolphin ID 37275, £179.95

Some to consider... Yamaha FG720S £149 Dolphin ID 10098 Guitars from Yamaha’s FG series are fantastic entry-level instruments. They’re well-built, reliable and excellent value for money. This gloss-finished 720S is the pick of the bunch.

Vintage V300 £75 Dolphin ID 14261 This small-body Vintage was recently voted Best Acoustic Guitar Under £100 – and it’s easy to see why. It has a comfortable, fast-playing neck, good dynamics and plenty of volume.

Famous steel-string songs include Extreme’s More Than Words, McCartney’s mega-hit Mull Of Kintyre and David Gray’s Babylon.


One subject that often confuses newcomers to the world of acoustic guitars is that of tonewoods – the different woods used in the construction of the guitar itself. Does it make a difference? Yes. Do different woods actually sound different? Absolutely. It’s true that the tonal variations unique to tonewoods become more evident the more expensive a guitar is, but even for entry-level models, the materials used will have a real impact on tone. Which wood you choose is up to you and your ear, but, as a rule, opt for a guitar built from solid wood rather than laminates. What’s the difference? As the description indicates, solid-wood guitars are made from whole pieces of wood, but generally cost a little more. Laminates are essentially ‘wood sandwiches’ glued together. Solid woods generally function better than cemented laminates because they vibrate more freely than and give a louder, clearer tone.


Just as the woods used in the construction of an acoustic have an impact on its tone, so too does the size of the instrument’s body. Which is best for you really 0844 248 8117

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13/8/08 09:00:50

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Buyer’s guide



some of the guitar’s sound chamber you are, in fact, sacrificing a percentage of its performance capabilities, albeit a small one. Bob Taylor, owner of world-famous Taylor Guitars, refers to the cut-away area as ‘prime real estate’ and advises customers to choose a cut-away guitar over a non-cut-away only if they really need to. Again, whether to choose a cut-away or not depends on what you’re going to be using the guitar for. If you’d like to learn and play searing solos, then a cut-away would be a wise choice. If, however, your aspirations are more chord- and song-based, then it might be better to stick to a non-cut-away model.

If you choose a cut-away, be aware that there are different types of cut-aways. Some cut-aways are very ‘soft’ and some quite severe. A Florentine cut-away, for example, is much more scooped than a Venetian cutaway, which is more rounded. Try a few to find out which is more comfortable for you. depends on what type of music you want to play. By far the most popular body shape is the Dreadnought. Originally designed by the Martin Guitar Company in the early 1900s, the Dreadnought is a good all-rounder, but, because of its beefy bass and overall sound projection, it excels when strummed and is the perfect choice for accompanying a vocalist. So, if you plan to learn a few chords and serenade the family, a friend or a loved one, a Dreadnought may well be best for you. Smaller-bodied guitars such as an OM (Orchestral Model) or folk-bodied instruments are often more suited to fingerstyle playing – that is, when individual strings are played with the fingers rather than strummed with a pick. Smaller-bodied instruments can also be much more comfortable to play than the significantly larger Dreadnought or Jumbo guitars. Be aware, too, that as well as having different body shapes, acoustics can have different scale lengths – in simple terms, the length of the neck. String spacings (the distance between each string) can also differ between models. Even a difference of a millimetre or two will feel very noticeable under your fingers, so it’s well worth spending time playing a number of different models to determine the shapes and proportions that fit you and your fingers.


A cut-away guitar has a section of the body literally ‘cut away’ at the point where the neck meets the body. Usually, a cut-away is on the treble side of the upper bout (the side of the guitar closest to the floor when it’s being played). Some electric guitars, such as the iconic Fender Stratocaster, have what is referred to as a double-cut-away. This is where a cut-away has been made on both sides of the neck, but this is rarely seen on acoustic guitars. The purpose of a cut-away is to provide easier access to the 14th fret and above. It comes at a cost, though, both in financial and tonal terms. By chopping away

Above: a cut-away design offers unrestricted access to the 14th fret and above. Right: onboard electronics enable you to hook up your acoustic to an amp.


Some acoustic guitars are fitted with an onboard preamp. This battery-powered unit provides a means by which to process the sound and vibration of the guitar through an amplifier. The science of amplifying an acoustic guitar is not an uncomplicated one and, in truth, thousands of pounds can be spent seeking the Holy Grail of acoustic amplified tone. Some entry-level acoustics have an under-saddle pickup fitted, which is more than adequate for its intended purpose. Of course, if you purchase an electro-

Some to consider... Fender Sonoran SCE £179.99 Dolphin ID 33522 This trendy cut-away Dreadnought has an onboard preamp and is available in candy apple red, Lake Placid blue, shoreline gold, surf green or natural.

Ibanez AW28RLG £155 Dolphin ID 15804 This new model from the Ibanez stable features mahogany back and sides, a striking flamed sycamore pickguard and a natural, lowgloss finish. 0844 248 8117

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12/8/08 15:16:57

Buyer’s guide


acoustic (an acoustic guitar equipped with a means of amplifying it), you’ll also need to purchase an amplifier. If you’re a beginner and this is your preferred choice, we’d suggest looking into ‘package deals’. These generally include an electro-acoustic guitar, a small amplifier, a strap, a tuner and, in some cases, an instructional DVD. Again, whether you choose to purchase an electroacoustic or not depends on your intended use for the instrument. If you want to play to a large room or venture into the world of home recording via your computer, you’ll need a pickup. Either scenario leads to greater expense whether it be for PA equipment, software or similar. Buying a guitar with a preamp might save you a little bit of money as some models come with a built-in tuner. It should be noted, though, that having a preamp fitted to your acoustic increases its price somewhat, and some would argue that it’s more advantageous to assign your entire budget to the guitar itself in order to purchase the best instrument possible. Remember that pickups and preamps can be fitted at a later date if required – many pickup companies produce magnetic soundhole pickups that are designed to be fitted retrospectively.


Having made your choices concerning strings, body size and shape and whether to choose a guitar with or without a preamp, what else should you consider? First, check if 60


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If you plan on playing standing up, ensure that you choose a guitar with strap buttons.

Some to consider... Tanglewood TW28S SN £159.95 Dolphin ID 37276 This high-quality, satinfinish Dreadnought has a solid Engleman spruce top, ash back and sides, maple binding and a rosewood fingerboard.

Dean Tradition Exotic £165 Dolphin ID 19621 With its fancy soundhole decoration, shapely headstock and stylish bridge, this Dean Dreadnought not only plays beautifully, but will also get you noticed.

the guitar has a strap button at the base of the neck where it meets the guitar’s body. If you’re going to be playing standing up, you’ll need a strap. You can fit a strap to the area behind the nut (John Lennon-style), but you might find that this arrangement isn’t great at keeping the guitar in place. If the guitar you’re leaning towards doesn’t have a strap button, ask if one can be fitted for you. They’re relatively inexpensive and easy to fit. Secondly, ask whether your proposed purchase comes with any extras thrown in. Even entry-level instruments can sometimes come with a case of some sort. It’s also worth asking if the guitar comes with a tuner. Training your ear to be sensitive enough to tune a guitar can be a slow and frustrating process. If you’re a beginner and your preferred guitar doesn’t come with a tuner, we’d strongly recommend getting one. The battle to tune a guitar could be enough to put you off playing altogether! That battle is easily and inexpensively won with a tuner.


Finally, we’d advise trying as many different guitars as possible – ideally back-to-back. There’s no substitute for having two or three shortlisted instruments within arm’s reach and playing the same chords/song/notes on all three one after another. Trust your ears and your fingers. Your ears will tell you very quickly which one you prefer and your fingers will tell you which one is more comfortable to play. Some say that you can tell within 15–20 seconds of playing a guitar if it’s right for you. Whatever the case, buying your first acoustic is always a special occasion and, at the risk of sounding soppy, the ‘chosen one’ will hold a special place in your heart. MP


To buy, or for expert advice call

0844 248 8117 Or logon at And enter the Dolphin ID in the Search box at the top-left of the screen. 0844 248 8117

12/8/08 15:17:19

Thomas, BEHRINGER Germany Technical Director added the secret circuitry seasoning that has made the 2442FX a worldwide best seller.

Dian helps assemble the XENYX 2442FX at BEHRINGER City, our highly advanced manufacturing complex. Can she make one for you?

Axel, BEHRINGER Germany Systems Engineer, designed the five-star XENYX mic preamp from wholesome ingredients.

Every XENYX 2442FX is tested over forty times during the production process by technicians like Zhi Yong to guarantee that it’s really well done and free of defects.

Thomas, BEHRINGER Germany Software Engineer, brewed up the USB interface and ASIO drivers for the 2442FX. Bon appetite!






These are some of the 3500 technicians, assemblers,

Hot mixer. tasty digital audio workstation program from… Norway? NO W IT H E








©2008 BEHRINGER International GmbH. Technical specifications and appearance subject to change without notice. Mac is a trademark of Apple, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. XT Software, the XT Software logo, energyXT2 and the energyXT logo are trademarks of XT Software AS incorporated in Norway, and are protected under the laws of Norway, and are being used under license by BEHRINGER Holdings (Pte) Ltd and related companies. 985-00000-00000

W Free energyXT2 DAW software is also available on these tasty XENYX mixer models with USB interfaces.

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designers and engineers who are BEHRINGER.

A smorgasboord of features including Audio & MIDI sequencers, built-in synth/sampler & drum sampler, time/pitch engine, internal mixer w/EQ, multi-FX, ASIO & VST support & more.

When we decided to blend even more value into our XENYX USB mic/line mixers, we looked to XT Software, a gang of brilliant programmers in The Frigid North. They cooked up energyXT2 Compact BEHRINGER Edition, a deliciously radical new approach to recording, sequencing and production. energyXT2 Compact loads in under 5 seconds, fits on a USB drive with room for multiple projects and moves ‘twixt Macs, PCs and Linux boxes without annoying registration codes or dongles. It’s a perfect side dish for the 2442FX. With 12 XENYX mic preamps, 2-in/2-out USB interface, four buses and 100 twenty-four-bit effects like reverbs, delays, phasing and flanging, you can’t find a more versatile creative tool. Learn more about the 2442FX and other XENYX USB mixers online or at your dealer. Then start serving up the music in your head through energyXT2 Compact BEHRINGER Edition.

Planet Gear

TOONTRACK SUPERIOR DRUMMER 2.0 From the company that brought us dfh and EZdrummer comes a new release. Miguel Mascolinas gives it a Superior beating.


£189 Dolphin ID 37573


For most musicians, getting a great drum track for their recordings is one of the trickiest production tasks they face. Even if you have (or are) a great drummer you’re going to need a big mic collection and a superb-sounding room just to get your drums in the right ballpark to compete with professionally produced recordings. To make things easier Toontrack has been sampling drums in one of the most incredible studios in the world. They also provide you with the tools to manipulate these samples into your recordings, so that they not only sound great, but also natural as if played by a real drummer, live in the studio. Superior Drummer 2.0 builds on the unprecedented level of control provided by its predecessors, providing you with a huge selection of drum pieces to play, and the ability to control exactly how the kit sounds in your recordings, as well as providing a means to compose and arrange your drum tracks, either using pre-supplied MIDI drum loops played by Nir Z, or by playing in your own drum parts with a MIDI controller or e-Drums kit.


Subtitled The New York Studio Legacy Series, the tracking for the Superior Drummer 2.0 samples was done at Avatar Studios in New York by producer Pat Thrall (Black

➔ 20GB sample library ➔ Five built-in effects ➔ Three kick drums ➔ Eight snare drums ➔ Three hi-hats ➔ Five toms ➔ Five cymbal set ups ➔ Four Rides ➔ Cowbell

ACCESSORIES Essential add-ons

Toontrack EZdrummer to Superior 2.0 Crossgrade £129 Dolphin ID 37575 If you’re a registered EZdrummer user, you can crossgrade to Superior 2.0 for £60 less.

Crowes, Beyoncé), and engineer Neil Dorfsman (Kiss, Bruce Springsteen, Dire Straits and Sting) with session drummer Nir Z (Genesis, Joss Stone and Chris Cornell). The collaboration of these three individuals with Toontrack has brought some of the finest sampled instruments we’ve ever heard. However, the final say on how the instruments sound is entirely down to you, and controlled from within the Superior Drummer software. The mixer engine has a staggering amount of mic’ing options for each instrument. There are four direct mics on the snare drum, including both top and bottom, a side mic and a separate channel for the top mic through a Neve 1176 compressor. You can also control how much bleed from other instruments comes through into each microphone, as well as routing the channels in the mixer through their own busses and adding effects either directly to the channel or to busses. One of our favourite discoveries from the mic’ing options was the Bullet Mic, a Shure 520D placed about a metre from the kit running through a Mesa Boogie amp, which gives a crunchy, filtered sound without any of the phasing issues commonly asscoiated with postprocessing through distortion.


Within the mixer you have five effects from Sonalksis alongside the traditional five-band EQ. These include Highpass and Low-pass Filter, Gate, Compressor and Transient Designer, which enables you to emphasise or hide the attack phase of each instrument. The effects have a great sound all of their own, and are far more advanced than many of the built-in effects we’ve seen in other plug-in instruments. While the EQ and Compressor don’t have quite the flavour of an SSL or Neve desk, we’d be happy to mix the drum sound on one of our recordings entirely within the Superior Drummer environment.


With so many different options to choose from, Superior Drummer 2.0 can be a little overwhelming for anyone new to drum mixing. If, however, you have the time to invest in learning your way around it, or you already know your way around a professional studio, SD2.0 offers the flexibility to produce everything from incredibly clean, tight drums, to big, pounding roomy sounds or dirty, biting hits. And if all this does seem a bit too much for you, Toontrack’s EZdrummer has a similar amount of quality in a less-advanced and easier-to-use package. EZ also offers a great way into SD2.0 at a later date. MP

➔VERDICT ● Incredible-sounding drums ● Massive creative potential ● Flexible mixer ● Great-sounding effects If you like to stay on top of your drum sound, this is the software for you. Superior Drummer 2.0 gives you control of every facet of your drum track, from the rhythm itself to the kit used and the tone of each piece.


To buy, or for expert advice call

0844 248 8117 Or logon at And enter the Dolphin ID in the Search box at the top-left of the screen. 62


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››› SIX OF THE BEST Kitting out your studio with one or two good microphones can bring a new dimension to your recordings. And doing so needn’t cost the earth

Røde M3

£73 Dolphin ID 29187

The small-diaphragm Røde M3 is a versatile studio microphone designed to be used for everything from vocals to acoustic instruments, as drum overheads, or even in front of a guitar cabinet. This flexibility is further enhanced by a built-in switchable 80Hz low-cut filter and a three-position pad, which can provide up to 20dB of attenuation. The M3 is also useful for field recordings, as it can be powered from a standard 9V battery as well as by phantom power. The M3 comes with a heavy-duty flight case, foam windshield for use outdoors and a sturdy mic clip. Røde also provides a ten-year warranty, which should ensure your mic has a place in your studio for years to come.

Behringer B-1

£73 Dolphin ID 1788

Behringer’s versatile B-1 microphone has a 1-inch large-diaphragm capsule plus a switchable low-cut filter, 10dB pad and a maximum SPL handling of 148dB, making it useful for a huge variety of sources, from drums and guitar cabinets to vocals and acoustic instruments. The B-1 has been tuned with a presence boost in the upper range, which will help bring clarity to vocal recordings, and on other instruments will help ‘brighten’ the sound of the instrument, adding shine to otherwise dull recordings. The B-1 comes with a carry case, shockmount and windscreen.

Audio-Technica AT2020 £58.99 Dolphin ID 5090 The Audio-Technica AT2020 microphone has a side-address cardioid large-diaphragm capsule that is ideal for recording vocals and acoustic instruments, capturing the full frequency ranges of these sources. What’s more, the AT2020 can handle SPLs up to 144dB, enabling you to use it with loud sources without distortion creeping into your signal chain. The AT2020 comes with a pivoting, threaded standmount that enables you to precisely position the microphone for the optimal recording position, while the cardioid capsule ensures that you capture only what is in front of the microphone while other sources are rejected.



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››› Studio Microphones Samson C01 £29 Dolphin ID 4398 When it comes to recording vocals, the smooth low end and extended frequency range of a large-diaphragm condenser is an essential studio tool. Samson’s C01 brings these characteristic features of large-diaphragm microphones to within any budget, ensuring that your vocal tracks stand out from the crowd. The C01 is also useful for mic’ing acoustic instruments and as another option for drums, either as an overhead or as a room mic. The microphone comes with a gold-plated XLR connector and an LED that indicates when 48V phantom power is enabled.

SE Electronics SE2200a £139 Dolphin ID 4713

AKG C 1000 S

SE’s award-winning SE2200 microphone quickly established itself as a project studio favourite, with low noise and excellent sonic characteristics setting it apart from the competition. The improved SE2200a model shares the same 1-inch gold-plated diaphragm as the original, but has improved electronics that offer an even better signal-to-noise ratio. It also includes a low-cut filter and 10dB pad, making the mic useful not only for acoustic instruments and vocals, but also as an option for close mic’ing loud sources, such as guitar cabinets and brass instruments.

£94.99 Dolphin ID 1503

AKG’s C 1000 S is a workhorse microphone that you’ll find in studios and PA setups across the globe. The microphone comes with the PPC 1000 Polar Pattern Converter and PB 1000 Presence Boost adaptors. The PPC 1000 enables you to switch the C 1000 S from cardioid to hypercardioid, which is useful in live applications for helping to reject feedback from monitors or spill from other instruments. The PB 1000 adds 3-5dB of high end between 5kHz and 9kHz, which can improve the clarity of speech and add definition to some instruments.


To buy, or for expert advice call

0844 248 8117 Or logon at And enter the Dolphin ID in the Search box at the top-left of the screen. 0844 248 8117

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12/8/08 15:19:48

“For Powered Speakers, I’d Use a DriveRack PX.” —Russell Fischer


TOURS INCLUDE: Eric Clapton, Marilyn Manson, Toby Keith, Poison, Janes Addiction, and many more...

Making a sports arena sound like a concert hall is just another day in the life of world-class FOH engineer Russell Fischer. His ability to sonically tame the most unruly of venues is the stuff of legend. Russell knows that to get the most out of your speakers, you need to optimize them to the room. The DriveRack PX Powered Speaker Optimizer connects between your mixer and stereo powered speakers and makes you sound like a pro. It even supports subwoofers. At the touch of a button it corrects for audible deficiencies in any room, kills annoying feedback, enhances bass response, and protects your speakers from overload.

Louder, clearer, better sound from your powered speakers.

Planet Gear

NATIVE INSTRUMENTS GUITAR RIG SESSION Native Instruments’ amp and effects emulation is now available at an entry-level price, complete with interface. Miguel Mascolinas takes it on a session.


£159 Dolphin ID 37189 Guitar Rig Session combines the entry-level version of Native Instruments’ Guitar Rig 3 software – Guitar Rig 3 XE – with a twochannel USB audio interface. This provides you with all the tools you need to connect mics, guitars and even line-level equipment to your computer, to be processed by the selection of effects and amp/cabinet emulations in Guitar Rig 3 XE.


Compared to the Rig Kontrol 3 controller, which comes with the full version of Guitar Rig 3 the Session IO controller is fairly basic, featuring none of the stompboard-style controller aspects of Rig Kontrol. However, Session IO does provide you with two 1/4-inch TRS inputs, which can be switched between line-level and Hi-Z, enabling you to connect two simultaneous Hi-Z sources, such as a guitar and bass, or a stereo line-level source, such as a synth or drum machine. In addition, the Session IO has an XLR mic input, which can be used instead of the 1/4-inch input for channel 1. The mic input has switchable Phantom Power, enabling you to use any of the mics in your collection, whether dynamics, ribbons or condensers. While Native Instruments is best known as a software company, Session IO is not a last-minute addition, but is a worthy interface for your project studio, easily matching similar dedicated two-channel interfaces from competitor hardware companies.


Guitar Rig 3 XE uses the same audio engine as its bigger brother, but with a reduced number of amps and effects to choose from. However, while it may not have quite as many amps and effects Guitar Rig 3 XE is hardly short of potential, and will no doubt provide you with considerably more sonic options than you could hope to have access to using hardware alone. The amp options available include several of our favourites from the full version of Guitar Rig 3, including the obvious Marshall JCM800, Fender Twin Reverb and Vox AC30. As any good guitarist will tell you, you can get a lot of different tones from a good amp, so having five different ones, each with its own strong character should provide you with a healthy dose of tonal options, especially when you consider that you can pick and choose from up to 12 different speaker cabinets to go with each amp. And it doesn’t stop there; you also have access to 21 effects to help sculpt your tone. Unlike the amps, some of our favourite effects are actually missing, including the Tape Echo and Rotator, but there are some pretty good alternatives, including the Quad Delay and Phaser Nine.


➔ 5 amp models ➔ 12 cabinet models ➔ 21 effect models ➔ Tape Deck for recording and playing back audio ➔ Built-in tuner and metronome ➔ Bundled two-channel interface with mic, line and Hi-Z inputs

ACCESSORIES Essential add-ons

AKG K77 headphones £25 Dolphin ID 36835 Great for sitting around in the studio perfecting your tones and blistering solos without the neighbours calling the police.

Dolphin 6m cable 1/4-inch jackangled jack £8 Dolphin ID 34983 Plug your favourite guitar directly into the Session IO interface with one of these great-value Dolphin Music cables.

All the basic effects types are covered, including a selection of distortion and overdrives, and a high-quality studio reverb. There are also two interesting effects which behave as modifiers on other effects – an LFO and an input level and envelope follower, which can be used to create some entirely unique sounds.


We’ve been using the full version of Guitar Rig 3 since it first appeared on the scene. The feature we missed most in this cut-down offering was the real-time control offered by the original’s Rig Kontrol hardware. While you can program in effects automation in the studio, it isn’t quite so easy on stage. Without Rig Kontrol we had to switch effects rigs between tracks using the mouse. That might make gigging with Session a bit of a chore. Having said that, although it’s often useful to have a wide selection of sonic tools to choose from in the studio, Session’s range is still so wide we barely noticed the reduced number of options in the XE version. MP

➔VERDICT ● Realistic-sounding amp models ● Full range of effect types ● High-quality audio interface Guitar Rig Session might not have all the clout of the full version, but it still provides a huge range of creative opportunities at a price within reach.


To buy, or for expert advice call

0844 248 8117 Or logon at And enter the Dolphin ID in the Search box at the top-left of the screen. 0844 248 8117

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19/8/08 09:25:53

M-Audio: Total Pro Tools M-Powered Compatibility

M-Audio®, the top provider of technology,




audio over




hardware peripherals that let you work with the industrystandard Pro Tools M-Powered™ software. Customize your setup with diverse options ranging from a pocket-sized mobile interface to a full-featured control surface— including the brand-new ProFire™ 2626 and Fast Track® Ultra interfaces with on-board DSP and awardwinning Octane preamp technology. This combination of best-in-class hardware and software delivers unprecedented functionality—and a new level of flexibility thanks to the real-time tempo manipulation features in Pro Tools M-Powered 7.4.

ProFi re 2626

Fast Track Ultra

Pro Tools M-Powered 7.4

• 26 x 26 simultaneous I/O via FireWire (up to 24-bit/192kHz) • 8 XLR mic preamps with award-winning Octane technology • flexible on-board DSP mixer

• 8 x 8 simultaneous I/O via USB 2.0 (up to 24-bit/96kHz) • on-board MX Core DSP mixing and effects • 4 preamps with award-winning Octane technology

• session compatibility with all current Pro Tools systems • industry-standard audio/MIDI production environment • Elastic Time real-time tempo manipulation

© 2008 Avid Technology, Inc. All rights reserved. Avid, M-Audio, the “>” logo, Pro Tools, Pro Tools M-Powered, Fast Track, ProFire, Octane and MX Core are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Avid Technology, Inc. in the U.S. and other countries. All other trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective owners. Product features, specifications, system requirements and availability are subject to change without notice. Use of any enclosed software may be subject to related license agreements.

In Brief

E-Mu Tracker Pre USB £109.99 Dolphin ID 34901

Auralex MoPads £34 Dolphin ID 2331

Hi-fi magazines are always rammed with tricky gadets to extract those precious few extra decibels of sonic performance from a pair of speakers. While some of the techniques are dubious, to say the least, the concept of decoupling (where a monitor is acoustically isolated from the surface that it stands on) can have a positive impact on the sound and performance you can achieve. Auralex’s MoPads are one such decoupling solution, using a series of polyurethane foam pads to lift the monitor – and acoustically isolate it – from the surface it sits on. Intriguingly, the MoPad system also comes with a series of wedges, allowing you to tilt your speakers by four or eight degrees backwards or forwards. Despite some initial reservations, we were surprised by the improvement in our monitors’ performance with the

MoPads, with a definable lift in the tightness (especially in the bass-end) and improvement to the imaging. The MoPads can be positioned to work on speaker stands, or in situations where monitors are placed directly on a work surface. In our opinion, the MoPads seem to produce the best improvement to monitors placed directly on a desktop (often the case in a home studio) – where poor decoupling can produce serious deficiencies in performance, and, of course, the angling of the monitors is rarely set correctly.

This enables you to use the preamps on their own, for example to power a small vocal rig, or as additional mic preamps on a small-format mixer. The preamps themselves are roughly equivalent to those in most modern small-format mixers, however the addition of insert points could provide you with extra flexibility for kick and snare, or as a special vocal channel. Also included is a software bundle to help you get started. The apps include SONAR LE, Cubase LE4, Ableton Live Lite 6 and instruments from Waldorf and E-Mu themselves.

keep the mic resistant to moisture, as well as being presented in a weather-resistant aluminium storage cylinder. Sonically speaking, the NTG-3 is certainly no slouch, with an impressively low amount of self-noise, and a tight polarity that focuses the mic’s pickup on whatever it’s directed at. The frequency response is also pleasingly flat, with just a small presence peak around 10kHz to give its output a sense of air. The only potential downside of the NTG-3 is the lack of a

battery-driven power supply (instead, you’ll need to make sure your mixer or camera has a 48V phantom power supply), although its durability and sonic excellence more than make up for this.

The Tracker Pre stands up as a solid entry-level audio interface, and the thoughtful addition of the standalone capability could prove incredibly useful.

Auralex’s MoPads are a cheap and effective way of improving your monitors’ performance, especially in situations where they’re placed directly onto a desktop.

£369.99 Dolphin ID 37590

yet without unduly compromising its sonic performance. At £370, the NTG-3 is positioned at the top of Røde’s shotgun microphone range, but it’s plain to see there are a number of features that mark out the microphone from its competition. Biggest of these has to be its durability or roadworthiness, using a technology known as RF bias to

➔VERDICT A great shotgun mic with a particular eye on durability – even in extremely wet conditions! A tight polar response, and low-self noise also make the NTG-3 a good all-round performer.


To buy, or for expert advice call

0844 248 8117 Or logon at And enter the Dolphin ID in the Search box at the top-left of the screen. 0844 248 8117

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Røde NTG-3 As any location recordist will testify, the demands of recording outside the studio are radically different from those of working in the comforts of an air-conditioned recording facility. Røde’s NTG-3 is a microphone specifically aimed at the demands of the location market, including film and TV sound recordists, or indeed, anybody who likes to get ‘out and about’ recording a variety of sounds. Like their studio microphones, the NTG series (which also includes the NTG-1 and NTG-2 microphones) has a keen eye on price,

E-Mu’s Tracker Pre is a two-channel audio interface in a small portable unit with a surprising amount of high-quality features packed in. The two combo XLR/TRS inputs enable connection of mic, line and Hi-Z inputs enabling you to record from just about any source. The addition of TRS insert points on each channel enables you to connect the Tracker Pre to additional outboard equipment such as EQs and dynamics processors. 48V phantom power is available, even when the Tracker Pre is powered over USB thanks to the unique CurrentMorph preamps, which enable you to use condenser microphones. However, this is a universal switch rather than being independent to each channel. Of particular interest is that the Tracker Pre can act as a standalone preamp without connection to a computer.




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black rocks

  experience a new breed of guitars at

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Top Five Best Sellers The last thing you want to do is turn up to band rehearsal and have everyone laugh at your latest acquisition. What better way to make sure you’re not buying a duffer than to know what Dolphin Music sells the most of. These are like the charts for gear…


0844 248 8117 Or logon at And enter the Dolphin ID in the Search box at the top-left of the screen.



Rode NT1-A £109 Dolphin ID 2998

AKG C1000S £120.99 Dolphin ID 1503

Behringer C-1 £33 Dolphin ID 5107

SE Electronics SE1000a £99 Dolphin ID 34589

Audio Technica AT 2020 £58.99 Dolphin ID 5090

This multi-award winning microphone is one of the world’s biggest-selling studio mics. Very sensitive and virtually noise-free.

Suited for recording and live sound applications. Can be powered by a 9V battery if no phantom power is available.

Professional and super-affordable large-diaphragm condenser mic, for an irresistible price – but no compromises made on quality.

Entry-level condenser for studio vocals and instrument recording. It performs well above its price point and looks the business!

Great for studio use on vocals, acoustic instruments and amps. The price/performance standard in side-address studio condensers.

AKG D 5 £65 Dolphin ID 29898

Shure SM58 £74.50 Dolphin ID 2022

Behringer XM8500 £17 Dolphin ID 2073

Sennheiser E815S X £25.99 Dolphin ID 3072

Samson Q7 £29.99 Dolphin ID 14082

Lead and backing vocals will deliver a powerful sound even on the noisiest stage. Show the guitarist who’s boss!

This is the world standard for live microphones. Most venues will only use the good old SM58… Should you?

Not only a favorite among entry-level vocalists, but also the choice of several pros. Quality that matches more expensive models.

General-purpose microphone for live use, karaoke and club PA. You can feel confident to use it in all sorts of applications.

The ultimate all-around microphone. Take it on stage or to the studio – you’ll never be disappointed.

JBL EON15 G2 £350 (each) Dolphin ID 35249

Mackie SRM450 V2 £1,098 (pair) Dolphin ID 35798

Yamaha Stagepas 300 £299 (pair) Dolphin ID 5646

Tapco Thump 15A £398 (pair) Dolphin ID 34159

Behringer B1520DSP £666 (pair) Dolphin ID 35864

This system is firmly entrenched as the industry leader in powered portable PA systems, with many thousands of users worldwide.

Live sound is whipped completely into submission, giving you more control over your shows than ever. Has a powerful sound.

Flexibility, portability and simplicity come together in this new, all-inone PA system, that fits in a car boot. Includes integral mixer.

This powered speaker provides amazingly accurate EQ response, giving it just the right amount of punch.

Rock band, church or a one-man show? This PA delivers at all levels – from quiet to loud, always sounds great.

Edirol UA-25 £127.99 Dolphin ID 4001

Digidesign Mbox 2 £289.99 Dolphin ID 7550

M-Audio Fast Track Ultra £218.43 Dolphin ID 34490

E-mu Tracker Pre USB £109.99 Dolphin ID 34901

Apogee Duet £325 Dolphin ID 33457

Powerful USB audio/MIDI interface designed for premium sound quality, durability and portability for computer-based audio engineers.

Next-generation USB-powered audio/MIDI production system that improves on the original Mbox – Digi’s most popular ever.

M-Audio’s mobile recording line hits new levels: high-speed USB 2.0 connectivity, DSP mixer and awardwinning Octane preamps.

Bundled with powerful Mac and PC audio and MIDI applications, it has everything needed to create, record, edit, and master CDs.

With control functions built directly into Logic Pro, Soundtrack Pro and GarageBand, Duet helps create professional recordings effortlessly.

Audio Interface


Studio Microphones


To buy, or for expert advice call

Live Microphones





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Electric Guitars

Student Classical

Stage Pianos

Hardware DAW

DAW Software

Controller Keyboards






M-Audio Oxygen 8 V2 £50.99 Dolphin ID 8558

AKAI MPK49 £279 Dolphin ID 28890

E-mu Xboard 25 £79.99 Dolphin ID 5612

Novation ReMOTE SL61 £365 Dolphin ID 8392

CME UF80 £299 Dolphin ID 33591

Updated version of the MIDI controller that started the mobile studio revolution. Perfect for making music on the move or playing live.

A new era for USB/MIDI controllers, featuring high-quality 49-key, semiweighted keyboard with aftertouch and genuine MPC drum pads.

Great controller with advanced studio/live features. For a limited time, Dolphin offers an additional 1.5GB E-mu Sample Library.

A versatile controller that feels like a real instrument, and includes Automap mapping functionality. Used live by bands such as Muse.

Arguably the most convenient and cost-effective full-function master keyboard in the world. Includes free wireless USB/MIDI adaptor.

Steinberg Cubase 4 £334.95 Dolphin ID 15129

Ableton Live 7 £279.99 Dolphin ID 33899

Apple Logic Studio £299 Dolphin ID 33408

Propellerhead Reason 4 £249 Dolphin ID 33634

Cutting-edge DAW merging great sound quality, intuitiveness and a vast range of tools for composition, recording, editing and mixing.

This sequencer marks the arrival of the new Drum Rack, which streamlines beat production via an easy drag-and-drop interface.

M-Audio Pro Tools M-Powered 7.4 £163.99 Dolphin ID 35349 Pro Tools gets revolutionary, with all-new music creation tools and support for more creative options.

Logic Studio delivers everything a musician needs to write, record, edit, mix, and perform. Users include DJ Danger Mouse.

Complete easy-to-use soft studio system featuring all the tools and instruments you need to turn your ideas into music.

M-Audio Project Mix IO £749 Dolphin ID 33563

Euphonix MC Control £999 Dolphin ID 35202

Digidesign 003 Factory £1,495 Dolphin ID 26160

Mackie MCU Pro £899 Dolphin ID 22196

Jazz Mutant Dexter £1,899 Dolphin ID 31373

The universal solution that combines the best of the worlds of hardware and software for a new standard in streamlined production.

Combines the functionality of motorised faders, programmable knobs and buttons, and incredible customizable touchscreen interface.

Has everything to compose, perform, record, edit, mix, and master audio for post production projects with professional results.

Adds to your software’s functionality to deliver the ultimate hands-on control. The most comprehensive feature set on the market.

Ground-breaking unit bringing the power of Digital Audio Workstations to your fingertips. Users include Daft Punk, M.I.A and Bjork.

Yamaha P-85 (black) £399.99 Dolphin ID 35678

Nord Stage 88 £2,194 Dolphin ID 7537

Casio PX-320 £469.95 Dolphin ID 33940

Korg SP-250 £449 Dolphin ID 29313

M-Audio ProKeys 88SX £214.59 Dolphin ID 8088

The new Yamaha 88-key digital piano is perfect for stage and home use. Elegant, simple and great sounding.

With the best of Clavia’s awardwinning technology, it hosts Organ, Piano and Synth instruments, plus an extensive effects section.

A new AIF Sound Source delivers all the sound quality and playability of a fine grand piano, for unmatched realism.

This digital piano features a new weighted hammer action, which delivers the same playing experience as a grand piano.

Designed for performance and recording, it delivers excellent sound in a portable package – you can carry it under one arm!

Jose Ferrer Classical Guitar 4/4 Size £36.99 Dolphin ID 14652

Ibanez AEG10NENT Natural £189 Dolphin ID 15753

Tanglewood TCO-CE Concert Classical £206 Dolphin ID 29604

Yamaha C80 £119 Dolphin ID 10147

Admira Almeria £136 Dolphin ID 35215

Designed by guitar teachers for students, this is a step-up student instrument and a great first guitar.

Features include electronic pickup, Shape Shifter EQ, onboard tuner and a comfortable cutaway body.

Perfect electro-classical for the classical player wanting a first-class instrument with on-stage capability.

For its modest price, the C80 offers a level of quality, performance, tone and playability unheard of in its price range.

Award-winning model that continues to be the recommended choice of classic guitar by teachers the world over.

Ibanez RG350EX Black £279 Dolphin ID 15329

Fender Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster £1,099 Dolphin ID 21553

Dean Dave Mustaine VMNT Angel of Deth £799 Dolphin ID 37362

Ampeg Dan Armstrong Plexiglas £1,069 Dolphin ID 15670

Jackson Pro Series RR3 Rhoads – Cobalt Blue £399 Dolphin ID 34737

This guitar unleashes fury with features like a scalloped neck and aged parts – this is pure Yngwie!

Loaded with Dave Mustaine Live Wire USA active humbuckers and Dave’s favourite neck.

Iconic rock’n’roll guitar made famous by Keith Richards. It has a unique sound with great sustain.

A tribute to mourned Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhoads, this is metal guitar at its best – fast and loud.

The weapon of choice for visiting sonic mayhem on the metal masses, the RG has rocked its way to classic status. 0844 248 8117

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18/8/08 12:57:37




Snake Davis

Session sax man Snake Davis is proof you can make up for lost time with raw talent and a great attitude. Robert Collins charts his unstoppable career


M People Elegant Slumming 1993 (Deconstruction) This Mercury Music Prize-winning combination of house flavours with pop sensibilities features Snake throughout. Pet Shop Boys Very 1993 (Parlophone) Snake played on the track Go West, but is in no way responsible for it reverberating around football terraces across the UK ever since. George Michael Older 1996 (Virgin) Snake played on what is arguably the key George Michael album – the one that gave all the clues that someone was about to emerge from the closet. Tom Jones Reload 1999 (Gut) Snake added the sax to the sizzle between TJ and Cerys Matthews on Baby It’s Cold Outside. The Guillemots Red 2008 (Polydor) Snake entered the world of indie rock earlier this year with his contributions to the second LP by the Brit-nominated, critically acclaimed Guillemots.

SNAKE HORNS He’s recently started to try out newer models

Until recently, Snake favoured the old Selmer Mk6, circa late 50s/early 60s. But after a successful tryout with the Yanagisawa SC902 soprano, he decided to take on the bronze Yanagisawa A992 tenor (Dolphin ID 38250, £1999.99) and alto with equally pleasing results.

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he name might not be familiar, but you’ll probably recognise the face. Because when people need a sax player, they tend to give Snake Davis a call. Who are these people? People like Paul McCartney, Ray Charles, Kylie Minogue, George Michael, Amy Winehouse, Tina Turner and Motörhead. He was the in-house saxophonist for Jonathan Ross for a while, too. It’s certainly a remarkable CV, particularly for a man who only started playing the instrument aged 19. “It took time to find the right instrument for me,” Snake explains. “I was a boy soprano in south Wales before my voice broke. That was my first thrill from music. I played guitar through my teens and picked up a flute at 18. There were a lot of punk bands around at that time and the flute wasn’t really loud enough. Someone said I should try the sax. I was passionate about Motown then and the sax gave me that melodic, soulful sound. Once I’d been playing sax for a few months I realised that this was it.”


Snake’s willingness to put in the hard work soon became legendary. He was in multiple bands during his 20s and was famous among his peers for practising in the back of the van when the rest of the band were in the pub. When the offer of a full-time job onboard cruise ships in the Caribbean came up, it didn’t change Snake’s outlook. “We had to work hard – in musicians’ terms,” he laughs. “We’d play two two-hour sets every night without a night off for six months. It was a standing joke that every morning I could be found in a broom cupboard practising.” Having absorbed many new experiences playing professionally, Snake soon found himself in demand on returning to the UK. “A guy we had standing in on keyboards one night turned out to write music for Granada TV and produced the odd pop record,” he recalls. “People suddenly wanted me to play on their records – and they were giving me quite a lot of money as well. Through that I met Lisa Stansfield and ended up on her records, touring the world with her. It was extraordinarily exciting and inspiring.” Snake Davis had somehow become one of Britain’s leading session musicians. And the calls kept coming… “I did some work on Flowers In The Dirt for Paul McCartney, with a big horn section,” he explains. “But for Flaming Pie, Paul phoned an orchestral contractor direct and there were just three of us working together in his

home studio. That was incredibly exciting. Seeing how he worked at close quarters was kind of spine-tingling – although he took the piss out of me, calling me Lizard.” A gig with The Godfather was another highlight: “I was playing in the house band for the Jonathan Ross show and we knew that James Brown was coming on. His manager reminded us that we had to call him Mr Brown. And then when I met him I went, ‘Aw, James, it’s a pleasure to meet you’. Luckily, he was in a good mood. I was just trying to suppress my cheesy grin enough to play the saxophone.”


Snake’s success is rooted in the years of practice he put in during his 20s, but it’s his ability to understand different roles that makes him the perfect model for aspiring session musicians to follow. “I’m good at slotting into a new situation fast and getting into someone else’s musical mind. I can enhance something without stamping all over it. That’s not to say I don’t love it when the spotlight hits me and I get my 30 seconds of glory. I worked flipping hard and I sound pretty good.” You can hear Snake’s work and learn more about his remarkable career at MP


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Music Planet - Issue 1