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Everything posted by hcadmin

  1. Understanding Those Magic Boxes of Doom By Jon Chappell Most outboard effects behave in predictable ways as you move from manufacturer to manufacturer. For example, you can pick up any brand of digital delay, set at the delay time to 125 ms, the feedback to one repeat and the level to 50\%, and get essentially the same, expected sound. Quality issues aside, you can also get predictable results from an EQ. This is a good thing, as it helps you set up the sound you hear in your head on different rigs. But guitar distortion pedals are the “black boxes” of the effects world; they are all un
  2. Using Reverse Polarity Adaptors on Your Mix By Jon Chappell A phase switch on a mixer is actually a polarity switch: it changes the positive voltage to negative and the negative voltage to positive. The reason it's called a phase switch is that that's how people use it: to eliminate phase cancellations in signals coming into the mixer. Reversing the polarity of a signal (and the waveform produced by that signal) is the same thing as having the signal 180 degrees--the maximum--out of phase. That's why in this one situation you can use the terms "out of phase" and "reverse polarity" int
  3. Overcoming New Project Inertia Through Templates By Jon Chappell I had an experience recently that I’m sure many of you can relate to. I heard a great acoustic guitar patch in Ableton Live Suite, and so wanted to use that in a project I was working on. But I’m not a Live user (not yet, though I plan to be). So when I installed and launched Live 7, I was completely lost. Staring at a blank project window—which looked nothing like Cubase and Pro Tools, the DAWs I’m used to seeing—I couldn’t even figure out how to get my MIDI keyboard to make a sound (despite the fact that I was transmitti
  4. Use Your DAW to Create Arpeggios, Tremolo, and Other Delay-Based Effects More Effectively Than Your DDL By Jon Chappell There are tons of ways guitarists and keyboardists can use timed delays to enhance their recorded parts. From arpeggios to rapid-fire drones to tremolo, timed delays can add a new rhythmic dimension to a percussive or staccato figure. But setting up an outboard delay (or using the plug-in variety) is often clunky, and it won’t move with the music if the tempo changes (between sections, with intentional accelerandos and ritards, or just naturally shifting over time). Ta
  5. No More Math! Use This Excellent Excel Solution for All Your Impedance Calculations By Jon Chappell One of the great things about doing research on the Web is that you often find out stuff you weren’t necessarily looking for in the first place, but is valuable in another application. Case in point: I was researching the best way to hook up some lithium-polymer batteries to drive a high-powered motor for my radio-controlled airplane (a 60" P-51 Mustang), and I happened to stumble across a familiar, but out-of-context website: www.duncanamps.com. This was linked from one of the aeromodeli
  6. Don't Impede Me! By Jon Chappell P.A. systems and guitar heads and cabs are often modular affairs, with the speaker cabinet being separate from the power amplifier (unless your P.A. have powered speakers). Having separate speakers provides more versatility, as you can often mix and match speaker systems to suit the job. But before you start using your Crown power amp with your guitar player’s Celestion cabinets, or attaching a 4x12 cab to your Marshall head where you’d been using 2x10, you have to know that you can safely match up those particular components. If you get it wrong, yo
  7. Direct boxes aren't just for recording bass - check out these tips for guitar By Jon Chappell Here are two different scenarios involving guitar amps and recording, both with a common problem that can be solved with direct-box technology. We don't normally think of direct boxes for recording guitars (that's an onstage bass thing!), but it does come up, especially in the following two situations. Scenario 1: You have a great vintage guitar and amp, but the amp has no master volume, so you really need to crank it to get the quality you want. The sound is so flippin' loud that it overwhe
  8. Where the Natural Meets the Fractional By Jon Chappell Natural harmonics on the guitar—the ones found on open strings by laying a left-hand finger lightly over a fret—are a great weapon in the arsenal of a performing and recording guitarist. Often a well-placed harmonic is just the thing a sustained note needs at the climax of a solo. On overdubs, they make nice punctuation points when applied judiciously, and can add a nice splash of color. But when you’re in the studio, the pressure can be on to hit the harmonic the first time, or to hit it repeatedly, consistently, and with good,
  9. USB Mics Are for Real, and the C01U Does the Basics By Craig Anderton At first, I thought the idea of a USB mic was a joke. Then when I actually saw the C01U I thought that it couldn't be any good, given the price (list is $234.99, but that seems pretty fictional—average street price hovers around $80). However, after using it for a while, I've gotten to the point where I don't want take my laptop on the road without it. The C01U is a USB version of the C01, but replaces the XLR out with a USB out (it would be nice to have both options, though I'm not sure where you'd put the extra jac
  10. Not Enough MIDI Ports? Here's Your Solution www.tapcoworld.com by Craig Anderton I've noticed a disturbing trend lately in computer interfaces: No MIDI ports, or at best, one MIDI port (or something on the end of a bizarro world breakout cable). Granted, a lot of what MIDI used to do outside of the computer now occurs inside the computer, thanks to virtual instruments and other plug-ins. Yet there are still a lot of great MIDI hardware synthesizers, pedals, effects, footswitches, fader controllers, and other goodies that aren't happy unless they see that little 5-pin DIN connector. So
  11. Cross-platform guitar amp/cabinet/effects simulation software www.ikmultimedia.com www.native-instruments.com www.waves.com By Craig Anderton I've basically come to the conclusion that amp simulation software is like amps themselves: They're all different. I use all three of these sims for different reasons, as each one has different sound qualities and functionality. So, I'll be presenting some objective and subjective views on each one, and hopefully, they'll be helpful in deciding which one is right for you. FIRST THINGS FIRST Whenever I boot up an amp sim for the first time,
  12. Gibson Gambles...Let's Check Out the Payoff By Craig Anderton When Gibson announced it would be introducing a digital Les Paul, people didn't quite know what to make of it. Initially, Gibson's "digital guitar" was mostly defined by what it was not: It wasn't going to be a modeling guitar like the Line 6 Variax, or a Roland-style guitar synthesizer. Some people even thought it wasn't that great an idea, that the price was out of line, and that guitarists wouldn't "get it." Despite the naysayers, though, I was intrigued. Sure, the idea of providing a separate audio output for each string wa
  13. Vintage sounds and modern hardware hit the stage 73-key MSRP $2,700, street $1,999; 88-key MSRP $3,000, street $2,199 www.korg.com By Craig Anderton I’m glad the days of the “race to the bottom” in keyboards is over. Companies like Korg, Yamaha, Roland, Nord, etc. are building serious, stage/recording-worthy keyboards with excellent build quality and generous feature sets. They’re priced accordingly, but these are products with “legs” that aren’t designed to be flipped every six months for some shiny new plastic thingy. Which brings us to the SV-1 Vintage Stage piano. It’s almost a
  14. Want to get into MIDI guitar? Now you can do it without breaking your budget www.sonuus.com By Craig Anderton The G2M is compact and battery-powered. Back in the 80s, MIDI guitar was supposed to be the Next Big Thing: What guitar player wouldn’t want to be able to play anything from pianos to trumpets to ambient pads from that familiar six-string interface? Unfortunately, the question that wasn’t asked was “What guitar player wants to give up the expressiveness of a guitar and modify their technique in order to hear sounds with delays and glitching?” The answer was “Not as many
  15. A Space-Age Approach To An Age-Old Need by Rick Van Horn KEY NOTES Innovative design and functional features Extremely durable construction Cases are heavy Hardware case had fit problems A lot of thought has been given to the design of Stagg's new Advanced Concept molded hard-shell plastic drum cases. You need only glance at their unusual shape and distinctive molded contours to get the impression that somebody planned these cases as more than just "containers." They're meant to be functional pieces of equipment in their own right. The Shape Most drum cases are essentially cylindri
  16. Like A Fine Vintage Wine by Norman Arnol KEY NOTES Exceptional construction quality Hybrid rims combine comfort curve and Cuban designs Outstanding sound, especially for recording Wide range of finish options The Gon Bops company was founded by Mariano Bobadilla in 1954, and the Bobadilla family made high-quality drums in their Los Angeles factory until the early 1990s. The brand then went dormant for a while. Now revived by Drum Workshop and overseen by Akbar Moghaddam (formerly of the legendary Valje Company and his own Sol Percussion), Gon Bops is once again offering top-quality Lati
  17. This definitive book is the Holy Grail for Beatles fans and recording enthusiasts $100 MSRP www.recordingthebeatles.com by Craig Anderton The Beatles are passing into the Ancient History phase; after all, it was over 50 years ago they made their debut. While today’s generation may be wearing Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd t-shirts – two other acts from the 60s that have managed to maintain their authority through the decades – the Beatles’ influence continues to be felt, and represents a touchstone for an entire generation. The Beatles-based Love show at Cirque de Soleil, the back cat
  18. Definitely NOT Off The Assembly Line by Rick Van Horn photos by Jim Esposito KEY NOTES Outstanding craftsmanship Different bearing edges on differently sized drums for maximum shell-to-head contact Exceptionally full tom sounds Cast Iron snare not as heavy as it looks Ford is certainly a familiar name in American manufacturing—just not for drums. Nevertheless, Ford drums do exist, and they're touted as nothing less than "the Ferrari of drums" by their builders. One of those builders is company namesake Jimmy Ford. Jimmy played with Lionel Hampton for six years, entertains gue
  19. The Gospel According To Ronn by Rick Van Horn photos by Jim Esposito KEY NOTES Unique construction methods and design elements Outstanding construction quality Stainless Steel drum offered surprising tuning range Milkwood drum combined vintage and contemporary characteristics North America has a plethora of custom drum builders, and Canada alone has a sizeable number. Among these builders, Vancouver, Canada's Ronn Dunnett has managed to establish a pretty high profile. He's a tireless supporter of live drumming events, and he's a major force behind the popular drumsmith.com Web site. T
  20. This ReFill Brings Muscular Acoustic Drums to Reason http://www.propellerheads.se By Craig Anderton If I say "Propellerheads," you probably think "Reason"... or "ReCycle" if you're into looping, or "ReBirth" if you remember the first of the virtual instruments. But you probably don't think "bitchin' great drum kits that absolutely leap through the speakers and kick butt big-time." Well, that's the deal with their Reason Drum Kits refill, designed to work with Reason's NN-XT sampler. I've been working on a song I'll be performing at the NAMM convention, and I just wasn't happy
  21. Quality Sound For The Working Drummer by Mark Parsons KEY NOTES All models offer excellent value Opus 99/ST 99 mic'-and-stand combination is compact and practical Opus 53 performs much better than its price would indicate Beyerdynamic has long been known as a purveyor of quality instrument microphones. (Their M-88 has been considered one of the classic bass drum mic's for over thirty years, with good reason.) Now the manufacturer has introduced their Opus series of microphones. And while these mics were designed for the working musician and are therefore built with cost in mind, I hesit
  22. Portable Guitar/Bass Tuner $19.99 list www.planetwaves.com By Craig Anderton It's hard not to like something that's inexpensive, tiny, accurate, and very useful. Which is probably why I like the Planet Waves S. O. S. ("strobe on string") tuner a whole lot. If you're wondering why I included a shot of the package and not just the product, that's because it's small. Really small. As in, about the size of an oversized pick. Yet this is a functional, useable guitar tuner that weighs next to nothing and fits in your axe's case. Actually, you could fit dozens of these in a case, but
  23. High Bells, No Bells, And A "Chick, Chick, Chick" by Martin Patmos KEY NOTES Hi-Bell design increases frequency range Unique lathing adds tonal colors 22" flat ride felt great to play 13" hi-hats have higher-than expected pitch and projection Not long after their release, Zildjian's K Constantinople cymbals established a reputation. Perhaps the highest of high-end Zildjians, these traditional-styled cymbals generated a good deal of enthusiasm among jazz drummers, including notable artists like Brian Blade. Recently, a certain turn of events and a little experimentation led Zildj
  24. An Affordable Way To Get In The Game by Rick Mattingly KEY NOTES 12" djembe offers full range of tones 9" djembe has doumbek-like qualities 9" doumbek sounds toy-like In a 1995 Percussive Notes article, drum-circle guru Arthur Hull referred to hand drums as the "folk guitars of the '90s." But what Arlo Guthrie once described as "the great folk music scare" of the 1960s only lasted a couple of years, being quickly replaced by electrified garage bands in the aftermath of the "British Invasion" spearheaded by the Beatles. The drum circle movement, by comparison, has endured into a secon
  25. See-Through Sound by Rick Van Horn, photo by Jim Esposito Say what you will about exotic woods and custom paint jobs, there's just something cool about the look of a clear drumset. And forget about "retro." That coolness knows no time period. When you (and your audience) can see through the drums, it adds a whole new dimension to the performance. Sonor's X-Ray acrylic drumkit—a new offering within the high-end Designer series—takes special advantage of this added visual dimension. The linear design of the Designer series lugs gives the kit an absolutely skeletal appearance. The shells s
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