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Chris Loeffler

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Chris Loeffler last won the day on June 25 2016

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  1. The Peavey Invective line was developed in collaboration with Misha Mansoor, guitarist for prog-metal Periphery and solo projects like Bulb, with a focus on providing players with a pedal-friendly clean channel and a high-gain channel voiced to nail modern heavy sounds. The original Invective release was in the form of a 120 watt, ear-crushing head powered by a quad of 6L6 power tubes and was met with wide praise, but the output volume and sheer weight of the iron made it a hard sell for small gigs and coy spinal cords. Peavey’s 2019 addition to that line comes in the form of a 20 watt amplifier head that is small in size but equally huge in features. The Peavey Invective MH amp is a 2xEL84 powered tube amplifier (their marketing literature states “all tube”, but the rectifier is a modern solid-state) with Clean and Lead channels with independent EQ and host of features for gain structuring, audio output, and more. The Peavey Invective MH weighs just shy of 20lb and is about 12”x12”18” in dimension. What You Need to Know The Peavey Invective MH features three 12AX7 and two EL87 tubes to drive two channels, Clean and Lead, at 20 watts. The Clean channel features controls for Gain, Low, and High and the Lead Channel significantly ups the ante with Pre-Gain, Low, Mid, High, and Post Gain controls as well as switches for Gate, Tight, and Boost. Both channels share a Master section with Resonance and Presence controls and can be switched via the amp faceplate or the optional footswitch. The Clean channel essentially only has a single gain control and stays relatively dirt free up through levels that could keep up with a drummer at long as it is operating at full power. The unmistakable bark of the power tubes starts to peak through about 2/3 of the way up with harmonically rich overtones that lean more towards “dirt and spank” than preamp distortion. I would describe the clean channel as neutral sounding, without a noticeable hump in the EQ range it produces. The low end is thick enough, but maybe just a tad lighter in the area between “hearing” and “feeling” the lows, certainly a bit more bold than a vintage Marshall. The Lead channel can be a monster, and a series of switches and controls are highly important to getting the “right” type of high-gain sound you are after. The Pre-Gain control really impacts the gain amount (and structure) of the preamp section, while the Post-Gain impacts the output volume of the amp at large. Cranking the Pre-Gain with low Post-Gain will create saturated (if sometimes grainy) preamp distortion that is relatively uncolored at bedroom levels, while running the Pre-Gain extremely low and cranking the Post-Gain will push the power section into a meatier distortion. As you might imagine, most of the best settings are finding the sweet spots in how the two interact. In addition to the EQ controls for Low, Mid, and High (I wasn’t able to find in the document the frequency range each knob passively filtered around, but they all sounded “right” for modern voicing and balance), there are switches for Gate, Tight, and Boost. Gate is a pre-set gating control that slightly clamps the attack and decay of heavy distortion to reduce idle noise and a add a slightly percussive distortion. The Tight switch appears to slightly revoice the preamp while dropping the gain for a more articulate, less compressed overdrive. The Boost switch kicks in a mid-range focused boost to slam the preamp in Lead mode. It’s a variation of the TS-style pedal into a high-gain setting that is a core part of the vernacular of heavy tones, and I felt they dialed in the EQ and gain boost to get the most out of the amp it is feeding. The EQ controls on both channels are passive tone controls that adjust the balance of the preset frequency bands, and all appear to enter the circuit after the preamp. The global Resonance and Presence controls appear to work as post-power amp voicing, with the Resonance control impacting how the low end articulates in the speaker and cabinet you are running the amp into and the Presence control effecting the way the highs present themselves, from chimey and tight to looser and glassier. A neat feature for players is the T.S.I. (Tube Status Indication) LEDs what provide visual feedback the power tubes are operating within the bounds of their expected current. The back panel of the Invective MH is filled with additional features, as well as the typical voltage selector switch, AC power inlet, fuse, and speaker cabinet outputs. The amp has a built-in attenuator to change the wattage from 20 to 5 to 1 to pull more power amp distortion at lower volumes (extremely high attenuation does require tweaks to the Resonance and Presence controls to maintain the same speaker response) as well as a Speaker Defeat switch that takes the speaker entirely out of the equation by running to a dummy load. Killing the speaker allows you to leverage either the Headphone output, the XLR direct output, or the ASD Audio direct out through the amp’s proprietary MSDI (Mic Simulated Direct Interface), which creates the impulse response of a 12” speaker in a cabinet with a classic 58-style microphone placed 3” from the speaker cone. The direct out via XLR is great for recording or stage-silent performances (if you trust your sound guy!), and the USB output is an interesting, driver-free approach to direct recording without introducing noise. I put about fifteen minutes into the FX loop to see if I could freak it out or introduce noise and found it to be transparent and receptive to effects, both high and low impedance, in the loop. Things like dirty power and janky cables sorted out and it was smooth sailing. Limitations The reduction in power leads to a reduction in headroom, so part of what makes the Invective so appealing as a clean/heavy platform gets taken away to scale it down. The cleans are still respectable, and the lows hang in there, but they aren’t just a “quieter” 120. Conclusion The Peavey Invective MH brings a myriad of tonal options to the table, doing pretty much anything I could throw at it except spongey vintage mid-gain. The cleans are crisp and modulation ready, you can lay some glass on the top when it’s cranked, and the high-gain channel screams. My initial thought, right or wrong, is that the Invective covers so much sonic ground and has so much flexibility that it might get overlooked by people who are used to amps that only work on variations of a theme, but they’d be missing out on a true, affordable swiss army knife of an amp. Resources Peavey Invective MH Mini Amp Head Product Page Buy Peavey Invective MH at Sweetwater (MSRP $799.99, Street $699.99)
  2. I have one. 🙂 My guess is the instrument was sold for the simple reason that it represented a sizable amount of cash to the owner at a time when they needed it. With two little ones (and one big one), mine sits in a case and doesn't get played nearly as much as I'd like. I don't want it damaged, and when it comes time to play in any space but the studio I grab one of my beaters out of convenience. If I found myself in a tough spot, I could see looking at it as a quick way to get a meaningful financial infusion. I've also heard mention of people buying instruments from retailers at 0% interest terms and selling them immediately because it's a cheaper, longer term cash loan (even with the hit to value) than a high-interest credit card. I'm not aware of any issues with the guitar you are speaking of, and think highly of Taylor's quality control (said as someone who was a guitar buyer for Musician's Friend in the late-00's".
  3. Wattage is irrelevant to ohms. Given the amp only puts out 15 watts, you're not at risk of damaging your speakers. As long as you are running on the correct resistance (ohms) you will be fine. Since you are running in serial, figuring out your maximum ratings for both is simple addition. Two alnico blues rated at 15 watts with 8 ohms in serial would be 30 watts power handling at 16 ohms. If you ran them in serial, you would have a 4 ohm load and 15 watts.You wouldn't need to solder if you are just swapping speakers. the speaker wiring includes socketed tips that connect with your amp. :-)
  4. From JPATT- Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I think I'm going to swap out my G12M's for two Alnico Blues then as it would be nice to be true to the original Vox sound and I play a lot of U2. Who knows, maybe I should declare 2017 the "year of Vox" and learn mostly songs played on the amp. Two final q's:1. If I do swap out my G12M's for two Blues, do I get the 8 ohm or 16 ohm Blue? My current G12M's say 8 ohm and I think they are connected serially at a total resistance of 16 ohm, so I think 8 ohms. But the Watts rating is throwing me off, maybe it is irrelevant. I have never swapped out a speaker and don't want to screw it up. 2. I think you mentioned soldering? What needs to be soldered?Thanks!
  5. You certainly could. The Blue is louder than the Greenback, though (more efficient). As such, I don't think you'd get as much of a difference (or Greenback flavor) as you'd like, since the Blue will overpower it. I've played a Blue Alnico / G12H combo in a 2x12 cabinet and it sounded fantastic... actually better than two Blues... they seemed to compliment each other and fill in gaps. I think the G12H is a better match for the Blue if you wanted to go that route.
  6. The Reply function, for some reason, isn't posting (only Post Comment is), so I'm pasting Tonic2000's response- Hey, Chris, thanks for being so responsive to my suggestions. As you mention, guitar setup can be contentious, but the article is now a good introduction. Kudos to Harmony Central for being on the ball.
  7. Thanks to Tonic2000 for the feedback! This article was written based on an interview with one local setup person and independently reviewed be a second for accuracy, but we knew this could be a contentious one! We've vetted several points brought up by Tonic2000 and integrated his recommended changes into the article (with attribution in two instances). As stated in the article, this article was intended more in the spirit of "How it Works", not "Go Out and Do It with No Further Research"!
  8. It certainly should work with Cakewalk... according to their press release, " The iXR enables your audience to experience the full sonic power of revolutionary new instruments like Cakewalk's Z3TA+ and moForte's GeoShred, elevating the iPad to a truly professional level."I would assume if they're supporting the Z3TA+ they're covered. I don't have hands-on experience with the 2i2 to speak to how they compare. Hopefully someone will comment and share theirs! On paper, the iXR has MIDI in/out, which the 2i2 does not (you need to upgrade to the 2i4 for MIDI). The 2i2 offers 176.4kHz and 192kHz sample rates, whereas the iXR peaks at 96kHz, but given the number of "who can actually discern the difference between 48kHz and 96kHz threads around the internet, I don't know that that's more than a number! I'm wary of even acknowledging the spec wars, because they can be inflated. That said, let's acknowledge the spec wars! The 2i2's mic inputs have a 3k impedance rating, compared the the 2.2k on the iXR, but the iXR can take +8dBu whereas the 2i2 is +4dBu, and they're basically tied in THD and EIN. Obviously, the biggest question is likely "which has a better preamp", which I can't say comparing them side to side. I thought the Tascam sounded fantastic when considering the price point, and it seems that Scarlett 2i2 is has a reputation for the same sentiment. So, short of hearing them next to each other, MIDI is the only differentiator. If you're ever wanting to use a MIDI keyboard to play virtual instruments, you're going to need MIDI.
  9. Goo call out, catalano... you connect ot an iOS device with the Lighting Bolt to USB cable that came with your iOS device (i.e. the cable you plug into the adaptor to charge it)
  10. Some of the more savvy independent stores have joined together to make group buys from the larger manufacturers. Some, like Wildwood, even order one-off limited runs that the big chains can't get.
  11. Earthquaker Devices Plumes Small Signal Shredder Plumes of shred! by Chris Loeffler When Earthquaker Devices announced they had a new pedal for evaluation, the last thing I expected to review was the Earthquaker Devices Plumes Small Signal Shredder. A “t00bscreamer” from the company that (begrudgingly, according to their copy) delivered the most definitive and flexible take on the classic overdrive circuit? Less than $100 and made in the USA? Huh. The Earthquaker Devices Plumes is dubbed by EQD as a Small Signal Shredder, and packs Volume, Drive, and Tone controls as well as a three-position clipping mode switch in a small vertical enclosure with true-bypass switching. What You Need to Know The way EDQ embraces the “NATS” humor in their product description is the perfect setup since the Plumes veers away from pretty much everything that defines the concept of an “ideal” Tubescreamer; no 4558 holy grail chip, no transistor buffers, three clipping modes, and a modified tone control. The Plumes is indeed quieter, cleaner, and more dirty that an off-the-shelf TS-9 or 808 thanks to many clever design factors such as removing noisy parts and increasing the voltage for extended headroom. The Volume control offers plenty of boost over unity. Output volume varies based on the amount of gain in the Drive control, but even with almost no drive in the lowest output clipping mode the pedal exceeds unity gain by around 1:00; it gets outright beastly when cranked in the Clean Boost mode. The Tone control is a deviation from the original Tubescreamer that it feels like the dramatic cut/add carving of the traditional tone control and demonstrates a more natural EQ curve across its sweep. The LED clipping mode is the crunchiest of the three modes and has the bite and gain structure of a vintage Marshall, including a slight sweetening of the midrange and noticeable growl to the lower-mids. I found the LED clipping to respond especially well when digging in on chords and producing interesting and amplike interharmonic modulation. This was probably my favorite mode running into an amp that was clean or that exhibited fairly high-fidelity gain EQ. The No Clip/Clean Boost mode removes the LED clipping diodes from the circuit for a rawer, cleaner, louder sound. It still gets dirty, but the gain is best structured to push an overdriven amp or another gain pedal and enhance it with additional harmonic content. That said, the slight stiffness to the gain attack does a fantastic job of tightening up spongier amp distortion, especially when demoed through a lower wattage Marshall clone. The SIlicon diode mode creates asymmetrical clipping and is what Earthquaker Devices describes as closest to a “standard TS” mode, with soft clipping and emphasized mid-range. This mode is the most compressed, vocal, and liquid of the three, and jumps out especially well when used for the traditional TS application of filling in the hollow-mids of a Fender and forcing gain focus to the upper-mids while trimming bass. Asymmetrical clipping in this type of circuit is more commonly associated with the Boss SD-1 (the classic Tubescreamer does symmetrical clipping), but there’s the science and then there’s the 20 other variables that come into creating an overdrive. The Plumes certainly nails the TS sound, and came surprisingly close to a rawer-sounding Analogman Silver Modded TS-9 I demoed it against in terms of clarity and distortion behavior. I found the different clipping modes to be distinct sounds rather than the typical “toggle” mod on a Tubescreamer that creates slight variations on a theme. I continued to come back to how much flexibility EQD crammed into the Plumes without introducing complexity. And at $99… I’m shocked. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Plumes would convert a life-long TS hater, but if you’ve ever given that sound a moment’s thought, I am confident the Plumes is the most approachable, affordable, and adjustable take you can check out of this genre of sound. I hate to keep coming back to price, but really, they could have set retail price at 2x what it is and sold these like hotcakes (the breakfast food, not the pedal). -HC- Limitations None. Conclusion The Earthquaker Devices Plumes is a top contender for low-to-mid overdrive or the venerable TS sound at any price point. There is enough flexibility between the clipping modes to tailor it to pretty much any amp or application, the pedal is priced at half of what its contemporaries are at for a similar featureset, and it sounds phenomenal. Seriously, you should probably just buy this pedal. Resources Earthquaker Devices Plumes Signal Shredder Product Page Buy Earthquaker Devices Plumes Signal Shredder @ Sweetwater ($99.00) ____________________________________________ Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.
  12. This is the final article following the chain of costs associated with how a piece of music gear gets to its retail price. We’ve previous explored MSRP vs MAP and the expenses associated with running a retail store and how those figure into pricing, so it’s time to dive into the final part of the pricing equation- the cost of designing and manufacturing a product. For the purpose of illustration in this piece, let’s use a $200 MSRP boutique overdrive effect pedal made in the US by an actual company (not a guy in a garage) that is available at many major retailers. This simplifies the math because of the relatively low part count and labor as compared to, say, building drum kits or digital synthesizers. Following the MSRP/MAP approach discussed in our article on retailer pricing and our case study pedal has an MSRP of $200 and MAP of $160, we can put a stake in the ground that the retailer paid the manufacturer about $100 for said pedal. Many musician’s will (understandably) think the price of manufacturing is just the BOM (bill of materials) for the pedal and some nominal amount of labor. Like most things in life, the truth is much more complicated. A piece of gear begins with an idea, and then R&D and engineering. Provided there wasn’t a marketing/executive dictate that “thou shalt design X style piece of gear,” designs will go through dozens of iterations once the foundation has been established, and engineers are likely juggling a half-dozen projects at a time. To be extremely conservative, let’s asapply 20 hours of focused research into the category and another 20 hours of experimentation to build the foundation for the effect (breadboarding, troubleshooting, etc). We aren’t counting the years of training that got an engineer to the point where they can tackle a project like this. An entry-level engineer makes $60-80k per year, so we’ll use the middle of the road hourly wage ($34/hour before benefits, or $50/hour with benefits, insurance, and tax); we have $2k in a pedal assuming one focused week to go from idea to working prototype. It’s now time to take that circuit out to testers/artists to get feedback. This will easily be 80 working hours (travel, correspondence, meetings, research). Now we have an additional $4k in user testing and feedback. Assuming everything went well the first go-around, it’s now time to put together a BOM (bill of materials) and design a PCB. The BOM can be defined based on what works best or to meet a price point, but likely represents the smallest expense in a pedal. As a standard overdrive variant in this example, the cost of parts, jacks, switches, and electronics can be relatively small; let’s say $25 assuming a price-break for volume ordering and pre-drilled, fully silk-screened enclosures. One thing people point to when considering the price of parts for modern gear is the perceived cost savings in DSP (digital signal processor) hardware as opposed to now-expensive and part-intensive analog solutions. This is true from a pure cost-per-component standpoint, but doesn’t take into account the programming that goes into the chip (a consideration not needed for analog parts). The median starting salary for a DSP developer is $78k per year, so this work quickly get more expensive than using mojo-drenched analog parts. PCB design and manufacturing can be done in-house, but typically gets outsourced to someone like Cusack Music’s fantastic Stompboxparts.com, where engineers design, test, and print through-hole or surface mount boards, can populate them, and even offer enclosures and varying levels of assembly, from completed products to unpopulated boards and empty enclosures. Whether outsourced or handled in-house, there’s an associated $10 labor with every pedal produced in a standard production run. So we’re at $35 in parts and labor for a simple circuit pedal, which leaves $65 in profit for the builder. OK, now let’s get back to the real costs. That $6k in (overly-simplified) work up front needs to be taken into account, so let’s spread that across an initial run of 1,000 units at $6 each. Additionally, we can add another $10 per pedal in rent, utilities, shipping labor, etc. Website and marketing will add an extra $5 to this first run as well, plus $10 for administration, bookkeeping, supplies, etc. We’re now at $66 in cost in the pedal, so there’s $37 in profit, less 30% for business tax, and we’ve got about $26 profit per pedal. All that math shows if this pedal sells 1,000 units in the first six months there is, in theory, $26k in profits to reinvest in the business, try new marketing, dedicate to longer R&D cycle products, and pay the owner (usually not the designer or builder at a certain point). So, Parts and Labor- $35 After Cost of Manufacturer Operation Costs- $60 After Manufacturer Taxes- $74 Sold to Retailer- $100 After Retailer Operation Costs- $140 After Retailer Taxes- $144 To Customer @ MAP- $160 Final Sale Price + Taxes- $173 Or Parts and Labor- $35 Combined Manufacturer/Retailer Operations- $65 Combined Manufacturer/Retailer/Customer Taxes- $31 Combined Manufacturer/Retailer Profit- $42 Thanks for taking this journey. As I cannot state enough, there are more assumptions I’m not including that negatively impact all parties (start up costs, credit interest, sales and discounts, trade show and travel expenses, sales, warehouse, customer service, rework). Whether you agree with the associated expenses or not, I hope you have a clearer picture of what goes into pricing. The music industry isn’t unique in this; it’s how things work in commerce in general. This information might be jarring if you’ve never been offered a peek behind the curtain of costs, but realize there is an entire infrastructure needed to support bringing you the gear you want. ____________________________________________ Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.
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