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BDJohnston

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About BDJohnston

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  • Birthday 04/01/1965
  1. All comments made above.
  2. You can request free trial downloads to experience how much this software can wake up a mix and make it POP! https://www.eventideaudio.com/products/third-party-plug-ins/mastering/elevate-bundle
  3. Even up full on a clean channel you would be pleasantly surprised as to how smooth and natural the Val Drive II sounds (being a low to moderate gain pedal). It adds a warm grain with some headroom when on low (e.g., 10-o’clock) with a very acceptable drive and modest breaking up quality when up full. Obviously the cleaner the amp the more you can crank the Drive, which also depends whether you want to add some glassiness to your tone versus making it more of a crunch. With a dirty channel the Val Drive II shines incredibly well, although how much Drive you want will depend on how nasty your dirt channel is (or how much nastier you want it), and for the most part I’ve been keeping it at 10-o’clock, which seems to enhance the dirt channels on my Victory V4 Preamps (I have all three, The Countess, The Sheriff and The Kraken) in a positive way with no added saturation (in fact, the preamps sound even clearer and cutting edge). As for the Tone knob, you can get a lot of bass or treble for those clean channels, but with dirt channels (as least with my gear) the signal becomes more pronounced on the high end that I keep the Tone knob on the Val Drive II dialed back to about 9-o’clock… and on The Kraken (which has a more harsh tone) I dial back the Tone knob all the way to full bass. I’m surprised I had to do this since on a clean channel dialing all the way back made the tone sound dark and slightly muffled.
  4. There are two new features with the Spider V MkII. The first is a new Classic Speaker mode that produces a more organic sound and feel, just like a regular amp. What I mean is, if you were to plug into a typical amp/cab combo you get that true-to-life amp sound and that’s just what this amp offers. Conversely, you can select a ‘produced’ sound, which is ideal when running the Spider direct to DAW, for example, but also when using an acoustic guitar (since this mode uses both the loudspeaker and the tweeter for a more rounded and accurate tone). There are different presets for an acoustic guitar, but suffice to say (as you hear in the demo) an acoustic sounds great coming through this amp. The other new feature with the MkII is the Artist, Iconic Song and Classic Amp presets. At your fingertips are straight-forward clean, crunch and lead tones (that you can customize), but also several Iconic Song presets, like Whole Lotta Love and Enter Sandman, as well as artist presets from the likes of Jeff Loomis, Bill Kelliher, Vernon Reid and others. Those two features not only are new with the MkII (previous Spider V owners can download the new MkII firmware for free!), and definite game changers, but there also several great features built into this amp. These include being wireless ready (with a Line 6 G10 transmitter), a built-in metronome, drum tracks and a preset sampler function (pick a preset and hear it in different genres, such as Blues or Classic Rock). There are 78 amps and 24 cabs that range among Clean, American, British and Hi-Gain (from classic Fenders and Marshalls to Diezel and Friedman). And there are several stomp boxes in the categories of drive/distortion (10), delay (14), reverb (13), modulation (24), wahs (8), filters/synths (15), dynamics (8, including compressor) and EQ (1). And you do get a free license to Cubase LE for recording and mixing purposes, but I recorded my tracks in Cakewalk Sonar X3 with the Classic mode via a Shure SM57 mic… and with very decent results. The various presets on the Spider can be edited and saved, and they range from super clean to crunch to hi-gain. I was impressed with both crunch and hi-gain as they sound punchy, heavy and thick to varying degrees, but many of the clean sounds (particularly the artist presets) are mesmerizing. Although the Spider V MkII is a solid state amplifier, it does have a host of very usable sounds that sit well with both home recording and live gig playing. And when you consider how many different effects accompany all the different amps and cabinets with this amp, you get just about any perceivable sound possible. All elements can be tweaked via USB and the free downloadable Spider software, but also with the hard controls on the front of the Spider V. The Amp and FX buttons switch between the two, so that in Amp mode you can adjust the EQ, volume and drive of the amp, whereas in FX mode you adjust the compressor, amount of fuzz, depth of reverb, tempo of delay, etc. (each color coded, e.g., blue LED around a knob indicates ‘delay’). Speaking of tempo, you can adjust this manually if desired by tapping the Tempo button, or if hold down the button you access the Tuner. This amp also includes a 60-second Looper, a headphones jack and an AUX input to jam to your favorite music. Some optional add-ons (not included with the amp) include an Expression Pedal, ideal when using the internal wahs, filters, etc., a foot controller, and a USB cable (to connect to a computer for editing, recording and firmware updating).
  5. Q allows you to sculpt your tone in real time (although the pedal can be parked without EQ sweeping) while playing guitar, bass or keyboards. The demo outlines some possibilities, but I bet there are several more. With toe down and the Treble and Bass dialed back (or turned off completely) you can achieve a very authentic lo-fi sound. Again with toe down, you can adjust the Treble or Bass to sculpt your tone, but also act as a boost (since there is a 20dB cut or boost with either the Treble or Bass). The real fun begins when you manipulate the treadle, which either cuts or boosts the Midrange by 20dB. This is where you get some interesting tone variations that seem to mimic a volume pedal and/or a phaser and/or a wah – depending how you use it. Get enough Treble and Bass in the mix and hear some very intense growls (without that shrill typically heard in wahs). When working the treadle in the front half of the range the mid scooping is not as intense, and doing so makes for a very good subtle wah-type effect. And whether working in broad or narrow sweeps, I find Q to work exceptionally well as a tremolo or Univibe – but what makes Q special is that you can control how fast or slow you want the tremolo/vibe without having to bend down and adjust any knobs like you would with a typical tremolo… you control the rate or speed with your foot so that you can have slow mixed with fast, etc. Placement is important, as often a volume or wah is at the beginning of the chain; but with this being an EQ pedal with 3-times the headroom of typical 9V pedals, your signal can be overdriven too hard if placed at the front end. Rather, place Q at the end of the signal chain (unless you want to overdrive earlier effects), viz., after distortions, delays, reverbs, etc.
  6. With the Internet... if I were a company I would create my own on-line NAMM show... displaying, demoing, etc., both on Skype and recorded for video playback... all new products I'm about to release. Now, that does not allow a person to try it out, but how many people actually attend NAMM vs. those who play instruments and buy gear? The cost of flight, hotel, meals and tickets (besides taking time off work) precludes many from attending, particularly non-USA citizens travelling from another country. To partake in a day or so of Skype and/or later view the videos of those in-house events (I think) would create greater draw for any one particular company.
  7. Straight forward in its use, start with the Level around 9-o’clock and increase thereafter. There’s enough headroom with this pedal, and so start low. Presuming the Bias is down low (all the way counter-clockwise) the signal will be its smoothest. The Fuzz is very intense, even when turned all the way down, and sounds plenty heavy around the 10-o’clock mark. Increasing the Bias obviously adds a heavier, broken-up quality. For rhythm purposes I prefer a low Bias with Fuzz around 12-noon or less, but when playing lead I like both Fuzz and Bias around the 1-o’clock position. Obviously individual preferences may dictate otherwise, and I’m basing this on a very clean and glassy amp channel. Amps with more or less aggression will determine proper settings of the British Bender.
  8. You can access all controls and functions via the OMNI AC’s knobs and switches, but also through the free computer software. The software certainly makes it easier to navigate, providing a larger and clearer representation of the controls that necessitate hooking up to your computer via an 8-inch USB cable, but the onboard controls are easy enough to use (visible via the OLED screen). The pedal has a master volume control and a Function knob. When you turn the Function knob left or right you select a preset. When you press down on the Function knob you enter the menu system, whereby you can make a number of changes (again, this can be done via the computer software). There are 15 presets or options, e.g., steel string, jumbo, dreadnaught, etc. You could have all 15 presets the same guitar with different EQ and Gain settings or each one can be a different guitar/acoustic instrument (and any combination between). Via onboard or through the software you can set the overall preset volume, whether playing an electric or acoustic, and the EQ setting associated with low, mid, high and presence. With each EQ setting you can set the Gain, thereby reducing the bass, upping the midrange, etc. The Footswitch is assignable so that it can bypass, mute, change modes (whether using an electric or acoustic guitar) or scroll up or down the presets. What’s cool about this pedal is that it has a Thru so that you can blend your original acoustic or electric guitar tone with one from the OMNI AC. There’s also a balanced XLR out (to a mixing board, for example) with a ground lift option, a headphones jack and an Aux In (to connect an MP3 player or other device).
  9. It will take a day of discovery to learn all the ins-and-outs, but a little bit of patience will make it all worth the effort as you can produce some utterly unique modulated delay effects. I won’t cover everything, but will go through some general guidelines. The delay knob allows you to select a ‘range’ by pushing down then turning the knob (the ‘range’ places you in a general area, e.g., 500ms delay); you then adjust the knob (without pushing) to fine-tune the milliseconds. Once you have a delay time you like (keep in mind you can tap tempo) you then can add a Reverse to the delay, besides adjust the Feedback (repeats) and even add a Delay Multiply (so that you hear your delay 2x to 5x). The amount of delay also is significant, ranging from 10ms to 10 seconds – add in a Delay Multiply the delay continues for nearly a minute even after you stop playing. Assign the Infinite Repeat to the Hotswitch and the signal will repeat forever (until you press the Hotswitch a second time, thus allowing the effect to trail off). Speaking of Hotswitch, you can assign many things to this footswitch besides an Infinite Repeat – you can use it as a tap tempo, use it to hold the modulation effect or reset the modulation (turn it on/off), and also use it to switch from a Preset’s A and B settings. In regard to the last assignment, if you have an expression pedal you can switch from A and B settings of a preset (heel down vs. toe down), but also morph the two into some fantastic sound-scapes (as you play and rock the treadle). The Modulation aspect of the Rose allows you to add various shapes to the delay tone, including a Sine, Square, Envelope or Random wave. You can adjust the depth of that shape, as well as its Rate (for a very slow wave to a fast pulse, as indicated by the Rose LED flashing to the set pulse or rhythm). Both the Delay and Modulation aspects can have a higher treble or bass response, whether you want it to be prominent and cut through the mix or remain dark and warm. And, of course, you can adjust the overall Mix so that even a complex sounding modulated delay remains nothing more than a hint in your tone.
  10. Even on low Meuf II has some fairly serious distortion. And so, if you want moderate dirt then keep the Distortion around 8-9 o’clock and with the Level (volume) about 10-o’clock to start. If your amp is fairly clean and you want a harder driving tone, then begin at 12-o’clock (keep the Level around 10 and adjust accordingly). For a very dirty amp, I would keep the amp’s gain no higher than 10-o’clock with Meuf II’s Distortion at 8-o’clock (up just a touch). I then would tweak both the amp’s gain and Meuf II’s Distortion until achieving the desired dirty growl and thickness. I find the pedal’s Tone to sound pretty good around 1-o’clock, although this depends whether your amp/speaker(s) are dark or bright; consequently, I would start with the Tone knob at 12-noon and adjust from there.https://docmusicstation.fr/en/fuzz/32-meuf-2-3172668160383.html
  11. The Ruby II is surprisingly easy to use, whether working with cleans or distorted signals. Tastes will vary, but I find clean sounds work very well with the Compression around 9-12 o’clock, depending if you want a hint of tightness or more control over the dynamics and overall loudness. Of course, if you want a very tight snap to the notes, e.g., Funk guitar, you can push the envelope upward to full Compression and still retail much of the tone’s character without added noise or sterility. When working with higher-gain signals, the amount of compression (for my liking) does vary. For crunch rhythms I prefer 9-12 o’clock – just enough to have some tightness and to make certain all notes have a more even output. With lead I tend to prefer Compression closer to 1-2 o’clock, since doing so adds to the sustain and boldness of each note (ideal for long-held soulful playing, but also hammering on/off and finger-tapping). The Level (volume) control is not overly finicky. Generally I can keep it around 1-2 o’clock with my current gear set-up, while needing to reduce level/volume slightly only once Compression exceeds 1-o’clock.https://docmusicstation.fr/en/other/33-ruby-2-3172668160390.html
  12. Dark Blue II is simple to use. The Level knob controls how loud you want the signal, and Dark Blue II does have some serious headroom and volume (start with this set at 9-o’clock). The Tone knob controls the degree of bass and treble in the signal and does not seem to exaggerate any particular aspect (the bass does not sound excessively fat and the treble does not sound shrill). The Distortion knob controls how much grain and drive you want, which varies from very modest at around 9-o’clock to exceptionally thick and heavy when cranked full. As well, you can decide on whether you want that distortion to sound more aggressive and saturated with the ‘I’ position (asymmetrical) or warmer and fatter with the ‘II’ position (symmetrical).https://docmusicstation.fr/en/distorsion/29-dark-blue-2-3172668150353.html
  13. BDJohnston

    NUX Solid Studio

    Solid Studio requires some experimentation, since your choices depend on the gear (e.g., pedals, guitar pickups, etc.) you use. With the Roland Jazz Chorus 112 working so well for my clean tones, I start with that selection, although I will zip through the other cabinets to hear what they have to offer. Likewise, my dirty tones start with the Marshall 1960 cab and then I will try the others in case there is a better choice (the Fender Bassman cab seems to work well with clean and dirty, for example). My mic selection often is the Sennheiser MD421 as it offers a good amount of thickness and clarity (I may want a thinner sound or even a heavier sound and may select a different mic as I go through the fine-tuning). The next step is to select my tubes. EL34s are heavier with a bigger crunch, 6V6 have a warmer sound, and the EL84s are brighter with more high ends. I often select the EL34s, but I do have some drive pedals that have more punch and grain with the 6V6 tubes. The microphone selections vary significantly, with some producing a deeper and thicker response, whereas others are ‘lighter’ with more clarity, any of which can be used to coordinate with dark pickups/pedals vs. bright pickups/pedals. Likewise, mic placement makes a difference as having a center position translates into more high-ends, a mid position more mids and an edge position more bass. Double tracking your guitar (so that one is center and the other either mid or edge, with the same or different mic) can produce a very unique and multi-dimensional sound.http://www.nuxefx.com/
  14. When turning on The Atmosphere, it picks up where you left off (when it was turned off last). There are 16 Presets that you scroll through, each being a different algorithm or ‘atmosphere’ (scrolling can be done via the Preset knob or the Multi footswitch). For instance, the first preset is Spring (spring reverb), and you can be in preset mode (as created by the factory) or you can tweak any of the elements (e.g., mix, decay, etc.), which takes you automatically in default/editing mode. And you see all this information live and on the LED screen (it takes mere minutes to learn how to use The Atmosphere effectively). You can save your changes as a new preset of that algorithm if desired (and there’s also a function to restore the pedal to factory default). With any of the reverbs you can adjust the resolution (slower, longer and grainer reverb vs. smooth and refined), the overall mix (wet/dry), the volume, tone (more bass vs. treble), decay (how long the reverb lasts) and then two other elements. Those other elements are set by the Ctrl knobs, and the two elements differ from one preset/algorithm to the next. For example, and with the Hall reverb, Ctrl 1 affects the amount of pre-delay, whereas Ctrl 2 affects the amount of bass. With the Smear reverb Ctrl 1 affects the diffusion, whereas Ctrl 2 affects delay time. Any of these can be manipulated to produce real-time changes and effects, done either by hand or via Expression Pedal (you can assign things like mix, decay, resolution, volume and the elements associated with the two Ctrl knobs). The Multi footswitch also can take on different roles, whether you assign it to select different presets, used as a ‘freeze’ switch, a tap tempo, etc. Two roles can be assigned to the Multi, whether you hold the footswitch or click it once.https://www.drscientist.ca/pedals/the-atmosphere/
  15. You can get some excellent results with the 112+ and without much tweaking. This is particularly true of the EQ, since boosting or keeping plat the Bottom, Mid or Top all sound pretty decent (nothing muddy or shrill). There is a lot of headroom with this pedal, and so begin with the Level completely down, or perhaps at 9-o’clock to start. Place all EQ knobs at 12-noon (which is flat); from there you can increase or decrease any of the frequencies up to 5dB. If you’re looking for nothing but a clean boost, then keep the Drive all the way down. With the Drive at 9-o’clock you get a modest effect in dirt, whereas the quality of dirt really shines around 12-noon to 2-o’clock (at least with the light and moderate Voices and on a clean channel). If using the heavy Voice I find the Drive should be around 9-o’clock to 12-noon, depending on your tastes and how defined (less saturated) you want it. Going beyond 12-noon is fine if you like that heavy proto-metal psychedelic massive sound. When using the 112+ with a higher-gain channel or amp, the Drive should be relatively low, about 8-10 o’clock (just enough to add some ‘edge’ to the high-gain tone). Tweaking the EQ then further sculpts the sound effectively for some added bite.
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