Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Montreal Assembly Count To 5 sampler - it's an experimentalist's dream

This doesn't need a long write up. Read the MA CT5 web page, read the manual, and then buy one. 

Being a DAW user with no amps, a lot of what this does I have already in plugin form. Having the knobs in front of you though does throw up some great instant ideas. Having pitch variations in front of me rather than as point and click knobs on a screen is a good thing.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Rawk D King of Blues Marshall Bluesbreaker clone pedal - quite brilliant

Marshall Bluesbreaker Mk 1 pedals go for good money here in the UK. I've sold them for anything between £120 to £200 and some of these have gone overseas as well. Most of the clones end up being disappointing. The Analogman King of Tone for instance has a lengthy waiting list, sells s/h for £350, is based on the Bluesbreaker Mk 1, and has never failed to disappoint me in that it's no better than the pedal it's inspired by and over double the price. 

The Rawk D King of Blues is not expensive. It's under £100 new from the seller in Greece. It's nice seeing these newer sellers coming through at such good prices (Vick Audio pedals are now for sale through Atlantic Guitars in the UK at £100 and under per pedal). 

The King of Blues is beautifully wired. It might sond strange to say that wiring is beautiful but this is. The yardstick for great wiring is still the Paul Cohrane Tim v1 I had but this is right up there. So so cool. 

Soundwise... it's a Marshall Bluesbreaker. It's got a bit more fidelity than the original, perhaps a bit more headroom, but it doesn't get too clear and clean, which is where most BB clones fall on their ass. It still rocks: too many clones clean up too much. If you really want a BB pedal and don't want to sell out big money for an original, then get this. You won't regret it. 

No audio demo of this one as I really can't be bothered to make one and you don't need to hear me play the same badly timed nonsense I always do.

Monday, 25 April 2016

MXR Carbon Copy analog delay - it's a delay and it's a nice shade of green.

...and I can't think of anything else to say about it. I've owned this pedal a couple of times and still can't get inspired. It's not a bad pedal at all, the real flaw being the lack of 100% wet delay and the modulation isn't very controllable, but it sounds alright. It just doesn't tickle the sensitive areas of my brain.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Paul Cochrane Tim - the best overdrive pedal ever.

And I sold it...

It needs a valve amp to shine. I don't have one and I'm really only playing Rat pedals into the DAW now so I sold it. Hands down the best overdrive I've used. Throw anything into it, use it as a stacker. Great EQ, fine boost, everything about it is great. 

The Boss DD-7 delay - classic Bossiness.

It works, it's simple, and it has great routing options. The secondhand prices are excellent and this kicks the ass of some more expensive delays.

A big Boss win here. Team this up with an analog delay and get the best of both worlds. 

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Old Blood Noise Endeavors Black Fountain delay - hmmm. Beige.

It would be an understatement to state that I found OBNE's Procession reverb immensely disappointing. It was noisy, limited in its range, and pretty expensive for what you get. So it is with wiggling rivulets of joy that the verdict on the Black Fountain is so so different. 

It's average. 

Which technically is different to saying the Procession is shit. 

The Black Fountain is a murky delay that isn't as fun as a tape echo and it has some weird modulation that isn't particularly good on it. One of the modes is pretty much a slapback delay with a basic reverb on it. With the mix knob at 50%, the delay sound is really quite weak compared to the dry sound. 

It's not horrific but there are many better echo/delays out there and the limitations of this oil can delay replica pedal are really shown by comparing it to the oil can settings in the Echoboy plugin. 

Great if you like murky delays that sounds a bit flat. 

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The Marshall Reflector reverb pedal - not expensive, not rubbish, and definitely not better coated in pastry.

I don't know why I've never tried one of these before. There's always one for sale on eBay for a good price, nobody ever seems to rave about them but reports of horrible sounding reverb don't really exist.

The punt was taken. And it was a surprising experience. There really isn't a bad reverb sound in there. The hall, plate and spring reverbs are excellent. The reverse is a bit shit and room reverbs pass me by on every platform, pedal and plugin alike, but ignore this. You get some great sounds in a pedal that costs about £30 to £40. It's better than the Hardwire reverb, more fun than the RV-3, has more decent reverbs in it than the RV-5 (which has the great modulated reverb and not much else), and sounds better and costs substantially less than some of the boutique reverbs out there which are shockingly poor for the money.

Best cheap reverb out there by a mile. 

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Dr Scientist Reverberator reverb - really rather good.

Now I tend to favour reverb pedals which are more geared toward effects than realism. The RV-5's modulated reverb, Eventide Space, EHX Cathedral, things like that. 

The Dr Scientist Reverberator is a bit different. it's not an effects-type reverb. There's no black hole settings or sub-Sigur Ros type sounds in here. Instead you get reverbs that really compliment a guitar sound. The halls are pretty good without being enormous, the room reverb works, and the plate reverbs are some of the best I've used anywhere. The Plate on the long setting gets quite springy as well. 

What surprised me is how it reminded me of using old rack units like the Alesis Midiverb. You don't have a huge amount of options to play around with so it evokes memories of using presets, just press and go. 

Decidedly impressed by this. It would go very well with a Space or Big Sky. 

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The Yamaha SPX50D - reverse reverb, My Bloody Valentine and general audio messing.

The SPX50D is a guitar orientated version of the SPX90. 

It has most of the things people love about the SPX90 (reverse, early reflections, the symphonic chorus) and the things they don't like (it's not particularly quiet, the bypass is rubbish, there is a bit of a volume drop, and most folk hate the distortion although I say that some of the distortion is actually quite usable). SPX50D's tend to go for not much money at all and are a good starting point if you're new to rack effects as it is really simple to use. Go and find the manual online and come back here. 

 The first step is get the SPX50D set up. It's been written on a few forums how the SPX was set up and this seems to be the accepted start point: 

PROGRAM = Reverse Gate (it's #15 on the SPX50D) 
DELAY=75.0 ms 
LPF=through BALANCE=100% 

I'm not convinced this is right. With the tests I made with a Midverb II last year alongside the Magicstomp, Cathedral and SMMH reverse reverb demos I've already posted up and my own experiments with plugins, the most-MBV sounds have come from a straight 50-50 balance (ie. a 50% wet mix). 100% wet is fine if you're getting busy with the Bloom reverbs on a Midiverb but it doesn't sound right to go 100% wet with the Reverse Gate. 

The second issue is the 75ms delay time. It's a pre-delay time so it's the time between the initial sound of the instrument and the reverb coming through. The problem is that the above settings are using a 100% wet mix. That means there is no dry signal coming through, making pre-delay a complete waste of time. 

Liveness means the rate at which the reflections fade. Lower values mean they fade more quickly, higher values keep them there longer. With the Liveness at 0 on a 100% wet mix, you get no sound. 

I'll playing a simple D-G-B minor-A sequence for each demo. 

1. Liveness at 7, delay at 75.0 ms, balance at 100%. 
2. Liveness at 7, delay at 75.0 ms, balance at 50%. 
3. Liveness at 10, delay at 0.0 ms, balance at 70%. 

I'll explain my changes for number 3 here. I want a bit more liveness, a bit more treble in the reverb. I want the reverb coming through as soon as possible, hence the lack of pre-delay. I upped the balance a bit because there is a volume drop in the unit when you go from bypass mode to engaged mode so I want the reverb bumped up a little bit. At 50% mix I think it's a bit low compared to the dry sound.

"Enough of this clean stuff!". I hear you say. "We're shoegazers, we want distortion!". Very well. 

In each case I shall play an MJM London Fuzz Mk 1 (silicon fuzz pedal), then a RAT2 with LM308 chip and then both together. 

4. Liveness at 7, delay at 75.0 ms, balance at 100%. 
5. Liveness at 7, delay at 75.0 ms, balance at 50%. 
6. Liveness at 10, delay at 0.0 ms, balance at 70%.

That fifth audio clip shows what I was getting at with the balance at 50%. The reverb just doesn't come through well enough, too much of a volume drop, so the sixth demo demonstrates why I put the balance to 70% and turned the liveness up to 10. 

For the final demos, I am adding some pitch modulation in my DAW using MVibrato by Melda Productions. As I don't have a Jaguar or Jazzmaster and play a hardtail modded Epi Dot with no Bigsby, I have no bars to poke and prod so MVibrato is there at the end of the recording chain to get some of that MBV swooping and diving sensation. All distortion supplied by the RAT2 only (distortion at max, filter at midday).  

7. Liveness at 7, delay at 75.0 ms, balance at 100%. 
8. Liveness at 7, delay at 75.0 ms, balance at 50%. 
9. Liveness at 10, delay at 0.0 ms, balance at 70%.

The MBV sound isn't one piece of gear. It's the whole thing: the guitars, the effects, the production, the people playing them. There's no magical setting on the SPX50D that taps you straight into To Here Knows When. None of the audio I've recorded for this demo has had any additional processing such as compression or equalization (compression and EQ is a big part of the MBV recorded album sound in my opinion). 

Now that I've played the SPX90 and 50D and had experience of Quadraverbs and Midiverb II's, I think the Midiverb II is the best of the MBV rack units. The combination of decent early reflections programs and the immortal Bloom program gives it the win. It is noisy as the older units tend to be but it's got that elusive 'something' quality to it in the same way a big box Deluxe Memory Man does.