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Reviewed: Outlaw Effects Cactus Juice Overdrive
Outlaw Effects are a fairly recent entrant to the guitar and bass pedal arena, boasting a range of almost 20 micro-sized pedals. After spending some time with their Tubescreamer-inspired Cactus Juice Overdrive, I’m as big a fan of the pedal as I am of their jokes (their tag line is “there’s a new sheriff in tone”, and their entire range is creatively western-style named. Brilliant.) While some manufacturers might blatantly ripoff another famed pedal, the Cactus Juice retains its own character of Tubescreamer, and has some handy additions that turn it into its own micro-sized beast.
Reviewed: Takamine EF341SC Acoustic Guitar
Black and white is a colour scheme so often associated with very regal and dignified things, the likes of tuxedos, grand pianos and the New Zealand rugby team (respect). Upon opening the case for the Takamine EF341SC, I knew that I was dealing with a guitar to match the prestige of the aforementioned. Admittedly, I never really thought much of a gloss black finish when it comes to acoustic guitars, but I was pleasantly surprised by just how classy it looked matched with the subtle, yet refined white binding. Colour me surprised.
Reviewed: Warwick Teambuilt Pro Series Corvette
I remember growing up and seeing players like Norwood Fisher (of Fishbone fame), Stuart Zender and Aussie guns like Craig Newman playing these basses that had slightly different shapes, a square-ish kind of headstock and a distinct fat and rumbly, yet articulate tone. I was always intrigued by their sound and looks. Upon learning they were Warwick basses made in Germany, some additional mystique was added to my perception of the brand (in the fact that they weren’t the standard US-styled instruments). Instantly recognisable in looks and with a highly identifiable sound, Warwick have since continued to make quality instruments that are used by a huge range of players worldwide.
Reviewed: Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT Headphones
In modern monitoring, the Audio-Technica M50 series has become as synonymous in the professional world as the famous Yamaha NS10 speaker. Similar to the iconic white speaker cone and black box, the sleek, black looks of the M50 have become a staple of professional audio for mixing, monitoring playback and enjoying balanced high-definition sound. Their value for money has brought the range into a special league of headphone that is enjoyed by professionals and audiophiles alike. This is where the ATH-M50xBT, the Bluetooth version of the famed M50, really shines: the same great sound, same stylish looks, but without the inconvenience of a cable.
Reviewed: Line 6 HX Stomp
It’s time to admit something to ourselves: amplifier modeling is the new reality. This new wave began in 1998 with Line 6’s kidney-shaped POD. While, realistically, the tones weren’t especially close to what they claimed to imitate, the convenience of being able to switch between ‘amps’ and patches, either effected or not, was groundbreaking. This was superseded by the Fractal Audio Axe-Fx in the mid-2000s, who then released the Axe-Fx II in 2011, which became the industry standard. In the same year, Kemper released their profiling amplifier, which allowed users to model their own amplifiers with startling accuracy. Fractal and Kemper have been neck and neck ever since, while Line 6 has slowly released updates of the POD, such as the POD HD and HD X series. Unfortunately, Line 6 has remained associated with the tones and sounds and effects on the original POD, despite consistently releasing top-quality products. This all changed in 2015 when they released the Helix and re-entered the big league. Enter stage left (or left and right; there’s a stereo output): the HX Stomp.
Reviewed: Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay Special
An update to the much loved StingRay – is that playing with fire? The guys at Music Man know how to knock out a quality instrument and have the impeccable track record to go with it, so I’m guessing the answer is no. From funk to rock and pop to country, the StingRay is an iconic instrument that has held down the low end on many a classic (and not so classic) album.
Reviewed: Adam Audio Studio Pro SP-5 Headphones
Berlin-based studio monitor company Adam Audio sports a fanatical commitment to audio utilitarianism. Their products rely less on aesthetic design, and instead stun with an unimpeachable high fidelity. The Studio-Pro 5 or SP-5, their latest offering in this vein, is a sets a new benchmark for consumer monitor headphones, albeit at an uncomfortably high price.
Reviewed: Electro-Voice EVOLVE 50 Portable Powered Column System
It can definitely be said that music equipment features and power have increased while size has reduced. This has resulted in compact gear that performs at much higher levels than ever before. Guitar and bass amps have been big winners, as have PA speakers and systems. Subs, line arrays and column design speakers have all added power and clarity in smaller setups. EV have long been a major player in the pro audio and sound reinforcement game, so it’s no surprise they are continuing to develop their lines with the EVOLVE 50 portable powered column system.