Reviewed: Ernie Ball Music Man Majesty Monarchy
There’s a lot to be said about John Petrucci’s stamp of approval. His list of equipment over the years features some of the most revered guitars, amps and pedals to ever hit the market. Let’s be honest, the guy has pretty impeccable taste and the insane chops to back it up, so basically any gear he attributes his name to is going to turn heads around the world. The newest Petrucci signature model from Ernie Ball Music Man, the Majesty Monarchy is a true testament to that ethos. A sleek, modern guitar that makes a statement the moment you lay eyes on it.
Reviewed: Radial Engineering J33 Phono Preamp DI
You’ve got to hand it to those Canadians; they certainly know how to build a solid DI box. The team at Radial Engineering have come up with so many clever products over the years, but they have certainly revolutionised the DI world with a specific direct box for just about every task at hand. Be it on stage or in the studio, these units are built for the rigours of one and they offer the quality required for the other. You know that no matter where you use a Radial DI, you’ve made the right choice. That is why so many of you will surely want to get your hands on the J33 Turntable Direct Box. This is a great little problem solver that doesn’t compromise on build or audio quality – exactly what Radial is renowned for doing.
Reviewed: sE Electronics V7 BFG Billy Gibbons Dynamic Mic
ZZ Top occupies a strange place in the pantheon of modern music. If you asked the everyman on the street what they thought of the band, nine times out of ten the best reaction you could hope for is to have “SHE’S GOT LEEEEGS…” screeched in your face. Their comical, Muppet-like appearance and oversexed, bikes n’ babes subject matter tends to lead most people to drop them in the box marked ‘novelty’. Unbeknownst to many, however, their influence is a little further reaching than you’d expect. The seemingly simple, fuzzed out guitar wizardry of the one and only Billy Gibbons has garnered a cult following that far outreaches the few songs you know from karaoke bars the world over, and modern rock bad asses like Josh Homme and Jesse ‘The Devil’ Hughes count him among their key influences. All that being said, even the most avid Top fan would scarcely call him a singer’s singer, so it seems odd that sE Electronics would etch his signature on the side of their V7 dynamic microphones.
Reviewed: Martinez Southern Star Series MFPC-7C
The Martinez Southern Star series is all about the marriage of traditional style and modern production techniques. The MFPC-7C is a good example: it has a small ‘folk-size’ body construction and a smooth, rounded cutaway, giving it a bit of ‘old school’ and a bit of ‘modern boutique luthier’ look all at once. Of course, at this price point you’re not going to get a Breedlove or a Taylor, but it’s clear from even a cursory look that your dollar is going to the structural aspects of the guitar rather than the visual bling.
Reviewed: Soyuz SU-023 Bomblet Handmade Condenser Microphone
Ah Mother Russia, what strange, terrifying and wondrous secrets are hidden behind your borders? We in the western world are snuck glimpses of your treasures every now and then, and truly and more often than not they change the way we think about so many things. Your Big Muffs are thicker and more intimidating than our measly Yankee ones, your vodka more potent and life affirming, and now, with this Soyuz Bomblet SU-023 on a mic stand in front of me, you might just have changed what I expect from a large diaphragm condenser mic.
Reviewed: Valeton Loft Series Mini Analog Pedals
I don’t know who works at Valeton or how they got their info, but there is something funny going on in that secret lab of theirs. Playing through and listening to the three pedals from their Loft series that I see before me, I can only assume that the engineers behind the OD-10, CH-10 and AD-10 are a combination of Rick Moranis in Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, Jeff Goldblum in The Fly, and Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. Either they’ve cackled their way through discovering the formulae on some dark, stormy night or they’ve shimmied through a roof and stolen the microfilm containing the secrets behind just about every classic stompbox on the market. Either way they’ve done something right because these are some of the healthiest sounding clones I’ve ever laid ears on.
Reviewed: Loog Pro Acoustic & Pro Electric
Loog officially makes guitars for kids but frankly, their designs are so cool that adults seem to dig ‘em too. The company began as an academic project in 2010 around the idea of a sustainably made guitar that encourages kids to play, and that could be put together with an adult. Everything about Loog is geared towards simplicity and fun from the guitar design itself to a bundled app that gives you everything you need to start playing songs straight away.
Reviewed: Focusrite Clarett 4Pre USB
The Focusrite Clarett range focuses on tour audio interfaces designed to offer the kind of quality and features found in units costing twice the price. The series goes from the desktop Clarett 2Pre (10-in, 4-out) and Clarett 4Pre reviewed here (18-in, 8-out) to the single-rackmount Clarett 8Pre (18-in, 20-out) up to the Thunderbolt-only Clarett 8PreX, with a very respectable 26-in, 28-out. Aside from the consistent visual presentation, the line is also held together by its reliance on Focusrite’s decades of analogue design experience, along with Air-enabled preamps that reproduce the input impedance, clarity, and frequency response curve of the company’s original ISA mic preamp.