Reviewed: Markbass Little Marcus 800 Bass Head
It doesn’t get much bigger than Marcus Miller in the world of bass playing. His career boasts Grammy awards, platinum records, film scores, and playing/writing/producing/recording with the likes of Miles Davis, Luther Vandross, Bill Withers, Chaka Khan, Herbie Hancock and so many more. He has an identifiable sound, serious chops and groove, and has been hugely influential as a musician (and not just for bass players). So when someone with his status joins forces with a bass amp company, it really must be something they believe in. With Markbass being quite the innovator and one of the market leaders, it seems like a primo combination. Enter the Little Marcus series of bass heads with the 800 watt model sitting on our desk.
Reviewed: Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge Amplifier
If sales of battery powered amps and loop pedals are any indication, Bourke Street Mall must be nearing a 1:1 ratio of buskers to change-throwers by now. With the high voltage guitar heroes of yesteryear giving way to their spongier, more sensitive Sheeran-esque descendants, it seems like every player and their dog wants to take to the streets to profess undying love for a childhood sweetheart through song. For the longest time, Roland’s CUBE Street range has been the go-to for those not able to live off the grid, but these days there are more contenders to the throne than ever before. Fishman has been the pickup and preamp choice for discerning acoustic players almost since their genesis. Its line of Loudbox acoustic amplifiers has risen through the ranks thanks mainly to its unprecedented attention to sound quality, and throwing the Loudbox Mini Charge hat into the busking ring could well see them knock the black, angled box off the top spot.
Reviewed: Vox Starstream Type 1
“The ultimate instrument for players looking to redefine the electric guitar” reads some of Vox’s press regarding the Starstream Type-1. There have been a number of companies that have had a swing at straying from the traditional electric guitar sound and shape with varying degrees of success. Vox, under its umbrella with Line 6 and Yamaha, has been on the money with recent releases, so I’m intrigued to see and hear the Starstream Type-1 in action.
Reviewed: T-Rex SoulMate Acoustic Pedalboard
Working on the guitar multi-effects design (typically used and aimed at electric players), the T-Rex SoulMate is chock full of effects and tone shaping tools for acoustic guitar. Compressor, boost, delay, modulation, EQ, and reverb are complemented by a chromatic tuner, five-minute stereo looper, stereo DI outputs, a FET preamp (with phase switch) and auto feedback suppression. I/O is all on the back panel with an input jack with Hi/Lo impedance, phase buttons and a gain level control. The middle section has an insert for a volume expression pedal, boost, and level out controls, while the outputs feature a ground lift button and both balanced and unbalanced (jack and XLR) left and right outputs. The unit comes in a cool brushed metallic type look and is around the size of a computer keyboard (if that gives you some reference).
Reviewed: Cort L100P Parlour Acoustic Guitar
If you did a survey of people’s idea of a typical steel string acoustic guitar, I’d think the common response would be something along the lines of a concert, orchestra or jumbo-style guitar – that is, a bigger bodied instrument that we’ve grown to see on TV in the hands of famous musos and what most music stores stock. Guitar history, however, is littered with small bodied examples from early Spanish explorers to Central America, Europe and indeed the United States of America. The Parlour guitar, as it is often referred to, became popular for its smaller size, projection and considerable volume. Whilst typically a mainstay of many brands’ lineups, the Parlour has enjoyed a resurgence over the last few years for anything from country and bluegrass through to singer-songwriters, rock and a range of other purposes and genres. Coming from its Luce series, the Cort L100P follows the traditional Parlour look at quite an affordable price.
Reviewed: Alto Professional TS312 Powered Speaker
It’s been a while since I last got to hear and test any powered PA speakers from Alto Professional, and before I even had this guy out of the box, it was evident that there had been some serious improvements with the new Truesonic 3 range of speakers. Now, I don’t need to deliver the written version of an unboxing video. We’ve all seen those and don’t need to know how many layers of packaging this speaker has in it, but I can certainly say that when the TS312 was out of the box and plugged in, I was more impressed with it than I originally expected. These speakers are a big step up from the last time I got to test out any PA from Alto, so let’s take a closer look.
Reviewed: Katoh Madrid Nylon String Classical Guitar
Nylon string guitars are an interesting beast. From the entry level models you often see in schools through to exquisite handmade instruments, they can have a huge variance in specs and quality. Specifically made for the Australian market, Katoh has been producing classical guitars for over 30 years and seems to have created a strong following for their reliable instruments that don’t cost the earth. From their Professional series, let’s have a look at the Madrid.
Reviewed: iZotope VocalSynth 2 VST Plugin
For those of you who have used iZotope plugins before, you will no doubt be aware of the wide range of effects they offer to cater for all range of needs in audio production and repair work. There is essentially a tool for just about every audio task in the iZotope range, and those of you looking for vocal effects are certainly not left wanting. With VocalSynth, many loyal users were converted to iZotope’s products and now that the latest update has been officially released, I am sure there is about to be a much wider user group for VocalSynth 2 with the range of effects it has on offer.