Reviewed: Xotic Effects Soul Driven Overdrive
Stompboxes are, by design, implements of very occasional joy. Sure, some stay on longer than others, but you’d be hard pressed to find a player in the world who relies on flanger, for example, as the bedrock of their sound. For the vast majority, the first step on the path to tonal glory is an amp, tube driven or otherwise, that has all the spunk and moxie that they feel satisfied deeming the bare minimum. True as this may be, there have emerged over the last few years an increasing number of pedals that promise to enhance that foundation tone in one way or another.
Reviewed: MarkBass 121 Lite Bass Combo
Having played with the likes of Frank Gambale, Mike Stern and Billy Cobham, Alain Caron is a highly respected player in the music community. Likewise, Markbass is one of the most well-known bass amp manufacturers on the planet. It’s then understandable why the two parties would collaborate on the Combo 121 Lite. Continuing with their portable and lightweight amps that push some serious volume, Markbass seems to be onto another winner.
Reviewed: Fender Blues Junior IV Amp
What a weird and contradictory world the amp world can be. As a young player idolising people on the cover of Kerrang or NME or Mixdown itself, you are quickly lead to believe that in order to achieve tonal enlightenment you must have a monolithic wall of stacks behind you; however, at one time or another we all learn the horrible truth. Like finding out that your parents… gulp… enjoy sex, some of the loudest, filthiest and most stadium filling sounds in recorded history squeeze their way into existence from shockingly tiny amps. Half of Led Zeppelin’s back catalogue was farted out of a knocked about old, low wattage Supro box and bands today render vibrations binary in single channel interfaces before they even attempt to push any air whatsoever. The myth of Tonehenge is more akin to a Spinal Tap joke than a hard and fast rule, and this is why Fender’s Blues Junior remains one of the most loved amps of all time.
Reviewed: Audio-Technica ATH-ANC700BT Headphones
Now that certain smartphone makers are moving away from wired headphones, wireless Bluetooth headphones are becoming pretty much the standard, especially as you move upward in the market. Yes, there will always be a place for wired headphones, especially in the recording sphere where latency is an issue, and in the audiophile community where only true analogue will do. But for those of us just listening to music or podcasts on the go, a great-sounding wireless headphone set is pretty much essential. Audio-Technica is no stranger to making great headphones. The ATH-ANC700BT set is among their latest product offerings and it’s packed with features for music nuts on the go.
Reviewed: Taurus Amplification Servo Analogue Guitar Enhancer
Taurus says the Servo pedal is capable of giving you the feeling that “you are playing on a much higher-quality instrument than it originally is.” That’s a big claim to make, but it also gives you a bit of a hint as to what the Servo’s job is. Basically it gives you control over various harmonic overtones already inherent in your instrument, and that’s gotta be a good thing whether you’re playing a cheapie guitar or something you spent a few months’ wages on
Reviewed: Mackie Thump15BST
I’m sure you’ve all seen Mackie Thump speakers in stores, at gigs and even in venues over the last few years. They have proven to be a popular budget priced speaker from the company that has been bringing you power speakers for a very long time. I’ve used and heard my fair share of the different models of Thump speakers since their release, and now have a chance to listen to the latest model in the range, the Thump15BST. Not only is it an upgraded amplifier and driver to the previous Thump models, it also comes with a range of added features like digital control and wireless streaming and connection between multiple speakers. This may just be the perfect party speaker for easy setup and big sound.
Reviewed: Fender Mirror Image Delay Pedal
“This’ll be interesting,” we all mumbled cautiously under our collective breath upon learning the news that U2’s austere and suspiciously silent guitarist The Edge had joined Fender’s Board of Directors. We are all too aware and constantly reminded of the fact that the guitar world is replete with celebrity influences of various degrees of cringe-worthiness (see: Kirk Hammett’s misguided ‘the first pedal made by a guitarist for guitarists’ slogan.) Could the man behind the man behind the glasses really be trusted with decisions affecting the first and last name in electrified instrumentation? We waited with bated breath until Fender unveiled their new line of stompboxes at this year’s NAMM conference.
Reviewed: Yamaha SessionCake SC-01 & SC-02
Every now and then, a new device comes along that makes us all stop and wonder why no-one has come up with something like that before. And of course, when a new device like this comes along, it usually opens up new channels of creativity and enjoyment. It is often Japan that comes up with these fun little devices that get our attention and intrigue, and that is certainly the case with the latest offering from Yamaha. The esteemed company has delivered a new concept in practise tools for guitar, keyboard, vocals and just about any instrument that you can plug in. In two brightly coloured devices, the SC-01 and the SC-02 offer us a new way to get together with friends, whilst totally separating ourselves from one another at the same time. It’s time we all took a look at the SessionCake, and apparently we’re invited to take a bite.