Archive for helmikuu 23rd, 2012

23/02/2012

Review: Zoom R24 -multitracker

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The Zoom R24 (current street price in Finland: 479 €) is a compact and very lightweight, but still quite nifty and versatile unit: The Zoom’s main purpose is to serve as a stand-alone digital multitracker (24 tracks, recording to SD-cards), but it can also be used with a computer as an external soundcard and/or a control surface for an audio sequencer (Cubase LE 5 comes included in the box).

The R24 is ready to go wherever you want to use it, thanks to its ability to run on six AA-batteries, as well as with the included, compact power supply.

This Zoom offers eight XLR/phone-combo inputs, which equals the maximum number of simultaneous recording tracks.

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Zoom have kept the R24’s signal routing deliberately spartan and easy-to-use. Each of the inputs is hardwired to its corresponding channel fader and from there on to the corresponding recording track. It’s what-you-see-is-what-you get, basically, but with one important twist. As the R24’s mixer deals with 24 tracks, but offers only eight faders, the unit uses the same type of channel bank system, which larger digital consoles also tend to employ.

There are three fader banks (or fader planes) available for use: 1–8, 9–16 and 17–24. In the context of recording this means that each input signal can be assigned to one of the three tracks corresponding to its fader: Input 1, for example can thus be recorded either on Track 1, Track 9 or Track 17.

The R24’s inputs have been equipped ith slightly different features: Input 1 is ready to take direct signals coming froma high impedance instruments, such as an electric guitar, in addition to line level signals. Inputs 3–8 offers switchable phantom power (48 or 24 Volts), while the signal off the built-in stereo condenser mics can only be routed to Inputs 7 and 8.

But what happens if you want to record more than, say, three tracks of direct-injected guitar? No problem! The very handy Swap-button lets you swap the just-recorded track’s content with any other track you want. This means that while you have to record certain signals to certain tracks, you can then easily free up these tracks for new recordings.

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The Zoom R24 is filled to the brim with useful features: Each mixer channel has its own 3-Band EQ section, as well as two sends to the internal send/return-effect units (Chorus and Reverb). An extremely versatile insert-effect section holds a plethora of fine guitar and bass amp models (lifted from Zoom’s own G2Nu– and B2  effects pedals), as well as algorithms tailored to vocals, drums and keyboards, plus the very useful mastering section.

The sound quality on offer is remarkable for a unit in this price bracket. It would be unrealistic to expect high-end pro-quality effects from what is basically a lower mid-price home recording device. But still, it is quite remarkable what quality you get in return for a modest outlay these days!

As the heart of your own studio, the Zoom also makes it possible to build up loop- and sample-based backings. It is also equipped with a decent built-in programmeable drum machine.

Editing, sampling and looping naturally feels a bit clumsy, when you’re used to grafic interfaces and a large computer display. But with a little persistence and some elbow grease you can achieve astonishing results on a unit such as the R24.

And as if the features so far hadn’t been enough already to make the R24 seem like a real bargain, Zoom is supplying Steinberg’s Cubase LE 5 -sequencer in the box, along with a usb-stick filled with great drum loops by Peter Erskine and Big Fish Audio.

The Zoom R24 is a handily-sized and advantageously-priced little 24-tracker, that will be perfect as you personal demo-machine, or for cutting decent recordings of your band’s rehearsals or gigs in a jiffy. The recording can the be mixed and mastered either internally in the R24 or using and audio sequencer (like Cubase).

And if one of your bandmates happens to own his/her own Zoom R24, you can even slave one machine to the other, and record a whopping 16 tracks simultaneously!

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Zoom R24 – internal stereo mics – Taylor 110CE

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Zoom R24

Finnish distributor: Studiotec

Street price: 479 €

Pros:

price

weight and size

ease of use

can be run on batteries

internal stereo microphones

versatile effects

• basic sound

Cons:

all-plastic build

small display

23/02/2012

Kitaraporno: Kramer Pacer Custom II – 1980-luvun Superstr*to

Kramer Pacer on hyvä esimerkki 1980-luvun syntyneestä Superstr*to kitaralajista, ja sillä on kaikki tyypilliset perusominaisuudet:

Stratocaster-tyylinen runko, Gibson Explorerista lainattu lätkämailan muotoinen lapa, tallahumbuckeri, sekä Floyd Rose -vibra.

VintageKramer-sivuston mukaan tämä Pacer Custom II on American-sarjan kitara vuosilta ’87 –’89.

Alun perin (1970-luvun loppupuolella) Kramer-kitaroiden erikoisuus oli alumiinista tehty kaula. 1980-luvun loppupuolella firma oli siirtynyt kuitenkin takaisin perinteisiin puukauloihin. Kaulat ja rungot ostettiin yhteistyökumppaneilta – Pacer Custom II:n tapauksessa Japanista ESP:n tehtaalta – mutta soittimet koottiin USAssa käyttäen firman omaa elektroniikkaa sekä aitoja Floyd Roseja.

Sulava runko on tässä kitarassa poppelista, kaula vaahterasta ja otelauta palisanterista.

Tässä versiossa lapa on Kramerin teräväkärkinen malli. Palkkimainen alasvedin pitää kielet tiukasti lukkosatulaa vasten.

Paksut nauhat ja loiva otelauta kuuluvat nekin Superstr*toon – silloisen sankarikitaristin työkaluun.

Kaula on rakennettu kolmesta pitkästä vaahterapalasta…

…ja se liitetty runkoon perinteisellä tavalla ruuvaamalla.

Vaikka Floikalla varustetussa kitarassa lavan virittimet käytetään ani harvoin, ovat nekin Pacer Custom II:ssa aitoa laatutavaraa saksalaisvalmistajalta Schaller. USA-Floydin kuusiokoloavaimet on hyvä pitää aina mukanaan, sillä ilman niitä kielten vaihtaminen ei onnistuu.

Custom II:ssa on kaksi yksikelaista mikrofonia sekä yksi humbucker tallan lähellä.

Säätimet toimivat kuten normi-Stratossa – master volume, kaulan tone ja keskimikrofonin tone-säädin. Minikytkimellä saadaan kolme erilaista kytkentävaihtoehtoa tallamikrofonista: perinteinen humbucker (sarjakytkentä), yksikelainen (vain tallan puoleinen kela) sekä kirkkaampi humbucker (rinnakkaiskytkentä).

Tällaisia soundeja saa vintage-Kramerista:

Kramer Pacer Custom II – puhdas

Kramer Pacer Custom II – särö

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Tämä kitara on mukavan kevyt soitin. Kaulan profiili on silloiselle vauhtikitaralle tyypillinen hyvin laakea ”D” – mikä on minulle hieman liian ohut ja leveä – mutta tämä Pacer on loistavassa trimmissä. Kramer Pacer Custom II on vanha laatukitara – ulkonäkö voi olla hieman vanhentunut, mutta sen soitettavuus ja soundi ovat vielä täysin ajankohtaiset.

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Kiitos Tommi Posalle, jolle tämä Kramer kuuluu!