Archive for maaliskuu, 2013

15/03/2013

Review: AKG WMS470 Instrumental Set

AKG WMS470 – opener

The AKG WMS470 Instrumental Set is the company’s new mid-price wireless system for guitarists and bassists. The system consists of the PT470 bodypack transmitter and the SR470 diversity receiver. The AKG WMS470 (current street price in Finland approx. 550 €) is a pro-level system offering plethora of handy features. AKG’s main focus point, however, is to ensure the highest possible reliability in all situations. The engineers have managed to couple this with an ease-of-use that makes the WMS470 Instrumental Set suitable for wireless novices, as well as seasoned pros.

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AKG PT470 – front

A wireless system is always made up of a transmitter and a receiver.

The WMS470 comes with AKG’s lightweight PT470 transmitter. The Instrumental Set naturally contains the company’s special MKG L guitar lead compatible with the PT470.

For some strange reason I experienced problems with the phone plug – it wouldn’t stay put in a closed, tubular Switchcraft jack. There is the slight possibility of the jack socket being faulty, as the plug worked well on all my other instruments. Besides, soldering on a different phone plug is a simple operation to carry out, so I wouldn’t worry too much about this glitch.

AKG PT470 – back view

There’s a nifty little window on the back of the PT470, which allows you to ascertain quickly, whether a battery is currently inserted, and which type of battery it is. AKG promise up to 14 hours of continuous service from a regular alkaline AA-sized battery. For use with rechargeables AKG also offer their CU 400 recharging station (as an optional accessory), which allows you to recharge the battery without having to remove it from the bodypack.

AKG PT470 – gain control + battery

The tiny gain control above the battery allows you to adjust the correct amount of signal gain for your chosen instrument.

AKG PT470 – switch

Between the PT470’s antenna and the input jack you can see a small infrared sensor, which hints at one of the WMS470’s cool features. This AKG wireless disposes of the need to manually set the transmission frequency for both the transmitter and the receiver. Here you only have to set the channel at the receiver, which then tunes/programmes the transmitter remotely via an infrared signal. This saves time and reduces the possibility of an inadvertent foul-up.

The slider switch gives you three operating modes to choose from – OFF, MUTE/PRG (while muted, the transmitter is also on standby for remote programing) and ON.

AKG PT470 – mute jack

While the PT470’s On/Off/Mute-switch has been deliberately designed with a stiff action, it can also be completely taken out of the equation. Inserting a blind plug (comes with the set) into the Mute-input disengages the transmitter’s switch and locks the PT470 in its current operating mode. This helps to prevent accidental on-stage muting.

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AKG SR470 + PSU

The AKG SR470 receiver is a so-called diversity receiver. This means it uses two discreet antennae with their own gain stages for reception. The unit’s electronics constantly monitor the radio signal coming off each antenna and automatically (and completely silently) switches to the antenna which offers the best radio signal quality at any given moment.

One point which puzzles me regarding many modern pieces of equipment, is the prevalent use of wall-wart AC adapters with flimsy leads. This isn’t a brand-specific issue – you see it across the board. I cannot help, but wonder how reliable these thin power cords really are, when it comes to big productions and touring.

Notwithstanding its power supply, the AKG SR470 itself seems like a roadworthy piece of gear, with its metal chassis. Included with the Instrumental Set are a pair of rack mount brackets, if you want to install the SR470 in your effects rack.

AKG SR470 – back panel

The SR470’s back panel offers two different audio outputs:

There’s a balnaced XLR-output, which is a good choice for hooking up straight to a mixing console. In addition to the volume knob on the front panel there’s also a 30 dB pad available on the back panel, in case the output signal is still too hot.

The unbalanced output is the right choice for direct connection to your amp.

AKG SR470 – connectors

Screw-on connectors make sure that all everything stays firmly in place.

AKG SR470 – volume knob out

The volume control on the SR470’s front panel…

AKG SR470 – volume knob in

…is spring-loaded so you won’t have to worry about accidentally changing your volume settings.

AKG SR470 – parameter knobs

The pushbuttons on the SR470’s front panel are for menu navigation and adjustment of parameters. Pressing the middle button also toggles between the set-up and lock modes.

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Firing up the AKG WMS470 system is really fast and easy. With only a few pushes of the navigation buttons you activate the receiver’s automatic set-up mode, which sees the SR470 automatically scanning for clean frequencies. You select a frequency and send the correct data to the PT470 via the IR-remote. Then you only have to set the correct gain and audio levels, and you’re good to go.

Naturally the AKG:n WMS470 Instrumental Set also allows for complete manual set-up by a technician, if this system is only one part of a large production. AKG’s WMS-systems allow for running up to 48 individual systems simultaneously with up to 16 channels in the same group (= specific frequency band).

AKG PT470 – up and running

The AKG’s many user-friendly features really make life easier. One good example is battery life, which is indicated clearly (given in hours left) in the PT470’s display, with a low battery warning kicking in early enough.

AKG’s Pilot-function is a great way to make absolutely sure the right signal is picked up by the right receiver. When Pilot is switched on a digital pilot signal is transmitted by the bodypack, which works like a key code. The receiver will then only output a signal if it comes from this transmitter with its specific pilot signal. This is good news in hectic situations, like when playing festivals, where you want to be sure that you’re not picking up anyone else’s signal by mistake.

AKG WMS470 – Instrumental Set

In my opinion the AKG WMS470 Instrumental Set is a very well-designed system. Once your audio gain settings have been adjusted for your instrument, and the output volume set for your amp, set-up is quick and easy at the gig.

The WMS470 system proved to work extremely reliably and with top drawer audio quality.

There’s really no comparison to wireless systems from the 1990s or early 2000s, which were often prone to audio artifacts. The AKG WMS470 has a clean, crisp and natural sound, and it leaves all of your dynamics nuances, as well as your instrument’s natural timbre, intact.

I didn’t experience any drop-outs – or any other problems, for that matter – instead the system proved to work faultlessly and extremely reliably.

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AKG WMS470 Instrumental Set

current street price in Finland approximately 550 €

Finnish distributor: Studiotec

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Pros:

+ easy to use

+ reliable

+ sound

+ runs on a single AA-battery (PT470)

+ low power consumption (PT470)

+ rack mount kit included (SR470)

+ Pilot-function

Cons:

– flimsy PSU (SR470)

14/03/2013

Thursday Pin-Up – Tokai TTE-55

Tokai TTE-55 – pickups

Tokai TTE-55 – beauty shot

Tokai TTE-55 – switch and pots

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Lisatiedot: Musamaailma

13/03/2013

Testipenkissä: Mannedesign PFM + RDV

Mannedesign – logo

Mannedesign on italialaisen Manne Guitarsin edullisempi, Kauko-Idässä valmistettu kitaramerkki.

Mannedesignin valikoimaan kuuluu sähkösoittimien ohella myös pieni akustisten kitaroiden mallisto, josta valittiin tällä kertaa kaksi kitaraa testiin: Parlour-kokoinen Mannedesign PFM, sekä Roberto Dalla Vecchian nimikko-Dreadnought RDV.

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Mannedesign PFM – full front 2

Kauttaaltaan kokopuinen Mannedesign PFM (660 €) on suunniteltu Blues-, Folk- ja juurimusiikin ystäville, jotka hakevat soittimestaan juuri sitä autenttista 1930-luvun soundia.

Setrikannen mattaviimeistelty tumma sunburst-väritys antaa kitaralle hienosti lisää katu-uskottavuutta.

Mannedesign PFM – full back 2

PFM-mallin mahonkikaula on veistetty yhdestä pitkästä palasta, johon on lisätty viritinlavan yläosa, sekä toinen pala kaulakorkoa varten. Kaulan ja rungon liitoskohta on perinteen mukaisesti 12. nauhan kohdalla.

Rungon sivut ja pohja on tehty kauniista mahongista.

Mannedesign PFM – headstock

Lavan etupuoli on päällystetty palisanterilla, johon on upotettu vaahterasta veistetty Mannedesign-logo.

Satula aitoa naudanluuta.

Mannedesign PFM – tuners

Ladukkaat vintage-tyyliset virittimet tulevat Gotohilta. Nykyaikaisena parannuksena niissä löytyy virittimien kireyttä säätävät ruuvit.

Mannedesign PFM – fretboard

Mannedesignin palisanteriotelautaan on siististi asennettu 19 keskikokoista nauhaa.

Mannedesign PFM – body angle

PFM-mallin koppa on koristeltu upealla loimuvaahtera-reunalistoituksella. Rosetti taas on taidokkaasti kasattu aidoista helmiäispaloista.

Mannedesign PFM – bridge

Palisanteritallan alareuna on ikäänkuin viritinlavan yläreunan peilikuva – molemmissa on pyöreä lovi.

Kompensoitu tallaluu on – satulan lailla – tehty naudanluusta, mikä on edelleenkin yksi parhaista materiaaleista tähän tarkoitukseen.

Mannedesign PFM – back beauty

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Mannedesign RDV – full front 2

Roberto Della Vecchia on italialainen Fingerstyle-mestari, jonka tuotantoon kannattaa ehdottomasti tutustua!

Della Vecchian Mannedesign RDV -nimikkomalli (950 €) on erittäin tyylikäs, perinteisistä ainesosista tehty Dreadnought-teräskielinen. Kitaran kokopuiseen kanteen käytetään laadukasta AA-luokan sitkakuusta.

Mannedesign RDV – full back

RDV:n mahonkikaula on veistetty yhdestä palasta, lukuunottamatta kaulakorkoa, joka on ekologisista syistä erillinen pala.

Rungon kokopuiset sivut ja pohja on veistetty kuvankauniista intialaisesta palisanterista.

Kitaran koppa on viimeistelty kiiltävällä lakalla, kun taas kaulassa on satiinipintainen viimeistely.

Mannedesign RDV – headstock

Reunalistoitetun lavan koristeeksi käytetään eebenpuuta, sekä helmiäisesta tehtyä upotusta.

Mannrdrsign RDV – tuners

Kullanvärisillä Gotoh-virittimillä on eebenpuuta matkivia muovinuppeja.

Mannedesign RDV – fretboard

Eebenpuisen otelaudan reunalistoitus on vaahteraa. RDV:ssä on 20 keskikokoista nauhaa.

Mannedesign RDV – binding + heel cap

Rungon pohjaan on upotettu hieno mustavalkoinen keskilinjan koriste. Reunalistoitus on veistetty vaahterasta.

Mannedesign RDV – binding

Kannessa käytetään vaahterareunalistan lisäksi vielä kaunista herringbone-koristereunaa.

Mannedesign RDV – rosette

Rosetin keskimmäiseen renkaaseen on käytetty aitoja helmiäispaloja.

Mannedesign RDV – bridge

RDV:n talla on samanmuotoinen kuin PFM-mallissa käytetty vastine, mutta tällä kertaa se on veistetty sysimustasta eebenpuusta.

Mannedesign RDV – body back angle

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Mannedesign PFM – full front

Mannedesign PFM -mallilla on Parlour-kitaroille tyypillinen keskipitkä mensuuri (63 cm), jonka ansiosta kitaran 012-satsin kieliä pystyy venyttämään vielä suhteellisen helposti. Mielipiteitä usein jakaavan, perinteisen V-tyylisen kaulaprofiilin sijaan PFM on varustettu yleispätevällä – ja hyvin mukavalla – D-profiililla. Kaulan leveys on satulan kohdalla 4,4 cm, ja E-kielten välinen etäisyys tallassa 5,4 cm – tämän kitaran kanssa tulee siis hyvin helposti toimeen. Testikitaran tatsia oli säädetty erittäin mukavaksi (E: 1,9 mm/e: 1,5 mm).

Mannedesign PFM on tyypillinen Parlour-kitara sanan parhaassa merkityksessä. Kitaran soinnissa on hyvin kuiva ja yskivä atakki, sekä keskialuevoittoinen, hieman honottava yleissoundi. Sormisoittoa harrastavat Folk-kitaristit tykkävät varmasti PFM-mallin kevyestä bassorekisteristä, koska sen ansiosta soiton erottelevuus säilyy kaikissa tilanteissa. Plektrasoitossa taas tämän Mannedesignin jäntevä sointi lyö itsensä hyvin läpi, ja sen soundi sopii erinomaisesti Ragtime-musiikkiin tai varhaiseen Blues-meininkiin. Äänityskäytössäkin PFM voi olla loistava työkalu, jolla saadaan komppikitarat istutettua ilmaavammin miksaukseen.

Mannedesign PFM – sormisoitto

Mannedesign PFM – plektralla

Mannedesign PFM – beauty shot

Mannedesign PFM – back beauty

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Mannedesign RDV – full front

Mannedesign RDV -kitaralla on luonnollisesti Dreadnoughtin perinteinen pitkä mensuuri (65 cm). Roberto Della Vecchian erikoistoive oli sormityylille mukavampi, väljempi E-kielten välinen etäisyys (5,9 cm) kuin monissa muissa tämän lajin kitaroissa. Näin oikealle kädelle on tuntuvasti enemmän tilaa toteuttaa myös hieman hankalampia sovituksia. Kaulaprofiili on ainakin minun käteeni mukavasti sopiva ovaali C. Myös Della Vecchia -malli saapui testiin loistavassa trimmissä (E: 2,0 mm/e: 1,5).

Palisanterikoppainen Dread’ kuusikannella on yleensä melkoinen voimanpesä, niin kuin esimerkiksi Mannedesignin RDV. Täällä tarjotaan hyvin muhkeata bassorekisteriä, lämmintä keskialuetta sekä hyvin tuoretta diskantin loistoa. RDV on loistava esimerkki laadukkaasta Dreadnought-soundista, ja se tarjoaa sekä paljon volyymiä että tarkkaa ja hyvin eloisaa dynamiikan toistoa.

Mannedesign RDV – sormisoitto

Mannedesign RDV – plektralla

Mannedesign RDV – beauty shot

Mannedesign RDV – back beauty

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Mannedesign-soittimilla on Suomessa vielä melko matala profiili. Tämän testin perusteella voin kuitenkin vain suositella lämpimästi lähempää tutustumista brändin akustisiin kitaroihin.

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Mannedesign PFM + RDV

PFM – 660 €

RDV – 950 €

Maahantuoja: Nordsound

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Plussat (molemmat mallit):

+ hinta-laatu-suhde

+ työnjälki

+ soitettavuus

+ soundi

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Mannedesign PFM – logo

12/03/2013

First view: Mannedesign PFM

11/03/2013

Tulossa – Tokai TTE-55

Tokai TTE 55 WBL

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Lisätiedot: Musamaailma

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08/03/2013

Tulossa: Roland Cube Lite

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CubeLTBk-xlarge

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Lisätiedot: Roland

08/03/2013

Tulossa: ESP LTD SCT-607B Stephen Carpenter Signature

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LTD SCT-607B

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Lisätiedot: Musamaailma

07/03/2013

R.I.P. – Alvin Lee (1944 – 2013)

Alvin Lee

Woodstock legend Alvin Lee (of Ten Years After) has died yesterday at the age of 68, following complications after routine surgery. He will be sorely missed.

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06/03/2013

Review: Vox AmPhones

Vox Amphones – and guitar

Vox Amplification have given their headphone practice amps a new twist by taking their successful AmPlugs and transplanting them directly into a pair of quality headphones. So now they give us the Vox AmPhones (current street price in Finland approx. 120 € each), made in co-operation with Audio-Technica.

At this moment the AmPhone-range comprises three guitar models – the white and grey AmPhone Twin, the silver/brown AmPhone AC30, as well as the none-more-black AmPhone Lead – plus…

Vox Amphones – Bass

…a red and black AmPhone-model tailored for use with electric bass.

Vox Amphones – battery compartment

In standard headphone use the Vox AmPhones naturally don’t require batteries. The headphone amp, on the other hand, runs on a pair of AAA-batteries, which are inserted into the right side headphone.

Vox Amphones – plugs

All of the Voxes are equipped both with a mini phone jack, as well as the standard size counterpart.

Vox Amphones – switch + effect control

The headphone amp’s electronics and corresponding controls have been fitted into the left side can. Next to the power switch you will find the effect control, along with a mini auxiliary input jack.

The guitar AmPhones offer three different effects along the control’s travel – chorus, delay and reverb – as well as effects off. At the point where one effect changes to another you will hear a small chirping noise as an audible pointer, which is a cool way to do it. Modulation and delay times are fixed, but Vox have managed to come up with workable compromises. The effects sound very nice.

The AmPhone Bass model has a compressor as its sole effect, with the control adjusting the amount of compression, and thus the loudness of the signal. The compressor has been designed specifically for bass use, and works surprisingly well.

Vox Amphones – controls

On the other side of the lead, all Voxes feature gain, tone and volume controls.

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Vox Amphones – opener

The Vox Amphones are comfortable headphones, and are still pretty lightweight, in spite of the added batteries and electronics hidden inside.

Producing the AmPhones in co-operation with a renowned maker, such as Audio-Technica, has really paid off, as the headphones sound very good. Personally, I would like to see slightly more substantial, tougher leads on the Voxes, but the AmPhones work just fine regardless.

The practice amps will run about 16 hours on fresh alkaline batteries for the guitar models, and up to 20 hours for the bass model.

To my ears the AmPhones’ guitar (and bass) sounds are even better than what the AmPlugs have to offer:

The Twin model has just the right kind of top end chime in clean settings, as well as charming filth when driven hard. The AmPhone AC30 has more clean bite, as well as bags of gain for all those Brian May -style escapades. And it surely comes as no surprise that the AmPhone Lead is a dead ringer for a Marshall stack. Even getting a punchy bass tone going is really easy with the AmPlug Bass – something you can’t take for granted with headphones!

Here are links to Vox’ own soundbites:

AmPhone Twin

AmPhone AC30

AmPhone Lead

AmPhone Bass

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I must say I feel that the Vox AmPhones are an even more exciting product than the company’s very successful AmPlugs, because the headphones offer you a real all-in-one piece of equipment. You’ve got a great headphone amp and a decent pair of cans all rolled into one easy-to-use product. Now you can switch from listening to music to practicing without skipping a beat – that’s handy in my book!

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Vox AmPhone – headphone amps

Current street price approximately 120 €

Finnish distributor: EM Nordic

Thanks to DLX Music Helsinki for the loan of the test samples!

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Pros:

+ headphone sound

+ amp sounds

+ quality of effects 

+ comfortable to wear

+ cool concept

Cons:

– skinny lead

05/03/2013

Tulossa – Mannedesign PFM + RDV

Mannedesign 1

Mannedesign 3

Mannedesign 2

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Lisätiedot: Nordsound