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Apogee ONE Audio Interface Review

Apogee OneThis is the ONE that prophecy spoke of! The chosen ONE that will bring balance to the force! The ONE that sees the Matrix! The ONE with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord!! I could go on and on, but the simplicity of this audio interface deserves more than just pop-culture references. This thingamajig is the travelling musician’s gift from God. From Apogee rather.

Apogee is known for its quality, and the ONE does not disappoint. Considered to be the younger, cooler, more “hip” sibling of the highly acclaimed Duet, it was thought to be only an interface for beginners. Pfft! Apogee only proved that the ONE is no rookie. This baby gives absolute pristine studio quality of sound from each one of its inputs (i.e. the External Mic, the External 48V Mic, the Internal Mic as well as the Instrument input) while easily competing with the lucidity of the Duet or the Quartet.The only place it falls short is the sample rates it can operate up to, which is 48 kHz, rather than the 96kHz of the Duet. Simply put, it IS a simpler piece of machinery. It comes with Apogee’s Maestro software, a USB cable to connect to your machine and a breakout cable with an XLR input and quarter-inch jack. And that’s all you need!

The ONE has been custom made for Appleproducts, which is one of the best parts (or worst, if you’re an Android person) about the interface. Once connected to your Mac/MacBook it makes the task offirst-time recording much less frustrating as compared to any other interface. And for the seasoned travelling/touring musician who needs to compose and record his/her entire album on the go, this is ACTUALLY POSSIBLE now with the ONE and only ONE…and only…ONE… and only…

one-gallery8_lgSooo if you’re a songwriter, in a room by yourself, or on a long (empty-ish) flight even, all you’d need is your laptop and the ONE to record all you want through the inbuilt microphone (easily my favourite feature), and VOILA! You have that studio-like clarity and a great sounding song about how bad in-flight entertainment is getting.

Lastly, being in India, EVERYTHING is capable of being a victim of humidity. The ONE, given it’s size and portability even gives you the advantage of being able to pack it up, put it away and save it from dying a slow and rusty death (which is exactly what happened to my previous audio interface goddammit!). Look at us, exploring environmental issues and all. Let’s just give this thing a SEXBOMB rating already, yes? But before that,

Price in Market: 13,500/- Head over to www.bajaao.com to pick it up! For the link, click here.

What we Liked:

  • USB bus powered. (No batteries or adapters to carry around)
  • One knob to rule them all. (No more fumbling through an arsenal of buttons and faders!)
  • Tremendously powerful inbuilt studio-quality condenser microphone.
  • Unboxing to actual recording takes all of 5 minutes.
  • It is no bigger than your iPhone (possibly lighter too).
  • It’s CHEAP!! (Relatively)
  • It is possibly the best single channel audio interface out there.

What We Didn’t Like:

  • One drawback is the length of the USB cable provided, which may leave you restrained if you have a Mac with USB inputs too far away from you. Well, in that case, shit happens.

Verdict: This is THE ONE.

Rating: 5/5 (SEXBOMB)

Alternatives: Tascam makes many a portable interface, but quality-wise and feature-wise NONE match this ONE.

——Ankit Dayal——

Godin Progression Guitar Review

Godin PorgressionBeing around guitars long enough help you develop a fine eye for ignorant guitarists. Everyday, you meet and greet boys who have grown up looking at Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, Jimi Hendrix, Slash, John Mayer etc. playing guitars like Fender and Gibson. On account of this, these boys assume that such brands manufacture paramount guitars. Heck, after an hour or so of detailed discussion of specifics, I’m asked, “BRO, HAVE YOU EVEN PLAYED A FENDER STRAT?!”. Yes, I have. While I’m not saying its good, bad or ugly; I’m saying that today, there are several other brands who have come to improvise the Fender Stratocaster style. One such brand is Godin. 

Based in Montreal, Canada, Godin guitars introduced the “Progression” in fall of 2009. The Progression is one of the few guitars today that stands out in a super-saturated strat-style guitar market.

Featuring a Silver Leaf maple center and Poplar wings, the progression also boasts of a rock maple neck with an option of either a rosewood or a maple fingerboard. You know a guitar is Canadian to the core when its entirely made out of maple. Apart from that, it has three single coil Godin GS-2 pickups, 5-way switch with one volume pot, one tone pot and what Godin likes to call an “H.D.R”. The “High Definition Revoicer” is what sets apart the Progression from the rest. This tiny black button re-voices and augments the frequency range of each pickup and allows the player to go from a passive to an active pickup signal. Right there, you get 5 active tones and 5 passive tones. So this is the only thing that makes it different from any other Strat? NOPE. The stock fitted Godin GS-2 pickups are unlike any other single coil pickups in the market today. On looking closely, the magnets on the GS-2 are what can only be described as “a giant opera singer” or “King-Kongs mother”. Kidding aside, the magnets are bigger, better and produce a beautiful definitive SPANK which is always by appreciated by a true strat lover. Not just that, the guitar neck is unlike any other. The Godin Ergocut shaping technique bevels the edges of the fingerboard and frets back in towards the center of the fingerboard providing an extremely comfortable feel. Might take some getting used to, but well worth it once you’ve gotten your hand around.

As for the sound, the Progression is no stranger to a clean tone. While it replicates a nice tone on the bridge, it contrasts the same on the neck pickup with a swollen mellow tone. When using both neck and middle pickup, its the perfect for all chordsy yet riff congested patterns. However, the neck and middle pickup position is not very appealing but does a lovely job of adding that extra bite or texture to your sound. Extra bite? Who’s complaining? If completely driven with amp overdrive or other overdrive pedal units, the progression feels somewhat out of place at loud volumes. With a tiny little adjustment of the volume pot, all of that changes. The drive beautifully compliments the clean guitar tone which only makes you feel like the guitar gods are watching over you.

A few minutes of carefully checking every detail of the guitar, its not hard to tell that Godin took out the time to fine tune the guitar to its finest. The guitar deserves all the praise given to it on account of its high grade hardware. Everything, from action, string tension to pickup height, the progression is extremely easy to adjust to your liking. Keeping tone, hardware and construction in mind, this guitar is a definite winner in the strat race. If you’re looking for a high gain-metal crushing-gut wrentching tone, this guitar is not for you.

Its for everyone who knows what a strat is capable of. From jazz to blues to even rock players will tell you that its a guitar you should watch out for. At Rs.66,375 its an expensive choice but is well worth the money and is a great alternative to a US manufactured Fender Stratocaster. So what are you waiting for? Check out this guitar today at Bhargava’s Musik and experience a strat like never before.

What we liked-  Well…Pretty much everything.

What we didn’t like- The ergocut neck takes some getting used to.

Verdict- 4/5 (Kickass)

Alternative- Fender Deluxe Strat or a custom shop guitar.

——Rohaan Talsania——

T-Rex Replica Delay Review

RGS-TREX-REP-4I’m going to say the only bad thing about this pedal at the start: it’s a horrible shade of brown. The highest end of high end delay pedals; this is a digital pedal by day and ninja analog pedal by night. It isn’t really overloaded with features and it doesn’t have much variety in sound, however, the idea here was to do one thing, but do it completely right. Trust me when I tell you that this delay is the clearest, the warmest, the most refined and one of the easiest to use delay pedals. Despite being a digital delay pedal, it can emulate the analog delay sounds with (literally) a flick of the switch. (Want to know the difference? Click here)

It has the basic features of any delay pedal, including a tap tempo. It has an Echo knob, which controls the volume of the effected signal (the volume of echoes), a Level knob, which controls the output volume, a Repeats knob, which controls how many repeats are going to happen, and finally a Tempo knob, that controls the speed of repeats. It has one footswitch to switch the pedal on/off and another footswitch for tapping in the tempo, which has a LED light that blinks along with the tempo. It also has an input gain control built on the side. It has two small switches on its body. One is the heavenly ‘Brown’ switch that makes your delay sound supermushy and smooth at the same time. The other is the ‘Subdivision’ switch that lets you split your delay into ¼ note triplets. It is powered by a 9 volt adapter. Oh yes…and need I mention it has true bypass? (When it is off, it won’t affect your signal even slightly)

The sound quality here is so mind-blowing, that the pedal can make you believe that you are somewhat, almost, perhaps- David Gilmour (just for a second…don’t get too excited). The absolute crystal clarity with the Brown switch disengaged and the melting waves of warm tube delay with it engaged are two very pristine and high quality sounds. This is one of the few pedals that actually don’t even remotely touch your clean guitar sound. It is built with a quality that adds absolutely no unwanted colour to your sound.

Replica_back-1229269cbeb4f029a6cdb9f8aac4e95cMy favourite mode is with the Brown switch engaged. You get such a characteristic and virtually analog sound that fits in with any style of playing. You can even sit alone for hours, tripping on the beautiful, all encompassing delay (think Run Like Hell by Pink Floyd). The depth of the repeats and the darkening of the delay at each successive repeat are very distinct and lend that old-world charm to your most futuristic delay sounds. You can choose to leave it on the whole time and hear the way your tone becomes more powerful, or you could use it for quick, easy and powerful tone sculpting; either way you wont go wrong with this pedal.

Granted it is very expensive (Rs 28,025) and perhaps out of reach for the amateur player, it is a one time investment that will be totally worth it. So if you got the moolah, then don’t even bother looking anywhere else.

What we liked- 1.Stunning delay sound, 2.Ease of use, 3.Tap Tempo, 4.Choice between analog and digital delay sounds

What we didn’t like- 1.Price! 2.Lack of other modes like reverse echo, 3.Lack of modulation, 4.The colour

Verdict- Rob a bank if you have to and get this. You won’t be disappointed, if you want the most beautiful sounding no-nonsense delay pedal that will last you a lifetime. Available at Bhargava’s Musik stores in Mumbai

Rating- 5/5 (Sexbomb)

Alternatives- Way Huge Supa Puss, Roland Space Echo (Who am I kidding? These others will do the job but won’t sound as pristine as the replica)

Suhr Riot Distortion Pedal Review

Suhr RiotSmall, shiny, hot pink and made of metal are terms people usually associate with pre-teen jewellery and not a pedal with a face melting distortion sound. But then in this case I guess your schema for pink things got challenged when Suhr decided to make the ‘Riot’.

It’s a compact box and rather heavy for a pedal that size. To its left and right you have your 1/4” input and output jacks. It’s got an LED smack at the centre of the pedal and a nice clunky footswitch below it. Above that is the Tone (set your Equalizer) knob. To it’s left and right is the Dist (set your gain and general amount of mayhem) and Level (volume control) knobs, respectively. In between those two is a three-way Voice selector (that lets you select a midrange voicing of your choice). To the front it’s got a 9V Jack and a FX Link

Riot has a versatile, sensitive distortion and is a pedal designed for clean channels. When you first plug it in and turn it on, the volume jump and it’s very aggressive distortion might startle you. If you’re looking for a distortion sound to mess with, then this is probably your best bet. The Voice switch really has a pretty strong impact on the sound and isn’t just there because it’s fun to toggle with. Going from a nice mid range focused sound to ‘Holyshit!Wherearemymids?’ it drastically changes your sound. The distortion too is really diverse, providing you with a wide spectrum of sounds to play with. Works great for holding down nice sustained chords that ring or even playing some hot leads. The pedal cleans up pretty nicely as well, with the volume knob on your guitar. Sort of like a loud angry hobo that turns into a dude in a tux as you roll down your volume knob. The tone knobs make it go from super mellow to really tinny and screechy and everything in between.

So the FX Link allows the pedal to be remote controlled from any kind of interface like a pedal board, loop switcher, external switch closure etc. So you can power up in the On and Off state as well as the FX Link state. 
Another cool feature is that it has a battery monitor that alerts when you have a low battery situation, instead of crapping out on you mid solo like some others do. When the battery is low (4.5V) the LED will blink thrice. Once it’s too low to function the pedal will go into True Bypass mode and your sound will be unaffected.

At around Rs18000-19000, it is nothing but expensive, but it won’t be a purchase you’ll regret.

What we like: Versatility, great sound, some added extras in the specials section, Voice selection.

What we don’t like: Price, Volume increase is huge, Y-U-NO-3-band-eq? (This one is just whining.)

Verdict: A pedal that takes you from ‘squeaky-clean goodness’ to ‘World Mud Wrestling Championship levels of dirty’ just by pressing a switch? AND some added extra features? Sounds fuckin’ great.

Rating: 5/5 (Sexbomb).

Alternatives: Okko Dominator, CMATMODS Brownie and other pedals that mostly guitar collecting uncles have heard of/can afford OR buying a bunch of classic tube amp heads. 

 

—- Hartej Sawhney—-

Orange Micro Terror Amp Head Review

Micro-TerrorEvery guitarist today will tell you that an all-tube amp is what you need… and you would agree! So, why do you still play on a tiny 10watt solid state Marshall MG10 in your room, hopelessly convincing yourself that it’s giving you the tone you want? Here’s the truth, you’re an Indian musician… You can’t afford a tube amp and neither can I. Because of this, you fill up your pedal board with a plethora of pedals and processors assuming that maybe that’ll ‘fix’ your sound. Before panic takes over, relax… Your sound isn’t broken, it’s just not constructed right. You need a real amp. A tube amp. Hence, Orange amplification came up with the Micro Terror. The Micro Terror is a 20 watt single channel hybrid amp head. Hybrid implies that the amp has a tube preamp and a solid state power amp. It’s the 21st century…If we can have hybrid cars, we can have hybrid amps.

The Micro Terror has an ECC83/12AX7 preamp tube for that classic gain reminiscent of David Gilmour or Jimmy Page driven tones. Equipped with a volume, tone and gain knob, the amp also has a 1/4-inch jack headphone output and 1/8-inch jack aux input to jam to your favourite backing track, drum loop, mp3 etc. Measuring 6.5 inches in width and weighing 0.85kg, the Micro Terror is housed in the same steel casing as the other terror series amps. Built portable and strong. Sounds like a good option for a tiny little practice amp for home, right? Yes and no. While Orange has designed a cabinet with a single 8-inch speaker, the Micro Terror with a minimum 4ohm impedance output, can drive an 8ohm or a 16ohm cabinet without ANY hiccups. So, is Orange seriously suggesting that you use the amp on stage whilst plugged into a 4×12 cabinet? Of course they are.

1001809org_ppc108_lg3I plugged in a Godin Progression(Strat-style) guitar into the amp which was plugged to an Orange PPC108 cabinet. With the volume knob pointed at 2 o’clock, tone at 12 and gain at 8 . I was welcomed to a lovely old school blues tone. Just the perfect amount of drive to deliver the much desired Buddy Guy sound. But, one must admit… When not accompanied by another instrument, the PPC108 felt bland and left me with the undying urge to crank up the gain all the way. The result of pushing the gain to its absolute limits was well received  Sounding much like a ZZ-top track tone, the beautifully voiced Micro Terror was now ready to be plugged into a PPC412 (4×12 cabinet). Toying around with the controls, it was realized that the amp wasn’t meant to be clean. Sure, you could clean it up by tweaking the volume pot on the guitar or reducing the gain on the amplifier itself, But its easy to tell that it aches to be abused. It sang clean beautifully but, it took me no time to realise that it wanted to scream. Oh and it did…What came as a shock was how loud the amp could get! Screaming with character, the Micro Terror is the next best thing to its older brother (Tiny Terror) at a fraction of its price.

At Rs.7870, it’s hard to suggest any other amplifier in that price bracket. While we dont suggest that it replace your all-tube live amp, we do suggest that it play the part of an awesome back-up amplifier and an imperative part of your guitar bling-bling.

What we liked- 1. Compact, portable and strong. Perfect to carry to live performances. 2. Affordable 3. Looks so cool, you could hang it around your neck and wear it as an accessory.

What we didn’t like- 1. Lack of control. Provision of a 3-band EQ would have made a guitarists decision easier.

Verdict- Its an amp head you cannot go wrong with. Its pocket friendly, easy to use, portable and can deliver that Terror series voice we crave for. Grab one today..they’re not hard to find. Orange amplifiers are available at Bhargava’s Musik stores in Mumbai.

Rating- 4.5/5  (Okay…bit of a pickle. a 5/5 is Sexbomb and 4/5 is Kickass. I guess this rating makes it Kickbomb…or something.)

Alternatives- Absolutely none (why even bother?)

—–    Rohaan Talsania ——

Your digital has a beef with my analog

Vector-Background-YellowPink-StarA lot of highly exciting things have happened in music technology and have been happening for a very long time. Watch Sound City: a beautiful documentary about the legendary Sound City studios, which had to shut down because it couldn’t compete with the advent of modern recording technology. It is a tragic story for some but to some it is the onset of new and exciting ways to make music. In essence some like the rawness of music and some like the sophistication. What I am talking about is the struggle that every musician faces at some point: the question of digital versus analog sound. Through the course of this article I want to explore both approaches and clear up a few things along the way.

So, most musicians know that analog sounds are warmer whereas digital sounds are clearer, and in this regard it is each to his/her own. The kinds of music one wants to play usually determines which kinds of sounds one uses. To give a few examples, Jack White is a firm believer in the analog way of doing things, whereas Trent Reznor has been using digital tools to great effect for very long. Listen to their records and you will see the difference as clearly as possible. Many musicians believe that an analog sound has a closer relationship to the musician. The rawness of having just a musician and his talent to help him is the attractiveness. Digital on the other hand can provide you with great levels of finesse and help you to hone the rawness into clear sounds.

Both ideas and schools of thought have their own power and can be used very beautifully by any musician. One needs to identify the right method of using them. Now before we proceed any further, lets just be clear on a point: any kind of a sound, be it analog or digital is just like an instrument- you need to know how to play one.

In guitars, for example, the popular way to get effects in to your sound is by using a digital signal processor. Or as some people call it: Multi-Effect pedals. Many musicians, especially in India, love using them. They are convenient and can do just about anything there is to do with guitars. You don’t need an amplifier; you can just plug in and go. They have a wide variety of sounds ranging from the bizarre to the usual. Now these processors have a certain kind  of sound and one needs to use those sounds as a tool for the music one makes. Many a time I have heard from a whole bunch of musicians that “digital is shit” and other such sentiments. This however is not really true. It only depends upon what one decides to play. If I wanted to play Nine Inch Nails or other such industrial or electro stuff, there’s nothing like digital processing to give you highly complex and many-layered sounds. I wouldn’t play the blues like that though.

The choice, at some point, becomes a bit genre specific. However, one must also understand that genres in today’s world, don’t mean very much. No one is really afraid to experiment around genres anymore and the album Odd Soul by Mute Math actually goes out and slams my previous statement about blues and digital sounds to the ground.

Experimentation is really the key here. I am a convert from digital to analog, but both sounds never cease to impress me. Now there are digital processors that can sound indistinguishably analog and analog processors that can do some really wild stuff. Your sound could be found by just a little experimentation and research. And of course one mustn’t be afraid to mix and match as well.

I’m pretty sure you can distill this article into the phrase: ‘Try Before Buy’, but I’m also sure you knew that already.

Why are we here?

music-instruments-vector-graphicsThere are a huge amount of music gear and instrument specific magazines all over the world. Some provide specific insights on particular instruments, some talk about music news, some talk about particular genres of music, and some talk about gear. This would seem fairly obvious up-til now but as this first article is about why this page exists, we need to talk just a little about what else is available. The most common kinds of gear magazines are guitar specific. Guitar World, Premier Guitar, Guitar Player, etc are only some of the names guitarists rely on when buying new gear. However this page is about all kinds of music gear. India has seen a quick and astonishing growth in the music scene and the number of musicians or people who want to be musicians. As an honorary member of the music scene, I know what we are missing.

Every musician knows that you just can’t get satisfied by the amount of gear you have. There is an insatiable quest for the perfect sound and no matter how much gear you buy, musicians will always want the cherry on top: Extra overdrive pedal? Better headphones? Remote high hat? Or just a kick-ass cable? Whether you are a minimalist in your sound or run sprawling Starship Enterprise kind of rigs, there is always going to be that almost perfect piece of equipment that will define your sound. Notice I said almost perfect. Perfection in sound is and always will be a  myth.

Now, we are here to make sure that a musician gets as close to almost perfect as possible. We are here to make sure you buy the right stuff for you. We are here to make sure you know what is going on in terms of newest technology available. We are also here to make sure you know what gear your idols use. Buying gear can be and most often is, no small expense. So when you do pull out that huge wad of notes, be sure to think of us first, because we will be as helpful a force for you, as possible.

Oh and we are totally open to give you exactly what you want from a site/blog/magazine like this. So don’t hesitate to write to us (email address provided on the ‘About’ page) and tell us anything you like.

This is going to be a blog full of super saturated, tube driven, cymbal splashing impressiveness. We are totally heading your way.