AF’s Weblog

October 25, 2008

SKB Stage5 review

t’s no secret that many guitarists like effects and that some are even addicted to their pedals. But of course there comes a time when it becomes necessary to make all these small boxes easier to transport and connect. That is partly why pedalboards were invented and marketed by brands such as SKB with their Stagefive, which we’ll be taking a closer look at …

Vue générale

In Audiofanzine’s forums or elsewhere it’s clear that when it comes to guitar effects, 2 schools of thought battle it out on this almost philosophical question. If you don’t count the “direct into the guitar amp” believers (poor guys), there’s on one side the multi-effect enthusiasts with it’s cumbersome digital programming and sub-sub-sub menus. And on the other, the stompbox fans (2-knobs and let’s play).

So you ask, how has the ultra-archaic effects pedal resisted the digital invader? There are objective reasons on the one hand: ease of use due to there being only a few knobs, the “one pedal, one effect” concept , the case where guitarists only need one or two effects (yes they exist!), and their robustness compared to the average multi effect. On the other hand, we find more subjective reasons: people talk about the warmth of analog compared to digital, not to mention trying to get the exact effects used by many of our idols, who recorded legendary music way before the advent of digital technology. What would “Voodoo Chile” be without a Wha Wha? “Message in a bottle” without a Boss Chorus, or any U2 song without 2 truck loads of all kinds of pedals?

 

After several weeks of use, Stagefive has proven to be a well thought out guitar pedal tool. The possibilities for routing and electrical power, plus the extra cable tester meets 90% of the needs of digital-phobic effect lovers.. If its weight and dimensions are somewhat imposing (start weightlifting immediately), it is unfortunately the price to pay for a single, comprehensive, and safe solution! And still it’s nothing compared to the weight of some custom wooden pedal boards. Among its slight shortcomings are the too concise manual, and the lack of a switch button between the 2 effects loops. At about 400 €, it’s not for everybody, but its strength and quality, in my view, make it worth the price.

Ruggedness
Quality of power outputs
The integrated cable tester!

Manual too light
Doesn’t handle some less common adapters – check before!
Lacks an A/B switch to go from one effects loop to the other

Read the full review of SKB Stage5 on Audiofanzine.

 

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October 14, 2008

TC Helicon VoiceTone Harmony-G review

TC Helicon VoiceTone Harmony-G - AudioFanzineTC Helicon’s Harmony-G: The Test
After having delighted singers with their Voicetone pedals, TC Helicon is trying to seduce guitarist/singers with a pedal capable of simulating vocal harmonies that follow your voice and guitar playing. Extraordinary as this may sound in theory, does the Harmony G keep its promises in practice? That’s what we’ll see in this test …

You won’t feel so alone anymore

Setting up live vocal harmonies has always been relatively complicated. A bad balance between the main speakers and the monitoring speakers will often cause out of tune vocals which will quickly get on the nerves of any audience. But there are worse situations! How do you get harmony vocals when you‘re alone on stage? Even if you have all the talent and determination in the world, your voice is still monophonic. Fortunately, TC-Helicon was thinking of singer/guitarists and singer/ pianists who play solo when they created two pedals allowing them to be, as if by magic, accompanied by two virtual singers who even know the set-list by heart! But how is this possible? It’s simple: the pedal, thanks to the guitar or keyboard that is plugged into the device, follows the chord progression, analyzes it and figures out the vocal harmonies that go along with your voice. That’s, roughly, the idea behind the Harmony G (guitar) and Harmony M (for MIDI, the keyboard is connected via MIDI). Sounds tempting doesn’t it? Being a six-string enthusiast myself, I naturally chose the Harmony G model for this test.

So I eagerly opened the nice looking box with the TC Helicon logo …

C Helicon strikes another strong blow by allowing singer/guitarists to have 2 virtual singers at their command. With its effects and its integrated tuner, the little box is like an audio Swiss-army knife. It will undoubtedly attract many musicians thanks to its ease of use, sound quality, solid construction and very realistic vocal harmonies. The Harmony G also offers small features which have been intelligently thought out (changing the reference tuning or Manual mode) and its few defects are quickly overlooked in light of how enjoyable it is to use. Watch out Crosby, Stills & Nash!

Convincing vocal harmonies
Very good mic preamp
Quality effects
Solid construction
48 V phantom power
Guitar through
Automatic mix of voice and guitar
Tone mode
Integrated tuner
Manual

The balance of guitar, harmony levels and effects not stored in presets
Needs AC adapter
Pressing both switches at the same time is not so easy
Sometimes hangs when changing chords

Read the complete review of TC Helicon Voicetone Harmony-G.

Egnater Tourmaster 4112 review

Egnater Tourmaster 4112 - AudioFanzineMaking tubes more accessible seems to be the trend these days: in the wake of Fender’s big hit with their 5-Watt entry-level amp, the Champion 600, and Line 6’s collaboration with Bogner to warm up its algorithms to the good old sound of tubes, it’s Egnater’s turn to come out with a product that has a rather aggressive price for this manufacturer, since the Tourmaster 4212, an all-tube 100W combo amp, goes for under 1500€ while their 4100 Head, without its 4 x 12 cabinet which sells for 799€, costs 1390€ …

HP

 

Let it be said, for those who might not know, that wattage doesn’t mean quite the same thing for transistor amps as it does for tube amps. Without simplifying too much, let’s just say that in terms of volume, a 30 Watt tube amp can blow away a 100 Watt transistor amp. So, imagine what a 100-watt tube amp is capable of: endless fights with the neighbors, of course, or breaking all of your grandma’s crystal and plates with one C chord! Incidentally, you wouldn’t need a PA for a small concert hall (for a Stadium it would be cutting it close … just a little).

What can be said except that basically this amp lacks almost nothing. We could have wished for a lighter amp, but this seems difficult to achieve with so much to offer in terms of power choices. We might have wished for a footswitch with more than 6 buttons for more flexibility, or even MIDI capabilities. But that would be splitting hairs. The truth of the matter is that the Egnater offers, at a relatively nice price, an amp that sounds very good and that could very well be the only amp you’ll need, if you get past the transportation issue. Bravo.

Versatility, with its 4 channels.
The possibility of adapting the power to your needs.
The sound.
Very complete.
The price.

Not appropriate for metal (but with some good pedals …).
No MIDI connections.
43 kg (roadies not included)

Read the full review of Egnater Tourmaster 4112 on Audiofanzine

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