AF’s Weblog

February 25, 2010

[NAMM 2010] St-Blues 61 South Electric Guitar

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February 24, 2010

Guitar Rig 4 Bends Over Backwards 4 U

Native Instruments’ virtual guitar and bass amp comes back for the fourth time with more amp simulations and effects than ever before and a very promising control room section… New functions in an overview.

The first Guitar Rig was introduced five years ago and immediately became famous among virtual amps thanks to its intuitive interface and its numerous, high-quality simulations. Each new version brought software improvements with it, including new functions and simulations, as well as hardware developments incorporating footboards and audio interfaces conceived for guitar players. So what’s new in this fourth generation?

Well Thought-Out User Interface

Guitar Rig 4 ProFrom the very first version, Guitar Rig distinguished itself from the rest by its nice and intuitive user interface – which isn’t something you can say about other Native Instruments products. A very good point considering the number of functions it offers. The interface is divided into two areas: on the left, the browser allows you to load presets or to visit the virtual store, which offers a comprehensive list of add-ons – from amps to effects, tools and MDF (modifiers). You can actually create your own rig very easily by simply dragging the components from left to right. You can then modify the order of the modules in a few clicks. This is nothing new, but why fix anything if it ain’t broke?

The presets and the search engine are what’s new: Guitar Rig 4 Pro comes with over 250 presets, each of them including several tags like in Kontakt 4. This gives you the possibility to browse according to the guitar amp (for example, to find all presets based on the AC Box amp) or according to the music style (classic rock, metal, pop, blues, funk and soul, country, jazz, alternative rock, and rock ‘n’ surf). You can also browse presets according to songs with evocative names like “Kurt in Bloom”, “Pete won’t explain” or “Prince in the Rain”. Finally, you can also search presets according to effect types: Special FX, animated, colored, distorted, drums, or reverbs and delays. Some of the effects are conceived for drums or keyboards, making Guitar Rig 4 interesting not only for guitar players.

Each preset has several tags, up to five stars and personal notes, so that you can find the preset you are looking for with the search engine; and you can create your own tags to classify them. For people who use Guitar Rig live, it is now possible to create set lists based on your own presets. Nice!

The icing on the cake is that you can find user presets at Native Instruments’ website. The quality is questionable, but you’ll certainly find useful sounds.

Now, let’s take a look at the new amp models…

Conclusion

At first sight, Guitar Rig 4 Pro seems to offer very few new features, but that’s only on the outside… The Control Room module and the new speaker and mic simulations definitely improve the overall sound, expand the possibilities and justify the price of the update. The new amps complement the already comprehensive amp library and the new effects make up for the austerity of the previous effects library. The full version of Guitar Rig 4 Pro sells for $199 which isn’t much for a very comprehensive and great-sounding software. Native Instruments has been washing away the imperfections of its guitar amp simulator to make it a top product in its segment.

Advantages:

  • Control Room module
  • Sound quality of the new speaker simulations
  • Three new amp models
  • Two new delays and two new reverbs
  • Master FX section
  • True stereo mode
  • 250 high-quality presets
  • Well thought-out user interface

Drawbacks:

  • All three new amps are Marshall amps
  • Higher CPU consumption
  • Mic position can’t be changed in the Control Room module
  • We are still waiting for version 4.0.8…

To read the full detailed review see: Guitar Rig 4

February 23, 2010

[NAMM 2010] Tech21 VT Bass Deluxe Pedal

Watch this and other videos/news from NAMM 2010 here.

February 19, 2010

Danelectro 1959 Reissue Series Electric Guitar

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February 18, 2010

[NAMM 2010] Martin GPCPA1 – Performing Artist Series Grand Performance Cutaway

Watch this and other videos/news from NAMM 2010 here.

February 17, 2010

Spectrasonics Trilogy is Dead: Long Live Trilian!

Spectrasonics Trilian Software Review

Spectrasonics has been living a love story with bass guitars for sixteen years. A long time before Omnisphere, Stylus and the famous Distorted Reality, one of the first products developed by Eric Persing and his team was Bass Legends – a sample bank CD dedicated to three of the most renown bass players on earth: Marcus Miller, John Patitucci and Abraham Laboriel.

When it comes to virtual bass, the manufacturer struck a decisive blow in 2002 with Trilogy. Based on the UVI Engine from Ultimate Sound Bank (the same audio engine used on Plugsound and MOTU’s MachFive) and an enormous sample bank (for those days: 3 GB), Trilogy quickly became the market’s reference in its category. The reasons for its success were the careful and accurate sampling and the huge sound it provided – Spectrasonics’ hallmark – but, above all, a versatility competitors couldn’t keep up with. Modern, vintage, acoustic, electric, or synth bass sounds combined with finger, pick and slap playing techniques: it had just about everything, including a wonderful double bass. There were people who preferred the sound character of the Quantum Leap Hardcore Bass (vintage to distorted sharp sounds adequate for rock, industrial and big beat music) or Scarbee’s detailed and plastic bass sound, yet there was no choice but to accept that no competitor could offer such versatility/quality ratio as Trilogy did. However useful to program convincing bass parts (thanks to the True Staccato programs that provide hold notes for the four lowest octaves and staccato notes for the four higher octaves in the same patch), Trilogy wasn’t perfect: some criticized its lack of character while others didn’t like the “oversized” sound of the instruments, which was stunning for solo parts but too big for a full mix…

When compared to the latest Scarbee or Pettinhouse products, it’s obvious that Trilogy cannot conceal its age, from a technical point of view. That’s why we are very happy to welcome Trilian.

Big Mama

Spectrasonics Trilian

The good news is Trilian’s sound bank includes more than 21,000 samples, which is about ten times as much as its predecessor. Apart form all the samples included in Trilogy, which guarantee full compatibility with your previous projects, you also get a plethora of new instruments for a total of 1,290 patches! It has every possible electric bass, from Fender to Music Man, Yamaha, Epiphone, Lakland, and Fodera; the synth bass category increased to 333 sounds taken from the best synthesizers of the last 50 years: Novation Bass Station, Yamaha CS-80, Cwejman Modular, Moog Minimoog, Little Phatty, Voyager & Taurus, Korg MS-20, Oberheim, ARP 2600, Roland Juno 60/106, Waldorf Pulse, DSI Mopho & Tetra, Roland TB-303, SH-101, Metasonix KV-100 Assblaster, SE-1, Omega, ATC-1, etc. And that’s it? Not quite! Spectrasonics also added a Chapman stick plus all instruments included in its good old Bass Legends, as well as – we kept the best for last – two new double basses that got special attention from the manufacturer with up to twelve velocity layers, 6x round robin and an absolutely jaw-dropping sound.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Based on our previous experience with Omnisphere and Trilogy, Trilian is indeed the killer tool we were expecting. Besides the absolutely perfect sample material and its huge editing and processing possibilities, Trilian’s main assets are its amazing versatility and affordable price. True, Native instruments offers Scarbee basses for €89 each providing the same quality as Spectrasonics. But you only get one bass model recorded either via a DI box or an amp. With Trilian you get numerous bass models recorded via a DI box and an amp, a comprehensive bass synth library, a Chapman stick, a double bass, a fretless bass, etc. This software has no direct competitor on the market. Period.

The fact that Trilian works perfectly with Stylus RMX and Omnisphere makes it a must-have for certain musicians. As a former Trilogy user – and lover – I can honestly say that the quality of both programs cannot be compared (Trilogy is eight years older…).

The only con Trilian has are its very high system requirements. You can always lower the quality of the patches or use the the freeze function of your host sequencer if your system is not powerful enough, but it’s still a bit perplexing to see a bass take up so much system resources…

Nonetheless, Mr Persing and his team stroke a decisive blow once again and it will be very difficult to try to compete with them considering the price of the product…

Advantages:

  • Very comprehensive bass library
  • DI box and amp sound
  • All articulations that were missing in Trilogy to create authentic bass parts (hammers, slides, etc.)
  • Round Robin function
  • Overall sound quality
  • Editing and processing possibilities
  • Integration in Omnisphere and Stylus
  • Wonderful double bass
  • Chapman stick – a rarity
  • Affordable price

Disadvantages:

  • Too complex for people looking for a simple bass sound
  • (Too) high system requirements
  • HTML user’s manual without any information on how to program the software

To read the full detailed article see: Trilian Review

February 15, 2010

[NAMM 2010] Martin LX Jimmy Buffett

Watch this and other videos/news from NAMM 2010 here.

February 10, 2010

My iPhone is a Sequencer

iPhone/iPod Touch Sequencers Report

We’ll start with Xewton Music Studio, a pretty comprehensive MIDIMy iPhone is a sequencer sequencer if you consider that it runs on a mobile phone. It features 128 MIDI tracks, 4 FX sends (reverb, delay, EQ, amp simulation) and 21 instruments – more than enough to get you started… But even though the instruments will cover most of your needs and you can edit their volume envelope curve (in a somewhat rudimentary way), don’t expect too much from their sound (the quality is on the same level as an old wavetable Sound Blaster sound card, in other words cheap-sounding, but usable, Soundfonts).

On the other hand, the sequencing functions are pretty comprehensive including a dual, virtual MIDI keyboard for real time control of two instruments, a piano roll view, an arranger window, velocity management, and all necessary sequencing functions like cut, copy, paste, transpose, etc. It goes without saying that you can set the volume and pan for each track and, more importantly, you can export your work as a WAV or MIDI file. In conclusion, it is definitely a must-have for the iPhone and well worth the $19.99 the developer asks for it.

Now let’s look at some several other sequencers…

Loop the Loop

To wrap up this non-exhaustive iPhone sequencer overview let’s My iPhone is a sequencertake a look at loop-based production tools inspired by Acid/Garageband. With a brilliant design, IK Multimedia’s Groovemaker is available for different music styles at $7.99, but you cannot import your own loops, which is a major drawback. That’s why we prefer Looptastic’s Producer version ($9.99), because it allows you to import your own WAV, AIFF and OGC files. It can synchronize up to 20 files at the same time and allows you to export your mix.

My iPhone is a sequencerIt’s a pity that you cannot record! That’s the whole point of loopers and loop samplers! They come in very handy to record song ideas on the spot and loop the loop with our previous report about iPhone audio recorders. Anyway, we will only mention the nice StompVox, which lacks an export function, and take a nearer look at the excellent iSample which has been praised by Roger Linn himself and Jordan Rudess. This app provides six 30-second samplers, a mixer, a loop editor, delay and reverb effects, and a 12-pattern sequencer. Everything for only $9.99.

On the other side, some of you will appreciate the simplicity of My iPhone is a sequencerEveryday Looper! The oddness about this 4-track looper is the GUI with no buttons: you can slide both ways using 1, 2 or 3 fingers to start or stop the recording, toggle between different tracks, and export the result of your work via WiFi. This app is very ergonomic and costs only $3.99.

To read the full detailed report see: iPhone Sequencers

February 9, 2010

[NAMM 2010] 65 Amps Lil Elvis

Filed under: Amps, NAMM 2010 — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 12:09 pm

Watch this and other videos/news from NAMM 2010 here.

February 8, 2010

[NAMM 2010] Fender Dick Dale Signature Malibu SCE Guitar

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