AF’s Weblog

July 30, 2010

On Tour: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Modern technology reveals traditional sounds for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers 2010 tour.

Technical Evolution


“We’re working with a very organic set of sounds here,” says Robert Scovill, ruminating on the current Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers 2010 concert tour. “Piano, organ, old amps… a traditional drum kit. We don’t want to make things sound real modern. What we want is a transparent presentation of the way things are. That’s where digital comes in.  Using modern technology to reveal traditional and established sounds – I think that’s a great way to go.”

Scovill knows well of what he speaks, and of the technical evolution that has helped bring him to where he is today with the band.  Having pushed faders out front for Tom and the boys since right about the same time e-mail was sounding like a pretty darn good idea, for this tour the Front of House engineer gains the backing of a D-Show VENUE console from Avid and an L-Acoustics K1/KUDO rig supplied by Escondido, California-based Sound Image.

“I don’t want to ever lead people to believe we’re attempting to simply recreate the record live,” Scovill explains, commenting on the audio underpinnings that guide this series of dates running through October supporting Mojo, the band’s first studio offering in eight years.  “That will never be the spirit of what Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers are about at their live performances. They have been together a very long time and have gotten to know each others’ moves implicitly not just onstage, but musically too.  You never get into a routine with them where Tuesday night is the same as Thursday and that’s the same as Saturday. Even with the big production elements surrounding this show, there is still a looseness to it,” he continues.  “Any given song can take a left turn at any moment and go in a completely different direction. This is definitely an ensemble with a collective will, not a group of musicians spoon-fed with material by a frontman.”

tom pettyA DSP advantage was gained, however, in being able to port effects settings built by engineer Ryan Ulyate during the mixing of Mojo directly into the plug-in processing of the VENUE system.  That process was facilitated by the fact that Mojo was mixed entirely “in the box” using a single ICON and Pro Tools system, with plug-ins brought over directly from the recording sessions including Sound Toys, Acousticas EMT impulses and Digidesign Delays.

Many of the vocal treatments for Petty himself – especially on newer songs – were pulled directly from the record for the live stage based upon their ability to manage what Scovill refers to as “extreme aspects” such as exceptionally narrow, cone-shaped vocals and slap delays he wound up using to underscore the “vintage-y” vibe.  Scovill is quick to add that he doesn’t routinely lean on plug-in compression unless the situation warrants it, opting in many cases for the channel strip processing already onboard the console.  For the times he does step out from his own internal circuitry for applications like system EQ or group processing, he gains the benefit of a Serato Rane Series of dynamic EQ plug-ins or their parametric offering.

“If I want to get into multi-band compression, I typically use an MC2000 on Tom’s vocal and bass guitar,” he notes.  “Our vocal chain is essentially the multiband compression along with some dynamic equalization to take care of things down in the low-mids and some of the ‘esses’.  That’s really about it. After that it’s just onboard compression and EQ as needed.”  Crane Song Phoenix tape head emulation plug-ins are applied on specific inputs as well as right across the mix bus.  Eventide reverb is a primary player on the drum kit, which also benefits from Waves API 2500 compression.  As further complement, a Brainworx BX Boom plug-in sees use on the drum kit in a fashion similar to a low frequency harmonics box.

Now let’s take a closer look behind the scenes…

Analogous Experience

Monitor engineer Greg Looper (left) and assistant monitor

engineer Mike Bangs at the other D-Show VENUE on the tour.

A pioneering force in the cause of integrating digital into the world of live sound, Scovill offers some pointed comments on the idea of “choice fatigue”- a possible downside to the digital world that’s offering a myriad of sonic options.  “It’s something live sound engineers have never been faced with before,” he says, scratching his head and trying to recall a time in his 30 years of professional life when such a thing could even be considered a problem.

“In the past, what dictated our choices was whatever the sound company had sitting on the shelf. If you went outside of that, then you were confined by space, budget, and rental agreements.  There were a lot of constraining factors. Now our work flow is very analogous to that experienced in the studio. You can say this is what we need and just load it on your system and get to work.”

As for the logic and creativity used to build his mix out front, Scovill relates on a final note that in many respects, all he has to do is get out of the way.

“The sources are just so good,” he says with reverence for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, masters of their craft.  “These guys are so good at voicing their instruments and orchestrating their parts, that you just have to let them do their work. In terms of mixing the show, I like to say I overemphasize the obvious. If there is a solo, I bring it up. If there is a critical rhythm part under that solo, you have to hear that too.  “Tom and the band have taught me over time that there is just as much skill in revealing something as there is in bringing something up. It’s not always about louder, it might be a matter of pulling something back so something else shines through.”

To read the full Article see: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers Tour

July 23, 2010

Vigier G.V. Wood 90 Review

Since the beginning of the 80’s, Vigier has been earning itself an exceptional reputation as a music instrument manufacturer. Instead of dull and tasteless mass production, the brand is committed to premium quality standards, thanks to a manufacturing process in which every step is carefully controlled — and is “Made in France”. Wood selection, after 3 to 7 years of aging, is a key step in the manufacturing process of each instrument.

The G.V Wood 90 is delivered in a wonderful flight case embellished with the brand’s logo. The guitar is available in five different finishes: amber, burgundy fade, ebony fade, purple fade, and stowash blue. Don’t trust the pictures on the manufacturer’s website: they don’t really do justice to the instrument’s wonderful varnish in daylight!

Vigier G.V. Wood 90

Innovation Bundle!

Vigier G.V. Wood 90

Once you open the flight case, tears of joy will start flowing from your eyes. The overall body shape is inspired on the famous Les Paul. The instrument has a massive alder body and weighs 7.3 lb. The maple top is not as beautiful as the wonderful Les Paul Standard top. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to admire the grained wood under the thick but translucent varnish. The back and the neck also have the same glossy finish.

The neck has a 630-mm scale, 22 frets and a headstock stamped with the famous pearly “V” logo. It has been reinforced on the back of the headstock to provide it with more sturdiness, in case it falls down. Notice the famous “zero” fret (typical Vigier) which gives open notes the same timbre as fretted ones. The Schaller locking machine heads are mounted in a 3+3 configuration on the headstock. The combination of the tuners, Teflon nut and tune-o-matic/tailpiece guarantees that the guitar will stay in tune. The neck boasts a D profile. Its thickness ranges from 19.5 mm to 23 mm at the 12th fret, and it is fixed to the body with four screws. One of the numerous Vigier innovations is the neck-reinforcement system with carbon (90% maple, 10% carbon) that ensures an optimal resistance to variations in humidity. The fingerboard is made out of phenowood.

Vigier G.V. Wood 90

In case you didn’t know, phenowood is compressed wood impregnated with a phenolic resin. The result is a high-density synthetic material conceived to withstand wear and tear over a long time. The glossy black color looks wonderful. The fingerboard’s feel is very special. It feels more like gliding your fingers over tiles rather than on the fingerboard of an instrument. Nevertheless, after the first contact you’ll feel right at home with the guitar. The only thing that makes us a bit uneasy is the uncertainty of how the fingerboard will age… and how expensive is it to mount new frets on such an instrument? The neck has medium frets and circle inlays only on the edge. It feels very pleasant and allows an easy access to the upper frets.

The chrome hardware has a modern design with rounded shapes. The electronics are quite simple. It has a master volume pot, a tone control and a five-way toggle switch. The tune-o-matic and the tailpiece with adjustable height have been both conceived by Vigier. Each of them is mounted on the body with a pair of screws. The tailpiece uses the top-load system, which means that the strings don’t pass through the body. The belt clips are secured by two plugs going deep inside the wood.

Now let’s get to the guts of the guitar…

Conclusion

Vigier G.V. Wood 90

Vigier offers a guitar with a modern look and a state-of-the-art design that distinguishes it from “mass-market” manufacturers. It’s a combination of innovation and well-proven technology, like the P-90 pickups. We regret the lack of a dedicated volume control for each pickup, which would allow us to adjust the out-of-phase wiring of the pickups. Even if it’s for a rather high — but justified — price ($3,600), you can get a top-notch guitar fully manufactured in France. Rock, jazz, blues, metal: you can play anything with this guitar! However, do try to play as best as you can because even the smallest imperfections are audible!

Advantages:

  • Sound versatility
  • Finish
  • Design

Drawback:

  • No left-handed version available

To read the full detailed article with sound samples see: Vigier G.V. Wood 90 Review

July 16, 2010

Audiofanzine Application for the iPhone

It’s finally here! Now you can pass your time browsing for all the latest news on Audiofanzine on your iPhone with the FREE application.

Browse real time news published on one of the biggest website dedicated to audio gear, music instruments and recording; comment and discuss the news with other members.

Features:

  • Filter among 8 main categories to see only the news you are interested in: Studio (Home & Pro), Computer Music, Guitar & Bass, Drums, Electronic Instruments, DJ Gear, PA & Live Sound, and Lighting.
  • Available in 6 languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, or Japanese.
  • Share your point of view with +700,000 users direct from your iPhone.
  • Share the news you like with your friends by e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.
  • User interface in English or French.
  • Tested on iOS4.
  • Many new features coming soon!

To download the free application visit the iTunes store:  Audiofanzine iPhone Application

July 14, 2010

How to Sell Your Music

You’ve recorded and produced your killer single. Now comes the really tough part: selling the drama. Here we will recap and add some steps in order to implement your marketing plan- putting it all together, and managing your time and resources for optimal efficiency.

Marketing Plan

bookThe musician seeking to build his fortune online must do so with a great deal of forward thinking. It will require a lot of fortitude and wisdom, confidence to know the labor will result in profit, and above all, the patience to persevere through the rough times that will surely occur at the inception of any new business.

The number one reason why new online businesses fail is because the owner of the business hoped to make a quick fortune without effort, knowledge, or patience. There is nothing wrong with dreaming of instant wealth, as long as the dreamer knows that it is inherent in our nature to dream of gold without digging, but there comes a time when the fantasy must end and the work must begin.

I have worked with many people in the music and Internet marketing business. One characteristic I’ve noticed in common among those who succeeded was the willingness to do whatever it took to make their dreams happen. Success rarely requires talent or intelligence. Rather, it’s the persistence of working at the business every day, chipping away at the goal week in, week out, that makes the difference.

Here we present to you headlines from the Marketing Plan.  Understand that each headline is a full on project by itself that we are unable to cover due to the confines of this article….

Step 1:

  • Record the product.
  • Record and mix your master CD, then make up two to three short clips for MP3 download/streaming.

Step 2:

  • Package your product.
  • Make up your graphics, songlist, and covers. You can either:

webStep 3:

  • Send the package to a manufacturer for pressing OR
  • Make your own limited quantities using your own computer.
  • Prepare your marketing materials.
  • Assemble Press Kit: Photos, Bios, Backgrounder, EBC.

Step 4:

  • Build web site or hire web designer.
  • Contact a hosting company to host site.
  • Maximize meta tags and keywords.
  • Submit site to all major search engines.
  • Organize contact list system.

Step 5:

  • Use Goldmine or other contact management software.
  • Start listing on portal sites.

At this point, you will go to MP3.com and other portal sites, and establish a Web presence there. You will upload your music files and list your promotional materials, with a link to your Web site. This will be your primary foundation. Bookmark all portal sites and keep them in a linkable file, for fast access.

Step 6:

  • Begin Online Campaign.
  • E-mail online radio stations with your letter of introduction.
  • Prepare and send online media press release.
  • Prepare online radio station release.
  • Post first round of Usenet newsgroup releases.
  • Set up live Web appearance date.
  • Start online radio station.
  • Write first newsletter for your first target group.
  • Secure live online radio station interview or tape interview.
  • Begin posting to chat rooms, bulletin boards, and online social networks.

Step 7:

  • Begin Offline Campaign

Step 8:

  • Set up local record store appearances.
  • Contact indie radio stations, such as colleges have promo materials printed, such as bumper stickers, t-shirts, magnetic car signs, window cards, stickers, etc.
  • Begin placing materials and do giveaways.
  • Set up live appearance schedule, including radio station interviews.
  • Send press releases to all local media, such as newspapers and radio.
  • Assemble postal mailing list and do first mailing to first target group.
  • Contact local office of a national charity and offer to do a live concert in exchange for promotion of your group’s Web site and CD.
  • Call your local media and tell them the news you are getting local and national coverage. The publicity machine is a like a snowball, and it feeds on itself.

Now let’s take a deeper look…

Short Term vs. Long Term Results

long roadMany people operate under the popular misconception that the Internet brings instant sales results. Of course, in some respects, that’s true. A measurable response is often quicker on the net because people can respond more quickly to your promotions. But this is where any resemblance to a quick profit ends. Most of the clients I have worked with are often disappointed when results do not come in a matter of weeks. For those who are doing their own marketing, the lack of immediate response is one of the biggest reasons why they give up too soon. You must view your online marketing as a long-term investment strategy, one that will pay dividends over time. It is not the route to short-term, windfall profits. Think of marketing on the Internet as the sowing of seeds. It takes time to till the soil, plant the seeds, move on down the line, nurture the seedlings as they grow.  As the weeks stretch into months, you will see the makings of a decent crop, a cash crop, if you will, that will continue to yield results for you the year round. But not all seeds grow, and not all trees yield fruit. In this modern age, we are accustomed to getting the things we want right away. But things of the greatest value are often the most difficult to obtain. In order for good marketing to be effective, we must carry out the marketing consistently over time. The man searching for short-term profit may want to take up day trading or short-term stock speculation for an investment vehicle. The Internet is no place for short-term thinking.

If there is one solid lesson to remember, it’s the fact that building a successful business takes time and considerable sacrifice. The relative ease and inexpensive access that the Internet affords brings us an abundance of buyers, but it also brings us a surfeit of competitors.  It’s rather easy to throw up a Web site using a template, and it’s easy to host the site with a budget host, and it’s easy to call the site a business. The reality of actually building a money-making business on the Web takes a great deal more work.

I’m sure you’ve met virtuoso players who played so well that you at first wondered why they were not playing music in the big leagues. But then, when you got to know the person, you found they had problems getting along with other players, or ego difficulties, or a drug or alcohol challenge, or any of a thousand other limitations. The most common problem is laziness, the unwillingness to do what it takes to make the dream happen.  Work your marketing plan, work it hard, every day. Avoid short-term thinking, and keep your eye on long-term results.

To read the full detailed article see:  How to Sell Your Music

July 9, 2010

Fender American Special Telecaster Review

What’s left to say about the Telecaster? It’s contribution to the world of popular music is without doubt. For those still in the dark, some of the music history’s most memorable riffs were concocted on this divine piece of wood: “Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones “I’m a Man” by Muddy Waters, “Every Breath You Take” by the Police, and “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen…

Even if the overall Telecaster shape has not greatly evolved since its conception in 1949, Fender cleverly knew how to modernize its model to adapt to changing musical fashions.  In addition, Fender needed to try to cope with, as best as possible, the burning needs of musicians who embraced technology.  Consequently, it’s not that easy to figure out what’s available from Fender considering how many versions of this model there are. There is something for all tastes and all purse sizes!  Between the Reissues, the Classic Series, the Custom, and Squiers, the Custom Shop Designed and so on, we find ourselves faced with a plethora of guitars with prices ranging from affordable to sick or even more in some cases …

A Body to Die For…

Unveiled for the first time at the 2010 NAMM show, and available to the public since January 2010, the “American Telecaster Special” is available in only two colors: “Olympic White” (the model to be tested) or “3 Color Sunburst”, both with a black three-ply plaque (black / white / black) and 8 nuts.  The alder body has a contour based on the body shape of 1970s’ Telecasters.  The gloss finish is urethane type.  For those unfamiliar with the world of guitar craftsmanship, urethane finish is widely used now on most electric guitars.  It is very thick and very resistant to shocks.   Only problem, it does not leave much room for the wood to breathe.   The color “Olympic White” is reminiscent of the original color of the first Telecasters in the early 50s. Like all American Standard models, adjusting the neck with Truss Rod screwdriver will be at the head of the instrument in front of the saddle.  Not aesthetically pleasing to my taste, but oh so handy!

The neck has a “C” profile with a pitch of 25.5 inches (648mm) and it has a radius of 9.5 inches (241 mm).  One piece only, the neck is of solid maple wood without an attached fingerboard.  22 jumbo frets adorn the neck.  Its finish, satin, is applied in very thin layers. Yes, comfort is optimal.  While ordinarily I do not like this type of finish, I must confess that this finish’s soft attribute is very graceful.  As a result, the hand glides and strokes the full length of the neck effortlessly.  Dare I say that we found almost the sensation of nitrocellulose lacquer worn out by time and polished by the countless hand strokes while playing over the years.   To see how it will age, and whether or not the neck finish remains velvety, only time will tell.  The Fender motifs  is of Fender Vintage Seventies style.  The guitar is fitted with 009/042 string gauges, but deserved a 10-46 pulling power to purge out everything it has in its stomach. The “Fender Standard” mechanics play their part, but in any case I cannot guarantee a perfect pitch if you start to torture the guitar with the most diabolical “bends”!

Now let’s strip the guitar…

Conclusion

This new American Special Telecaster guitar today shares a lot of traits with its cousins “Highway One” models, “Reissue Classic”, and finally, the famous “American Standard Series” fer-de-lance catalog mark hailing from the city of Fullerton.  Its ergonomics is simple, its finish clean, it is light weight with perfect mass load distribution. What else can we ask for with the price tag of $1099 for an instrument born and raised in the USA?

If you are looking for a Telecaster with a more “roots” sound in the same price range, move over to the more affordable Baja model, or the Classic Series models, both made in Mexico featuring pickups which offer more sonic dearth. If you opt more for a guitar with a less typical “retro” sound, then you’ve come to the right place.

Advantages:

  • Fender Deluxe Case
  • The price is very affordable for a USA made
  • Reliability
  • Quality pickups
  • Finish

Drawbacks:

  • A lack of color choice (only two)
  • No hard case (probably to reduce costs)

To read the full detailed review with sound samples please see:  Fender American Special Telecaster

July 6, 2010

The Emotional Cords: Vocal Health for Singers

Filed under: Singing — Tags: , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 8:32 am

As summer arrives, singers begin to worry about vocal health as summer is the season when most artists have most bookings. “Will I be able to manage all the upcoming shows without vocal fatigue?” The health of your voice is a serious matter: Your voice is a musical instrument that requires very special care, technical skills and constant practice.

Unlike guitar strings, vocal cords can’t break! Thus, they cannot be replaced. A good reason to take care of them! Vocal cords are muscles that need to be treated like any other muscle. Have you ever seen an athlete practice a sport without warming up? Without regular training or technique? Without muscle relaxation or a coach? Well, consider yourself a vocal athlete! The stage is your pitch. And like all athletes, you may get tired at times…

About Vocal Fatigue

A lot of physical, physiological, acoustical, and psychological factors can cause vocal fatigue. Among the most common symptoms are: changes in timbre, a deeper voice when talking, difficulties to reach high notes, quacks, cracks, unexpected pitch shifting (yodeling), hoarse, husky or breathy voice, soar throat or the sensation of lumps in your throat, partial or full aphonia…

If you carry on singing while having some of these symptoms, it can quickly lead to an injury or, unless you visit a laryngologist (voice specialist), other pathologies in the long run. Letting your voice rest can be a temporary solution. However, if your problems are caused by a bad singing technique and you don’t visit a laryngologist and a singing teacher, they will keep on coming back again and again.

Reasons for Voice Fatigue (a non-exhaustive list)

Breath, vibration and resonance?


Singing is a complex system that results from the combination of three stages: breath, vibration and resonance. An experienced singer combines all three stages harmoniously. When the breathing/vibration/resonance mix is not optimal, the larynx will compensate with intrinsic and/or extrinsic rigidness, hindering a good performance. In case you don’t remember, the larynx is an organ that connects the pharynx with the trachea and hosts the vocal cords. Its role is to transform air into sound. Thus, any additional rigidness is to be avoided.

Wrong or unsuitable singing technique

Some lucky people can sing intuitively without any singing lessons, but only a few have a good natural singing technique. For most singers, training their voice with a singing teacher or a voice coach is a must, regardless of their musicianship and music style. Good skills are crucial to keep your voice healthy, to sing without rigidness across the whole vocal register, to keep a well-balanced timbre, to be able to sing for hours without experiencing fatigue.

Lack of sleep

The only time when vocal cords fully rest is during sleep – when they decongest and regenerate. We recommend eight hours of sleep per day. But we are aware that long rests are hard to combine with life on the road. Specially when you have late shows and need to travel to the next gig location. Take a nap in the afternoon but avoid sleeping before live gigs. It could take the vocal cords more time to fully recover than the time you have before going up on stage.

Physical fatigue

When your body feels tired, your muscles have no energy, including your abdominal muscles and vocal cords. In this condition, it’s difficult to sing consistently.

The singer must sing dynamically and powerfully! Some of my students have realized that singing demands as much energy as doing sport. Thus, it is crucial to be physically fit. You know the saying: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Be watchful during rehearsals and live gigs. Don’t slacken your dynamism. Your body must be in good shape. The slightest carelessness might prove fatal to your voice.

Song key

Sing within your own range, in other words, the notes you can sing easily. Do not confuse this with the vocal register, which includes all notes you can produce with your voice. Don’t strive to sing in a key that doesn’t match your range because it could be very dangerous to your voice. Singing should be as comfortable as possible. If uncomfortable, tell the musicians you are playing with and transpose the song key. Otherwise, choose a replacement song before going on tour to avoid having to change singer’s while on tour!

More me

“I can’t hear myself! Can you push me to the front of the mix? Otherwise, I’ll have to strain my voice and damage it!”

We have all heard or said this to the monitor engineer at least once. But what happens really? It is very important to have a good sound on the stage, which means you need to take time to make a good soundcheck in order for all musicians and singers feel comfortable and find their position within the band. A singer that cannot listen to his own voice will tend to strain it or shout to be able to hear himself. This is called vocal dysfunction.

To avoid this, don’t hesitate to use in-ear monitors, which provide a clearly better monitoring comfort while protecting your ears by filling up your auditory canal and attenuating external noise up to 18 or 25 dB. In-ear monitors might seem expensive but your ears and your voice have no price: trust me!

Visit an ENT specialist to have an audiogram done. That way, you can check if your monitoring discomfort isn’t directly related to some sort of hearing impairment.

Now let’s take a look at vocal illness…

Conclusion

Always listen to your voice and your body… Take the smallest signs of fatigue seriously. Don’t bury your head in the sand while waiting for your voice to come back. That’s a common mistake among singers who are afraid to face reality.

If your singing technique leaves a lot to be desired, you need help! Unless you settle for the perpetual state of losing your voice and waiting for it to come back again… until it doesn’t!

And don’t think these recommendations apply only to beginners. Even experienced singers need to check if their singing is still consistent. Within this context, a periodic visit to a qualified singing teacher is enough to control if your singing technique is fairly good so you can start a tour with one less worry.

Also think about visiting a audiologist or ENT specialist every two years. This medical check is painless and it will help reassure you about the health of your vocal cords. And you’ll get a free pic of them. 🙂

I wish you all successful live gigs!

To read the full detailed article see:  Vocal Health

July 2, 2010

Marshall JMD501 Review

Every guitar player knows Marshall and its cult amp series that has been manufactured for over 40 years now. Sometimes praised, sometimes criticized – everyone has certainly heard about the Marshall Plexi, JMP and JCM800, some of which even became reference products. After the launch of a new all-tube series (JVM), a solid-state series (MGFX) and a tube/solid-state hybrid series (Valvestate), Marshall only lacked a tube/digital hybrid product range. Thanks to its cooperation with Softube (well-known for its software amp simulations), Marshall has now launched the new JMD:1 series entering the semi-digital area. Today, we’ll take a deeper look inside the JMD501…

Unpacking

The JMD501 is the 50-watt combo version of the JMD:1 product family. As soon as you take it out of the box, you’ll immediately recognize the typical Marshall look: golden front, classic knobs, logo, typography… Nothing new on this amp! The dimensions are standard for a 50-watt combo (25″ x 20.7″ x 10″) and it weights 50 lb. It features a 12″ speaker, two EL34 power tubes and one ECC83 preamp tube.

Front panel

Marshall JMD501

On the front panel, you’ll find an input for connecting your guitar and a knob for selecting one of the 16 amp models available. You’ll have to read the user’s manual in order to know which hardware is being emulated: there are no “I’m a JCM800” or “I’m a JMP-1 with a Guv’nor” labels. You’ll have to settle for ambiguous descriptions like “Clean natural” and “Lead Classic”! Perhaps Marshall didn’t want to push it too far. Just read the user’s manual to find out the topology of each model.

Marshall JMD501

The front panel also includes a standard gain control, a 3-band EQ (bass, middle, treble) and a channel volume knob. All five controls work in different ways depending on the selected preamp model.

You have four channels to which you can assign any setting. And it also features a manual mode, which is very convenient to get an overview of the amps’ sound possibilities. There is also a foot switch included that allows you to toggle between channels/presets.

Like on Line 6 amps, a single control allows you to select and adjust one of the modulation effects. You can choose between gate, chorus, phaser, flanger, and a tremolo controlled by the Mod Depth setting; the speed rate is defined by the position of the Mod Adjust knob. Unfortunately, it is impossible to mix two effects. The amp also provides a delay effect with tap tempo and different modelings that affect repetitions (Hi-fi, Analogue, Tape and Multi). Apart from that, the JMD501 includes a digital reverb. All in all, thanks to its effects and control possibilities, the amp proves to be a very comprehensive tool. The presence knob is placed at the end of the signal path, just before the master volume control. Finally, also notice that the amp is equipped with power and standby switches.

Rear panel

Marshall JMD501

The JMD501 is generous when it comes to connections! You have additional speaker outs at your disposal: one 16 ohm out, one 8 ohm out and two 16 ohm outs, plus an effect loop with send/return connectors, a +4dB/-10dB level selector and a mix control.

Marshall JMD501

The preamp output allows you to connect the JMD501 preamp to an external power amp. This connector also works when the amp is in standby mode (Silent Recording mode). The same applies to the phones output which allows you to play guitar with the sound of your amp without disturbing your whole neighborhood (in standby mode the speaker output is muted).

A line input adds the possibility to connect a line-level source (MP3 or CD player) to play along with your favorite songs. The amp also features an Emulated Line Out on XLR that emulates the miking of a 4×12″ speaker cabinet. Just like the headphones and preamp outputs, you can use it silently in standby mode.

Marshall JMD501

The Footcontroller input is dedicated to the supplied foot switch, but the amp can also be controlled via its MIDI in and out. By the way, using the foot controller is somewhat complex in the beginning. I had already tested the foot controller of the Marshall JVM210H, which is a bit unpractical (pressing a switch for the second time allows you to change mode — green, orange or red — without changing channel). The JMD501 foot controller includes six switches and allows you to store up to 28 presets directly in the Preset Store mode. You can also assign some switches of the front panel to the foot controller: manual, channel 1-4, modulation on/off, delay on/off, tap tempo, FX loop, and compare.

Now, the time has come to experience the sound of this unique amp!

Conclusion

Marshall promised to revolutionize amp technology by offering a sort of summary of their legendary amps in a single combo – and everything for just under $1,200. Reality looks very different: the price is a bit high compared to it competitors and the amp is not very versatile because the modelings are limited to Marshall amps. The cheap character of some presets disappointed me a bit (especially the clean sound), although the crunch presets sound very good and the modulation effects are quite convincing.

Advantages:

  • Crunch sound!
  • Good modulation effects
  • Comprehensive rear-panel connections
  • Supplied with a foot controller
  • 16 different simulations

Drawbacks:

  • Price
  • Clean sound a bit too cheap
  • The “war-machine” foot controller

To read the full detailed article with sound samples see: Marshall JMD501 Review

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