AF’s Weblog

November 22, 2011

Eden Electronics WTX-500 Amplifier Head and EX110 Speaker Cabinet Review

When I was starting out as a bass player I didn’t dream about the ideal amp. Of course, I fantasized about bass guitars but I can’t remember being excited by a great combo or a bulky stack. For me, amplifiers were only useful tools: you had to plug into one to get a sound. And the most important thing was to have enough output volume, regardless of the sound quality. But the years and the road have taught me that in order to increase my skills as a musician I had to improve the most essential sense to make music: my hearing.

I realized very quickly that the price of the best sounding systems was not something I could afford. Among the most respected (and most expensive) were the David Eden amps. In those times, when the most powerful amp heads weighted about 40 lbs, they were too bulky to be rackable, and produced a very typical sound color, this American company introduced something similar to a UFO: the WT 300, better known as the “Traveler.”

15 years later, I’m pleased to review the WTX-5, the descendant of the original Traveler, and the RX110, a compact speaker cabinet.

Affordable High-End

Before founding his own company and specializing in PA systems, David Eden used to repair household electrical appliances. You might think he enjoys playing bass in his spare time but he is more interested in brass instruments! In fact, he plays tuba, trumpet and sax in several amateur bands. But he also spends a lot of time standing in front of a console, mixing bands whose bass players are his friends. Back in those days (mid 70’s), amp manufacturers were not very kind to bass players. There were only a few stacks available that, technically speaking, didn’t change a lot compared to previous decades. In short, musicians looking for a new sound color, i.e. different from the typical 60’s sound, were out of luck.

While listening to a friend play a Randall amp that produced the most awful sound he had ever heard before, David decided to help his friend out by building a new speaker cabinet. Then, with a good idea in mind about what should be a good bass amp, he started manufacturing his products in small quantity. He founded Eden Electronics in 1976 and manufactured his first line of stereo amp heads, as well as several speaker cabinets (2×12″), in 1978. But it was a risky bet: except for Alembic, very few manufacturers dealt with such concepts. As a consequence, there was a market segment to be conquered but nobody could guarantee the success of such a counter-trend.

But with the support of many professional musicians, the pioneer carried on in the same direction. The demands of bass players are simple, but also quite opposite to those of guitar players: a bass player wants an amp that faithfully amplifies his instrument and playing while adding warmth to the sound. Eden works to satisfy this demands by manufacturing custom stacks for professional musicians based on simple but innovative ideas and specifications taken from the military. High-quality components guarantee reliability, increased performance and modular design, making service and upgrades easier. The design of the speakers aim for a flat reproduction over a wide frequency range, a high power rating and a short response time for perfect transient reproduction. The goal of the designer is simple: reproducing the natural sound of a bass guitar depends on the attack much more than on resonance.

Eden amps distinguishes itself from other brands by producing a faithful and dynamic response. In this matter, Eden was among the first manufacturers to bet on 4×10″ speaker cabinets, which are now well established and offered by all brands. Within a few years, the company became one of the leaders in the high-end market segment. To reach the lower market segment, the manufacturer created Nemesis but its sales didn’t quite meet the expectations. In 2002, the company was taken over by US Music Corporation, which allowed David to continue leading the brand. But in 2011 the founder, always faithful to the philosophy that made him successful, decided to create a new company (DNA: David Nordschow Amplification) and go back to elite products.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Personally, I’m quite excited by what I heard during this review. I find the amp reacts very well, is easy to use and very versatile. With its great dynamic response, the WTX-500 head can seduce any player. The 10″ speaker does a good job considering its dimensions: it withstands the B-string of my bass, doesn’t produce uncontrolled sub-lows and reproduces very nicely the frequencies I want to hear. However, I guess this single speaker won’t be enough to play in a large venue. But for a club gig with a small band, the EX110 is both affordable and valuable. And I guess this stack will be of interest for double-bass players. In any case, I recommend them to give it a try considering the difficulties they already have transporting their instrument. To all bass player who want a bigger system for larger venues, I recommend the use of an additional speaker.

Or to choose another product within Eden’s wide speaker range. With a manufacturer committed to bass players for almost 35 years, you can be sure you’ll find the appropriate solution!

Advantages:

  • Component quality (potentiometers, connections, housing)
  • Eden sound guarantee
  • Transportability
  • Size/output power ratio
  • Marc Upson (many thanks)

Drawbacks:

  • Finish
  • No semi-parametric filters
  • Speaker and amp fan a bit too noisy (the amp is not that quiet and the speaker hisses a bit)

To read the full detailed review with sound samples see:  Eden Electronics WTX-500 & EX110

 

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March 7, 2011

Schecter Diamond P Custom IV Review

Filed under: Bass — Tags: , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 12:21 pm

Following the Schecter Ultra Bass review published last summer, here we have a brand new product from the Asian manufacturer.

Coming directly from South Korea (read the history of the brand in the previous review), the Diamond P custom IV is a variation of the Precision Bass concept based on two dual-coil pickups. After some bizarre experiments, the manufacturer adds a standard bass guitar to its product catalog.

Classic Piece

Schecter Diamond P Custom IV

Many manufacturers add products inspired by Leo Fender to their product portfolio. You can find lots of Jazz Bass and Precision Bass copies on the market right now. I won’t discuss that, because every market segment has its own classic pieces. For example, nobody would blame violin manufacturers for flagrantly counterfeiting Giovan Giacobo della Corna’s or Zanetto Micheli’s work. The same applies to the bass guitar market. Geniuses are as influent in art as they are in the industry. The thing that interests people like me — musicians who love their creative tool — is the reinterpretation of classic instruments, considering that all manufacturers try to give a personal touch to the “standard” bass guitars, either in the body shape or the pickups, thus trying to differentiate it from the original masterpiece. Why? Because genius can be reinterpreted. More or less successfully.

Schecter Diamond P Custom IV

So, what about this Diamond P, which is, as its name suggests, a variation of the Precision Bass? Our first impression is that the manufacturer doesn’t really invent anything but rather mixes everything. And we don’t mean that in a negative way — a good synthesis is better than a bad invention! But it’s important to say things as they are: the Diamond P takes the neck and the body of a standard Precision Bass. The pickups combination is the same as on the former Precision Deluxe US (equipped with a dual JazzBass pickup originally conceived for Roscoe Beck’s Signature bass). It is precisely the presence of this kind of humbucker that made me want to review this four-string bass guitar. That’s because the Precision Bass I’ve been playing for 11 years has the same humbucker. I like this pickup for its consistency and its powerful sound when I play finger picking style. So I’m curious to see how another manufacturer makes use of this pickup configuration (dual Precision plus dual Jazz Bass), especially on a low priced instrument.

Fender went half way with the Mexican Big Block which had a Precision humbucker in the middle position. But it lacked its counterpart on the bridge. Enter Diamond P with humbuckers in center and bridge positions.

Schecter Diamond P Custom IV

The bolt-on neck (four screws) has almost the same dimensions as the original: 42 mm @ nut, 57 mm @ 12th fret and 34″ scale. The fingerboard has the same length and width as the original, a modern C-profile and one more fret (21 frets) than the American Standard Precision Bass. Featuring an Indian rosewood fingerboard, the neck is easy to play but not quite that comfortable for small hands. The white nut is made out of plastic… nothing to brag about. Quite the contrary.

 

Although the instrument is new, I noticed some white marks around the G string, which goes to show that the nut material is too soft. A first drawback indeed. The solid Grover Vintage tuners are reassuring — they are the standard machine heads for this kind of instrument.

The alder body has a black glossy finish. It is also available in white (Vintage White) and blue metallic (Dark Metalic Blue). It’s true that black is beautiful, but watch out for finger marks, especially if you’ve had a greasy meal! A black pickguard is screwed onto the body. The bridge allows the user to choose two different stringings: either the traditional “top load” or the more modern thru-body. This way, you can emphasize either attack or sustain depending on your taste and needs. The massive bridge has an irreproachable manufacturing quality and seems to be better than the bridge on the original American Fender bass guitars. The strings on the instrument are medium D’Addario, probably a 45-105 set.

The passive electronics for the two pickups offer two volume controls and one tone control. The latter is a push-pull pot that allows you to split the bridge pickup. The instrument uses Schecter pickups: one dual Precision and one dual JazzBass with ceramic magnets. The overall finish of the instrument is good.

For the review I connected the bass guitar directly into my Novation audio interface. I apologize for my rather poor playing: I twisted my wrist during Christmas holidays. (I might have had too much booze…)

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Talking money, you can get this Schecter for $499 in stores. The price is adequate for a passive bass guitar with bolt-on neck and two dual-coil pickups made in Korea (products coming from Incheon offer a good manufacturing quality) and sold in a cardboard box. This Schecter can be very interesting for a wide range of bass players.

Advantages:

  • Well-balanced instrument either in standing or sitting position
  • JazzBass humbucker
  • Good manufacturing quality
  • String-thru massive bridge
  • Five-string version available
  • Available for lefties
  • Push-pull pot for pickup splitting
  • Versatile and effective sound range
  • Output power

Drawbacks:

  • Pickups set too high
  • Nut too soft
  • Lacks some personality
  • Sold in a cardboard box

To read the full detailed article with sound samples see:  Schecter Diamond P Custom 4 Review

September 7, 2010

Ibanez BTB 700DX Review

Filed under: Bass — Tags: , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 8:56 am

The BTB (Boutique Bass acronym) represents one of the nine IBANEZ bass families. It was conceived to provide features of a boutique instrument at an affordable price for the masses. Now, if I can only decide on the red or black finish..

Ibanez BTB 700DX

Need I present Ibanez?

That was a rhetorical question. I have never talked about Ibanez on this site, hence, I will briefly summarize the brand’s history for the curious ones amongst you.

The HOSHINO SHOTEN company was founded six years after the first World War, in the land of samurai soldiers. In those days, the company sold scores and music paper (“Shoten” means bookstore in Japanese). During the following years, the founder and his successor (Matsujiro and Yoshitaro HOSHINO, respectively) gradually changed the activity of the company to importing musical instruments. In 1929, the company HOSHINO GAKKI (which means musical instrument) was created for this purpose. They imported Spanish guitars by SALVADOR IBAÑEZ (which is the name of the craftman who created the workshop, as well as the first double-neck guitar). Some time later, a civil war devastated the land of castanets. The workshop of Salvador’s two sons was destroyed and some members of the staff were killed during violent clashes in the streets of Valencia. Due to this tragedy, the Japanese importer lost its main supplier so they bought the brand to manufacture the products in Japan (in the city of Nagoya). In 1962, Junpei (Yoshitaro’s son) took over the family business and inaugurated a new production facility called Tama Seisakusho Factory. The company manufactured guitars and drums until 1966. From this year on, the company subcontracted most guitar manufacturing and concentrated on drums (under the brand STAR, which later became TAMA).

At the beginning, IBANEZ was exclusively influenced by European instruments, from traditional Spanish guitars to EKO and HAGSTRÖM replicas. Later, the brand followed the trend of American instruments and started manufacturing GIBSON and FENDER replicas. The business flourished until the end of the 70’s when the manufacturer had to face a trial initiated by a parent company of GIBSON. But this setback was positive because it forced the manufacturer to produce its first own instruments (called “modern”): thus the Iceman and Roadstar electric guitars and basses were born. Encouraged by this success, IBANEZ started developing original designs and new concepts (slim neck-through body, two-octave fingerboards, active electronics) to become the reference brand we know today.

Slapper’s Small Shop

The new BTB (Boutique Bass acronym) looks like its grandparent while offering different electronics. Neither Japanese nor Korean, the bass is made in Indonesia, the land of Orangutans and Java.

I have always liked Ibanez necks. In my humble opinion, they are the main reason for the success of the Japanese company. So I’ll start with this component, which I’ll compare with the neck of an SR model (one of the manufacturer’s classic products).

Ibanez BTB 700DX

The first thing worth mentioning is that all necks of the BTB series are neck-through. You’ll either love it or hate it, it’s all a matter of taste! The basis of the concept is sustain, so the neck is made out of five (three maple and two bubinga) plies. The BTB neck has slightly increased dimensions, compared to the SR:

* The scale is 35″ long (instead of 34″)

* The fingerboard is wider at the nut (41 mm instead of 38 mm)

* The neck is wider at the last fret (64 mm instead of 60 mm)

On the contrary, the thickness of the neck has been slightly reduced; the back of the neck is a bit less round than that on a Soundgear (a half millimeter at the first and the 12th frets) — it’s not much but you can feel it. The instrument has 24 frets, which makes two octaves. The neck/body junction is somewhat original: the last fret is cut so that only the G and D strings are over the fingerboard. It looks nice but, honestly, I don’t understand the usefulness of it! A lot of effort has been invested in suppressing two notes (A and E) out of four, that could actually be useful.

Ibanez BTB 700DX

If this feature is for aesthetical reasons, the choice might prove ungrateful. However, considering its place on the neck, it won’t disturb many musicians except for a few solo bass players. In summary, you get a slightly wider and slimmer neck. You have more space to move your fingers without hindering the movement of your left hand. The wide cutaways allow an easy access to the upper frets. The slightly longer scale poses no problems and my left hand feels very comfortable on this neck.

The headstock design matches the body and the fingerboard design at the last fret. The headstock hosts Gotoh-type tuners (I emphasizes the word “type”) which are quite basic sealed lubricated machine heads. To be honest, I personally find they don’t quite reach the level of a “boutique” bass guitar. On the contrary, the bridge provides four independent saddles to make you feel confident. The ash body feels very comfortable. Its shape supports the right arm really well and it gives the instrument a light weight considering it has a neck-through body design. The fret work is not exceptional but it’s alright. The bass is provided with an Elixir string set, like most Ibanez instruments.

Now let’s take a look at the electronics…

A Place to Call His Own…

Compared with its direct competitors, this bass guitar ranks in the higher end of the market. It features a neck-through body, a semi-parametric EQ and a good pair of pickups for about $1,000. The BTB is a nice-looking and affordable active bass. Now it’s your turn to test it!

Advantages:

  • Neck-through body
  • Original EMG pickups
  • Ergonomic body and pleasant neck
  • Integrated electronics
  • Available as five-string version

Drawbacks:

  • Tuners
  • Battery compartment and cover
  • Not available for lefties
  • No gig bag included

To read the full detailed article with sound samples see:  Ibanez BTB 700DX Review

October 23, 2009

Schecter Stiletto Extreme 4: More than bass

Filed under: Bass — Tags: , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 5:07 pm

Schecter Stiletto Extreme 4 review

Schecter Stiletto Extreme 4

Before manufacturing its own electric and bass guitars, Schecter made spare parts for other renowned guitar manufacturers. Those times are long gone and now Schecter makes high-quality original models at affordable prices. Today, we will test a bass guitar called the Stiletto Extreme 4…Quickly looking at Schecter’s catalog, you’ll notice that the brand offers a pretty wide range of instruments including modern-looking models, as well as more classic lines that recall the shape of some Fenders and Rickenbackers. Nevertheless, the latter are no cheap copies: they have their own specifications and do distinguish themselves from the original models. There is certainly something for everyone and almost every model has a 4 or 5-string version.

Among all these models, there’s a bass guitar series called Stiletto which combines a light body and a comfortable neck. This series includes five different models: Studio, Elite, Extreme, Deluxe, and Custom. We received the Extreme 4 (4-string version) in Black Cherry finish.

We unwrapped it as soon as we got it…


Conclusion

This bass guitar made in China is a nice surprise when it comes to finish and manufacturing quality. The body with its Black Cherry translucent finish looks wonderful. The instrument is well balanced and the neck feels very comfortable. The Extreme 4 is impeccable until you plug it into an amp. Its sound is not amazing, it’s just the kind of sound you can expect for the price. Both pickups provide a high output level but they sound too similar and somewhat dull. The balance control doesn’t provide enough sound variations and you’ll have to resort to the more effective EQ to shape the sound.  In short: it’s a nice small bass guitar which deserves better pickups.

Advantages:

  • Manufacturing quality
  • Good finish
  • Beautiful translucent Black Cherry color
  • Effective EQ
  • Ergonomically shaped body
  • Comfortable neck

Drawbacks:

  • Both pickups sound too similar

To read the full detailed article see:  Schecter Stiletto Extreme 4 Review

May 8, 2009

Video Demo: Warwick Corvette 6-String Bass Guitar

Warwick unveils the 6-string version of the Corvette 6 string bass guitar.

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.

April 2, 2009

Boss Booth at Musikmesse

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Who wants that big DD-7  🙂 ?

For more Musikmesse photos and news visit Audiofanzine Musikmesse

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