Friday, 29 May 2015

Two New Pedal Demos + Exciting New Gear Coming...

I know, I've been very slow with getting videos done lately. I've been writing some music for a change, trying to get that side of things happening so you'll have to forgive me. I'll be breaking the drought soon thanks to the ultra exciting new Sony A7s I'll be receiving shortly, very much looking forward to filming as much as humanely possible it.

In the mean time, here's two new ones. Simple, self-explanatory (no talking necessary).

Earthquaker Devices Sea Machine v2

Fulltone OCD v4

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Zoom Q8 Video Camera - First Impressions

After seeing them unveiled at the 2015 Winter NAMM show in LA, I knew I had to get my hands on one of these. They've finally arrived in Australia and I scored one immediately to replace my GoPro Hero 3 as my secondary camera. I've put up my first couple of test runs on YouTube already, which gives you an idea of how it sounds.

Personally I think it's great, the video quality very usable - no, it's not as good as something like a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera or even a lot of the cheaper DSLR cameras - but let's be realistic, it's a video camera worth only just over $500 AUD that has excellent quality built-in stereo mics, studio quality recording capabilities and two external mic inputs... What more could you ask for this price?

It's very small, lightweight and easy to use. The touch screen contains most of the controls except for record and microphone gain, but I haven't had any trouble navigating it. I can't comment on battery life yet as I haven't used it for more than a few minutes at a time.

The lens is super-wide, making it maybe a little inappropriate for anything close-up, but considering I'm replacing a GoPro - it's much the same for me. I think the lens combined with the audio makes this much more appealing for live music use, but we'll have to wait and see how it handles low-light situations. Look out for more test videos soon...

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Digitech Polaris - Stereo Reverb Pedal Demo

Amazing quality stereo reverb pedal from Digitech with algorithms by Lexicon, a legendary company for reverb effects. Very nice quality effects and build quality, I'm super impressed by this pedal for the price.

The pedal just feels really well made as soon as you pull it out of the box, and for a small format reverb pedal - whether you use it or not, the "tails" functionality is a simple but nice touch (demonstrated at the end of the video).

This is priced at around $200 here in Australia, which I think makes this the new king of the hill for small format reverb pedals. I found it sounded just as good, if not better than close competitors like the TC Electronic Hall of Fame (slightly more expensive).

The only reason I would suggest purchasing a more expensive pedal like the Strymon Big Sky or Eventide Space is if you are a gigging artist and the use of presets/MIDI control functionality is necessary.

My basic demonstration used my PRS Hollowbody 1 Spruce Top with both pickups and the piezo engaged into my Dylan Amplification mk1 on 50-watt EL34 mode. The cab is my favourite Marshall 1960TV mic'd up by an AEA R92 ribbon microphone and a Shure SM57 dynamic microphone into my Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt interface.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Audio Technica AT4080 & AT4081 Ribbon Microphones Demo

Being the connoisseur of ribbon microphones that I am, it was a long time overdue that I got my hands on these lovely Japanese-made active ribbon mics from Audio Technica.

I'm becoming more and more fond of the company as I discover more and more of their headphones and microphones range, these have only strengthened this even more. The 40 series ribbon mics are at a good price point when compared to their premium competitors (AEA, Royer, Coles etc.) and they're well designed with unique form factors.

Electric Guitar

Acoustic Guitar

AT4080 Thoughts

This mic has an exceptional warm sound, plenty of low end and unique character. I would love to hear this mic on a good vocalist, it's a real pleasure discovering mics like this that don't sound so "generic". The warmth won't be a good thing for a lot of applications, for example it took away a lot of the bright presence of the acoustic guitar. Perhaps, it would be best used in combination with a nice condenser mic for this purpose. On electric guitar, it fit right in - a really useful companion for the typical dynamic mics like the SM57 I used with it in parts of the video.

The only thing I was a bit suspicious of was the shock mount, and simply because it doesn't lock the mic in at all - something that won't matter 99% of the time, but it did make me a bit nervous handling it as it swayed around a bit. 

AT4081 Thoughts

One of the best things about this mic is how tiny it is, the body is amazingly thin and sleek. It has a much more neutral sound, and I say this not to write it off as a boring sounding ribbon mic - it still has a nice smooth character, but just more versatile for many applications. I still quite liked how it sounded on electric guitar even though I typically prefer more low end from a ribbon mic. It's also worth considering this mic is a bit cheaper than its 4080 counterpart, which is a welcome point of difference.

Want to buy one? Check out Sound Devices

Zoom iQ6 & iQ7 Stereo Condenser Microphones for iPhone & iPad

After my video demonstrating the Rode iXY-L was quite well received, I decided to see what its competitors are like and Zoom are the prime candidate with three offerings currently on the market - the older iQ5 and the more recent iQ6 & iQ7.

First impressions of both

Both mics are of a slightly unsettlingly light and almost flimsy build quality. The first thing I notice is how scared I am of breaking the lightning connector because they don't have a brace like the Rode iXY-L does. This is a bit of a design oversight and a real shame.

On a more positive note, small things like a physical gain control and LED input monitoring as well as a headphone jack are welcome points of difference to the Rode. The ability to control gain without fiddling with app controls is probably the best part.


The iQ6 is an XY stereo condenser quite like the mics you'll find on their wildly popular H4n portable recorder. Similarly to the H4n, you can control the stereo width of the mics by turning them, a useful tool and another good point of difference to the Rode iXY. I found the sound quality of these quite good, and the most appropriate for studio recording. You can hear in the video, the iQ6 sounds closer, with less room sound at the same distance that I had the iQ7. I believe with maybe a bit of tweaking in terms of placement and EQing, it's a very usable mic for serious studio recording.

It's major downfall, which I'll discuss again when I get to the iQ7 - is not being able to rotate it in order to make use of it while filming video. This is a massive oversight and one that annoys me about the Rode iXY too... While I appreciate that the ability to rotate it makes the design more complicated and harder to keep stable/reliable, considering the video quality of the current iPhones and how many people use them for video recording - I am in utter disbelief these companies would ignore that portion of their users. Instead of producing several products (Zoom being the prime example), they could simply produce one great one that can avoid this issue.


The iQ7 is a mid-side stereo condenser mic, with the ability to internally M-S decode at two different stereo widths, or you can set it to simply record the raw audio and you can apply the mid-side process yourself for maximum control over the stereo image.

As mentioned earlier, this mic can easily be switched around to work well with video capturing, a process I made sure to showcase in my demo video and I think this is by far the best reason to choose this mic. I didn't think it sounded quite as nice for the purpose I tested it for as the iQ6, but I have a feeling it'll sound nice a wide for live music and events capturing.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Break Even, Hopeless and Endless Heights at the Red Rattler - February 2015

Schecter USA Custom Shop CET

Another new one!? You haven't even posted any videos with your last new one!

Yes... it is pretty ridiculous. This total shredder just arrived after being in the making for about 6 months. It's a total "Californian Style" super strat, complete with low-profile Floyd Rose Pro trem system and high output USA made Schecter "Supercharger" humbuckers.

I'm going to keep this one in fairly standard tuning, maybe half a step down - so it'll likely feature often in future demo videos because some people don't like me using my super tuned down guitars (pretty much everything else I have). It's also going to be my token Van Halen worship guitar, which I'm very excited about.

More specs:

  • Optional upgrade - Quilt Maple top, Swamp Ash back, Macassar Ebony fretboard
  • Bolt-on Maple neck
  • Vintage Burst finish
  • Coil-splittable pickups
  • Lovely G&G hard case with Schecter USA plate on the front, really nice finishing touches all-round with these instruments...

I actually visited the factory not long after my guitar would have been built and shipped off back in January while I was visiting for NAMM. Everyone there was really great, and they were showing off some killer instruments at the show. Personally I'm absolutely drooling over the new Dream Machine II (check it out on their site). Some photos from the trip are just below.