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.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Jackson B7 Deluxe - Walnut Stain

It's my favourite time, new guitar time. This one was something I've contemplated for well over a year now in my general search for my first seven string. I knew that I wanted it to be baritone scale for tuning down - based off my ESP Custom Shop STEF-B8, and that narrowed down my choices quite a lot.

The Jackson drew me because I'm well aware that USA made versions are extremely well made - my SL2H Soloist amazes me every time I pull it out and I've seen a few amazing guitars come through our shop. It rather uncommonly combines stunning exotic timber looks with really simplistic design. The hand rubbed oil finish is really fantastic, it looks and feels different to any of my other guitars and I really love it - also smells fantastic.

The neck is very thin, the jet black blank ebony fretboard feels great and the extra jumbo frets definitely give it a signature Jackson feel, like my Soloist. The shape is super comfortable like my other strat shaped guitars, even though it's slightly pushed forward, like a subtle version of an ESP Horizon III.

I haven't made up my mind about the DiMarzio D-Activators yet. They do sound good, but it's always hard to tell whether a different set will sound better. Bare Knuckle Black Hawks would be my first choice if I can ever afford another set after paying this baby off. Jackson USA guitars come at a price, probably slightly higher than most people will be accustomed to when compared to something like an ESP E-II series guitar - but it is worth it.

The hard case is a G&G instead of the old plastic moulded ones SKB were making for Jackson. It's definitely a nice hard case, but I did prefer the SKB one that my other Jackson came with.

I'll try to post an actual video soon so it's easier to see and hear the whole thing, but long story short - I love it and it's worth every cent.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Earthquaker Devices Pedal Demos - Part 1 of hopefully many...

I just orchestrated the arrival of this wonderful brand (made in Akron, Ohio U.S.A) at the shop and while I haven't had a chance to properly sample even a fraction of the range, here are my first two videos (basically just me filming my first interactions with them, you won't find any scripted demos here...). I had a Grand Orbiter V3 demo but I discovered the camera on the pedal stopped filming half way so I'll have to revisit that one.

I'm heading to NAMM this week to overload on gear excitement. I'll be touring the Schecter U.S.A Custom Shop and hopefully visiting the lovely folks at AEA Ribbon Microphones too! I'll try to post some photos up here as I go along but if I don't manage to, it'll all be up as soon as I get back.

Hoof - Fuzz

Disaster Transport Jr - Analog-voiced Digital Delay

Monday, 22 December 2014

Hmm.... Upgrades

Hmm... Upgrades.

This week I did a little modifying on my beloved ESP 6 string workhorses. Both went from the standard "self locking" Gotoh tuners (which I despise) to the lovely, MUCH easier and faster to work with Gotoh MGT traditional locking tuners. 

Secondly, I finally got my hands on some Bare Knuckle Pickups Black Hawks to go into my Horizon NT-2 in place of the stock Seymour Duncan set (which wasn't even bad, I've just heard a lot of good things about the Black Hawks and my curiosity would never have let it go. Only quickly tested them but I definitely like the direction they've moved the sound in. Can't wait to extensively get used to them.

To get the Gotoh tuners for yourself, try Australian Luthier Suppliers or G-Jax 

To get any Bare Knuckle Pickups, hit me up at Guitar Factory Parramatta. We keep a good range in stock and anything else can be made to order at a competitive price.