Aug 31

Here is something a little bit different that can capture the sounds of India and I am sure will bring out the Hippy in you (Love and Peace Man). It is the new stomp box pedal from Electro-Harmonix called the Ravish Sitar Pedal and it should be available in the next few weeks. With this pedal you can transform your guitar into the harmonic and dynamic flexibility of a sitar.

Electro-Harmonix state that they have streamlined the essence of the sitar into a compact enclosure that offers a polyphonic lead voice and tunable sympathetic string drones that dynamically react to your playing. You can also create your own custom scales for the sympathetic strings while you set the decay time for the lead voice. There are two expression pedal inputs which allow you to bend the pitch of the lead voice and control the volume of the sympathetic strings simultaneously. These unique controls offer the player the ability to program the Ravish to become a totally unique and organic instrument unto itself. The Ravish is a truly new design with the flexibility to be a crossover tonal wonder.

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Aug 28


Here is something that I would like to try. Those clever guys at Waves have come up with something simple and brilliant – The Waves OneKnob Native Plug-in Bundle. It has been designed for anyone who wants to get better-sounding tracks fast and has seven individual plug-ins for seven particular effects – controlled by a single knob. The idea is to provide a quick facility that will focus on one type of sound enhancement, and do it really well. The great thing is that the processors used behind the OneKnob are the same high-quality processors that are used in creating  many hit records.

We are all impatient today and we just want results, we don’t necessarily want to learn at that very moment how for example a Reverb works, we  just want to ‘get there’ and remain focused on the music rather than the process of mixing. These OneKnob plug-ins are apparently perfect for that.  I wish I had a set built into my DAW. Here is a quick look at what each can do:-

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Aug 21


If you are in a local band, you are very familiar with the lugging of heavy gear, upstairs, through fire-doors, down narrow corridors, in fact quite often through an assault course of obstacles until you reach the stage or area where you are to setup your gear. With heavy back-straining PA speakers this can often be a very painful experience and quite frankly it is not what you really want to do before performing for a couple of hours.

It has been a challenge for speaker manufactures to create a very powerful speaker with an in-built amplifier in a lightweight package, especially as more often than not these cabinets need a vast frequency range to cope with anything from deep Synth basses to crisp sizzling hi-hats and therefore must have a 15” bass-pounding woofer as well as a high-frequency compression driver.

Mackie are a leading speaker manufacture and have been looking at this problem for some time. Their famous and most popular cabinet the SRM450 almost achieves this with a great sound and a weight of 40 lbs. (18 kg) but these are reasonably expensive speakers and still not very light in weight. With this in mind they have produced a cheaper and lighter speaker – the Mackie Thump. The Mackie Thump comes in two sizes – The TH-15A with a 15” Woofer and the TH-12A with a 12” which is even lighter.

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Aug 7


The first Synthesizer I bought was a Roland Juno 6 so like many people I was pleased when Roland decided to bring the Juno back from the dead in 2005 with the Juno-D. They then made further improvements with the Juno-Di and the bigger Juno-G and now they have released the Juno-Gi Mobile Synthesizer and Digital Recorder. I am also pleased that they have used some of the original colour schemes as everything was clearly labelled and easy to see however these new keyboards are really very different beasts from the Juno 6, Juno 60 and Juno 106 that I remember so well.

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Aug 1

I have been lucky enough today to have received a hands-on, one to one demonstration of Roland’s new flagship Synthesizer, the Roland Jupiter 80 by Drew d’Auriol the Roland Product Specialist based at Nevada Music.

Drew kindly took me through the Jupiter’s structure and explained just how deep this Synth really is. I have to say on looks, I think this is the best looking Synth in the world at present. As soon as you see it, you know it has that “Wow” about it. Roland have also designed specifically for the Jupiter, what is probably the best stand available to hold this beast firmly in place. I do not think even the top of the range Ultimate stands look this good.

Ok so what does it play like? Well for me, I have to say for a 76-note semi-weighted synth keyboard this has the best keyboard action I have ever tried. It is comfortable, has the right amount of bounce back and allows you to play the complete range of dynamics. This is best tested with just a piano sound and I would go so far as to say it is next best thing to a hammer-action keyboard. So with this you really do have the best of both worlds that we are all seeking – a fast keyboard for synth and organ sounds and a keybed that has the dynamics to provide you with the pianistic performance you know you are cabable of.

Sound – well it is a Roland and as those lush sounds pour out you can imediately sense a quality and class about this instrument. Roland have improved slightly on the sound of Fantom G by making greater use of their SuperNatural sounds. It is a shame they are not making more SRX boards for the Fantom G, because these sounds on the Jupiter are simply excellent – come on Roland don’t give up on your Fantom G users.

Build – Again excellent, very roadworthy, solid with a good finish, good size dials and controls, great layout for selecting sounds, layers and splits very quickly and also a very nice touch-sensitive colour screen.

This small article is not intended as a review of the Jupiter 80, just my first hands-on experience with it. There is just so much more to this Synth, that you would need a few weeks with it. Drew added that this is not a workstation, and whilst I wanted to make comparisons with the Korg Kronos similarly priced, I had to agree that they are two completely different keyboards. I think my new dream is to own them both.

Anyway I just wanted to say a big thank you to Drew today for his time, patience and invaluable knowledge of Roland products. Have a listen below – I love the “Lucky Man” solo.