Bolt, Bose, Carlsbro, Celestion, Fane, HH, Hiwatt, JVC, Leech, Martin, McKenzie, Nemesis, Ohm, Peavey, Pro-Amp, Session, Trace Elliot, Traynor.
"Thoroughly over specified." Sounds a bit nasty until you realise they're talking about a new series of Vox amps.
"Designed from the ground up with the criteria of portability and high performance, allied with dependable construction," continues the press release in glowing terms.
The series is called The Vox Venue, and for the first time includes a keyboard combo — Vox won't be the only amp firm breaking into that market this year. The range begins with a 100W lead combo with LED indicated reverb and overdrive and costing £199. The Vox Bass is a tenner cheaper and uses a 15in Fane instead of the lead's 12in. The Vox 100W keyboard combo boasts three channels featuring volume, bass and treble eq, reverb, effects send and return, and a 15in Fane alongside a high frequency horn. To these eyes it looks remarkably similar to the Custom Sound 727 which has an almost identical front panel layout. The Vox sells for £299.
And to top the range there's a new PA system comprising a four channel 120W head with switchable reverb and effects send on each channel. It's meant to be coupled to a pair of Vox 80W speakers, each with a stand, one 12in speaker and a high frequency horn. The amp will set you back £199 and the speakers are £199 a pair.
Somewhat further up the scale (about £1,000 further up, to be precise), we arrive at the Bose Tandem Tuned Bass System, alternatively known as the Articulated Array. What the hell, you ask, mildly disturbed, is an articulated array? In short it's two enclosures, one on top of the other, both containing 12in drive units. The upper port is tuned to a frequency of 110Hz, and the lower one to 55Hz. The frequency response is strongly rolled off below 50Hz and above 180Hz.
Bose reckon this enables the Tandem to make the maximum use of available amplifier power, and means you don't have to be so fussy about where the speakers are positioned. "Since the wavelengths generated remain long, this renders obstructions transparent to the sound produced." See through audiences, whatever next.
To complement the Tandem there's a system controller which replaces the old equaliser, a fresh full-range speaker system and a new Studiocraft F.1 power amp.
Back down at the sharp end Session are pressing ahead with their schemes for world domination. The SB:100 Bass Compact combo quickly followed in the footsteps of the very successful Sessionette guitarist's amp. Frankfurt will see the introduction of two new, upgraded options. The SB:100-410 boosts the power rating to 120W and includes four 10in Celestion speakers in an enlarged cabinet. The SG:75-210 likewise makes a watt jump from 75 to 90, and pumps out the noises through two 10in Celestions, again in a grander cabinet. There are two new speaker cabs to boot; one is a 1 x 12in full range job, and the other handles up to 200W via four 10 inchers.
Trace Elliot have been fine tuning their amplifiers, well, at least tinkering with the cosmetics. PVC covering replaces the functional but un-aesthetic matt black painted, marine ply which wrapped around previous gear, and the ultra violet lighting, which was an optional extra, is now being fitted as standard. If you've never seen this effect, it makes the Trace Elliots one of the most distinctive collection of amplifiers ever to beam out from the back of a stage. The controls literally glow. And finally (popular demand and all that) there's a rackmounted power amp on its way. The RA 500 will produce 500W mono and 250W stereo, or 250 high pass, 250 low pass, if you use the built-in crossover.
We met Max Bygraves the other day. Yea, yea, we know, we're a bunch of name droppers, Old Singalong was launching a new JVC package known as the Karaoke — a strange example of the inventiveness of the eastern brain box. It's a practice amp with two built-in stereo cassette players, a few mixing controls and an echo. No, it's not another crack at the four track home recording market under another name. It springs from the Japanese craze for singalong bars. You bang in a specially pre-recorded cassette on one of the players and it promptly spits out a selection of popular ditties with the main vocal track removed. You add your own splendid renditions, recording the performance plus backing on the second cassette deck. There are two sockets for keyboards and guitars, as well as microphones, and the more sophisticated models have a tape scan system to seek out the next infectious little tune, ready for your warblings.
This, we are reliably informed, is all the rage out in Tokyo where they have pubs built around the principle. You get pissed, you stand up, you sing a few bars of Led Sails Irra Sunset and drop into your sake. Not a bad idea, by any means, but a bit pricey, and it all rather depends on the pre-recorded tapes. Since it was Max and not Boy George at the microphone, you'll get an idea of the sort of library of tunes presently available.