C-Tape LP2 'Latin Percussion'
Transducer/Mike Twin System (Inc. Gigster pre-amp)
C-Ducer's C-tape transducers are fast gaining popularity in the Latin percussion market both here and in the States (where such L.P. aficionados as Santana are using them). Pete Randall steps down from his kit, dons sombrero and gaucho pants, and sees if he gets C-Duced.
The other week I had a 'phone call from John Ribet of C-Tape Developments, who informed me of a new product in his range of 'stick on' transducers which he simply had to show me. He came, he demonstrated, and gave me the product to take home and play with (what a nice bloke!). The fact that I've now had time to try this equipment both at home and at a gig has left me in no doubt about the C-Tape system's performance.
The C-Ducer LP2 system comprises two 8" lengths of their C-Tape stick-on transducer strip material, complete with a battery powered 'Gigster' pre-amp. Being totally flexible, the C-Tapes will follow an instrument's exact shape and are fixed by double-sided tape with a sticky rubber pad fitted beneath the rigid plastic end of the transducer, into which the lead is fastened. This lead then plugs into the pre-amp, which is battery powered by a single PP3 and incorporates a pan control and a belt clip. The pan control lets you balance the differing volume levels of, say, a conga and timbales, the two transducers being fed in a bifurcated stereo way to the pre-amp where, once balanced one against the other, they feed-out as mono. The output from the pre-amp is via normal 1/4" jack and is compatible with most forms of stage amplification.
The drums that I used to give this system its road test were Natal congas (fibreglass) and L.P. bongos (wood). I found that the best position for sound on both these drums was just under the rims. There was no evidence of feedback and the sound was clear and bright, with the bass response smooth and rounded. Just one little moan really, and it's the only thing that a good mike on a stand has over the C-tape system. The tapes do tend to pick up every sound and I was conscious when playing congas, of the noise picked up from my legs rubbing against the side of the drum, likewise the little 'grace notes' that help you keep time but never really get heard, normally. Hollow stages could present a problem, too. However, once you get used to having the whole drum 'live' you would, presumably, get used to this effect and learn to take account of it.
Despite that small quibble, however, the C-Tapes have a very natural sound, the separation is excellent and the frequency response seems flat and uncoloured. I can see the attraction of a system like this, both because it's small and because it works out a lot cheaper than using normal mikes on stands. You'd probably have to pay at least £70 each for mikes and upwards of £22 each for stands to get a similar sound quality to the LP2 set-up!
I also tried this system on a conventional drum kit, and - again - it worked fine. Of course, you don't have to worry about any unwanted noise pickup here as you don't usually touch the drum unless you are striking it with the stick.
If you play Latin percussion in an electric band and you need a bit more volume and clarity for a very reasonable price, then the LP2 could well be the answer. It would be well worth checking out C-Ducer's transducers for kits as well.
RRP £87.35 Inc. VAT
Details of all C-Tape Transducer systems from C-Tape Developments Ltd., (Contact Details).
Review by Pete Randall
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