All the latest info on tomorrow's gear, and more free details if you need them.
Here is The News, with Making Music's unique added attraction. Our special Reader Response Card (between pages 8 and 9) will help you get extra details on any of the gear with enquiry numbers. But remember, as these are such hot news items there may be a short wait before makers get all their details finalised. Now read on, and have your pens ready...
A new collection of Japanese guitars, basses, and effects, under the brand name of Vision are being imported by Rosetti. There are two six-string models - the VS200 has twin humbuckers, and the VS300 two single coil and one humbucker. Both guitars have double cutaway bodies, offer a number of different options including trem and fine tuners, and they come in black, red, or white. Prices vary between £150 and £385. The basses include an active model, due in June. The effects pedals on offer are analogue delay, chorus, compression, distortion, danger, metal, overdrive, parametric, and phase; prices run from £36 upwards. Also due in the Vision range are sets of strings at two thirds of the price of their American counterparts. Rosetti claim an unusually high standard of quality control for these products, both in Japan and in Britain.
A sixteen track MIDI recorder for around £290? There must be a catch, you cry, and there is - you need a Commodore 64 and disc drive to work the C-Lab Supertrack. Full editing facilities, with MIDI song pointers enabling you to restart your recording at any selected point, two interfaces for both MIDI and synchronisation with other time bases.
It's back, or will be in early '87, the musicians' show that had more dedicated followers than Whistle Test. The second series of BBC's fine rock tuition programme is being compiled and filmed with two additions to the guitar/bass/drums line-up. This time round Rockschool will be featuring keyboard and vocals, exploring the techniques and the technology. The first two of the eight half hour shows will present a rapid update on recent gear, including the advent of popular digital devices. Then it will be on to the familiar mix of band playing and sound analysis. This time round director/producer Chris Lent hopes there will be an American involvement with some filming in the States. Set the videos now, if they've got a nine month clock.
Another one for the Making Music band naming services, and also the component count of Hohner's Compagnon keyboard. Almost the button count judging by the front panel. The Compagnon promises to be an organ, a synth, and a programmable drum computer. Its velocity sensitive keyboard also has second touch and can work as a MIDI master keyboard. There's an onboard sequencer with one rhythm and four polyphonic sound tracks, stacking up 4000 notes. You can use 47 preset sounds, or compose 41 of your own using the 240x64 character LCD screen. There's a built in reverb and echo unit cartridge and, and, that's enough. There is more, and the Compagnon appears to fall between the expensive polysynth and elaborate home organ markets.
More price cutting, this time from TDA who have reduced their Home Office Approved Wanderer radio mike system - 30 hours battery life and v.small - from £587 to £350 plus VAT. The approval assures high quality, and stability under strenuous conditions...
They call it Doors 11. Well they don't but it seemed a nice fine. The second British Music Fair to be staged at Olympia Two in London throws open its gates to the public on August 1,2, and 3, from 10am to 7pm, admission £3.00 (£1.50 for kids and oldsters). Last year's show was a remarkable success - more than 19,000 people strolled the aisles. This year's will be bigger still with more than 100 companies exhibiting gear (the piano manufacturers are in this time). The ground floor has been extended and an extra level opened up.
Good news for pastoral players and buskers everywhere (except perhaps in the underground): an American firm called Solar Sonics are marketing the world's first solar powered amplifier.
The tiny (7in x 8½in x 3¾in) Model Five has its own Ni-Cad batteries that can deliver a useable 300mW to the 5¼in speaker; when connected to an external 12 V (car battery sized) DC power source, power increases to 10w. The intended audience for this wee box is demonstrated in the press release by a fine profile shot of a long-haired gentleman standing alone on a rocky peak, silhouetted against the sky in a suitably guitar-heroic pose. Each amp comes in its own canvas carry bag for 150US dollars, from Solar Sonics, (Contact Details).
Finally in the dealers is the new Oberheim Matrix 6R, a rack-mounting expander version of the Matrix 6. Though £950 is mucho moola, the 6R is still the most affordable of the Oberheim range, providing up to 100 memories for storing those big buzzy grinding digital/analog noises so beloved of the likes of Killing Joke.
Up in the sense that the latest of these popular American pickups is the 85, promising a brighter and fatter top end, and a lower end "that will remind guitarists of the original humbucking PAF sound." The new EMG 85 replaces the 58. They're down in price through new distributors Rhino. All single pickup systems are £75, two pickups are £145.
The flood of whizzy American guitars into this country continues unabated. Anyone who can make it down to Wapping High Street without being arrested as potential pickets has an opportunity of ogling the latest US four strings at The Bass Centre. Fretless fans will already know of Pedulla basses, particularly the fretless Buzz, which has been lauded by Pino Palladino amongst others. Also on display are the newly imported Zon basses, including the Legacy model mentioned by Mark King last month.
Another set of initials should soon start appearing behind the famous name Dolby. After six years of development, the company have released details of Dolby SR, standing for Spectral Recording. It's said to imitate the reaction of the human ear which responds differently to changing levels, depending on the frequency spectrum of the signal. The Dolby SR circuit listens to the incoming signal and adapts its noise reducing abilities not just based on the level, but also on the spectrum.
Don't expect to see it on your Walkman straight away. It's been designed for high-grade studio machines, already using Dolby A. SR is available as a retrofit and supposedly "masters audibly equal or superior to 16-bit PCM." In other words, digital quality (in some respects) with the ease of analogue editing.
Can you resist an effect called Space Commander? The new Vesta Fire SF100 stereo chorus digital flanger is so named, offering in a hi-tech grey 19in rack mounting unit a spatial expansion effect intended for use in professional and semi-professional studios. £620 for five modes, an attractive LED display, and a bright, clean sweep.
A rack-mounting box which allows the musician to sync MIDI equipment to him/her, without the need for painful surgery, the Humaniser interprets any regular pulse input (miked up handclap, bass drum, finger clicks, etc), to produce MIDI clock information. It can thus drive drum machines and sequencers with a 'human' (aka error-ridden) feel. Although it was announced at Frankfurt, the Humaniser has only just arrived in the UK.
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