Spectre Sound’s 1,500 Dollar Studio Challenge

Can you record everything in a rock / metal band for a budget of just 1,500 dollars? Including a real drum kit? That’s what Galen Fricker of Spectre Sound Studio set out to prove in his latest video.

If you’re looking to start your own home or project studio, this is a good place to start. There’s some really good information in here, including a look at some of the mixing plugins Glen used in Reaper for the demo track.

Please head over to YouTube and leave a like and a supportive comment if you like Glen’s video.

UAD v9.5 Is Out!

Universal Audio has released v9.5 of their plugin software platform today. The highlights are three new plugins to buy:

  • Helios Type 69 Preamp & EQ
  • Friedman Buxom Betty Amplifier
  • A/DA Flanger

To promote the release, Universal Audio has posted some short promo videos over on YouTube:

If you’re not familiar with UAD … they’re custom software plugins that you buy and run on Universal Audio’s Apollo hardware. Each plugin is a faithful recreation of some of the finest studio equipment around. Although the hardwae and the plugins aren’t cheap – right now, the Ultimate 6 Bundle is £2,999 – they’re a lot cheaper than the real gear, assuming you could get it in the first place.

I’ve had the Apollo Twin for about 18 months now, and I wouldn’t go back. I’ll write some articles about my experiences with it soon.

JHS Bonsai Demo – All The Tubescreamers!

I think this was released at Winter NAMM 2018?

Over at Premier Guitar, John Bollinger has posted a demo of the JHS Bonsai – 9 different Tubescreamers in 1 standard-size pedal housing.

The Tubescreamer is probably the most-cloned pedal of all time. With a few notable exceptions – like the Wampler Euphoria – if it’s a pedal in a green housing, it’s normally an outright Tubescreamer clone or something based on the Tubescreamer circuit.

Tubescreamers can be difficult to dial in. The traditional 1 tone control either works for you or not, and over the years, the Tubescreamer circuit has evolved to offer more options to suit different players and rigs. Having 9 of these in a single housing could be very handy indeed. If 1 circuit isn’t working for you with a particular guitar and amp, one of the others probably will.

I’ve got a Mad Professor Little Green Wonder on my board. It’s there for when I use my Strat. A ZenDrive into a Tubescreamer is a magical sound 🙂 I’m tempted to pickup a JHS Bonsai at some point, for the extra flexibility.

If you like the video, please head over to YouTube to like the video and leave a comment there.

Pure Tone Amps 7th Anniversary Custom Amp Demo

Johan Segeborn has posted a demo of the 7th Anniversary Custom Amp by Pure Tone Amps. It’s a very vintage sound that works well with all three Holy Trinity guitars – Stratocaster, Telecaster, and Les Paul.

It’s not an amp manufacturer that I’d heard of before. They hand-build every amp, and according to the website, every amp is unique. Make no mistake – these are boutique amps with pricing to match. They’re also different. Check them out. They might just appeal to you.

If you like the video, please head over to Johan’s YouTube channel to like the video and leave a comment.

Marshall DSL1C 2018 Review

Over at In The Blues, Shane has posted a review of the new Marshall DSL1C. It’s a 1W valve amp – a bit like the Blackstar HT-1 – that’s likely to be on your list if you’re looking for a small practice amp for home.

The old DSL range was very popular, especially the DSL40C combo that featured so much on Anderton’s Sound Like series. From the HNAD forum posts I’ve seen so far, the new DSL range might prove to be even better.

Me, I’m waiting for the Marshall Origin amps to land …

If you enjoy the video, please head over to YouTube to like the video and leave a comment.

Fender Blues Junior III vs IV

Over on In The Blues, Shane has posted a comparison of the Fender Blues Junior III vs the brand new Blues Junior IV. He even throws in a comparison with the Blues Junior SE – an amp I’d never heard of before!

The Blues Junior is one of the most popular valve amps around, especially with  home players like us. It’s a classic amp. How will the new Blues Junior IV stack up?

Please head over to YouTube and leave a like and a comment if you enjoy Shane’s video.

What Are Impulse Responses?

This question crops up on guitar forums from time to time. I’ve been using IRs for home recording since 2014. They’re great for home recording, where it isn’t always practical to mic up a real cab. And there’s no reason why you can’t use the same setup to listen to your rig when practicing or just noodling at home too.

An IR is an Impulse Response. It’s an audio model of how a reference tone is affected by something. They’re commonly used to emulate what a guitar cab, speaker, microphone setup does to the audio signal from a guitar amp.

There’s several different ways you can run IRs:

  • pedals, such as the Two Notes Le Cab
  • outboard gear, such as the Two Notes Torpedo line
  • plugin in your recording software on the computer

I run them on the computer. Just personal preference. I’m reluctant to spend that kind of money on outboard gear that has a limited shelf life. Even if the gear itself still works, at some point they’ll stop making new operating system drivers for the unit.

To get the guitar amp signal into the computer, you need a load box of some kind. The load box connects to the speaker out of your amp, and then runs into your audio interface as a line-level signal. Without a load box, you will blow the output transformers on your amp (if you’re lucky). You need a load box that matches your speaker out – 4 ohms, 8 ohms or 16 ohms.

There’s quite a few load boxes on the market these days. ‘Reactive’ load boxes are considered the best type to get. Instead of a single load, they vary the load, mimicing the way a real speaker fluctuates as you play. You can get standalone reactive load boxes like the Two Notes Captor, or outboard gear that’s both a load box and IR player all in one.

You can do other cool things with IRs too. I have a set of impulse responses that model different venues – for example, the sound of a theatre or (my favourite) a famous neolithic burial chamber. I use them in my mixes to add life and room ambience, without needing expensive outboard gear or CPU-intensive plugins.

Final thing to know about IRs is that they’re an audio snapshot. They capture what happened to a reference signal at that point in time. There’s nothing active or dynamic about them at all. You don’t edit an IR if you don’t like it – you switch to a different IR instead.

That’s why Universal Audio’s OX unit is getting so much interest, because it uses active software models rather than IRs. It should be indistinguishable from a real cab, speaker and mic – as long as you like the cabs, speakers and mics that they’ve chosen to model. IRs offer a lot more choice, at the expense of being static models.

You can purchase IRs direct from speaker manufacturers like Celestion (haven’t used them myself, heard rave things about them), or from third parties like Ownhammer or Redwirez. If you’re just starting out, and you’ve no experience micing up real amps with real microphones, I recommend buying a bundle like the Redwirez Big Box (not affiliated, just a happy customer). A bundle gives you a lot more options to explore, allowing you to experiment and figure out which cabs, mics, and mic positions you prefer.

If you’re looking for silent playing and/or recording at home, it’s hard to beat a good load box and a set of impulse responses for the money. You can get great tone, and keep the family and your neighbours happy, all at the same time.

Universal Audio OX

Henning Pauly has just published an in-depth look at Universal Audio’s OX amp top box. It’s a much-anticipated reactive load box, attenuator, and digital speaker simulator all in one.

If you’ve not come across Henning before, he’s been doing great YouTube gear demos for years. He’s a professional musician and producer, running his own recording studio over in Germany. Anyone who makes living from running a recording studio is worth learning from – they have to know what they’re on about to stay in business.

A long video, so you might want to make a drink before you settle down to watch this one.

Personally, I’m reluctant to sink money into digital gear, as a rule. Digital gear isn’t cheap, and you’re unlikely to still be using it five years down the road. If you put the same money into analogue gear, that gear can last you 20+ years. And it often sounds better.

Universal Audio though is one exception to my rule. The Apollo gear isn’t cheap, sure, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than the gear that the Apollo system models. Much of that gear is unobtainium to us home tone folks … and where would we put it even if we could get our hands on it?

The OX is an option for anyone looking to record real amps silently at home. You plug your amp’s speaker out into the OX, and take a line from your OX into your recording interface. No need for a real speaker, or the hassle of mic’ing up your cab.

You’re limited to the models that Universal Audio provides; this thing won’t run your favourite impulse responses. Henning covers that in his video. I imagine that UAD will make more models available in the future, if the OX sells well enough.

It sounds fantastic in every demo I’ve watched so far. And price wise, it seems very competitive with its main competitor, the Two Notes Torpedo Studio.

At the moment, I’ve gone down the Two Notes Captor route. I’ve built up a collection of impulse responses over the last 4 years, and they’re more than good enough for what I do. (I’ve also picked up a Kemper. More about that soon!)

But I will be keeping an eye on the OX. I really want to move more of the signal chain off the computer, and reduce the amount of work it has to do when I’m recording … and the OX would be a great way to do that.

Please head over to YouTube and leave a comment if you liked Henning’s video.

Celestion Neo Creambacks

Last night, I started my research into what speaker I want in my next speaker cab. I love the dirt tones I can get out of my rig, but the clean tones just aren’t doing it for me.

(I should just get a DRRI, I know …)

The cab I use most is the Victory Amps V112-C. It’s a 1×12, loaded with a Celestion G12M-65 Creamback. Sounds great for the kind of bluesy rock tones that I play.

So I was pretty interested in this look at the Celestion Neo Creamback. It’s a slightly darker, but much lighter version of the G12M, built using rare earth magnets. Sounds like something I’d want to consider if I start gigging.

Now, do Celestion make anything that sounds like the Jensen C12-K found in a Fender DRRI? Back to the research …


Heavy Reliced Telecasters

If you watch Andertons’ YouTube channel, you’ll have seen Danish Pete’s sparkly purple Telecaster over the last two years. It’s a fantastic sounding guitar, and its always a joy to listen to Pete jamming away on one. There’s a great story behind how Pete acquired his purple Tele too.

Well, now you have the opportunity to own one just like it.

Last summer, they ordered a small run of guitars based on the same specs as Pete’s purple Telecaster – and they’ve just posted a video of them up on the Andertons YouTube Channel.

If you don’t have time to watch the whole video, check out the jam that starts just after the 26 minute mark, and hear for yourself just how good these guitars sound.

Be sure to head over to YouTube and leave a comment to let the folks at Andertons know if you like these guitars.