Saturday, March 19, 2016

Purchasing sound equipment

Over the past few months, I've slowly been acquiring gear for my electric guitar and amplifier. None of this equipment costs very much (the effects pedal was the most expensive, at about 150 NIS), which is fine for a stay-at-home hobbyist musician.

First off is a soi disant professional condenser microphone, which I bought from e-bay. This looks very good, but it's actually quite small. I doubt that it really can be professional as it only costs 11 australian dollars, but it's probably just as good - if not better - than any of my other microphones. I haven't had a chance to test it yet: since receiving it, I've barely been able to speak, let alone sing. I am hopeful that this will be a good purchase. The stand is a neat idea.

My amplifier - whilst coming with effects - only has one input. Let's say that I want to play with someone else or use the above microphone - to do this, I need to expand the number of inputs.

Enter the mixer. I used to have something like this when I was living in London, but that was really a cheap and nasty box. The Nady mixer is very solidly built, and comes with four controllable inputs, as well as echo (the two knobs on the right of the unit control the depth (dry/wet) and the delay time (0 - 250ms). This mixer looks impressive, but I was disappointed when I tried it out. Most of the top end (treble) was removed, leaving a very dull sound, and it was very easy to let the echo get out of control. There seemed to be a negative synergy between the mixer's echo and any effects which I might have used on the amplifier. As a result, I have decided not to use the mixer's echo (or at least, to be very sparing with it). The problem - which I realised only after receiving the unit - is that the echo applies to all the inputs, meaning that if two guitars and a microphone are plugged in, using echo will result in a sonic mess. An even better solution would be to have an extra knob for each channel, by which one could select how much echo each channel receives, but this would require extra circuitry, which would increase the price. So how can I obtain echo on one channel but not on another?

One possible solution  is an effects pedal (which would be used before plugging into the mixer): after looking around at DX, I came across the Mooer Pogo effects box. Despite the somewhat unpromising name, this box contains a large amount of functionality in a small space. 

Pros: This effects box is really two boxes in one: first, it's a guitar pedal with several options: chorus/phaser/tremolo/flanger, echo/reverb, gain, drive (clean/overdrive/distortion/crunch/fuzz/metal) and tone controls. Secondly, it's a drum box, with 40 predefined rhythms, whose tempo and volume can be selected. So this is a great little box for someone playing on their own - they can dial in a drummer and play to their heart's content. The box also comes with an AC adapter, which enables one to use the effects without batteries (2 AAAs). The instructions come in Chinese and English, and are written correctly (sometimes products come from China with mangled English which doesn't always make sense).

Cons: the AC adapter comes with a plug which might be unsuitable, thus requiring an adapter of its own. For some reason, although the drum speed can be controlled, it can't be specified in bpm. To quote the instructions, "The range of the displaying tempo value is 20-90, indicate (sic) the real tempo 60-270 bpm. Each rhythm has its own default tempo value". Would it have been too hard to have allowed real bpm values? 

All these devices means that I need some more guitar cables, so I took  the opportunity of ordering two with the pogo. This morning, I connected the guitar to the pogo, and the pogo to the amplifier (without effects). I should have plugged the pogo into the mixer and the mixer into the amplifier, thus I could have seen whether the tone control of the pogo overcomes the mixer's removal of tone. I had great fun with this unit: I forgot that I could play lead guitar! I think that it was the 'fuzz' setting which gave a good sustain, which is so necessary for lead. This unit obviates the need for the effects on the amplifier.

[SO: 4122; 4, 20, 38
MPP: 617; 1, 3, 6
ELL: 694; 0, 1, 6]

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