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Victory Amps VX The Kraken – 50 Watt High Gain Amp

Victory The Kraken
Victory Amps are continuing to expand their lineup this time with a high gain 50 watt head called the ‘VX The Kraken’. This amp is switchable down from 50 watts to 15, 9 or 2 watts making it a very versatile amp for gigging as well as home use. The VX The Kraken is powered by 4 x 12AX7 preamp tubes and 2 x 6L6 power tubes.

“Two footswitchable modes cover classic modified British rock sounds and contemporary American high-gain grind.”

A useful feature are the dual footswitchable master volumes so that you can maybe use the 2nd volume as a lead channel. There is also another footswitch input that switches between the 2 gain modes. Aside from these 2 features you can also switch the effects loop on and off too, so lots of control available with your feet. Finally there is a Bass Focus switch to create a tighter, more focussed bottom end, or if you prefer, more loose and resonant.

Victory Amps VX The Kraken Rear Panel:
Victory VXH rear panel

Lots of features on the Victory Amps VX The Kraken especially considering it is only 342mm(w) x 185mm(h) x 185mm(d), although it still weighs in at 8.2kg but that’s tube amps for you!

For more info head over to http://www.victoryamps.com/.

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Diamond Amplification & Custom Audio Electronics Jointly Develop the Dual Amp Selector

Dual Amp Selector
The Dual Amp Selector is a new product from a joint venture between Diamond Amplification and Bob Bradshaw’s Custom Audio Electronics. I have actually been looking online over the past week or so for something that will allow me to switch between two amps into a single speaker cabinet and then I suddenly get an email about the Dual Amp Selector, sounds ideal!

“For years, guitar players have wanted a way to switch heads into one cabinet (or even two cabinets run in parallel) to expand what they can do live, or even make things much more convenient at home, but there simply hasn’t been an effective, or quality solution,” stated Diamond’s President and CEO, Jeff Diamant. “The Dual Amp Selector allows a player to safely connect two amps to one cabinet and switch between them with the click of a switch and give them access to the full array of tones from both amps,” Diamant continued.

The Dual Amp Selector boasts a healthy array of features including: switch two amps (including combos) into a single cabinet, passive and buffered inputs, two parallel speaker outs, footswitchable, separate “direct” out, isolated outputs, high-end components and construction and the ability to use it for tube or solid state amps through an on-board switch. As important, the Dual Amp Selector poses no risk to either amplifier with trailing effects, which other devices warn against.

And most importantly, the Dual Amp Selector is made completely in the US in Diamond’s Houston Custom Shop and priced to compete with a $399 street price.

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TC Electronic PolyTune Plug-In Released

“TC Electronic announces PolyTune plug-in, the new polyphonic tuner plug-in for the recording musician.”

I’m a huge TC Electronic fan, the PolyTune Mini (and previously the PolyTune) has had a permanent place on my pedalboard ever since it was released. Now TC Electronic have announced a plug-in version of their polyphonic tuner so that you can launch it directly from within your DAW. Now I have mixed feelings about this (for the first time in TC history) only because almost every Amp Sim plugin that I use has a built in tuner. I think they might actually find it a bit tricky to sell this plugin which has an introductory price of $39 and a regular price is $49. But having said that it does have features that no other tuner plugin have:

  • Polyphonic Tuner
  • Chromatic Tuner (+/- 0.5 cent)
  • Up to 5 semi-tones flat tunings
  • Change pitch reference
  • Mute button for silent tuning
  • Support for Audio Units-, VST and AAX-plug-in formats

For more info – http://www.tcelectronic.com/polytune-plug-in

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Gear demo: Xotic USA SP Compressor


I was first introduced to the Xotic USA SP Compressor watching the excellent YouTube channel Daniel TheGigRig, in case you haven’t seen Daniel’s videos please check out his channel as Daniel really knows his stuff and is the creator of the amazing looking GigRig G2 switching system. This man knows effects so when I see and hear a pedal on one of his demo boards I sit up and listen. I have owned an Xotic BB+ Overdrive pedal in the past so I am well aware of the quality of their effects and wanted to experience the SP Compressor for myself to see if it would live up to the hype, I can say with all honesty it didn’t take very long for me to realise that yes, it does.

SP_Compressor-1

Mini pedals are a growing trend and with good reason in my opinion, if you can pack all of the features into a smaller enclosure guitarists can either use much smaller pedalboards making it easier to transport, or more importantly, can squeeze more effects onto their boards! The SP Compressor is tiny, as you will see in the video above it is roughly the same size as the TC Electronic PolyTune Mini and is deceptively, yet reassuringly heavy. The one thing that has always bothered me about Compressor pedals is how complicated they are, no two pedals use the same terminology (even though studio rack effects do) and some have 6, 7 or more controls on the pedal face. Xotic have managed to distil the most important features of compression into a simple yet powerful user interface, a Volume knob with +15dB of boost and a Blend knob that controls the amount of dry signal blended into your signal enhancing the initial attack of the sound that can be lost with heavy compression. Finally a mini toggle switch sets the amount of compression to be applied, Lo/Med or Hi.

I am not someone who uses a lot of heavy compression so I found the Hi setting too much for me, it introduces too much noise and loses any subtlety in your playing. Of course this can be very useful sometimes especially for funk playing but for me the sweet spot was having the Blend at around 1 O’Clock and the Lo or in some cases the Med mode engaged. The internal dip switches allow you to tweak the sound further using the low cut filter and input pad switches to lower the amount of distortion caused by my guitar’s humbuckers and giving them more of a spanky single coil sound. I have tried to convey this as best as possible in my demo video above. I found with this setting that my clean tone was incredibly articulate and it made me play in a different way, it was like having my amp absolutely cranked so that you can hear every touch of the strings. Whether I had the SP Compressor setup with a totally clean tone or with Overdrive, in the Lo mode with the dry Blend at around half way I felt like it unlocked the potential of my rig without deafening my neighbours.

I have used Compression a lot when recording using plugins but have never found a Compressor pedal that I have felt comfortable adding to my pedalboard before (I own a few!) but I have to say the SP Compressor is the first pedal I can see having as a permanent addition to my pedalboard. The pedal works equally well when placed before an Overdrive pedal too and added yet another great tone to my clean channel. So yes, I do think this pedal is worth any hype that it has received since it was released and while it may lack all the bells and whistles of some of the other complex Compressor pedals on the market it delivers with it’s simplicity and more importantly tone. I hope that my YouTube video does it the justice it deserves because the combination of my Cilia CGA7 guitar with Seymour Duncan SH-2 & SH-16 humbuckers and my MI Audio Megalith Gamma amp is magnificent.

http://main.xotic.us/effects/sp-compressor

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The Quest For The Perfect Pick – Dunlop Primetone™ Standard Sculpted Plectra

Dunlop Primetone™ Standard Sculpted
When I first picked up the guitar I had a Charvel pick that I bought from One Way Music in Wolverhampton which I’m pretty sure I used for about 2 years!? I honestly can’t remember what I replaced it with but it was probably the same pick, a hard glossy standard sized guitar pick. No frills, nothing special and you know what? I was perfectly content. Then something happened to me, I became consumed with the evil that is guitar pick obsession syndrome and in the last 6 or 7 years I have tried hundreds of different picks trying to find “The One”. My quest started with variations of Dunlop standard sized picks that had varying thickness and material, Delrin, Celluloid, Tortex, Ultex… I also tried many other manufacturers such as Red Bear (great picks but super expensive), Graph Tech, Dava, V Picks, the list goes on and on and on.

Over the past couple of years the picks that I have been gravitating toward are Ultex and Celluloid, I have a heap of different shape Ultex picks but never really get on with default Jazz III size so tend to stick with standard size or Jazz III XL. I am constantly trying new picks to get something similar to the Red Bear without the hefty price tag and wait time and recently purchased a few Graph Tech picks from BMusic Australia in the hope that their self-lubricating composite material might have that tortoise-shell smooth attack, now unfortunately they don’t and I wasn’t particularly that impressed however BMusic were kind enough to throw in a heap of other picks for me to try including the ‘Dunlop Primetone™ Standard Sculpted Plectra’. Bit of a mouthful that one and kind of confusing because the original Dunlop Primetone picks (which they still make) are completely different material, look, shape, everything!

The Dunlop Primetone™ Standard Sculpted Plectra (or Picks) that I received that took my fancy were the standard size and shape (as opposed to the Jazz III or Triangle shape) without the grip, I tried the grip variation which has a raised logo and is kind of similar to a Dunlop MaxGrip but surprisingly the other pick felt more comfortable and had enough grip. I do suffer from having trouble keep picks steady between my fingers so I thought the grip version would be preferable but Ultex is quite a grippy material once your hands warm up a little. The best thing however about these picks is that they don’t actually feel like the Ultex picks I’ve used over the years they have a glossy finish that feels more like Celluloid or the Red Bears. The “hand-burnished sculpted edges” mean the picks already feel broken in and aid with the smoothness of attack as you pick, the string doesn’t have any sharp edges to get momentarily caught on making it easier to pick with more speed.

Now these picks aren’t the cheapest Dunlop picks but you can buy, packs of 3 for AUD $12.95 from BMusic or if you are in the states you will probably find them in your local guitar store. However, if these picks really do become “The One” for me then at least they won’t bankrupt me unlike some of the boutique guitar picks on the market… I’ll keep you posted, but if the last few days are anything to go by I’m feeling pretty hopeful about these!

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MXR Carbon Copy Bright Exclusive From Pro Guitar Shop


I love Pro Guitar Shop’s exclusive pedals, they take popular pedals and tweak them to give a new angle on a classic design. In this case they have taken the MXR Carbon Copy which is known for it’s warm analog delay echoes and created the Carbon Copy Bright which not only changes the look from a dark green to a bright sparkly green but also given the effect shimmery bright repeats.

mxr carbon copy bright

“The chipset of the Carbon Copy Bright remains unchanged—warm, bucket brigade analog goodness is still the name of the game. Tone seekers will be thrilled with the changes to the circuit, as the repeats are more “vocal-like” than the original. The Carbon Copy Bright certainly blurs the lines between vintage analog BBD chips and brighter vintage tape delays such as the Echoplex. A wonderful byproduct of a brighter delay is the perception of extended repeats further than the original before feeding back. The Carbon Copy Bright’s defined repeats are a great companion to the original’s darker wash, and we made them play nicely together.”

Inside the pedal are two extra controls, Width and Depth which can be used to accentuate the brightness even more and the maximum delay time is 600 milliseconds.

For more info head over to ProGuitarShop.com.

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Vox quietly announces their new VX Series Modelling Amps


I say quietly because I haven’t seen any press releases about the new VX Series from Vox amps and usually these kind of announcements are saved for NAMM but instead Vox simply updated their website and posted some videos on YouTube. But whatever their reason for the quiet launch they have put together some really nice videos such as the one above that demonstrate the great tones available on the new VXI and VXII amps.

Vox VXI

The Vox VXI is a 15 Watt version of Vox’s latest modelling amplifer which features a 6.5” Custom VOX Speaker. Vox say that their VET (Virtual Element Technology) modeling technology offers the most accurate amplifier models to date in a affordable & lightweight package. The VX Series offer 11 classic amp models from 50s & 60s Fenders to the Vox AC30 and high gain amps such as the SLO-100 and Dual Rectifier, eight different modulation (chorus, flanger, phase & tremolo), delay and reverb effects (analog delay, tape echo, spring reverb, & hall reverb) and space for 22 unique user presets.

Check out the YouTube demo here – https://youtu.be/IIfdhmuac8A.

Vox VXII

The VOX VXII is a 30 Watt version of the modelling amplifier that also features a USB port, JamVOX III and the new VOX Tone Room software for deep editing of your favorite amp models and effects. Basically the VX II doubles as a USB audio interface for your computer or Apple iOS device.

Check out the YouTube demo here – https://youtu.be/0W6cI9wWxVE

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Video: J. Rockett Audio Designs Manufacturing Process


This is a really interesting video from J.Rockett Audio Designs who are currently enjoying success of their Klon style pedal called The Archer used by Andy Timmons.

J.Rockett Pedals have been around for years and have a heap of pedals in their range, some of which I have previously featured here on Guitar Noize. What I really like about this video is the complete transparency and I guess because of their long lasting relationships with various partners they are willing to give away these trade secrets. Check out their latest pedal designed in collaboration with Pro Guitar Shop, the Archer Ikon, you can see a demo here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFr5hCaKyv4.

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Joe Satriani demos the DiMarzio Satch Track Neck & Mo’ Joe Pickups


Joe Satriani demonstrates his DiMarzio Satch Track™ Neck and Mo’ Joe™ Pickups, and talks briefly about his new album, Shockwave Supernova due out very soon.

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Toontrack Release Indie Guitars EZmix Pack

indieguitars_ezmixpack
Toontrack have expanded their EZ Mix line of plugins with a new guitar pack called Indie Guitars EZMix. The EZMix packs provide a simple interface to create various sounds, I have reviewed and demonstrated some of these plugins in the past such as the Metal Guitar Gods expansion pack which offers a number of presets that have 2 controls that have predefined functionality. This makes it very easy to get sounds and effects without having to spend hours tinkering with various parameters which can often detract from recording ideas.

“The Indie Guitars EZmix Pack presents a creative palette of guitar tones inspired by indie pop and rock of the past two decades. It includes 50 unique settings based on amp and cab modulation, all saturated by various chains of effects. In total, it paints a vivid picture of guitar tones ranging all the way from out-of-this-world ambient down to candid, clean, dry and distorted.”

As you can see in the player above there are 5 categories, Ambient, Dirty, Modulated, Basic amps – clean, Basic amps – distorted. I think the Ambient and Modulated examples sound great and could definitely inspire some creative ideas. I don’t know if you can add any effects to the basic clean and distorted amps but with some reverb and delay I would definitely use some of these tones!

For more info: http://www.toontrack.com/product/indie-guitars-ezmix-pack/.

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