Saturday, September 18, 2021

HOW TO HAVE FUN WITH AUDIO TRANSFORMERS FROM EDCOR

 TRANSFORMER EXPLORATION

LAST BATCH OF LAYERED AUDIO TRANSFORMERS

My infatuation with audio-transformers grew drastically in the 1970’s. I hand wound a lot of prototypes along the way. When I first started making my own transformers I relied on my eyes to tell me when there was enough copper piled on to the core of my experiment. That is not a good way to design transformers. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

DIRECT RECORDING GUIDE

Welcome to the H.o.T. Direct Recording Guide/Index to all the parts of this special Direct Recording series of articles.

This is a multi-part, deep-dive into Direct Boxes, Impulse Responses, and How to Record Direct. If you play and record electric guitar or bass in an apartment or somewhere it’s not cool to make loud rock electric guitar tones, you’re going to find new perspective and options here. 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

PART 1 - WHAT ARE DIRECT BOXES? USE FOR DIRECT RECORDING

PASSIVE AND ACTIVE DIRECT BOXES EXPLAINED

At its core every direct box has one job, to accept an audio-input and transform it into something that looks and acts like the output of a low-impedance balanced microphone, for input into a sound or recording system. It sounds simple enough but there are many ways to construct a direct box and different designs deliver different sounding results. 

PART 2 - WHAT IS DIRECT RECORDING? HOW TO RECORD DIRECT

 PART 2 - WHAT IS DIRECT RECORDING?

When you connect a keyboard, electric bass or guitar directly to your DAW microphone input using a D.I. box you are recording direct. No microphone, speaker or studio space was used because you did it direct-connected, electrically. Depending on your DAW hardware you may also have an instrument-level input which can be used instead of a direct box to record directly with no microphone or instrument amplifier involved.

PART 3 - DIRECT RECORDING - WHAT ARE REACTIVE LOADS AND IMPULSE RESPONSES?

 PART 3 - REACTIVE LOADS AND IMPULSE RESPONSES

Do you need a $1500 tube amp head with a $10 impulse-response loaded into a $600 reactive load box to record directly without waking the family? Maybe, but maybe not. 

REVIEW PYLE PDC21 DIRECT BOX WITH INTERNAL PASSIVE AUDIO TRANSFORMER COUPLING

 PYLE® PDC21 DIRECT BOX

Ever since the late 1970’s I’ve built dozens of direct boxes using Jensen, Crimson or my own handwound audio transformers. The key to a decent sounding direct box is having a decent transformer inside. 

REVIEW RNDI DIRECT INTERFACE, DELUXE DIRECT BOX 2021

I’ve been using this direct box since it first came out. I’ve used it with piezo guitar pickups, electric guitar pickups, it’s my goto for electric bass guitar, this D.I. box never sounds bad. 

INPUT SIDE

REVIEW WARM AUDIO ACTIVE DIRECT BOX WITH ATTENUATOR

With so many companies making direct boxes I was surprised to see Warm Audio enter this space with not one but two new direct boxes. In this review we’ll be taking a look at the Warm Audio Active direct box.

Friday, September 10, 2021

REVIEW KLARK TEKNIK DN 200 STEREO ACTIVE DIRECT BOX

 Klark Teknik DN200 Stereo Direct Box

I discovered the Klark Teknik DN200 stereo direct box over three years ago when I was looking for a lower priced option to the stereo RNDI. The KT does not disappoint in any area. It uses proprietary transformer technology and features excellent electronics to deliver your sound. The build quality is excellent and I’ve gone on to acquire six of these for my studio. They’ve been wonderful tools for connecting my stereo instruments to the mixer inputs in the studio.

REVIEW UNIVERSAL AUDIO UA OX AMP TOP BOX IMPULSE RESPONSE REACTIVE LOAD BOX

 UNIVERSAL AUDIO OX AMP TOP BOX     $1299 street price

Universal Audio is a popular brand of DAW technology so when they came out with the OX I wondered what it was like. The OX is physically one of the largest impulse response technology devices reviewed here. It is also one of the most technically sophisticated with the most included integrated options for shaping your sound.

REVIEW MESA CABCLONE IR 16Ω REACTIVE LOAD IMPULSE RESPONSE BOX

 MESA CABCLONE IR 16-ohm,     $599 street price

There are two models of Mesa CabClone IR. In this review we’ll be examining the $599 model which does not have speaker attenuation included. It does include a reactive load capable of disapating 150 watts of Mesa tube amp power plus impulse response technology. 

REVIEW SUHR REACTIVE LOAD / I.R., IMPULSE RESPONSE TUBE AMP LOAD BOX

 SUHR REACTIVE LOAD / IR $599 street price

This box features a reactive load but the impedance is not adjustable, it comes in one impedance, 8-ohms. The Suhr Reactive Load / IR feels like a very solid and sturdily constructed piece of hardware. 

REVIEW RADIAL ENGINEERING JDX DIRECT-DRIVE AMP SIMULATOR AND DIRECT BOX

 RADIAL JDX DIRECT-DRIVE, Amp Simulator and Direct Box, Street price: $199

The JDX is marketed as an amp simulator and direct box. With this as the last box in your pedalboard signal path you can effectively perform without an amplifier (provided you have some way of hearing yourself, with in-ear monitors, headphones, powered cab, etc.).

Thursday, September 9, 2021

REVIEW DSM HUMBOLDT SIMPLIFIER DLX ZERO WATT DUAL CHANNEL AMPLIFIER

MEET THE "SIMPLIFIER"

The Simplifier DLX built by DSM Electronics in Santiago, Chile, is a dual channel guitar amp with zero watts of output. The name says “Simplifier” but it might better be described as the “Complicator”. The number of knobs and switches combined with all the input and output options makes this one powerful guitar preamp. 

REVIEW JOYO TC-2 TONE CHAIN DISTORTION AND ECHO PEDAL FOR DIRECT RECORDING

 JOYO TONE CHAIN, DIRECT RECORDING GUITAR PREAMP

The Joyo Tone Chain pedal puts three very useful and useable effects into a single housing. You get an Overdrive which feeds into a Distortion, which feeds to the effects loop-send. The effects loop-return feeds into the delay section. The delay time can be set manually via a knob or you can use the tap-tempo button to set the delay time.  

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

REVIEW BEHRINGER ADI21, BDI21, GDI21, DELUXE BARGAIN DIRECT BOXES

BEHRINGER DI21 SERIES, DELUXE DIRECT BOXES

Behringer makes three similar looking active direct boxes, each is optimized for a specific instrument. Each has modeling circuitry specific for the intended instrument application. Each pedal has an XLR output for direct feed to a mixing console as well as 1/4” input and output jacks. These pedals can be powered with internal 9-volt transister radio batteries or standard 9-volt pedal board power via an external power inlet jack.

REVIEW JOYO CAB BOX, SPEAKER CABINET SIMULATOR, IR LOADER, AMP AND MIC SIMULATOR

JOYO CAB BOX, SPEAKER CABINET SIMULATOR, IR LOADER

The Cab Box is my latest Impulse Response speaker and amp simulator. This is a more expensive product offering from a company that is known for budget priced pedals. The technology in the Cab Box is quite impressive and so is the performance. 

REVEIW DIGITECH CABDRYVR SPEAKER SIMULATER

The Digitech CabDryVR Dual Cabinet Simulator pedal features 14 guitar and bass cabinet impulse responses. Processing the output of your pedal board through this pedal yields high quality cabinet emulations without the need for a real cabinet or mic or amp for that matter.

REVIEW MOOER RADAR IMPULSE RESPONSE SPEAKER SIMULATOR

 The Mooer “Radar” is a digital impulse response, cabinet simulator with some options to simulate amplifiers.

Radar features 30 memory locations for impulse responses. You can replace existing response files by connecting the pedal to a computer via USB. 

If you don’t like the included impulse responses you’re going to need to connect to a computer to replace them. 

REVIEW, TWO NOTES AUDIO ENGINEERING CAB M+ SPEAKER SIMULATOR

 TWO NOTES AUDIO ENGINEERING, TORPEDO C.A.B. M+, Street Price: $299

This pedal size box of audio-dynamite takes every feature of the Radial JDX Direct-Drive and adds a bunch of DSP horsepower to increase your options and add excitement to your sound. The CAB M+ has features to allow it to be inserted into the amp-to-speaker connection on almost any guitar amplfier. You can also use the CAB M+ as an effect pedal to add cabinet or IR simulations to any pedal-board. This pedal comes with an external power supply to power all the hungry digital circuitry contained inside.

CAB M+ USED FOR DIRECT RECORDING TUBE AMP WITHOUT MICROPHONE

Sunday, July 11, 2021

WHAT IS DISCRETE CLASS A? WHAT DOES DISCRETE CLASS A MEAN?

 What is Discrete Class-A? 

As you peruse the web looking at gear you’ll often see this as a major bit of marketing.

“Discrete, Class-A”

It has nothing to do with keeping your mouth shut or your social position.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

NEVE 1073SPX COMPARED TO WARM AUDIO WA-73EQ REVIEW

Neve 1073 SPX vs Warm Audio WA-73EQ Technical Review and Comparison

In this review I’m comparing a single channel Warm Audio WA-73EQ to a new AMS Neve 1073SPX. For clarity I truncated the model names in the review. Warm Audio produces another model called WA-73 which does not have tone controls, that is NOT what is being reviewed. Whenever I mention the WA-73 I’m referring to the WA-73EQ and when I talk about the 1073 it is the 1073SPX.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

REVIEW AMS NEVE 1073SPX. WHAT IS THE AMS NEVE 1073 SPX?

NEVE 1073 SPX

When it comes to microphone preamplifiers the Neve 1073 is up at the top with legendary status for it’s classic sound and tone. Original 1073 console preamps can sell for $10,000 or more in todays vintage-equipment market. 

BRICASTI DESIGN M7 REVERB REVIEW. DO I NEED THE MOST EXPENSIVE HARDWARE REVERB?

 WHAT IS THE BRICASTI REVERB?

If there is an heir apparent to the legacy of the great Lexicon reverb processors it is the Bricasti Design M7. The designers of this reverb have utilized modern components to reduce the physical size to just a single rack space package, but the sound quality is equal to or better than the physically larger classic units such as the 224, 480 and 960 by Lexicon.

DO YOU OWN THE REVERB FOUNDRY BRICASTI M7 PLUGIN? YOU SHOULD!

 REVERB FOUNDRY BRICAST M7 LINK PLUGIN SOFTWARE

STOP, BEFORE YOU BUY THIS!

Reverb Foundry recommends that you download the free demo from their web site and confirm that your midi interface and software are compatible BEFORE you purchase the program. Why not? It’s free!

REVIEW EHX HUM DEBUGGER, HOW TO GET RID OF HUM BY ELECTRO-HARMONIX?

 WHO HERE HATES HUM?

One of my favorite guitars in the world is equipped with three single coil pickups. When I get this guitar too close to amplifiers or electrical wiring the guitar picks up hum and noise which gets magnifyed by my ampifier system. It is an age-old battle, great sound vs hum.

IS THE JOYO TAUREN DISTORTION PEDAL GOOD? REVEIW OF JOYO DISTORTION PEDAL

 JOYO TAUREN DISTORTION PEDAL

I own almost all the R-Series Joyo distortion pedals. The Tauren is my latest acquisition and wow it sounds good. It's NOT another Tube Screamer. This pedal can get into grinding metal territory if you crank the gain up or it can create a nice blues lead at lower gain settings.

WHAT IS A CABLE TESTER? DO I NEED A SESIMIC AUDIO CABLE TESTER?

Seismic Audio Cable Tester Model Number SA-CT3

WHAT IS A CABLE TESTER?

Technically speaking it’s a battery, various connectors, some current limiting resisters and LED indicators connected to a switch which lets you select which wire path you’re checking for continuity. 

REVIEW PRESONUS QUANTUM 4848 WITH THUNDERBOLT 2, AMAZING INTERFACE WITH UNIQUE FEATURES

 IS PRESONUS QUANTUM 4848 GOOD?

I’ve been using the Presonus Quantum 4848 audio interface for over a year and I’m very impressed with its performance. Presonus has created an extraordinary interface with unique and unmatched features. Their engineers have optimized the Thunderbolt connection so you don’t need a DSP mixing layer for monitoring latency-free while recording tracks. 

REVIEW SG BASS, SG TRIBUTE GUITAR, LES PAUL SPECIAL GUITAR, ARE NEW GIBSON GUITARS GOOD?

 ARE NEW GIBSON GUITARS GOOD?

I’ve been buying and selling Gibson guitars since 1971 when I bought my first brand new black Les Paul Custom. Today I’ve got 14 various Gibson guitars in stock including three Les Pauls, a flying V and a BB King Custom Shop Lucille. 

Leslie West was a favorite tone monster during my youth. I really liked his guitar tone and saw him live on two different occasions. He was known for playing inexpensive Les Paul junior student guitars and making them sound incredible. Leslie was a prime example of how much tone comes from the players hands. He made those “student” model Les Paul guitars sing.

REVIEW MONOPRICE INDIO ELECTRIC GUITAR , FENDER TELECASTER-STYLED BARGAIN INSTRUMENT

INDIO GUITAR IN THE STYLE OF FENDER TELECASTER BY MONOPRICE

I’m just going to assume you already know what a Fender Telecaster guitar is. The guitar on review here is clearly intended to touch that spot in your heart that wants a Telecaster for an insane low price. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

MARSHALL 1-WATT AMPLIFIER REVIEW, WHAT IS THE DSL1 MARSHALL?

 LOOKING AT THE MARSHALL DSL 1-WATT TUBE AMP

HEAD AND COMBO

by Mark King

NEW! CLICK ON LINK BELOW TO LISTEN TO MARK KING READ THIS REVIEW TO YOU


Marshall DSL1 Head and Combo Amplifiers 

Marshall has been producing their DSL (Dual Super Lead) amplifiers for a number of years. The DSL designation refers to there being two preamp channels, one which is basically clean and one which offers extreme high gain.

Friday, February 26, 2021

REVIEW ELECTRO-HARMONIX EHX SILENCER, WHAT IS A NOISE GATE?

Noise? Meet Gate!

by Mark King

A “noise gate” is a unique pedal gadget and it packs one of the most useful and dynamic effects of all, SILENCE. A noise gate is an automatic switch which turns off audio based on a “Threshold” level that the user sets according to the situation. 

REVIEW JOYO POWER SUPPLY 5, WHAT IS CORDLESS PEDALBOARD POWER?

 Meet Cordless Pedalboard Power

by Mark King

Joyo is unlike many budget priced pedal producers, they don’t just buy pedals from a low cost supplier with their name on them and resell them as their own product.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

WHAT'S THE BEST BIG MUFF PI FUZZ

 What’s the Best Big Muff?

by Mark King

Top = JHS Muffuletta, Bottom = 2014 EHX Big Muff Pi

Sunday, February 21, 2021

WHAT IS SOUNDCLOUD? A REVIEW, WHAT IT IS, WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH IT

 by Mark King

Soundcloud is a boutique internet audio service provider based in Germany. They provide a home and delivery system for original music and audio content. For professional audio users who want no advertising and the most features there is a yearly fee to host content on Soundcloud. 

PART 1, PEDALBOARD POWER SYSTEMS, WHAT IS 9-VOLTS DC?

 PEDALBOARD POWER BASICS OF DC VOLTAGE

by Mark King

Pedal effects and stomp boxes were primitive in the 1960’s. An external power supply input jack was a rarity and there were no standards for how it should be wired. Most effects were distortion, wah or compression and these typically use so little current that a pedal can run on a single internal 9-volt transistor radio battery.

CLASSIC EHX 9-VOLT BATTERY

PART 2, PEDALBOARD POWER SYSTEMS, WHAT ARE mA?

 WHAT ARE MILLIAMPS?

by Mark King

PART 3, PEDALBOARD POWER SYSTEMS, WHAT ARE PEDALBOARD POWER SUPPLIES?

 POWER SUPPLY HARDWARE COMPARED

by Mark King

Finally we get to the fun part, looking at and comparing performance of actual power supply products.

VOODOO LAB, CALIFORNIA USA

PART 4, PEDALBOARD POWER SYSTEMS, CABLES AND CONNECTORS

Effect Pedal Power Supply Cables and Connectors

by Mark King

BOSS TUNER WITH DAISY CHAIN POWER CABLE

PART 5, PEDALBOARD POWER SYSTEM, NOISE, HUM, HISS AND WHIRRRRRRR

Noise, Hum, Hiss and Whirrrrrrr

by Mark King

Ideally an electric guitar amplification platform would be absolutely quiet in the absence of music. True silence between the notes is one of the most elegant of special effects. Managing noise is one of the biggest hurdles in recording guitar, especially high-gain rocking lead tones where noise comes in many flavors. 

Saturday, February 6, 2021

HOW TO BUY A CHEAP ELECTRIC GUITAR

 by Mark King

1966, $18 WONDER, AFTER MANY REBUILDS AND MODS

HOW TO BUY A CHEAP ELECTRIC GUITAR

I got my first electric guitar back in 1966, it cost $18 at a warehouse sale so I named it “The $18 Wonder”. I still own it and it still works thanks to some upgrades I applied over the last 50+ years. 

I’ve come up with some things you should look for when evaluating inexpensive electric guitars which can be new or used. All these characteristics also apply to high priced instruments. 

The first section is guitar anatomy, here we’ll consider the important physical parts of an electric guitar. Get to know these so you can quickly evaluate any instrument.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

ARE JOYO PEDALS GOOD?

 by Mark King

Welcome to my Joyo pedal roundup, I've gone through my inventory and found all of them I own. We'll look at each one and decide if it's good. 

Joyo makes a lot of different pedals and while I'd love to try them all, I buy and use the pedals I review and cannot afford to purchase all of them. With that said lets look at the categories I do own.

PREAMP HOUSE

DISTORTION - Maximum Overdrive, Ultimate Drive, Voodoo Octave

MODULATION - Vision

COMPRESSOR - Dyna Compressor

REVERB - Atmosphere

Thursday, January 14, 2021

REVIEW, HOW TO SAVE YOUR EFFECTS PEDALS FROM LEAKING BATTERIES

 by Mark King

MY EXTERNAL 9-VOLT BATTERY COLLECTION

Why remove your 9-volt batteries? The simple answer is; to save your pedals from being ruined by leaking battery acid.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

WHAT ARE THE BEST CHEAP EFFECTS PEDALS?

 by Mark King 

This is my first bargain effect pedal round-up. These are favorite pedals I use all the time. To be included here in this review they're all priced less than $100 each when purchased new, many are less than $50 with pro sounding pedals starting at only $19. I broke the pedals down by their effect type, here are the overall effect categories:

01 DISTORTION

02 REVERB 

03 CHORUS

04 DELAY/ECHO

05 WAH 

06 COMPRESSOR

07 EQ

08 TREMOLO

09 ENVELOPE FILTER

10 PHASER

11 UTILITIES 

12 ALL IN ONE 

WHAT ARE THE BEST INEXPENSIVE EFFECTS  PEDALS?

Monday, January 11, 2021

REVIEW EHX ELECTRO-HARMONIX BIG MUFF PI DISTORTION AND FUZZ PEDAL

 by Mark King

BIG MUFF PI, CIRCA 2014

My very first contact with the Electro-Harmonix brand happened one day when my older brother brought home a "Big Muff Pi" fuzz pedal sometime around 1970. It was a large chrome, folded metal box with mushroom shaped knobs which looked like they'd been harvested off my fathers vintage Zenith TV. 

That EHX distortion shaped one of my earliest distortion-pedal concepts; "the amp you connect a fuzz to ultimately determines how it will sound". 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

REVIEW ELECTRO-HARMONIX EHX LPB-1 LINEAR POWER BOOSTER

 by Mark King

MODERN LPB-1

I have used and enjoyed Electro-Harmonix gadgets since the company became known in the very early 70's. The first guitar effect I ever bought was an LPB-1 which stands for "linear power booster". It was a small folded metal enclosure that plugged directly into the output of my Les Paul custom. 

VINTAGE LPB-1

Friday, January 8, 2021

REVIEW MXR 5150 OVERDRIVE PEDAL BY EVH

 by Mark King


I own a lot of distortion pedals, A LOT. For me everything changes constantly. For every song I write I test out distortion tone vs clean tone vs acoustic guitar tone. Getting these three very different guitar sounds to all sit right next to each other in a composition can be difficult and requires trial and error to get them right. 

I have a couple of new compositions I'm working on and have not been able to get the overdrive tone I want for these songs. I slowly worked my way through all my usual pedal options, then I read about the 5150 Overdrive and decided to give it a try. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

REVIEW MOSKY TAP SWITCH BUTTON FOR TAP TEMPO

 by Mark King

HEAVY DUTY BUTTON, METAL CASE AND OUTPUT JACK

The Mosky Tap Tempo pedal is a sturdy cast metal enclosure with a quality momentary, normally-open button. A single female 1/4" jack is provided to connect the Tap Tempo. I purchased these for under $20 each and currently have at least five of them in my pedal inventory. These work great with every pedal I've tried them with. 

REVIEW MARSHALL 20 WATT ORIGIN HEAD AND COMBO AMPLIFIER

 by Mark King

20 WATT MARSHALL ORIGIN HEAD AND COMBO AMP

The Marshall 20 watt Origin series is a bargain. It's a versatile vacuum tube guitar platform that complements a huge variety of tones ranging from jazz to blues to rock. These amplifiers are designed by Marshall engineers in England and they are manufactured in Viet Nam. The build quality and reliability have been equal to my Boogie and Fender products.

REVIEW CATALINBREAD ZERO POINT STUDIO TAPE FLANGER PEDAL

 by Mark King

MONO EFFECT PEDAL, OUTPUT ON LEFT, INPUT ON RIGHT

CATALINBREAD ZERO POINT FLANGER (9-18 volts DC, 65 ma current consumption)

I have at least 10 flanger pedals, I love the effect when it's applied judiciously. 

Monday, January 4, 2021

REVIEW EARTHQUAKER DEVICES AVALANCHE RUN AND PYRAMIDS FLANGER

 by Mark King

BIG PEDALBOARD TODAY, WHERE'S EARTHQUAKER?

My first Earthquaker Devices pedal purchase was the Pyramids flanger. I was looking for a classic flanging effect like my old Electric Mistress from the 70's. What I got was a great improvement on this classic effect.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

REVIEW MOSKY LOOP BOX EFFECT SWITCHING PEDAL

 by Mark King


The Mosky Mini Loop Box is another one of those fun discoveries I found on Amazon. This is an incredibly useful pedal that lets you make a single pedal or a whole chain of pedals into a single switchable effect.

REVIEW DUNLOP MINI VOLUME PEDAL AND WHICH DUNLOP WAH? CLASSIC WAH OR JUNIOR WAH ?

 by Mark King

L TO R, DUNLOP FULL SIZE CRY BABY, MINI CRY BABY AND MINI VOLUME

The Dunlop family have grown their business far beyond their "accessory manufacturer" roots. I met Jim Dunlop at many trade shows throughout the 1980's, he was always a joy to speak with and very approachable. 

Somewhere along the way Dunlop purchased the rights to the Cry Baby moniker and began building wah pedals with this as their brand.

REVIEW EHX ELECTRO-HARMONIX SIGNAL PAD EFFECT PEDAL

by Mark King

I have been a big fan of Electro-Harmonix for years. My first effect gadget back in the early 70's was an EHX LPB-1 which I used to overdrive the input on a Fender Princeton amplifier and later a Fender Super Reverb.

EHX has made a lot of useful utility pedals over the years. The pedal on review in this article is one of the most simple, useful and low priced gadgets available today. 


The "Signal Pad" pedal is one of the most simple in design, it is a volume pot in a box. It has an input and output with a true bypass footswitch and LED to indicate when the Signal Pad is modifying your signal. Basically the Signal Pad makes any signal smaller in size. 
It's the opposite of a clean boost, it's a clean cut.

REVIEW FULLTONE 2B BUFFER AND BOOST PEDAL


by Mark King for Proworkshop.com


NOTICE THE 2B JUST TO THE RIGHT OF STROBE TUNER PEDAL

If you use stomp boxes you need a buffer pedal. A buffer isolates your guitar from all the impedance and capacitance that can make your tone dull. Even if your pedals have true-bypass switches which completely disconnect circuitry when in bypass position, you can still end up with several ohms of resistance in the signal path if you use multiple pedals.