Harmony Central

Tech Tip: What’s the Deal with Active Guitar and Bass Pickups?

A quick explanation of the difference between active versus passive electric guitar and bass pickups.



Tech Tip: Re-Amping Basics for Guitar

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Recording guru Craig Anderton spells out the ways and means of re-amping your guitar tracks using either hardware or software.



Hands-On Review: Line 6 Sonic Port VX Audio Interface

By Chris Loeffler
Harmony Central Associate Editor

Line 6 has been in the game of pushing the boundaries of what a guitar player can do with digital technology by marrying a reverence for classic tones and “the way things used to be” with a desire to break through the limitations imposed by “traditional” gear. Having built and maintained their reputation as the industry leader in affordable guitar, amp, and effect modelling almost two decades ago, Line 6 has been conspicuously turning their focus on integrating the guitar experience into consumer-focused devices and tapping in to the rich ecosystem of mobile devices, tablets, and laptops. The Line 6 Sonic Port VX is their latest foray into this world and features a price-point, feature set, and ease of use that’s sure to raise eyebrows.



Audio-Technica System 10 Wireless Guitar Stompbox

Cut the cord for your live performances!



Line 6 AMPLIFi FX100 Multi-Effects Pedal



Hands-On Review: Line 6 StageSource L2t/L3t Speakers

Backline, Front-of-House and Monitor in One Box



Tech Tip: 12 Essential Strategies to Improve Your Audio Mixes

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Victor Grigas

When it’s time to mix a recording, you need some strategies



Hands-On Review: Fender SLIDE iOS Instrument Interface

By Ara Ajizian
Harmony Central Editorial Director

I was cleaning out the dark corners at the back of my closet recently and came across an ancient relic among the cobwebs and old papers—my old four-track “portable studio.” It was massive in size and weight, with a strange rectangular insert people once called a “cassette tape.” As I studied this long-forgotten piece of recording equipment, and recalled the days of yore when I would actually use this artifact to lay down musical ideas, I took stock of just how far we’ve come in the past 20 years technologically. Thanks to the ever-decreasing size of laptop computers and the advent of mobile technology like smartphones and tablets, the “portable studio” is now truly a reality. All that’s needed is your favorite recording software and a compact interface, and you have more recording power at your fingertips than ever before. With its palm-sized profile and powerful capabilities, the Fender® SLIDE™ interface makes mobile recording as seamless as ever. As a bonus, it’s also designed to be a learning tool when used in conjunction with the included Rock Prodigy Lite app. It all adds up to an affordable, versatile and very functional tool.



Hands-On Review: Moog Theremini

By Ara Ajizian

Ahh, the theremin. It still captivates us with its eerie, warbly sound, not to mention the touch-free method by which it’s played (it just looks fun, doesn’t it?). Although some might say the theremin’s time came and went, it left an indelible mark on the late, great Bob Moog. His love for electronic instruments began with the theremin, spawning every incredible innovation and instrument that he gave us during his lifetime. And of course, those innovations continue today at Moog Music, so it’s fitting that they have re-imagined the instrument that started it all and brought us the Theremini, a superbly musical and intuitive instrument that incorporates the classic playability of the theremin with a sound engine based on the Animoog. That, and a host of other modern features, deliver an amazing amount of musical potential in an instrument that’s truly inspirational and fun to play.



When Rehearsal is Not An Option - A Drummer's Prep

By Dendy Jarrett | June 19, 2014

INTRODUCTION

When you're a somewhat active drummer in Nashville, it inevitably happens — "Can you play a writer's showcase this Thursday? And by the way … there's no rehearsal."

Many times, it's all original music and you may get a rough-cut mp3. Typically, these are 20-45 minute sets with eight or so songs.

You don't have to be from Nashville for this to happen. It can be a local pub band or the like. So, what can you do to help avoid a drumming train wreck?



Digital Audio Basics

By Anderton | June 13, 2014

Not quite sure how digital audio works? Here's your refresher course

Digital technology—which brought us home computers, $5 calculators, cars you can't repair yourself, Netflix, and other modern miracles—has fundamentally re-shaped the way we record and listen to music. Yet there's still controversy over whether digital audio represents an improvement over analog audio. Is there some inherent aspect of digital audio that justifies this skepticism?



Orange Dual Dark 100 Tube Amp Head

By Chris Loeffler | May 29, 2014

Dark tones for a bright future!

Orange amplifiers have been in production since 1968 and have earned a reputation as being the "other" English vintage amp for heavier rock tones. Combining the harmonic complexity of a classic Vox with the rude, saturated gain associated with early Marshalls, the hallmark of the Orange sound is a dark, almost fuzzy distortion created in higher gain settings and warm, edgy cleans. The last ten years have seen a significant expansion of the Orange amp line as designers supplement the legacy of the AD30 and Thunderverb with smaller wattage amps like the Tiny Terror and high wattage, multi-channel offerings like the new Dual Dark series amplifiers.



Evans Level 360 Tom Head Review

By Dendy Jarrett | June 13, 2014

Expert Review: Evans Level 360 Tom Heads — Part 1 (Part 3 of the series)

A first look at Evans' diverse tom head offerings



NS Design CR5 Radius 5-String Bass Guitar

By John McVarish | May 29, 2014

A bass that can do it all...or at least come close enough for jazz.

I'm making a list

So what does a demanding bassist require and how much are we (my significant other and I) willing to spend? First off, I'm old school and have never played in a pop band with a 5-string, but I'm ready to take the plunge. I've tried many 5-strings in stores and I want one that articulates well in the lows with a bottom B string that is more than a finger rest. For that, a 35” scale is near the top of my wish list.



Focusrite Saffire Pro 26

By Phil O'Keefe | June 06, 2014

Multi-channel Firewire / Thunderbolt Interface

The Focusrite name has an illustrious history, and the company has made some of the most respected large frame mixing consoles and outboard processors ever released. Their Saffire series of Firewire audio interfaces has long been a hit with users too, and today we'll be taking a look at the latest product in that series, the Saffire Pro 26, which is designed with studio recording and live performance use in mind.



Applications for Amp in a Box Pedals

By Chris Loeffler | June 13, 2014

Going Direct

As an amp purist, I have to admit I’ve often been intrigued by the potential direct amp-in-a-box pedals as an alternative to lugging around heavy gear and having to dial in the sound to every room. Not enough to have fully taken the plunge, until recently, but certainly enough to stay on top of the latest gear advances and demo units occasionally. When I noticed a band I was playing in was suffering from bad practice habits and a lack of knowledge in dialing in the sound right for live performances without the help of an engineer I decided it was time to explore the current state of direct technology for guitar and bass and see if it might be a solution to some of the problems we were facing.



Shure GLXD16 Wireless Guitar System

By Chris Marion | May 29, 2014

Let me start this review with a disclaimer and then a qualification. I am not a guitar player. But, in the last 35 years of my professional experience I have traveled the world playing with some of the best guitar players and I've literally recorded 1000s of songs listening to world-class guitar tone. In my experience with these phenomenal players, there are two things that are extremely important to guitarists, especially road warriors: tone and mobility. The Shure GLXD16 Wireless Guitar System addresses both of these issues with preeminent quality. Let's dig in!



Recording Guitar and Bass: Reduce the Noise

Quiet is good—and these tips will help get you there

by Craig Anderton

Noise comes in many guises: there’s hiss from preamps, clicks and pops from digital clock mismatches, hum from bad shielding, and (unfortunately) a whole lot more. As a result, there’s no one way to get rid of noise—different problems require different solutions. The secret to a quiet recording is to find, then minimize, each noise source.

When you’re chasing down noise, wear headphones to hear more detail in the sound. Then, start from your final output and work backward. Turn up individual faders, enable/bypass EQ, vary the mic preamp gain, etc. to help isolate the main contributors of noise. Following are tips on reducing noise.



Technique: The Musical Drummer - Drumming for the Music

by Dendy Jarrett

INTRODUCTION

There is a well-known drummer in Nashville whose license tag reads “2 and 4.” When I first moved to  Nashville, I had a chance to ask him the meaning of his custom plates. He replied: “2 and 4is what pays the bills.” He continued, “It doesn’t matter how well you play drums in Nashville; what matters is how well your drumming fits the music.”



The Touchscreen Control Surface Revolution

Whether for mixing or synth programming, touchscreens are having a major impact 

by Craig Anderton 

Mixers used to be so predictable: Sheet metal top, faders, knobs, switches, and often, a pretty hefty price tag. Sure, DAWs started including virtual mixers, but unless you wanted to mix with a mouse (you don’t), then you needed a control surface with . . . a sheet metal top, faders, knobs, switches, and a slightly less hefty price tag. 



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