Yamaha HS8 Review

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Function:  Studio Monitors
Price:  $349.99 (Each)
What’s NewWhen talking about Yamaha studio monitors, the classic NS10M is probably the first thing that comes to conversation.  Since the late 70s, the NS10M has been the workhorse of countless studios and producers because of its pronounced midrange and for being brutally revealing.  The HS8 is the latest studio monitor from Yamaha, and in the tradition of its forefather, offers outstanding sound quality for an extremely accurate mix: a worthy successor of the NS10M for today’s world.
 
Features:  The HS8 is a two-way, bass-reflex, nearfield monitor featuring an 8” woofer and 1” dome tweeter.  Controls include one XLR and one TRS input jack, level control, a high trim switch, and a room control switch that cuts frequencies under 500Hz by 2 or 4 dB when engaged.  With a frequency response of 38Hz to 30kHz, the HS8 provides an extremely wide range of audio. 
 
Sound:  Set up in my small (but well treated) 11×10 room, the HS8s sounded great.  The frequency response was flat and balanced, (even flatter than the older HS80M in my opinion) and stereo imaging was amazing!  The highs were smooth and clear and the lows powerful and present.  Onto the midrange: the mids of the HS8 make them some of the most revealing speakers I’ve ever heard.  Not hyped or accentuated, the midrange reminded me instantly of the classic NS10M sound, laying the vocal bare and letting you hear the true nature of your mix.  I’ve always struggled with ear fatigue using NS-10Ms all day, and the more balanced HS8s helps my ears tremendously.  I found the low end to be tight and present and more than enough for most genres, although if you mix dance or hip-hop, you may want to look at the HS8S subwoofer, made to work perfectly with the HS8 line. 
 
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for monitors that will provide the truest, most accurate mix to help your mixes translate on any system, the HS8 is the perfect speaker for you.  The HS8s offer tremendous quality for the price and sounds great in any environment.  Its balanced sound and even bass distribution makes the HS8 a worthy successor of the NS10M, and in many regards a better speaker to mix music on in today’s world. 
 
Fore more information about the HS8s visit yamaha.com.  

-Andy Toy

M-Audio M3-8 Review

M Audio M38

Function: Studio Monitors

Price: $349.99 (Each)

What’s New: The M3-8s are the newest studio monitors from M-Audio.  A three-way design, The M3-8 sports a low, mid, and high driver and enough power for any studio application. 

 

Features:  Housed in an attractive wood cabinet, the M3-8 features an 8” woofer, 5” mid driver and a 1” tweeter.  The midrange and high drivers are set inline to aid with stereo imaging and provides a unique look to the monitors.  Controls are all placed on the rear panel and include volume, low, mid, and high EQ controls, EQ on/bypass switch, and a low cut switch that filters out frequencies at either 80Hz or 100Hz.  Inputs include balanced XLR and TRS and unbalanced RCA in. 

 

Sound:  Right away I could tell the M3-8s were going to be a lot of fun.  At 220 Watts, the M3-8s provide plenty of volume and sound great at loud volumes.   After playing with the EQ controls, I found a setting that sounded good and flat in my room, and started playing music to get a sense of how the monitors responded.  The first thing I noticed was the bass.  In my small (but well treated) room, I was hearing low end like I never did before!  You don’t just hear low end with the M3-8s, you experience it.  Dance, hip-hop, and rock and roll sounded phenomenal!  In addition to deep, punchy bass, the midrange was smooth and worked nicely with the top end, which was clear and not harsh at all.  Working all day, I had very little ear fatigue with the M3-8s, which came as a relief after years of working NS10s (which fatigue my ears on a daily basis!).  A note of caution, be sure not to lay the monitors on their side, it messes with the stereo imaging quite a bit, and gives a false sense of the width of your mix. 

 

Bottom Line:  The M3-8s are a producer’s dream.  Powerful and loud enough for any situation, huge frequency response, deep bass balanced with smooth midrange and top end M3-8s are a great pair of monitors and a ton of fun, especially when programming or working up tracks.  The added midrange driver sets the M3-8 apart from most studio monitors in its price range and makes a huge difference in the sound and stereo imaging. Depending on your room, you’ll probably need to EQ the speakers to your taste, but once set, the M3-8 delivers a pure, smooth sound that will stand with any other monitor in its class.

 

For more information about the M3-8s and other products by Maudio, visit maudio.com

-Andy Toy
Tech Editor, WL mag

 

Beginning Worship Guitar Course

1-musicademyMusicademy
musicademy.com

Bringing the basics of guitar playing to the worship musician

This training course is perfect for the beginner. Musicademy starts from the ground up with the very basics of guitar playing on this all new Beginning Worship Guitar Course. Teaching proper technique this 4 DVD series has the ability to take the learner from beginner to competent player in just a few months.

Do not be fooled by this beginner course! Musicademy has done a great job of creating a very hefty bit of learning in these 10 hours of guitar lessons. Along the way tests are provided to increase learning and challenge the student to excellence. Musicademy also offers backing tracks to play along with that will help train you to listen to the musicians around you while playing in a band setting. Online resources are also readily available.

This program is perfect for worshipers of any age who desire to become efficient with a guitar.

List Price: $99.99
Sale Price: $89.99

 

PreSonus Eris E8 Review

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Function: Studio Monitors
Price: $249.95 (each)
What’s NewThe Eris E8s are brand new two-way speakers from PreSonus.  Joined by their little brother the E5s, the Eris line is PreSonus’ first foray into the world of studio monitors, with outstanding results. 
 
Features:  The E8s come in a sleek, all black enclosure with a little blue logo that lights up when they power on.  All inputs are in the rear, including XLR, balanced TRS, and unbalanced RCA line ins.  In addition to standard input gain, the E8s have an “Acoustic Tuning” section of low, midrange, and high frequency controls.  The E8s also feature an “Acoustic Space” control that cuts the low frequencies at 800 Hz by 2 or 4 dB, for control over bass buildup when monitors are placed close against a wall.  The frequency response is an incredible 35 Hz – 22kHz, quite impressive for 8-inch woofers and perfect for mixing without a sub.  At 130 watts, the E8s provide plenty of volume for any listening environment.
 
Sound:  The Eris E8s sounded great the minute I plugged them into my Apogee Quartet.  I work in a small, well-treated room and have my desk about two thirds of the way into the room, so I didn’t need to utilize the “Acoustic Space” feature on the E8s.  The switch works quite well though, and can be quite useful in small rooms where space is tight and monitors need to be placed near the wall.  I tend to be a “set flat and forget” type of engineer, so I set all the EQs flat and the gains to unity and fired them up.  Right away I was blown away by the depth and three-dimensional nature of the speakers.  They had great stereo imaging, deep bass, clear highs, and the midrange was not overemphasized at all.  After listening to some of my favorite records I decided to try some tracking.  I was particularly impressed with the high-mids and top end, the E8s offer a lot of detail but don’t hype the high mids at all, so listening and working for long periods don’t fatigue my ears (something that has plagued me for years using NS-10s).  The low end is quite nice on the E8s and provides detail and focus for making bass and kick tight and punchy.  I did a quick mix of a demo I was working on and it translated wonderfully in my car, iPhone, and laptop without any tweaks (to my relief).  Overall the Eris E8s are quite balanced and let me listen for hours without any ear fatigue. 
 
Bottom Line:  This is the best pair of monitors under $500 that we’ve heard.  The fact that my ears didn’t get tired after 8 hours of using the E8s is a huge deal. I engineered a session all day long and never felt uncomfortable in the least.  If you have enough space for 8” woofers, there’s nothing not to like about these monitors.  At just $499 for the pair, they easily outpace other contenders in their price range in sound quality and features, and the added EQs make them a great option in less than ideal listening conditions.
 
For more information about the Eris E8s and other products by PreSonus, visit PreSonus.com.

M-Audio Axiom AIR 49 Review

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Function: MIDI Controller
Price: $399.99
 
What’s New: For years, the M-Audio Axiom line has set the standard for MIDI controllers with unbeatable quality, flexibility and keyboard feel, and the brand new AIR 49 is no exception.  The AIR 49 is a 49-key, synth-action MIDI controller with an abundance of knobs, faders and pads, and “Hypercontrol” built-in smart mapping software.  With the AIR incarnation of controllers, the Axiom line gets both a physical and internal overhaul that keeps all the great things about the original and adds a few pretty awesome bells and whistles. 
 
Features:  The keys, as expected, feel amazing and the piano-style keys make it ideal for both synths and piano.  The orange backlighting is a nice change from the classic Axiom blue, and the screen is tilted up to make it easier to see the control screen from the front.  The back port features an on/off switch, power supply in, MIDI I/O, USB and inputs for sustain and expression pedals.  Eight knobs, nine faders, nine buttons, (including dedicated playback control), twelve pads, and pitch and mod wheels round out the control surface, which is beautifully laid out and labeled.  Everything on the control surface can be assigned to 3 different MIDI banks, and the colors change depending on which bank is currently selected.  The pads are velocity and pressure-sensitive and feel great for drum programming or sample triggering.  Hypercontrol works just like it claims, mapping everything on the control surface to perfection on almost all the popular DAWs.  One of my favorite features on the AIR 49 is that each rotary knob will light up one at a time when you turn it, making it easy to keep track of which knob you’re currently using.  For example, if you’re using a knob to pan a guitar, then want to turn it up a bit and listen back, you can easily see which knob controls the guitar pan if you want to keep tweaking it during playback. 
 
Build: At just under 11 pounds, the Axiom AIR 49 is extremely light (especially compared to my 16 lb original Axiom 49) but feels rock solid on a stand or desk.  The white and aluminum finish is sleek and modern looking, vaguely reminiscent of the Axiom Pro series but making the statement that the AIR is a different controller entirely.  The back even has a space to run cables under the keyboard to hide cords and prevent tangling.  My favorite feature on the new look is that the faders are thick and flat, making them almost impossible to break off and lose (which happened to all but three of mine on my 8-year old touring Axiom).
 
Software:  Included with the Axiom 49 is a copy of Ignite by Air Music Technology, ProTools Express, and believe it or not, an iLok 2 for Windows or Mac.  Claiming to be a musician-centric recording software, Ignite looked more to me like a mini-fridge covered in multi-colored magnets at first, but after a few minutes, it proved to be a lot deeper than my first impression.  First of all, the sounds are great.  Whether you’re looking for a drum kit or string ensemble, all the sounds load fast, sound fantastic and work perfectly with the AIR 49.  The workflow takes a little more time to get used to (especially if you’re used to working in a more traditional DAW) but makes perfect sense once you get the hang of it.  Gone is the linear graph of ProTools or Logic, and in comes clip recording.  In some ways, similar to Ableton Live, Ignite allows you to record different instruments and ideas without having to worry about tracks or MIDI channels, or bus sends.  You record an idea, see it turn up as a brightly colored bar on your screen, play another idea, put them together and thus make a song by stacking all of these ideas together.  While Ignite might not be a mixing substitute for ProTools 11 and Logic X, its fantastic sounds and intuitive interface makes it a perfect entry-level DAW, MIDI sequencer, or songwriting tool.  More than enough to start making and recording music right away, the software bundle is a great value and a fresh look at organizing and capturing musical ideas.  One note of caution, the software including Hypercontrol only works on Macs running Apple Lion or later, (and on PCs running Windows 7 or later) so Snow Leopard or Vista users will need an update to get the full experience of AIR. 
 
Bottom Line:  It’s the hands down the best we’ve seen.  The AIR 49 is by far the best Axiom yet, and the feel, look, and control surface makes it our new favorite MIDI keyboard controller. 
 
Church Use: If you’re looking for a MIDI keyboard that feels great for both synths and pianos, want to trigger loops and tracks, and have control over your entire DAW with a touch of a button, the Axiom AIR is a perfect controller for you.  
 
For more information about the AIR 49 and other products by M-Audio, visit m-audio.com.