Yamaha MOXF6 Review

121588-d4e419d68795140496218aadd6bab935Yamaha MOXF6 Review

Church Use: Synth, MIDI controller and audio interface all in one

Features:  The Yamaha MOXF6 is the newest in a long and highly regarded line of MOTIF family of keyboards.  The MOXF6 aims to be the center of your studio as a USB audio interface, MIDI controller, DAW controller, and the sound of the MOTIF XF synth all in one.  With 61 semi-weighted keys, the MOXF6 is lightweight and highly portable for use on stage and in the studio.

Application:  Drawing on the legendary sound library of the MOTIF XF series, the MOXF6 adds more sounds and effects and utilizes seamless integration with DAW software to create the ultimate keyboard/controller hybrid.  The MOXF6 even has an open slot for Flash memory to expand the sounds using flash cards.  One of the best features of the MOXF6 is the built-in 4-in, 2-out audio interface, allowing recording and playback without the use of an additional audio interface, making it perfect for live use with a computer.  Included with each MOXF is the Cubase AI7 recording software to get you started recording right away.

More:  Great all-in-one package, more portable than any other MOTIF

Less: Weighted keys only available on the 88-key version

Price: $1199.99

For more information visit yamahaproaudio.com

My Mix Review

MyMix Monitoring Review

myMixChurch Use:  Personal Monitoring System

Features:  One of the most helpful technological advancements for musicians in the last 10 years, personal monitoring has become a staple in many churches around the country.  MyMix breaks the mold of traditional personal monitors and has quickly become one of the most powerful, versatile personal monitoring systems on the market.  Featuring a system that can host up to 500 channels with 250 devices, the possibilities are almost endless.

Application:  MyMix can act as a simple monitor mixer for each band member or be a self-contained sound system for rehearsal or the whole worship service!  At the heart of the system is the MyMix-Mixer, which acts as the 16-channel personal mixer for each musician as well as the input source for 2 microphone or line sources.  As each band member plugs into their MyMix-Mixer, their channel appears on the MyMix network for everyone using MyMix to see.  Each band member can then select from all the instruments and vocals to create their own mix.  Have more inputs than 16?  No problem, just create a submix for background vocals or drums.  This is a great option for rehearsals or smaller venues because it eliminates the need for monitor sends or direct outs from the mixing console, or any confusing routing options.  Like other personal monitoring systems, presets can be saved and recalled each week.  Stereo imaging is fantastic on the MyMix mixers, and the low end is particularly impressive, especially when compared to Aviom or Roland systems.  The possibilities are almost endless with MyMix and it’s a fantastic bargain for the price. 

 More:  Great connectivity options and routing; best sound in its price range.

Less:  Not much

Price: $679.00

 

Pedaltrain Volto Review

Pedaltrain Volto Review

Church UseBattery-powered Power for Guitar Effects

 Features:  Long lasting, battery-powered pedal-power?  Sounds too good to be true…yet here it is: the Pedaltrain Volto.  Utilizing a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, (much like the ones used to power your cellphone) the Volto can power small to medium sized pedalboards for up to 36 hours of continuous use (depending on how many pedals and the draw of each one).  The Volto uses an included USB power adapter to charge and ships with adapters for UK, EU, Australia, and USA for use around the globe.

Application:  The Volto is a perfect solution for portable stages, outdoors, venues with limited power available, or even OCD guitar players who can’t stand ugly black power cables running to their pedalboards.  The ability to charge in every country makes it a perfect travel power to bring on trips or on a plane, and the lightweight, small footprint is great for smaller pedalboards. 

More:  Long-lasting, lightweight battery power perfect for any gig situation

Less:  Has trouble handling newer high-fidelity digital pedals for extended periods of time.

Price: $99.95

 

Presonus Studiolive 16.4.2ai Review

studiolive-anglePreSonus Studiolive 16.4.2ai Review

Church Use: Powerful and Affordable Live/Studio Mixing Console

Features:  It’s rare to see a quality digital mixer under $2000 and even rarer to find one as powerful and versatile as the Studiolive 16.4.2ai.  For use in both the studio and as a live mixer, the Studiolive AI features a combination of software and hardware to make it a perfect option any application.  16 ins, 6 aux sends, 4 FX sends, and stereo main outputs give plenty of I/O options and the ability to use digital gate, EQ, compression, and effects on each track makes the mixer extremely powerful in a live setting.   

 Application:  One of the best features of the Presonus Studiolive AI is the software/hardware integration.  FOH engineers can mix wirelessly on an iPad without using a computer at all, while musicians can mix their own monitors wirelessly from a user-friendly iPhone app.  Studiolive AI connects to a computer via firewire for use with almost any DAW for playback and recording, and allows access to included software StudioOne, Capture, and Smaart Measurement Technology.  Another feature we loved was the analog inputs.  Easy-to-use, musician-friendly, and controllable via wireless network, we loved the workflow and power of the Studiolive 16.4.2ai. 

 Workflow:  While the unique layout of the Studiolive took us a little time to get used to, once we figured it out, it was easy to see why it’s the one of easiest digital mixers on the market to use.  The “fat channel” strip for each channel shows all of the EQ and dynamic processing right above the faders without having to go into a menu or use any secondary functions on the board.  The Studiolive 16.4.2ai even allows the user to create two separate EQ and compression settings for each channel to A/B the two settings and switch back and forth seamlessly.  The iPad workflow is amazing, showing graphic EQ and compression on each channel and allowing the user to drag around frequencies and visualize each EQ curve and compressor threshold.  If 16 channels isn’t enough for your church, the Studiolive ai comes in 24 and 32 channel versions as well.

 Sound:  The sound quality of the 16.4.2ai blew us away.  The XMAX mic preamps are extremely transparent but make the each instrument fat and big.  The separation of instruments was extremely apparent when we started using the board to live mix an entire band, giving a clear, punchy and defined mix.  EQ and compression sounds natural and smooth and the built-in FX is phenomenal.  Our favorite feature was the ability to EQ the verb on the fly, going from dark and moody to bright and spacious depending on the song.

 Overall:  At this price point, the Studiolive 16.4.2ai is hands down the very best digital mixer you can get your hands on.  For right under 2k, you get a mixer with 16 channels, 6 aux sends, and 2 dedicated FX channels that all sound phenomenal and best of all, the store and recall work perfectly every time you turn it on.

More:  Incredible value for the money, wireless control

Less: 16 channels may not be quite enough for bigger stages

Price: $1999.95

For more information visit presonus.com

Novation Bass Station II Review

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Function: Analog bass synthesizer
Price: $499.99
What’s New:  In a modern, digital world, is there room for one more analog synth?  With the market oversaturated with VST plugins, modeling synths, and digital emulations, the Novation Bass Station II shows us why analog synthesizers will never truly be replaced. 
 
Features:  Based on the classic original Bass Station, the Bass Station II is a mono synthesizer with two oscillators (and a sub oscillator), two filters, a step sequencer, arpeggiator, and fully analog effects section.  Bearing a resemblance to its ancestor with its black, white and blue color scheme, the Bass Station II sports full sized, synth-action keys and a patch save function.  The back controls are fairly straightforward: power on/off/bus powered (via USB), mono ¼” output, ¼” sustain pedal in, mono ¼” external audio in, MIDI 5 pin I/O, ¼” headphone out, and a USB port.  The oscillators are capable of generating sine, triangle, sawtooth, and square/variable pulse width waveforms and both oscillators can be synced, detuned, and played at four different octaves.  All the oscillators then are processed by the mixer section, which also allows the noise generator, ring modulator and an optional external audio source to be mixed together.  The signal then travels to the filter section, where the user can choose between two filter types, an “Acid type” (diode ladder type), and the “Classic type” based on the original Bass Station filter.  Both LFO’s are independently adjustable between rate and delay time and feature triangle, sawtooth, square, and sample and hold waveforms.  Amp and modulation envelopes control attack, decay, release, and sustain and pass the signal to a distortion send and filter mod effect.  The arpeggiator features 32 different patterns between up to 4 octaves and the step sequencer offers 32 preset rhythms and allows you to create your own.  The keyboard can be powered by an included power adapter or via USB from a host computer, making it a mini MIDI controller as well as a hardware synth.  One of my favorite features is the external audio input, which routes through the filter and effects section of the Bass Station II.  Octave switching and transposition is achieved via two big blue buttons above the mod wheel and pitch bend.  For giant octave leaps, the Bass Station II’s pitch bend is automatically set for an octave bend on the majority of its presets.
 
Feel:  Everything on the Bass Station II feels great.  Every knob and slider feels natural and smooth and the full-sized keys feel great.  The two octaves are more than enough for natural-sounding synth bass playing.  To my satisfaction, none of the controls felt cheap or loose, (a BIG concern of mine on both the Arturia Minibrute and Korg MS-20 mini) and the keyboard feels great.  The blue lights in the pitch bend and mod wheel are a nice modern touch, giving the keyboard a modern accent to an otherwise classic look. 
All these little touches add to the idea that you’re playing a pro keyboard, not a toy. 
 
Sound:  As soon as I heard the first note on the Bass Station II, I knew it was a unique synth.  With its twin oscillators and filters, the Bass Station II sounds huge and focused at the same time.  The first preset is a basic synthesizer setup and it shows off the sound of the oscillators and filter section quite well.  Detuning the oscillators slightly creates massive bass textures, especially when adding the sub oscillator.  My personal favorite part of the synth is the filter section.  The extra large cutoff frequency knob allows pinpoint control over the filter cutoff, and as it’s the biggest knob on the control surface, you’ll never have to look for it in the dark.  The overdrive is a real standout.  Warm and growly, it’s hard not to crank the drive it sounds so good!  The LFO’s and modulation section give complete control over every aspect of the synth you could possibly want, and it’s possible to route and assign the mod wheel to control almost any feature.  A completely unique sound, the Bass Station II falls (roughly) somewhere between a Juno 106 and Roland TB-303: big and fat but focused and crisp as well.  Although made for bass, the Bass Station II sounds great for leads and the arpeggiator makes it perfect for rhythmic, pulsing sounds.  One of the most helpful features of the Bass Station II is the fact that you can dial in the tempo to the exact bpm, especially helpful for syncing the arpeggiator and step sequencer to tempo without MIDI.  The distortion effect at the end of the chain sounds fantastic, giving the bass a nasty edge while retaining the clarity and low end. 
            As an owner of the Novation Bass Station plugin, I tried the hardware against its software companion out of curiosity.  Although the plugin sounded good, there was no comparison in the low end; the Bass Station II was bigger, wider, and crispy than the plug, even when I switched the software to stereo. 
 
Bottom Line:  If you want a synth bass, the Bass Station II is the best in its price range.  You won’t find another synth that sounds or feels as good with as many features as this for under $500.  Although it may seem like a one-trick pony, the monophonic Bass Station II offers more with its one note than most digital emulations and modeling synths.  Its completely unique sound makes it stand out a lot more than other classic keyboards and the feel of the controls top all the analog synths in its class.  The Bass Station II offers a tremendous value and quality and I wouldn’t be surprised if just like its ancestor 10-20 years down the road, it becomes a highly sought-after classic. 
 
For more information about the Bass Station II and other products by Novation, visit novationmusic.com.