Tuners, strings, picks etc
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Pocket amps have a lot of use, including silent playing, jamming to backing tracks, pre-gig warming up, and even direct recording for newbies who want to get their feet wet with a DAW, etc. Sonicake took that tech and went one step further, at least further than I’ve seen from other companies.
First, there are six popular amp/cab types from which to choose, all of which were demoed in the accompanying video, and with enough choice to play from clean, to classic rock crunch, to metal. You then adjust the volume, tone and gain via individual dials. The cleans sound very good and crystal clear. The moderate gain amps (Orange and Marshall) are fairly easy to dial in. The two high-gain amps (Mesa and ENGL) are more finicky, and they sound best with the tone and gain almost all the way down (they sound beefier and without the high-end fizz/frequency).
There are three categories of effects, and what is cool is that you can mix a modulation, delay and reverb simultaneously (or turn those off you don’t want). That is very cool, as many previous models I’ve tried from other companies permitted you to chose either delay or reverb, for example. Modulation includes vibrato, tremolo, flanger, phaser, rotary and chorus. You select which by scrolling through the choices via the Modulation button. You then adjust the depth/intensity/speed of that effect via the ‘FX’ dial (the ‘active’ button flashes, whether mod, delay or reverb). Once you click on the Delay button, it will flash, thus allowing you to select the type of delay, followed by adjusting the ‘FX’ dial. Delays include tape, warm, slapback and modulated variations. The process then applies to the Reverb button and its mix. Reverbs include room, studio, hall, church and plate.
Other features include the usual headphone jack and an 1/8-inch input for an MP3 or similar device, for jamming to tracks. However, Amphonix also is Bluetooth ready, which means you don’t need any cables for either headphones or pairing up to a device (holding the Delay and Reverb buttons turns off Bluetooth). However, the package does include an 1/8-inch to 1/8-inch cable for connection to a music device (I used that cable to direct record the Amphonix for the demo, going into the Sonicake QAI-100 mixing console). Also included is a USB cable for charging the lithium battery, providing 5-hours of play on a full charge.
The price of the Amphonix is $39.99 USD, which is both reasonable and within the price range of similar products and with no drawbacks. It certainly offers more than less expensive pocket amps, and the sound of the amps is relative to individual tastes. Consequently, if you like all the features and some of the sample sounds in the demo, the Amphonix is a solid choice.
The QAI-100 is a professional mixing console, and I used this to direct-record the demo, using the Amphonix. This is a bare bones platform without EQ or any special effects. It’s a piece of gear that provides connection and monitoring, and the best part is that it does not load drivers. It connects via your computer with a USB cable (included and connects to a 2.0 port) and there is a lot in this little device that fits into the palm of your hand, taking up very little desk space and is ideal for transport – weighing only ounces.
There are two XLR combo input jacks, to allow for recording in mono or stereo. The Main Outputs are ¼-inch TRS balanced. You can select Line/Instrument as the inputs, and if using a condenser mic (a separate 3.5mm input), there’s also 48V phantom power onboard capability. There’s a SIG indicator (when input signal reaches -20dB) and a PEAK indicator (when the level reaches 3dB below clipping). Each channel has its own level, besides separate level controls for the Main and headphones. There’s even a REC Loopback switch, to record a mixed signal from both your computer and channel 1/2. And sound quality remains high with the QAI-100, at 48kHz, 16 bit.
What’s amazing is that the QAI-100 is a control console, but also an interface without the need for drivers. Together with all the above features in a tiny footprint, the QAI-100 is a no-brainer for only $39.99 USD, and proves that we’re living in a golden era of easily-affordable gear.
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