EAV Blog

Music tech news and reviews.

  • EAV Classics - 002

    EAV Classics - 002.

    Every year there are huge waves of new equipment for musicians. Each new product and idea claiming to change the way that we will make music, the way we interact with music or the way it sounds. Every now and then a product will fulfil those promises and genuinely change things but sometimes no matter how many times an idea is jazzed up and rebranded there could still be a product from decades ago that just does it better.

    In this series of blogs we’re looking at a few innovations that we believe have achieved that classic status and maybe even gone on to become landmarks of design in their field. Designs that have been imitated and copied but never surpassed.

    Let’s take a moment to look at a product that not only become a classic but actually spawned new genres and changed the path of music forever, it continues to do so 36 years after its initial release. This product is genesis for modern electronic music. An instrument that has been on more hit records than another of its kind.

    Upon its release it was something of a failure and was ridiculed in the music production community. But this product had the last laugh and is possibly the underdog of the century. Ladies and gentlemen… the world heavy weight champion, the immovable TR808:

    tr-808

     

    To you maybe this machine requires no introduction. Or maybe you’ve never heard of it. But there’s absolutely no doubt that you will have heard it. Its impact is etched on the fabric of modern music itself.

    The TR808 was released in 1980 by Roland. It was the first of a new way of thinking in drum machines. Before this drum machines were mainly produced for organ players, they had some simple beats stored and the player could have some basic rhythmic accompaniment while they played. The 808 was the start of a range of drum machines that let you program the beats yourself and not just be stuck with the basic ‘Rumba’, ‘Waltz’ and ‘Disco’ beats.

    While samplers as we know them now were beginning to take shape in the 80’s, the 808 differed because the 808 didn’t really sound like a real drum kit. This is probably because getting the sound of real drums on 1980s technology was quite hard, if not impossible. But the 808 didn’t even seem to try and sound real and for that reason it was something of an outcast. They were produced for only 3 years and an estimate of about 12000 units were produced in that time. Although there’s believed to only be around half as many working units left ‘in the wild’.

    909

    It was quickly replaced by the TR909, which was very similar but tried a lot harder to sound like a more authentic drum kit. The 909 lead a similar life to the 808. For that reason in this blog the two will be mentioned side by side as they’re extremely similar machines with subtle differences. The 909 maybe more what we think as 80’s looking than its brother?

    Towards the end of the 80’s there were many of these units collecting dust on the shelves of used electrical stores and sitting unloved in basements. They were cheap and had relatively limited use. They could very easily have been forgotten about and become a tiny part of Roland’s history.

    As Akai were starting to produce their MPC series of samplers and Roger Linn was also making waves with his samplers there seemed to be no real need for analogue drum machines like the 808.

    The 808 wasn’t a sampler, so it didn’t play a pre-recorded sound. It used synthesis to create the sound so you could change its characteristics and timbre. But you were ultimately stuck with those few sounds.

    The bass drum sound of the 808 is basically just a low sine wave. Probably responsible for blowing more speakers than any other drum machine too. Either by accident or by genius the bass drum doesn’t sound anything special at home but play it through a nightclub rig and you’ll understand. This is of course an idea that we’re all completely used to these days. Processed and synthesized drum sounds are very common in music today but naturally that wasn’t always so.

    Hip-Hop was probably the first genre to adopt the 808. Hip-Hop was in its infancy and the sound of the genre was still quite malleable and not set in stone. Afrika Bambaattaa and the Beastie Boys had embraced the 808 whole heartedly and it helped to solidify the sound of a newly forming genre.

    Hip-Hop had quickly claimed the 808 as its own. They were cheap so budding hip hop artists could afford them, they were easy and simple to use and they were fairly easy to get hold of. Certainly not easy to get hold of anymore, an 808 in good condition will set you back upwards of £3000!

    Your young bedroom producer can’t afford to get a drum kit, all the microphones and recording equipment. But they could afford an 808 or a 909 and have it making drum beats straight out of the box.

    Egyptian Love 808

    L.A. based producer ,Greg Broussard, calling himself  ‘The Egyptian Lover’, first got his hands on an 808 in a music store: "It blew me away.” Broussard recalls; “Everything sounded a bit toy-like, but at the same time it made you want to dance. I bought it right there on the spot." He aired it the next day with Uncle Jamm's Army DJ crew. "I didn't have any other instruments – the beat was moving the whole crowd. Thousands of people were dancing to this one little drum machine."

    The plucky little 808 had made its mark and become a staple of Hip Hop. But it was yet to forge its own genre. To create sound that may never have existed without it.

     

    Enter the 90’s.

    Jeff Mills Rave culture was exploding into Europe and America, no one saw it coming but its sound defined the early 90s. What’s the sound of rave music? Our trusty 808 and 909. The 909 seemed to take the centre stage here. Its sounds were more aggressive and harsh than the 808’s and artists like Jeff Mills and Richie Hawtin helped seal the 909’s legacy as Techno poured out of Detroit, Berlin and London and the 909 had created its first genre. There’s no real way to tell if Techno would have happened without the 909. Maybe it would but in a different form or maybe you wish it had never happened with its repetitive tones and thumpy beat, Each to their own yeah?

    These two machines still have a strange lure to them all these years later. They’re incredibly limited in what they can do, yes there’s many machines that can do more and have flashier lights and pads but if you sit at an 808 there’s still so much music to get out of it. Their sounds are now filled with history and legacy and yet there seems to be no end to the possibilities.

    Each of their sounds has been recorded and sampled and re-sampled and distorted and changed and altered so many thousands of times that it’s easy to forget where they came from. Anyone who’s tried to record a good hand-clap in the studio will know how hard it is to get it to sound right, yet the 909 clap just sounds right; yet it’s almost all white noise with some clever envelopes and filtering.

    It’s their simplicity and their limitations that have allowed these machines to open the creativity of thousands of musicians across the globe since the 80s. They have inspired hundreds of new drum machines that have taken various ideas from the 808 and 909 but the two beasts still stand triumphant and we think they will continue to do so for many years to come.

    Which is why we chose to write number 2 in our classics blog about the Roland TR808 and TR909.

    tr-808-drum-machine

     

  • EAV Classics - 001

    EAV Classics - 001.

    Every year there are huge waves of new equipment for musicians. Each new product and idea claiming to change the way that we will make music, the way we interact with music or the way it sounds. Every now and then a product will fulfil those promises and genuinely change things but sometimes no matter how many times an idea is jazzed up and rebranded there could still be a product from decades ago that just does it better.

    In this series of blogs we want to look at a few innovations that we believe have achieved that classic status and maybe even gone on to become landmarks of design in their field. Designs that have been imitated and copied but never surpassed.

    First up in this series is something of an ugly duckling in a market saturated with flashy designs and gimmicks. A product built on simplicity, that has just one job to do and it does well... really well! The instantly recognisable Sennheiser HD25s.

    Senn 1

    With a design that’s now over a quarter of a century old the HD25’s went from a purely functional headset aimed at the broadcast and aerospace industry to a standard in just about any market that needed a pair of headphones for absolutely anything.

    The HD25s are everything that you need in a pair of headphones: They’re incredibly lightweight, comfortable, well designed and sound great. Their thin plastic headband may look as though it may snap if you so much as look at it the wrong way. But that’s not the case. Many HD25 owners will tell you they’ve had their set for years. Anyone who owns a pair will tell you they can be dropped, thrown, trodden on, yanked, squashed, stretched and all manor of ill treatment that would leave most headphones and broken wreck.

    They were once described as the AK-47 of headphones and that couldn’t be truer. Which brings me to another feature of the HD25s, a feature that no other set of headphones can match:

    Every single last part of them is replaceable and very easily replaceable at that. If you blow one of the cups then you can buy another one and it can be swapped out in less than a minute. If you break the cable a new one can be brought and swapped out in the blink of an eye.

    They’re close to indestructible anyway but if you should break anything there’s no need to fork out for another pair you can just replace the part.

    senn 2

    But this is all well and good and all the features, build quality and reputation in the world means nothing for a pair of headphones if they don’t sound very good, does it? Well luckily for the HD25s they do sound rather good. We would class them as monitors. These don’t flatter the sound like your shiny high street headphones and there’s no fancy circuity making the music sound better or enhancing the bass or any such nonsense. But they’re not reference headphones either. For example they won’t hold their own against Sennheiser’s own, equally legendary, HD800s. But then with that in mind you wouldn’t want to throw a pair of HD800s into my rucksack in a hurry, and you wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing a pair of HD800s in the rain. So the HD25s give you a solid and trustworthy reproduction of whatever sound you need to hear. If you’re listening through them for extended periods of time they won’t tire out your ears and they weigh so little they won’t leave a dent in your skull.

    They will go loud! They will go loud and they will stay clear. You have to push these headphones to a point where their volume is pretty much dangerous to get them to distort.

    But some people think they’re ugly, which is understandable when so many headphones now have shiny this and flashy that. We think that looks was never really part of their design. Adidas tried their hand at jazzing up the design with the sleek blue cable, pads and Adidas logo.

    senn 3

    There was even an anniversary edition with aluminium ear cups:

    senn 4

    Even British Airways thought they were good enough to install into Concorde for the passengers to listen to.

    Senn5

    This will go some of the way to explaining why they’ve been so widely adopted in so many industries. They’re comfortable and trustworthy, discreet and functional which is why we chose the Sennheiser HD25 as the first part of our Classics series.

  • Wharfedale Pro Release the Isoline Compact PA System

    Wharfedale Pro are the latest pro audio supplier to bring to market a sub and column speaker combo with their new Isoline range. Following in the footsteps of the Bose L1 series, the HK Elements and the LD Systems Maui to name but a few, the Isoline joins the ranks of these compact column PA systems.

    isoline

    The Isoline currently has two models in the range. The Isoline 410 kicks out 380w rms and consists of 4 x 3” high/mid drivers in the column unit and a 10 long throw sub at the bottom. The larger Isoline 812 model has 8 x 3” high/mid drivers and a 12” long throw that together kick out 500w rms. Both are lightweight and feature Bluetooth wireless connectivity which is a nice bonus and not found on most of its competition.

    For us at EAV, we see the LD Systems Maui range as its main competition. Whilst the Bose and HK audio systems products are similar their price points are well above the Isoline and Maui range. Both Wharfedale and LD Systems offer affordable products that punch well above their price range and we are excited to see where this new Isoline is going.

    We can see these systems being great for mobile DJs, solo/duo musicians and event work. It’s possible the larger Isoline 812 could be a great lightweight solutions for a band if you double up however, I wouldn’t recommend kick drums or even bass guitars going through the system without a diligent eye on the levels. At the time of typing this we havnt had chance to play with the Isoline systems yet however, if they continue the traditions of Wharfedales Value for money philosophy, we are sure they will be a big hit.

  • Trantec S4.16 IEM Wireless System

    We have been Trantec main dealers now for many years and love their wireless microphone systems. The S4.4 & S4.16 are a great value for money systems and the S5 series offer professional features that rival their competitors and often come in a little cheaper. The one thing that always puzzled me is that a company that only make wireless microphones…….where’s the IEM system?

    s416iem2

    Apparently Trantec used to make an IEM system (before my time) and it was extremely popular so them not having one in their current range always confused me. Finally we now have the Trantec S4.16 IEM In Ear Monitor System and it seems to tick all the boxes. I like the fact that they introduced the unit in their S4.16 range rather than the more expensive S5 series as there is a big gap in the IEM market for a mid-range professional product. The Trantec S4.16 IEM is available on as either a free to use channel 70 system or on the licensed channel 38 band. Channel 38 lets you run up to 8 systems together whereas channel 70 fits around 3 or 4. It has mono and stereo options and designed with a rugged metal finish.

    s416iem

    The Trantec IEM S4.16 is now shipping and available at EAV. It’s about time Trantec :)

  • HK Audio Price Changes

    We are pleased to announce that our HK audio range of PA speakers have recently come down in price. On top of that, we currently have a sale on most of the brand too. It really is the best time to buy.

    hkbigsale

    The Pulsar active speakers, Premium Pro Passive and Active, Linear 5 boxes and also the Nano units have all been subject to a price drop. Buying from EAV Pro Audio mean you get full UK support when it comes to warranty issues.

    Whether you are a band looking at a 6 box monster PA system or a solo artists looking for some basic sound reinforcement, we have a HK system that is perfect for you and in a price bracket that suits most budgets.

    Take a look at the Full HK Audio range of speakers now.

  • Sennheiser AVX Digital Wireless Microphones

    As of today Sennheiser are shipping the new AVX range of wireless microphones and I must say, they look pretty cool. The AVX Wireless mics are designed for people wanting to capture audio to go alongside their video. They plug straight in to the XLR audio input on your camera/sound recording device and use phantom power.

    In the UK there is the AVX-835 Handheld system which comes with Sennheiser’s legendary 835 Capsule. There’s also the AVX-ME2 Lapel system that comes with the standard ME2 Mic and then the AVX-MKE2 SET which comes with the high end MKE2 lapel mic. Click the links above to check the individual AVX systems.

    Sennheiser have spared nothing when it comes to the marketing of these systems and have produced a some nice little Hollywood style videos, take a look at the AVX 1.9GHz Wireless Microphone video belows

    The beauty of these systems is that they are Licence free in the UK and many other countries across the world. You simply turn up, tune in and off you go. Great for location recording where sound is paramount. They run on 1.9GHz which usually isn't available in the UK however, these systems work on DECT technology which means that a licence isn't required.

    If you want help selecting the right wireless microphone for you, give us a call

  • Sennheiser EW D1 2.4GHz Wireless Microphones - Ready to Transmit

    Sennheiser have finally joined the 2.4GHz race with their new EW D1 series of wireless microphones. Following in the footsteps of Line 6, AKG and Audio Technica, Sennheiser are now offering a system that looks to offer the quality you would expect from a Sennheiser wireless system on the 2.4GHz wireless range. The range will look familiar to those already accustomed to the Sennheiser wireless family. In the vocal range we have the EW D1-835 and the EW D1-845. The presenter system comes with the very popular ME2 mic and is aptly called the EW D1-ME2. The Headset system includes the clunky yet reliable ME3 headset and is called the EW D1-ME3. d1-2 It seems from their marketing that these are being aimed at the gigging musician/ bands rather than the install market. They are even running a competition aimed at bands at the time of this blog going to press. Here’s the video trailer for anyone interested….Warning, contains Chesney Hawks and much cheesiness 2.4GHz digital wireless systems offer a sound that is uncompressed and therefore should sound better than their analogue cousins. By rights, you should be able to put the EW135 and the new EW D1-835 next to each other and have better/less compressed sound from the D1. We are yet to test this but that’s the theory anyway. 2.4GHz wireless microphones also have the benefit of being licence-free in the UK. Sennheiser state that in the ‘right conditions’, you can run up to 15 systems together without a licence. Please note that the phrase ‘right conditions’ is key here and we would advise anyone looking at running multiple systems to call us or speak with Sennheiser first to see what is recommended. D1 The Sennheiser D1 2.4GHz Wireless Microphone systems have caught our attention and as wireless microphone specialists in the UK, we can’t wait to get our hands on these (a matter of days) and give them the once over. With the Freeport aside, Sennheiser have always seemed to offer high-end wireless microphone systems and we think the EW D1 systems might be the new leader in the 2.4GHz market. If you are looking at a single system or a complete racked and ready wireless microphone system, give us a call on 0845 125 9409 and we will be happy to chat. Jonathan EAV Pro Audio

  • Happy New Year - 2015

    Just a very quick one to wish you all a Happy New Year and we hope that 2015 is a great one for you. Over the next few weeks we shall be adding more products to our Winter sale and we hope you get chance to view this and grab a bargain. We shall also be adding many new products to the website over the next few weeks and increase our already big range Expect new gear from Sennheiser, Audio Technica, LD Systems, HK Audio and more. We shall also be announcing some big new additions to the wireless Microphone world soon too Keep checking the blog or give us a like on Facebook to hear about these products first   Once again, Happy New Year Jonathan - EAV Pro Audio

  • Christmas Opening and Delivery times 2014

    I cant believe it’s been a year since I was posting a similar blog. Time truly flies when you are having fun. Anyway, below is all the information you will need to know about our opening and delivery times during the Christmas break.

    Pre Christmas Delivery Times We will do our best to deliver all order placed before Monday 22th December before Christmas. If it cant be done due to stock issues, we will call you and at the very least email you with an ETA. Once an order has left us, you will receive an email with a ParcelForce tracking number on. Office Opening and delivery details over Christmas & New Year Our sales office and warehouse will be closed from Midday December 23rd and re-opening at 8:30am on January 5th 2015. Any orders placed during this time may be processed but not despatched until our return. Once again, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Team EAV

  • Line 6 Wireless Microphone Rebate Scheme

    Its back and its bigger – The Line 6 2014 Rebate Scheme is offering up to £65 rebate on their wireless microphone systems. Last year they were offering £50 and it was a huge success and we hope that by increasing the deal, it will be as popular if not bigger. The rebate scheme includes all the XD-V systems from the baby V35, the V55 and the big daddy V75 systems. Its an offer run by Line 6 and it is Line 6 that give you the rebate when you buy a system between now and December 31st 2014. There are some conditions attached and you can check them out on the form that is downloadable below.

    Submit proof of purchase to Line 6 and they will rebate the appropriate amount. Take a look at the form here If you wish to discuss your wireless needs or the benefits of 2.4GHz wireless microphone systems, give EAV Pro Audio a call and we will be happy to help.

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