Friday, September 30, 2011
My name is Shawn C and I’m a front-of-house engineer as well as an active musician near Toronto, Canada.
I had a need to record live performances as well as rehearsals and was looking for a simple solution that I could mount in my road case and connect directly to my mixer. I happened across the Technical Pro Urec5 and it looked to do what I needed done.
To be quite honest, I was concerned about the fact that there wasn’t any online user reviews or content about the Urec5 unit. And, the price made me second guess my interest in the product, too– was this studio grade quality? Is it as good as $250 solution or even a $500 solution? After using it for a month or so I say to you, YES to all.
Upon opening the package and setting it up I was surprised to find out that I had to use an SD card that was less than 4Gb in size. I picked up a 2Gb card at the local Staples wondering if I should pick up another. THIS IS NOT AN ISSUE! You can record hours and hours of content on this thing with files automatically converted directly to MP3. For editing, I drag them off the card and drop them directly onto a track in my audio workstation software (Cubase). The quality is clean with little to no noise. I get EXACTLY what the mixer is feeding it.
So, where’s the catch? Where’s the ‘it’s not as good as a costlier solution’?
There is no catch. It is what it is. And, considering no real mechanical parts are required with record-to-chip-memory technology, then one shouldn’t expect a lot in terms of mass.
This is a simple device: record and playback. There is no search or scrubber capability which means you have to move through a list of recordings one by one and play a song back from the beginning to find something in the middle. Is this a big problem? Not, really but, it’s inconvenient at times, especially during rehearsals where you want to listen back to a particular area of interest. Too, you can plug a USB drive into the device, as well as the SD chip, and play music during set-breaks which is a big plus rather than having to hang your IPOD off your rig or consume two channels on your mixer for your IPOD.
Operationally, you set the Urec5 device to ‘record’ mode; press the record ‘arm’ button and then press the ‘go’ button. To play back you disarm it, set to ‘play mode’ and press ‘play’. The device has its own EQ and volume control so sending it back through your mixer’s TAPE IN saves you from having to consume mixer channels.
As far as construction goes, the container is adequate but I’d be concerned about placing something heavy on top of it. It works well in a rack situation which, reminds me: the rack ears are packaged separately inside of the Styrofoam supports so LOCATE THESE FIRST BEFORE TOSSING OUT. The front panel is solid and there’s a substantial tactile presence to the buttons and knobs. There’s no ‘click’, per se, when the SD card goes in – it just gets to the point where it won’t go any further so don’t force it.
With respects to connectivity there are both RCA and ¼ unbalanced connections going in and out of the box. I feed to the UREC from my TAPE OUT and return through the TAPE IN connections on the mixer. I’ve also sent a feed from the ¼ out (concurrently to the RCA outs, btw) to an M-Audio digital interface which worked well providing you didn’t jiggle the cables which caused a bit of noise.
Remember, too, that this device will probably be fed from a mixer with just enough output to power a set of headphones. This will not be the same sound that people hear in the venue you’re playing into. The fact is your choice of PA drivers, speakers, subs and cabinets all affect the color and tonality of your end-sound. So, what comes out of the mixer may lack a degree of personality that those other components provide. Like I said, you get what ever your mixer gives.
Yes, I’d buy another. Yes, I’d recommend this to a family member. And, Yes, I’d buy from Only Factory Direct again.
permission to republish from Shawn C. for OnlyFactoryDirect.com only
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Mackie pushing to finish a strong 3rd Quarter has announced a rebate program for their top selling SRMv2 series active speakers. The SRM series has been a decade long staple for Mackie, recently Mackie re-engineered the series and released the new SRMv2 Series. Mackie’s newly designed SRMv2 Series received rave reviews from their critics, recognizing the sophisticated electronics, featuring separate Linkwitz-Reilly 24dB-per-octave crossover circuits for the LF woofer and HF compression driver. The SRMv2’s electronic crossover circuitry effectively splits input signal frequencies into highs and lows for the transducers, and eliminates unwanted phasing issues. Also, the new Class-D with servo feedback fast recovery amplifier gives the SRM45v2 and SRM350v2 more power (300 W), and pair that with a second Class AB amp (100 W) that drives the new 1.75” high frequency titanium dome compression driver connected to a multi-cell horn and you get more clarity and punch than ever before.
Mackie is offering a Free speaker bag with any purchase of a SRM450v2 or SRM350v2 from an authorized dealer now through October 15th, 2011. Rebate forms are available at OnlyFactoryDirect.com or Mackie.com and must be submitted with receipt by October 31st, 2011. See rebate form for specific details.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
- Input Connectors: stereo 3.5mm mini TRS and RCA
- Max gain: 19dB/Channel
- Input Impedance: 100K unbalanced
- S/N ratio: > 98dB
- Max input level : + 22 dB
- Power: 12-18V DC adapter (optional accessory, not included)
- Output connectors: 1/4” stereo TRS phone
- Size: 88 x 54 x 38 mm
- Output impedance: Minimum 10 ohms each output
Bottom line: The XPH4 is an extremely useful studio accessory built solid with a few basic features. Over all it does exactly what you would purchase a multi-channel headphone amplifier to do with a reasonable price point of $49.99.
Buy it now at: www.OnlyFactoryDirect.com
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Take 15% Off any purchase over $249 on Pro Audio Gear or Home Audio Gear
Promo Code Available Exclusively at www.OnlyFactoryDirect.com
Promo Code Available Exclusively at www.OnlyFactoryDirect.com
1) Saves Time: When someone calls with unwanted distortion or sound degradation, I always recommend swapping out the cables first, or if you have an Audio Cable Tester, to test the cables. Here is the first advantage of the SM Pro Audio Cable tester, the CT2 offers many common connectors such as Speakon, XLR, Phono, BNC, DIN, TRS, TS, DMX, and Banana. To swap out every cable with a new cable just to diagnose if that is the root of the issue would be too burdensome and time consuming. The CT2 allows for testing cables even with different connectors at each end.
2) Saves Money: The connectors and the wire junction points at the connectors is responsible for approximately 90% of all cable failures. Most frequently, these are where the flex points are and the wire breaks right where it is attached to the connector. The CT-2 Audio Cable Tester from SM Pro Audio actually will help determine if the cable is dead or if it is repairable with a new connector. We tested several old balanced 1/4" jack cables, and the LED light display tells us if the sleeve, tip, or ring are good. The user can easily determine if swapping out the tip for a dollar will solve the issue rather than tossing the whole cable.
3) The price point. Any other Audio Cable Tester that has similar features and functions will easily cost you $60-100. The CT-2 retails for only $39.99.
4) Convenience & Portability: The CT2 audio cable tester only measures 8.9cm x 14cm x 3.7cm and requires only a 9volt battery for operation. The construction of the CT2 audio cable tester is durable.
5) Ease of Use: This is not a complicated tool, it doesn't have a ton of bells and whistles however, it is an extremely functional tool that may save a gig or two in the end.
Purchase the CT-2 Audio Cable Tester Now at: www.OnlyFactoryDirect.com
The Mackie ONYX BlackJack is a rugged bus-powered USB audio interface that is small with great sound quality and versatile monitoring, making it an ideal portable companion to a laptop but equally at home in a fixed location such as a personal studio.
Mackies ONYX BlackJack offers the quality preamp so recognized in their higher priced line of Onyx Mixers, but for a lot less money. The BlackJack features two Onyx preamps, having mic/line inputs on combination XLR / ¼” jacks, with individual DI switching for using the line jacks as high-impedance inputs, and switchable global phantom power. The monitor outputs are on balanced quarter-inch jacks, governed by the Monitor level control, and there’s a headphone output and accompanying level control on the front panel.
The Onyx preamps are designed to go beyond standalone microphone preamps in headroom, transparency, and fidelity. Additionally, the Onyx preamps have a full 60db gain, improved radio frequency (RFI) rejection and an ultra-wide dynamic range. Onyx preamps rival even the most expensive boutique mic preamps for sound quality due to the Cirrus Logic converter. Power for the circuitry comes from the USB port, so there’s no need for a separate PSU. The 24-bit Cirrus Logic converter is capable of a 114dB dynamic range (A-Weighted), which is way beyond the signal-to-noise spec of most studio gear. The BlackJack performed well with sampling rates of up to 95kHz, and the playback quality has proven to be excellent. Importantly, the gain staging within the unit means that the preamp circuitry is correctly matched to the A-D conversion, to sustain headroom while minimizing noise and distortion. Zero latency recording is possible by routing the input directly into the monitors and into the computer simultaneously, reducing any audible delay from player to computer (allowing the computer buffer to be directed towards the CPU). It also allows you to track in mono or stereo.
The Blackjack works with both Mac and Pc computers and compatible with all the major DAW software (except those limited to a manufacturers own hardware). I f you are running Windows, users are advised to to download and install the latest ASIO driver from www.mackie.com/products/onyxblackjack for optimal performance. The Blackjack comes bundled with a copy of Mackie’s Tracktion 3 software, an amateur friendly introduction into computer recording if you’re not already familiar with another DAW.
Bottom line, there are less expensive interfaces on the market, but overall, comparable interfaces do not possess this sound quality. In fact, many of the USB interfaces that are three times more expensive don’t offer the headroom and fidelity that Mackie’s Onyx BlackJack does. Finally, the BlackJacks compact portable and durable design and reasonable price point earns a 4.5 star rating out of 5 stars.
Mackie Onyx BlackJack Features
- · Industry standard 24-bit recording/playback on USB with 2in/2out audio. Bus powered.
- Two high-quality Onyx mic preamps with superb fidelity and dynamic range
- · 48V Phantom Power to use with Condenser Microphones
- · True Analog monitoring of inputs for zero latency recording
- · Built-in DI on each input for direct guitar/bass connections
- · Premium Ciruss Logic AD/DA converters with 114 db dynamic range
Available Now at www.OnlyFactoryDirect.com
Friday, September 2, 2011
The RX35U Audio Receiver with Tuner is nicely packed, and the manual included is moderately informative, but gives you all the necessary information required except, more detailed specifications regarding the wattage. It is a personal pet peeve of mine that almost all amplifier manufacturers are overly optimistic or intentionally confusing on their stated specifications. We will hook up the system and share our guesstimation as to the continuous wattage, later. The amplifier itself weighs 8lbs and overall has a clean professional look. The front panel of the RX35U, there are 22 features including volume/tuner knobs, USB, SD card, mp3 player inputs, DVD, Aux, MP3/SD/USB, Play/Pause, Previous, and Next Buttons, two microphone inputs and three knobs to control the microphone's volume, echo, and tone and finally three controls to manipulate bass, treble, and balance.
We are currently in the midst of building outdoor theater packs for next summer, so Technician Scott and I hooked up five 800C speakers using a laptop and Alesis-4USB mixer. The sound was really incredible, we tested several scenes from "Lord of the Rings," and "Harry Potter," because they both have excellent surround formatting and we wanted to test the surround capabilities. We were really impressed by the overall sound quality and therefore wanted to push the amplifier to see if the RX35U could handle some bigger speakers. We switched the front Podium Pro 800Cs for the larger Trap12 models in the front and "wow" it really created a surround system that could easily cover a 50 person venue. Connecting the system was simple, and well laid out.
Next, we tested the USB and SD card inputs, and again the over-all performance was good. We didn't bother setting up an antenna to test the tuner. I would estimate the actually combined RMS around 300 watts @ 8ohms.
The coolest thing about this receiver is that I can see it being used in so many different capacities, from my daughters dance studio, to our home surround theater, outdoor theaters (amp is not weather resistant), restaurants, and small venues.
Bottom line, I would say that for the ridiculously low price of $124.99 and taking all the features, power, and sound quality in to consideration the Technical Pro RX35U is absolutely a great buy.