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2010 Premier Gear Awards

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2010 Premier Gear Awards

Do-It-All Marvels
There’s a certain species of gearhead with a weakness for the contraption that does everything. Not that we blame them—multi-channel amps mean fewer pedals to haul, leave behind, or break. Multifunction pedals lend performance versatility. And digital recording solutions can practically stuff Abbey Road in a box. What follows are some of the finest and most ambitious examples of Swiss Army-knife thinking we’ve seen at PG this year.

Digidesign Eleven Rack
Anyone who’s watched the evolution of the electric guitar business for very long has watched their share of do-everything products come and go. But, like the Pro Tools recording software it’s designed to work with, the Digidesign Eleven Rack (April 2010) has the potential to be a major game changer. The Eleven Rack is a full-featured recording interface that works seamlessly with the included Pro Tools LE software. But it’s also a standalone guitar-effects processor with 16 amp emulations, seven speaker simulations, and another eight microphone emulations. Its DSP is accelerated to eliminate latency, and it also has an effects loop so you can through your favorite stompboxes in the mix. The end result is a lot of creative flexibility and potential— everything from dialing in hundreds of tones onstage to trying countless textures while tracking. As reviewer Gary Guzman succinctly put it, “the Eleven Rack is an all-in-one solution for the modern guitar player, and it makes it easier than ever to record in the studio and perform live—while fully integrating the exact same sounds in both situations.”
Street $899
digidesign.com


Mesa/Boogie 2010 Multi-Watt Dual Rectifier

If you’re a player who needs power and flexibility and considers a wah very nearly one pedal too many, Mesa/Boogie may have just built your dream date. That’s what reviewer Lyle Zaehringer found out when he tested the monstrous Multi-Watt Dual Rectifier (August 2010 web exclusive)—which can operate between 50 and 100 watts, use either 6L6 or EL34 tubes (depending on a bias-switch setting), and cover everything from dirty Texas blues to high-gain metal. The three-channel Multi- Watt has more tone-shaping capacity than a lot of substantial pedalboards: Each channel features a switchable mode (Clean and Pushed on Channel One, and Raw, Vintage, and Modern on Channel Two) and can be set for 50- or 100-watt operation. Zaehringer found studio-ready clean tones at lower wattages, while high-wattage Modern settings propelled the Multi Watt into the shred zone. While players who are new to the Rectifier interface may find the Multi-Watt has a bit of a learning curve, Zaehringer stated that “such versatility makes the amp a good practical buy for guitarists who prefer not to have one amp per musical style.” And he summed up the Multi-Watt’s many merits with: “it would be a vast understatement to say that the Dual Rectifier is a flexible amp. It is the standard of tonal flexibility by which its competitors are judged.”
Street $1799
mesaboogie.com


Source Audio Soundblox Pro Classic Distortion

There are pedals that just make sense for the guitarist on the go. You know, the player who contributes to three different projects and uses whatever amp is lying around the rehearsal studio or club they’re playing that night— the player who’s fed up with lugging around a 10-ton pedalboard all week. The Source Audio Soundblox Pro Classic Distortion (June 2010) is one of those magic back savers. It’s a digital distortion that packs convincing emulations of legendary stompboxes—from the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi and Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face to the Octavia and Solasound MK II Tone Bender—into a single, easy-to-use chassis. It also sports Tube Screamer-inspired overdrives, a clean boost section, and a Tube Drive setting that gives you a taste of that overdriven Marshall sound. And if all that weren’t enough fun, the Soundblox also works with the Hot Hand motion sensor—a wireless system built around a finger ring and an RF receiver that gives you the power to control effect parameters with a wave of your hand. Imagine that—your quasi-Page/Hendrix gesticulations applied to a practical musical purpose other than annoyance of your bandmates! There’s also an optional expression pedal for switching between presets. Reviewer Gary Guzman had a blast running through tones as varied as Brian May-style smooth distortion to Dimebag-like hyper gain settings and crazed Octavia settings. And no less than Adrian Belew has deemed the Soundblox one of the best distortions ever made.
Street $219
sourceaudio.net
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