Several years ago, when we started to publish our annual “Salute to Lesser-Publicized Music Products,” the piece tended to focus on esoteric instruments that, in many cases, few people even play. Over the years, though, the story’s evolved to be more inclusive. Now, we focus on any product sold through music stores that might be getting less attention than, on its merits, it would otherwise deserve. This year, our collection of 20 products encompasses a wide range of categories: books, microphones, light fixtures, drums, mixers and, perhaps most numerous, accessory items.
Of the items featured, most are new, having been released in the last year. All of them, though, merit your consideration as you make crucial fourth-quarter stocking decisions. Sometimes, even the most compelling products fall through the cracks; the items we’ve found, though, offer an undeniable opportunity to generate register rings.
BOSS’ SY-300 Guitar Synthesizer
BOSS’ SY-300 guitar synthesizer is an analog-style synth that allows musicians to play latency-free polyphonic synth sounds on guitars and any electric instrument via a standard 1/4-inch cable, with no special pickup needed. Regular guitar sounds can also be processed using the SY-300, and it integrates easily with pedals, owing to its compact size and versatile I/O. The polyphonic synthesis engine has three sections, including different wave shapes, filter/amp controls and LFOs. The step sequencer (with tap tempo control) allows for melodies and arpeggios with a single note. Users can mix and match synth settings from other patches with the blender function. Users can also apply synth filters, change attack and decay, and create movement with LFOs and a step sequencer. Onboard multi-effects enhance synth and straight tones. Four simultaneous effects engines offer overdrives and distortions, slow gear, isolator, slicer and other effects. For more details, visit bossus.com.
Alfred Music’s ‘Premier Piano Express, Books 1 & 2’
Alfred Music’s “Premier Piano Express, Books 1 & 2” are for students who need a fast-paced approach to piano study. Based on the concepts and music from the well-known, bestselling Premier Piano Course, the all-in-one accelerated course integrates lesson, theory, technique and performance pages. The books are organized into skills-based units that feature clear explanations of important musical concepts. Worksheets within each unit provide review and strengthen understanding. “Book 2” continues the steady development of artistry and keyboard skills that began in “Book 1.” Included with each book is a CD-ROM that contains both audio performances on acoustic piano and orchestrated accompaniments for selected pieces. Accompaniments are also available for download. For details, visit alfred.com.
Tech 21’s MIDI Mouse
Unchanged since its introduction in 1995, Tech 21’s MIDI Mouse takes the frustration and confusion out of MIDI. The compact, player-friendly MIDI foot controller has a short learning curve. It can be powered by a standard adaptor, and it’s operable with a nine-volt battery, as well as phantom power via MIDI cable. Users have access to 128 patches on any of the 16 selectable MIDI channels. The MIDI Mouse’s familiar stompbox format features three footswitches with smooth-action custom actuators. The active/search footswitch alternates between two modes. In active mode, the three-digit numerical display remains lit. The up and down footswitches change the patches one at a time and instantly send the information through the MIDI Out port. In search mode, the numerical display blinks. Using the up or down footswitches, you can speed-scroll forward or backward to a desired location without sending any patch change information until depressing the active/search footswitch to reengage active mode to send the new program. For details, visit tech21nyc.com.
Electro-Harmonix’s EHX9.6DC-200 AC-DC Adaptor
Electro-Harmonix’s EHX9.6DC-200 AC-DC adaptor has a linearly regulated output, and it provides a clean, constant power source that is low in noise and with no switching artifacts. It’s supplied with most EHX 9.6-volt pedals, and it works with many other brands, including BOSS, Ibanez and MXR. From Analog Man to Z Vex, it’s compatible with all pedals that require up to 200 milliamps and a 2.1-millimeter by 5.5-millimeter center negative, sleeve positive, barrel-plug wall wart. The EHX9.6DC-200 AC-DC adaptor is available in models for the U.S., European Union/230 volts and U.K./240 volts, each with the proper electrical plug configuration. For details, visit ehx.com.
Mackie’s XR Series Studio Monitors
Mackie’s XR Series studio monitors are aimed at professional and project studios. XR offers two models: the eight-inch XR824 and the 6.5-inch XR624. With XR, Mackie delivers an accurate studio monitor design that offers clarity, performance and a modern look. XR features a smart logarithmic waveguide, providing acoustic alignment to deliver precision balance between articulate highs and midrange clarity. Both models feature a high-output, 160-watt power amplifier and premium transducers, including a Kevlar LF driver with proven fast-recovery from transients, virtually eliminating resonant frequencies. And, unique to XR, Mackie has developed the ELP Bass Reflex System, which utilizes an extended-length, internally curved port that delivers excellent bass response and increased output capability. For details, visit mackie.com.
CHAUVET DJ’s Intimidator Scan 305 IRC and Intimidator Barrel 305 IRC
With a nod to its moving-head roots and to offer users powerful new moving light options, CHAUVET DJ has added the new Intimidator Scan 305 IRC and Intimidator Barrel 305 IRC to its Intimidator line. Both are compact LED scanners that feature 60-watt light sources that shine through any environment. Both feature a crisp, three-facet prism that can split the beams, covering larger areas. The scanners can be controlled via DMX, but there are convenient, non-DMX control options that include the optional IRC-6 remote, automated and sound-active programs, or master/slave modes. Users can also minimize programming time by using the built-in movement macros and move-in-black features. Both fixtures are suitable for video use because they are flicker-free on camera. Both can link up to four fixtures to create synchronized shows. For more details, visit chauvetlighting.com.
Hal Leonard’s How-To Series
Hal Leonard has released a series of books that let self-starters get started on a topic of interest. Whether it’s how to read music or write a song, how to play jazz piano or rock drums, or how to fine-tune guitar chops, a book is available. Written by different authors with specific expertise, each title delves deep into the subject, but it does so in an easy-to-understand way. The books also include online audio demos for additional learning reinforcement. The goal is to get readers comfortable in one topic so they’ll want to keep learning more—and return to your store for more volumes, more gear and professional lessons. More than a dozen titles are now available. They include “How to Play Rock Drums,” “How to Play Solo Jazz Piano,” “How to Get Better at Guitar,” “How to Create Rock Bass Lines,” “How to Play Contemporary Strings,” “How to Record at Home on a Budget” and “How to Write Your First Song.” For details, visit halleonard.com.
Shure’s KSM42 Large Dual-Diaphragm Vocal Microphone
Shure’s KSM42 large dual-diaphragm vocal microphone is a premium, side-address, cardioid condenser mic for vocal recording. With a tailored frequency response and extensive internal and external pop filtering, the single-pattern, dual-diaphragm design, which features Prethos Advanced Preamplifier Technology, exhibits an ultra-wide dynamic range and smooth proximity control for studio applications. The highly consistent cardioid polar pattern creates a broad “sweet spot” and natural off-axis response for excellent sound quality. It boasts a dual-diaphragm design with an active front, ultra-thin, 2.5-micron, 24-karat gold, low-mass, one-inch Mylar diaphragm. The integrated three-stage mesh grille guards against wind and breath noise. The open-cage ShureLock rubber suspension shock mount with low-profile magnetic pop filter produces a natural space between the performer and his or her microphone. For details, visit shure.com.
Neutrik’s NYS-SPP-L1 Patchbay
Neutrik’s NYS-SPP-L1 is an economical, sleek, one-rack-unit, 1/4-inch modular patchbay for industry-standard, 19-inch-wide, rack-mount systems. With its rugged, reinforced metal housing, each of its 48 printed circuit board (PCB) wired and balanced channels—24 front pairs and corresponding 24 rear pairs—can be grounded either separately or in groups of individually selectable channel numbers. The patchbay’s PCBs are held securely in place, as they are clamped between the front and the rear panel. The design facilitates easy reconfiguration of the patchbay without the danger of losing any small parts, such as nuts. The gray jack serves as an easy and distinguishable “normaling” identification. The NYS-SPP-L1 patchbay is easily configured to your requirements. The standard configuration, when delivered, is a half normaled bottom row. The unit’s configuration can be changed by simply flipping the individual PCB. Inserting a plug into the gray jack will always isolate the top from the bottom row. For details, visit neutrik.us.
Audix’s VX5 Professional Vocal Condenser Microphone
Audix’s VX5 professional vocal condenser microphone duplicates studio-quality sound on stage. It has a smooth and accurate frequency response, resists feedback and handles very high SPLs without distortion. Engineered with a tight and uniformly controlled supercardioid polar pattern, the VX5 helps isolate vocals from the rest of the stage. Other features are a 14-millimeter gold vapor diaphragm, an acoustically ported steel mesh grill with a multi-stage pop filter, and a -10-decibel pad and bass roll-off filter. The VX5 will handle SPLs in excess of 140 decibels (with pad and roll-off engaged) and will provide more than 20 decibels of ambient noise rejection on live stages. The VX5 also articulates the natural characteristics and unique nuances of guitars, woodwinds, brasses, percussion, drum overheads, hi-hats and pianos. For details, visit audixusa.com.
Meisel Accessories’ COM-350 Full-Featured Tuner
Meisel Accessories’ COM-350, a compact, full-featured tuner, enables you to tune any instrument. Features: unique, 360-degree swivel; colors to indicate whether in tune, flat or sharp; mic or vibration sensor; advanced software for fast, accurate response; bright, full-screen LCD display; response time of less than 20 milliseconds; calibrated for guitar, bass, violin, ukulele, chromatic, keys of F, Bb, C and Eb; A4 range of 410 hertz to 490 hertz; ability to tune with clip transducer or built-in mic; accuracy of ±1 cent; tuning range: A0 (27.5 hertz) to C8 (4186 hertz); flat tuning (bbb). It weighs 1.1 ounces. 2032 three-volt battery included. For additional details, visit meiselaccessories.com.
Alto Professional’s Professional-Grade USB Power Strip
Alto Professional’s Professional-Grade USB Power Strip is a single power strip that handles everything at once. You can connect 11 pieces of equipment at the same time, with six AC outlets and five USB ports. For greater convenience, one of the USB ports is a dedicated five-volt, 2.1-amp charging port. You also get full-speed data communications over USB 3.0, backwards compatible with USB 2.0 devices. Maximum output current is 15 amps. Spike clamping voltage is 185 VAC peak at 3,000 amps. Energy dissipation is 1,800 joules. Maximum surge current is 6,000 amps. Maximum continuous operating voltage is 130 VAC RMS. Response time is one nanosecond. Noise Attenuation: 10 decibels at 10 kilohertz; 40 decibels at 100 kilohertz; 50 decibels at 500 kilohertz. For details, visit altoproaudio.com.
Graph Tech’s ResoMax Wraparound Bridges
Unlike bridges and tailpieces that are made from zinc, all Graph Tech ResoMax wraparound bridges are made from a proprietary lightweight ResoMax alloy. It’s smooth, comfortable, and delivers notes packed with tone and harmonics. The ResoMax wraparound bridge is compatible with almost all other wraparound bridges on the market. It is made to easily fit on just about all PRS and Gibson guitars, as well as most other guitars that use a wraparound bridge. For saddles, there are two options available: ResoMax Alloy saddles or String Saver saddles. The Alloy saddles are made from the same harmonically rich alloy as the bridge, whereas the String Savers option is great for enhancing tone, improving tuning stability and virtually eliminating string breakage. For details, visit graphtech.com.
RCF’s M18 Tablet-Controlled Digital Mixer
RCF’s M18 tablet-controlled digital mixer is a “band in a box” system. A solution for musicians, it’s centered on ease of use for live bands. No need to haul around a big mixing desk. No need to have a rack of processing gear. No need to bring your guitar and bass amps. It’s all built into the M18. Just plug in, set up your iPad, connect via the built-in, dual-band Wi-Fi and you’re ready to go. The product is a tool for musicians and small combos. Featuring a control surface designed for tablet compatibility, it sports a full suite of plugin algorithms and effects, including several equalizer types, with the familiar look and feel of analog processors derived from software plugin environments. For guitar and bass players, there’s no need to bring your amp rig, as you can plug directly into the M18 and access a number of stompbox effects processors and a variety of licensed classic amp simulations from Overloud and MarkBass. For details, visit rcf-usa.com.
Gig Gear’s Gig Gloves ONYX Gloves
Gig Gear’s Gig Gloves ONYX is an all-black version of the original Gig Gloves. Gig Gloves ONYX includes all the same features, but it’s geared toward live event, theater and production crew members who need or prefer to be discreet or invisible. The gloves are truly completely black, unlike other black work gloves that unhelpfully include logos or external tags that are brightly colored and stand out. Gig Gloves ONYX includes some new design features, including clips to allow for securing the gloves together or to a keychain; new, stronger nylon threading throughout the gloves; and a redesigned removable fingertip that does not expose the fingers underneath. There is no compromise between hand safety and the ability to perform any task. Gig Gloves ONYX is available in six sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL and XXL. TPR impact-protection patches are sized precisely according to the size of the glove. For details, visit gig-gear.com.
Kyser’s Instrument Cleaning Wipes
Kyser is now offering convenient, disposable instrument cleaning wipes. In a canister that’s 4.75 inches tall and two inches oval-wide, you can toss the wipes in your guitar case or gig bag and hit the road. Each canister contains 35 wipes that are 4″x6″ and contain the right amount of liquid to keep your instrument looking and sounding great. String Cleaning will keep strings clean and fresh sounding. Polish will shine up any wooden instrument. Lem-Oil will clean and condition fret boards and bridges. For details, visit kysermusical.com.
Remo’s TUBANO Drum
Remo’s TUBANO is the most widely used drum in music classrooms. Known for its durability, weather resistance, and authentic feel and sound, the 100-Series TUBANO is used in more than 25,000 music programs nationwide. Constructed with an Acousticon shell and a key-tuned Nuskyn Mondo drumhead, the TUBANO provides warm, low-pitched tones with the traditional sound of a conga drum. It’s suitable for professional, educational and recreational applications. Available in Island, Rainbow, Kinte and Earth finishes. Sizes: 10″x27″, 12″x27″ and 14″x27″. For details, visit remo.com.
Talent’s uClaw UMS-1 Music Stand Universal Holder
Talent’s uClaw UMS-1 Music Stand Universal Holder is a versatile mount for most smartphones and tablet devices. Featuring unique, adjustable, two-position fold-out claws, the mount will securely hold your phone or tablet in place on a music stand, desk or other surface (up to one inch thick), without scratching or marring your device or the object to which it’s mounted. Adjustability is the hallmark of the uClaw. By employing a 6.3-inch aluminum extension and several different joints, it allows for almost infinite adjustability. With the unique, fold-out, adjustable clamping claw system, the uClaw will hold most smartphones and tablets, with a range from 3.5 inches up to 9.17 inches. So, you can use the uClaw with almost any modern device, in portrait or landscape orientation, and enjoy multi-angle adjustment to hold the screen wherever you need it. Parts Express is the exclusive distributor for Talent products. For additional details, visit parts-express.com.
Audio-Technica’s AT2005USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone
Audio-Technica’s AT2005USB cardioid dynamic USB/XLR microphone is suitable for recording instruments and vocals. The handheld dynamic microphone has both USB and XLR connections, enabling its use either with a computer or with a PA system. Its durable metal construction provides long-lasting performance. Its low-mass diaphragm and smooth, extended frequency response make the microphone appropriate for podcasting, home studio recording, field recording, voiceover and live performance use. The AT2005USB features a headphone output with volume control that allows the user to monitor the audio signal right from the microphone. The mic’s USB operation is compatible with both Windows- and Mac-based hardware and software. Its cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of unwanted sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of the user’s desired sound source. It comes with USB and XLR-to-XLR cables; a tripod desk stand with folding legs for secure and easily portable tabletop use; and a threaded mic stand clamp. For details, visit audio-technica.com.
RightOn! Straps’ High-Quality Guitar Straps
Handmade in Spain, RightOn! Straps delivers high-quality guitar straps that have style and durability. RightOn! develops products with unique designs to serve musicians. Made through traditional methods and from high-quality materials, with tanned leather, excellent textiles, and neoprene or latex for the padding, RightOn! takes care of every detail. This results in comfort, attractiveness and functionality. RightOn! Straps are distributed through Korg USA. For details, visit rightonstraps.com.