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Hamstead Soundworks Artist 20+RT combo

Written by Site Update on July 24th, 2014

Read more about Hamstead Soundworks Artist 20+RT combo at MusicRadar.com


British amp building seems to have been enjoying something of a renaissance in the past year or so, with several new brands entering the market. This issue, it’s time to feature yet another contender, and one already enjoying a cult following on various social media platforms – from South Cambridgeshire, welcome the Artist 20+RT from Hamstead Soundworks.

“The Artist’s construction has the kind of attention to detail normally seen only on top-dollar American exotica”

Amp designer Peter Hamstead’s background in avionics and radar shows in the Artist’s construction, with the kind of attention to detail normally seen only on top-dollar American exotica.

The cabinet joinery is very clean, and covered expertly in heavy-duty cream vinyl. The Artist’s traditional looks are simple, but executed to a very high standard, with a brushed stainless steel control panel, cream chicken-head knobs and toggle switches for the reverb, tremolo and voice functions. Around the back, you’ll find a mains switch, sockets for the Artist’s series effects loop, footswitch, extension speakers and a mains voltage selector.

Inside the chassis, the Hamstead’s electronics are a mixture of vintage hand wiring and modern PCB construction, with exceptionally clean soldering and wiring, and thoughtful details such as clearly labelled PCB-mounted spare fuses.

The PCB elements are robust and well laid out, while the chassis-mounted valve bases keep the heat under control, and the wiring displays proper old-school valve knowledge.

The Artist 20 is a single-channel design, with a switchable midrange filter that offers a scoop or a peak effect for two distinct voices. There’s a gain control that takes the amp from clean to a moderately gritty overdrive, and bass and treble tone controls that interact nicely and work on the right range of frequencies to be effective without overkill.

The Artist also boasts a traditional spring reverb, with level and tone controls; and tremolo, with depth and speed – both of which are footswitchable, along with the amp’s series effects loop. The effects are arranged in the traditional order of reverb followed by tremolo, which will please vintage fans, but disappoint those looking for the less dramatic-sounding alternative.

Feel & Sounds

The Artist 20′s clean sounds are open and airy, with excellent separation and almost hi-fi clarity; thankfully, the tone controls and reverb add warmth and prevent the Hamstead from being too clinical.

The voice switch goes from a scoop that emphasises treble and bass, to a quite aggressive grunt that sounds good with single coils but might be a little nasal if higher-output humbuckers are used.

“There are hints of classic Fender, Vox and Marshall, but no overriding persona”

The gain control is slightly frustrating – it’s mostly clean, with enough to push the relatively low-output pickups of a standard Strat into a mildly gritty crunch when maxed out, but we found ourselves wanting more. It’s there if you turn up the Artist’s master volume, but only at the kind of volume levels you can use onstage – despite the modest 20-watt rating, this is a very loud amp.

The amp’s open sound makes it difficult to pigeon-hole its drive character – there are hints of classic Fender, Vox and Marshall, but no overriding persona, which can either be a good or a bad thing, depending on one’s point of view.

The reverb effect is superb, helped by the front-panel tone control, as is the tremolo effect, which can go from slow pulsation to almost LFO territory at its maximum 15Hz speed. You can use them together; the sound of the reverb tail being modulated by the tremolo effect won’t be to everyone’s taste, although this is the way most classic amps work.

The Artist 20 is a serious professional tool, with a price tag to match. But you’re getting real value for your money here, with a build standard and attention to detail that’s unmatched by any other British amp in this class.

In our opinion, the Hamstead could do with a little more sonic focus, and the lack of front-end gain could be a frustration, but mainly for those using this amp at low volume.

Used at proper stage volume levels, the amp has more drive, but not quite enough dynamic response to cut through an averagely loud rhythm section.

Nevertheless, for classic roots, pop, country or jazz, the Hamstead is ideally matched and already building itself a serious following. Definitely one to try.

Read more about Hamstead Soundworks Artist 20+RT combo at MusicRadar.com







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KX77FREE updates Kx-Modulad, Kx-Synth-x16, Kx-PolyMod and Kx-PolyM-CSE

Written by Site Update on July 24th, 2014

KX77FREE has released major updates for several free VST intrumnent plug-in for Windows:Kx-Modulad v3.0, Kx-Synth-x16 v5.0, Kx-PolyMod v1.57 and Kx-PolyM-CSE v1.1d. Kx-Modulad v3.0: News: Filters, Rin [Read More]
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XILS-lab releases XILS DeeS – Transparent De-esser for Mac and Win with Intro Offer

Written by Site Update on July 24th, 2014

XILS-lab has announced the release of XILS DeeS, a new transparent de-esser plug-in for 32- and 64-bit Mac OS X and Windows in VST, Audio Unit, RTAS and AAX plug-in formats. With the help of XILS DeeS [Read More]
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BBE Sound and Nomad Factory release “Sonic Sweet – Optimized” – incl. AAX support and Intro Offer

Written by Site Update on July 24th, 2014

BBE Sound and Nomad Factory have released Sonic Sweet v3.0, a major new version of the plug-in bundle for Mac OS X and Windows that includes three newly “Optimised” plug-ins plus Mach 3 Bass, a br [Read More]
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Synchro Arts updates Revoice Pro to v2.6 for Mac and Windows

Written by Site Update on July 24th, 2014

Synchro Arts has updated Revoice Pro to v2.6 for Mac OS X and Windows, a free update for all Revoice Pro (V1 and V2) owners. Changes: Instantaneous transfer of audio from Cubase and Nuendo to Revoice [Read More]
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Sony Creative Software updates Vegas Pro 13 to Build 373

Written by Site Update on July 24th, 2014

Sony Creative Software has updated Vegas Pro 13 to Build 373 (Vegas Edit and Vegas Suite have also been updated). Notable fixes/changes in version 13.0 (build 373): Vegas Pro 13 can now open Movie Stu [Read More]
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Electro-Harmonix EHX Tortion

Written by Site Update on July 23rd, 2014

Read more about Electro-Harmonix EHX Tortion at MusicRadar.com


The latest pedal in the barrage of Electro-Harmonix drives, EHX Tortion, is a JFET overdrive with switchable boost, which promises huge versatility and dynamic response.

“You can ably transition between a convincing hint of break-up and Page-esque ‘Plexi’ sounds”

Three JFET stages provide the bulk of the tones, controlled via input gain and four pre-gain settings (low full, low tight, high full and high tight), then tweaked using the three-band EQ and volume control.

Activating the boost circuit using the left-hand footswitch adds a fourth gain stage, tweaked with the central volume and gain knobs. You also get an XLR DI output with cabinet simulation, buffered bypass and nine-volt battery or power supply operation.

Sounds

The EHX Tortion’s core tones focus on low to medium drives, and they’re hugely responsive – by varying your picking dynamics, you can ably transition between a convincing hint of break-up and Page-esque ‘Plexi’ sounds.

You won’t get much distortion out of this side, but kicking in the boost ramps the gain up, offering a hefty chunk at 12 o’clock. Anything past that, and the treble gets a little harsh, but up the volume, too, and the EHX Tortion blends beautifully with boosted amps for fat, punchy dirt.

For low-to-mid gain styles, the EHX Tortion is among the most natural overdrive pedals we’ve played. While it won’t be your first pick for heavier styles, it’s perfect for vintage dirt.

Read more about Electro-Harmonix EHX Tortion at MusicRadar.com







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PG Music updates Band-in-a-Box 2014 for Mac and Win

Written by Site Update on July 23rd, 2014

PG Music has released updates for both the Mac OS X and Windows versions of Band-in-a-Box 2014. BIAB 2014 Mac Summary of changes for Build 83: Added: VU Meters have been added to the Mixer. Fixed: Wha [Read More]
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Rotosound The Crusader

Written by Site Update on July 23rd, 2014

Read more about Rotosound The Crusader at MusicRadar.com


The Crusader from Rotosound features Rate and Depth knobs, like you’d find on just about any chorus pedal, but it also has a Level knob that mixes the chorus effect in proportion with the dry sound, and runs from no effect at all up to a 50/50 mix.

“The Crusader delivers a very nice warm chorus reminiscent of early Boss effects”

With the LED flashing rhythmically to illustrate the setting of the rate knob, the Crusader delivers a very nice warm chorus reminiscent of early Boss effects, but can take things further with a faster rate. Indeed, the last segment of travel on the knob can give you a useful approximation of a Leslie rotary speaker.

The full-on chorus that was all over many 80s recordings is not for everyone; however, with the mix knob blending in a small amount of effect, there’s plenty of shading of the ‘enhanced tonality’ type that could work in many musical genres. With rate and depth up full, you can even add in a little ring mod flavour.

Read more about Rotosound The Crusader at MusicRadar.com







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MOTU announces 1248, 8M and 16A Thunderbolt Audio Interfaces

Written by Site Update on July 23rd, 2014

MOTU has announced three new high-end Thunderbolt audio interfaces: the 1248, 8M and 16A. The culmination of years of RandD, each interface delivers a wide range of analog and digital I/O, A/D/A co [Read More]
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