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Win A 1 Year Pass For The Berliner Philharmoniker’s Digital Concert Hall

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

This is a great chance for all you classical music buffs…
Since the opening of the Digital Concert Hall in 2008, the Berliner Philharmoniker have broadcasted more than 250 concerts live.
Nearly all the great conductors and soloists of this time and more than 1,000 works can be found in the concert archive of the Digital Concert Hall.

A particular emphasis of the current season is the film section, which has been expanded to include numerous documentary films on current topics – such as the concert »Violins of Hope« and Wim Wenders’s portrait of the Philharmonie.

The Berliner Philharmoniker’s Digital Concert Hall video streams classical music concerts to your tablet, smartphone, smartTV or PC.
You can test the service for free (to make sure your connection is fast enough) and subscribe for €14.90/month or 149.00 €/year (also available, 7 and 30 days options).

A unique look
I’ve been at the Philharmonie, and nothing beats being there BUT… the Digital Concert Hall offers a unique (and much closer) look at the orchestra’s performance.
The streaming service is rock solid, and you can capture every nuance of what’s happening on stage (not to mention the interviews with directors and musicians, the archive, etc.).

Trust me, if you love (classical) music, the Digital Concert Hall is simply a must!
This is why we’re really excited to offer you the chance of winning 3 12 Month Tickets (149.00 € value!)

How to win
Enter the competition following the instructions below.
Pro Tip: boost your chances using all social options (FB and Twitter) ;-)

The competition expires on October 7th at 12:00 AM Berlin Time. Good luck!

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Modartt releases Concert Harp for Pianoteq

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Modartt has released Concert Harp for Pianoteq, physically modelled after a Salvi concert grand harp. The virtual instrument includes pedals to change the pitch of the strings when playing in [Read More]

Samson Concert 88 Handheld

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Read more about Samson Concert 88 Handheld at MusicRadar.com

The latest wireless system from Samson, the Concert 88, can be purchased in several different forms – the basic receiver is packaged variously with headset mic, guitar belt pack, in-ear monitors or, as here for review, the Concert 88 Handheld with a dynamic vocal mic.

The Concert 88 operates with analogue UHF frequencies and can be used on one of 16 channels and has a range of up to 300 feet. It’s a true diversity design which sees the receiver fitted with two independent receiving sections, each with its own antenna. These are spaced at each end of the unit and the receiver constantly checks the pair to select the one that has the strongest signal.

The idea behind this is to keep the signal strong as a dropout is unlikely to happen at the same time in both. If a dropout does occur, the receiver has tone key and auto mute functions to eliminate any background noise until the signal is restored.

“As soon as the mic is turned on, it pairs up with the receiver and we had no troubles whatsoever with decent communication between the two”

The microphone has the standard onstage vocal mic look of a Shure SM58 but is a little fatter and about four inches longer to accommodate the transmitter electronics, and, despite looking quite huge, the body is made of plastic so is reasonably light.

The lower half of the body is covered by a cylindrical sheath that can be unscrewed to reveal the battery compartment (the transmitter runs from two AA batteries which are not supplied with the package) and a small control (adjustable with a screwdriver stashed in the battery cavity) to set the required gain if you need to change it from the factory default.

To turn on the mic you press and hold a switch on its body, indicated by a solid green LED that also flashes green to show low battery status. This doubles as a mute switch and it only needs a short press to mute the mic (LED turns red) so you’d have to be careful not to accidentally press it onstage.

The CR88 wireless receiver is half-rack size and free-standing, although it does come with some brackets for rack-mounting if desired. It features both a balanced XLR output and an unbalanced 1/4-inch jack output on the rear – a jack to jack cable is supplied with the package.

Output volume is set by a front-panel knob and the active channel is shown in a display alongside a pair of LEDs, one lighting up green to show when the system is paired up and ready, the other being a red overload indicator.

A front panel button changes channels and can sync receiver and transmitter channels via an infrared signal, if you have several systems working together and need each to have a different channel.

Tonal limitations

There are two sides to the performance of the system – how well the wireless system operates and what the actual mic sounds like. In terms of the wireless performance, as soon as the mic is turned on, it pairs up with the receiver and we had no troubles whatsoever with decent communication between the two.

The mic features Samson’s Q6 capsule as found in their standard Q6 vocal mic, which sells for a street price between £20 and £25, so we weren’t expecting top of the range performance and we didn’t get it.

Tonally the mic is a little dull with a surfeit of woolly lower mids and a lack of crispness in the top-end when compared with an SM58, a mic specifically engineered to let vocals cut through. Having said that, judicious use of EQ on the mixing desk can get the sound into the ballpark with acceptable results.

If you are a singer wanting to roam around the stage rather than stay in one fixed position, a wireless microphone is a definite temptation, and the Concert 88’s budget price might be tempting. However, for crucial live situations you may wish to up the budget.

Read more about Samson Concert 88 Handheld at MusicRadar.com


Premier Modern Classic Concert Master 22

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Read more about Premier Modern Classic Concert Master 22 at MusicRadar.com

Premier’s Modern Classics are high-end drums that are entirely hand-built in the UK. At present there is a choice of three shell packs, each consisting of three drums: the Bebop 18 and Bebop 20, which have a 12″x8″ rack tom and 14″x14″ floor tom coupled with an 18″x14″ or 20″x14″ bass drum respectively. Then there’s the Concert Master 22, which comprises a 13″x8″ rack tom, 16″x14″ floor tom and 22″x14″ bass. Here we’re looking at the Concert Master 22…

Finish-wise you get mahogany or birdseye maple. Premier sent us the Concert Master 22 with the birdseye maple finish, while the bass drum has wooden hoops in mahogany. The maple is sanded to a smooth semi-matt natural finish rather than high gloss, and protected with a satin oil.

“The shells combine birch and African mahogany and are spectacularly good”

All veneers are sustainably sourced from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified suppliers, and Premier adds that finishes are limited runs and will change “seasonally in accordance with market trend”.

When Premier says this is a retro look, it is not kidding – in the best possible way, this kit looks like an exhibit from Rhythm’s Vintage Gear section.

Retro styles are fashionable with many companies, but the Modern Classic goes further: ultra-thin shells, short tube lugs and, most unusually, flat hoops with tension clips. It’s a look that was last hip in the ’30s.

But there are sound reasons for all this. First is the shells, which combine birch and African mahogany and are spectacularly good. Hand-built in the factory, the toms are eight-ply yet only 4.5mm thick, while the bass drums are 11-ply yet just 6mm thick.

That is really thin, and you might expect that shells this thin would require reinforcing rings, but Keith explains that “modern glues allow us to build thinner shells without the need for re-rings”.

Removing the heads and gently squeezing the shells, we were amazed how stable they remained. They barely gave a millimetre, which we put down to the large number of extremely thin cross-plies bonded with high-tech glue.

Such thin shells hark back to pre-rock days, when drummers wanted ultra-light drums to carry around on public transport, and before the advent of the massive hardware that prompted drum builders to bulk up their plies.

While the heads are off we can inspect the bearing edges. These are cut at a more gentle 30° than the standard 45°, and are rounded over with a partially flattened top – clean but not too sharp. As with everything else they are finished with the utmost care, and are sensually smooth to run your finger round.

The shell fittings are key to the retro look. Having crafted such thin shells, Premier wanted to do everything to allow them to resonate. So there are short tube lugs made in the UK from solid brass, chromed and mounted on modern isolating gaskets.

The big talking point is the chromed-steel hoops. Not triple-flanged, not double-flanged, not even single-flanged, but flat bands of thick 5mm gauge rolled steel.

These require claw-clips to hold the tension rods, again a delightfully proportioned low-mass design made from bronze, while the tension rods have steel and nylon washers.

The small tom has a mounting block for clamping to a stand, although you could just stick it on a snare stand. The floor tom has Premier’s usual three legs and mounting blocks with contoured memory locks.

Completing the image, the shells bear newly designed, deeply embossed UK-made pewter badges – the standard Modern Classic badge plus an extra badge on the bass drums that reads ‘Premier, The Original British Drum Company, Established 1922, Custom Works’.

Hands On

Premier drums are traditionally made from top-grade Finnish birch and, for a period in the ’70s, from African mahogany. So why combine the two woods in these new hybrid shells? Keith Keough explains,

“The birch has a direct, clean sound while the mahogany calms the birch down just enough and adds warmth to the birch tones without making it sound muddy like maple or 100 percent mahogany.” So, mahogany for a darker timbre and birch for focus – sounds like a smart pairing.

The question is, how does this shell configuration, along with the classic and modern design features, come together in the sound and performance? We wanted to find out if those flat, non-flanged tom hoops were a gimmick, so we grabbed the 13″x8″ – and were smitten straight away. You get the sense that the flat hoops open up the sound, reducing the barrier between head and shell.

“The whole 22″ shell reverberates and produces a wonderfully dark, colourful yet composed tone”

The idea of the lower profile 30°, almost- rounded edges is also to pass on a bit more shell tone. The combined effect is to get the best of both shell and head. With any drum there is always plenty of head sound, but here you really feel the connection between head and shell with minimum interference in between.

Not having played a flat-hooped tom for as long as we could remember, this effect hadn’t occurred to us before – but now we’re fans.

Turning to the whole kit, we have a traditional 22″x14″ with updated 13″x8″ and 16″x14″ toms. The 13″x8″ tom is an inch shallower than the traditional 13″x9″, and the shortening gives it a flatter, punchier attack which suits a rock sound, reminiscent of the old 14″x8″ Moonie tom but noticeably more manageable.

Likewise, cutting a couple of inches off the depth of the 16″ tom quickens the response, so you still get a big tone but it’s less prone to the awkward hum that sometimes bedevils a traditional 16″x16″. With superb bearing edges and exceptionally circular shells, accurate tuning of all the drums is quick and easy.

Although not flanged or cast, the flat hoops are sufficiently strong and weighty at 5mm gauge to hold the tuning. They probably won’t be tested by the heaviest of metal hitters, but all the drums are fitted with nylon lug locks just in case.

Because of the thick gauge and the rounding over of the steel they won’t immediately chop your sticks if you catch the rims, and there’s only the slightest chance of fouling your fancy stick work on the tension clips.

As for the bass drums, we have to repeat our favourite mantra: 14″ deep bass drums are slowly but inevitably returning. And here is the perfect endorsement: such a crisp, almost hard slam is wholly typical of a narrow 14″ drum.

The whole 22″ shell reverberates and produces a wonderfully dark, colourful yet composed tone – a response you can only get from an ultra-thin and unimpeded shell.

Fitting the front heads with Fibreskyn-3 FAs (Fibreskyn Ambassador weight) makes the sound warm and dry, adding yet more depth. Those used to 16″, 18″ or even 20″ deep bass drums may be surprised to hear just how much more cracking and focused this kick is.

Read more about Premier Modern Classic Concert Master 22 at MusicRadar.com


MakeMusic releases Garritan Abbey Road Studios “CFX Concert Grand”

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

MakeMusic and Abbey Road Studios have announced the release of a new virtual instrument, Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand. To create this new instrument, Yamaha’s flagship CFX Concert Gr [Read More]

FXpansion releases BFD Orchestral Concert Percussion Expansion Pack for BFD3, BFD Eco or BFD2

Monday, May 12th, 2014

FXpansion has released the BFD Orchestral expansion pack of concert percussion for BFD3, BFD Eco or BFD2 sessions. Xpansion BFD Orchestral is an expansion pack that delivers a unique set of concert pe [Read More]

Cinematique Instruments releases Concert Zither for Kontakt

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Cinematique Instruments has released Concert Zither for Kontakt. The Zither is a stringed instrument, having many strings stretched across a thin, wooden sound box. It is played by strumming or pluc [Read More]

Soniccouture Releases “Concert Kazoos” for Kontakt

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Soniccouture has released Concert Kazoos for Kontakt. Concert Kazoos is a set of 25 rare tuned kazoos made by Suzuki, exhaustively sampled to 2-inch tape through a Neve console*. 5 Round-robin layers [Read More]

Big Fish Audio releases “Silver: Concert Grand Piano” for UVI Workstation

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Big Fish Audio has released Silver: Concert Grand Piano, a new UVI powered virtual instrument. Silver is a Bosendorfer Imperial Grand 290 grand piano, sampled in detail. This 9.5 foot concert grand pi [Read More]

Garritan Abbey Road CFX Concert Grand Announced

Friday, January 24th, 2014

MakeMusic, Inc. and Abbey Road Studios announced today the upcoming release of a new virtual instrument, Garritan Abbey Road CFX Concert Grand, featuring the Yamaha CFX Concert Grand piano recorded in [Read More]