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  • Joe Walsh opened up his last studio album with Analog Man,, a track airing his grievances of the new-fangled digital lifestyle. While Im not on Walshs level of cool, experience or guitar skills, I sympathize with some of his digital hesitation.Biyang fashioned the Livemaster to warm skeptics up to a modernized pedalboard. It keeps the familiar knob-twisting and switch-stomping experience of a classic pedal setup while tucking individual effects or modules into a tidy controller, eliminating excess power and patch cables.Thus far, Biyang has released 40 effect modules that can be placed in any order in the Livemasters controller or mainframe. The company creates both their own sounds as well as doing a good job of cloning other famous pedals.Some of the modules offer multiple voices. The Distortion module, for example, offers three different sounds marked A, B and C. The mainframes are available in 3 sizes that can hold four, seven or 10 effects. I reviewed the LM-7, which holds 7 effect modules. Its dimensions are 13 x 5, and the effects snap into the mainframe and have a numbered on/off switch. Once you tweak and find a combination of pedals you like, you can save that preset by holding down any of the lettered switches for a few seconds.The LM-7 will store 8 presets. Theres also a Tap/Tempo button that works with the Delay/Reverb module. For my review I tried out the Compressor, Loop, Distortion, Chorus, Delay/Reverb and Boost modules. The Loop module allows you to run and power other effects through the Livemaster.Since Biyang currently doesnt offer a wah pedal, I ran my Vox wah through the Loop. For both clips I used various guitars (Fender Tele, Fender Strat and a Gibson SG) and played a Wangs Mini 5 tube amp into an Ear Candy 1×12 cab loaded with an Eminence Alessandro speaker.Clip 1 – Its a long one! I went right down the line – Compressor, Distortion (all 3 voices), Chorus (Fast and Slow) and Delay/Reverb (starting with Delay and ending with the Room, Spring and Hall Reverb settings).Clip 2 – Its shorter I swear! Heres my Vox wah plugged into and powered by the Loop module. I fattened it up with the help of the Distortion and Boost modules.For more on the Biyang Livemaster, stop by biyang.com. The street price of the mainframes runs from $59-$129, while the Effect Modules run from $21-$69.

  • Ive always maintained that the single most important swap that makes a clear and notable difference in tone is changing the speaker in your amplifier or cabinet.I know the very idea of changing a speaker seems so elaborate because most guitarists are conditioned (or swayed) to constantly change simpler components such as pickups and cables, strings, hardware and bridges, amps and even effect pedals in order to upgrade their tone. Butperhaps naivelyguitarists often woefully neglect the only audible voice of their tone – the guitar speaker.Dont get me wrong, finding the right speaker can be an elusive and somewhat expensive journey, but I can tell you Ive recently come across two 12-inch guitar speakers from Celestion, the Cream and the Neo Creamback, which have dynamically supercharged my tone for the better. Both speakers are sonically different, with the Cream having more of a vintage-focused character and the Neo Creamback having a punchier and highly detailed voice thats tailor made for rock and metal. Depending upon your application, both are outstanding replacements speakers if you want to take charge of your tone.FEATURES The newer of the two is the Neo Creamback, which is available in eight- or 16-ohm impedance, has a 65-watt power rating and covers the 75-to-5,000 Hz frequency range. Its most noticeable feature is its employment of a neodymium magnet, making it super lightweight at 4.2 pounds, but preserving all the tonal characteristics of the Celestion G12M Creamback, which its based upon and which is almost four pounds heavier because of its ceramic magnet.The Cream is a beautiful 12inch speaker with a creamy retro paint job, but its tonal magic comes from its pure Alnico magnet. The speaker is available in eight- or 16-ohm impedance, has a whopping 90-watt power rating for incredible headroom and also covers the 75-to-5,000 Hz frequency range like the Neo Creamback. However, for all its good tone, it is a heavier speaker clocking in at 9.3 pounds.PERFORMANCE I spent a lot of time swapping both speakers in my open-back, custom Baltic birch ply cabinet, which has incredible musicality and a huge sound that belies its 1×12 stature. I began with the Neo Creamback, only because the speaker I had been using up until this point was a Celestion G12M Creamback (which I love), so this made the most sense in hearing whether the Neo sounds similar at half the weight and with a different magnet. Using a Les Paul and a Tele, and Marshall and Vox heads, the Neo came very close to replicating the growl and focused vocal-like midrange of the ceramic Creamback. I would venture to say the sound is more transparent, with a high-definition top end that is sweetly compressed. It handles low end with remarkable clarity and fullness, especially if you use a lot of amp distortion or high-gain pedals.Theres little doubt the Cream is the more vintage-styled speaker but with so much more application and responsiveness. I found that the Cream loves pedal-based rigs, and because of its expansive headroom and higher wattage, it adds spacious dimension with delays and reverbs. With some overdrive, it responds with warm bell-like highs, articulately sweet midrange and a firmer bottom end that is structured rather than being mushy, which an Alnico magnet is sometimes guilty of. The Cream is by far Celestions most organic and expressive Alnico speaker that sounds like its been broken in for decades.STREET PRICES – Neo Creamback, $169.99; Cream, $299 MANUFACTURER – Celestion, celestion.com

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