Sick new music to check out

Free EP from Æeon

And the awesome first release on a new label project from RQ

Area Recordings Discogs Shop

Incase you haven’t noticed through the social media sites, I have just started an online shop over at discogs.  I’ve been trimming the fat from my collection and decided to put a bunch of stuff up for sale.  If I don’t want the records and don’t think they are worthy  of the shop they have been placed in this box for me to take down vinyl exchange :)

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Hopefully if you have a browse you’ll find something of interest.  I’ve tried to filter the crap and only put up top notch records or personal faves I know I wont ever listen back to.  Please spread the word and if all goes well I might look into sorting out getting new releases in there in the near future.

http://www.discogs.com/seller/Area_Recordings

Safe

Ben

Subpac Review

I was first made aware of the subpac through the my friend Snooks, who works at the infamous BM-Soho record shop in London’s Soho, at the beginning of this year (2013).  I followed the progress of their project through the Subpac website, watching the promotional video and looking at their healthy list of affiliate producers from, what is now called, the UK bass music scene.  With key notable figures such as Mala, Pinch and the acclaimed Kode 9, this was surely a product to follow.  Having produced sub oriented dubstep for the past few years I was intrigued as to how this device could aid in the production process.

My first introduction proper to the Subpac was on one cold wet late summer’s afternoon in the basement of BM-Soho where they have one installed.  My first initial impression was that the Subpac had a lot of wires.  However its set up and use with my iPhone took seconds.  Getting myself comfortable and playing my first piece of music It was instantly noticeable when the device was switched off.

I think it is key to point out that the Subpac offers more of an extension of the listening experience.  The physical presence of the sound / music you are listening to is quite astounding.  The difference in how you feel you are interacting with your music is fairly indescribable.  It is almost like a missing link of sorts, with the subpac being the final piece of the puzzle.

After my initial experience I was even more intrigued as to how the Subpac would fit into my world.  Taking it from noisy record store basement to the comfort of my own home was something I felt I had to do.  Having looked at the prospect of ordering a unit direct from Studiofeed via the subpac site, I was lucky enough to find one ins stock at Juno.co.uk, where I promptly ordered, avoiding those nasty import charges I’ve been stung for so many times in the past.

I’m going to break down my review into 4 parts.  Listening with headphones, listening with speakers, producing with headphones and producing with monitors.  I think it is very important to understand and highlight the key differences with each of these areas as they both produce very different results.  Having never owned a subwoofer and always relying on my psychoacoustic skills to produce and enjoy listening to music this was / is new territory for me.

It is clear to me that the device is predominantly made for use with headphones.  One of the first things that struck me when I got it out of the box and was able to examine it was; how would I connect this to my hi-fi?  Use with a portable device is extremely straight forward, but finding out how to have it connected when sitting 6 feet away from where my hi-fi is set up perplexed me.

So without further adieu I set it up, notably on one of the POÄNG armchairs from ikea.  The first thing I set about doing was attaching the main control unit to the arm of my chair.  In true ghetto fashion i used my belt.  It made the unit sturdy and I knew it wasn’t going to fall on the floor or pull the cable which attaches it to the main backrest (unit).  Once all the wires were connected I proceeded to sit back and have a listen to some tunes.

Listening with headphones: I generally listen to most music these days on headphones.  The most noticeable thing about the device, as highlighted in 4g0ny’s Youtube review, is the amount of space it takes up on your chair.  The Ikea chair is the best I’ve used it on so far as the seat is quite deep.

Depending on where you position yourself on the Subpac gives a slightly different effect, or sensation.  Having it resting slightly above my tailbone seemed to give the nicest experience as the full impact of the vibrations are not lost.  I think anyone who has so far used one will conclude that you notice when it is not on, or you switch it on and off when listening.  It has quite a noticeable difference to your listening experience.

The most annoying thing is the wires!  I can’t help but feel like it’s going to break something or i’m going to accidentally yank a cable out of the device.  The main control unit does sit in a little elasticated holder on the backrest, but this makes you feel lopsided when sitting with the Subpac.

So far I have opted for attaching the control unit to the arm of the chair using a belt to make sure it is secure.  This is the most ideal solution I have been able to come up with.

Listening with speakers: This is something I haven’t really spent a lot of time doing, generally down to not having that much time to sit and listen to music on a stereo.  From the experiences of listening to tunes through my monitors it is at first slightly strange, with constant alterations to the intensity of the sub for each track.  It is fair to say that it works well with most bass heavy music, not so well with acoustic and rock.

Producing with headphones: I generally spend most time producing with headphones on these days due to noise issues.  Primarily what the Subpac was made for.  It’s clear that the ability to monitor bass with the aid of the subpac is dare I say it.  Amazing!  All those dynamic plug-ins you were sure did something but could never quite figure out the difference sonically.  Well this badboy lets you feel every little tweak and adjustment down below.  I have found it an excellent addition for kick drums and compression!

However it does lead to producing tracks with super low bass.  not a bad thing, but problematic when playing tunes on a system that simply cannot project frequency which is below 60Hz.
Producing with monitors; I have to say this is as above, but without the pain of having headphones strapped to your head.  Its a joy to work with and you really can get into a zone with it on when being creative.

The biggest con for the unit is unfortunately it’s size.  It does take up a large amount of real estate on your chair.  I have a decent full back office chair with a foam back rest which can be lifted up.  As an experiment I lifted the foam off the back rest and replaced it with the sub pac.  Although you notice the lack of support around the shoulder it makes for a much nice and comfy user experience.

In the coming months I will definitely be looking at how I can modify my chair to make it work as part of it instead of being an addition.  I think this will vastly increase my use of the device.  I just need to look further into how best to attach the control unit to the char for permanent fixture.

Overall I would have to say this is possibly the best bit of kit I have bought since investing in a proper set of monitor speakers.  I don’t get hung up on how much i do or don’t use the device because I know that it is something that will be used over time.  Subpac have introduced a rechargeable battery for the unit.  This will definitely make the unit more attractive and reduce cable clutter

If I had to rate the unit overall  I would give it an 8 out of 10 purely down to the size and set up and pack away process.  I can imagine from my recent experiment that if this was part of a chair I would give it 10/10 as it is to be honest an absolutely brilliant piece of kit.

When I get some more time and have the device in as permanent fixture in my chair I will look at doing some in depth experiments and posting my thought on those in more specific detail.

But for now, find your nearest test centre and give it a go, you won’t be disappointed.

p.s. Subpac! If your reading this, fire over an M1 unit for me to review ;)

Pics!

1 – The production Chair

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2 – The production chair full with Subpac

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3 – The production chair close up with Subpac (See the difference in seat space)  You don’t notice the difference it makes until you sit with it o your chair.

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4 – Production chair mod v1 full with Subpac

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5 – Production chair mod v1 close up with Subpac (The difference in seat space is massive in this picture.)  You also feel alot more comfortable without it as an additional back cushion

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