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Partially OT: small portable amplifier


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I am looking around for a small, portable amplifier to use with my melodica on small venues, battery powered.

 

I saw that some model can be used as personal monitor in bigger venus, having an XLR output; this would be great for my NE5

in the typical parisian bistro with a catastrophic PA.

 

Any experience with any of the available models (things like the Mackie Freeplay Live, the smaller Elite Acoustique, the Orange Crush Acoustic or the various small Roland) ?

 

Maurizio

Nord Wave 2, Nord Electro 6D 61,, Rameau upright,  Hammond Pro44H Melodica.

Too many Arturia, NI and AAS plugins

http://www.barbogio.org/

https://barbogio.bandcamp.com/follow_me

 

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The Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge is worth a look.

 

https://www.fishman.com/portfolio/loudbox-mini-charge-amplifier/

 

Note all the features, the Fishman Loudboxes are well thougth out. They sound really good too, surprising for the size.

 

2 good friends have the Mini, I've used them. My bandmate has the Loudbox Artist and I have the Performer.

All of them are excellent.

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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For an ultra-small amp, I really like the Blackstar FLY:

SW - Blackstar FLY

 

Several models/colors; very good build; literally half-a-lunchbox in size. I use mine with my Reface CP. Would add a minimum of extra bulk and weight to a melodica gig. Might sound a little squeaky on your NE5, but they do have a "Bass" model with more appropriate electronics, and you can add an extension cabinet.

 

Fun Anderton's review:

Legend '70s Compact, Jupiter-Xm, Studiologic Numa X 73

 

 

 

 

 

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Have you considered an 8 or 10' powered speaker?They have multiple inputs, balanced line out and offer flexible positioning as a speaker or wedge monitor.

 

I have a pair of 10"s that I have used singly or paired in clubs as keyboard amplification, flown them only poles as a small PA and also as mono or stereo floor monitors.

 

Very flexible.

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What are you using as a transducer? Mounted how, and facing in what direction when you play?

 

(I use one clip-on condenser, AKG, facing the under side slots next to the keys. Feedback and getting equal volume across the whole keyboard are ongoing issues.)

 

What sound are you aiming at?

 

(Blues harp with a dirty tube amp vs.clean?) My favorite setup in the studio is lots of good quality reverb plus two separate pitch shifters used to emulate various accordion musette tunings when desired.

 

For live gigs I use a Fishman Soloamp. What I get with this amp is a wide aperture speaker (wide horizontal coverage) on a stick (playing over the heads of the band and first row listeners so people in the back hear clearly) with reasonable EQ and reverb. What I miss is a high quality reverb and pitch shift that IMHO turn free reed instruments magical.

 

Sorry, no experience with battery powered units.

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FWIW I have had much success with this amp:

 

Ion Pathfinder

 

I don"t know overseas availability, but the battery is fairly powerful and can recharge a USB device while in use. In the United States I paid $120.00 USD at a big box store and was surprised at the value it brings.

 

Jake

1967 B-3 w/(2) 122's, Nord C1w/Leslie 2101 top, Nord PedalKeys 27, Nord Electro 4D, IK B3X, QSC K12.2, Yamaha reface YC+CS+CP

 

"It needs a Hammond"

 

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That JBL Eon Compact looks really sweet. How do you think two of them would do as a lightweight stereo keyboard rig with a Casio PS5x and an SK1? Some gigs just don't require my SpaceStation.

 

Not that i have any gigs!

Doug Robinson

www.dougrobinson.com

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Check out this recent thread, lots of info:

Thread asking about Bose S1 Pro vs JBL Eon One Compact

 

As someone who also plays and loves the melodica, my requirements are:

- has good quality reverb at the minimum

- has decent eq, esp. the mids. I find the melodica can be a bit honky/loud in the mid-range, so choice of mic and eq can tame the wild beast!

 

The JBL Eon One Compact has 6 bands of eq per channel and 8 for the master channel! It's an amazing BT mixer that happens to have an 8" woofer and tweeter. And, it weighs under 18 pounds and can be used in monitor position. It also has chorus and delay fx and phantom power, and the mixer can be controlled thru a phone app.

 

But I haven't tried it yet so I don't know good it actually sounds, so please buy it and let us know!

Numa Piano X73 /// Kawai ES920 /// Casio CT-X5000 /// Yamaha EW425

Yamaha Melodica and Alto Recorder

QSC K8.2 // JBL Eon One Compact // Soundcore Motion Boom Plus 

Win10 laptop i7 8GB // iPad Pro 9.7" 32GB

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You all may laugh, but my go-to amps for this application are Hartke 12' Kickbacks (KB12). The latest one is the best so far. It has a '500 watt peak 250 RMS' amp that can be removed easily to drive a 15' cab if you need to use it That way. A little pricey, and now made by Samson I think, but can"t be beat for what it is: a hybrid aluminum-coned 12' speaker driver driven by a 500/250 watt amp with tone controls. Just right for grab and go mono, and works a charm for more lows with my QSC K8.2s or my Spacestation SS3. I just got an open box KB12 from Sam Ash for $380. New, they"re closer to $500. Built rock solid. Some fan noise.

 

And it has an XLR output, +9dB, so no direct box needed.

1201.jpg.41052fbabf49bf3c6702a980de24e46c.jpg

Kawai KG-2C, Nord Stage 3 73, Electro 4D, 5D and Lead 2x, Moog Voyager and Little Phatty Stage II, Slim Phatty, Roland Lucina AX-09, Hohner Piano Melodica, Spacestation V3, pair of QSC 8.2s.

 

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Whow, thanks for all the answers .. a lot of material to process ...

 

Some more details: the melodica is currently a Suzuki M37C with a piezo micro; no feednack problems, sound reasonable with some eq, but it pick up key noise as hell, so it is very klunk-klunk-klunky; everything is fine

in slow and soft passages, but once you play with more energy is fucked up; especially considering that i often use some delay, and the klunk go on on forever :-<. I managed to reduce a bit the problem (but not yet tried live or in rehearsal, musical activity is not restarted) using compressor, EQ, amp simulator with MainStage. I am considering switching to an Hammond 44H (birthday approaching :), and in the case it would be the builtin dynamic micro.

 

The kind of sound: it will be a acoustic/jazzy repertoire, so mostly clean sound with some delay/reverb; by the way PianoMan51, thanks for the pitch shifter tip; i'll explore it :->.

 

Then, the main point: what portable means ? In my case is Paris/France portable, that means no car, the whole gig material must be moved using local public transportation; and six floor of stairs, without an elevator (that the Parisian standard :). For a melodica only gig, 4-6 Kg could be ok, less would be better. 10Kg, wheels would be a bit too much. It depends if the builtin effects (if any) are enough, or i need to bring other stuff or my MacBook with mainstage.

 

Battery is a plus: i do not plan to play in the parisian metro (but why not, Astor Piazzola rehearsed a concert there), but there are occasions to play in open air, including rehersals in parks; in this period, better that in closed studio.

 

Budget is not fixed yet, but in the ballpark of the products described here.

 

 

Several people talked about low power amplifiers (<10W); do they really work well ?

 

Maurizio

Nord Wave 2, Nord Electro 6D 61,, Rameau upright,  Hammond Pro44H Melodica.

Too many Arturia, NI and AAS plugins

http://www.barbogio.org/

https://barbogio.bandcamp.com/follow_me

 

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For a melodica only gig, 4-6 Kg could be ok, less would be better. 10Kg, wheels would be a bit too much.

That's a tight weight restriction:

- Dave's Samson Expedition (Express I think) is 4.7kg, so that's a contender. The Expedition Escape is even lighter at 3.9kg.

- Kuru's Fishman is 9.6kg

- Brad's BlackStar is 900g, but a much lower output (imho 3w is not enough for any kind of outside performance).

- Scott's Bose is 7kg

- Jake's Ion is 12.7kg

- Fleer's Orange is also 900g (like the BlackStar Fly, 3w output)

- My JBL pick is 8kg.

- Ledbetter's Hartke is not battery-powered

 

I thought the Roland BA330 and Street Cube EX might suit, but the former is heavy (almost 14kg). The Cube EX is 7kg. Possibly the smaller Street Cube?

 

Of the list, I'd go for the Samson - the manufacturer has a good reputation, it's well priced, Sound On Sound quite liked it (https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/samson-expedition-express). Disadvantages - no built-in effects. Roland Street Cube has much more in the way of built-in effects, but much more expensive.

 

Cheers, Mike.

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If battery power not needed, consider the Vox V50. 50W 3 channel keyboard amp. 9 lbs = 4 kg? Quite good for being so light weight. I use 2 for stereo and they handle small room gigs quite well.

Gigging: Crumar Mojo 61, Hammond SKPro

Home: Vintage Vibe 64

 

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A piezo pickup only works properly when attached to a soundboard. Free reeds don"t have soundboards, they mechanically couple directly to air. You absolutely need a mic. Even the cheapest is going to greatly improve your sound. I have nothing against a Hammond, but can roll your own for far less money and perhaps have better sound.

 

When you have a satisfactory gigging rig, come back and give us a report.

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I use the Korg Pandora PX4A Acoustic Guitar processor for my Hammond H44. (see attachment) Prior to the Hammond I used and still have the Suzuki Pro 37. The PX4A is battery powered, very small, and has what I feel are perfect effects to compliment the sound of a melodica. If you are looking for more of a blues harmonica type sound then this is not the unit to use. But if you want nice reverb, chorus, delay, pitch shifting and EQ, the PX4A works well. The PX4A has been discontinued but there is a new model called the Pandora Mini that I am going to look into. It is small enough to velcro to the end of the melodica along with my wireless transmitter.

1203.thumb.jpg.884ba2d75ba2d82a3873fee6eb2721b4.jpg

Wm. David McMahan

I Play, Therefore I Am

 

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What are you using as a transducer? Mounted how, and facing in what direction when you play?

 

(I use one clip-on condenser, AKG, facing the under side slots next to the keys. Feedback and getting equal volume across the whole keyboard are ongoing issues.)

 

What sound are you aiming at?

 

(Blues harp with a dirty tube amp vs.clean?) My favorite setup in the studio is lots of good quality reverb plus two separate pitch shifters used to emulate various accordion musette tunings when desired.

 

For live gigs I use a Fishman Soloamp. What I get with this amp is a wide aperture speaker (wide horizontal coverage) on a stick (playing over the heads of the band and first row listeners so people in the back hear clearly) with reasonable EQ and reverb. What I miss is a high quality reverb and pitch shift that IMHO turn free reed instruments magical.

 

Sorry, no experience with battery powered units.

Yes indeed, even just reverb of good quality makes wind instruments sound wonderful. I use it on my melodica, with a mic, and even sweeter is my Yamaha alto recorder- what a sound!

 

So pitch shifting- never thought of that. Are you going 2 above, or 2 below, or 1 above and 1 below? So it's like a chorusing effect, thickening up the sound? Any tips on the settings to achieve this sound?

 

If I was going all in on fx for melodica/recorder/flute, I'd have a stompbox where I'd be able to switch in/out a delay, switch in/out pitch shifters/harmonizers/chorusing, and a foot pedal to bring up or down the level of reverb, or any of the other effects. I've got a Voice Live 3 that'll do all that, just need to hook it up with a FC7 foot pedal.

Numa Piano X73 /// Kawai ES920 /// Casio CT-X5000 /// Yamaha EW425

Yamaha Melodica and Alto Recorder

QSC K8.2 // JBL Eon One Compact // Soundcore Motion Boom Plus 

Win10 laptop i7 8GB // iPad Pro 9.7" 32GB

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Whow, thanks for all the answers .. a lot of material to process ...

 

Some more details: the melodica is currently a Suzuki M37C with a piezo micro; no feednack problems, sound reasonable with some eq, but it pick up key noise as hell, so it is very klunk-klunk-klunky; everything is fine

in slow and soft passages, but once you play with more energy is fucked up; especially considering that i often use some delay, and the klunk go on on forever :-<. I managed to reduce a bit the problem (but not yet tried live or in rehearsal, musical activity is not restarted) using compressor, EQ, amp simulator with MainStage. I am considering switching to an Hammond 44H (birthday approaching :), and in the case it would be the builtin dynamic micro.

 

The kind of sound: it will be a acoustic/jazzy repertoire, so mostly clean sound with some delay/reverb; by the way PianoMan51, thanks for the pitch shifter tip; i'll explore it :->.

 

Then, the main point: what portable means ? In my case is Paris/France portable, that means no car, the whole gig material must be moved using local public transportation; and six floor of stairs, without an elevator (that the Parisian standard :). For a melodica only gig, 4-6 Kg could be ok, less would be better. 10Kg, wheels would be a bit too much. It depends if the builtin effects (if any) are enough, or i need to bring other stuff or my MacBook with mainstage.

 

Battery is a plus: i do not plan to play in the parisian metro (but why not, Astor Piazzola rehearsed a concert there), but there are occasions to play in open air, including rehersals in parks; in this period, better that in closed studio.

 

Budget is not fixed yet, but in the ballpark of the products described here.

 

 

Several people talked about low power amplifiers (<10W); do they really work well ?

 

Maurizio

 

I bought the Roland Mobile Cube for my wife and may get one for myself. Boom box small, battery or adapter, stereo input pair as well as a "mic" input (all 1/4"). We're currently using it for a monitor on gigs but is great for traveling with keys/guitar.

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What are you using as a transducer? Mounted how, and facing in what direction when you play?

 

(I use one clip-on condenser, AKG, facing the under side slots next to the keys. Feedback and getting equal volume across the whole keyboard are ongoing issues.)

 

What sound are you aiming at?

 

(Blues harp with a dirty tube amp vs.clean?) My favorite setup in the studio is lots of good quality reverb plus two separate pitch shifters used to emulate various accordion musette tunings when desired.

 

For live gigs I use a Fishman Soloamp. What I get with this amp is a wide aperture speaker (wide horizontal coverage) on a stick (playing over the heads of the band and first row listeners so people in the back hear clearly) with reasonable EQ and reverb. What I miss is a high quality reverb and pitch shift that IMHO turn free reed instruments magical.

 

Sorry, no experience with battery powered units.

Yes indeed, even just reverb of good quality makes wind instruments sound wonderful. I use it on my melodica, with a mic, and even sweeter is my Yamaha alto recorder- what a sound!

 

So pitch shifting- never thought of that. Are you going 2 above, or 2 below, or 1 above and 1 below? So it's like a chorusing effect, thickening up the sound? Any tips on the settings to achieve this sound?

 

If I was going all in on fx for melodica/recorder/flute, I'd have a stompbox where I'd be able to switch in/out a delay, switch in/out pitch shifters/harmonizers/chorusing, and a foot pedal to bring up or down the level of reverb, or any of the other effects. I've got a Voice Live 3 that'll do all that, just need to hook it up with a FC7 foot pedal.

 

Accordions that specialize in musette sounds typically have three parallel sets of reeds that all play the same note, but each set of reeds is purposefully tuned out of tune by a fixed amount. So there is one in tune, one tuned high and the other low. And detuned in cents. Try +6 and -10 to start. A Scottish tuned instrument with a very brash musette might be +15 and -15.

 

Here are examples of two Reed accordions with different tunings:

[video:youtube]

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A piezo pickup only works properly when attached to a soundboard. Free reeds don"t have soundboards, they mechanically couple directly to air. You absolutely need a mic. Even the cheapest is going to greatly improve your sound. I have nothing against a Hammond, but can roll your own for far less money and perhaps have better sound.

 

When you have a satisfactory gigging rig, come back and give us a report.

 

You are right; i bought my melodica a year ago just "to try something different", so i went low low budget on the micro. Then i discovered i love it.

For the Hammond, do not know yet, the micro would not be the main motivation, may be it is only gear lust melodica version :->

 

And yes, i'll report :->

 

Maurizio

Nord Wave 2, Nord Electro 6D 61,, Rameau upright,  Hammond Pro44H Melodica.

Too many Arturia, NI and AAS plugins

http://www.barbogio.org/

https://barbogio.bandcamp.com/follow_me

 

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I found that I really liked using the melodica as a comping instrument once I learned to suck. No, true! Yes, it"s ok to laugh.

 

When you blow the notes on a nicely voiced jazz chord and stop blowing, the chord keeps ringing for quite some time after the air stops. This makes rhythmic comping sloppy and unsatisfying.

 

But, if you do a strong, quick suck when you want the chord to stop, it will! And this release makes its own sound which puts a little accent at the end of the chord. Now you have two sFz punches per chord, one at the beginning and one at the end. Play them strictly in time and you have a harmony comping instrument with lots of rhythmic possibilities.

 

BTW, I spent $11 on eBay for my Suzuki Melodeon 36. Terrible investment!

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Maurizio - what do you mean by a "piezo micro". Micro = microphone, I get that, but a piezo pickup is not a microphone?

 

Cheers, Mike

 

A piezo picku, this one: K&K Big Shot https://www.thomann.de/fr/kk_big_shot.htm

 

French guys call it a piezo micro :) I think pickup and microphone are equivalents in french and in italian, sorry for the confusion.

 

Maurizio

Nord Wave 2, Nord Electro 6D 61,, Rameau upright,  Hammond Pro44H Melodica.

Too many Arturia, NI and AAS plugins

http://www.barbogio.org/

https://barbogio.bandcamp.com/follow_me

 

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Thanks Maurizio, that clarifies. Your earlier post talked about picking up a lot of handling/key noise "klunk" - I'm not surprised with a piezo pickup in contact with the instrument. Have you considered a clip-on microphone like the Sennheiser e608? I think that's a better route to removing key noise than effects processing. EDIT: I see PianoMan51 posted something similar above.

 

Doesn't the Hammond melodica have a built-in microphone rather than a contact pickup? That should sound good also.

 

Summary: Hammond 44H + Samson Expedition, or your existing melodica + a clip-on mic + Samson Expedition = deep amplified melodica joy.

 

Cheers, Mike.

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Did you say which melodica? The biggest difference between models is often how efficient they are with the breath. The leakier ones require much more breath. The bass melodicas require even more. I've really enjoyed my Yamaha pianica, it's right around $100 in the states, and now they have a second version of it, I believe it produces a bit mellower tone, which I would probably enjoy more. Close to a consensus from reviews I've read, that it's the best sounding, easiest blowing, most in tune melodica at that price point. Best sounding is very subjective, I find the sound is somewhat honky in my ears when played acoustically, but with EQ and reverb it transforms the sound into something quite lovely.

 

I've read that the 44 note Hammonds that have a built in pickup can be somewhat heavy to hold up for longer periods. YMMV of course. I used a piezo mic on a flute for awhile, but it picked up WAY too much key noise, unusable.

Numa Piano X73 /// Kawai ES920 /// Casio CT-X5000 /// Yamaha EW425

Yamaha Melodica and Alto Recorder

QSC K8.2 // JBL Eon One Compact // Soundcore Motion Boom Plus 

Win10 laptop i7 8GB // iPad Pro 9.7" 32GB

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I found that I really liked using the melodica as a comping instrument once I learned to suck. No, true! Yes, it"s ok to laugh.

 

When you blow the notes on a nicely voiced jazz chord and stop blowing, the chord keeps ringing for quite some time after the air stops. This makes rhythmic comping sloppy and unsatisfying.

 

But, if you do a strong, quick suck when you want the chord to stop, it will! And this release makes its own sound which puts a little accent at the end of the chord. Now you have two sFz punches per chord, one at the beginning and one at the end. Play them strictly in time and you have a harmony comping instrument with lots of rhythmic possibilities.

 

BTW, I spent $11 on eBay for my Suzuki Melodeon 36. Terrible investment!

 

Cool! Thanks for sharing! Have you ever been able to slur notes?

Numa Piano X73 /// Kawai ES920 /// Casio CT-X5000 /// Yamaha EW425

Yamaha Melodica and Alto Recorder

QSC K8.2 // JBL Eon One Compact // Soundcore Motion Boom Plus 

Win10 laptop i7 8GB // iPad Pro 9.7" 32GB

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