Category Archives: Yamaha

Yamaha EAD10 Drum Module – A Real-World Review

The Yamaha EAD10 Drum Module
The Yamaha EAD10 Drum Module

A major theme on our yearly St. John recording trip is portability. We have to squeeze our entire recording rig into our suitcases, so we’re always thinking about how we can get the best sounds out of the smallest equipment. Not surprisingly, recording a full drum set with these restrictions can be tough, so when drummer Ray LeVier told us about Yamaha’s new EAD10, we knew we had to bring it with us and give it a try.

The EAD's drum mic.
The EAD’s drum mic.

EAD10 is a hybrid electronic/acoustic drum recording system that consists of a main unit, sensor unit and optional snare/tom triggers. When it came time to record drums, we clamped the sensor unit—which comprises a stereo pair of mics in an XY configuration and a bass drum trigger—onto the hoop of the kick drum. We connected it, along with the additional triggers, to the main EAD10 unit, ran two quarter-inch cables to our interface, and we were up and running. This was certainly one of the easiest drum setups we’ve ever done, but we still had to answer the most important question: How does this thing sound? The short answer? Great.

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Starting with the most basic sounds from this unit, the stereo mic gives an incredibly natural and honest picture of the drum kit. We were all impressed with how well it was able to capture a balanced picture of the drums for such a minimal setup, but we had only scratched the surface of its capabilities.

The EAD's trigger pickup.

We started flipping through some of the 50 included preset scenes, which introduce anything from subtle reverb and compression to wild distortion, flanger and more. If the presets aren’t quite to your liking, you can always tweak them or build your own sound using the 32 built-in reverbs and effects, and save it to the unit. Also included are more than 700 samples that can be blended in with the mic’s signal, opening up a whole other world of sonic possibilities. Whether you want to subtly enhance your kit’s acoustic sound with rock-style samples or completely replace your drums’ sound with 808-style electronic sounds, the EAD10 has you covered. You can also load in your own samples—meaning that the sounds you can get out of the EAD10 are literally limitless.

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Software Tech: Livestreaming in the Age of Pandemic

Saying “the show must go on” has been one of the casualties of COVID-19. When artists pivoted to the lowered expectations of “a show must go on,” the medium of choice became livestreaming.

Streaming requires overcoming specific technological hurdles. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint), YouTube has lowered the bar for quality, setting SD (480p) as the default resolution during the COVID-19 crisis to reduce the strain on internet infrastructure. As production values are deemphasized in lower-resolution streams, creators will have to find other ways to differentiate their content. Viewers will likely choose good content over uninteresting content with Steven Spielberg-level production.

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Online performances now range from something as simple as streaming from a webcam or smartphone, to doing a multicamera shoot with a switcher and hiring an engineer. YouTube and Facebook are the main livestreaming options. The easiest route is enabling livestreaming on Facebook’s Live Video feature; with YouTube, you can stream from a webcam. YouTube’s next level up is livestreaming from the YouTube app on a mobile device. (Note that this functionality is available only to channels with more than 1,000 subscribers.)

Given the high-quality camera installed in many mobile devices, if you feed decent audio into your smartphone, the results will be at least good enough to connect with an audience. Apple’s Lightning-to-USB 3 camera kit allows the connection of USB mics and mixer outputs to iOS devices and includes a pass-through jack for powering the phone. Android devices have more variables, but users have reported good results using an OTG (on-the-go) breakout cable to provide the USB port to a USB mic or mixer output. A powered USB hub may be necessary to provide enough power for some mics.

To mix multiple audio sources, a compact mixer with a USB interface will do the job, as will dedicated products for podcasting and streaming (for example, Yamaha’s AG06 and MG10XU, or the Roland GO:Mixer).

For livestreamed training, conferences, workshops and the like, these basic setups are usually good enough. The more professional-level features you want to add to your stream, the more complicated production will become.

A multicamera shoot is great, but it requires several cameras and a video switcher. Expect to pay around $500 for a camera that can output HDMI, work under reasonably low-light conditions and deliver 1080p resolution. Double that price buys an affordable PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) camera like Panasonic’s AW-UE4. Note that a switcher may not be able to convert on-the-fly between cameras that shoot in different formats. For the best results, don’t mix and match: all of the cameras on a multicamera shoot should be the same make and model.

Also be aware that you probably can’t get away with a passive switcher. A decent active switcher can cost from hundreds to thousands of dollars. (Check out the offerings from Blackmagic Design, like the reasonably priced ATEM Mini.) The next step up is a combination switcher/mixer like the Roland V-60HD or V-8HD. They’re not cheap, but the COVID-19 thing won’t last forever, and you’ll be set up to do quality videos and livestreams when the lockdown finally ends.

Whether you use a smartphone or a more complex setup, you’ll need lighting. This can range from floodlights to make sure there’s enough illumination for your cameras, to strip lights (e.g., the ADJ Mega Bar 50 RGB, whose main goal is to provide a wash of light), to a bundle like the Chauvet DJ Gig Bar 2. The latter has four light types, a stand and bag, along with automated and sound-activated programs for special effects.

The more sophisticated the setup, the more accessories you’ll need, including cables, adapters, converters, lighting stands, tripods and the like. You’ll also need a software or hardware encoder, like the Datavideo NVS-33 or Matrox Monarch HD, to convert your audio and video outputs into something that can be streamed live.

Encoders are available at every price point. If you need a more affordable option, look at bundles for plug-and-play streaming designed for the worship market. YouTube’s help section ( lists several verified encoders—from free, open-source software versions to hardware encoders for pro applications.

Finally, you’ll need to secure fast, reliable internet. Those that deliver services via fiber optic and cable are best, but don’t choose your internet provider based on their quoted speeds. (According to Ars Technica [], for example, AT&T convinced the FCC to exclude certain DSL test results to make their overall speed score look better). Go for the one with the best customer service—because you will experience outages and other problems, and you want them attended to ASAP.

But remember, it’s the content that matters. Regardless of what solution you choose, the reality is that streaming is our only option at the moment. Even if the show can’t go on, a show can.

Visit Craig’s educational site at and stream his music at

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The best budget amplifiers

A guide to the affordable amps best suited to a contemporary turntable set-up.

Stereo amplifiers have evolved and adapted to the modern age. They have also, for the most part, shrunk in size, adding more components and connectivity to your set-up. As well as turntables, everything from TVs and gaming systems, to smartphones and computers, can benefit from a stereo amplifier.

Many of these amps come with Bluetooth, USB connections, phono stages and a good number of digital and analogue inputs to connect all your hi-fi in a simple, streamlined experience.

From your turntable’s point of view however, the most important element to consider is whether or not the amplifier has a built-in phono stage. The phono amp, or pre-amp, boosts the analogue signal from your turntable. While some decks (and most of the amplifiers listed below) have this stage built-in, you may need to consider an external pre-amp if not.

Another important aspect is whether your chosen stereo amplifier has enough Watts per channel (W/Ch) to power your loudspeakers.

Ultimately though, you’ll need to take into account what your set-up requires, and what devices you would like to connect your amplifier to.

So, what are the options? Here are eight highly recommended amplifiers under £400 that are perfect for a turntable set-up.

Sony STR-DH190

Price: £179

Pros: Bluetooth
Cons: No digital inputs

Verdict: The Sony STR-DH190 is perfect for someone in search of a simple stereo amplifier to play a turntable and Bluetooth devices through passive loudspeakers.

On the budget-friendly side of things, Sony offers an uncomplicated and affordable package with its STR-DH190 stereo receiver. The amplifier’s A+B function lets you connect two sets of speakers, giving you outdoor and indoor installation options for speakers without having to get another amp. If you’re looking for something that you can connect your turntable, power your speakers, and is Bluetooth capable, look no further.

Onkyo TX-8220

Price: £219

Pros: AM/FM radio, 100W/Ch, Bluetooth, line out, sub out
Cons: Big and impractical in size

Verdict: The Onkyo TX-8220 is perfect for loudspeakers that need a bit more power in order to shine.

Onkyo’s TX-8220 is a powerful receiver that’s packaged in a simple, straight-forward setup. The TX-8220 allows you to easily connect two pairs of passive speakers, while Bluetooth capability, coaxial input, and optical inputs take care of all your digital connections. It also has 4 analogue inputs, a dedicated Phono input, line, and a sub output. The TX-8220 does all this while also outputting 100W/Ch, so if you’re looking for a powerhouse of an amplifier, then this one is for you.

Pioneer A-40AE

Price: £274-£319

Pros: Solid, audio-centric design, 2 sets of speaker outputs
Cons: No Bluetooth

Verdict: The Pioneer A-40AE is perfect for those who want a minimal interface while listening to their records.

This 60W/Ch integrated amplifier by Pioneer features the brand’s original, audio first, “Direct Energy Design” fully incorporated. This Direct Energy Design gives the A-40AE a unique, crisp, and life-like sound field. Along with its anti-standing wave insulators that help prevent resonance, it’s obvious that Pioneer has put the audio experience at the forefront of this amp’s development.

Denon PMA-600NE

Price: £349

Pros: MM and MC phono input
Cons: Busy design

Verdict: The Denon PMA-600NE is a modern-day integrated amp that offers a true analogue experience.

The PMA-600NE is a 70W/Ch integrated amplifier that doesn’t forget its roots. Analogue Mode disables all digital circuitry, which aims to give you a truer analogue listening experience. Although it does put emphasis on analogue functionality, the digital inputs on this amp aren’t neglected. Two optical inputs and a single coaxial are paired with a built-in DAC system, which means you’ll get great sound no matter what source you use.

Marantz PM6006 (UK edition)

Price: £349.99

Pros: Digital inputs, high-quality DAC, and speaker terminals
Cons: No Bluetooth

Verdict: A slight but distinctive improvement to the original PM6006, the UK edition of this Marantz amp fine-tunes what made the original great.

The Marantz PM6006 was a perfectly good budget integrated amp that didn’t compromise on sound. In this UK edition however, Marantz have fine-tuned the design to give you even more bang for your buck. The PM6006 is a 45W/Ch amp that delivers a punchy sound through its digital and analogue inputs. It also boasts a high quality CS4398 digital-to-analogue converter if you want to digitise your collection.

Cambridge Audio AXA35

Price: £366

Pros: Dedicated phono stage, ¼ headphone output, front-facing aux input
Cons: No Bluetooth, no optical inputs

Verdict: The AXA35 by Cambridge Audio is a well-built integrated amp that is perfect for a two-channel Hi-Fi audio system.

Cambridge Audio has been bringing top-notch hi-fi products to the market for over 30 years, and its entry-level AXA35 integrated amp is no exception. The AXA35 comes equipped with 4 line-level RCA inputs and a dedicated moving magnet phono stage perfect for connecting with your turntable. It also has a 3.5mm aux input in the front panel, giving you easy access to connect your phone or laptop. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles with this integrated amp, but what you do get is a well built, 35W/Ch amp that puts audio first.

Yamaha MusicCast RN402D

Price: £380.00

Pros: Bluetooth, digital inputs, vintage look, A/B speaker set up
Cons: No phono stage

Verdict: The Yamaha MusicCast RN402D is perfect for those looking for a system that connects seamlessly with streaming services.

At first glance, you could easily mistake this new amp for a vintage one. However, Yamaha’s Music Cast RN402D quickly reveals itself as more than equipped to output audio from your favourite digital devices. The 100W/Ch amplifier allows you to easily stream music from a range of services, while also being Apple-approved, with AirPlay compatibility. The name of the game here is wireless. Analogue RCA inputs allow you to connect any record player, as long as it either has a pre-amp built-in or as a separate unit.

NAD D3020 V2

Price: £399

Pros: Bluetooth, clean sound, digital inputs
Cons: Power outage could be higher

Verdict: The NAD 3020 V2 is a compact integrated amp that’s fully prepared to play both your analogue and digital devices, while also providing a clean sound from your loudspeakers.

Improving on the NAD D3020, originally launched in 1978, the D3020 V2 is an integrated amp for a new generation. Not only did NAD compress this amp into a sleek, and compact form, the company gave it a complete overhaul. The D3020 V2 comes equipped with a phono pre-amp, coaxial, optical inputs and AptX Bluetooth connectivity. While the power output sits at 30W/Ch, the build quality of this NAD means it will outdo a 100W/Ch amplifier from a lesser brand.

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