Furman PL-Plus Series II
If you use a rack, you’re a prime candidate for a PL-Plus Series II Power Conditioner ($229 retail/$159 street). A key feature of the unit is its proprietary Linear Filtering Technology (LiFT), an AC purification function that eliminates contamination and noise from the incoming AC to allow your equipment to perform better and last longer. The PL-Plus Series II also has maintenance free SMP (series mode protection) surge suppression circuitry that prevents high-voltage spikes from damaging your costly processors, and without sacrificing itself in the process (i.e. you won’t have to hassle with repairing the surge protection circuit when it trips). The PL-Plus Series II clamps at a low 188 volts peak (133 volts RMS), and it can even deal with accidental connections to 208- and 240-volt sources by shutting off all incoming power until the over-voltage condition is corrected.
The 1U device features a multi-segment LED meter that displays incoming voltage levels from 90 to 128 volts, a front-panel dimmer for the two retractable LED lights, one front panel and eight rear panel AC outlets, and a handy BNC jack that allows you to attach any standard 12-volt gooseneck lamp (not included). The PL-Plus Series II may not do anything for your guitar tone, but it’s a great piece of insurance against the AC evils that can potentially shoot down your rig. —Art Thompson
Electro-Harmonix 12AX7EH Preamp Tubes
For decades, tone tweakers have experimented with different preamp tubes in order to fine-tune their amp’s frequency response, tonal texture, and dynamic qualities. The choices of tubes continue to expand thanks to companies like Electro-Harmonix, who is constantly pushing forward with new designs such as the 12AX7EH ($17 retail/$13 street), which is made in Saratov, Russia, and designed to produce lots of gain while suppressing microphonic squeals and rattles. Its plates are smaller than the popular Sovtek 12AX7LPS, but larger than the Sovtek 12AX7WA/B tubes (some tube geeks believe larger plates contribute to bigger tone). In comparison to other current-
production 12AX7s, the new 12AX7EH possesses an exceptionally balanced and even response from top to bottom. Its top-end is tastefully extended without sounding harsh, brittle, or nasty, and its bottom and midrange are deep and full with a rich thickness that is detailed, layered, and complex. Thanks to its balance, articulation, and focus, it’s a good choice for either clean or high-gain applications. In short, the well-mannered 12AX7EH is a great multi-purpose preamp tube that’s well suited for a wide variety of tones and amps. —Terry Buddingh
J. Chandler Pedaltrain/2
Like many things in life, setting up a pedalboard can be as easy or difficult as you care to make it. And if you’re into doing things the easy way, the Pedaltrain/2 ($299 retail/$189 street) offers a convenient solution to organizing up to 12 stompboxes plus a wah or volume pedal. The Pedaltrain/2’s angled, power-coated aluminum platform measures 24" x 121/2" x 2", and its slotted design allows you to route your audio and power cables beneath the pedals to keep connections tidy and out of the way. A foam-lined flight case with recessed latches and handle is included, and it’s big enough to house cords and accessories.
Once things are laid out the way you want, you can then attach the stompboxes with heavy-duty Velcro (two generous rolls are provided), and button down the wiring via the included nylon ties. It was a snap to install pedals on this cleverly designed platform, and being able to transport the whole shebang without fear of damage inflicted by stands, cymbals, etc., is icing on the cake. Sure, you can craft a pedalboard from a few bucks worth of plywood, but why risk a nasty encounter with the old Skil saw when Pedaltrain/2 is clearly such a better way to go? —Art Thompson
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