July 1, 2004
Alessandro Amp Two Speaker Cable
As part of Alessandro’s recently revamped cable line, the new Alessandro Amp Two speaker cable ($69 retail/$52 street) now features a unique “Symmetricoax” conductor design. Developed by the Wireworld Cable Company, this patented configuration utilizes a pair of hollow concentric conductors rather than the standard parallel-conductor geometry used by most speaker cable manufacturers. According to Wireworld, this concentric configuration distributes the signal’s electromagnetic field more evenly throughout the conductors, which minimizes electromagnetic losses. The 12-gauge conductors contain 240 strands of silver-clad OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) Litz wire. When compared with several other high-quality speaker cables, the Alessandro Amp Two possessed an unsurpassed ability to provide an exceptionally coherent harmonic balance with a super-smooth texture. The cable conveyed impressive depth and richness that combined with its effortless dynamic response to noticeably enhance the test rig’s “feel factor.” I’m so impressed with the Alessandro Amp Two speaker cable that I’ll be using it as my primary reference for future speaker cable tests. And, since it’s earned “reference” status, it also deserves an Editors’ Pick Award. —Terry Buddingh
Planet Waves Tuner-Up
There must be a pack of crazy-ass rocket scientists zooming around the offices of Planet Waves. And thank goodness for them, because they always conjure up some extremely cool gizmo to brighten a guitarist’s life. The team’s latest concoction is the Tuner-Up ($14 retail/street N/A), an extraordinarily uncomplicated device that simplifies the often not-so-simple chore of tuning an acoustic guitar in a noisy environment. You just affix your tuner to the Tuner-Up and hang the device from your soundhole. From there, the Tuner-Up’s onboard piezo pickup translates your guitar’s vibrations directly into your tuner (via an included cable). Shazzam! At a full-band rehearsal and at a noisy neighborhood bar, this little wonder worked perfectly—far more effectively than my tuner’s onboard microphone, which was typically “confused” by the bellowing of drunken louts and random bass notes. It was also a joy not to have to rest the tuner on my knee to get its mic close enough to the soundhole. This is a brilliantly simple idea, and I think you should simply buy one!
4-db Stash Picks
The folks at 4-db set out to build a better plectrum, and while guitarists may or may not beat a path to their door, credit is due for coming up with some very interesting designs. A complete set of five Stash picks ($11 retail/$9 street) comes in a small metal box. The Fat Boy offers different thicknesses on each of its three edges, effectively giving you three picks in one. The Tri-Tip embodies the same concept, but in a triangular shape. The Diamond Back is like two traditional picks stuck together back to back, and the Double Pick actually is two picks stuck together, but with the top tip extended slightly beyond the bottom for a flam-like attack. The Wicked Pick joins two picks at their sides for a double-pronged attack. I found something to like about all of these designs, but my favorite was the Double Pick, which produced a mock 12-string sound when strumming chords. I was less excited by the big multi-tip models, and the Wicked Pick simply left me scratching my head.