Using birch wood is not new to JVC, as birch cone speakers have appeared on a number of ‘high end’ midi systems and using the same source material on ‘in the canal’ headphones was in effect a logical progression. The quality of both the construction and the overall finish of the phones is exceptional, with a polished wooden housing, a wooden diaphragm and a high gravity brass ring on a stainless unit base to control the diaphragm movement – this is clearly not a cheap product! They are surprisingly lightweight and come with removable/interchangeable ear pieces/caps which are provided in both silicon and memory foam, with a choice of shape and size which neatly and easily pop over the head of the unit. The sound quality is remarkable and I am really impressed by the range of these phones, the separation and the tonality – each beat on the ride cymbal is easily heard and it’s crystal clear. They’re not overly warm and the balance across the full spectrum is extraordinary – perfect for the jazz listener.

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Protection Racket are very well known for their soft shell drum cases – theirs is the case of choice for many a gigging musician. However, they have now expanded and extended their range to include semirigid examples and guitar and electric bass cases.

We took a look at the two bass cases. Built around a polycarbonate frame, these cases offer the enhanced protection of three layers of different density Rocket foam and are covered in Racketex waterproof material and have a “big teeth” 3/4 covered zip with Protection Racket lockable tags. To the lower front face of the bags are two.

Protection Racket Bass Case zippered pockets - a medium sized piggy-backed on a large, while to the top rim of the case is a heavy duty grab handle with rubberised grip. Both cases come with rear nylon grab handles and a rubberised name/address pouch. This, however, is where the similarities of the 7051 and the 7151 ends. The latter is a Deluxe model and as might be expected has a number of benefits particularly in the comfort stakes, not only for the player, but also the instrument! This is most noticeable on the rucksack style harness, where the 7151 model sports an “airpac” foam back pad, fully adjustable quick release straps with heavily padded shoulder pads, an adjustable sternum strap and a zippered pocket for it all to be packed into when not in use. The 7051 model on the other hand, comes only with an adjustable harness with shoulder pads and carabiner style releaseable clasps which are linked to ‘D’ rings attached to the rim of the case. There is also a marked difference to the interior of each case.

Where the 7051 model comes with a soft nylon interior and an adjustable neck support with velcro strap, the 7151 supports a luxury non abrasive, hydrophilic Propile fleece lining together with the adjustable neck support and velcro retainer strap. As might be expected, the 7151 will set you back almost twice as much as the 7051. The real question is, how often are you going to use the back pack harness and does your instrument really need to travel in a fleece lining? For more visit

This is one of the latest lighting ideas for those reading scores on music stands in dark corners. The unit comprises two switchable LED lights used singularly or as a double, with each attached to two adjustable “swan necks” that are connected to the base which houses three AAA batteries, has a mains connector and is attached by way of a heavily sprung clasp. We tried our sample on a Jazz Music stand (yes this does exist!), clipping it to the top rail. The clasp is well sprung and is made, as is the rest of the product, from a tough plastic compound. However, although there are a couple of rubberised pads, the grip area is very small. We needed two free hands, using one to hold the unit while the other adjusted the swan necks. With almost unlimited adjustment, the light spread is good with no hot spots. But we always seemed to need the double lights in each head, as opposed to using just the single source. Folding down into a neat, compact size for storage, this little Mighty Bright is one item no working musician should leave home without.

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They may not be as well known as the Vic Firth and Promark brands, but these Wincent sticks certainly take some beating. Not new, but newly launched in the UK market, they are evenly balanced and have that ‘quality’ feel. We tried both the ‘round tip’ model and the standard tip ‘XL’. Clearly sticks are down to the personal preference of the player, but for weight and thickness these 55s were, for me, ideal. The Round Tip model was for me the more interesting of the two, as the tip is slightly larger than a normal round tip and gave added volume but retains the same definition and clarity, comparing well with my usual nylon tip models.

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 It seems that double bass pick-ups have been, as it were, coming out of the woodwork in recent years, with the likes of Shertler, Underwood, Fishman and Realist. And now Oxfordshire-based Headway has come up with yet another way of amplifying your db. Set within the bridge the two shielded, circular piezo ceramic cables fit into U shaped slots, one in each of the feet of the bridge. The cables then run down the body of the bass behind the tailpiece and into a nine volt battery in a neat little leather case that is attached by a velcro pad to the back of the tailpiece. This follows on to the jack socket which is equipped with self-adhesive pads and draw ties. Spare velcro pads are supplied, so that wires can be trapped, so as not to touch either the body or the tailpiece of the bass. The circular 360-degree pick-up profile means that this system picks up the most comprehensive collection of vibrations passing through the bridge, maximising the tonal and timbral authenticity and delivering a very punchy, solid and clean sound. There’s no body or background noise and no hum. This pickup system could be as close as it gets to amplifying a bass through acoustic mics. The best thing about the HE2, is it does not taint the natural sound of the bass played acoustically.

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