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Monthly Archives: October 2014

  • Focal Alpha Studio Monitors. First impressions.

    One of the things we spend a lot of time doing up here at Giraffe Audio, is listening to monitors. They're one of the most crucial parts of the studio and arguably the one piece of equipment that can make the most difference to how you work.

    This week, we've been taking a listen to the new Focal Alpha range. Focal are a French speaker company that have been producing products for both the consumer and the professional market since 1979. They've been making big strides into the studios of many artists and production houses over the last few years since the launch of their CMS and SM ranges. Anyone who knows us, knows that we're big fans of Focal range of monitors.


    The Alpha series are Focal's entry into what is a very crowded entry level market. Rather than join the race to the bottom, Focal have priced their new monitors a little above the competition putting them in the upper region of entry level; £396 for the Alpha 50s, £476 for the Alpha 65s and £556 for the larger Alpha 80s.

    Technically, they boast some impressive specifications; For their sizes in their class, each speaker goes very low- 45Hz for the Alpha 50, 40Hz on the Alpha 65 and an room-shaking 35Hz for the Alpha 80. Bi-amped, each monitors amplifiers are similarly powerful for their sizes, with the Alpha 50 20W for the tops and 35 for the bass, 35W for the tops and 70W for the lows on the Alpha 65s, and a big 40W for the tops and 100W for the bass on the Alpha 80s. They share the polyglass constructed woofer and inverted aluminium tweeter. The rear panels contain the inputs for power, balanced XLR or unbalanced phono, along with some adjustments for the low and high frequencies.


    How does all of this hold together when you plug them in?  I'll not sit here and spurt superlatives, but rather say, come and take a listen (or get to your local stocking dealer if you're not based around the Midlands). There's a lot of competition at this end of the market and these Focal not only hold their own against the competition, but put pose a significant challenge to the current market favourites.

    Focal Alpa 50 side


    For the full spec;




  • Meris 440 Microphone Preamp first impressions.

    Meris Audio is a new company that are based in Los Angeles. They were started by a gent called Terry Burton. Prior to this, he set up Strymon, a name synonymous with superb guitar effect units and worked doing hardware design at Line 6.

    They have just released their first product- a new preamp, called the 440. It's a 500-series module and is compatible with the many chassis and desks that are currently available.


    Out of the box, it looks really nice. The build quality is superb. The front panel contains the controls you'd expect to see on a preamp- your input and output levels.  there's a pad switch to remove 20dB from your input level, high-pass filter to help stop low frequencies causing problems, a high-shelf boost, phase inversion and the phantom power switch. Below these controls is an effects loop send and return.


    Taking it out of the box, you are immediately impressed with the build of it- the metal chassis feels really solid and the main board is substantial. You can see an array of components and iron in the form of the Cinmag transformers that handle the input and output signals.



    These units should really appeal if you're after the sound of the classic American consoles. The Cinmag transformers that are in it are similar to the ones API used in the 312 pre-amps- renown as the sound of the 70s West Coast; Think The Doors and The Rolling Stones...

    The effects loop is a feature quite unique for the 440. It handles signals at the same level as pedals, so that guitarists can get a great clean sound thru the 440 before sending that signal off to the effects pedals and back again. This results in a much better overall sound as you are capturing the tone of the pre-amp, but able to get the right signals into the remainder of your guitarists signal chain without any other patching and re-amping of signals.

    The return input also acts as a direct injection (DI) for guitars and bass allowing you to plug straight into the unit at the right levels.

    Firing it up, we were immediately taken with the cleanliness of it- plugging in our Fender acoustic, it sounded clean, broad and dynamic without any boom. Plugging in our Pearl Priority, we tried it for a bit of vocal and were equally impressed with the richness and tone. Driving it hard resulted in a little compression and a subtle change to the sound, but not the kind of saturated over-drive that driving some preamps results in.

    Overall, we'd really recommend this to engineers who are after a clean preamp and are working with guitarists and bassists, but also want something that works equally well on vocals. You can read more on the product here and we've got ours on demonstration now- drop us a line to arrange a visit.


  • Get Up to $1,295 in UAD Plug-Ins FREE When You Purchase an Apollo Audio Interface!

    Thinking about getting one of the very fine Universal Audio Apollo interfaces? Now, is a great time they have just launched a new time limited offer. Free UA plugins....MmmmmMMmmm

    See below for details!


    Get Up to $1,295 in UAD Plug-Ins FREE When You Purchase an Apollo Audio Interface!

    From October 1st - December 31st 2014, purchase and register a new Apollo Audio Interface — any Twin, Apollo, or Apollo 16 model — and you can get up to $1,295 worth of UAD Plug-Ins — from the likes of Neve, EMT, Studer & Manley — for free!*

    No coupons or redemption codes are necessary. The plug-in(s) will be automatically added to your account once you register your new Apollo interface.

    Already own any of the promotional plug-ins? No problem. Purchase and register a new Apollo Twin, Apollo, or Apollo 16 and you’ll receive a single-use coupon of equal value to the plug-in(s) you already own.

    * Free plug-ins vary based on the Apollo model purchased. For more information, visit

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