Thursday, July 3, 2008

JAYPHAT Experiments

Finally got around to running the Jayphat through my mics and amps. Didn't have time for an extensive trial period, but I have a better idea of just what benefits the box brings to my table. Pictured above are most of my mics (might get around to telling a bit of a tale about those) and those that I used for the Jayphat experimentation. Left to right the mics are:

Astatic JT30 with MC151 crystal element (with a 5meg pot)
Shure Model 41 with a controlled reluctance element
Homemade from motorcycle turn signal with Shure controlled magnetic element
Turner 256 chopped off a desktop stand with an Astatic 127 ceramic element (with a 5meg pot)
RCA mic chopped off a desktop stand with a Shure controlled magnetic element
And in the middle is a Shure 545sd Unidyne III with a dynamic element

The mic that I use the most is the JT30 because I just like the dynamics that can be produced with it and it really responds to shifts in tonal ranges with slight cupping changes. Since the Jayphat's forte is bringing out the beast in the crystals, I decided to begin with it. I also decided to start with the Kalamazoo I amp's channel two, because I had already tried out the Kal's first channel in my initial test run. Channel one hasn't met a mic that it doesn't like. It is the higher gain of the two channels and get nasty pretty quick on the volume knob--the Jayphat beefs that up a notch more. Channel two is relatively mellow in comparison, so I thought that it would make a good test bed and it was. I ran the volume knob 1/2 way up on the Kal and ran the Jayphat at about 3/4 open(think I've found unity gain there) and the channel blossomed with increased bottom end and some nicely rounded off low mids that were horn like. It was no longer the mild mannered input that it was without the box. The Jayphat had jacked it up dramatically. Of course the mildness of the channel has its place in certain situations, but the box makes it a 3 channel amp.

I plugged the Shure Model 41 (I'd call it a Green Bullet, but it is actually more of a blue bullet and is my second favorite) with the controlled reluctance element that supposedly the Jayphat would effect much less in terms of dynamics. First trial seemed to bear that out somewhat. I could detect a bit more bite and presence with the mic and overtones that I didn't hear without the effect. That says a lot because this mic has always been a buttkicker. What floored me, though, was the dramatic shift in tone when I loosened my cup on the mic. It really wah wah wahed with an opening and closing of my cupped hands which was quite different than I'd experienced with that mic. The CR element in that mic always did a little better in that department than some of the same, but it was nothing like this. Being able to change the tonal palette in this way gives the mic another dimension that was missing before.

About the same can be said for the Motorcycle Mic and the plastic bodied RCA with controlled reluctance elements. They both exhibited the ability to produce a better wah wah tonal difference. Neither mic is the monster like the Blue Bullet, but the Jayphat did add that something extra. In fact, I really felt that the plastic body of the RCA was holding back what it was capable of putting down, but the Jayphat brought it a little more up to par.

In the Turner 256 resides a mild mannered ceramic element. I've used it very little except in practice just to keep volumes lower. It does okay in the Kal's hotter channel and the 1483's grid leak channel. It has it's uses, particularly in high gainy input situations. The Jayphat really gave it a kick in butt. Nothing to equal those mics before it, but giving it a useful boost and added fat. It's tone was never bad, but it just always needed the right amp's input for the output.

The Jayphat seemed to have its least effect on the Shure 545. The mic is probably a mid '70s to early '80s model with the jumper pin to switch it from HiZ to LoZ. Of course, in our cases it needs to be in the HiZ mode. It is a great mic, capable of producing some great harp tones. I used it a great deal early on in my development, but once I got my hands around a bullet shaped mic and felt I could cup them more efficiently, then the 545 ended up in back of the bag. The Jayphat changed very little with the mic other than boosting it's gain a bit and maybe adding a little bottom and mids. Nothing changed from a cupped tone to an uncupped tone, which is the norm for these and the Jayphat had not a whit of effect there and from what I already knew, I didn't expect to hear anything dramatic when plugged in with this one.

Okay, what about plugged into my other amps? The Silvertone 1483 was the next candidate. Channel 2 of the amp had already been tricked out by me (by way of Stephen Schneider) to match it up with my crystal mics by giving it all the grid leak that it could handle and a 5meg input for a floor thumping, speaker whomping sound. It loves my crystal mics and brings out the best in the ceramic. It'll tolerate the CM elements, but the Blue Bullet's CR element always overloaded the input and drove it into cutoff. That's basically what the Jayphat tended to do with most of the mics plugged into Channel 2 and that's what I expected to see happen. The ceramic faired well there, but everything else was too touchy or the notes just got snapped off. I was looking forward, though, to seeing what Channel 1's response would be to the intruder.

Channel 1 just never did have the oompph with any of my mics. Of course, I was comparing it to the monster masher input and the Blue Bullet faired pretty good there. The JT30 sounded anemic in comparison though--UNTIL the Jayphat intruded. The Jayphat put Channel 1 close to par with it's cousin. The Blue Bullet really beamed and sang the song that I was hoping it would. Bottom increased, mids bloomed, distortion distorted. The channel lost its all of its whimpiness with the Jayphat in the chain of command. I had thought about jacking around with the input more in the past, but wanted to make sure that I had a channel suitable for mics other than crystal mics. Now, the box modified the tone for me. Good-o! The other mics exhibited just about the same tonal characteristics that they had in the lesser gain channel of
the Kalamazoo. Channel 1 always put forth a decent sound, but it was a thumper now.

Plugging into Ol' Smoky (the Bell 3725) and the Voice of Music amp proved to yield little in the way of earth shattering tonal differences. Not as much impedance matching needed there, though, because the Voice of Music has a 4.7meg input and the Ol' Smoky's is 10meg. Still, with a little gain boost, there is a noticeable difference exhibited in the tone of each of the mics tested. I don't think that enough is gained to warrant using the Jayphat with these two amps. Might take a little more experimenting here.
So, I do believe that the idea of using an effects buffer type box to match up mic impedance with their amplification just might be an excellent one and not just with crystal element types. I think there is a substantial benefit to being able to get a CM/CR mic to shift their tonal palettes greater with the wave of a hand than before. Should be valuable in situations where one must plug into a strange amp and someone, at some point, will try this thing out plugged into a PA and see what told improvements can be had there. I've been told, also, that the box takes the worry out of using longer mic cords or chaining them together without signal degradation. Bottom line is, though, another element of tone can be chased down with this little box.


HTownFess said...

Hey Rick, try a neoprene ring around that 545 if you want to get some wah happening there. Hanging onto the stick feels different with the ring on there, but is easy to get used to. Use a piece of AC or plumbing insulation, maybe 1.5" long, and try using an ID that's not a super-tight fit (maybe 1 1/8") and you can slide it up to cover the head/body junction for soloing--focuses on the mids.

Ricky Bush said...

Hey Professor--

That's a good idea. Seems like I did a koozie material ring once and didn't like it, but he insulation would seem to work better. I'll see what I can get out of it, then. Thanks. Anyway--