Fishman Matrix Infinity Acoustic Pickup Wide Reviews4.5/5.0 based on 1 customer review
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from Montreal, Canada
October 29, 2009Music Background:
Previously 17 years pro: bass,guitar,vocals ; some live sound engineering gigs, several live recording gigs; writer/home recording enthusiast
"You won't be disappointed.'I gave it a 4.5 in case Fishman ends up developing a pickup even more awesome than this one.
I actually bought this little jewel from Sweetwater well over a year ago through my sales engineer Derek … and I didn’t end up installing it on my acoustic until around 7 months ago.
The objective in writing was to be complete. This isn’t the world’s shortest review, so it is my hope to give at least a thorough but interesting read for anyone considering purchasing the mentioned Fishman products.
The following is a “Before and After” review .
“After” = using the Fishman Matrix Infinity (Wide) bridge PU installed on my acoustic,
and “Before” = using something else previously installed.
Evaluations will be relative to 3 perspectives: Instrument, pickup assembly, and exterior guitar amplifier. The following observations are based on using the exact same acoustic guitar and exterior amplifier that I have for years (as “hack” as it might initially appear ), to provide a more precise perception of the differences “Before” and “After” installing the Fishman Matrix Infinity.
One previous variable which I couldn’t eliminate should be kept in mind :Please carefully note here beforehand, that the previous (“Before”) pickup installed on the guitar, did not have a preamp – it was a only a piezo film pickup wired directly to a ¼ inch female output jack/endpin.
So I’m reviewing the Fishman Matrix Infinity (Wide) PU , installed on a Norman B 30 dreadnought guitar (made right here in Canada [late 70’s] ) and plugged through a little Fender Squier 15 guitar amp. The previous pickup was an EMG-AT 125 (but to concede a point in EMG’s favour, remember there was no APA 1 preamp installed, although [ as you’ll see – even according to Fishman] there should have been).
I found the entire Fishman experience to be very pro. I ended up buying the Matrix Infinity PU because of my original interest in the Fishman Aura pedal. I’d emailed Fishman and one of their knowledgeable sales staff (Frank P.) who is also a luthier and a performer helped me find the best solution. When he heard that my present piezo film pickup on the B30 had no preamp, he wondered how I could use the pickup at all. Frank suggested 3 possible scenarios: “In a perfect world” I could find the original preamp made for the pickup and install it; or I could use an exterior preamp (he actually gave the example “…such as LR Baggs”), or, he said I could simply ditch all that and go with the Fishman Matrix Infinity PU assembly, adding, “I know you won’t be disappointed”.
He was right. I bought the Matrix Infinity and I’m anything but disappointed. My thinking was: anyone who can include alternate solutions concerning other manufacturers, is not only considering my needs – they must have solid confidence in their own product as well. Fishman provided me with a superior yet cost effective, complete solution.
So the first thing I noticed after installing the Matrix Infinity on the B30 was just how “hot” the signal was straight out of my acoustic. (For those of you familiar with the Squire 15) The gain knob remained “off”” to minimize the introduction of any distortion into the signal path. Again, the previous pickup I was using had no preamp, so some increase in signal strength was to be expected. But with the Matrix Infinity in there it seemed I couldn’t turn either the Channel Volume or the Master Volume past 2 without the windows starting to rattle. This hot source signal is an ideal starting position for anyone wishing to plug in an acoustic. The hotter the signal directly out of an acoustic, the better off one is because having to turn everything up (as opposed to down) as one goes will eventually mean turning up noise and increasing/inviting distortion (did I mention feedback ?)- all and any of which will muddy that nice clean acoustic sound we’re looking for.
I haven’t yet experimented with the entire variety of sounds available through the preamp EQ-ing options. For the review, I was only playing at home on my own. The B30 can be lacking in low end and highs so I preferred a smoother overall sound from the B30, attainable by significantly cutting the mids- both by rolling the “flat” tone control and by alternately using the “scooped” tone which added a “lively” edge minus the mids . When playing with other members in a band situation, those same mids might prove more useful not being cut to maintain some of the acoustic’s presence in the overall sound. It is possible to even boost those mids on an acoustic somewhat by rolling the tone control in the “flat” position.
I only had limited success with the Bass boost switch. There wasn’t any perceptible/audible bass boost after a certain cut-off point. However, to be totally candid, this is easily attributable to the inherent properties/inadequacies of the little 8” speaker and inexpensive amplifier of the Squier 15 itself – just as noticeable on my Strat when plugged through the same Squier 15, after a certain point, no matter how much I crank the tone control there don’t seem to be any lower bass frequencies being reproduced. I have a recent model high-end acoustic guitar amplifier which would prove more receptive to the preamp’s bass boost option, but as this is essentially a “Before & After” review – let's continue to follow the Squier wire.
According to several reviews of the B30 acoustic guitar, it has a “nice bright” sound… My reply to that comment : “Not !!” Perhaps the person who said "bright" just wanted to write a review, or maybe they had recently changed the strings on their B30 and put on a fresh set of bronze or phosphor-bronze replacements. But after the strings are broken in, ultimately the moderately priced (discontinued ) B30 exhibits this characteristic “dull” sound in comparison to more top of the line model acoustic guitars.
Where the B30 shines, is that it has a bolt on neck, which provides for some really pleasing setup adjustments. However, I suspect the missing heel and thus missing larger mass of wood - which would ideally exist and have been glued to the sounding block (less neck to body fusion), suggests that tonally, a sacrifice has been made in the areas of resonance and brightness for the sake of touch and playability.
But all the resonance and brightness which had tonally been relegated to the background on the B30, is easily brought back up to the forefront by the Fishman Infinity Matrix. This pickup has attitude. It has made an unremarkably average sounding acoustic guitar, sound very good … so good that I’m seriously considering combining it with the new Fishman Aura Spectrum pedal to see whether, with this average guitar, I might just discover an acoustic quality superb enough to become the complete “acoustic guitar solution” for my home recording/writing needs.
The Infinity Matrix hasn’t simply made my Norman B30’s previous sound louder. It has brought out the hidden sonic nuances – as if one’s ear were located close up to the sounding board.
PS. The last time I installed an acoustic guitar bridge pickup, my forearm fit through the soundhole – now it doesn’t. In this case one might require a little extra dexterity and a pair of pliers when lining the endpin assembly up and when placing the rearmost adhesive wire-supports. Although the installation instruction sheet is clear and straightforward enough for do-it-yourselfers, in some instances it could be more desirable to have one’s local luthier install the Fishman Matrix Infinity instead.