|Topic: Amazing Amp-BT / Ultimate Control-BT 2018 Version|
This is an assessment and review of the 2018 version of the AMAZING AMP-BT and ULTIMATE CONTROL-BT by Empower Sound.
First, the easy part:
The AMAZING AMP-BT is very surprisingly loud! Much more volume output than I had expected, and based on the ads I had read, I expected a good bit. If you regularly play large school gyms or auditoriums, you might need two, but for a church or library that seats around 150 to 200 people, I find this to be plenty of sound. The Bluetooth worked perfectly, and paired quickly with my tablet. The Bluetooth Range I got was about 60 ft. That should be enough for any application I will ever have, but be aware that it is not a super long range between the Amp and Tablet that plays the music. The 2 headset mic's, hand held mic, and 2 lavalier mic's all worked perfectly right out of the box and the entire system only needed a couple of minutes to set up for voice. (Not including setup of the music system with the Ultimate Control-BT) As the advertisement says, I could have literally opened the box, set up, and started my show in just a few minutes. (I would never try that of course, but it really would be possible!)
I also purchased the "Pro" kit. That added a hard case with customizable foam, a stand with an adapter for the AABT Speaker, and every cable you might ever need. The advertisement on their site said the Pro Kit also contained a second stand for the hand held mic but my box did not contain that second stand. I will follow up to see if that was an error or if that is no longer part of the deal and the site description needs updating. If you need, and expect the inclusion of the mic stand, this would be a concern.
As for the customizable hard case, I absolutely love it! The AABT fit's perfectly on one side, the two transmitters fit in individual pockets in the middle, as does the Ultimate Control BT Remote and a couple of 9v batteries. On the right the hand held mic, 2 headset mic's, Tablet charger and remote receiver all fit in a larger compartment along with needed cables. The UC Tablet that I purchased fits in its own space as well. You can customize the foam in the case however you like. In this one small case, I have my entire PA AND Music system ready to go, and I can be set up in literally 5 minutes. No hype, no exaggeration. You will have a quick, simple, and easy to set up system that gives 2 mic's that can be used simultaneously with customizable background music, pre show and post show music, and a tremendous value addition to your show, all in one small case.
Now for the Ultimate Control-BT:
The Optional Tablet PC:
Since I wanted to keep my sound system web-secure, and used ONLY for my shows, I purchased the $50.00 tablet PC as an option to the UCBT. It is also worth noting that the UCBT App ONLY works on an Android Tablet PC. If you have an apple or other system, the App will not work and you will need either this inexpensive option, or the Android Tablet of your choice. The tablet functions as needed. No bells and whistles, and not a blazing speed, high end piece of technology, but for $50.00, it's just right. Once I got everything set up, I turned the WiFi off, the Bluetooth on, set the screen to never “sleep”, put the tablet in "Airplane Mode", and put the display brightness at about 50%, so there is optimal battery life. (I got about 2 hours and 45 minutes before charging it became an emergency) This also prevents internet access by accident, and there is no way for the tablet to be hacked or corrupted from the outside. I just turn on the tablet, turn on the Amazing Amp BT, turn on the remote, and they sync up in about a minute and the show is ready to go.
About the tablet setup:
I recommend you watch ALL setup and instructional videos on the owner's site. I watched them, then watched them again, and learned a lot that I missed the first time. I was able to connect the tablet to my home internet via wifi, then download the UCBT app, adjust all of the settings on the app, load a few pieces of Royalty Free music and sound effects that I plan to use, make my first play list, and begin to play with the app and remote, all in about an hour. A couple of tips… first, I charged the tablet with the plug charger and not the micro USB. This is a good habit since you will need the micro USB port for your Remote Receiver so it’s good to get in the habit of using the dedicated charger. Second, as soon as you are not using the tablet, hold down the button until you get a menu that asks you to shut down or restart. Make sure the device is completely shut down so your battery will not drain to empty when not in use. Also, occasionally it is wise to use the Reboot option to clear the cache and all of the memory clutter.
About the App:
This is really where all of the work is done. The Ultimate Control App is the engine of the entire performance system. It is a really well thought out app that has many features that are super helpful. When playing music, the entire screen of the tablet can be set to display one large number corresponding to the current song that is playing and clearly visible from a significant distance so that at a glance, you always know exactly where you are in your show should you need to make a mid show adjustment. Not as easily visible from a distance, but still useful, the name of the current and next song are also displayed on this screen.
Each song can have a custom volume level preset. Each song can be set to start playing automatically or wait for your command to start. If needed, the current song can be backed up, fast forwarded, stopped, restarted, made louder or softer, may be faded out and stopped, or be faded out and automatically faded in to the next song. There is also an option to record 1 “TOC” or Track on Command that is a sound burst or sound effect that you might use over and over during the show and have it play anytime, at your command, without being integrated into the order of your song list! Great for an entrance or exit for a helper or a funny sound effect that adds to a routine, or as a part of any running gag.
A LITTLE DISSAPOINTMENT… There is a show timer, and a remote overlay function for the app that you might use if the remote malfunctioned for some reason, BUT, these two features, while demonstrated on the advertisement videos, require an upgrade to the app and a subscription of $5.49 per month that also includes the UCBT unlimited warranty. I was disappointed that these features require an ongoing payment. There is also the ability to set the remote to vibrate for stage queues, and to operate two remotes at the same time, but these features are also not available without the subscription to the warranty and upgraded app. Frankly, I was surprised that these functions were not included in the standard price. $299.00 seems like a fair price to cover the remote and an app that is complete. While I feel the warranty may be a good value for many, I feel as though the functionality of the device is being held hostage if I choose not to subscribe to the warranty.
The box for the Remote Control includes some really nice extras and the remote has some pretty amazing functionality as well. First, you get the Remote of course. It is so very light weight I felt it may not be tough enough to stand up to the wear and tear of every day use. Only time will tell, but it functions perfectly and the fact that it is so very light weight is a great plus when you put it in your pocket to do a show. It does not weigh down your pocked like a set of car keys, and is easy to feel and maneuver as needed, by feel, without the need to see what you are doing. Also, the ultra light and silicone covered Remote seems very well protected if you should drop it.
Next, there is a toe switch that can be plugged into the remote for hands free operation. Great feature. Then there is the USB to Mini USB Cable. This is how you charge the remote. BOTH the Mini USB and the port for the Toe Switch are on the same side, and they are not labeled. If you bought the Tablet PC to go with your set, do not try to charge the remote with the tablet charger. You could damage your remote. ONLY charge the remote with the USB to USB Mini port. When first plugged in, the light glows red. When fully charged, the light glows green. The instructions say the battery charge could last for several MONTHS! I still will likely charge it before each show just in case.
As for the remote functionality, it is very well thought out. Each button has at least two functions. A “Short Press” function and a “Long Press” function. For example, the forward button goes to the next song, but if you hold it down, it simply fast forwards within the current song. Button by button it is as follows:
Forward Button: See above
Back Button: Short Press goes back to beginning and restarts song. Double Short Press (double click) goes back to the beginning of the PREVIOUS song, and press and hold rewinds the current song to stop along the way.
Up Button: Short Press increases volume by 1 point. Long Press raises volume to max.
Down Button: Short Press decreases volume by 1 point. Long Press decreases volume to silent.
Center Button: Short Press Starts or Stops playing. Press and hold activates the “Burst Sound” I mentioned above. Just press and hold the center button and that pre determined sound or line of music or song comes jumping out.
Side Button: This is the “Fade” button. Press once to fade out and start the next song. Press and hold to fade out the current song while fading in the next song simultaneously.
Also, the Remote can be magnetically activated with a PK ring. Just put the remote in your pocket and when you need to start or stop the music, just bring your hand next to your pocket. I was very excited about this option until I realized that this too requires the monthly subscription and the upgraded app. Oh well. I can press the button.
This one little device and app (and tablet if you don’t have one) offer so much more value and fun to your presentation. Since you, the performer, are in complete control at all times, you never have to depend on the “sound guy”. Your music will always play exactly as you have set it up. Regarding working distance for the remote, I could not get out of range in my yard. The company says it has about a 900ft. range! This should NEVER be out of range from the stage to your tablet and PA system. I am happy (or should I say “Happie”) with this purchase and absolutely recommend it for giving the best possible performance to your audience as a solo act. I have never seen or heard of anything else with this level of customized design made ESPECIALLY for the ON STAGE, SOLO performer to be in complete control. I would recommend this system for anyone with similar needs and consider the price to be very fair.
|Very helpful info- thanks mrpiper!|
I spoke with Empower Sound to inquire about the microphone stand I mentioned above. I ordered a special deal that did not include that second stand. (I realized that as we were talking about it) If you order the Pro Kit on their site, the additional stand should be included. My error. No worries for me personally, as I would not be using it anyway.
I also just absolutely can not say enough positive about the kindness and customer service of every individual I have communicated with at Empower Sound. A great group to deal with.
|Looks like the Ultimate Control products have been discontinued. I'd love to know what happened with that and if any of the current owners are experiencing problems with their Ultimate Control Units.|
|The newer Amazing amp is Bluetooth enabled. Works great and I was able to use my Android phone to control the music. I have Airturn Digit III in my pocket and my phone near my case.|
|I just heard from Brian Foshee at Empower Sound that the Ultimate Control-BT Plus has been canceled, which is a great pity. It was the only viable android solution I have found to compete with the iOS only Audio Ape. RIP UCBT+.|