Are 'mini line mixers' worth it? You still need an fx loop to use one correct?....



I was checking out these mini line mixers that claim....(from website)...

"One of the best-kept secrets of getting great guitar tone is running effects in parallel. Blend a dry signal with your distortion and you get the fuzz or breakup you want, without sacrificing the bite and definition of your tone. Run reverb and chorus or delay in parallel, and you get all the glimmer and shine of your time-based effects without the muddiness you'd get if you run them in series. "

But you would still need a series effects loop to run this into correct?
Any opinions?
I always thought the series effects loop did the same thing....keeping the front end direct guitar signal more


A series loop breaks the entire signal out from the amp, runs it through the fx and returns the resulting signal to the amp. A parallel loop taps off a feed from the amp, sends it to the fx and the returning signal is then mixed in with the dry signal already in the amp.

The parallel loop is great for effects you want to add to the dry signal (delay, reverb etc) and will work best if you can turn the dry signal off in the fx. But it doesn't work as well for effects that are meant to alter the dry signal (boost, tremolo etc). For those, a series loop works better.

Now to the line mixer. The idea is to allow fx to be run in parallel to the dry signal. If you use it in front of the amp, you can run clean and distortion in parallel (as mentioned in the quoted text). If you run it in the amp's fx loop, it basically take a series loop and turn it into a parallel one. And you can run series-preferred fx (such as a boost) before the mixer, while adding delay/reverb in parallel using the mixer. But the amp's fx loop need to be series for this to work, yes.


You can run passive mixers like DOD's 4-channel one and split your signal w/o an fx loop. Better to have a buffer in front or an active mixer, but it can be done.


Gold Supporting Member
There are interesting issues here, but it can be fun... First off, any active device is going to add noise to your signal, and a cheap, low powered active device is likely to add more-especially with trying to set up the gain staging so things are the right volume. The DOD passive mixer prevents that, but does lose ~6dB of gain IIRC, so you may need to drive the loop a little harder.

Next, you have to figure out what you're going to bring back to the amp. If you have effects that'll run at 100% wet, that's the best solution, but are you going to send your signal into the delay, then reverb just the delay, or do you want to reverb the delayed signal AND the dry signal? If so then you're mixing the delay and reverb in parallel (very cool but if you turn off the delay, the volume of the reverb signal returning drops in 1/2). I was using one of the DODs for a full stereo setup for a while, sending the dry signal from each unit to the next one and then combining all of them together for the wet amp, and while it sounded cool, the volume changes turning one effect or another on/off made it fairly frustrating to use (although a volume pedal after the mixer would solve that). Fun stuff, but not used by many gigging musicians for those kind of reasons!

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