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Axess Buffer vs. VHT Valvulator

Messages
402
I currently have a VHT valvulator on my pedalboard that does a great job. It makes a lot of my pedals usable; before they just sucked all the high-end out of the signal.

The VHT works well with everything I’ve tried except my fuzz, dirt, and wah pedal, so I put them before the buffer.

The only problem I have with the VHT is the amount of real-estate it takes up on my pedalboard. I just got a gator gigbox and the lid has trouble closing with the Valvulator on the board. (Maybe I should return the gigbox and look into a different pedal board).

Does anyone have any experience with the axess buffer? It looks to be much smaller than the VHT. Has anyone done any head to head comparisons?
 

Pat Healy

Senior Member
Messages
10,949
I have not tried the Valvulator, but I own the Axess buffer, and am very pleased with it. It eliminates the high-end tone suck to the point that my tone running through the buffer and six other pedals (some true bypass, some not) is virtually indistinguishable from the guitar direct-to-amp tone. The buffer is small, a bit narrower and slightly thicker than a pack of cigarettes.

Interestingly enough, I found that my fuzz and wah pedals work fine running after the Axess buffer. I'm not sure why that is, and I'm running them in front of it, just because that's the "right" way to do it. FWIW.
 

gtrguy17

Member
Messages
239
I had a Valvulator and it broke, so I replaced it with the Axess. The difference drove me crazy, so I had the V fixed and then sold the Axess. They're both fine buffers, but the V imparts some extra bounciness to the signal, if that word makes sense...
 

Macaroni

Member
Messages
4,348
I had an Axess and it's a great buffer. Then I got the Valvulator and with NOS tubes I liked it better than the Axess for my tastes, plus it powered other pedals, which I needed. Then I got a Seigmund Missing Link and I liked it better than the Valvulator.

This was just my personal experience, YMMV. All 3 are great buffers, each with its own unique features.
 

shakti

Member
Messages
1,314
+1 for the Valvulator. So far the only buffer I've tried that retains the most of the "straight-into-amp" feel with the advantages of buffering. Plus it's a power supply.
 

cvansickle

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
12,329
FWIW....

When I was using mostly Ibanez and other non-true bypass (false bypass?) pedals, I loved my Valvulator. A couple years back, however, I achieved all true bypass on my pedalboard. I did some experimenting, and I found that my pedal chain sounds better without the Valvulator in the signal.

I still have it on the board to power a couple of things, but I like my sound better without the buffer. I guess that's the key phrase - I like it better!
 
Messages
402
I had a Valvulator and it broke, so I replaced it with the Axess. The difference drove me crazy, so I had the V fixed and then sold the Axess. They're both fine buffers, but the V imparts some extra bounciness to the signal, if that word makes sense...
Extra bounciness...I think I know what you mean. All of my pedals seem livelier to me when I'm running the Valvulator.

Lots of love for the VHT here. I may have to rethink the gigbox and look for a different board. Sounds like I might regret the switch to the axess.
 

playon

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,923
Try the Catalinbread Chile Picoso some time, great sounding little pedal for keeping the signal juicy and responsive.
 

shakti

Member
Messages
1,314
DOn't skimp on the tube in the Valvulator! It makes a huge difference.

cvansickle - I'd recommend you to swap the stock tube for your choice of NOS. Don't forget the first tube will impart its sound qualities on everything, so *maybe* what you don't like is the sound of that tube?

At the end of the day, the absolute best is straight into the amp, but above a certain number of true bypass effects and cable, I will prefer to add the Valvulator with the right tube.
 

Macaroni

Member
Messages
4,348
I tried a Mullard, Telefunken, Amperex & Tesla, and settled on the Telefunken, because it added a nice level of clarity and detail in a very musical way, which benefited the pedals down the line, as well as the amp. Just one of many available flavors, depending on your tastes and tonal goals/needs.
 

shakti

Member
Messages
1,314
I've tried Mullard, Tungsram, RFT, Sylvania and Tesla E83CC. The Mullard was my favourite for running fuzzes into it, sounded the most amp-like when rolling back the guitar volume with a fuzzface, but it was a tiny bit muffled sounding for clean sounds. The Tesla E83CC (Telefunken copy, apparently) was the best for clean sounds - very balanced and firm, but a bit on the cold side particularly when overdriven by a fuzz. I ended up with the Sylvania for the best of both worlds, but YMMV. Not sure exactly which type of Sylvania it is. Would love to try a real Telefunken some day.
 

the_Chris

It's All Been Done Before
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,802
I tried a Mullard, Telefunken, Amperex & Tesla, and settled on the Telefunken, because it added a nice level of clarity and detail in a very musical way, which benefited the pedals down the line, as well as the amp. Just one of many available flavors, depending on your tastes and tonal goals/needs.
^^^^^^^

Listen to this man :) When I was looking for the right buffer tube a while back he recommended the Telefunkens and he was dead on.

Solid state buffers can be pretty good, but I personally like the sound that a tube buffer imparts - it sounds livelier (makes the setup sound more direct to the amp). Not all tubes are created equal and I've really dug the balance of the Telefunken 12ax7 (for instance, the stock Sovtek that VHT includes is too bright, not full sounding or balanced at all). The down side is that the Telefunkens aren't cheap.

I've been saying this for years though - someone needs to come out with a tube buffer that's relatively compact and uses a modern production tube that's more affordable. I think there is a market here and I'd do it myself if I had the electronics experience, but I don't. Maybe the Siegmund Missing Link is the answer?
 
Messages
144
FWIW....

When I was using mostly Ibanez and other non-true bypass (false bypass?) pedals, I loved my Valvulator. A couple years back, however, I achieved all true bypass on my pedalboard. I did some experimenting, and I found that my pedal chain sounds better without the Valvulator in the signal.

I still have it on the board to power a couple of things, but I like my sound better without the buffer. I guess that's the key phrase - I like it better!
I think that this is an important lesson for all of us - especially me.

We need to remember that our gear exists in an electronic context that may change what the "best" piece of gear for the job is. Not using a buffer may be the best solution with some pedal combination, a tube buffer may be best with another, a solid-state buffer best with another.

And - here's the NASTY part.

You may have a GREAT set of pedals that are just inherently electronically mismatched and NO buffer/bufferless solution will help you.

Your pedalboard is a gestalt system. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts and you need to optimize the whole - even if it means choosing pedals that would be "sub-optimal" looking at the pedal alone.

I continuously forget this. I bet others do too.
 

BluesHarp

Senior Member
Messages
8,574
I have had a VHT for about 2 days and after about 6 hours of experimenting with its placement I found that if I have it anywhere in my chain before the last pedal... the DD-7 ( see my sig ) then it produced a hum and made some of my pedals sound great but some of them like crap.

I tried first ( yuck ) after wah ( better but my half my ODs sounded sterile and brittle ) before my volume pedal ( noise in system and popping on all pedal switchs ) and then without the buffer ( dead dull timid distant timid tone ). I was almost about to toss the thing when I decided to run it dead last right after my DD-7 delay. Every single pedal on my board is NOW dead quiet, smooth as glass with no popping when the switchs are engaged, and the entire level of everything has turned into a more powerful and plugged-right-in way. Here's the thing too.. all the OD pedals sound much better with my amps and the gain is more dynamic. The trem and even volume pedal sound vintage and strong but not throby like they did with the buffer before them. The delays sound about the same except a small clarity increase.

I had to slightly adjust all my OD's in either volume or treble.

I would say the VHT with a tungsol tube in it is the very best overall thing I have done for my board since... the voodoo labs power supply. I have a axess bs-2 on the way and it will fit on my board better than the VHT... but it will depend on how it compares to the VHT.

Theres alot of talk about where the buffer should go in your chain. Mines last and all I know is that each of my pedals sound as if each one is the only one in my chain when activated and that means strong and dynamic. As if Im plugging right in my amp. For me there IS no more confusion on whats better.. first, last, etc.

The klon is a great OD with a buffer but I dont think even it would compare to the VHT or Axess. My Timmy sounds pretty good as a buffer if left on... but still, no comparison to a dedicated buffer. Ive heard good things about the Barber launch pad.
 
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GuitarBrent

Member
Messages
2,410
I have had a VHT for about 2 days and after about 6 hours of experimenting with its placement I found that if I have it anywhere in my chain before the last pedal... the DD-7 ( see my sig ) then it produced a hum and made some of my pedals sound great but some of them like crap.

I tried first ( yuck ) after wah ( better but my half my ODs sounded sterile and brittle ) before my volume pedal ( noise in system and popping on all pedal switchs ) and then without the buffer ( dead dull timid distant timid tone ). I was almost about to toss the thing when I decided to run it dead last right after my DD-7 delay. Every single pedal on my board is NOW dead quiet, smooth as glass with no popping when the switchs are engaged, and the entire level of everything has turned into a more powerful and plugged-right-in way. Here's the thing too.. all the OD pedals sound much better with my amps and the gain is more dynamic. The trem and even volume pedal sounds vintage and strong but not throby like they did with the buffer before them. The delays sound about the same except a small clarity increase.

I would say the VHT with a tungsol tube in it is the very best overall thing I have done for my board since... the voodoo labs power supply. I have a axess bs-2 on thew way and it will fit on my board better than the VHT... but it will depend on how it compares to the VHT.

Theres alot of talk about where the buffer should go in your chain. Mines last and all I know is that each of my pedals sound as if each one is the only one in my chain when activated and that means strong and dynamic. As if Im plugging right in my amp. For me there IS no more confusion on whats better.
I would love to hear what you think about how the Axess compares to the VHT.
 
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BluesHarp

Senior Member
Messages
8,574
Sorry for the delay..

The axess ended up on my bass board and the vht on my guitar board. The vht is warm but still discrete.. my fav with a good nos tube. It also has cleaned up some noise in my chain and the ground switch is awesome depending on where your amp and board is plugged into... it can make a big difference if there is a ac hum somewhere.

The axess is a bit more sterile but it is pretty flat and uncolored compared to any cheap buffer in a OD pedal. Nice strong and clean. Musical top end.
 




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