Has anything really changed? New generation Acoustic DI/Preamps.

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by Grant Ferstat, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. Grant Ferstat

    Grant Ferstat Some guy in obscure bands in a far away place... Silver Supporting Member

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    Every few years I go through this process of seeing if the world has TRULY moved on in terms of a better sounding compact acoustic preamp/DI device.

    For many years now my 2002 J45 has been outfitted with an iMix which I mono output premixed from the soundhole controls into the venerable old Baggs Para DI I've used for, gee I can't remember how long but certainly more than a decade.

    A couple of years ago I tried the later generation offerings from Baggs, Fishmann, Radial etc but although they had a range of nice features such as on-board boosts and tuners etc I can't say I thought any of them actually sounded noticeably more 'acoustic'. More just different versions of a decent DI'd sound.

    NOW, what DOES sound noticeably better is our singer's Pendulum SPS-1 Preamp. The dedicated module plugged into the guitar and then into the Pendulum in IDEAL circumstances is an entirely different thing to my ear. A lot of the transient nasties disappear...bigger, richer more authentic soundstage and even a better playing feel.

    The problem with the Pendulum though is that for a lot of our playing circumstances with nothing but quick line-checks and restricted set-up time it's way way too complicated to tweak the extensive EQ and it's not the smallest thing to carry around being 19" rackmount.

    SO my rather long winded question is (short of going to rather unwieldy and expensive outboard like the Pendulum) if there is anything on the market that people have found really offers a step up in acoustic like DI'd tone. I really don't care about extensive features, just the sound and a bit of EQ control for dealing with the nasty wedge sound, the frequencies that want to take off etc.

    Thanks in advance for any feedback....err information.
     
  2. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    There's certainly a benefit to sticking with one setup and getting used to it so good on you there. :)

    I think you hit on it with the ParaDI vs. Pendulum comparison. Piezos are very simple, and past the form factor considerations, there's not a lot of innovation to happen there. Internal mics might have gotten a bit better, but we know of the issues with those.

    The real magic can happen in bigger, more expensive off-board gear that can make the most of the raw input from the guitar down the cable. The Pendulum is still tops. The D-Tar stuff was very good, and the Grace Design stuff is supposed to be great but $$$.

    I've been committed to the K&K stuff for awhile, mostly the Pure Western Mini in various guitars and my mandolin. My newest acoustic has the Trinity system (Pure Mini + internal mic). I'm using the K&K preamp with that, so a stereo cable out of the guitar lets me split the signal in the box for processing and volume control before sending a re-combined signal to the next thing in my chain. I love the way it sounds in a solo setting. With a band I assume I'd only get to use the pickup, but that's simply going back to what I've always done.
     
  3. Grant Ferstat

    Grant Ferstat Some guy in obscure bands in a far away place... Silver Supporting Member

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    To be honest I've been thinking of going to just a pure mini because I hate hate hate having all the battery stuff inside the guitar. But I dunno, what I have presently is dual source so that may be a backwards step..

    The Grace stuff looks good.

    Not surprising this has come around again after hearing my guitar tracking last week through beautiful mics, comps and the Neve console I guess..
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
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  4. rowdyyates

    rowdyyates Supporting Member

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    Pure Mini into a K&K XLR preamp. Most natural sound I've heard, short of a $1000 mic into a $1000 preamp.
     
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  5. steve_man

    steve_man Member

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    You owe it to yourself to check out the Red-Eye... not new, per say, but what started in Austin, TX has now found a larger following. Loved mine so much that I sold my Paracoustic.

    https://www.fire-eye.com/red-eye-1
     
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  6. nnajar

    nnajar Member

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    Red eye sounds wonderful.

    That said, there's nothing wrong with using the pendulum enpin preamp on its own direct to the FOH. I travel with both the red eye and the pendulum endpin preamp and depending on what the production is like at the venue- there are cases where I feel like I'll need an absolute volume control instead of just the 6db boost on the red eye- I'll use one or the other for the gig.
     
  7. Megatron

    Megatron Member

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    Love the Pure Western Mini.

    I'm not a big fan of Piezos or sound hole pickups.

    Wanted something simple on my D28 that retained the guitars tone. Pure Western Mini was perfect.
     
  8. kludge

    kludge The droid you're looking for Silver Supporting Member

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    The Red-Eye will get you away from complicated eq, too. Its simple treble knob is highly effective. Plus, thanks to its high impedance and whatever other fairy magic is going on, it is extraordinary with a K&K or other high-impedance soundboard transducer. The best overall sound I've gotten onstage so far has been a simple K&K with a Red-Eye.
     
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  9. Tuberoast

    Tuberoast Silver Supporting Member

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    After trying some of the sound hole pickups, I installed a Pure Mini, of which I run into a Red Eye, I've never had a better sound in a duo/guitarist-singer setting. I've been using this for two years and haven't felt the need to make a change. A nice natural sound without the crappy piezo quack-rubber band sound.
     
  10. MikeVB

    MikeVB Supporting Member

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    Red Eye + K&K Mini sounded great with my vintage Gibson J45 and sucked so bad I wanted to stop my solo gig and smash it with my Santa Cruz OM/PWM.

    I've tried a dozen combos of preamps, pickups, mics, and various guitars. There is no overall best or magic bullet. You basically have to try different things until you find what suits your ears. And then some gigs will be magic. Some you'll want to stomp your ****.
     
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  11. jens5

    jens5 Silver Supporting Member

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    I used a Para DI with a passive internal SB pick-up in combo with an AKG 460 small diaphragm condenser mic for years playing in a 5 piece band. Each slightly panned using 2 channels of the FOH board for slight stereo effect. For rhythm, 40% P/U. For lead, I'd eat more of the mic. It was an OK set-up but I was never able to find anything that would totally replace the obvious disadvantage of a mic for live applications. I've not found anything to date that sounds just like my acoustic but louder. Studio is a different story of course where you rely on mics only.
     
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  12. vadsy

    vadsy Supporting Member

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    I listed my Para DI last week after many years of use. The struggle to get a decent sound after a new guitar and pickup has ran my patience dry. I got a better sound from a simple Radial DI but I'd like to try the Red-Eye.
     
  13. Thor

    Thor Member

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    Another fan of the Red Eye preamp. Such a great pedal and sounds fantastic. Have been using them for about 5 years and they are still going strong!
     
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  14. Traintrack

    Traintrack Coolest Member Award Aug 2009 Silver Supporting Member

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    i-mix into one of these:

    [​IMG]

    No one will probably take my suggestion, but I did extensive R&D... As far as the signal after the pickup system in a guitar, you can get totally lost in options. Most acoustic pre-amps are j-fet based pre's. Very pedal like. There is an XLR output on that Aphex box that works well through a PA. I would also use a Radial direct box over any small acoustic pre-amp.
     
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  15. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    what's the actual pickup? also a pendulum?
     
  16. Grant Ferstat

    Grant Ferstat Some guy in obscure bands in a far away place... Silver Supporting Member

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    hey Walter. No, to the best of my knowledge Pendulum don't make pickups.
    http://www.pendulumaudio.com/SPS-1.html

    Our singer/songwriter/rhythm guitarist owns the Pendulum SPS-1. He has LR Baggs M1 & iBeam pickups in his guitars which get blended and EQ'd via the Pendulum. I've also tried it with my J45 which has the iMix element/iBeam combo and it's a big leap from other things I've tried. It does take a LOT of tweaking though to really get the advantages and being a rack system with the proprietary module/cable it's not the best in terms of portability & redundancy.
     
  17. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    Ok, i was thinking of the trance stuff, their special pickups and preamps with the proprietary multi-pin jack.

    if we're talking just super high end outboard acoustic pres that can take dual pickup systems and process them separately, i suppose the pendulum is still up there; stuff like the grace designs is coming up strong in that space.

    i'm rocking an imix setup myself in my old J-50 but with a dimarzio DP139 mag pickup instead of the element. that works fine with the imix pre run mono into a good parametric EQ, but i suppose i could get fancy and switch it to stereo and deal with each source separately. (were i gigging acoustic a bunch and interested in going that complex i'd probably just search out an old rane AP13).

    the big difference you're hearing may be more about the split output and stereo channels allowing for separate EQ for the two pickups, so as to maximize the potential of each one.
    maybe look at the pickup system itself?

    the ibeam is cool and all but maybe a bit dated at this point; if you're OK with the "undersaddle + something more mic-like" setup, check out the baggs anthem. their new mic is way more feedback resistant and balanced than any internal mic i've heard before, and the "crossed over" setup with the pickup just handling lows and all the mids and highs coming from the mic makes for a surprisingly realistic but feedback-resistant sound. (the pickup has all its treble piezo quack rolled off while the mic has all the low-mid body howl dialed out.)

    i've always found the ibeam problematic until you used a band of parametric to knock out the low-mid body resonance, the anthem is less needy of that sonic surgery.
     
  18. Grant Ferstat

    Grant Ferstat Some guy in obscure bands in a far away place... Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm not that wedded to the pickup system so maybe revisiting that is in order for starters.

    To be honest one of the best plugged in sounds I ever had was with an LB6 in an old Maton through one of the old on-board 18 volt preamp system they used to use! The guitar itself was rather soggy and compressed sounding but that may have helped with the piezo...
     
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  19. rickenbackerkid

    rickenbackerkid Member

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    That LB6 has got the be the best sounding UST Piezo I have ever heard.
     
  20. tech21nyc

    tech21nyc Member

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    No matter how great a preamp is, the end result of your sound will be dictated by the quality of the amplifier/speaker system, the environment and also how the player is situated and able to monitor themselves. The best guitar/pickup system and preamp will not sound great through a bad sounding system.

    I've gone down this rabbit hole a number of times. If your guitar sounds great going direct in the studio but sounds like crap live and needs a ton of EQ you need to look at the entire signal chain. One single component will usually not be the answer.
     

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