How many buffers until too many??

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by leumasjames, Jan 8, 2008.


  1. leumasjames

    leumasjames Member

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    Does having too many buffers in your signal chain degrade tone??? How many? I am starting to think that I might have too many buffers running. I generally run about 20 pedals and 7 or 8 have buffers. Also, does having a buffer in the chain effect how other OD pedals sound when running in front or after the buffer or both??
     
  2. welcometoashley

    welcometoashley Supporting Member

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    my signal goes through about 8 or 9 pedals. two of them have buffers and, for my chain, anything more than two or three buffers and my signal starts to sound too bright.... if you're running 20 pedals (wow), you'd probably want to have at least a couple to a few pedals with good buffers.... whenever i buy a new pedal(s) i have to take time and experiment with the order as to what sounds as close to running straight into the amp as possible. i use an A/B box quite a bit for this...

    My current OD pedals are fine with the buffer before them. certain fuzzes or treble boosters i have don't like a buffer in front of them. for example, an AM beano boost does NOT sound good with a buffered pedal in front of it....
     
  3. RDM

    RDM Senior Member

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    Heck...having 2 buffers might be 1 too many. It all depends on what pedals you are running...and there the buffers lie in the chain.
     
  4. wichita

    wichita Supporting Member

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    4 and a half:BEER
     
  5. hbentley

    hbentley Member

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    those are true words

     
  6. leumasjames

    leumasjames Member

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    4 and a half huh? I'm gonna have cut one of my pedals in half:worried


    I guess I will just have to experiment a little. I was just wondering what everyone else's experiences are/how many are in your effect chain. I swear I'm getting close to having my pedalboard finished for good.



    If not for good, at least for a couple of months:roll
     
  7. pgissi

    pgissi Member

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    ...that rack gear was created for.

    20 pedals yikes but I am with you, I understand the condition and you are my new hero, defying convention.

    How many is too many is subjective and dependent on what they are, how and where they are used/powered/interconnected is really key here.

    Maybe identify and classify each of the buffering pedals individually by plugging them in one at a time to identify who does what and how well.

    A is bright, B is flat, C is noisy, D is totally lame etc. and since you have 7 or 8 I think its critical you seperate the good the bad and ugly

    They (pedal designs) are not equal in these aspects and since guitar tone is a magneticaly induced, capacitively coupled signal further subject to inductive losses and varying impedance by the time it reaches a speaker is all the more reason to experiment. Everything in the signal chain is tone affecting like nothing else in the world of audio.

    Guitar and Bass tone is where some of the conventional theory in hi fi audio is rendered not applicable due to the tender nature of the hi imp and inherently weak current that is this signal. In hifi electronics buffers all over the place is common if not essential as a signal is processed.

    Not so when what we call "tone" is sought.

    Ultimately, I would look into limiting the number of buffering pedals while reasoning 1, 2 at most (if the 1st is a tuner) is suffucient early in the chain with the best one used there, personally for me they only sound good right off of the pickups since they are unity gain circuits, beyond that they hinder input overload interaction in analog OD's and other boxes.

    I would then seek to arrange the remainder into loops to yoru liking so you can engage or remove them in full bypass mode for your original tone.

    If you need a fresh reference to know where your tone "is", reacquaint with your guitar straight in or with just 1 or 2, 3 pedals to find out where its "been".

    That ususally brings back all sorts of memories of simpler times and tones
     
  8. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I'm running 9 on my board, and I don't hear a problem.
     
  9. amz-fx

    amz-fx Supporting Member

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    If you have 7 or 8 buffered pedals, you might have as many as 14 to 20 buffers in the signal path, even when bypassed! Most Boss pedals have 2 buffers inline when bypassed and some have 3 (like the Blues Driver)! Ibanez and some DOD are similar.

    When you have this many simple transistor buffers in the signal path, there will likely be some noticeable differences in the sound.

    Buffers can be good... but too many left in the signal path will add noise, HF rolloff and distortion, however slight.

    regards, Jack
     
  10. pgissi

    pgissi Member

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    My fave number

    It is a subjective thing and dependent on some specific conditions.

    Pedals color the tone for sure and if your hearing something, its worthy of exploring and maybe learning something about your gear, get to know them more intimately. There are more tones (and pedals) than stars in the sky it seems. They all bring their own thing some good, some bad despite hype and that may be due more so to ones specific application and gear and in that, what works for one may not for another especially for a desired result. Factor in the player and that introduces incalculable degree of variation.

    Regardless of this, moving things around can be another useful mod

    Sometimes the insertion loss alters tone and is dependent on the quality of the build and components used, specific design. My test is on a loud stage with a loud band since what sounds fine alone in a basement may not really work in this setting. Its just difficult for our ears to discern to the degree it requires, it has to be taken out to the track and tested.

    I have had great tones all alone but when rolled out live it did not proved worthy and it was back to the basement, its an ongoing process.

    If your asking yourself, "is it possible that...." it just may well be and you wont know until you a/b it.

    I only have 4 or 5 buffering, for me it seems to be closest to the orignal tone. Add 2 long cables back to your guitar and amp from the front of the stage, is another factor to consider.

    I keep my total signal chain under 20 feet and am mostly using medium ouput pickups, pearly gates on one les paul, classic 57's on the other, srv strat with texas specials, I want to hear the pickups and be able to distinguish them.

    Where I find the number of buffers less affecting is with high gain tones ala the pointy crowd, ibanez rg and a floyd rose guitar.
     
  11. amz-fx

    amz-fx Supporting Member

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    Let's say you are a Boss pedal user and have a BD-2 Blues Driver, AC-2, CE-2 chorus and a DM-3 echo in your pedal chain.

    With all pedals bypassed, you have 3 transistor buffers active in the BD, 2 transistor buffers in the AC, 1 transistor buffer and 2 opamp buffers in the CE, and 2 transistor buffers and 2 opamp buffers in the DM!!!!

    To summarize: that is 8 transistor buffers and 4 opamp buffers in your signal path at all times, even when none of the pedals are being used!
    There are also 4 jfet switches in the signal path and the opamp circuits are doing a pre/de-emphasis in the CE and DM. And that is only with 4 pedals; not an extreme example.

    I guarantee all of this will have an impact on the sound that even the most tin-ear will be able to discern. :)

    This doesn't mean that buffers are bad - on the contrary, they have important uses. However, stacking a series of buffered pedals can lead to signal degradation... in the end, let your ears be the guide!

    regards, Jack
     
  12. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    Yes, but also when they are being used - so the tone is consistent whether the pedals are on or off. This is something that's harder to achieve with 'true' bypass, unless you also deliberately buffer it.

    Yes, although it's not as large as some people would seem to believe.

    Or signal improvement :). I prefer the tone through my pedalboard to that straight in... really.

    Exactly - don't believe that running lots of buffers is bad because it's "not true bypass" or you've read it on the net... use your ears.

    If you don't like the difference, fair enough.
     
  13. amz-fx

    amz-fx Supporting Member

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    The easiest test is to make a simple bypass box and bypass the entire pedal chain so that you have either the straight signal through the bypass box or the buffered signal through the pedal chain with all of them switched to bypass. You should be able to hear a difference... if it sounds okay then use the chain of pedals, if you perceive a tone loss that is unacceptable, then consider alternatives.

    Every electronic circuit that you insert in a signal path adds some noise. They also add a bit of distortion and possibly some hi-freq loss. If you say that each buffer adds 1db of noise (and it is more than that with the cheap transistor buffers and opamps) then the 4 pedal example that I used has 12db more noise than the straight signal.

    I've made measurements and much of what is written about true bypass has not proven to be true: http://www.muzique.com/lab/truebypass.htm

    At the risk of repeating myself... buffers are not bad - on the contrary, they have important uses. :)

    regards, Jack
     
  14. jaywalker

    jaywalker Member

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    Lets play count the buffers!!!!:

    [​IMG]

    nobels split 4 below the board.
    Live this one is fine, in the studio I use a TB looper for most of it.
    None of the pedals are modded.

    Would appriciate feedback from anyone on this because I never considered it a problem until recently.
     
  15. jaywalker

    jaywalker Member

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    Does anyone make an UNBUFFER pedal????
    HEHE
     
  16. slopeshoulder

    slopeshoulder Senior Member

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    Someone once pointed out to me that once 1 pedal is turned on, you're buffered. It's only when pedals are off that you need a buffer. I have three in a 16 pedal chain, but that's just how it worked out. 2 sounded fine.
     
  17. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    Count the buffers???? I can't even count the pedals!!
     
  18. jaywalker

    jaywalker Member

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    Me niether sometimes.....
    Gets worse when I have to add the GR20, another AB and a third Magicstomp for the acoustic simulator.
    Then theres the digitech vocalist too.....

    I always get the jobs where you need the most ****, and if you don't got it all - you take the most ****!
     
  19. pgissi

    pgissi Member

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    "Or signal improvement :). I prefer the tone through my pedalboard to that straight in... really."


    I also prefer the tone through my pedalboard over straight in also but have experimented with pedal arrangements and placed buffering pedals in different positions to hear the difference. In this effort I discovered some differences by moving buffering pedals around.

    The most apparent audible effect, slight increase in brightness.
    An additional effect is how an OD pedal responds to what precedes it

    One of the negatives of a pedal that I know is buffering was a reduction in
    gain, ever so slight but enough to degrade how hard I was hitting v1, thank you dunlop reissue univibe and interestingly, an 18volt device. Its probably better suited to a different location in my chain which I have not found yet.

    What is confounding is I cant tell you how many people, myself included who just in a fit of purist inclination, worked to get something that pleased straight in and reasoned its the amp and spent time swapping amps. I come along suggest some pedals, with my buffering strategies and now am hearing, they are more pleased than ever, have found a tone.

    I reason this to the simple fact that a buffer preserves the gain struture of the inherently weak signal from the pickups, presents it to v1 with the best impedance match possible.

    Ultimately I came up with an arrangement that works for me
     
  20. jaywalker

    jaywalker Member

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    ditto.
    I had the same setup for years and then finally got round to breaking the habit.
     

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