MI Audio Boost n Buff: best place in the signal chain and settings and voltage tips?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by Joost Assink, Feb 27, 2009.

  1. Joost Assink

    Joost Assink Member

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    I just got my MI Audio Boost N Buff. Great! I've got my highs back. But mine came without a manual and there's none on their site either.

    So i don't know when the buffer's on and off, how many Volts it runs best and how many mAs it uses (for daisy chaining?)

    So how do you use it and where in the signal chain and why? I thought it goes in front, because it doesn't add noise and that way I can save as much signal as possible right?

    thanks for your help
     
  2. TooManyHobbies

    TooManyHobbies Member

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    I ran mine off 24.6v (two of the 12.3's on the PP2+). And I found it worked best at the end of my chain, ymmv.

    The buffer is always on, and the boost is footswitchable.
     
  3. Joost Assink

    Joost Assink Member

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    You see, now that's the part I don't understand. I've read that a buffer is usually placed last, but by then, the loss has already occurred right? I really don't get the impedance thing, obviously:NUTS
     
  4. TooManyHobbies

    TooManyHobbies Member

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    I used it more as a line driver. So therefore.. the loading was limited to my 10' cable from guitar to board plus anything on the board itself (only 2 feet approx due to my TB loopers).

    I used mine to "boost" the signal overall for solo's, sorta like a "more" switch.

    And this at the end, provides a consistent impedance to your amp, no matter what is the last effect turned on. I also found that many of my effects, especially the drives, sounded worse with a pre-buffer.

    Now, I currently use the switchable JFet buffer right after my comp from my Lehle Dloop SGOS Dloop when needed, and at the end, I have a switchable CAL Mk 4.23 (as a buffer).
     
  5. Lt_Core

    Lt_Core Member

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    I use mine as a pure solo boost in my Rivera's effects loop. Last pedal before the return to the amp. Works great!
     
  6. kp8

    kp8 Member

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    The folks at MI told me the Buffer is actually not always on. As you approach 10 o'clock on the boost level the buffer switches off because (paraphrasing here) if the buffer is on when you have a lot of boost the sound becomes harsh.

    That's what they told me when i e-mailed them when i first got the pedal.

    -kp8--
     
  7. Joost Assink

    Joost Assink Member

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    Well I didn't like it in front of my OCD. So I'll probably put it somewhere in the middle
     
  8. IvIark

    IvIark Member

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    That's the biggest problem with putting a buffer last. Say you have 10 true bypass pedals and then the buffer at the end. If the 10th pedal is switched on and all the others are off it means that the buffer is only working on the line from last pedal to the amp and it can't do anything about signal loss caused by capacitance in the patch cables, switches, soldering etc in the preceding 9 pedals.

    A buffer is only needed because your pickups are getting loaded down and so having a buffer first in the chain means that the pickups are effectively isolated from the effects and loading can't occur. So personally if I had some pedals that I thought sounded better before the buffer, then I'd put them first but keep the buffer as near to the pickups as possible. IMO the only time you'd need a buffer at the end of the line would be if you were playing a big enough venue that you needed a very long final cable run to your amp, and in that instance I would use a buffer first AND last.
     
  9. mgarrison99

    mgarrison99 Silver Supporting Member

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    If you run it first in line you can keep a stronger signal running through the rest of your pedals. However the boost function will give your OD/Distortions a different character since those units are no affecting boosted signal. Not bad, just different. If you run the pedal after your dirt boxes, your boost will give you a louder signal, but the character of your dirt boxes shouldn't change.

    I prefer mine first in line, as I kinda like a raunchier lead when I step on the boost.
     
  10. roquero

    roquero Supporting Member

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    Also keep in mind, if you use a guitar with active pickups, you do NOT need a buffer in the front of the chain- although I am not sure if you still need one at the end of the chain in that case.
    I have a Boost N Buff on order [actually a replacement, the first one they sent me, I could not remove the screws from the battery covered plate, even with a power screwdriver!!!!] and will try it out to see if that is the case.
     
  11. TooManyHobbies

    TooManyHobbies Member

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    Thanks for the info, what I should have said was that the buffering effect is still there.
     
  12. TooManyHobbies

    TooManyHobbies Member

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    Buffers in front of your effects will not allow them to naturally react (especially fuzzes and od's in general). If you want to put an onboard buffer in your guitar then it would eliminate pickup loading, but to put a 10'+ cable from guitar to buffer, when you're only going a few more feet (or less) before an active effect, is kinda defeating the point. They are nto "only needed because your pickups are getting loaded down". They also maintain a consistent impedance and therefore sound from your pedals to your amp, otherwise the impedance your amp is seeing will always change depending on what pedal is turned on last. If you put one at the end, it keeps that interface the same, and effectively makes your whole signal chain maybe 15' between a board and a 10-12' from guitar to board.
     
  13. IvIark

    IvIark Member

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    I've been using a buffer first in a chain for many years now and it certainly doesn't adversely affect the overdrive or fuzzes I use, with only a very few exceptions which I would put before the buffer if and when I use them. Yes it does sound different with and without buffer, but that's because the signal going through the effects doesn't have any high end rolled off anymore. Sometimes the problem is that people get used to their signal with the high end rolled off, and EQ their amp and effects accordingly.

    :confused: For a start if you're using true bypass effects it isn't active, it is mechanically removed from the signal chain. If you are using a non-true bypass effect then 99% of the time a buffer is exactly what you're going into so the whole topic is moot. The point of having a buffer first is three-fold. They have a high impedance input making them sensitive to the input signal which makes it an ideal first stop for the weak signal from the pickups. Secondly it provides a low impedance output which could probably drive 100 feet of cable after it with no problem (another reason why a later buffer is largely irrelevant unless you're playing Wembley). And thirdly it provides separation between your guitar and your chain of effects. All particularly good reasons to have a buffer first in line.

    It may not be the only reason but it is by far the most important reason. If your pickups get loaded down then you will lose signal and that can't be regenerated by a buffer at the end of the line. Consistent impedance at the amp is largely irrelevant because if no effects are turned on (and they are all true bypass) then the low impedence output of the buffer will still be low impedence by the time it reaches the amp. If you kick an effect in, the last effect in the line will, in almost all cases, have a low impedence output and so has exactly the same affect as a buffer with only relatively small differences in their output impedence. And those differences could not have as negative an affect on the signal as loading down the pickups in the first stage would.
     
  14. Steve73

    Steve73 Member

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    I experimented with my Bn'B at the front and end of my board and found it worked the best at the end. I have all of my pedals besides the Bn'B going through a looper so it primarily restores high end loss from cable length.

    Question for other Bn'B users. Was there appreciable difference in how the Bn'B sounds when you are running it above 9V?
     
  15. IvIark

    IvIark Member

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    No pedal in the world will restore high end that has been lost. All you can do is boost the signal that you've been left with. Some people prefer that and as this is all personal choice it's fair enough because there is no right answer, but a lot of people would prefer to keep the signal from their guitar true, rather than trying to compensate at the end.
     
  16. TooManyHobbies

    TooManyHobbies Member

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    You should try using a switchable buffer or a looper before to see the difference.. it will suprise you. I will each also affect how your OD/fuzz reacts to the circuit created with your pickups, and how they respond therefore. You will lose dynamics, no question. It is more than just gaining back the high end you lost. You are essentially changing the circuit. I keep a switchable buffer before, but many (most) pedals sound better without it.

    Nobody uses 100' of cable reasonably... if you need to go that far, many just go wireless. But you don't need any more than 3' or say even 1" to have a constantly changing impedance between your amp input and your pedal outputs. Constant impedance at the amp is extremely important to maintaining consistency in your sound as you go between pedals, TB or not. If you don't think so, then I would believe you are by far in the minority on this issue.

    If your pickups get loaded down, yes, you will lost some signal. Similar to how if you plugged straight in, you would lose some signal. The question is, how many TB effects you have, and how they additionally load the signal beyond your guitar to board cable. A few feet.. isn't going to make all the difference.

    You summed up your own issue "If you kick an effect in, the last effect in the line will, in almost all cases, have a low impedence output [possibly but not guaranteed, and differing impedances at that] and so has exactly the same affect as a buffer with only relatively small differences [test your effects and recheck that fact] in their output impedence. And those differences could not have as negative an affect on the signal as loading down the pickups in the first stage would."

    They would have a VERY negative effect in maintaining consistency in sound and volume. And the difference would be greater than plugged through a handful of TB pedals. Again.. if you want to deal with "loading the pickups" put a buffer onboard in your guitar. Otherwise, you're arguing that the 10-12' from guitar to and through board, is going to make more difference than all the cable going to your backline and the constantly changing impedance.




     
  17. TooManyHobbies

    TooManyHobbies Member

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    HUGE difference from 9v to 18 (they're made to run at 18 iirc), and a noticeable difference from 18-24.6.
     
  18. IvIark

    IvIark Member

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    Not in my experience. All the pedals I currently use react perfectly well to a low impedence input and the ones that don't (Fuzz Face circuit, Tonebender, Rangemaster all of which I use infrequently) I would compromise and put before the buffer. But the buffer would still be as close as possible to the pickups to reduce the loading that changes every time you kick a true bypass pedal in.

    So you're saying that if the final run to amp is already very low impedance, then a 3' or 1" cable can have a significant affect? How does that change the impedance? Have you got any engineering data to back that up?

    The cable length is largely irrelevant because most of these cables will have a very low resistance and capacitance. The loss of high end comes from the contact from cable to socket, soldering at the socket and the stomp switch, the switch itself. All unavoidable in TB pedals irrespective of how high end your cable is. So the way to counter that is to make the signal going through the TB wiring low impedance which isn't affected so easily by capacitance.

    Interesting. So what you're saying is that minimal output impedance differences are a bigger cause of loss of tone than loading down the pickups, despite the fact that for the output impedance of an effect to be relevant it would have to be switched into the signal and so would be altering the sound anyway based on it's own inherent effect and EQ? To be honest if I kick in a distortion pedal then I expect the sound to change at the amp, and I EQ it accordingly so it's output impedance is largely irrelevant. But even forgetting the fact that when the pedals are on it will totally change the dynamics of your tone anyway, I just did a quick run through of the effects currently in my chain and the output impedance ranges from 1k to 10k. This sort of difference going into an amp with maybe a 500k input impedance is utterly irrelevant.
     
  19. TooManyHobbies

    TooManyHobbies Member

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    "So you're saying that if the final run to amp is already very low impedance, then a 3' or 1" cable can have a significant affect? How does that change the impedance? Have you got any engineering data to back that up?" - What I was trying to say was that no matter what the length of the final cable from board to amp, a constantly changing (due to selecting different pedals and therefore having changing output impedances) impedance is a result.

    To your other point about the capacitance and the sockets themselves, I think that this may be over estimated... but our overall thoughts are not SO different. Amz or some other person one tested the impedance and therefore partially the loss of these connections and it was not terribly large iirc.

    To your last point.. to explain myself better.. I wouldn't say "loss of tone" as much as I would say "change of tone". I hope that also addresses the part of the question referring to the pedal's own effect having an effect on the tone. The input impedance of most amps is 1meg fwiw.

    The ultimate method is Cornish's whereby each pedal has a specially designed buffer in between to stop the interference between pedals.

    I have found through my own testing, that using "most" buffers before, significantly affects my tone in a usually to me, negative way, so I only will use a switcable before. I also use a switchable after since sometimes I like the interaction between the effect and the amp itself.
     
  20. IvIark

    IvIark Member

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    I agree we are both mostly singing off the same hymn sheet believing that the signal chain can benefit from buffering, we just go about it in different ways. You believe that an active element in the signal chain has the greatest benefit from the help of a buffer, I believe the passive (and weakest) element does, basically because it's a lot more susceptible to problems which I believe are predominantly the cause of treble roll off. I feel very secure that any of my amps can handle impedance changes between 1k and 10k depending on the last pedal used, because they're designed to accept signals with much greater ranges than that.

    I'm sure that when you look at the sockets or switches individually they may have a minimal affect on capacitance, but accumulative affect is definitely another question. Consider 10 true bypass pedals before you amp. Each one of those has a cable, soldering from cable to plug, push-on connection from jack plug to socket, soldering from socket to hookup cable, soldering of hookup cable to switch terminal, the switch contact, soldering of the other side of switch to hookup cable, soldering of hookup cable to output socket, push-on connection of output socket to patch cable plug and soldering of plug to the second patch cable. So each and every true bypass effect has 10 points of contact that can add capacitance and resistance to the signal, times 10 is 100 points along a simple effect chain. Now I tend to use 8 pedals from my pile at any one time because I mount my effects on a rack tray and am limited for space, and with 8 the loss of treble using all true bypass pedals with no buffer is so obvious that I'd find it hard to believe that anyone with hearing as sensitive to these things as a musician could fail to notice it. We know that a low impedance line is much less susceptible to capacitance and so physics tells us that if we can do that, we can avoid the associated problems and we know that is exactly what a buffer is designed to do.

    Although I've never had any issues of a loss of dynamics with the effects I mostly use, I agree that the sound with a buffer first is different. The first time I put a buffer first in line I was amazed by the clarity but thought the sound seemed harsh in comparison to what I was used to. But when you think about it, that is exactly what you should expect when treble is being returned to your signal. With that in mind you can't just add a buffer and everything is suddenly great, you've got to get used to using it as if it was an effect. All my effects needed re-EQing and so did my amp. The end result was a tone which was as warm and balanced as it had been previously, but with the added clarity provided by the buffer.

    As with anything though, whether best Tubescreamer, best Fuzz Face clone, best overdrive etc, YMMV. Whatever you use at least it keeps us off the streets! :)
     

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