Multiple Buffers Question

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by joegold, May 18, 2015.

  1. joegold

    joegold Member

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    Hi
    In this little pedal board I'm using currently on a theatre show I've got (in order serially):
    A Boss NS2 (noise suppressor)
    A Maxon OD808 (overdrive)
    An Ernie Ball 25k volume pedal
    A TC Flashback (delay)
    and
    A TC Hall Of Fame (reverb)

    The NS2 and the OD808 both have buffers that can not be defeated.
    But the buffers in the two TC pedals can both be turned off for true bypass operation.

    Would it be better to keep both of the TC pedals in true bypass mode or should I turn on the buffer in the last effect in the chain?

    Also...
    How bad is it, sonically speaking, to have two buffers in a row at the beginning of the chain?
    I originally bought the OD808 [vs the OD-9 (which is true bypass)] because I learned that the buffer in the OD808 had a very good reputation and I had planned on having it as the 1st pedal in the chain.
    But some of the cues in this show require me to have my vol pedal cranked between playing sections and the little bit of noise from my pickups was getting a bit annoying so I had to add the NS2.
    My research tells me that the NS2's buffer is pretty good as well.
    But I'm not wild about having two buffers in adjacent pedals right at the beginning of the effects chain.
     
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  2. stinkfoot

    stinkfoot Member

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    I wouldn't worry about it, unless you feel (and more importantly hear) a negative impact. I'd worry more about the NS-2 - not because of buffers, but in case the noise reduction might impact the tone. But again, if you're happy with the tone, everything is ok.

    With the volume pedal there, having at least one of the two following pedals buffered will be a (small) benefit. But chances are you'll be using one (or both) of those pedals almost all the time, so you may not notice much difference if you were to switch one of them to true bypass mode. Bottom line, if you're happy with the tone, don't worry about it :aok
     
  3. DaveKS

    DaveKS Member

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    In that short of a chain can't imagine actually needing more than 1 buffer.

    As far as impacting your tone, only you can answer that. Chances of another person here having those exact pedals and chain are slim to none, you'll just have to try it and find what your ears like. Unless your willing to invest in a small true bypass looper so you can actually A/B the effects in and out of the chain while playing it's very hard to hear subtle differences.
     
  4. jordane93

    jordane93 Member

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    Does it sound alright to you? Use your ears. No one can know but you.
     
  5. wildschwein

    wildschwein Member

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    Just check your bypassed tone with a straight-to-the amp tone and see what is closest when you turn buffers on and off with those TC pedals. I don't think you have to much to worry about it. I like a buffer right at the front, actually I have a home made Jfet circuit that I have made just for that, but on some set-ups I like one at the end. On your set-up I would say turn off the delay buffer and leave the reverb buffer on.
     
  6. joegold

    joegold Member

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    Thanks guys.

    At the moment I have both the TC pedals in true bypass.
    It sounds OK.

    I was just wondering if there was an actual "best way" to do it with these particular components.

    I've been reading that, ideally, the 1st and last pedals should have good buffers and that anything in between should be true bypass.
    I'd do that with this little rig but there's no way to not have 2 buffers in a row at the front so I was wondering what the best way was to deal with that.

    I was also wondering how a passive low-z volume pedal fits into all of this.
    My signal becomes low-z right after the NS-2 so i figured I should be using a low-z volume pedal rather than a high-z volume pedal.
    But I don't understand if the signal needs to be buffered again post volume pedal.

    FWIW - With this rig, when I switch the last TC pedal to buffered bypass - it does seem to increase the bass response a bit w/o seeming to affect the top end too much.
    But I'm not sure if I like the increased bass response or not.
    And I might just be imagining it.

    Plugging the guitar directly into the amp does sound better than going through all the pedals, plus connecting cables and the extra 10' cable after the pedals of course.
    But this sounds a lot better than it would if all my pedals were Boss pedals.
    My old Boss SD-1 and blue compressor (not sure if it's CS-2 or CS-3) and other older pedals sure didn't help my tone back when I used them in the old days when they were bypassed, as I recall.
    I'm pretty impressed with the Maxon and TC pedals I've got in this little new rig.
    It's the NS-2 that worries me.

    I've never used the NS-2's loop but doing so (if I understand what it does) might be a way to negate the 2 buffers-in-a-row thing at least when the OD808 is being bypassed.
    I'll have to mess around with that I suppose and see if it's worth doing.
     
  7. tech21nyc

    tech21nyc Member

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    You are using these with an amp? Which one? Personally, since you have the volume pedal I would lose the noise gate and just use the volume pedal for that. The gate doesn't do anything to reduce the noise while you're playing it basically waits for the threshold set and turns off your signal (just like the volume pedal) when you stop playing. There's no point in leaving your guitar's volume wide open when your not playing.

    The TC pedals have very good buffers and my guess is that you are hearing the low end that is lost when they are off. It shouldn't make a huge difference leaving those buffers on. My recommendation would be guitar to OD, to volume pedal, Flashback (buffer optional) to HOF with the buffer engaged. However it sounds best to you is all that matters. Is this a musical theater gig? You could even try switching the buffers on and off on the TC Pedals during the gig so you can hear the difference in real time.
     
  8. joegold

    joegold Member

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    I'm using a Pearce G2r on this gig.

    I thought I explained why I'm using the noise gate in the OP.
    As I watch the conductor for various sudden hits I need to have the volume wide open.
    This is especially true on cues where the volume pedal is not cranked (p, mp, mf dynamics) because returning the pedal treadle to the exact same place it was before and needs to be again is a hit and miss affair.

    Yes, it's a musical theatre gig.

    The TC pedals' buffer switches are inside the pedals and can not be switched on/off readily in the middle of a gig.
     
  9. MilwMark

    MilwMark Member

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    I don't understand the question and it seems like I'm not the only one. It's fine to have two buffers early in the chain. Is the tone good enough or not? If it's good enough, why worry? If not, seems like the noise gate is the culprit but you need it so don't sweat it.

    Maybe someone more gear knowledgeable can help with the VP question. That's another culprit. One is made for guitar/passive pickups and the other for keys/active (or something like that). If you got the one for keysit might sound bad. There may be a particular way to set up buffered pedals immediately befor and after the VP to sound good in that case. Member Stinkfoot has posted in that IIRC. Might help if you post the particular VP model you purchased.
     
  10. joegold

    joegold Member

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    MilwMark
    Thanks.
    Evidently I know a little bit more about this stuff than you do.
    My question was aimed at people who know a bit more than I do. :)

    Again, the volume pedal is an Ernie Ball 25k pedal.
    I believe the model name is VP Junior.
    It's the smaller sized form factor.
    It's designed for low impedance signals.
    Electric guitars with passive pickups put out hi impedance signals and yes, keyboards and active pickups put out low impedance signals.
    But after your passive pickups' hi impedance signal passes through a pedal with a buffer the signal is converted into a low impedance signal from that point on.
    My volume pedal follows 2 pedals that both have buffers active all the time.
    That's why I'm not using a hi impedance volume pedal.

    Does it sound good enough?
    Yes.
    I'm just wondering if another way of setting up the TC pedal buffers might be able to give me an even purer, more natural sounding signal.
     
  11. Jackie Treehorn

    Jackie Treehorn Member

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    You don't need a buffer, especially if you've only got a 10 foot cable from the pedals to amp. People say buffers are necessary because of cable capacitance. If you've got short cables/low capacitance you don't have a problem that requires a buffer. Buffers also raise your noise floor. Removing buffers is what you want for a purer, more natural sounding signal.

    I would put the od in a true bypass loop/mod it to true bypass/replace with a similar true bypass tube screamer. If your amp has a loop, stick the volume pedal in that with the noise gate so you cut out the amp's preamp noise, too. Since it's a solid state amp, the loop will most likely be low impedance and will work with the volume pedal and cables needed.
     
  12. tech21nyc

    tech21nyc Member

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    I've played on a number of Broadway Musicals over the years. Most recently Motown, Beautiful and U2's Spiderman. Everybody has their own way of doing things. I prefer using my guitar's volume for precisely controlling the volume as there is a numerical reference. Of course if you need a full out distortion at a lower volume the guitar volume rolled back may not work as well. Is your guitar hum cancelling? As much as I like single coils my main "show" guitar is an Anderson Strat style with Barden pickups or I use a guitar with DiMarzio Areas.

    Another trick I'll use for a basic amp pedal board setup is to use something like a Boss GE7 EQ to hit a preset volume. I have it set to cut with no tonal change.

    I have the TC HOF and it's easy enough to remove that one large screw and still use it if you have enough cable to flip it over. It's rare in any show where you don't have some down time during the show . If you're not comfortable doing that just try one show with the buffer on and the next with it off.

    You're lucky you get to use an amp. They rarely use them on shows in NYC and when they do they are usually in ISO cabs or located outside the pit and you monitor through headphones. The POD and Fractal are fairly common in shows. Maybe your situation is different but for the most part I try to make myself as comfortable as I can with my setup when I have the choice. Most shows are mixed with the vocals way up front and the band is usually pretty low. Within the orchestra usually the drums and keys tend to be more dominant. In the end as long as you're happy and the MD or sound department aren't giving you notes you're cool.

    The Maxon has a 10K output so using that with the EB 25k volume pedal shouldn't be an issue. Both TC pedals have 1 MegOhm inputs and will work fine after the volume pedal.
     
  13. MilwMark

    MilwMark Member

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    Was only trying to help figure out what you are trying to ask (a question I still don't get the sense anyone else truly understands). Including why you don't just take the back off the TC pedals (which doesn't even require a screwdriver), flip the buffers of each on and off before rehearsal and see what sounds best. But best of luck to you.
     
  14. joegold

    joegold Member

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    I've already tried that with the TC pedals thanks.
    I thought I mentioned that.
     
  15. rawkguitarist

    rawkguitarist Member

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    Sorry to not be a ton of help, other than I think the way you have things set up is fine. I prefer having my rig with buffers in the path... I don't fret over TB or buffer unless it's in front of my fuzzes or if it's a pedal that does have a wierd bypass that affects my signal drastically. Seems most modern pedals are fine in the buffer and bypass department...

    BUT, I love seeing guy's on here that do what many consider "unconventional" type gigs. Most people think the only types of gigs are being in bar bands or in the big time playing concert venues. I do a lot of pep band and show style gigs too, where keeping my rig quiet (like the two here that have some of the same experience) is a must. And that's why all my pickups are 'buckers even if they look/sound like singles.
     
  16. joegold

    joegold Member

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    Thanks.

    The idea of putting the vol pedal and the TC pedals in the amp's loop is a good one.
    And this amp's preamp puts out a lot of hiss on its own which doing that would have tamed too.
    But I passed on that idea because it would have involved two different effects chains each with 20' of cable (10' X 2 X 2) involved (guitar to Noise Gate to Overdrive to amp and also preamp to vol pedal to TC pedals to amp) and thought that that would be a bit much.
    My cables are decent as far as capacitance is concerned but are not boutique cables either.
    I wouldn't put the noise gate in the amp's loop because all of my annoying noise is being generated by the guitar's pickups and the light dimmers in the theatre, so having the gate at the front of the chain works best for my issues.

    Originally I was going to use a Maxon OD9 (which is true bypass) with an Axess high quality buffer either in front of it or just after it.
    But then I read about the OD808's buffer as being fairly high quality on its own so I thought that using it instead would help to eliminate the Axess buffer.
    It wasn't until later on that I noticed the noise and that I'd also need the NS-2 in the chain.
    Setting up a true bypass loop for the OD808 would just be overkill at this point.

    Thanks again.
    You seem to understand what it is that I'm asking about.

    So I guess the general consensus is that I should leave both the TC pedals in true bypass mode then?
     
  17. joegold

    joegold Member

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    1. It's a little bit dark in the pit to be eye-balling my guitar's vol knobs all the time.
    Plus, I'm not wild usually about futzing with the treble loss when the pots are turned down.
    And the cues where I use the OD pedal do require the vol pot on the guitar to be wide open.
    Etc.
    I've always been more comfortable with a vol pedal after my OD pedals or hi-gain preamps.
    If I ever need to lower the saturation I can always turn the guitar's vol knob down a bit too.
    And some of my guitars have treble-bleed circuits that can help with the treble loss.
    But I still haven't found a treble-bleed circuit that I wholly like the effect of.
    I still have a Strat set up with EMG's because of this.
    BTW
    The show I'm doing is Sweet Charity at The Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-The-Lake) and I'm using an ES-175 for the electric guitar cues.
    It's got humbuckers on it and the noise wouldn't normally be an issue.
    But the little bit of noise that is there does become a bit annoying on some of the cues, thus the noise gate.

    2. Again, I have experimented with the on/of state of the HoF's buffer.
    But I haven't done a show with the buffer on yet.
    Still might try that.
    The sound guys on these things are a little finicky about things changing at this point in the run so I don't want to give them any surprises.
    Any noticeable change would be pretty minuscule though.
    I'll probably just leave it on true bypass.

    3. I was going to use my Axe-FXII on this show but then I realized that I'd need a backup unit and I wasn't ready to shell out another $3k yet.
    The sound designer on this show and I went through a bit of a song-and-dance about having a speaker in the pit.
    It wasn't until the 2nd week of rehearsals, after I'd already planned my rig, that he told me that he wanted my speaker outside of the pit with a high quality hot spot or headphones feeding me the mic'd cab sound in the pit.
    So I decided to use my Pearce because it's got a stereo power amp and would allow me have a speaker in the pit that I would use to just check my tones and that I would turn off when actually doing the show.
    And then the sound designer guy said "Well why don't you just listen to the speaker you have in the pit?", like *I*was crazy.
    At any rate, the weird way it worked out is that I actually monitor myself with the speaker of my amp that's in the pit but I've got another speaker outside of the put that has the mic on it.
    [They've actually put inside this big freezer they have backstage and use that as an isolation cab. lol
    The freezer's unplugged, I hope.]
    Both cabs are open back 1 X 12 cabs with EVM-12Ls in them so they sound nearly identical.
    Evidently the sound designer's main concerns were real estate inside the pit and too many mics in the pit, not the volume of the guitar amp.
    Either that or he expected me to be playing a lot louder than I actually am on this show.
    Way too much miscommunication between me and this guy.
    Quite stressful actually.

    Thanks again for your thoughts and experience.
    Are you the guy who designs the Tech21 stuff?
     
  18. tech21nyc

    tech21nyc Member

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    Unfortunately shows aren't usually about a transcendental guitar experience. Sound designers can be difficult to deal with. They seem to totally disregard the fact that the amp is part of the instrument. I can play softer than most horn players with an amp but because the technology is there they want the guitar to go direct. You just find ways to yes them up and try to work around them and do what you want anyway.

    The difference between a buffered signal in your chain will most likely be negligible in the FOH. Effects that tend to pop when turned on and off will be noticed. One reason I prefer to have my signal buffered is for noise. When I first did the show RENT on the road back in the late 90's I had my tube amp and all the pedals that were required. So I go out and try to replace my Ibanez UE300 which was just used for chorus with a boutique true bypass chorus. First show I go to switch it on and huge POP. Everyone gives me the look. Back to the old chorus with the buffer. That's when I started using Voodoo Labs Pedal Power supplies and configuring my rigs to be "show" friendly. I also try to keep my signal chain as simple as possible and usually run a Boss TU2-3 as a buffer and so I have a way to mute everything and tune quietly. I used to run the tuner out of the volume pedal tuner out when I'd use a volume pedal but volume pedals don't always zero out when running something like a distortion effect through them. Also with the a buffer in the chain you will get rid of that scratchy pot syndrome that happens with some tube amps due to DC voltage leakage.

    The more you do this type of work the more you figure things out. Just smile and act like you're having a good time. If you make a mistake just roll your eyes and point to the musician sitting next to you. Hopefully another guitarist. :)

    No I don't design our products.
     
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  19. joegold

    joegold Member

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    lol

    Re the TU2-3 buffers.
    I had read recently that the TU-3s had a decent buffer.
    But I've had a TU-2 for a while now and although I don't often use it in-line when I'm playing, on the times that I have used it that way I think a recall a bit of tone-sucking going on.
    Is the buffer in the TU-3 known to be better than the one in the TU-2?
    Or am I just wrong about the TU-2?
    Maybe I should try it inline again.

    FWIW I've got my TU-2 in the board for this show on the vol pedal's side chain.
    Would you say that the buffers in the NS-2 and the TU-2 are both of similar quality?

    And I also had to start using a Pedal Power Plus unit on this gig.
    The Godlyke PowerAll I had been using caused a ground loop in this theatre.

    So what *is* your affiliation with Tech21?
     
  20. tech21nyc

    tech21nyc Member

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    How do you define tone suck and what was your testing method? We have put both the TU-2 and TU-3 on the FFT for an accurate electronic measurement. The audible test that I like to perform is with a dual loop true bypass box with relays for switching. The box itself has a small amount of high end loss as most TB pedals do. I use very short quality cable going from the guitar to the looper box to the amp. Then I put the pedals I want to compare in the loops. This way you are doing things in real time. It's even better to have someone else playing and switching the looper so you don't know when it's engaged. It's really easy to talk yourself into things. Even better if you can do it on a gig with a band.

    Typically players will will run several TB pedals in series on their boards with a bunch of capable and set their amps brighter due to the inherent high end loss, add a pedal with a buffer like the TU-2 etc. and suddenly the high end that was lost is restored. The buffer gets the blame but it's a combination of factors. Hey if you plug your guitar straight to your amp and it sounds great and then put it through the TU-2 and "you" don't like the sound so be it.

    We've never tested the NS-2 so I can't comment. Some older Boss pedals used different buffer circuitry.

    I work part time for T-21 as a product specialist.
     

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