So are dedicated buffers better than built in ones?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by VintagePlayerStrat, Feb 26, 2020.

  1. VintagePlayerStrat

    VintagePlayerStrat Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2018
    I have more pedals on a board than I've ever had - 13 right now. I usually go true bypass, but figured it would be wise to give buffers a chance if I'm going to run more than a dozen boxes. Even with the best cables, there's got to be some signal loss.

    Several of my true bypass pedals, including my tuner and looper, have built in buffers as an internal switch option so I gave them all a shot, sometimes just one, sometimes combined beginning and end of the chain, etc. All of them seemed to add a bit too much high end no matter what combo I tried. Individually, they seemed to do the same, whether these pedals were on or off.

    On a lark, I decided to try the Xotic Super Clean Buffer, which is basically a dedicated buffer/boost: single gain knob and four DIP switches. I kept it on factory settings and put it at the end of my chain. I had already turned off any built-in buffers.

    Wham, bang, boom. No weird high end added, but the signal is a tad stronger and richer from highs to lows without coloring it. The pedal is actually off as a boost with the buffer just doing its quiet work. It did exactly what I wanted a buffer to do. Made me wonder if a buffer should be, well, just a buffer and have no other job like tuner or looper or boost for that matter.

    YMMV, but seemed to work in my case.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2020
  2. Blue-moon

    Blue-moon Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2010
    I think they are the same--as part of a pedal or as standalone unit. I think a standalone unit just give you some more options for placement. You can use them a little more surgically that a pedal that has a built in buffer where placement is dictated perhaps by the main function of that pedal.

    Take Cornish for instance. His pedals all have the same buffer in them as his standalone LD-1 and LD-3 buffer pedals.
    VintagePlayerStrat and stratadp like this.
  3. Flatscan

    Flatscan Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2013
    I believe there are several buffer designs. Some may work better with your rig than others.
    VintagePlayerStrat likes this.
  4. jnepo1

    jnepo1 Silver Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2009
    Sutton, MA
    Here's a thought: Boss pedals have buffers. Boss Waza Craft pedals have a better buffer than their regular line of pedals. Is this the major difference between those two Boss lines of pedals?
    Scott941 likes this.
  5. eyeball987

    eyeball987 Member

    Feb 18, 2008
    I know that people generally tend to like the Boss buffer but the NS2 I have sucks a bit of tone when in the chain.

    When I switched from the original Polytune to the V3 with the Bona Fide buffer built in, I immediately noticed a stronger and brighter signal.
  6. cbm

    cbm Silver Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2010
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Many pedals have a level pot on their output, so even if it's post-buffer, it may not be as low impedance as a dedicated buffer.
    sanfi4u and VintagePlayerStrat like this.
  7. rollyfoster

    rollyfoster Silver Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2006
    No, a buffer isn’t any different if it’s built into a pedal or on its own as long as it’s the same design (Cornish, fullton, analogman, etc offer both options).

    My guess is that the buffers earlier in the chain are restoring your high end, not adding it, and you may like or just be used to the high end roll-off.

    Since the xotic is at the end of that many pedals and cables, a ton of signal loss has already occurred and there’s little to no high end to restore so it sounds more neutral.

    It most likely sounds “better” because it’s adding signal strength to get to the amp after all that capacitance build-up.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2020
    captaincoconut likes this.
  8. Bluesful

    Bluesful Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2014
    One of my favourite buffers is the one that's in the ARDX20.
    Shnook likes this.

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