Little chat about buffers (I've found THE ONE)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Basauri, Jan 24, 2020.

  1. Basauri

    Basauri Diamonds x Guitars deal with Paul

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    First of all I want to say that this is not intended as a "true bypass vs buffered bypass" topic.
    Compared to a straight signal, guitar > cable > amp, there's a clearly audible sound quality loss when you have a pedalboard (let's say, eight true bypass pedals) in the chain. That is a fact. Therefore, you NEED a buffer.

    From here, recently I have started a quest for the closest-to-straight sound buffer. I understand that plugging my guitar directly to the input of my amp, tubes reacts with my pickups in a concrete way, and placing a buffer in the chain (a transistor or an op-amp acting as an impedance matching element) makes a different reaction. That's why I'm saying "closest" instead "perfect" buffer.

    So far, here are my experiences:

    - RYRA The Klone built in buffer (aka klon buffer clon, an op-amp): high end loss, low and mid-low bump, headroom and dynamics loss.
    - BOSS TU-2 built in buffer (a transistor): same high end, low loss, dynamics loss.
    - Ge Fuzz face on with guitar volume on 8 (electronically is a transistor acting as a signal amplifier): same highs, same dynamics and headroom (maybe even an enhanced feeling). This is the closest, I could end the quest here BUT, the problem is that this applies to clean sounds. Obviously when a fuzz is on and you attack hard, theres distortion, so the quest goes on.

    I'm waiting for a Pete Cornish clone buffer. It is said that is the closest, but i'll let my ears decide. I'm thinking about trying the Mesa Stowaway (good reviews), the TC electronics Bonafide and maybe the BOSS TU-3w.
    If returning them is available, trying them is free of charge :D

    Have you experimented with buffers before? What are your experiences?
     
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  2. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Feed & Seed

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    FTR, the 29th of this month, I'll be offering an Empress Buffer (standard version) on eBay at a decent price. Like others, I discovered that true bypass pedals tend to pull down and cause tone loss because of the length and capacitance of circuitry and cabling connections.

    The Empress helped restore a good portion of that, but my ears aren't especially trained to hear signal degradation vs. clear signal. I'd say that I typically prefer slightly more mid and lower frequencies than high ones, which is what buffers tend to restore.

    From a recording viewpoint, having a clear, flat frequency response curve is what most audio engineers look for as a starting point regards recording and tweak to taste thereafter to accentuate certain desirable and reduce undesirable frequencies.

    And perhaps having a flatter frequency response curve might improve your listening experience if you might prefer upper mid-frequencies than otherwise. Buffers will help you accomplish this goal.
     
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  3. andy474x

    andy474x Knows the Drill

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    I have the TC Bonafide on one of my boards, and to my ear it fattens the mids slightly.
     
  4. Rider1260

    Rider1260 New Member

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    When I made my pedals they were Buffered and True bypass :)
     
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  5. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    I currently have two buffers, and have believed in using high quality buffer circuits for a good 20 years. I think my first one was an Axxis (?).

    The first one of my current pair, the Suhr buffer, simply preserves the signal perfectly without adding or subtracting anything. It’s a terrific buffer. I now use it for long cable runs from switchbox to amplifiers.

    The second one is currently on my board, the Pettyjohn Lift. It has EQ and boost features I like, switchable of course, and it adds a very sweet, high end studio console coloration that’s very subtle to the signal. It’s hard to explain, but everything just sounds nicer with it. Call it a “Bettermaker” if you will!

    Anyway, turns out I like a little coloration, provided it’s good coloration.

    The Lift is on the lower right in this pic:

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Basauri

    Basauri Diamonds x Guitars deal with Paul

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    I’m ok with coloration if that means enhancing the signal. Taking what it is and make some frecuencies stronger to a concrete purpose.

    The Suhr buffer is another one that I have read some good reviews. I’ll try it if it’s possible and I’ll update my experiences
     
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  7. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    One nice thing about the Suhr is its tiny size. Fits easily under most angled pedalboards, under risers, etc.
     
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  8. mark cassidy

    mark cassidy New Member

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    I haven't the first notion what this thread is about. I'm guessing something to do with processing a signal through pedals. I'm off to Googleland.
     
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  9. Alnus Rubra

    Alnus Rubra Loving nature’s wonders

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    Simple answer, a buffer reduces or negates the tone suck that occurs when running a well populated pedal board and long cables.

    Here’s my homage to a Schmidt Array, the buffer is made by a UK company, Raygun and works very well.

    [​IMG]

    Edit: I’ve realised the photo is out of date, I now have a different Reverb/Delay pedal.
     
  10. mark cassidy

    mark cassidy New Member

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    Ok, cool, thanks, but...tone suck? And believe me, I'm not wanting to be intentionally obtuse. WTF is tone suck? When I was young (admittedly in a long gone century) I played bass and/or rhythm in cover bands and blues bands, the occasional jazz combo. It was me and my Jazz Bass and an amp and possibly, I remember right, the odd Chorus or Blues Driver pedal. Again, I'm not trying to be funny or mock naïve in any way. I honestly have never heard of this level of processing in effects chains. It sounds as though putting a set of pedals together on a board saps some or all of the required level out from the particular pedal. For serious live / studio playing I get that this could be an issue. I simply didn't realize that you had technology to combat it.
     
  11. Basauri

    Basauri Diamonds x Guitars deal with Paul

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    It is an issue if you want to. Do I need to get my purest signal to sound like me? No. Sounding like me could be a lovely “round” tone produced by the capacitance of several pedals between my guitar and my amp.
    That’s part of the problem of having too much information. You’re always searching for a quimera. Right now, I feel the need for having no losses in my signal. My brain tells me that I could sound “wrong” if I don’t solve this issue.
     
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  12. Alnus Rubra

    Alnus Rubra Loving nature’s wonders

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    As Bausari says, the combination of all the pedal circuitry, patch cables and cables connecting the board to your amp can cause the treble frequencies to be lost.

    A buffer pedal or buffer circuit in an effects pedal helps to combat this, if that’s your sound.
     
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  13. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Here’s what happens: the enemy of an unbalanced, low-level signal that comes off a guitar pickup is capacitance. Capacitance rolls off high frequencies as soon as the signal leaves your pickups, but after 15-20 feet of cable, you can really hear the tone suck quite easily. The signal coming from the guitar is high impedance. But to preserve high frequencies you need low impedance early in the signal chain.

    Companies like boss tried to combat this high frequency loss by including a ten cent buffer circuit into their pedals. A buffer converts the signal coming out of your guitar to a low impedance signal that retains high frequencies. For a long time, the buffers used on pedals like Boss were ten cent chips, and they sucked tone.

    However, for about the last 20 years, you could buy a specialized, high quality buffer that preserves tone, and now, even the company that put True Bypass on the map, Fulltone, has a buffer on the market.

    Like any other piece of audio gear, there is sh!t and there is awesome. You pay for awesome but it sounds good. ;)

    if you do your homework, you can find any number of extremely high quality buffer circuits on the market that will improve your tone instead of sucking the life out of it.
     
  14. Alnus Rubra

    Alnus Rubra Loving nature’s wonders

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    Like most of my posts!
     
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  15. mark cassidy

    mark cassidy New Member

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    Thank you sir - again - for this straightforward and informative answer. And I happen to recall that you do studio work and so I can understand the requirement for this sort of technology. It's doubtful at this stage that I would ever use this type of equipment BUT that's not the point. The gaining of knowledge is always paramount, plus it gives folks like me, out in the back forty (and happily so!!), insight into how folks like you, working at the front edge of the business, manage your work and move forward. Many thanks!
     
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  16. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
     
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  17. Tucson Thump

    Tucson Thump Mint Heavy Relic

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    Not taken that way, for sure. Things have changed quite a bit since you had to plug in a Ross Flanger directly into a 120v socket (as was my own experience)
     
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  18. claythomas

    claythomas Nothing but the best!

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    Now I gotta A/B my pedalboard......I run an Audio Technica digital wireless into a Morley Tremonti wah into all TC Electronics pedals and also split the signal into my Dual Rec effects loop. I believe there's a buffer built into a couple of the pedals. So I guess I will try it and see if I can hear a difference. I also run 1 20' George L cable to the input of the amp and 2 20' George L's in the effects loop. The board is also cabled with George L's.
     
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  19. Boogie

    Boogie Zombie Two, DFZ

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    I’ve used both a Klon and an EP Booster as my frontend buffers for years with great success. And I don’t mess with success!
     
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  20. Basauri

    Basauri Diamonds x Guitars deal with Paul

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    Yesterday I received a BOSS TU-3 waza.
    This evening I’ll make some A/B/C among Tu-2, Tu-3w, straight in.
    Mesa Stowaway, tc bonafide and Cornish clone are on the way. This is becoming the mother of buffer comparisons
     

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