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Active/passive buffer for High Gain Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 13th May 2012
  #1
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Dedicated Buffer Pedals and HUM

Noticing that I can get a lot of extra noise when using a active buffer pedal, probably because of some weird ground loops and DAW interference because of the desire to record a Direct Track for later, reamping.

What are some ULTRA-QUIET buffer pedals to check out?

I'm basically looking for something Passive that might possibly give me 'less noise grief'.

Anything besides the Radial Stuff? I have a Bigshot, it's great but I feel there could be better. Maybe battery powered?

cheers!
Old 14th May 2012
  #2
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I'm confused. I don't think you can have a passive buffer pedal. As I understand it, by definition, a buffer pedal would have to be an active circuit. The Bigshot is a passive design, and not really a buffer pedal. But judging from what you said, it sounds like what you want is a DI or maybe a splitter. Are you wanting something that will split your signal to go straight into a DAW and an amp at the same time, or are you just looking for a clean way to get the signal into your DAW?
Old 14th May 2012
  #3
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Looking for a Buffer pedal with or without splitting it. But, the main use is that I'm concerned with is using regular AC style power (like PB1) is going to ultimately create too much noise because of the myriad of studio connections running in my small studio.

By buffer I don't mean Booster, just something to give the signal a bit of strengthening to drive the tubes a bit harder.

Therefore, I'm interested in Passive OR battery powered Buffer/Splitter.

I'm not sure what players do this say, at a big concert where noise may get out of control - I'm wondering if they use all battery powered (isolated) pedals only?

Or, if they have a different method to keep noise from seeping in from main power or possibly bad power?

I'm thinking that using all Battery powered pedals would be likely.

Radial PB1 is great but can't be battery powered

Wampler Clean Buffer Pedal
Tone Freak Buff Puff


Looking for more review of buffer pedal options.
Old 14th May 2012
  #4
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Lots of pedals have buffers as part of their design. I think all of the Boss and Ibanez pedals do, and they're all (at least the ones I can think of) can run on battery power. So you may already have a buffer pedal on your board. It may just be a issue of placement. I like to begin and end the chain with a buffered pedal. Throw those true bypass pedals in the middle.

Now the question is, are you getting noise, or hum? If you're getting noise, then you may just need to shorten your cables or rearrange their order. Find out if the noise is coming from just one pedal, or from a combination of pedals. You may have to remove something all together to keep the noise out.

If you're getting that 60Hz hum from a power supply, then that's another problem. The only way to correct this is to isolate whatever is being effected by the power supplies by either moving them further away or shielding them or the power supply. Shielding them isn't easy or cheap. You'll need to use something like Mu Metal for that. For instance, my pedal board didn't have any hum issues until I added a second inductor to my crybaby. I installed a switch to switch between the original inductor and a Halo inductor. The Halo would pick up some hum, but the original wouldn't. To fix this, I built a small enclosure out of Mu Metal and housed just the inductor in it. Problem solved.

Most professional rigs will have quieter power supplies and/or power conditioners and they'll also be further away from the pedals or anything else that will pick up the hum. Those stages are usually pretty big, so you can space stuff out as necessary. Also, a little bit of noise isn't a big deal in a live situation, but can prove really problematic in the studio.

But as far as a dedicated buffer pedal is concerned, I've never used one. No need on my end, as most of my pedals are buffered. Even then, usually the advantage of a buffered pedal isn't to reduce noise so much, as it is to keep the tone of your guitar intact. The lower impedance of a buffered pedal allows for longer runs with less signal loss. In the end, it's a balance to find the right ratio and order of true bypass and buffered pedals to keep your tone at its purest.
Old 14th May 2012
  #5
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Cool, here's my issue:

Plug my Guit straight into my amp, sounds perfect, except a bit like a more boring tone. Use a Bigshot it sounds better, and still no HUM.

Use a pedal (in this case a active DI), buffered out going to the AMP is okay as long as the AMP is not connected to the DAW via FX return OR DI Chain. So I'm pretty certain the DAW Computer is the main culprit in my case. I checked this by doing some direct monitoring also.

So I think I will check some pedals that can be good buffers even when turned off and can be battery powered and see if that helps.

thanks a bunch
Old 14th May 2012
  #6
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Well after a few searches I see there is quite a few booster/splitter pedals available.

If anyone want to recommend some that are 9V compatible please do as I have some work cut out for me to find a 'new' buffer for my rig. :0
Old 14th May 2012
  #7
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Do you have the Iso switch enabled on the Big shot? That should engage the transformer and isolate the two outputs so there's not a grounding loop issue. That's what it's starting to sound like to me. Just to be sure though, does the DAW have the same issues if you just go straight into it (through the DI of course)? If not, I'd slowly start adding things back in to see where the noise is coming from.

To me, it just doesn't sound as though a buffer pedal will fix THIS problem. But I'd need to take a look at the entire signal chain and hear the actual noise you're talking about to be certain. Hell, I've been wrong before.
Old 15th May 2012
  #8
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Sorry I think I wasn't understood, but the issue remains...

Bigshot didn't cause a huge Hum spike as did the return (thru) from the active DI. I'm still checking to see how things react with different pedals I own here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wakestyle View Post
Plug my Guit straight into my amp, sounds perfect, except a bit like a more boring tone. Use a Bigshot it sounds better, and still no HUM.
Old 15th May 2012
  #9
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A well laid out pedalboard with a good power supply, such as the Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 shouldn't cause any noise, regardless of the environment it's in. Bars and clubs have notoriously worse power and yet many pedalboards don't make noise. If you're having issues with noise, I'd suggest it's not because of a powered pedalboard - there are other issues at work.

I'd suggest posting your full signal chain, including all the pedals, what's currently powering them and how you have them connected. For power, indicate how many different outlets things are plugged into and whether or not those are all on the same circuit or not (if you know). What DAW you have and the hardware interface would also be relevant.
Old 15th May 2012
  #10
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kafka's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silent Sound View Post
I'm confused. I don't think you can have a passive buffer pedal. As I understand it, by definition, a buffer pedal would have to be an active circuit.
+1. A buffer puts a very high impedance load on the guitar, isolating it from the drag of the rest of the chain. The signal to the rest of the chain is fed by the battery, which has a lot more power than your guitar pickups. Can't do that without an active circuit.
Old 16th May 2012
  #11
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I think you guys are totally right, but it just seems I getter far cleaner sound when I run guitar straight into the amp, or using something like a Bigshot, which IMO was better.... But I was able to mostly get rid of the hum by just running 1 signal through to the AD.

I'm looking at a couple 'boosters' now, different flava's also so it's all good.

Suhr Effects - Expanding the Experience of Tone!
or maybe a Katana, or this Resonant Electronic Design. I'm not sure that might be overkill or not...

But maybe this Psionic Audio - Triad preamp mixer & boost pedal for guitar - Overview which also have extra FX loop and option. :=, and a Pedal Power.
Old 16th May 2012
  #12
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frans's Avatar
A) there is no passive buffer, the whole concept of a buffer revolves around some kind of power source
B) of course it's different if the guitar /with or without buffer/ is feeding the amp or if a D.I. is feeding the amp. There's interaction between the impedance of the amp's first stage and the impedance of the thing feeding it
C) if you feed your amp AND your interface from your amp you may likely get a ground loop (lots of noise) so you could use a transformer split with ground lift before your interface
D) with HiGain sounds the most noise you hear will be from the guitar itself, nearly all guitar companies seem to come from a universe where the habits of proper shielding and grounding haven't been studied thoroughly, so it seems. There is online information about how to silence guitars. The noise you hear is there all the time, the big slab of gain just brings it up. That's why many friends of the HiGain persuasion use things like the ISP decimator after having taken all the other steps:
Decimator Pedal
Old 16th May 2012
  #13
I've used buffers for my guitars since 1972. These are all home brew designs installed internally. They have a high input impedance (2.2meg ohms) low output impedance (10 ohms) and are very quiet. I use the BurrBrown OPA1641 fet opamp at 5 nv noise and 1.8 ma current draw.

If you believe your buffers are noisy, turn down the guitar volume pot and you will hear how noisy. The rest is guitar pickup noise, delt with by screening and hum cancelling techniques.

Many famous players used these buffer/preamps in their instruments to get that hot, yet clear sound. Frank Zappa, Mahavishnu John McLaughlin, Jerry Garcia, Alphonso Johnson, Byron Miller, Nate Watts, etc. all used them.

Not so popular internal today, most prefer to loose signal quality through a guitar cable before they hit the buffer on the floor. Not me.
Old 16th May 2012
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wakestyle View Post
I think you guys are totally right, but it just seems I getter far cleaner sound when I run guitar straight into the amp, or using something like a Bigshot, which IMO was better.... But I was able to mostly get rid of the hum by just running 1 signal through to the AD.

I'm looking at a couple 'boosters' now, different flava's also so it's all good.

Suhr Effects - Expanding the Experience of Tone!
or maybe a Katana, or this Resonant Electronic Design. I'm not sure that might be overkill or not...

But maybe this Psionic Audio - Triad preamp mixer & boost pedal for guitar - Overview which also have extra FX loop and option. :=, and a Pedal Power.
If you're getting hum when you go through your pedalboard vs. a straight cable, then your pedalboard isn't wired right, either signal path or electrically. I don't have a hum when I use a 10 pedal board, and if done right, neither should you.

Katana is an excellent boost, but it's not a subsitute for a buffer - it's a great boost pedal which is why I own one and how I use it.

Again, to help us help you, post your signal chain from guitar through pedals through amp to DAW. Include if all power is plugged into the same outlet in the house or if you have different things (pedals, amp, computer) plugged into different outlets in the house. Without this information, you're not going to get good information on how to fix your problem - other than a boost pedal will not get rid of hum.
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