Thoughts on using a digital multi-fx with classic amps?

Discussion in 'The Tone Zone' started by What?, Nov 6, 2020.

  1. What?

    What? Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2018
    Messages:
    1,523
    Likes Received:
    1,324
    It seems that some companies are always hiding issues with their products from customers, so it pays to try and find out what those issues may be before getting too excited about a seemingly perfect product and then getting disappointed by it when actually putting it to use. I would much rather just grab some gear, plug in, and enjoy playing. But it almost never works out that way.
     
  2. Filipe Soares

    Filipe Soares Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2019
    Messages:
    1,973
    Likes Received:
    3,680
    I have cheap chinese SMD pedals, I have expensive stuff. generally I let my ears judge. I'm not playing in front of 50.000 people, even the guys who are, generally, are more condescending about gear. in the end of the day, what matters is playing what makes you happy.
     
    Crikey likes this.
  3. What?

    What? Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2018
    Messages:
    1,523
    Likes Received:
    1,324
    Me too. What makes me happy with gear is good tone. I get my fundamental sounds from amps, and when I use pedals I'm doing so to enhance or add to what is already there, not to screw it up. ;)

    Things would be much easier if I could just plug in to a modeler amp with builtin effects and be happy with what comes out of it. But I can't do that.
     
  4. freefrog

    freefrog Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2016
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    57
    Hi,
    For serious analysis, I plug the cumbersome lab gear used where I work but frankly, any good calibrated soundcard + a software like Rightmark Audio Analyzer does a fine job at home...
    Regarding the fizz issue: it's there in most of the units that I've tried but it really tends to depend on the drive model used IME and IMHO. There's most often a couple of "fizz free" drive FX's in digital MFX's.
    About FX's replacable by discrete pedals: IME and IMHO, a properly set and properly plugged MFX can avoid noise issues, troubles with faultly patch cables or with pots accidentally moved and is a space saver compared to my big analog PB with 15+ pedals. And as you say, it allows instant recall of complex signal chains: it's a time saver when I play covers on stage with a dual amp rig...

    FOOTNOTE - Can I answer to another of your sentences above?

    Maybe I misunderstand your explanation but... in true bypass, the tone is always susceptible to be dulled by the stray capacitance of the cables, plugs, switches and so on. Even a simple female jack plug measures 10pF alone...

    Low capacitance cables are there to cure such problems. I use Sommer LLX: it measures less than 16pF per ft (3 times less than an average guitar cable) and is not expensive.

    That being said to share something too. :)
     
    SkyMonkey likes this.
  5. nickfox

    nickfox Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2017
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    630
    I've mentioned this once before but I will say it again since it's on topic. I love the REVV amp models in my hx stomp (as a preamp) into the effects return of my DSL40CR. Just an exceptional tone. I love having so much flexibility with my favorite tube amp and favorite digital device.

    n
     
    KraftyBob and SkyMonkey like this.
  6. What?

    What? Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2018
    Messages:
    1,523
    Likes Received:
    1,324
    Maybe this will clear it up. An HX Stomp user provided a sound example and description over here (post #63): https://www.thegearpage.net/board/i...-tone-suck-and-other-fun-stuff.1995168/page-4

    There are other examples out there of the various Helix devices too, but I would have to go digging again. That one sounds pretty severe to me though. Even the buffered bypass has a dulling effect, but the 'true bypass' (isn't actually true bypass) really dulls the sound. This is the sort of stuff that always sends me in the other direction of mutli-effects units. There is definitely something more going on there than just cable capacitance.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2020
  7. What?

    What? Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2018
    Messages:
    1,523
    Likes Received:
    1,324
    I'm really just looking for an effects device. Maybe it would be worth trying some models into the effects return of an amp though. Do the Line 6 devices allow for running a modeled preamp only? I mean, without the power amp and cab modeling.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2020
  8. freefrog

    freefrog Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2016
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    57
    Thx for the link.
    In the past, I've done extensive experiments and measurements about capacitive loads.
    On this basis, I'd say that to my ears, the darkened tone in the recording above is due to true bypass + stray capacitance (not only from the cable but also from other hardware components: anything carrying the signal exhibits some stray capacitance).
    It's not to say that a guitar through a digital MFX sounds exactly like in direct... AD/DA conversion can color the tone and change the harmonics in a noticeable way. That's precisely why I use a frequency analyzer to fine tune my sounds. But IME, the tonal 'loss' noticed is not worse than with my EHX pedals 40 years ago... and once the settings fine tuned, I've myself a hard time to recognize the recordings done with MFX + 4CM from those played with my analog pedals.
    Hence my testimonial above.

    YMMV. :)
     
  9. nickfox

    nickfox Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2017
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    630
    I'm new to hx stomp, but I think so. This is from the manual:


    "Preamp

    We’ve also included a complete set of Preamp versions of each Amp model, which provide the tone of just the preamp stage of the amp—recommended when feeding the HX Stomp pedal into the power amp section of your favorite amplifier. You'll also find a studio microphone preamp within the Preamp > Mic category."

    And you can just have a block with an effect and not have an amp and you can hear the effect. So yes.

    n
     
  10. Sapient

    Sapient   Silver Supporting Member Platinum Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2020
    Messages:
    2,605
    Likes Received:
    5,017
    Location:
    Yes
    I don't see any issue with time based effects. I used the ones in my H&K Grandmeister when I had it. They sounded great. Distortion, compression, consumer grade reverb, and some others I'd steer clear of.
     
  11. Marshall Boogie

    Marshall Boogie Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2020
    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    386
    Location:
    Watertown, NY USA
    I am failing to understand your criticism of dirt pedals...here you lump them in with digital....however most actual dirt pedals are analogue(solid state is NOT the same thing as digital....they are analogue pedals in most cases...notable exceptions are Digitech stuff...one rule of thumb....if you kill power with the pedal bypassed and sound goes away...it is most likely digital...not always but mostly.....as far as I know they don't bother to put true bypasses in digital stuff...although they will put buffers in analogue stuff....waza make analogue pedals that have buffers.).
     
  12. Marshall Boogie

    Marshall Boogie Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2020
    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    386
    Location:
    Watertown, NY USA
    I actually am interested in the TC Electronic G-Systems or Plethora...I think they look really interesting for digital effects...are well thought of (Petrucci uses g-system) and seem to work well with tube amps. (correction....g-major or g-major2...just noticed there is a floor processor called the g-system....this was not what I was referring to)
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2020
  13. What?

    What? Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2018
    Messages:
    1,523
    Likes Received:
    1,324
    I'm having a hard time understanding what you're talking about. I said that analog and digital pedals are the same thing? That's news to me. And you're saying that digital pedals don't implement true bypass? When did that start? That is news to me too, and I think alot of pedal manufacturers would tell you otherwise.
     
  14. What?

    What? Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2018
    Messages:
    1,523
    Likes Received:
    1,324
    By the way, digital pedals should especially implement true bypass. Analog pedals don't have a set of digital converters in their signal path. Having a buffer in the path is one thing. Having a buffer and digital converters in the path is another.
     
  15. zachman

    zachman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2011
    Messages:
    6,886
    Likes Received:
    6,883
    Location:
    Tone Mountain
    I use analog pedals and analog and Digital rack fx gear, each for their own specific colors, textures, and features that they bring to the party.

    If you want the sort of features, variety, and high quality of the following-- it's gonna be expensive.

    If you want all of the above but require it to be small, cheap, light and user-friendly then I hate to be the one to tell you-- It doesn't exist.

    That said, 'close enough' for you-- can only be determined by you.

     
    jchrisf and rick16v like this.
  16. zachman

    zachman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2011
    Messages:
    6,886
    Likes Received:
    6,883
    Location:
    Tone Mountain
    Having a working understanding of signal routing, understanding rig architecture, and how one can use a line mixer and a switching system (Utilizing 'Actual' bypass-- making true bypass pedals irrelevant) to eliminate the issue of the A/D-D/A convertors being in the signal path, when they're not in use, and minimizing their noticeable affect as a result, when they are-- is yet another set of things to consider.

    The biggest problem most guys who are having issues have is-- Not having a handle on what they're after (VERY Specifically) in the 1st place, what specific gear it takes, and how to hook it up and program/set everything to produce the results. The Next obstacle is budget-- allowing access to the gear.

    The TC Electronic 2290 does not process the dry signal thru the AD/DA convertors... Just an example, and it has a sample rate of 1MEG... CRUSHES EVERYTHING in that regard.



    What's your budget?

    Have you looked into the Eventide H9000?

    Have you considered a Wet/Dry/Wet System Architecture, utilizing a 'Good' Switching System? You Should
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2020
  17. What?

    What? Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2018
    Messages:
    1,523
    Likes Received:
    1,324
    I am definitely not doing anything like that. That is an impressive looking rack of effects you have there, but I would never make use of anything like that. :applause: I feel like a slacker when I have 3-4 pedals switched on.

    I do understand on routing and switching. There is a bit of irony with alot of these newer processors though in that they have been designed to a degree as being small rig centers, having their own effects loops, multiple inputs and outputs, relay switching. But they still aren't true bypass. Go figure.

    There are small switching solutions these days which could be used for getting these things out of the signal path when not in use. It seems unnecessarily kludgy to me to have to go that route though with a multi-effects device, given that even the most inexpensive single function pedals being produced these days have true bypass. See for example: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Mini-Delay...330085?hash=item421c576125:g:qNMAAOSwBNRfNh5z A sub $20 pedal has it, but processors costing hundreds and thousands still don't. It's a given that the thing will be switched off and needs to be out of the path, but apparently that still isn't the case for multi-effects processors. They are almost there. Maybe in another generation or two they'll have caught up to 1960's tech. :rofl: See that switch? Apparently that is a luxury reserved for the multi-thousands dollar processors.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2020
  18. What?

    What? Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2018
    Messages:
    1,523
    Likes Received:
    1,324
    We don't have any guitar shops left here, except for one that thrives on used stuff, consignment, and accessories. The internet has killed them all off. It is sounding like these days that even the big chains such as Guitar Center are facing closing too. Before long we might all be permanently locked up in tents (homeless) playing through phones and earbuds to jam tracks of the dead era or rock n roll. :rofl:

    I have been watching too much youtube lately.

     
  19. zachman

    zachman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2011
    Messages:
    6,886
    Likes Received:
    6,883
    Location:
    Tone Mountain
    Clips?
    How many pedals do you use?
    What sort of sounds are you reaching for?

    That comment seems to indicate you don't understand things as well, as you say you do.

    I noticed you didn't answer ANY of my questions.

    How many pedals do you use? What are they? (Make/Model)

    That's why I brought it up

    Please feel free to educate yourself a bit more on the subject, with the following I posted below. :thumb:

    True bypass pedals are not an end-all be-all solution. Just saying... and when the pedal is ON 'true bypass' isn't really an issue, or much of a factor-- Just sayin...

    You seem hung up on True Bypass, as though it's an end-all solution, and it just isn't (necessarily).

    A Wet/Dry architecture w/ a good switching system makes your ENTIRE point Null and Void-- regardless of Buffered or True Bypass, Analog or Digital and it doesn't have to be as large as my rig solution.

    Being that you indicate you are already aware of this-- it seems odd that you'd be asking the sort of questions you've been asking, while highlighting the point you're focused on (True Bypass), while NEVER mentioning the following, and your lack of clarity re: the TB solution how, why, when or where it matters in the signal path-- seems like you've Not considered a few things and have what appears to be a less than perfect clarity re: True Bypass

    It seems-- when all is boiled down, you're looking to complain about gear design- rather than seek a solution. :shrug:

    From Custom Audio Electronics' website:
    What are buffers and how are they used?
    Buffers are extremely important in a multi-component system. They are often misunderstood and often get a bad rap by those who are uninformed. In a CAE system, a buffer is a unity gain (input level equals output level) impedance converting circuit. It essentially protects your high impedance guitar output (or any other high impedance source, such as an amps' effects loop send) from being loaded down by the input it is connected to. In effect, it converts high impedance to low, which means subsequent stages are then driven by a low impedance source (the buffer's output). High impedance sources such as your guitar's output (assuming you have passive pickups) has very little current drive capability and it's signal is subject to a harsh environment once it leaves the guitar. You already know the adverse affect a long cable has on your tone. Same thing happens if you pass your signal through a bunch of effects pedals. Even if they have "true bypass" (an ugly, over-used term), each one will suck a little more of your signal along with the cables and connectors, mainly due to capacitive loading of your high impedance guitar signal. The end result is a muffled weak signal that lacks clarity. But once your high impedance guitar signal hits a properly designed buffer with a high input impedance, the buffer takes over, and uses its higher current capability (remember, its an active circuit that requires a power supply) to drive all subsequent stages, thus preserving your instrument's tone. This brings us to buffer quality. Buffers come in all types of designs, from discrete transistor, op-amp, to esoteric tube designs. All have their own unique sonic stamp. At CAE we use the op-amp approach. It has served us well for years, is low noise, and is extremely transparent to our ears. Buffers often get blamed for causing an overly bright sound, but we feel if its designed properly, any perceived "brightness" is because now the guitar is not being loaded down by subsequent stages!

    Buffers can cause problems, too. There are some effects devices that don't like to see the low output impedance of a buffer. These are typically discrete transistor designed fuzz circuits (such as the Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face). They react better to the high impedance output of the guitar. In fact, the guitar output, cable and input stage of the Fuzz Face complete a circuit that is highly dependent of those 3 components to work correctly. Fuzz Faces clean up nicely when you roll back the guitar volume control... not so if a buffer is between the guitar and Fuzz Face input. So if you have a pedal board with a Fuzz Face on it , put it first! Other pedals may react the same way. Experiment to see what works best for you. Keep in mind all active pedals (such as Boss, Ibanez, etc...) act as buffers and will impart their own sonic stamp even when bypassed. This is what started the whole "true bypass" (ugh! that term again) craze. See? Too much of a good thing can be "bad".

    Which brings us to how we utilize buffers in CAE custom switchers. We only use buffers where absolutely necessary. Typically, in a pedal based system we will not buffer until after the first 4-5 loops, which is usually just prior to sending the signal down to the pedal board (via a long cable run, hence the need to buffer) to hit the wah/volume pedals. Any more than 4 or 5 loops, and the guitar signal may be affected by capacitive loading. So the first few loops is where you would put any impedance sensitive effects. This also means your guitar will go through fuzz, overdrive or distortion pedals BEFORE the wah. We prefer this order because the wah then has a more harmonically rich signal to filter. Try it yourself. Of course, if a specific order is required, we will do everything we can to make it happen. Buffers are also necessary to drive isolation transformers, since the relatively low primary impedance of the transformers may be detrimental to whatever circuit is feeding it. This is also why amp splitter circuits must be buffered. You can't drive multiple amps with a relatively high impedance source. So there usually is a buffer somewhere in the output stage of your custom switcher. That's usually it. 2 places minimum. There may be more active stages depending on your system requirements.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2020
  20. What?

    What? Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2018
    Messages:
    1,523
    Likes Received:
    1,324
    Yea, I know that buffered pedals shouldn't be used before pedals that have a low input impedance, if you want that interaction between the guitar and a low input impedance pedal, which isn't always the case. I'm not sure how this is relevant to discussion about multi-effects units though.

    What I was mentioning before about Line 6 devices is that some of their models are designed to react with the high impedance of the guitar by way of having a relay that switches the impedance of the input circuit depending on which model is first in the signal chain. It isn't just a high and low impedance. I think it is actually 4 or 5 different input impedance configurations. I think Fractal's latest devices have something like double that many. But some of Line 6 devices don't have this switchable input impedance feature, which means that those models expecting to see a guitar high impedance signal connected to an input with a given impedance won't be getting what they need in order to react the way that they are designed to. And I'm not that familiar with the various Line 6 Helix devices, but I think it is the HX Effects and Pod Go which don't have the switchable input impedance. So those devices will not be reacting according to how the models which are dependent around a given input impedance were designed. And yes, this would especially be bad for their fuzz models.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2020

Share This Page