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Gain staging pedals and effects

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  • dpaterson
    replied
    Re: Gain staging pedals and effects

    Following on from the above here's some useless information (may be of benefit to somebody in the future) (who knows):

    If nothing else and based on the above: "UNITY GAIN" (I use this term loosely here) on the Boss DD-7 is with E.LEVEL at 12 'o clock and not 3 'o clock as the manual would have you believe (or possibly confuse you into believing). If E.LEVEL is at 3 'o clock then effect level is apparently equal to dry signal according to the manual. This MAY mean that at 3 'o clock the output level is being boosted because theoretically you've got x 2 equal signals going out. This would pretty much explain the +6dB boost when E.LEVEL is at 3 'o clock.

    This DynaComp still infuriates me though. One of the very first threads I started on these forums was about this pedal matter of fact. Bottom line though: it's just how it works and that's that (this after doing mods. to it and then reverting back to original etc. etc. etc.) (also some new posts have surfaced on the Internet about this being the way it works and that's that). The Custom Comp. doesn't drop levels AS much. And the Boss CS-3 doesn't seem to drop them at all but then again it doesn't compress anywhere near as much as the MXR pedals regardless of settings.

    So yeh. In my case anyway: apparently an exercise in futility. Guess the best I can do it ensure that the wireless signal is as close to a dry, cabled, guitar signal and, well, what comes out the other side of the pedal chain comes out and is what it is.

    Have fun.

    Regards,

    Dale.
    Last edited by dpaterson; 12-16-2018, 06:16 AM.

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  • dpaterson
    replied
    Re: Gain staging pedals and effects

    Hmmmnnn...

    Well I just did my little test on this and I'm surprised at what I've found (a tad confused at the same time).

    Test was done by simply taking output from the pedal chain into audio interface. Calibrated using iZotope Insight. Baseline value taken as the dry guitar signal with all pedals off peaking at -6dB.

    Chain was guitar->MXR DynaComp->Boss GE-7->Boss DD-7 (simple as that).

    Here's what happened (nothing like I expected):

    Guitar only and signal PEAKS at -6dB (as calibrated above).

    Engage MXR DynaComp and signal PEAKS drop by at least 6dB (-12dB).

    Engage Boss GE-7 and signal PEAKS climb back up to roughly the same as the dry guitar signal (-6dB).

    Engage Boss DD-7 and signal PEAKS jump to around 6dB hotter (0dB) than dry guitar signal (this for a pedal that's not supposed to be doing anything else other than providing delay!!!).

    Bearing in mind I'm talking modelling amps. here (this may or may not be an issue at all with tubes) this means that my amps. with my current pedal settings are getting at least +6dB MORE signal than they're "expecting" from a guitar. Whether or not this is causing clipping I don't have the faintest idea (which was kinda the reason for asking about this and doing this test).

    Dunno what to make of this.

    What's obvious to me though is that you cannot gain stage pedals in this fashion for the simple reason that the level knobs (at least on these pedals) are not level knobs but EFFECT level knobs (two very different things) (I seem to think that this was mentioned earlier OR on the other thread re: true bypass vs. buffered bypass).

    I'm also pretty sure that using PEAKS for this excercise is not valid. I say this because even although the guitar signal drops considerably post compressor it SOUNDS louder with the compressor engaged.

    I've got a MXR Custom Comp. which I did not try in this test (for some reason or the other I cannot seem to get the same "brittle bite" with the Custom Comp. as I do with the the DynaComp).

    I'm thinking now that the only way to achieve what it is that I was trying to achieve is to simply ensure that the final output of the pedal chain is equal to the dry guitar signal and not bother with what happens in between. How to do that is another story. Would probably have to take the form of a volume control pedal at the end of the pedal chain and before some type of VU meter pedal. Or I could use my Boss CS-3 (which I don't use) and configure as a limiter (that's the one pedal where the level knob actually controls the output level as opposed to it being an effect level if "Sustain" is fully counterclockwise).

    Would sure be nice if amps. like these had input level meters!!!

    Problem with these things is that unlike tubes (where distortion will simply increase and be palatable and even desirable) these things get to a point where the distortion gets distorted type of thing.

    Regards,

    Dale.
    Last edited by dpaterson; 12-16-2018, 04:12 AM.

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  • Securb
    replied
    Re: Gain staging pedals and effects

    Originally posted by Mincer View Post
    I never think about gain staging. My setup isn't that complex.
    Mine is not that complex either. Typically BOOST>OD/DIST>MOD>DELAY>VOL/WAH.

    The boost and the OD rotate depending on the tone I am chasing but typically the boost will be my BBE Bohemian Treble Boost or Triskelion Harmonic Energizer going into an MXR D+ or my Decibel 11 Dirt Clod. Those pedals with the amps natural distortion give me a full thick chuggy sound.

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  • Mincer
    replied
    Re: Gain staging pedals and effects

    I never think about gain staging. My setup isn't that complex.

    Leave a comment:


  • LLL
    replied
    Re: Gain staging pedals and effects

    Originally posted by dpaterson View Post
    Yes. But I bet you were going into a HOT RODDED Marshall that could handle, and maybe even preferred, being driven to hell and gone going in!!! LOL!!!
    Pretty much - although it was just a stock 2210. It's hilarious the amount of gain I needed (or thought I needed) to play back then...

    Leave a comment:


  • dpaterson
    replied
    Re: Gain staging pedals and effects

    Originally posted by LLL View Post
    I used to "gain stage" in the 80s with my old BOSS pedalboard and BOSS stomps... OD into Distortion into etc...

    No wonder I sounded like thin, tinny, buzzy ****.
    Yes. But I bet you were going into a HOT RODDED Marshall that could handle, and maybe even preferred, being driven to hell and gone going in!!! LOL!!! These modeling jobs are the opposite I think. Dunno. Will see. Want to check something on this tomorrow. Will post my findings if my suspicions are correct.

    Leave a comment:


  • jeremy
    replied
    Re: Gain staging pedals and effects

    Originally posted by LLL View Post
    Billy F. Gibbons is one of the biggest tone BSers out there... from "amp cabins" to a line of Expandoras...

    10 bucks says there's an old vintage fender hidden away somewhere.
    i agreed with you he is a huge bs artist when it comes to what he is using. no way he used all those expandoras for anything but maybe a bit part in the studio or something silly. his live rig hasnt changed much since he went to the jmp1 preamp and the eq. back in the day it was a lot of brown deluxe and tweed amps in the studio. hell, the brown deluxe was a live amp for a long time too

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  • LLL
    replied
    Re: Gain staging pedals and effects

    I used to "gain stage" in the 80s with my old BOSS pedalboard and BOSS stomps... OD into Distortion into etc...

    No wonder I sounded like thin, tinny, buzzy ****.

    Leave a comment:


  • LLL
    replied
    Re: Gain staging pedals and effects

    Billy F. Gibbons is one of the biggest tone BSers out there... from "amp cabins" to a line of Expandoras...

    10 bucks says there's an old vintage fender hidden away somewhere.

    Leave a comment:


  • Gtrjunior
    replied
    Re: Gain staging pedals and effects

    I goose the front of my amp with a Friedman Buxom Boost but otherwise I donít really gain stage. I donít really need to with a Quickrod.

    Leave a comment:


  • devastone
    replied
    Re: Gain staging pedals and effects

    Originally posted by dpaterson View Post
    Was just wondering if this type of thing is actually bothered about generally is all (even with tubes).
    99% of the time, no, not to this detail. Turn knobs until it sounds good, remember those settings, or at least where the ballpark is.

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  • dpaterson
    replied
    Re: Gain staging pedals and effects

    Originally posted by NegativeEase View Post
    you are talking about maintaining unity gain through the entire pedal chain and boosting at the amp preamp with an amp switching pedal? - this will preserve more of your guitar's original sound and preserve more clarity and detail in the overall sound usually -depending on your Amp and boost type.
    Exactly. Remember I have 100 preset slots on the amps. themselves so I can simply duplicate a particular preset, assign that to another patch on the footcontrollers, and adjust volume, gain, or whatever else for that particular "boost" preset. So I'm (would be) boosting at the amp. not before the amp.

    Maybe my little situation is unique??? Dunno. Was just wondering if this type of thing is actually bothered about generally is all (even with tubes).

    Regards,

    Dale.

    Leave a comment:


  • dpaterson
    replied
    Re: Gain staging pedals and effects

    Here's a thought:

    What about determining the output level from a guitar and then putting white or pink noise through the stompbox chain at the same level as the guitar signal was at and then using an audio interface and VST level meters to calibrate??? Then just mark on the pedals (and whatever else) where "true" unity gain is for each pedal and for the stompbox chain as a whole???

    (Sorry: these things come to me as I type them!!! LOL!!!).

    Regards,

    Dale.

    Leave a comment:


  • NegativeEase
    replied
    Re: Gain staging pedals and effects

    Originally posted by dpaterson View Post
    Hell (again) everyone.
    Again yet another reason for me wondering about this. A supposed unity gain setting on one pedal is not the same as on another. Like with the Boss GE-7: unity gain as far as I know is when the level slider is in the middle (pretty hard to muck that one up). But like with the Boss DD-7 it is SUPPOSED to be at 3 'o clock but I dunno if I trust that information to be honest (because it doesn't "click in" like with the GE-7).
    This is correct -all pedals are different based on the headroom and type or reaction to high gain -there isn't a perfect level like with professional audio +4dB 1.23V or -10dBV 316 mVolts for Consumer unbalanced -it's much more subjective on a case by case basis

    Originally posted by dpaterson View Post
    Also and with my amps. what I've found is that if you lift, for example, a certain frequency on the DD-7 then you have to compensate by lowering the output level i.e. with my amps. they seem to interpret a frequency boost as being "a frequency boost PLUS a increase in input level" which increases distortion proportionately.
    . Yep, if you want Unity -for every band that rises the master must be lowered and the opposite is true.

    Originally posted by dpaterson View Post
    I suppose what I'm getting at (and dunno if this is done hence my asking) is that if I could gain stage the (few) pedals that I have i.e. so that the given initial output from the guitar doesn't increase (or decrease for that matter) after each pedal no matter whether the pedal is off or on. Then when I want boost I boost on the amps. themselves (which have their own footcontrollers which are independent of the stompbox chain). This should keep the amp. distortion "in check" not???\

    Regards,

    Dale.
    you are talking about maintaining unity gain through the entire pedal chain and boosting at the amp preamp with an amp switching pedal? - this will preserve more of your guitar's original sound and preserve more clarity and detail in the overall sound usually -depending on your Amp and boost type.

    Leave a comment:


  • dpaterson
    replied
    Re: Gain staging pedals and effects

    Originally posted by PFDarkside View Post
    When I had modeling amps, they hated being boosted and I found I got the best sounds by simply tweaking the built in effects as opposed to using external effects.

    In terms of different outputs for different guitars, I asked this several years ago and the overwhelming response was “that’s why I use different guitars, to sound different.” Now I might put an EP Booster at the beginning of the chain to slightly fatten and boost a low output Strat, but for the most part it’s plug it in and go. That might go back to the previous point, my primary amp is a Princeton Reverb, pretty easy to get compressing so there isn’t much of a volume difference between guitars, more of a tonal difference.
    Pretty much what I'm finding I think (the "hated being boosted" thing that is).

    Noticed this with my Boss SD-1. Never quite know where to set the darn thing. But I've kinda worked out it's better to set the output level higher and the drive lower and let the amps. deal with what's coming their way out of it. Just wondering if there's not a more "scientific" method of getting these levels right I guess (not to sure I trust my ears for this kind of thing) ("tone" no problem!!! LOL!!!).

    Oh well. Food for thought.

    (Possibly a moot point too though i.e. apparently next year I have to ditch the lot and go buy some "hot rodded" JCM800 full stacks and have done with it!!! LOL!!!).

    Regards,

    Dale.

    Leave a comment:

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