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Educate Me - Clean Boosts

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by whoatherechunk, Sep 22, 2008.

  1. whoatherechunk


    Apr 4, 2008
    Hey guys. Sorry if I didn't find some previous thread that did a bunch of explaining. Can someone please educate me on the differences of clean boosts? I'm not necessarily talking about a comparison of let's say...the Devi Ever Dark Boost vs. MXR Micro Amp. Instead, I'm wondering what are the differences between clean boosts (usually single knobbed versions), not boosts that affect certain frequencies and are directed towards certain "tone" (dark, trebly, more mids).

    Boost is a funny word.
  2. SpankyPants

    SpankyPants That's Mr. SpankyPants to you.

    Aug 24, 2006
    Brooklyn, NY
    Hmm. Boost.

    I guess it is a funny word.

    Okay, by definition a clean boost takes exactly what you're pumping into it and reproduces it louder. They can also be used as buffers.

    Distortion is anything that comes out of the boxx/amp that was not present at input. Dirty boosts generally have soft clipping as well as a boost in volume.

    Most clean boosts differ in the amount of dB boost and head room.
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Also, every active (powered) circuit will alter the signal slightly. No matter how many times a seller or reviewer uses the word "transparent", a booster is never ever 100% transparent. So then the question becomes "how much is the tone changed, and in what way?" If a booster is advertised as "really clean" or "transparent", then we're typically talking subtle differences... a certain je'ne sais quois... Words like "punch", "fullness", "fatness", "clarity" etc. are very subjective, they may mean slightly different things to different people. "Fatness" almost always involves some subtle/soft clipping, so if a booster is claimed to be "fat" then guaranteed it has some coloration or compression even if they are also saying it is "transparent".

    Personally I like the sound quality and relative transparency of a class A boost, but even then different class A circuits may sound different due to component choice, voltage or current usage, etc. Some clean boost pedals advertise higher headroom if you power them with 18V instead of 9V. Higher headroom means less coloration, less compression (given the same input).

    For general "rock" purposes, the difference between clean boosts live on stage just boils down to "clean" and "dirty". All the other subtleties are for quiet time at home, or in a delicate/sparse mix.
  4. CuticleThorns


    Apr 6, 2008
    York, UK
    Also my favourite chocolate bar :D


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