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How Do You Buffer?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by bezo420, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. Active bass into several True Bypass pedals

  2. Active bass into Buffered pedals and True Bypass Pedals

  3. Active bass into several Buffered pedals

  4. Passive bass into True Bypass pedals with a Dedicated Buffer

  5. Passive bass into several Buffered pedals

  6. Passive bass into both True Bypass and Buffered pedals

  1. bezo420


    Aug 28, 2011
    There are 3 ways you can buffer your signal. The first is with active pickups or circuitry. Active pickups take a weak signal and amplify them with a preamp and a buffer. Active circuitry works the same way, by boosting frequencies and buffering the signal. If you run active circuitry on your bass, your signal comes out buffered.

    The other ways to buffer are with pedals. You can either run buffered pedals, or run all true bypass pedals and have a dedicated buffer. If you have a passive bass, and use long cable runs or multiple effects (or both like me), you need a buffer in your chain to prevent signal loss. Some people use pedals with weak buffers (Boss) and stack them to buffer their signal, but this tends to weaken attack response. The best way to buffer with pedals is to use all true bypass pedals and have one, strong, dedicated buffer.

    So, how do you buffer your signal?
  2. sam adams

    sam adams

    May 21, 2009
    The true bypass or buffered feature on any of my pedals is totally coincidence. Except my Radial Twin City ABY, I ditched my passive ABY box. Sometimes I run stereo. But regardless, the buffer on those things are worth talking up and actually have a drag control to adjust/compensate.

    I try not to kid myself though. A lot of people get too hyped up on true bypass without realizing that technically a buffer is supposed to be a good thing. And others give themselves too much credit on what they think they hear out of the average buffered pedal, be it good or bad.

    I've definitely had issues where rearranging pedals helped. I had to use a Boss FV300L volume pedal for a while and without a buffer in front of it the sound was super dull like the tone knob was rolled down.:meh:
  3. RCCollins

    RCCollins Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    San Diego, California
    I like having my TU-3 at the start of my chain for signal splitting as well as buffering.
  4. blastjv


    Jan 8, 2010
    Philly Area
    I run a passive bass into a pedal that is always on (and therefore serves as a buffer) into mostly true bypass pedals, and a few with buffers of their own, but the buffers on these particular pedals don't harm my sound. They do change the sound somewhat, but what's most important to me is that the end result is good, not that the end result matches whatever the end result would have been without those pedals in my chain.

  5. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    if I need a buffer, I just run a Cornish buffer in front of everything else.
  6. odineye

    odineye Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2011
    Bear DE
    Active bass into a mix of TB and buffers of varying quality. The only two concerns with placement of buffers I had in my current set up were;

    1. my LMB-3 didn't work out so well on the front end, but sounds great further down stream.

    2. Making sure I had a decent buffer at the end to deliver a good signal down 35' of cable to my amp.

    Placement of everything else just comes down to type of effect and how they interact sonically.
  7. bezo420


    Aug 28, 2011
    I use a passive bass into a pedal board with all true bypass pedals on it with the exception of one dedicated buffer. My tuner, fuzz, distortion, auto-wah, overdrive, chorus, delay, and compressor are all true bypass, and I use a Wampler Clean Buffer to do the leg work. I have it set in line after the fuzz and auto wah, and it does the trick.

    I run a 20ft cable to my board, and a 30ft cable from my board, and there is no difference between all that cable (plus what's between my pedals) and a 10ft cable straight in. I did the eyeglass test to see. My pedalboard sounds better with everything off (except the buffer) than with a 3ft patch cable straight in. I get all the same chime and punch through 60+ feet of cable.
  8. bezo420


    Aug 28, 2011
    Who is using a dedicated buffer, and what buffer pedal are you using?
  9. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    When I was using my passive Jazz bass with a long run of pedals, I was using a Barber Launch Pad as a buffer. I've since moved to using my active Warwick, and consequently, stopped using it.

    Currently have two buffered pedals in my chain, a Boss towards the front and a T. Rex at the end.
  10. JBNeedsBeer

    JBNeedsBeer Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    New Brunswick, NJ
    Mine is not listed. I run passive bass into a compressor at all times. I suppose that would be passive into a dedicated buffer if you wanted to get technical
    rufus.K and Anthonyfranklin9000 like this.
  11. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Well... I'm going to split hairs here, but only because some of your posts are passing semi-correct ideas off as entirely-correct ones, and I just want to get it straight.

    First, saying active pickups use "a preamp and a buffer" is redundant; they only use one gain stage, not two, in the pickups. "If you run active circuitry on your bass, your signal comes out buffered" is mainly true but not always, because some active systems have a passive volume knob at the end, raising the output impedance, which undoes one of the benefits of the buffer. Incidentally, that also is the case with some buffering booster pedals: they take a good buffer and spoil it by adding a passive volume knob.
    Not all Boss buffers are bad--they are not all made the same. I've never heard of anybody intentionally "stacking them" for more buffering.
    That is ONE good approach, that works for you. But there are multiple ways of implementing "true bypass", and they are not all equally good. So it's a mistake to fetishize true bypass as a basic cure-all, the same way it would be a mistake to assume all buffers are good. It's also not right to start with "a chain of BAD buffers has a negative impact" and extrapolate it to "a chain of GOOD buffers has a negative impact". Additionally, there are plenty of people who have one or more "always on" pedals, and if one of those works well as a buffer while engaged, then there is no need to bother about the type of bypass it has. For that matter, the lineup you described really only makes sense during the parts of a song where you are not using any of those true-bypass pedals.
    Maybe no audible difference with your amp and speakers, and that is a legitimate measure for your personal case, but that is another story than saying there is no difference. Again, sorry for splitting hairs---most people would never hear the doubled capacitance of the 20 vs the 10, with most amp/cabs.
    I've never heard of any eyeglass test. I googled it, and the ONE result was a post on another forum from somebody named BeZo. ;)
    I usually have a compressor with a high-quality output "on", acting as a buffer while engaged. The rest of my pedals either have well-designed buffered bypass, or well-designed true bypass. As long as they are built for no audible distortion, and no "pops" while switching, I call it good.
    MattStonewall likes this.
  12. bezo420


    Aug 28, 2011
    If you've ever been to an optometrist and have been fitted for corrective lenses, then you would know the eyeglass test. The switch between 2 lenses and ask "better or worse" to find the lens that best fits the application. When I say "the eyeglass test", I refer to switching back and forth between 2 samples to compare the difference. If you switched out someone's cables overnight, would they notice a difference? Probably not. If you switched back and forth and sampled in close proximity in a similar setting, would they notice? Absolutely. I have done cable shootouts with audio engineers, and you would be surprised how many people could tell the difference capacitance makes in the signal.

    I usually leave my compressor on all the time, but when I added a dedicated buffer, I did notice a difference in signal quality. Compressing the signal and buffering it are not always the same thing. Some pedals do have buffers engaged, but they are weak buffers and are not made to make large cable runs. They are merely made to offset the tonal differences of having the pedal in the chain. It's not that people set out to stack buffered pedals, but more that these pedals weren't designed to be stand alone buffers for a large board. And, it is correct that passive knobs mess with a buffered signal. A lot of pedals really only buffer when they are bypasses, so if the pedal is on, and the output signal goes through an output knob before hitting the jack, then there is no buffer used. I shut off my effects for a clean tone and have a buffered signal. Even when my compressor is on, I need the buffer. Maybe I need a new compressor.
  13. bezo420


    Aug 28, 2011
    Active pickups and active circuitry all use preamps that serve as buffers. There isn't 2 separate things, it's one thing doing both. That is what I meant by "a preamp and a buffer" is that the preamp produces a low impedance signal (which is buffering). Most of the systems I have seen so far have the active preamp last in the chain coupled to the output of the instrument. Some have and active/passive switch that takes the active circuitry out of the loop, which would make it a passive bass with an optional active signal boost, not an active bass. Active pickups always produce a low impedance signal, and require pots that handle that kind of signal. So perhaps I was wrong to generalize active circuitry, but active pickups always have a signal that is boosted and buffered. That is, in fact, what active pickups are.
  14. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    who says boss pedal buffers are "weak"? what does that even mean?

    also, buffers don't "stack"; as soon as you leave one and go into another, all effects of the first one are eliminated, and the output of the second one takes over entirely.

    anyway, my answer is none of the above: it's a passive bass into a G50 wireless, so its output is buffered right out of the gate.
  15. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    No, what surprises me is when people think "shootouts" and sighted A/B tests have any scientific validity. This "eyeglasses test" of yours is valid for inherently subjective things, but no good for objective things that can be measured. :cool:
    You noticed a sample size of one. It's a valid sample, but we shouldn't make all-or-nothing extrapolations from that.
    If the comp is located after the buffer, then when the comp is on, the dedicated buffer is doing nothing to the signal and impedance that the rest of the chain and the cable to the amp sees.
    I agree of course, but it really depends on your definitions. For example:
    This is swinging to the other extreme from where you went before. This "all or nothing" thinking is holding you back. A mediocre buffer is still a buffer. Even if a pedal has a high impedance at the output jack, if it had an active gain stage then it had low impedance right after that stage, and the input is still electronically isolated from the output. So there IS a buffer. Whether any one pedal will be useful as a cable buffer will depend on the specific pedal--they have a huge range of input and output impedances. Meaning it is folly to make sweeping generalizations.

    To be clear, I totally agree that a GOOD buffer is a valuable tool, and not all pedals are good buffers.
    Anthonyfranklin9000 likes this.
  16. Running an always on pedal isn't the same as buffering your signal btw!
  17. Posting now,will read later all later, but my buffering, through completely haphazard execution, is: Active bass > buffered fx looper > second buffered fx looper > five effects, most true bypass but one is a Boss pedal > amp.

    I think I have too many buffers.
  18. As for a quality dedicated buffer, do any of you use either that Empress makes? Are they any good?
  19. Bongo's post was total money.

    Glad to hear that a bunch of good buffers together can still be good, but now really worried that my xotic XP booster, which is the end of my pedalboard chain, is ruining my buffering when it is engaged. There is definitely a pot on it...
  20. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Definition of buffer: isolates input from output, and lowers the output impedance.

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