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New Villex output booster

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by David Wilson, Jun 15, 2004.


  1. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    So, when I was ordering some J and P pups from Mr Villex he told me about some new products he has.

    "We have new product - output booster. It acts as if you have overwound pickups. Very efficient!!! We made only couple dozens yet but response already super +. Can be 2 way (original + extra hot) or 3 way (orig. + hot + extra hot). Second one comes with 3 position rotary switch and first one with toggle switch. I am sure you must try"

    Well, he was right on the last part ;) I ordered one of each

    So I got my pickup order last night, and these two very interesting looking contraptions were in there. My Geddy Lee Jazz is probably the best candidate for trying these out. Since they just sit in the signal chain, looks like they can be used with any pickups.
     
  2. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    as you can see from the diagrams, it's totally passive
     
  3. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    That looks very cool...

    Record some mp3s, if you can.
     
  4. MascisMan

    MascisMan

    Nov 21, 2003
    Dallas, Tx
    Wow thats real nice. Passive to boot. I wonder how it would affect the Nord NP4 as opposed to the PBR-1? Hey David how much did the 3 way one set you back?
     
  5. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    well, it'll boost the overall sound rather than doing bass boost/treble cut. The 3 way is $55, 2 way is $45.
     
  6. MascisMan

    MascisMan

    Nov 21, 2003
    Dallas, Tx
    Right, so do you think the NP4 would benefit from this? How is the stock output on the pup?
     
  7. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    The NP4 output is fine, but I can see it being of benefit to pickups like Bartolini which can be quieter.
     
  8. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    I know, that's what intrigued me. I could see an output limiter, where 'full' is zero cut like in a volume control. But this is supposedly most definitely an output booster. I guess I could open one up and take a look, but the units are sealed right now.

    You know what just occurred to me, I could wire this up to a 2 jack harness to try it out without opening up any bass. That way I can easily verify that the output level IS being boosted.
     
  9. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Ah, there's the rub. You can in fact do this. You just have to know how. :)

    That's probably why Villex has the patent, and I'm just buying his pickups. Clearly, it's not y'r average tone control circuit. There's something clever about it. Otherwise everyone would be doing it, right?

    I asked myself, "self, why doesn't Villex put a frequency control pot into the booster circuit?" I answered: "self, he's probably using inductors".

    Which surprises me a little, since the demo instrument I heard was completely quiet, not a trace of hum to be heard anywhere, and that was in a room full of spaghetti AC wiring and fluorescent lights.
     
  10. from the size of it given the signal level, it's probably a wide-bandwidth, highly shielded transformer. there's nothing shocking about that -- the cassady signature bass uses one, as did the old les paul bass after which it was modelled.

    robb.
     
  11. Balor

    Balor

    Sep 24, 2000
    Montréal, Québec
    Does the how really matters...? I'm much more interested in the actual fact... does it really work? Keep us posted on your findings David.

    thanks
    PL
     
  12. geshel

    geshel

    Oct 2, 2001
    Seattle
    Yup. I was about to post :confused: about a passive signal booster, then I thought "transformer".
     
  13. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    yeah, that's what my non-EE mind had guessed it must be something like. I won't be able to try this out until the weekend, but stay tuned :)
     
  14. passively speaking, the only way to boost signal is either with a transformer (in which case you're boosting voltage at the expense of current; output impedance also goes up) or you're using mutual inductances, which are, more or less, also a transformer.

    there's probably some level of feedback or resonance in the circuit, based on his taming of resonance in his pickups. also, that would help with the output impedance concern. make no mistake, though it appears to be a simple transformer, it's not likely a trivial concern. there's likely a lot of clever innovation in such a small package.

    robb.
     
  15. A9X

    A9X

    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    I was going to type out basically the same thing until I saw your post. My guess would be it's an autoformer (but who knows), and the output inperdance issue was the first concern, having worked with a lot of signal iron over the years, both in audio amps and RF. They're cheap though, so I might pop for the 2 way and put it on the bench and measure it after I've had a thorough listen.

    What I'd like though, would be for the secondary to be bifilar and centre-tapped to let me have a balanced o/p. It would be a lot simpler than the current pre I'm working on, which is all differential and uses a Lundahl OPT to give a balanced o/p. I just can't make this thing hum, but it's bulky and eats batteries.
     
  16. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Super. You go dude. Differential is absolutely the way to go. I've been advocating a "hybrid" approach lately, which is to wire the pickup to a differential preamp (therefore neither side of the coil is grounded, which helps address the hum issues), and then use a standard single ended low impedance output from the preamp to the amp. The hybrid approach is based mainly on practical considerations, since I don't know of any commercial bass amps with an XLR or TRS input. Also a buffered low impedance output is probably "good enough" for most practical applications, in other words it'll allow you to run long cables, and feed the board directly, that kind of thing. If I had my 'druthers I'd prefer to run an XLR cable from the instrument to the amp, but those darn XLR jacks are pretty big and might be a little ugly to fit into a bass, and with a TRS jack you'd have to be careful if you plugged in a "regular" cable (which would short out one of the outputs, so you'd have to use a limiting resistor or something like that).
     
  17. A9X

    A9X

    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    Agreed. Been building diff audio amps for two decades, mainly in the "audiophile" end of the sport, and properly done, there's nothing even close (to my ears) for accuracy.

    Your approach is very sensible, and I concur with your reasoning. In my more collectable instruments, I'll be retrofitting some variants on the 5532 idea as this'll allow me to continue using the existing 6.5mm jack and allow everything to be returned to 'stock' later.

    The customs, the cheap-but-very-nice 5 string, and my 'hack' basses are a different story though. With these, I want to push things a bit closer to the limit.

    My new customs will have a 7 pin XLR as well as a 6.5mm mono jack. The mono will have one of the pickups wired directly to it for use as a 'limp home mode' safety feature, should there be a preamp/PSU failure, or to interface with someone elses preamp.

    The 7 pin will take the onboard pre's balanced out, and the +/- power and earth. The signal path will be; pickup - series/parallel/HB switch - diff gainstage/buffer - balanced H bridge attenuator - diff gainstage/buffer - output transformer (not really neccessary, but I have them) - signal cable - power supply with balanced and single ended outputs - preamp+poweramp. There'll be two pickups, mixing at the H bridge. For the extra cost of parts, most of which are coming from my junkbox, and the effort in building it, the performance increase looks like being well worth it from the prototype so far; it doesn't hum even if I try to make it to, and would probably drive 100m of cable. There aren't any opamps in the signal path (at the moment, but EQ will likely be gyrators), the design being based around discrete FETs, giving it a very clean low order harmonic spectrum. With some further thought and refinement, I can probably shrink it to the size of a pair of matchboxes, plus pots and OPT. But it will never be battery friendly....

    To get back on topic, I bought some Villex pups on the weekend, and should get them in a week or so. Now to email Mr Villex and see if any of his output boosters will work balanced..............
     
  18. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    Just to let you know I haven't forgotten about this, just been short of time recently. Also, I'm trying to work out the best way to install it. Even though the two way is pretty small, it'll still be VERY tight in a J cavity so I think I'm going to have to do a 2 jack external harness for now.
     
  19. john keates

    john keates

    May 20, 2004
    I have had my Villexes for a while now and am still getting over the fact that they are passive.

    I installed a Villex booster today. I got the three-way just incase it suited me. I am glad I did as I think that it is the middle setting that I prefer most.

    My observations so far are these:

    The booster does indeed boost the signal (this is assuming that it isn't reducing it when I think it is turned off).

    It isn't just boosting the signal but it also gives it a beafyer, meatear tone.

    As the man put it himself, "With the booster you get more bottom end low mids and high mids but the resonans(sic)
    frequency will go about 1000 HZ lower."

    Does anyone know what 'rensonace frequency' means?

    The recordings that I have made so far are with older strings and I will iether give them a once over with alchohol or get a new set before I put recordings about.

    With the older strings and the booster on full, it seemed like the extreem highs wern't there so much but it may just be that I wasn't hearing them over the lower frequencies and that new strings would help here.

    The middle setting was really nice. I was recording into my soundcard through an eq set flat (to help with signal level) and usually I would expect to have to apply a little bass boost to get a nice sound. with the booster on its middle setting I was getting a nice fullness of tone whilst maintaining clarity.

    I don't have much music softwhere - does anyone know if there is a good quality spectrograph avaliable for download somewhere?

    Hey David, I would be interested to know how you are getting on with your experiments.
     
  20. john keates

    john keates

    May 20, 2004
    I have been playing around a little more today with clean strings.

    I have been gettting a more acceptably clear sound with the booster on full.

    One thing that I have noticed is that, if I play into an amp wihout some kind of device between it and the bass (in this case a BOSS EQ), the booster doesn't seem to increase volume much at all. I am guessing that this is an issue with impedance.

    I am not happy with what the BOSS does to my sound and, not being an effects man, don't have much else to play it through so I guess I will have to hunt around for some kind of preamp (inboard or outboard).

    I have heard that the Aguilar OBP1 is a good match for villex. I am wondering though how it would fit into the circuit? I would want to put the preamp in after the booster but this way it won't have access to the pups.

    Anyone got any ideas? Am I talking nonsense?