Stomp boxes - Line vs. Instrument level

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by jondog, Jul 30, 2003.

  1. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    How do you run your stompboxes? I'm trying to control hiss, and it sounds quieter if I give my pedals the line level out of my preamp. I have to turn the input down on some of them, but the overall level is still pretty good. Do effects loops run at line level? My pre doesn't have one. I've always put the fx in front of the amp, I just thought they went there.
  2. redneck2wild


    Nov 27, 2002
    Memphis, TN
    I run the few pedals I have before the preamp.

    Some pedals don't put out a hot enough signal to go directly to a poweramp.

    Also, the more items you have in your signal chain, the greater the chance of noise or hiss.
    Pedals that boost gain/level tend to boost noise as well. Cheap cables can also be the source of noise.
  3. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    I find that my pedals respond better to an instrument level signal. Line level seems to throw them off a bit, especially my Q-tron.

  4. It all depends on the efx you use and how much of a hassle you want/need. As said before efx that boost or increase level or gain (compressors, distortion and Eq's) should be as early as possible and can have a rough time in a line level loop resulting in more noise and unwanted ugly sounding distortion. Attack sensitive efx like envelope followers should be kept at instrument level to avoid unwanted noise and possible damage to delicate/sensitive circuits.
    Time modulation efx (chorus, flange, delay) otoh work better in an efx loop even a line level loop, but avoid using any vintage sweeties cause they aren't designed for a 1 volt input level and might be damaged.
  5. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    The Mitten
    perhaps a noise gate would help, one guy said his DI box cut some of that out, I am curious as well I had a problem in the past with that too...
  6. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Yes, I've got a noise gate and it works well, but the hiss still comes through when I play. Cheap cables is a possibility, but when I replaced 2 of the cables in my rack w/ balanced ones I couldn't hear much difference. I guess I could replace them all. I mainly notice it at home, when gigging I wear earplugs and the hiss is not noticeable. Except at one club where the power seems wonky.