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Tip re. the "sound sucking" of effects pedals...

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by FretNoMore, Jun 2, 2003.

  1. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    I took some serious time to test the "effects of effects" on my sound, and found something I thought I'd share...

    For background you should know my amp is a Hevos amp which has a tube preamp and a solid state power amp section.

    I know it's normal to put things like a compressor or octaver between your bass and the input of your amp, and this is what I have done up until now. What I found though is *any* pedal (and mine are quite decent EBS pedals) between the bass and the amp robbed the sound of details and also some bottom. The sound also took on an unpleasant tinge of midrange boominess compared to the "virgin" signal. If I put the pedals in the effects loop there was much less of a difference, no more sound degeneration than I can live with to get the effects.

    My theory is that the tube preamp section is far superior soundwise, so putting a solid state pedal in front of it masks some of the quality and details. Putting the effects in the effects loop has much less negative impact as we're already past the tube input stage and in the solid state part of the amp so to speak. This was not the case with my solid-state EBS combo, which is why I previously put the effects in front of the amp for convenience.

    Maybe this shouldn't be a surprise, but I thought it was something you should investigate. The improvement in sound was quite noticable in my case. I'm not ready to dump the pedals just yet, but at least the negatives of effects can be minimized.
  2. Well noticed. This is true. This is exactly why you have an FX loop, and why onboard effects are positioned between pre and power amps. But take care - drive effects don't work in FX loops! Only time effects/ frequency dividers etc etc work there.

    Another excellent way of avoiding this kind of sound degradation is to use a good preamp first in the chain. I use a Sadowsky outboard.
  3. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Above all, experiment and use your ears. Common sense, such as that above, will get you a part of the way to the best sound out of your gear but, at the end of the day, you still need to experiment and listen to figure out what works best for you.

    In music and audio, there are rules - some can be bent and others can be broken... (oh, and there is no spoon :D)

  4. Guess what Wulf has been watching recently! ;)
  5. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Do you think that's air your speakers are moving?

  6. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Most effect pedals are not true-bypass, which means that although their effect is "disengaged", the sound still runs through its circuitry, which usually robs the bottom end and adds some noise.

    Many effects sound best BEFORE the preamp, and many effects loops are designed for different impedances and levels than stomp-box type effects. IMO, the best way to avoid these problems for a bassplayer is to put your effects in a true-bypass loop, anything similar to those like found at www.loooper.com
  7. NV43345


    Apr 1, 2003
    I ran into this very same problem, so I fixed it
    with a Boss LS-2 Line switcher, It allows me
    to by-pass all the effects when playing clean,
    and "loop" them in for the songs where I use them.
    Also allows silent on stage tuning, and powers the
    other pedals in the board. [​IMG]
  8. slam

    slam Guest

    Mar 22, 2000
    IMO, Compressors dont really work in a parallel effects loop. They require a series effects loop.
  9. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    I had the same problem. Use two seperate signals and a two channel amp. Split the signal after the bass but before the amp/effects. One signal clean to the amp as the foundation of your sound and one signal for coloring with effects. That way there is no bottom or output loss when you stomp on your boxes. This way also allows "true bypass" for the sound because the main signal is not going through the effects. Certain pedals just suck the power out of the signal and there is a noticeable db drop and loss of bottom.

    I have used FX loops and always found them to be not as good as this method IMO. I also put a DI before the splitter and another after the effects and then send both to the house system for the FOH engineer to mix with the mic signal. It can be a pain, but it works.

    But after doing that for a few years, I went right back to Bass-Cable-Amp! Just a tuner thrown into the mix. Go figure.
  10. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Yes, I'm also using the LS-2 - very handy thing - with the tuner in one loop and most effects in the other. Even though it's good it still takes out details in the sound though. A true bypass pedal would fix this of course, but as soon as the effect is on the "robbing" is back. I'll try it for a while with everything in the effects loop and see how I like it.
  11. NV43345


    Apr 1, 2003
    I think the loss may be in a the cables running up & back. When I am not even in a mood to use the effects, I am just plugged direct into the amp with a Monster Cable, and I can tell the difference.I guess we just have to sacrafice some signal loss, wether due to cable length or power robbing effects,to get the desired color were after.:)
  12. Also a notorious tone sucker BTW. A lousy substitute for a _true_ bypass switcher. A quick read-through of the HC archives will confirm this.
  13. NV43345


    Apr 1, 2003
    what is BTW & HC ?
  14. By The Way

    Harmony Central
  15. NV43345


    Apr 1, 2003
    I read the HC reviews and most of them were good.
    I also went out and saw 7 different live bands last weekend, and 4 of them were using the LS-2
    with no prolems at all.With anything you can have good ones and bad ones I guess.But mine works great, with the Monster cables.
  16. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    This is not true.
    The Boss LS-2 is not a true bypass (as long as this means a thing, since electrically it doesn't), but it hardly suck any signal.
    The difference is barely noticeable when A/Bed with my Loooper.
  17. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    I agree the LS-2 is quite good. I spent some time testing each of my pedals individually to see what I could leave in the signal chain. Basically only the LS-2 (which was a relief), and the EBS Dynaverb were transparent enough, but I also kept the EBS MultiComp inline as I use that now and then, even though it does change the tone a bit. All my other pedals were noticable worse and go in a loop as they are not used that often.
  18. :rolleyes: Jeez people. i gotta do ALL the work around here?
    Taken directly from the HC FX database;

    "There is a little high frequency rolloff.."

    "Awful sound quality...It created a huge amount of undesirable noize..Maybe I was unlucky and got a defective one?"

    "you can notice a little bit of tone degredation, but not too much. defenitly not true bypass"

    " It does suck tone a little (especially if you have other tone-suckers in one of its loops), but it's impossible to make a pedal that has no effect whatsoever on tone, so it's a minor thing"

    "..as the previous post mentions, both of the loop channels do suffer from some high-end rolloff."

    "you might find yourself wishing for a little more transparency..you will notice that the highs have been slightly rolled off..overall articulation and clarity will have been reduced and that the noise level has increased.."

    Etc., etc., etc. Not a _bad_ box by any means, just that it very obviously DOES have some on your overall tone, however unoticeable that may be for some. If you are going to go to the trouble of buying a bypass box, buy one that REALLY is true for roughly the same cash? I mean..why the heck not? this is what I use and love..good stuff;

  19. NV43345


    Apr 1, 2003
    In saturday night live "Steve Martin" voice.....
    "What The Hell Is That Thing ?":)
  20. BryanB

    BryanB Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Every signal processor, cable and connector you add to your signal chain will compromise your tone and dynamics, even true-bypass pedals. (Plus it's one more thing to break during a gig.) The question always is whether or not the benefit provided makes up for this loss.

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