What makes a buffer a 'good' buffer?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by cnltb, Oct 23, 2017.

  1. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Hi all;
    I am thinking seriously about getting a buffer, potentially a buffer/booster.
    I want it to be completely 'invisible' where tone is concerned and will be using it for recording mostly but for gig situations as well.
    My question; What should I look out for when looking at specs?

    Thanks! :)
  2. Driven Crane

    Driven Crane

    May 30, 2014
    Brand's name?
  3. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    When you find out, please tell me!

    Here, below, are a number of pedal format products from respected makers. They are either purpose built audio buffers or provide buffering as part of a larger feature set. Consider the published specs of each. Some are more detailed than others, but to a layperson (that is, someone without an EE degree or whatever), none of the specs convey their relevance to perceived audio quality or even to claimed functionality.

    For example, I can vouch for the excellent (smooth, unobtrusive, natural, yet effective) sound of the buffers in the Tri Loop by One Control; but the specs for that pedal are merely physical dimensions, weight, and current draw.

    You're tired of hearing this from me, I'm sure, but it really applies in this case: you have to play through each in your own application, and judge which is best from their sound and feel in use.
  4. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
  5. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

    Assuming the manufacturers' specs are accurate, it would seem to me that the most important would be the signal-to-noise ratio, then the harmonic distortion and lastly maybe the input output impedance.

    This is assuming the manufacturer even provides the specs.

    I would think that other than the signal-to-noise ratio you wouldn't be able to hear a difference between the other specs, if it's just a reasonable quality buffer.
    Snaxster and boomertech like this.
  6. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    I think the best quality is that the timbre is the same coming out as it is going in, but I doubt we can discern that from the specs.
    Maybe someone can enlighten us.
  7. boomertech

    boomertech Frank Appleton Commercial User

    Apr 8, 2009
    Syracuse, NY
    Designer/Owner of FEA Labs

    With today's electronics, even the most inexperienced designer could build a very transparent buffer circuit. You wont hear the difference between a THD spec of 0.01% or 0.00001%... both of those specs are very good. The S/N ratio is a good spec to look at.

    The other thing that a quality buffer should have is excellent power supply filtering. You will see power supply rejection figures like 80dB. That means the amplifier will attenuate power supply noise by -80dB. A good figure, but that is usually the best or average spec. Most times the PSRR (power supply rejection ratio) has fairly diminished numbers as you get into the upper audio frequencies. This means that HF noise on the power will leak into the audio signal and we humans are very sensitive to HF noise. So, for a good buffer or any audio amp, the power supply design needs to be of stellar quality.

    TerribleLiar23 and Snaxster like this.
  8. [sfx]microThumpinator should be on your list. Great buffer with high order high pass filter to get rid of subsonic trash that can show up when recording.
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  9. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Washington, Utah
    John K Custom Basses
    my favorite buffer is the one made by Pete Cornish. It's completely transparent, although it's not a booster, it's just a buffer.
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  10. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Thanks all!
    This is turning out to be really interesting reading!

  11. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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