For those running synths through pedals

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asohn
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For those running synths through pedals

Post by asohn » Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:45 am

I often run my Voyager and SH-101 through guitar pedals. When I do this, the output signals from the pedals become much lower than from directly out of the synths and often need to be boosted before being recorded.

Usually I just turn up the gain on the pre-amp/DI on my 003, which doesn't sound amazing and adds a lot of noise. I just purchased an RME ADI-2 to get better A/D and D/A conversion and I need something to boost the signal going into it.

Currently I don't have a mixer or any additional pre-amps (of any decent quality). Eventually I plan on getting a FMR RNP, so that would surely solve my problem, but in the meantime should I get a DI box? Cheap 4-channel mixer? HELP!

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Re: For those running synths through pedals

Post by cornutt » Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:14 am

I don't know if there is a good answer... that's one reason I quit using stomp boxes with my synths. Guitar effects are made for guitar output levels, which are far lower than synth levels. And they output a low level so they won't overdrive the input stages of guitar amps, which are also designed for very low levels.

One thing that will help a little bit is to make sure that you always have fresh batteries, or sufficient voltages from your wall warts if that's what you use to power your effects. Low supply voltages will make the output lower. Also, get some kind of A-B switch so that you can put your effects in a loop and switch them out when you're not using them, which will help with the noise situation a bit.

The Boss "dash-20" effects (DD-20, etc.) can be configured for high level inputs and outputs. With some others, such as Moogerfoogers, it's probably possible to bypass the input gain and output attenuation circuits, although I haven't tried that.
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Re: For those running synths through pedals

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:12 am

You need a high impedance DI and a preamp, or an active DI which has a line level preamp in it. You also need to attenuate the synth's output level before you go into the pedal, most likely the noise you're hearing when you go to the 002 is the synth overdriving the f**k out of the pedal.

I would recommend learning to get good results with the gear you already have before spending money on things like outboard AD conversion, it'll benefit you more in the long run.

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Re: For those running synths through pedals

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:31 am

cornutt wrote:I don't know if there is a good answer... that's one reason I quit using stomp boxes with my synths. Guitar effects are made for guitar output levels, which are far lower than synth levels. And they output a low level so they won't overdrive the input stages of guitar amps, which are also designed for very low levels.
The easy 'good answer':

Synth into this:

Image

Pedal into this:

Image

Or just turn down the output on the synth before it goes to the pedal.

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Re: For those running synths through pedals

Post by asohn » Wed Mar 30, 2011 7:37 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:You need a high impedance DI and a preamp, or an active DI which has a line level preamp in it. You also need to attenuate the synth's output level before you go into the pedal, most likely the noise you're hearing when you go to the 002 is the synth overdriving the f**k out of the pedal.

I would recommend learning to get good results with the gear you already have before spending money on things like outboard AD conversion, it'll benefit you more in the long run.
Ah so maybe that's my problem. I was assuming the noise I was hearing was from the signal to noise ratio being squashed from the distortion effect (I only hear the noise when distortion is activated, not with other pedals, and I get the same noise from software distortion plugins so I'm assuming it's not because of the incoming signal being too loud on the pedal). I don't actually notice it too much when anything is being played.

This also ties into my question about the Radial boxes. Would it be better to crank the output of my synths full blast and go through a re-amp than to have the output of the synth low and go without the re-amp? Will not having a re-amp cause more noise during distortion?

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Re: For those running synths through pedals

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:56 am

Well distortion is always gonna bring up the noise floor, a reamp box won't fix that.

Theoretically a hot output to a reamp box will sound better than a volume pot down low, especially where the output level is controlled digitally before the DA converter. The impedance will match the pedal better too so if you have any old pedals that are fussy about impedance it'll help them too.

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Re: For those running synths through pedals

Post by Projectile » Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:12 pm

I have this problem all of the time. It's a major pain in the a*s. A DI box won't help much. You need some kind of preamp. Even a cheap guitar boost pedal will do the trick. I disagree with the suggestion about the re-amp boxes, though. They are overkill unless you are having a specific impedance mismatch issue like trying to drive a fuzz face or a vintage mic pre. Any distortion or overdrive pedal is going to make your signal noisy regardless. That's just the nature of the beast.

One thing you can do is see if you can run your pedal on 12volts instead of 9v. The problem with most pedals is that they lack headroom because they are designed to run on a 9v battery, but many can be run on 12v safely and it will give you a lot more headroom. Just check to make sure that your pedal can handle it first.

On another note, I'm actually considering designing a commercial product to address this problem.

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Re: For those running synths through pedals

Post by thosquanta » Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:22 pm

could always use an actual guitar amp, too. mic it with a 57, good to go!

this has the advantage of providing some really loud synths, and the disadvantage of not being at all cheap.

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Re: For those running synths through pedals

Post by Stab Frenzy » Sat Apr 16, 2011 5:16 am

Projectile wrote:I have this problem all of the time. It's a major pain in the a*s. A DI box won't help much. You need some kind of preamp. Even a cheap guitar boost pedal will do the trick. I disagree with the suggestion about the re-amp boxes, though. They are overkill unless you are having a specific impedance mismatch issue like trying to drive a fuzz face or a vintage mic pre. Any distortion or overdrive pedal is going to make your signal noisy regardless. That's just the nature of the beast.

One thing you can do is see if you can run your pedal on 12volts instead of 9v. The problem with most pedals is that they lack headroom because they are designed to run on a 9v battery, but many can be run on 12v safely and it will give you a lot more headroom. Just check to make sure that your pedal can handle it first.

On another note, I'm actually considering designing a commercial product to address this problem.
:facepalm:

You realise the output of a DI gets plugged into a preamp? Like the preamp on the 002 that the OP is using?

I wouldn't really be recommending people plug 12V into a 9V pedal, there's a good chance it'll fry something in the pedal. Even if a pedal was works fine off 12V you'd only get another 9.5dB of headroom, which isn't enough to make up for the difference between guitar and line levels.

I wish you luck with your commercial product if you ever get round to it, but I'd recommend a bit more research into the subject before committing any time or money to it, as you seem to have a few gaps in your knowledge. When you do work it all out though you'll end up with a reamp box, which you said was overkill. I imagine you'll change your mind on that when you're trying to sell them. :thumbright:

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Re: For those running synths through pedals

Post by Projectile » Sat Apr 16, 2011 1:37 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote: :facepalm:

You realise the output of a DI gets plugged into a preamp? Like the preamp on the 002 that the OP is using?
Look, if you disagree, that's fine, but don't patronize me. I know what I'm talking about.

The OP specifically said he wasn't using the preamps on 003 anymore because he got a RME ADI-2 which only has line inputs and lacks enough gain. THB, I'm surprised that he needs more gain going into the line level inputs of the RME, but he says he needs more gain, so that's the problem I was addressing.

A DI box is a poor solution to this problem. The primary purpose of a DI box is to lower the impedance of the signal from an instrument to match the low impedance expected by a mic preamp. Most guitar pedals already have a very low impedance output, so a DI box would be pointless. An ACTIVE DI would work, but that's becasue an active DI is just a DI with a preamp stage. What the OP really needs is a preamp.

Likewise, the primary difference between a fancy reamp box and a regular old preamp is that the reamp box steps up the impedance of your signal so it has the same impedance as a guitar signal. The reason why a reamp box is overkill is because 98% of the pedals out there aren't going to work any better with a high impedance signal. The only time it really matters is when you are using a Fuzz face derivative or a few other oddball fuzz pedals that need to see a high impedance. Other than that, you can just use the volume control on your synthesizer and get the same results.
Stab Frenzy wrote: I wouldn't really be recommending people plug 12V into a 9V pedal, there's a good chance it'll fry something in the pedal. Even if a pedal was works fine off 12V you'd only get another 9.5dB of headroom, which isn't enough to make up for the difference between guitar and line levels.
No it won't. It's very unlikely that 12v will cause any harm to a 9v pedal. There are a few rare exceptions, and that's why I recommended to check first, but generally it's fine.
Stab Frenzy wrote: I wish you luck with your commercial product if you ever get round to it, but I'd recommend a bit more research into the subject before committing any time or money to it, as you seem to have a few gaps in your knowledge. When you do work it all out though you'll end up with a reamp box, which you said was overkill. I imagine you'll change your mind on that when you're trying to sell them.
What I have in mind is nothing like a reamp box. I was originally going to just make this for myself, but I keep encountering other people that are having the same problems using synths with guitar pedals, so I figure I might do a small production run and put them up on ebay. It's not like I'm investing in a factory in China or anything.

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