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Wednesday, 31 December 2014 14:23

Guitar effects pedal / stompbox buffer test and comparison - BOSS, Behringer, Rockteck, ZOOM

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Buffered stompbox / peda vs true bypass guitar pedal Buffered stompbox / peda vs true bypass guitar pedal
This little test was born from trying to figure out how much the buffers influence the clean signal. An attempt to 'see' the effects on the wave going through different buffered pedals. The ones I have used in this test is an old Rocktek, a Behringer, BOSS and a Zoom digital multi-effects unit.

I was until now convinced that my BOSS and Rocktek did not audibly change the tone but that there was a very distinct audible tone 'suck' from the Berhinger HM300 (and a Behringer Overdrive/Distortion that I had).

No surprise then that I am not happy with Behringer and when tempted to do a demo of the HM300 Heavy Metal pedal by them I was going to be anything but favourable. (This demo will be done soon taking into account the new findings in this blog)

To be fair about things I decided to check out other reviews on buffers and also test it myself before I make bold statements about how rubbish they are. At first I found this youtube video which to me confirmed my belief in the tone alteration of the Behringer:
Buffer Test feat. Zoom G1on & Behringer UC100
Buffer and Truebypass A/B test for G1on, Truebypass pedal and a Behringer Pedal.

In this video the clean waves through the buffer of the Behringer showed signs of high end attack loss. Which to me at least would confirm the 'tone suck' or to my ears the' jellyfication' of the tone.

To my surprise however I attempted to test this myself. I recorded a piece of clean guitar onto a recorder at a high sampling rate. I played this back and recorded it:
- Clean
- through Boss DS-1 buffer
- Behringer HM300 Buffer
- Rocktek buffer... and
- G1Xon buffer (tuner engaged so all effects are bypassed)
(not sure it is useful checking the multi-effects units buffers as they always have a effect engaged)

The controls in place: 
Every playback via the recorded audio was at exacltly the same volume and the input gain of the audio interface was also exactly the same and using the same input.

Because the waves were recorded from the same exact source I could move the waves in Cubase to align perfectly and allow zooming in to bit level and see if there are any differences.

What I thought the results would be:
- a good clean signal very close to bypass

- Lower volume wave forms
- Noise in waveform
- Rounder peaks
- Less info in high end

- a good clean signal very close to bypass

- Signal mush/drop on tuner setting
- nice sharp signal when patch is selected even if no effects are in patch

The actual results:
I zoomed into the waveform and the differences are near null. Truebypass or clean signal, BOSS buffer and Behringer buffer waves were near identical.

Suprisingly the Rocktek of which audibly I never thought I heard a difference between bypass and buffer showed a lower volume signal zoomed in. And the ZOOM G1Xon too on tuner mode, IE bypassing the patches was a bit louder but.

I am sure that I hear a tone suck on the Behringer and that they are a bit noisy on the buffer. This is a common complaint all over the Behringer reviews. However I would not want to confirm this as my signal was a bit more noisy than I would have liked so I could not say what was the pedal and what was the path.

Because I am sure I hear a difference I have added the shortfall and question below. Maybe someone can shed more light on this.

Test questions and shortfalls:
  • I played clean riffs, bar chord picking and a basic melody piece. Not sure it was enough variation to capture really high frequency and the buffers effects on it.
  • The signal that was pushed through the pedals was a low-impedance signal becuase it came from a playback device, not a high-impedance signal which is what would be going through it if it was the first in chain after guitar. And I am not sure if the buffers react differently to a high or low impedance signal
  • Why do I audibly perceive the signal to be mushier
  • How come the above mentioned video clearly shows a top end attack drop on the Behringer
  • Do the BOSS pedals have different buffers or do they all have the same buffers?
  • Do the Behringer pedals have different buffers or do they all have the same buffers?

More info on this subject:
Buffered pedals and truebypass pedals are good
G1Xon Review and demo

Larger video of the wave forms
Last modified on Thursday, 08 January 2015 13:38

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