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Incorporating guitar pedals into DAW set-up?

will_m

Active Member
Hi guys,

I'm looking to be able to add a number of guitar FX pedals to things I'm recording into or already have recorded in my DAW, such as:

The output of my synth
The output of my Kemper
Tracks from my DAW

At present I am using an external FX return in Cubase to send audio out of my DAW/interface, through the pedals and back into the DAW again.

However I'd prefer to be able to add this FX board to things at the input stage as well, so I could say play around with some FX settings whilst playing the synth.

I can of course just unplug my synth (for example) from the interface and add it to the pedals etc but that would soon become pretty laborious re-routing everything all the time.

I'm thinking a patch bay would achieve what I wanted to do but I'm wondering if there are any other simpler solutions?
 

givemenoughrope

Senior Member
Reamp pedal> pedals > DI > interface

You can also do:

Reamp pedal > pedals > guitar amp, pa speaker, etc > mic, mic pre, interface, etc.

Whenever you do this be sure to turn your levels DOWN before running anything through anything as to not send blasting levels through your gear, amps, ears, etc.
 

ThomasL

Senior Member
Patch bay is probably the easiest solution, that's what they are used for, patching and re-patching things.

Also, do get a reamp pedal if you don't have one already.
 
OP
will_m

will_m

Active Member
Thanks guys, I think I've got a handle on the re-amp / DI side of things, plenty of options there.

The Radial EXTC-SA is probably my favourite, for the options it has and being an all in one solution but yes it is a bit on the pricey side for a routing/level box. I'm surprised no one has made a cheaper all in one version.

As per my original post though I'm more looking for something that will allow me to hook up the FX board to various I/O easily. This is looking more and more likely to be a patchbay, which might be overkill at present but I think might be useful for the future as I expand my effects set-up.
 

charlieclouser

Senior Member
Yes, use 1/4" patch bays like the Neutrik or Behringer.

I have a ridonkulous pedal setup incorporating two Pro-Co PM148 patch bays (no longer made unfortunately) for a total of 46 channels of pedals plus 2 channels of i/o to my audio interface. Behringer make a very close clone of the PM-148, and I prefer them to the Neutrik as the Neutrik jacks stick out from the front in a weird way. But the Neutriks are easier to find and not expensive - and they do work just fine; you can change the normalling by taking the top off and flipping the individual channel cards around. The Pro-Co and Behringer have switches to change the normalling on each channel.

My pedals are all wired up to the patch bays, with normalling switched off, outputs over inputs as per usual. The first bay goes to 24 mono in-out pedals like distortions, compressors, gates, etc. The second bay goes to stereo pedals like four stereo pairs of MoogerFoogers, Eventide H9, 3x Strymons, etc. I reserved a pair of i/o on the second bay for tie lines back to the MOTU audio interfaces, so I can easily patch out of my DAW into any series of pedals and return - in stereo. I also have a pair of Avalon U-5 direct boxes right there, as well as my Pods and Sansamp stuff, so when tracking guitar I can patch to any combination of pedals on the way into the Pods / Sansamps, or go direct to the Avalons for extra hi-fi goodness, etc.

Really, a 1/4" patch bay is the way to go for this, since you can easily patch in guitars or synths, and the connections to the pedals are all going to be unbalanced anyways, so... a box (or pair of them for stereo) like the Saturnworks or Radial will fix up the signal going out of the DAW into the pedals, and for the return you might not even need a D.I. depending on what audio interface you're using. My MOTU 1248 has guitar-level inputs on the front, and I also have those Avalons, so I just return to one of those paths and I don't have a full-loop re-amp setup like the Radial EXTC-SA.

It did take a little bit of fiddling with the power supply units for the pedals to find a hum-free solution. I tried them all, and the VoodooLabs units were the only ones that didn't cause problems - so I have eight of them in various models to power every single pedal except for a few Electro-Harmonix oddballs that have like 19.75v power supplies, etc. The VoodooLabs units come in different models that can power 9v battery-style pedals, 12vAC pedals like Line6 and Eventide, etc. Some of the VoodooLabs units have "sag" controls to simulate dying batteries - I tested every pedal to see if it made a cool sound, and used the sag-able outputs for only those pedals that do something cool when the voltage sags; mostly distortion boxes. Some pedals just shut off when the voltage sags, but some get all half-assed and gronk out in a cool way.

One life-saver is an oddball pedal from Electro-Harmonix called the Hum Debugger. It is seriously magic and will eliminate any hum instantly. I've tried Ebtech and other isolators / hum eliminators but the EHX solves the problem like no other. Doesn't seem to mess up the signal either. I have a few guitars with single-coil pickups and they always hum, but the Debugger cures that instantly. Chasing the other kind of hum, from all the unbalanced cables running between the patch bays and the pedals, can take a while - in my rig there's three 16-channel Whirlwind 1/4" <> 1/4" unbalanced snakes for the mono pedals, and six 8-channel Hosa (I know, I know...) 1/4" <> 1/4" unbalanced snakes for the stereo pedals. Once I sorted out the power supplies and cable routing, believe it or not the whole rig is clean and quiet. But I tested every line for noise and hum before I cable-tied it all down. Took a while.

You can get all the power cables you need, in any possible configuration, including battery-clip ends, extensions, daisy-chain cables, big and small barrel ends, polarity reversers, etc. from Godlyke:

https://www.godlyke.com/power-all/power-all-cables

But don't get their "Power-All" universal power supply. It's a switch-mode unit and it causes hum. Get the power cables from them, but VoodooLab is the way to go for the power supplies:

http://voodoolab.com/pedalpower_landing.html

VoodooLab also has some pedal power cables that Godlyke does not. And nifty pedalboards as well. My pedals are all on pull-out shelves in a huge behemoth case I had made years ago, so I have no experience with the pedalboards themselves.
 
Last edited:

nas

Active Member
Thanks guys, I think I've got a handle on the re-amp / DI side of things, plenty of options there.

The Radial EXTC-SA is probably my favourite, for the options it has and being an all in one solution but yes it is a bit on the pricey side for a routing/level box. I'm surprised no one has made a cheaper all in one version.

As per my original post though I'm more looking for something that will allow me to hook up the FX board to various I/O easily. This is looking more and more likely to be a patchbay, which might be overkill at present but I think might be useful for the future as I expand my effects set-up.
You will need some sort of a D.I. to match the impedance from your pedals to line or mic-pre level on the patch bay. If you don't match correctly, you will get a weak and noisy signal... and it will not sound that great.
 
OP
will_m

will_m

Active Member
Yes, use 1/4" patch bays like the Neutrik or Behringer.

I have a ridonkulous pedal setup incorporating two Pro-Co PM148 patch bays (no longer made unfortunately) for a total of 46 channels of pedals plus 2 channels of i/o to my audio interface. Behringer make a very close clone of the PM-148, and I prefer them to the Neutrik as the Neutrik jacks stick out from the front in a weird way. But the Neutriks are easier to find and not expensive - and they do work just fine; you can change the normalling by taking the top off and flipping the individual channel cards around. The Pro-Co and Behringer have switches to change the normalling on each channel.

My pedals are all wired up to the patch bays, with normalling switched off, outputs over inputs as per usual. The first bay goes to 24 mono in-out pedals like distortions, compressors, gates, etc. The second bay goes to stereo pedals like four stereo pairs of MoogerFoogers, Eventide H9, 3x Strymons, etc. I reserved a pair of i/o on the second bay for tie lines back to the MOTU audio interfaces, so I can easily patch out of my DAW into any series of pedals and return - in stereo. I also have a pair of Avalon U-5 direct boxes right there, as well as my Pods and Sansamp stuff, so when tracking guitar I can patch to any combination of pedals on the way into the Pods / Sansamps, or go direct to the Avalons for extra hi-fi goodness, etc.

Really, a 1/4" patch bay is the way to go for this, since you can easily patch in guitars or synths, and the connections to the pedals are all going to be unbalanced anyways, so... a box (or pair of them for stereo) like the Saturnworks or Radial will fix up the signal going out of the DAW into the pedals, and for the return you might not even need a D.I. depending on what audio interface you're using. My MOTU 1248 has guitar-level inputs on the front, and I also have those Avalons, so I just return to one of those paths and I don't have a full-loop re-amp setup like the Radial EXTC-SA.

It did take a little bit of fiddling with the power supply units for the pedals to find a hum-free solution. I tried them all, and the VoodooLabs units were the only ones that didn't cause problems - so I have eight of them in various models to power every single pedal except for a few Electro-Harmonix oddballs that have like 19.75v power supplies, etc. The VoodooLabs units come in different models that can power 9v battery-style pedals, 12vAC pedals like Line6 and Eventide, etc. Some of the VoodooLabs units have "sag" controls to simulate dying batteries - I tested every pedal to see if it made a cool sound, and used the sag-able outputs for only those pedals that do something cool when the voltage sags; mostly distortion boxes. Some pedals just shut off when the voltage sags, but some get all half-assed and gronk out in a cool way.

One life-saver is an oddball pedal from Electro-Harmonix called the Hum Debugger. It is seriously magic and will eliminate any hum instantly. I've tried Ebtech and other isolators / hum eliminators but the EHX solves the problem like no other. Doesn't seem to mess up the signal either. I have a few guitars with single-coil pickups and they always hum, but the Debugger cures that instantly. Chasing the other kind of hum, from all the unbalanced cables running between the patch bays and the pedals, can take a while - in my rig there's three 16-channel Whirlwind 1/4" <> 1/4" unbalanced snakes for the mono pedals, and six 8-channel Hosa (I know, I know...) 1/4" <> 1/4" unbalanced snakes for the stereo pedals. Once I sorted out the power supplies and cable routing, believe it or not the whole rig is clean and quiet. But I tested every line for noise and hum before I cable-tied it all down. Took a while.

You can get all the power cables you need, in any possible configuration, including battery-clip ends, extensions, daisy-chain cables, big and small barrel ends, polarity reversers, etc. from Godlyke:

https://www.godlyke.com/power-all/power-all-cables

But don't get their "Power-All" universal power supply. It's a switch-mode unit and it causes hum. Get the power cables from them, but VoodooLab is the way to go for the power supplies:

http://voodoolab.com/pedalpower_landing.html

VoodooLab also has some pedal power cables that Godlyke does not. And nifty pedalboards as well. My pedals are all on pull-out shelves in a huge behemoth case I had made years ago, so I have no experience with the pedalboards themselves.
Awesome, thanks Charlie for such a detailed rundown. I'd definitely like to build towards such a set-up. Looks like the patchbay will be the way to go, with some combo of re-amp / DI boxes or the Radial.

I saw this amazing set-up from Yellow Technologies the other day:


Bit out of my budget though!

I've been looking at the Samson S Patch for a patchbay, seems be well reviewed and you can switch between the different modes on the front panel.

https://www.thomann.de/gb/samson_spatch_plus.htm?ref=search_prv_7

I'm just using mono pedals at the moment, a bunch of distortions/fuzzes for adding some destruction!

Thanks for the link to the Hum-Debugger too, once I'm all set-up I'll see how much noise is left to deal with.
 

charlieclouser

Senior Member
The Samson patch bay would absolutely do the trick. Having the front-panel switches to change the normalling scheme is very handy. Not like you're changing those switches every day, but it's still better than opening up the rack, as you'd have to do with the Neutrik.

The Debugger is really only needed for dealing with actual noisy guitar pickups; if you have such bad hums in the wiring that you'd need it then it's time to fiddle with the wiring instead of resorting to leaving the Debugger in-line all the time. But it is an amazing little unit.

That custom Yellow Tech desk looks pretty slick as well.
 

chimuelo

Star Of Stage & Screen
I use the old Creamware A16 Ultra 32 x TS 1/4' I/Os that uses 1394 Firewire to interface with the DAW/Host.

I use 4 out of 6 AUX Channels, 500 SERIES and 3 x Strymons
I like the Strymons because my controller automates every parameter via MIDI CC's.

Just doing small clubs this year but my little powerful DAW/rig sounds good using samples, soft synths and an SE-02 for Bass and Lead. 2 little QSC 8.2 speakers and a 12" Sub is pretty FAT for stage monitors.

The Strymons are so good Im only using a TC Finalyzer and Bellari Sonic Tube Exciter for hardware these days.
PCM 70 and TC Fireworx are collecting dust until they regain value.

IMG_1372.JPG IMG_1374.JPG ROUTING WINDW.png STM 2448.jpg IMG_1369.JPG
 

Wake

Member
Just a heads-up for those who might not have received the news from IK multimedia - they just unveiled a new interface designed with guitarists in mind, and it has a dedicated amp output.

https://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/axeio/

Could be very useful, here's hoping reviews and impressions are positive. The bundled software is a nice add.
 

chimuelo

Star Of Stage & Screen
Just a heads-up for those who might not have received the news from IK multimedia - they just unveiled a new interface designed with guitarists in mind, and it has a dedicated amp output.

https://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/axeio/

Could be very useful, here's hoping reviews and impressions are positive. The bundled software is a nice add.
Thats Sweet. I hope they have an ADAT, MADI or Dante vrs. if this sells good.
My favorite Pedals are Stereo but it’s really nice using TS Mono in Dual TS Out.

For mobile users these 24 x 8 Pedaltrains are sweet.
Stick a PSU Underneath, unplug it, throw it in the case.

https://express.google.com/product/Pedaltrain-Metro-24-Pedal-Board-with-Soft-Case/0_3062423107929730255_0


A5C40AE7-51AB-45FD-91C8-17B3E1B69F28.jpeg 0DA32CFC-9EE7-4598-8768-BD9762EC9764.jpeg 6E740467-6A64-404C-B96C-B194B4CB28DB.jpeg
 

dgburns

splunge
I had been itching to throw some audio through my pedals, finally patched in throught my Radial re-amp di, into pedals, out to my active di’s back into daw, and decided it all sounded like shit and the Logic pedals sounded a million times better.

and I’m a guitar player and predisposed to collecting pedals like my spouse collects those Pandora bracelet charms, but no love.
 
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chimuelo

Star Of Stage & Screen
Impedance might be a problem or insertion loss.

I bought Pedals years ago and concluded the same even though my interface is a routers dream.
Turned out Guitar Pedals impedence was the problem.

Lester G is a Leslie Emulation Pedal for Guitar.
I almost bought it but the distributor knows Im a synth and sample guy and said that the G stands for guitar, maybe I wanted the Lester K for keyboards.

Every Pedal Ive bought since then has been impedence Matched and because they’re not analog but DSP Based FX (SHARC like UAD) their audio quality is Supreme.
The algorithms, ..extreme.
 

dgburns

splunge
Impedance might be a problem or insertion loss.

I bought Pedals years ago and concluded the same even though my interface is a routers dream.
Turned out Guitar Pedals impedence was the problem.

Lester G is a Leslie Emulation Pedal for Guitar.
I almost bought it but the distributor knows Im a synth and sample guy and said that the G stands for guitar, maybe I wanted the Lester K for keyboards.

Every Pedal Ive bought since then has been impedence Matched and because they’re not analog but DSP Based FX (SHARC like UAD) their audio quality is Supreme.
The algorithms, ..extreme.
My Radial re-amp di box is supposed to fix impedance and level. I have the older one called JDI. It does a good job and I’m pretty sure I have the technical stuff working ok. Maybe I need better pedals, lol.

Here’s a link to the newer Radial re-amp stuff.

http://www.radialeng.com/product_category/reamp
 

gjelul

Active Member
I have a 2 patchbay set up.
Patchbay 1 takes care of my synths (Virus Ti2, Moog One, Prophet 6 and Prophet 12,) my three pedals (Strymon Mobius, Timeline and Big Sky,) and the Kemper Profiler. Then it goes into my main system patchbay where I have all the rest of the outboard connected. Works great so far...
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