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MI AUDIO Boost n Buff v4

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MI AUDIO Boost n Buff v3
$139.00

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The Boost 'n' Buff is not a reference to some form of plastic surgery. It's in fact the distillation of an idea we've been working on for a few years now. It's a design which is a bit of a departure stylistically for me. It's simple. It only has one knob. No internal trimmers or tweaks. Believe it or not, it actually started out life as a 6 knob pedal, but through a process of consolidation, we managed to squeeze most of these functions into this neat little package.

The complexity arose from the fact that we had isolated a few different functions for booster pedals, and we wanted to create a pedal which could be set up to fulfill all of these. These functions were:

  1. Buffer: With the increasing complexity of today's pedal boards, and with the proliferation of true bypass pedals, guitarists are starting to discover that your average guitar pickup simply doesn't have enough oomph to drive 50 feet of cable. A typical guitar cable has 30pF of capacitance per foot, so if all your effects are true bypass, then in bypass mode you're effectively adding a 1500pF capacitor across your guitar output for the aforementioned 50 foot scenario! Add to this the inductive component of your pickup's impedance and you've got some serious and strange resonances going on.
  2. Flat Booster: Sometimes all that's required is a simple booster with a flat frequency response. This is generally used for small volume boosts during solos. For this application, any alteration to the frequency response is not a good thing. Also, for these applications, a huge amount of boost is generally not necessary. Up to 15db of boost is more than adequate.
  3. Treble Booster: In the case where you're driving a valve amp into overdrive, a flat frequency response is generally the last thing that you want. It will result in a very loose and fuzzy tone, which is very difficult to control. By altering the frequency response, namely by boosting the top end more than the low end, you can keep everything nice and tight. Also, when a guitarist uses a treble booster to push their amp, they're generally not very 'subtle' about it. They don't use 1 or 2 db. They use 15db or more.

In the past, these 3 distinct applications required 3 distinct products to perform all three functions mentioned above. Also, due to the ambiguity of naming, some guitarists would end up buying a treble booster, when what they really wanted was a flat booster and vice versa. "A booster's a booster right?!" Wrong!

We wanted to create one pedal that would perform all of these functions. But this then led to a whole bunch of questions.

  • What should the input impedance of the buffer be?
  • Should it be variable?
  • Should there be input and output sensitivity controls?
  • Should the control for switching from flat to treble booster change the gain as well?
  • Instead of a switch, should there be some kind of control to morph from flat to treble?
  • What about dedicated low and mid controls?
  • Should the low and high controls be roll-off controls or shelving EQs?
  • Active or passive?
  • If we add all this electronics in there, will it get too noisy?

Our initial prototypes were very complex (as you can gather from this rather disturbing insight into my thought processes). But despite all the flexibility of the original prototypes, there was something missing. It seemed as if in adding all these configurable parameters, We ended up ruining the original idea of the pedal. There was so much circuitry in the pedal that noise was starting to become significant. There were also so many EQ controls that it was actually difficult to dial in a flat response. At unity gain, you could hear the tone change and it was difficult to 'dial out.'

I had to come up with a different approach. Unlike my other designs, adding an extra knob, switch or trimmer was not going to make things better. It would only make things worse. And then one day, a design of stunning simplicity and utilitarian elegance came to us, and here it is!

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