Radial Engineering (a Canadian based company out of Port Coquitlan BC) have created quite the "buzz" among musicians and audio experts alike for several years now, producing everything from cable assemblies and direct boxes t o a full line of guitar pedals all with outstanding sound quality and durability.
The subject of this review, the "PZ-Pre Acoustic Instrument Preamp" is part of their popular "Tone bone" series of guitar pedals. It's called an "Acoustic Instrument Preamp" for good reason for although many would assume it's primary function would be as a guitar pre-amp, it's designed for almost any acoustic instrument imaginable; mandolin, banjo, violin, dobro etc.
Let's talk features...
Housed in the standard compact 'Tonebone' series 14 gauge steel box, the PZ-Pre has 2 separate channels, (with a foot switch to toggle between them) 4 separate outputs including 1/4" unbalanced outs for a tuner and stage amp and two XLR balanced outs; Pre and post eq respectively.
Let's Talk EQ
There's also a 4 band semi-parametric eq, notch and lo cut frequency filters, separate level controls for each channel, a 10 db switchable (and adjustable) clean boost, effects loop and a mute switch that cuts all outputs except the tuner out.
There's also a phase adjustment switch that inverts the signal polarity to match whatever instrument is plugged in the PZ Ð Pre. The input of channel one has a built in piezo buffer...activated by a small recessed switch. This allows the user to play an instrument that features either a passive or active pickup system.
The PZ-Pre is powered by a 15 VDC-400 mA "wall wart" which is included as well as a clear and informative user guide / owner's manual.
PZ-Pre Acoustic Instrument Preamp Road Test
Now for the "Road Test". Needless to say the PZ-Pre passed with flying colours! I play in an all acoustic classic rock band and the PZ-Pre meets my on stage requirements to a tee. Both my acoustic guitar and mandolin have separate channels so a quick change is never a problem.
The boost is wonderful for solos...boosting my signal without colouring the sound one little bit. The effects loop (activated by the booster switch) allows me to add a delay pedal to "sweeten up" my solos and not be in my regular signal chain when I'm playing rhythm.
The eq is both "musical" and versatile and with the notch and lo cut frequency filters, on stage feedback is never an issue. The unit is very quiet and powerful sounding providing a clean signal to both the mixing board and my stage amp. It's certainly made my life easier as it also has for John Jorgenson, James Taylor, Keith Sewell (Dixie Chicks) and a host of others. A truly great product Ð Thank you Radial!
Greigg Fraser is a
guitarist/songwriter from London Canada. Visit his web site and check out his music and very cool instrumental rock CD's.
Click here for more of Greigg's columns.
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