Archive for the ‘Pedals’ Category

Service centre for the Little Big Muff

June 13, 2016

Little Big Muff P1020477Hello again. This blog refers of course to the original Little Big Muff pedal by Electro-Harmonix from the 1970s, and not the more recent version which is basically a Big Muff in a smaller enclosure. This pedal is much loved by its owners, including our customer Adam, for its rarity and its outrageous sound. The Little Big Muff circuit comprises four NPN transistor cascaded gain stages, with each stage filtering and shaping the guitar signal before sending it to the next stage. The “Tone” switch allows two only extremes of either treble or bass tonality. The circuit component values are very similar to the well known Big Muff pedal.

Little Big Muff P1020471Adam shipped his LBM down to us from up in Lismore, Northern NSW. The ongoing problem with his pedal has been massive amounts of hiss – the hiss is of a “whooshing” nature, and renders the pedal unplayable. This pedal has been the subject of attempted repairs at least twice previously. Our immediate impression from trying out the pedal was that there was some instability in the circuitry in addition to the excessive levels of white noise. Please note – there is always going to be some white noise with the LBM as the design is very similar to a vintage Big Muff with the “Fuzz” control turned fully clockwise.

Little Big Muff P1020470First things first !! There were several electro-mechanical issues with this pedal to be corrected before we concentrated on the circuitry/PCB. The “Tone” switch, bypass footswitch, and input jack were all going intermittent, very much confusing the issue. The input jack was also wired incorrectly (!). We replaced all three items plus the DC IN jack (3.5mm min. jack socket) and the battery clip. All were at the end of their useful life.

Little Big Muff P1020472The pedal was now working as intended, but still with mega amounts of white noise. Turning our attention to the PCB (printed circuit board), we found that the 1st gain stage had been modded. We restored this stage to original spec, which included replacing the BC239 NPN transistor. The BC239 hasn’t been manufactured for donkey’s years, so may be difficult to source, but we have kept a private stock for these repairs. If you substitute a higher-gain device for the BC239, then the pedal probably won’t sound the same.

Little Big Muff P1020473Still noisy ! We ended up replacing all four NPN devices with BC239’s. A number of signal path capacitors had been previously replaced and we weren’t happy with what we saw, so we replaced them again with known types plus a few carbon composition resistors that we suspect had gone noisy and drifted off value.

Little Big Muff P1020476Now the PCB needed a tidy up and repair. We can’t help but notice that some PCB repairs to vintage pedals these days are not working out very well due to the application of too much heat and definitely too much solder. Surely everyone these days is using a temperature controlled soldering tool ?? The tracks and pads are being damaged by too much heat, or else taking too long on each solder joint. Too much solder might create the impression of a long lasting solder joint but in fact is  creating leakage paths across tracks or even the occasional short-circuit. It’s important to clean up after a job like this, in other words all the solder flux residue on the PCB and excess solder. This particular PCB had so much flux residue we couldn’t clean up completely – much of it was probably from original manufacture, but various attempts at repair through the decades have added to the mess.

Little Big Muff P1020481So – in the end, how did it sound ?? Pretty awesome, no wonder these pedals are so collectable. We did a direct A/B comparison with a Big Muff clone, with the “Fuzz” (aka “Sustain”) control set to max clockwise, as per the description above and the level of hiss was very similar, as was the performance of the pedal – taking into account the different “Tone” settings. Our favourite was the very fat bass setting of the “Tone” switch. We hope that Adam is enjoying his Little Big Muff, the pedal is now as quiet as we could achieve. See you next week for the next blog. IR.

Pedals & amps by Ivan Richards Audio at work in the Australian music industry

November 26, 2013
Rich Blues live on Sunrise TV CH-7 Sydney. Marcus Catanzaro NOV 2013.

Rich Blues live on Sunrise TV CH-7 Sydney. Marcus Catanzaro NOV 2013.

Rich Blues. Recording session - Slow Chase.

Rich Blues. Recording session – Slow Chase.

Class-A Distortion. Hoodoo Gurus on tour. NOV 2012.

Class-A Distortion. Hoodoo Gurus on tour. NOV 2012.

Richards 15W Expressionist amp. Recording session - Slow Chase.

Richards 15W Expressionist amp. Recording session – Slow Chase.

Richards 15W Expressionist amp. Recording session - Slow Chase.

Richards 15W Expressionist amp. Recording session – Slow Chase.

Raw Brit. Melbourne, Australia.

Raw Brit. melbourne, Australia.

Raw Brit. Melbourne, Australia.

Richards 15W Expressionist amp. Recording session - Slow Chase.

Richards 15W Expressionist amp. Recording session – Slow Chase.

another wah pedal blog: the Cry Baby Super by JEN of Italy

July 24, 2013
JEN 001

JEN 001

Welcome back to the blog. We haven’t discussed wah pedals since our blog ‘wah wah mods & repairs’ published 21/5/2011. We still regularly receive recent production wahs for basic repairs & setups. In this case a Cry Baby Super by JEN of Italy arrived for a complete overhaul from a customer in Canberra. This wah has been owned by the same customer for well over 30 years & could be considered a ‘classic’. Compared to some modern production wahs it has the most basic no-frills circuitry, and yet it is capable of a more ‘vocal’ sweep that is so musical & engaging that you just don’t want to stop playing !

JEN 002

JEN 002

We identified that the following components were faulty and should be replaced: the ‘pot’, the footswitch, the 9V battery clip & the input jack. The board itself (which included the famous ‘Fasel’ inductor, see JEN 004) was still OK. This was the perfect opportunity to offer the customer a ‘true bypass’ MOD, as we were going to install a DPDT Carlingswitch anyway. This is literally the only modification we would recommend for this wah. This wah already has a 9V DC IN jack installed, but there were no additional components provided for filtering the power or protection against reverse-polarity &/or over-voltage. The customer’s intention is to power the wah using 9V battery only (which some people still feel gives the best results in a traditional wah), so we took no further action in this regard, beyond a fresh battery & a new battery clip.

JEN 003 - replacement of rubber pads

JEN 003 – replacement of rubber pads

Before we could attempt to setup the newly installed pot & footswitch, we replaced the 2 x missing rubber pads on the underside of the pedal as shown in the photo JEN 003. These pads are critical to the ‘feel’ of the wah as you reach the end of the sweep and also dampen the mechanical action of engaging the footswitch. Most important. It is necessary to glue these pads in place and allow the recommended time for the contact glue to set.

JEN 004

JEN 004

24 hours later we returned to set the height of the footswitch, ie its point of engagement, plus the sweep of the pot. The original pot we removed measured 250K ohms, which is not a standard value for wah pots these days, but we successfully installed a 150K pot which when adjusted resulted in a very nice sweep. We discovered that there are significant physical differences between the original pot, rack & gear compared to current production (not for the first time). Therefore the nylon clamp that holds the rack nicely in place up against the pot gear was actually exerting way too much tension for this wah pedal to be of any practical use. Much trial & error later we finally had it just right.

JEN 005

JEN 005

You can see the original nylon clamp with the new pot in photo JEN 005, plus the ‘true-bypass’ MOD has been implemented. A resistor has been added to minimise pops & clicks (ie, a ‘pull-down’ resistor). We added some foam (JEN 004) to enable the battery & clip to be padded down firmly when the bottom plate is re-attached.

The sweep of a wah & the ‘feel’ of the bypass switching are so much a matter of individual preference, in most cases we can only adjust to what we think is appropriate, based on practical experience. We returned the completed wah via parcel post to our valued customer, Mr John Milton, and some days later received this very positive feedback & testimonial:

HI Ivan…………….and I must say how great it sounds. Certainly feels different under foot, but the sweep & the clarity of the wah is most notable and it didn’t take long for my memory of the pedal to return. Also noticed there was hardly any change (when using the Jen) of tone apart from the wah effect, of course, and the subtle transition of OFF to ON & vice versa. Very clean signal, and the low tones of the sweep don’t go muddy & gurgly (!?!). The newish ones seem to do that and it is horrible (the Zac Wylde version in particular). All in all, I’m really happy and it is great to get that ‘sound in my head’ back, which I didn’t realise was gone for a few years. Thanks again for a fantastic job and I certainly do appreciate it. I wouldn’t want to make any further changes, it is perfect for what I try to do. JM.

Service Centre for the BIG MUFF

February 9, 2012

The Big Muff is a timeless classic in the fuzz-pedal world. It’s been heard on numerous recordings and been offered by countless boutique pedal manufacturers in one form or another over the years. There are a bewildering number of different versions of this pedal, which for convenience can be broadly grouped into four categories: vintage USA Big Muff, vintage USA (op-amp) Big Muff, Russian Big Muff, modern USA (NYC) Big Muff.

Many Big Muff users and collectors will tell you that pretty much every Big Muff sounds different, even comparing examples from the same version and/or year of manufacture. We tend to agree with this, based on our experiences servicing these pedals. Apart from normal component variations over time, different component values were often substituted, whether this was intentional or simply a case of running out of certain components, we do not know. We have also noticed different pots fitted to otherwise identical models, which would result in a different sweep altogether !

When considering the reasons for such wide variations in tone & performance with the Big Muff & other E-H pedals, one factor cannot be overlooked. At different times over the four decades of production of E-H pedals, the quality of assembly and in fact quality control in general was pretty poor ! The pedals often looked like they were wired up by someone in a hurry, with soldering that wasn’t going to hold up on the road. This applies to both USA & Russian manufacture.

To give credit where it’s due, however, E-H have come up with some of the most extraordinary pedals over the years. Our personal favourite has to be the Electric Mistress (flanger), for those classic early 80’s guitar sounds, a la The Police, The Pretenders, etc. Once again, there are several versions of the Electric Mistress, and restoring this pedal to full operation can sometimes create challenges for the service tech, depending on the problem.

Recently, a pair of barely functional Big Muff (IC/op-amp) pedals from the late 70’s arrived in our workshop for attention. The two pedals had quite different printed circuit boards, different pots, but almost exactly the same circuit (which we reverse-engineered as the schematics available on the internet often have errors). Even if working properly, these two apparently exactly the same pedals would have sounded very different to each other. You can see from the photo above that the older pedal of the two has been the subject of numerous attempts at rewiring & modification. We ended up correcting & rewiring much of this in order to get the performance on par with the newer of the two pedals.

Amazingly, the pots in both of these pedals work OK, just requiring a squirt of Faderlube to clean & lubricate. The main issues tend to be jacks & switches. The original jacks are cheapo – the best solution is to replace them with Switchcraft jacks. The EQ bypass slide switches are particularly prone to causing loss of signal and should automatically be replaced. Luckily there is an exact size replacement out there. In one of the pedals there was a blown IC and very cheapo IC sockets which just weren’t doing the job, so they were all replaced. Tidy up the wiring & rework any dodgy soldering and we have a pair of working Muff’s, still not quite the same as each other, but much closer than before.

Please contact us by email re any service enquiries for E-H pedals in general, and the Big Muff in particular. In most cases we will be able to assist. We can also supply custom linear power supplies for pedals that require different voltages from the usual 9V DC, ie 18V & 24V DC are sometimes specified by E-H (see previous blog re Rich Split & 18V PSU for example).

Tye Pennington orders a custom Rich Split with 18V power supply

February 2, 2012

Sydney-based guitarist & recording/mixing engineer Tye Pennington contacted us in November of 2011 regarding the availability of a customised version of the Rich Split active buffer/splitter pedal. Tye and his band KTR, ie Killing the Ritual, were in the studio working on their debut album, with Tye performing both engineering and guitar playing duties. At this stage, Tye had already attempted splitting the guitar signal to record with multiple amps, experiencing terrible noise problems with “ground loops”.

For a more detailed appraisal of the issues arising from recording &/or performing with multiple amps &/or signal paths please read our previous blogs on the subject: Rich Switch A/B/Y, Bob’s Rich Split & More About Signal Splitting. These can be found in the Pedals archive.

Here is what Tye had to say:  Hi Ivan, just wanted to quickly say how much I love your pedals, I am the proud owner of the Rich Fuzz & the Class-A Distortion, and they have a permanent home on my pedalboard. Anyway, I was interested in the Rich Split for a studio project where we will be splitting to at least four guitar amplifiers simultaneously. I think the Rich Split will be perfect for the task, but I am also interested in using the pedal at live gigs. My question is would it be possible to have the pedal modified with fooswitches to engage/disengage the sends (outputs) ? Cheers !

So, we set about designing a 4-way Rich Split, with three transformer isolated splits, one direct split, plus four individual mute switches and LED status indicators. An external regulated +18V DC power supply is required, although the pedal will run off +9V DC at reduced headroom. Power consumption is quite low, even with all LEDs illuminated. The electronics, footswitches & Harbuch broadcast quality line transfromers all fit neatly inside a Hammond die-cast aluminium enclosure, which also provides superior shielding from external noise sources. The Rich Split pedal is currently available with up to five splits, although the majority of customer orders have been for the 2-way & 3-way splitters.

A high-quality regulated power supply is a critical component for an active splitter & other similar gear. Although this pedal will happily run off +9V DC, +18V DC is the recommended supply voltage to achieve reasonable headroom. Some commercial pedalboard power supplies will provide regulated +18V DC. We have experimented with some of the switch-mode power suplies (SMPSU) on the market, and have found them to be unsatisfactory for powering the Rich Split & Rich Switch  pedals, ie under some circumstances they have introduced noise into the signal chain. The best solution is still the linear (ie, analogue) power supply.

For customers like Tye, who require an external +18V DC regulated power supply, we can supply the model FX-18 Rich Power pedal at reasonable cost. We are not a commercial manufacturer of power supplies, but have always offered individually custom-built pedalboard power supplies for guitarists in a variety of configurations. These units are relatively indestructable, housed in a robust Hammond die-cast aluminium enclosure, and protected from normal guitarist type abuses & incidents.

Thanks agin to Tye, for his enthusiasm for our products and we hope to hear soon the results of his recording project. Future blogs now being prepared will include the extremely rare Marshall JMP 10 watt Lead/Tremolo combo, and other major overhauls of vintage amps.

A pair of problem solving pedals

October 7, 2011

Hello ! In this week’s blog we’ll draw attention to a pair of problem solving pedals hand-wired by Ivan Richards Audio fx right here in Gosford, New South Wales. These pedals don’t have the glamour and appeal of distortion and/or modulation models, that’s for sure, and we don’t build them in large numbers either, but for a number of performing musicians out there this type of pedal can make life a lot easier.

Our first example, in the photo above, is called the Double A/B Pedal, and is one of our ongoing Rich Switch series of signal routing pedals. This design is a passive, bi-directional, 100% hand-wired selector intended to switch two pairs of instruments. Four LED status indicators alert the player as to which instruments have been selected. The true hard-wired bypass design prevents signal loss or colouration, plus prevents phase problems being introduced. 9V battery or pedalboard power supply operation is required for the LED status indication only. This pedal is not intended to be used on powered speaker connections.

This unique pedal was originally created a few years back when we were contacted by Australia’s Mark Lizotte, who was at the time preparing to go on tour with two pairs of instruments, one pair of electrics and one pair of acoustic guitars. The intention was to use wireless transmitter/receivers for mobility, so this would have resulted in four wireless packs. By introducing the Double A/B Pedal, the number of wireless packs could be halved, and the whole rig streamlined. This is why the two pairs of A/B are labelled electric and acoustic, however customers can label the top panel in any way they find appropriate to their individual circumstances. Dymo labelling works fine in this situation, and can be removed without damage.

To prevent an earth loop being introduced (a.k.a. ground loop in the USA), the signal earths for the electric instruments selector and the acoustic instruments selector are isolated from each other. The Hammond die-cast aluminium enclosure is earthed via the electric instruments circuit. The electric instruments output jack also switches on the internal 9V battery, when installed.

Our second example, pictured to the right, is called (as you might expect) the FX Looper pedal. Guitarists who use stompboxes (and who doesn’t ?) often have to resort to costly loop-switching systems to solve signal-degradation problems introduced when bypassed fx are not switched completely out of the signal chain. The reason for this is that most fx devices do not provide a true, hard-wired bypass when the effect is switched out (even in some cases where the manufacturer implies the device is true bypass). When this happens, your clean guitar signal can lose definition and clarity due to the bypassed device’s tone-sucking circuitry. The more pedals/devices you string together, the worse the problem becomes.

The FX Looper pedal allows you to place a preset combination of fx pedals or devices in each of its two loops, and switch the chain in or out of the signal path with the loop bypass footswitch. Because it’s a true hard-wired bypass, your clean signal remains obsolutely free of stompbox interaction and/or signal degradation. In other words, the FX Looper gives you the purest possible connection between your guitar and your amp when in bypass mode of operation.

Our V1.3 Looper offers two independent loops which are wired for series operation (ie, loop #1 output feeds loop #2 input), and each loop has its own dedicated LED status indicator. The input jack is placed on the right-hand side of the enclosure, as per accepted tradition, but the output jack is parallel-wired to both the left hand and right hand side of the enclosure, facilitating placement in different positions on a pedalboard, for example. 9V battery or pedalboard power supply operation is required for LED status indication only.

So, to summarise, there are many advantages to using an FX Looper in your setup. There is no additional active circuitry in the signal path, ie the Looper adds no noise. There is no load on the guitar pickups when in bypass mode, ie no tone-sucking. The high-impedance send to fx pedals provides correct interaction with vintage stompbox input circuitry. To some extent the Looper is able to mute switching pops and clicks – this minimises a typical vintage fx pedal design problem.

Please join us again next week for another (hopefully) informative and entertaining blog. In coming blogs we will look at a new tone cabinet in stunning red tolex for Aussie slide-guitar specialist Phil B Colson. Philby played that delicious little slide solo on the last Men At Work single, back in the 80’s. We will also conduct a speaker comparison with some older guys from the Sydney Shadows club. We also hope to check in with Ilya, the guitarist with Continental Robert Susz, and Marcus from NSW band Sparrows.

A bass player’s testimonial to the Rich Drive pedal

August 21, 2011

Hello readers ! This testimonial was supplied by Peter Stojkovic, a bass player from Sydney, Australia, who also has an interest in audio engineering.

HI Ivan, my band mates purchased me one of your Rich Drive pedals for a birthday gift a few years ago. I have used the pedal constantly and love everything about it. I run a Warwick Thumb Bass (4-string) through it, and it sounds like pure evil ! (We’ll take that as a compliment – IR).

I should mention that I have A/B’d the Rich Drive against a few others and there’s no comparison – for example it was put up against a Big Muff, a Rat, a Sansamp, a Boss DS1 and a crappy digital thingey I don’t recall the name of, and the Rich Drive achieves a very distinct flavour. I find that while a lot of distortion pedals destroy the detail of my bass, the Rich Drive gives it another dimension altogether.

Another trick is to turn the drive control to zero, but keep the pedal on – it begins to sound like a preamp that gives an extra warmth that’s more than just a minor tonal change (I would liken the tone to that of an old SSL channel strip). I must thank you for creating such a great pedal.

Many thanks to Peter for contributing to our blog. The Rich Drive pedal was originally created for guitarists (like me) who were fed up with overdrivers that destroyed their tone and dynamics, but has been adopted by many Aussie bass players for similar reasons. Since 1997, the Rich Drive has been purchased by the creme de la creme of Aussie music talent, including Bob Spencer, Dave Leslie, Mark Lizotte, Thirsty Merc and many more, plus sales to individual guitarists in the USofA and Japan.

More about signal splitting

August 20, 2011

Hello ! Thanks for checking in again – this blog follows on from previous blogs re the Rich Split and Rich Switch signal routing pedals, with more suggestions especially for home-recording guitarists.

While the primary intention of the Rich Switch pedal is to switch between and/or combine a pair of amplifiers in either a stage or studio situation, the Rich Split pedal has potentially many applications. The guitarist can run FX processors in parallel with the primary guitar signal (which may be, for example, a mic’d up amp or a direct preamp), route the guitar signal to a pair (or more) of amps for tonal complexity, and keep a tuner on-line, yet out of the audio path, as running your guitar through a tuner is a sure-fire recipe for lifeless tone. No more unplugging your guitar between takes to tune up, and you’ll be forever spoiled when you experience the no compromise tone achieved by having the tuner out of your signal path.

Once you’ve experienced the lush sounds of layered processing, it will be difficult to remain satisfied with the standard effects-in-series approach ! Some real world examples of how parallel processing can work in a home studio situation, as well as on-stage for live performance:

* plug your guitar into the Rich Split pedal; connect one of the outputs to your choice of valve (tube) amplifier that powers a remote, mic’d up 1×10 or 1×12 speaker cab tucked away in a closet, etc; connect another output to your tuner; connect outputs (as required) to your choice of FX processors; connect a mono out from each processor to its own mixer channel input; including the mic’d up speaker, this provides multiple channels complete with EQ, to blend and pan;

* such a multi-signal scenario offers several choices – in one pass you could record an amp track plus an FX track, buss all the signals to one composite track, or pan them into a stereo submix; whichever routing you choose, however, the resulting sound is huge; you get the full-on guitar timbre plus layered FX – a noticeably richer sound than passing one signal through a series of stompboxes !

* for those of you experimenting with the latest guitar amplifier, guitar speaker and microphone emulation software, the Rich Split is one device you cannot live without; simultaneously record your favourite amp’s DI’d output, its mic’d speaker, and your guitar’s pickup only output; through your software, you can then easily manipulate any or all of these; this means that you have a purely analogue sound back-up, and are no longer bound by recording one option only;

* if you have an old-school 2-channel amp, you can run a direct signal to one channel and FX to the other channel, and mix the two at the front panel; the volume control of the second channel works as a parallel FX return (with EQ); the results will be dramatic – more lush and dynamic than what you’d get going through the processor into a single channel;

Important Notes !

* when you try parallel processing, remember to set your FX processors to 100% wet

* always ensure your amplifiers are reliably earthed (grounded) via the 3-pin plug to the 240V AC mains earth (Australia); have this checked at regular intervals by a fully qualified electrician or service technician;

* whenever you run multiple amps, check for earth (ground) loops and also hazardous electrical conditions; for example, some persons have been known to disable the earth pins on all but one of the amp’s 240V AC plugs to prevent multi-amp earth loops; however, it is highly dangerous, massively stupid and also illegal to disconnect the earth wire either at the 3-pin plug or within the amplifier; if you injure yourself or someone else whilst doing this, you may be legally liable; think about the consequences ! the preferred solution is to resolve earth loops by inserting high-quality isolation transformers between switcher or splitter and amplifiers; this is what is achieved by using the Rich Switch or Rich Split;

* when using more than one guitar amp there is a reasonable possibility of any two models of amp being out of phase with each other, rather than in-phase; when you add the second amp, the overall volume should increase slightly, and have a much fuller tonality; if there is an immediate reduction in level, or especially a loss of low frequencies upon connecting the second amp, then it is reasonable to assume the two units are out-of-phase relative to each other; please consult your service tech, your supplier and/or Ivan Richards Audio for recommended solutions.

Bob’s Rich Split pedal returns to HQ for 18V MOD

July 16, 2011

This blog continues directly from the previous post where we discussed the Rich Switch (Active) A/B/Y pedal. The Rich Split is another of our functional, problem-solving pedals, which are intended to be as transparent as possible, rather than creating a specific sound. Not very glamorous or exciting, but in fact very important to the modern musician. This pedal doesn’t even have a fancy label (yet), but instead relies on good old Dymo tape lettering.

Bob Spencer is one of my long-time customers, and a loyal and trusted friend. Actually, quite a few of my customers end up becoming friends of mine, which is something I treasure. Bob probably bought the very first Rich Split, which actually had a fancy label, but it’s been redesigned since then. The Rich Split is custom-built to each order, but generally is built with 2, 3 or 5 splits and with 1 or 2 line transformers. The Harbuch broadcast/studio quality line transformer is quite bulky, and this dictates the size and weight of the pedal. However, the superior performance of this transformer justifies the extra size, weight and cost. See the previous post photos for a look at this transformer.

Originally the Rich Split and Rich Switch pedals were optimised for +9V DC operation, but now regulated power supplies of alternative voltages are commonly available. From June 2011, both pedals are shipped optimised for operation from a +18V DC regulated power supply (which we can supply you at cost). This provides greater headroom for the professional user. All pedals are still shipped loaded with a fresh 9V battery, for immediate use. All pedals are play-tested and functionality-tested by the builder before shipping.

So, therefore, Bob has sent his 3-way (with 2 x transformers) splitter back for the +18V DC mod and a power supply. I believe Bob has been using the splitter to facilitate live recordings of gigs of the Melbourne-based band (with singer Mick Pealing) – Raw Brit.

Well – here is the product description of the 3-way splitter shown in the photos. The Rich Split pedal is a 1-in/3-out active, buffered splitter, featuring a high input impedance and a low output impedance, which allows you to split your guitar signal, and run long cables, without sonic degradation ! The intention of this pedal is to facilitate the trend among guitarists to record and/or perform live with multiple amplifiers and/or effects chains – without impedance loading, ie sonic degradation – and resolve the problem of earth (ground) loops safely and professionally by incorporating broadcast/studio quality line transformers on outputs #2 and #3.

The Rich Split runs dead quiet and features low-current-draw circuitry with individual buffers for each of the 3 outputs. The non-signal-inverting design ensures against phase problems. Therefore, all signals routed to your chosen destination (amps, pedals, FX processors, recording desk, etc) will be perfectly in-phase, and when combined will not result in a ‘smaller’ out-of-phase sound. The pedal can be powered from either the internal 9V battery or via the external +18V DC adapter jack. For recording purposes, obviously battery operation will achieve 100% hum-free operation, but at the expense of headroom.

The transformer-isolated outputs #2 and #3 make it possible to use two or three amps simultaneously, without having to lift the earth (ground) on any of the amps. This potentially lethal ‘earth-lifting’ was the usual solution (in the bad old days) for eliminating hum introduced by earth (ground) loops when connecting two or three amps in parallel – definitely NOT recommended, plus its illegal. With the isolation provided by outputs #2 and #3, all earth (ground) loop problems are eliminated.

Thank you, Bob, for providing us with the subject for the 2nd of this week’s blogs. In another blog to follow, we might consider some of the issues that arise when hooking up multiple amps.

Head Gap Studio add the Rich Switch (Active) A/B/Y pedal to their equipment inventory.

July 16, 2011

Head Gap is a purpose-built recording studio located in Preston (Melbourne), Victoria. Head Gap was designed by renowned Australian acoustician, the late Richard Priddle. The principal producers/engineers are owners Neil Thomason and Brent Punshon.

We were recently contacted by Neil Thomason regarding one of our problem solving product offerings, the Rich Switch (Active) A/B/Y pedal.

Far from being just another passive A/B box, the Rich Switch pedal utilises low-noise active (buffer) circuitry and a Harbuch broadcast/studio quality line transformer. The size of this transformer can be judged from the photos – it is definitely not a cheapo component sourced from the far east, but manufactured over a period of many years here in Sydney, Australia, by the fine Harbuch transformer company.

The pedal offers a pair of low impedance outputs to drive long guitar cables without degrading your tone. A pair of 3PDT metal footswitches changes the mode of operation between ‘A or B’ and ‘A + B’. Status is indicated by a blue LED for channel A, a green LED for channel B, and a red LED for A + B. The non-signal-inverting design ensures against phase problems. The Tuner jack provides a direct output enabling permanent connection of a tuner, regardless of whether ouput A or B is selected.

The transformer isolated channel A makes it possible to perform and/or record through two amplifiers simultaneously, without having to lift the earth on either amp. This potentially lethal ‘earth-lifting’ was the usual solution (back in the bad old days !) for eliminating the hum introduced by earth (ground) loops that occur when connecting two amplifiers in parallel (definitely not recommended, in fact it’s illegal !). With the isolation provided by output A, all earth (ground) loop problems are eliminated. Obviously, the transformer-coupled output A can also be used as a DI for recording.

**From June 2011, this pedal is shipped optimised for operation from a +18V DC regulated power supply, which can be supplied by us at our cost price. This provides greater headroom for professional situations. All pedals are still shipped loaded with a fresh 9V battery, for immediate use. All pedals are play-tested/functionality-tested by the builder before shipping.

Here is some feedback we received from Neil Thomason after delivery of the Rich Switch to Head Gap recording studio……..

Hi Ivan – package received at this end, great packaging and presentation, appreciate the supplied documentation. The unit is bigger and heavier than your website picture implies, it really feels great, and seems built to last. Look forward to giving it a run over the weekend. Thanks so much for putting it together for me in the time frame I requested, your service and communication has been excellent and it’s really appreciated. All the best, Neil.

and…….. Thanks again for the Rich Switch, it went straight into sessions over the weekend, and also this week, and has delivered on all accounts. Cheers, Neil.