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do effects loop take away from tone?


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I recorded a track with my bugera 6262 head and got a good stack sound. It was just the lead channel with no reverb or effects loop on. I recorded a different track though weeks before with a delay in the effects loop. I recall it did not sound as 'stack-ish'. It sounded more like a combo. the backdrop got reduced to a more combo-like character. From this experience, I can concluded that the effects loop takes away from the tone, in general. Is that true? 

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IIRC, there are controls on the Infinium models for the loop levels...so that may have had an effect on your sound.

Do you know if the loop is series or parallel?

I don't know what you mean by 'stack-ish' and combo-ish....please define

What were you using to record the amp? Line out? A SM58 mic? Placed how? Were all the recorder settings identical?

There is much more info required to even begin to assess your issue.

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What do you mean by "take away from tone"? 

Changing the voicing of an amp (tone) is not the same thing as degrading measurable performance.

Generally speaking, any time you introduce an external loop of any sort, you add some noise into the system, and you may well reduce the overall dynamic range available.  That said, a guitar amp running with anything other than an ultra-clean gain structure has already lost a lot of dynamic range.

Here's the real underlying question that (I think) you are asking.  If you took a short jumper cable and patched through the FX loop with no other devices in the path, would it change the sound?  My experience is that switchable loops can change the sound very, very slightly; non-switchable loops do not, as there is no circuitry added.

Put another way, the change you hear in your sound is nearly all a result of the things you put in the loop, not the fact that the amp has a loop.

FWIW, my Bogner has a switchable FX loop.  I have a patch on my FX rack for "Digital Bypass" which has no actual FX programmed and unity gain, but running through everything in the rack.  When I am setting levels, I use this patch to make sure everything is balanced by setting it so that I can switch the FX loop in and out and have no change in the output sound (and see that every FX unit has the right gain setting, no clipping, etc.).

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Any line out like that is going to sound very different then micing the amp would. 

Its not that's its loosing tone, its just the opposite.  You're getting full unfiltered tone.

 The amp itself produces a much wider frequency response.  The Guitar speaker removes frequencies from the top and bottom leaving mostly midrange tones between 100 to 5Khz or so.  Without the speaker you are much more likely to get some nasty highs which make the recording sound sterile.  You can spend a lot of time EQing them out and still not sound as good as a miced speaker does either. 

On top of that a microphone is going to shape the sound too.  Something like an SM57 has a classic Frequency bump right where you want the guitar tones to sit in the mix so the speaker and mic do a lot of the work shaping the amps tone to fit a mix.  You have neither recording direct. 

What you need to overcome this problem is a digital cabinet emulator which you can feed the amp into and have it synthesize both the tone and the delayed resonance a speaker inside its cab produces.  Prior to maybe 5 years ago you mainly had to use units that only EQed the signal recording direct.  It got close but its still sounded like it was recorded direct.   A couple of years ago they started selling low digital cab impulse units which sound identical to a miced cab.  The sound is so good in fact you cannot tell the difference between direct and a miced amp in a blind comparison any more. 

Besides owning several multi effects units that have amp and cab emulation,  I came across these a coupe of years ago. 

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It was only $25 at the time so I figured I'd give it a try.  I quickly discovered it used actual digital cabinet impulses instead of simply using EQ tricks to roll off highs and lows so I bought a second one so I could record in stereo or have a backup for a second guitarist.  I can even use them direct recording from guitar pedals.  Many guitar pedals sound awful recording direct because they need the amp and speaker to filter their outputs so you wind up getting a full frequency signal which can sound awful.  You can use these units to act as a guitar amp/cab and record direct from most guitar pedals.  Solves the issue using older rage preamps and gear recording direct too.  You can dail anything from a small 8" up to a 4X12" stack.  I was hoping they'd make one for bass too but no soap so far.  I do own several multi effects units specifically designed for bass but it would be nice to have just the cabinet portion.   

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12 hours ago, SteinbergerHack said:

What do you mean by "take away from tone"? 

Changing the voicing of an amp (tone) is not the same thing as degrading measurable performance.

Generally speaking, any time you introduce an external loop of any sort, you add some noise into the system, and you may well reduce the overall dynamic range available.  That said, a guitar amp running with anything other than an ultra-clean gain structure has already lost a lot of dynamic range.

Here's the real underlying question that (I think) you are asking.  If you took a short jumper cable and patched through the FX loop with no other devices in the path, would it change the sound?  My experience is that switchable loops can change the sound very, very slightly; non-switchable loops do not, as there is no circuitry added.

Put another way, the change you hear in your sound is nearly all a result of the things you put in the loop, not the fact that the amp has a loop.

FWIW, my Bogner has a switchable FX loop.  I have a patch on my FX rack for "Digital Bypass" which has no actual FX programmed and unity gain, but running through everything in the rack.  When I am setting levels, I use this patch to make sure everything is balanced by setting it so that I can switch the FX loop in and out and have no change in the output sound (and see that every FX unit has the right gain setting, no clipping, etc.).

I made an a/b comparison with the effects loop (with a delay in the loop) on and off. I get a fatter sound with the loop off. When I turn on the loop (with the delay in it), it sounds midrange-y and the tone loses something. like 'impressive backdrop' that you might expect from a tube stack amp. It's only a slight difference, but it's enough to bother me. I thought the tone does not change whether the loop is engaged or not. but I get less midrange backdrop. 

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Try this please... use a jumper cable to connect your loop in / out jacks, then re-record. See if there's any difference. 

If not, it's not the loop, the difference is what is connected IN the loop. :idea: :wave:
Effects loops tend to make effects sound BETTER, not worse - at least things like delays, reverbs, etc. They're not going to make an amp sound more or less like a "stack." 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, Phil O'Keefe said:

Try this please... use a jumper cable to connect your loop in / out jacks, then re-record. See if there's any difference. 

If not, it's not the loop, the difference is what is connected IN the loop. :idea: :wave:
Effects loops tend to make effects sound BETTER, not worse - at least things like delays, reverbs, etc. They're not going to make an amp sound more or less like a "stack." 

 

 

 

use a jumper cable? do you mean a y cable? 

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21 hours ago, daddymack said:

IIRC, there are controls on the Infinium models for the loop levels...so that may have had an effect on your sound.

I just looked at both the Sweetwater product page as well as on Bugera's site, and while it says it does have a loop level control on the Sweetwater page, I'm not seeing it on the amp itself - front or back - and it doesn't mention it in the Bugera quick start guide for the amp either, so I am assuming at this point that it doesn't. 

 

Quote

Do you know if the loop is series or parallel?

Again, it doesn't say either way on the Behringer / Bugera site. I'd assume it's a series loop since there's no level or blend control for the effects loop. 

There's no online manual for this amp either - just the quick start guide, so I have no idea if the loop level is optimized for +4 dBu rack gear or for pedals. It does tell us that the Send impedance is approx. 2.5 kOhm, and the Return is 160 kOhm.

FWIW, it shows a rack effect (a Behringer Virtualizer 3D 2000) connected to the amp in the quick start guide's connection graphic, but that really doesn't tell us much either, since that particular unit's operating level is switchable between +4 dBu and -10 dBV.

Looks like the FSB104A footswitch may allow you to switch the effects loop in / out; I'm not sure if that's an optional four-button switch or not. It looks like the amp comes with a two-button switch stock (according to the Bugera website) but the Sweetwater page says it comes with the four-button switch. 

mbengs, which footswitch do you have - the two-button or four-button switch? Are you using the footswitch to turn the effects loop on? What happens if you turn the loop on with the pedal, and then disconnect the Behringer footswitch - does the effect loop remain active, even with the footswitch disconnected? 

Are you hearing any distortion when you use the Boss pedal in the loop? Is there any increased noise when running the pedal in the loop vs. connecting your guitar to the pedal's input, then running the pedal's output into the amp's input? In a well-designed loop, you should actually hear less noise with it in the loop, if you notice a difference at all... 

Which specific delay pedal did you try using in the loop? How about levels? Assuming you can switch the loop on / off, do you hear any change in overall level from the amp when the loop is active vs. when it is bypassed while running the Boss delay connected into the effects loop? 

 

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I don't know what you mean by 'stack-ish' and combo-ish....please define

What were you using to record the amp? Line out? A SM58 mic? Placed how? Were all the recorder settings identical?

There is much more info required to even begin to assess your issue.

Good points / questions, one and all!

mbengs? 

 

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The other question I forgot to ask was whether he had tried the same settings with the delay going in the front end of the amp rather than in the loop...and what was the delay pedal, what settings, etc., as mbengs has been known to put questionable/barely functional pedals into his signal chain....

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Since there were "weeks" between the two recordings its difficult to know if you were even using the same settings.  The Stack vs Combo sound can be a combination of gain and tone which made the two tracks sound different. We have no way of knowing what you may have changed to make the difference. 

What you need to do is an A/B comparison with and without the loop being used, leaving all other settings set the same.  

The cable trick some mentioned works on some amps and not on others.  With nothing connected it already has a jumper between the two jacks. Its simply internal instead of external. 

When you connect a cable it may connect things in series or parallel.  On my Marshall amp you can select series or parallel plus it has a mix knob on the front panel.  If you connect a jumper with the mix knob turned all the way down you wont hear any difference.  The knob bypasses the cable.  If you crank it all the way up then you might hear the effects of cable resistance/capacitance with the button set for series if the cable is very long.  Parallel I don't think it changes the amps tone either way. 

The question misses here is, were you recording direct using the line out  - or were you micing the amp. 

If you miced the amp you double the chance of gain staging issues because the mic level plays a role. Both the mic position or/and its recording level could have changed as might the amps volume levels and tone settings. 

If you recorded direct then you rule out the mic and cabinet recording.  

What I do suggest for future reference.  When you get a nice setting dialed up on your gear, take your cell phone camera and take a picture of the amps knobs and switches.  If you're recording with a mic and interface take a picture of those gain settings and  even a pic of the mics position in front of the amp.  Doesn't take much tweaking to completely change the character of the sound.  At least with a picture you can get it dialed up pretty close.   If you still have a tone change don't forget strings typically get darker in tone and have less sustain when they get worn.  The difference between string types can be quite extreme depending on the guitar used. 

Also the settings for Humbuckers isn't going to sound the same for single coil pickups.  If you dialed up a good sound for one then switched guitars, dollars for donuts, that's your culprit. 

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On 3/10/2020 at 2:08 PM, WRGKMC said:

Since there were "weeks" between the two recordings its difficult to know if you were even using the same settings.  The Stack vs Combo sound can be a combination of gain and tone which made the two tracks sound different. We have no way of knowing what you may have changed to make the difference. ...

Also the settings for Humbuckers isn't going to sound the same for single coil pickups.  If you dialed up a good sound for one then switched guitars, dollars for donuts, that's your culprit. 

and then there's that...less fat, more gristle...stack vs. combo...room temperature ketchup vs refrigerated....dogs and cats living together...

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