Posts Tagged ‘Boost’

Nux AS-4 Amp Simulator

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Nux-AS4-1

What is it?
Nux AS-4 Amp Simulator from Nux New Analog series. Made in china in 2013. Cheapest thing there is.

These units have around for some time now, and this unit is part of family of four. There is Overdrive, Chorus, High gain distortion and this one – The Amp Simulator. The price tags raised a few questions. Could it be usable or just crap in design and build quality? Is it one of those cheap 1:1 corporate clones that flood the market from china? I wanted to find out, so regardless of the risk, i bought this one. Of course, i ripped it wide open as soon as it landed on my mailbox.

Nux-AS4-6

As the japanese started to use two separate boards in the beginning of the 80s, we have the same board method utilized here. The biggest difference being the 1590B-sized box instead of higher type commonly used by Boss and others. The bigger board has the effect circuit and switching, while the smaller board holds only the controls. Standard true bypassed pedal with “meh” build quality. Some ugly flux residue, but the components are baked on neatly.

Nux-AS4-2

The design methods are not bad at all. The screws that seal up the bottom plate are also used for fastening the bigger bottom board to the enclosure. If you’re going to build pedals in huge mass produced fashion, this is the way to do it. the jacks are screwed on to the box as well, offering some more sturdiness. The engineer behind the box design knows his stuff.

Nux-AS4-3

Note the wax on the picture above. Yes. It is ugly, and probably not the greatest way to secure the ribbon cable connections. It still seems better to have the wax in there than to rip the joints off accidentally. Mix of mylar caps in otherwise all SMD board in Digitech manner doesn’t convince too much…

Nux-AS4-4

Next up is the one biggest issue i’ve come across. The pots. While those may be 1:1 clones of Alpha brand components, they are not good. One big culprit on the whole pedal. They work – yes. But they turn way too easily – in a word, they are just too sensitive. Just a tap with your foot can ruin your perfectly tuned settings in a heartbeat. If the company didn’t “save” money on pots, i would strongly recommend these for anyone and everyone. It is quite sad. One little thing ruins a design that is otherwise reasonably good.

Nux-AS4-5

Didn’t go too deep on to what the design has in store. I’m just going to leave it by saying that the component selection reminds me of Xotic’s BB preamp pedal.

I’m also hoping that Nux won’t sell these things as OEM for cheapo brand boxes for their own good. So far i’m quite confident that the future of original chinese pedals lie within Nux.

How does it sound?
Soundwise too. BB comes to mind. So it’s rich in bass and warm in gain. Overall tone is pleasing and starts from mild preamp with natural feel to it – which then can be turned to soaring gain monster by turning the gain knob. The overall sound has a lot of common with good tube amps’ overdriven sounds. With versatile bass and treble controls and well working gain control, this is very usable and good sounding pedal for a good price. I’m just hoping they acknowledge the pot issue and fix it. Before that happens.. No recommendations from me. I’m going to use myself as a guinea pig and get all four pedals in this analog series. Well see then…

Ibanez No.95 Renometer

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Just because i happen to feel like it, here’s another post for today..

Ibanez-NO95-Renometer

What is it?
Ibanez Renometer Model No. 95 EQ/Booster from mid seventies.

Got this unit in a trade some time ago. In very good condition i might add. Plugged it in and had no response. Gladly, the only broken thing was one of the battery snaps. This requires two 9V batteries, as it runs with +9V and -9V, using gorund as vref. Measured current consumption settles round 5mA, so those two batteries should last a long time. Couldn’t believe my ears how loud this thing is. The boost switches work in mouth watering manner – offering even more raw clean boost. While trying out the sliders, i noticed wah-like textures to the sweeps. Opening the box up confirmed it.

Ibanez-NO95-Renometer-Guts1

The sliders are basically five simplified cry baby wahs that are wired for cut and a boost. The print on the cover has +12/-12dB on it, but i’m having hard time believing that it is just 12dB that this thing adds to the signal. Maybe it is, but it gets multiplied by all the 5 frequency ranges. The photo above shows tha the inductors for lower frequencies are so huge that they are mounted on the “wrong” side of the board. The image below shows the smaller inductors next to the slides.

Ibanez-NO95-Renometer-Guts2

Didn’t have hard shell battery snaps with long enough leads, so i soldered the new one to the old wires and cleaned it up with heat shrink tubing. As you can see from the board photo, the part count is pretty low. Which made me question what was driving it to offer so much sheer volume…

Ibanez-NO95-Renometer-Guts3

Just one TI TL082. I heard loud effects with TL family chips, but not this loud. I could be just because of the +/- voltage swing that takes the volume to this level. I do wonder what the empty holes are for…

Oh. Once again, Dirk has a perfect schematic published on his site. His unit seems to run on JRC4558 and it has an dc jack. Neither of which are present in my unit.

How does it sound?
Clean and Loud. If it weren’t for the 5 huge inductors, this one would get cloned immediately and that clone would get a permanent spot on my pedal board. No distortion at all. Just a perfect, super loud EQ booster. Actually. I don’t know of a better sounding one to exist.

Ibanez CR5 Crunchy Rhythm

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

CR5What is it?
Ibanez CR5 Crunchy Rhythm from Soundtank series in metal enclosure, made in Taiwan around 1989-90.

It is a design that differs from usual TS and/or Voodoo Labs overdrive topology. Boosting, bluesy overdrive with discrete differential pair to determine which parts of the signal get to Si diode hard clipping before the tone driver. Since the 70s and early 80s, it’s been hard to come up with even remotely original overdrive designs, but this one has some out of the box thinking incorporated. Schematic can be found on the 8bitsindgenug site. It is well worth taking a look for what’s happening in there. The gain/distortion stage makes me smile, as it’s definitely something you don’t see in every OD design around.  My unit is in a metal case and has very small number as a serial. I think it’s safe to assume that this particular unit was made in 1991, when the first (metal boxed) Soundtanks were introduced to the public.

CR5-guts

JRC4558 is there to drive the tone control and other half is used as output buffer. Not sure why the IC half is used as a buffer, as it could have been just as well used as the first gain stage – instead of the lone 2SC1815Y that drives the differential pair. This is part of the reason i care deeply for Ibanez boxes. Even the commercially dullest, most underrated pedals can have good sounding, innovative stuff inside them.

How does it sound?
Not too far off from likes of Boss BD-2, even though these two designs are completely different. Resemblance to few other “dumble” styled overdrives should be mentioned here. It has good output level, and real nice, softer texture to the dirt. It keeps the frequency responce well in tact, so it can be used as a really good sounding preamp in beginning of your effects chain. All that in a metal box that just rocks. This model is getting rarer every day, especially the one in metal enclosure. So if you get a chance to score one for cheap – do it without hesitation. It will be worth it. Definitely one of the greatest boxes in Soundtank series.