Pedalboard Meet DAW
Like every musician, engineer and producer out there we all have secret obsessions.
We're up there with our studios and setups, and DAW's, oh and plug-ins... just ask what the best plug-in is for your mix buss / Vocal / DrumBuss etc and you'll get a wealth of useful and not so useful ...oh hardware v software ....How long have we got?
But my real obsession started long before the computer ruled. (Well I had an Atari 1040ST which sort of hung out in the garage being unforgiving in its metronomic sonics and once you've heard that beep it's ingrained in your subconscious forever !)
No, my obsession was guitar pedals. There, I've said it.
I'm a guitar pedal addict.
The Overdrive Dream
The dream, when I started, was to own a yellow Boss OD-2 Overdrive pedal....which I eventually ran through various random second hand Peavey combo amps that were prevalent at the time. Then it was the RAT overdrive, Ibanez TubeScreamer, and so on..
This was the late 80's and early 90's when guitars sounded like Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Joe Satriani and Guns n' Roses and what we were all after. In this quest I chopped and changed pedals, researching in magazines what these 'guitar heroes' were using and then trying all in one Boss multi-effects to more 'interesting' designs from Electro-Harmonix and MXR.
Shortly afterwards when hair metal died a bit and it all went a bit indie BritPop I started collecting 70's Crybabys, Fuzz pedals and MXR delays that were a nod back to the 1960's raw sound.
Now these days boutique pedal manufacturing is big big news. Gone are the dreams of owning an overdrive pedal, now it's a case of what era of overdrive are you after? But I've found all the classics still stack up really really well, and whilst you've got to keep an eye and ear on their maintenance they're all in pretty good shape.
My Japanese 1978 Boss CE-2 chorus pedal sounds perfect alongside a 1979 EHX USA small stone phaser - both providing rich sonics that plug-ins can't get close to and just play on through the old Deluxe Memory Man and WEM Copycat etc... You get my meaning !
Colorsound Tonebender, MXR Script distortion, BK Butler Tube Driver and even a Mesa Boogie V-Twin (for those 'shred' moments) are all worthy additions to guitar recording but one thing kept bothering me...
Having spent years collecting from car boot sales (pre-eBay) and local adverts, it seems a shame that I only use these sonic treasures once on the way into my DAW and recordings.
Enter the Radial EXTC-SA
Now I've always had an original ReAmping box for sending ITB recordings back to my amps (and there're a few styles available from D.A.V and Radial REAMP who purchased the original REAMP technology). But it's always been a case of creating a mixture of ReAmp > DI > Preamp for trying to get these effect pedals into line level for my DAW for experimentation. It is possible but we all know Plug-ins can make us lazy, so I've tended to just use my pedals on the way in.
Canadian designers, Radial Engineering have come up with two solutions to make our pedal integration much simpler and convenient, which in these days of recalls and streamlining workflow, helps a lot. The first is the Radial EXTC-SA
The EXTC-SA is a brick block based design, similar to a large DI box with two FX sends and returns with line input / output on XLR and Jack and dials to control level. If you've ever used or picked up a Radial product before, you know they're solid and made to last.
There is a mix blend dial and 180-degree polarity reverse switch (as some pedals swap the phase on output) and Transformer isolation on channel A helps to keep ground loops to a minimum. By using the EXTC the Line Level output of your DAW gets converted to the correct level for your pedals to 'see' and then back in again.
Then it's just a case of plugging in your pedals and creating a hardware I/O in your DAW of choice and you're good to go, opening up a world of experimentation.
Radial have also created a 500 series version called the EXTC 500 which gives the same simple jack connections on the front panel for ease of access but fits neatly into any 500-Series chassis (in that spare slot you haven't yet filled !)
Pedalboard meet DAW
So if you've ever wondered how to get your pedals into your DAW, or perhaps want to use your own Spring Reverb - then look no further as Radial also make the Tank-Driver 500 Series which allows you to connect your spring reverb from your own cabinet of choice.
With these tools available, now has never been an easier time to get 'out of the box toys' into it.