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noisy distortion pedals

Recently I've decided to purchase a couple distortion pedals to run my synth's through. Asking around and company reputation led me to purchase an EH Double Muff which isnt here yet, and sex appeal made me buy a Damage Control Demonizer, which is for sale if you're interested.

Why is it so damn noisy? Are all pedals like that? If they are, man did I make a mistake. What I really wanted was a distortion to run my SE-1X through, which has a bit of internal noise to begin with, but when I plugged it into the demonizer the noise floor was reading -35db's or so inside my DAW! When I engaged the "nuclear" setting it was humming like a bastard and completely unusable. I cannot use a nose gate on that, it will cut into the source to be effective.
I switched to a VA and it was more usable without "nuclear" engaged. Something a gate was able to compensate for and not sound like poo-poo.

Is the Double Muff going to be like this? I was wanting to get a Rat pedal and a Boss OD-20 eventually. The main reasoning behind this is I love distortions and my "go-to" distortion is Antates Tube, but it's a CPU hog, number 2 is gotta be Audio Damage's Ratshack Reverb which isnt as hard on the cpu. Putting it them a send track doesnt usually work because drums/synths/whatever all get different settings.

So I want to save on my cpu a little bit, and of course investigate some new tones in the process. If pedals are the wrong direction and fx boxes are the answer then so be it.


Tommy P. Mon, 04/17/2006 - 19:51
What moonbaby said about getting your gain stages set properly....that would be your first step towards a lower noise floor.

Don't get a heavy metal distortion pedal unless you are gonna control it like a guitarist. Those pedals are designed to compress and then expand greatly, as input signal decreases(note fade)- giving the guitarist sustained notes and controlled feedback. If you are not constantlychugging a chord, or playing a flurry of notes, you will get massive gain=massive amplification of line noise. But a keyboard needs a different kind of touch sensitivity built into a distortion, something that won't get too crazy, you dig?

How much distortion do you need? Jon Lord type? Need more even order harmonics for an organ patch? If you like the Antares tube distortion, then its a warm overdrive you're looking for...not an over the top distortion or fuzz box( well maybe you are, so then we'll help you get there).

Now another thing to consider is the limited bandwidth of a guitar pedal. You're keyboard goes down to A0, but many guitar effects will have a steep drop off to minimize very low frequencies that a guitar amp/speaker won't handle ( causing muddiness, woofiness, or burnout of the speaker motor). You'll certainly miss having the lower portion of your keyboard, won't you?

So you could try effects designed for bass guitar.

Or, effects modules designed for studio use, where there is a wider bandwidth and tonal contour options in the design.

But the main thing in high gain distortion, is to have touch sensitivity dialed in to be compatible with your equipment and playing style(reflexes).
This is most often accomplished with post and pre equalization around the distortion device, a la Tom Scholz(Boston) and most every heavy player out there.

Member Mon, 03/06/2006 - 00:14
I can sympathize. I hate distortion pedals. That was until I heard a boss gt-8. I immediately bought one and run it thru a Roland JC-120. I couldn’t be happier. It has all of the boss pedals in it and some, but it will set you back about $400. It also has an amp sim. for going DI, plus s/pdif out.
The line six Pods are cool too, but nothing beats a mic’ed cab.
If you want to go software, check out Izotope’s Trash. I used it a lot before I got the boss gt-8.

moonbaby Mon, 04/17/2006 - 07:07
Like the origilnal poster complained, a gate is no solution to this dilemna. Proper gain staging will help a lot more. So will a good cable. You probably will not be happy with the Big Muff, noise-wise. All E-H stuff is prone to RF and hum fields, always have been.
How much experimenting did you do with the levels on the synth? While these fuzzboxes are primarily designed for much lower-level guitar signals, giving them a good blast from the line output of a synth will help them overdrive with a minimum of noise. I routinely run some ancient analog synths thru a RAT, a V-Twin pedal, and a Tech 21 TriAC for distortion, and have been happy with the results. Try raising the output level of the synth and backing off the "drive" on the box. You may also find that the stray fields from, say a video monitor, will adversely affect the RF noise when a boostbox is used, so try playing with positioning the box away from the monitor....and use a battery instead of a "wall wart" on the fuzz...many boxes do not have the proper power supply regulation to be quiet with a "WW"...