I always thought that I would never be someone who would be mesmerized by the names and reputation. No matter what brand we’re looking at, the main thing is the actual device, not the company, am I right? But my experience has shown me that the expertise behind each product makes a huge difference and the manufacturers who specialize in certain instruments tend to create better units. This notion is especially important when we’re talking about acoustic guitars. These bad boys have to be treated with special attention due to their distinctive and queer character. The pedal you choose to pair an acoustic instrument with has to know how to improve the outcome and reproduce everything in the best possible way. And that’s where experienced brands come into play. L.R. Baggs has been delivering wonderful pickups and preamps for acoustic instruments, proving each time that they know what they’re doing. Today we’re going to discuss their Venue DI – a real beast that has numerous interesting features to offer. Once you dive into this fella, it becomes hard to return to reality. If you want to treat yourself with a powerful acoustic preamp, then you should stay with me and read this article carefully. Let’s begin!
When I mentioned that this thing offers numerous interesting properties, I wasn’t kidding! Man, L.R. Baggs went out of their way to manufacture something that would be capable of doing every freaking thing! There is hardly anything Venue DI lacks and that’s something I absolutely adore. It has adjustable gain so that you can tailor the pedal with active or passive pickups. You can set it according to the pickups of your instrument and avoid any misunderstandings. More importantly, this puppy has a 5-band EQ, so that you can dig deep and adjust all those frequencies meticulously. The ability to craft the low and high midrange can be really useful for cutting through the mix or maintaining the full sonic spectrum of the pieces you create. Venue DI does also come with Garret Null notch filter that takes care of the annoying feedback that can be such a frequent problem with acoustic instruments. Let’s not forget that this fella has the ability to turn your phase upside down and set it to your preferred position. It also has a clip meter, which makes it easier to choose the perfect amount of gain and retain the clarity of your sound. It is undoubtedly more convenient to configure the headroom visually and be aware of its position during the whole performance. Impressed yet? There is more. Venue DI offers a battery check which will tell you when it’s time to grab a spare one, keeping you in charge of the whole device all the time. Speaking of powering options, you can skip the batteries and just stick to the adapter – it’s completely up to you. This pedal has a tuner, which is not as powerful as I’d like it to be, but it still works. When it comes to connections, here we have Send and Return jacks for the FX loop, a transformer coupled D.I. output that makes it possible to connect the stompbox with the microphone, and, of course, standard input and output for the instrument and amplifier. As you can see, Venue DI is more than just a simple acoustic preamp!
Don’t get overwhelmed the first time you look at the control panel! Trust me, there’s nothing to worry about. Though we have quite a few controls here, all of them perform easy tasks and can be configured without too much fuss and headaches. Just take your time and you’ll get the hang of the whole thing. And once you do, you’ll be able to unveil the huge potential that is hidden beneath the surface.
Let’s start with the controls that are mounted on the surface. Bass, Treble and Presence are typical EQ knobs that boost or cut 12dB in their specific frequency range. Low and High Midrange set the level of the frequencies that can be filtered out with two Tune knobs in the lower row. Then we have Notch that takes care of the feedback without affecting your sound itself. Gain adds more strength to your signal and enables you to accentuate its qualities. It should be utilized along with the Clip meter in order to avoid overdriving the instrument. Volume sets the overall level of the pedal and affects the signal that is passed by main ¼” output. The Phase switch changes the polarity and lets you craft your whole rig perfectly. We have Boost and Tune/Mute footswitches that are self-explanatory, as well as a Boost Level control on the side of the unit.
I fell in love with this pedal all over again while writing this review! But for now, I’ll forget about my emotions and describe the sound of this wonderful unit objectively. L.R. Baggs Venue DI is a clear and transparent pedal that won’t affect any parts of your sound that you don’t want to be altered. But the properties it modifies are still shaped without changing the color of your signal. This feature is what makes this pedal such a success – we want the sound of our acoustic guitar to be in its original shape, am I right? Venue DI has all the essential controls that are needed to boost or tame down various parts of the sonic spectrum, and thus accentuate solos or any pieces that you want to stand out in the mix.
All in all, L.R. Baggs Venue DI is a magnificent preamp for those who want a feature-laden device that will take up the duties of many different units. It has mesmerizing sonic capabilities and will become your go-to pedal as soon as you start messing around with its properties. I know it’s an investment, but it’s definitely worth the money. Listen to the demos and you’ll quickly understand what I am trying to imply. And plus, it has hardly any flaws (its mediocre tuner can be ignored for the sake of the rest). Good luck!
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