When searching the market for acoustic preamps, you usually get the idea that you’ll have to break the bank, gather up all your savings and invest them all in a single unit. The majority of such pedals are highly sophisticated and offer more than you’d think initially. What I’m trying to say is that they have ethereal quality and the sounds they offer are simply fascinating. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have any other choice. Though high-end acoustic stompboxes tend to pop up as you press the search button, there are a bunch of more affordable variations, as well. Today we’re going to take a look at one of the best members of the inexpensive family and prove that cheaper price tag doesn’t necessarily mean lesser quality. Valeton Dapper Acoustic Mini is a great example of a decent acoustic preamp. It has all the essential properties along with some features that will turn out to be really handy in practice. My dear budget-players out there, don’t you worry, because you can still achieve wonderful results without spending too much money. If you’re someone who’s been longing for an acoustic preamp but can’t afford to splurge, then this article is the perfect place for you. Let’s begin our journey and list down all the virtues and disadvantages of Valeton Dapper Acoustic Mini!
Due to the existing stereotypes you might think that Valeton Dapper Acoustic Mini is a one-knob preamp that doesn’t offer anything interesting. However, this little puppy is exactly the opposite. It looks like one of those sophisticated models I mentioned earlier, meaning that it’s steeped with useful features that you’ll be using daily. To be more precise, it offers four different modules. Let’s start with the most important one of all: the preamp. Not only does it help your pickups to sound more organic, but it also provides you with the ability to sculpt your tone from within. It has a three-band EQ that will shape low, mid and higher frequencies and a notch filter that will easily take care of the feedback. This way your acoustic sound will always retain its perfect shape. The second module is the tuner. It allows you to keep your acoustic instrument always in tune i.e. perform an important step in your tone-crafting journey. The third one is Reverb, which can be triggered with a footswitch and utilized in order to achieve that sweet sense of spaciousness. The final module we have here is Comp (a.k.a. compression) which will even out your sound beautifully. It will attenuate unpleasantly loud pieces and amplify the quiet parts. If employed in moderation, this module will be a great way to produce that balanced, studio quality sound.
Moving on to the connections, Valeton Dapper Acoustic Mini has a standard input and output, 9V DC jack for plugging in the adapter, headphone jack to ensure you can practice even late at night without annoying your whole neighborhood, as well as XLR balanced output for connecting it directly with the mixing board or a recording apparatus. As you can see, this fella isn’t playing any games and offers a serious business at a low price point. Great stuff!
When I checked out Valeton Dapper Acoustic Mini for the first time, I had the feeling that I was in a sci-fi movie, somewhere at the edge of the universe, waiting for the enemies with my neon sword. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you plug this fella in and notice those bright and colorful LEDs (each module has its own color). All the knobs are shiny here and lighten up even the darkest days. The downfall of the control section is that the encoders are too small and adjusting one may result in messing up the other. But if you’re careful, you won’t have that problem.
Let’s discuss the individual controls. The first one on the panel is the Headphone knob, which alters the volume of the output of the signal. Then we have Reverb, which adjusts the amount of effect added to your sound. Vol changes the level of the output, Bass, Mid and Treb determine how accentuated specific frequencies will be, Notch manages the intensity of feedback elimination, while N. Freq sets the center frequency for the notch filter. The compression module has three knobs: Vol alters the level, Comp modifies the amount of compression, while ATK changes the intensity of attack (you can achieve tighter compression with this one). Preamp, Reverb and Comp modules have individual footswitches, while Tuner can be accessed by pressing and holding Reverb switch. Lastly, first seven knobs have note names on them, which means they will light up during the tuning process.
The sound of Valeton Dapper Acoustic Mini is almost as amazing as that of higher end models. The preamp itself is transparent and thickens your tone as soon as you engage it. Its controls to a perfect job at refining your signal and reproducing its virtues accurately. The compression works wonders, as well. It isn’t an extreme effect that will deprive your sound of its dynamics. Rather, it does what it’s supposed to while still retaining the required amount of unevenness. When it comes to Reverb, I have to say that it isn’t the most saturated one on earth. It adds a subtle amount of effect, where you can still hear how your sound bounces off the wall, but it doesn’t overpower the signal. In my personal opinion, that isn’t exactly a bad thing, since some of us enjoy a tiny bit of reverb on our acoustics. I guess it comes down to your preferences. All in all, this puppy sounds wonderful!
In conclusion, Valeton Dapper Acoustic Mini is a perfect unit for those who are looking for an affordable, yet capable acoustic preamp. It can be used as a practice tool or a handy device for smaller live performances. Try it out, explore all of its capabilities and who knows, maybe it will become your one and only preamp. Good luck!
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