Read the full article
This article was originally published in issue #3
To read the article in its entirety, view the digital magazine
Acoustic specialist L.R. Baggs says the venue DI is one-stop solution for live electro-acoustic guitarists. But does this unit stand up to the test? Jamie Humphries took one on the road to find out.
One of the biggest problems the acoustic guitarist faces when playing live is being able to amplify the sound and yet keep it natural and as un-DI'd as possible. And the other the other problem is the risk of feedback!
According to its makers, The LR Baggs Venue DI presents a one-stop solution that tackles both of these problems. L.R. Baggs is an American company with a long history of producing professional pieces of gear for electro-acoustic players, including some renowned, very natural sounding, acoustic pickups, top quality pre-amps and acoustic amplifiers, so we had high hopes for this chunky piece of kit when it arrived.
In essence what you have here is an acoustic preamp that combines a transformer-coupled DI output, an EQ specifically tuned for acoustic instruments, a volume boost footswitch and an easy to read chromatic tuner with a mute/tune footswitch. Baggs calls it a one-stop solution and it is - effectively doing the job of three pedals in one.
The first thing to say is that is a piece of equipment clearly designed for pro and serious semi-pro users. It's extremely well made and has a series of controls, two rugged footswitches and a tuner display. The unit boasts a very natural, transparent pre amp, that with the EQ set flat, will amplify the natural sound of your guitar and its own onboard pre-amp. Obviously, the quality of the sound you get there of this depends on the quality of your guitar and its pickup system.
The unit itself has adjustable gain controls for both passive and active pickups, as well as a five band EQ system, for tailoring your sound and cutting unwanted frequencies, or boosting, as desired. It also has a phase switch to achieve your optimum tone and also help combat feedback. There's also a notch filter that helps you eliminate feedback through fine-tuning. Finally, there is an adjustable boost control that enables you to increase your signal by pressing one of the footswitches - a very useful feature for soloing or pushing up the level when swapping from pick to fingerstyle.
The unit also has a very clear visual display meter, in the form of a clip meter, for setting the correct gain, and also a tuner display. The tuner is very clear and accurate and ideal for those dark stage moments between songs. As well as this, the tuner features a mute function for silent tuning. The box also includes both 1/4" and XLX output, and the application of these is explained in the accompanying demo video.
For the demo I tested the unit with a Yamaha APX guitar, and as you can hear in the demo the results are very impressive. I personally was very interested in this unit, as although I play mainly electric, my guitars are all fitted with piezo pickups and I've been searching for a unit to help amplify these live for a while. I gave the unit the ultimate road test and took it out on a month long UK tour. The unit stood up to the rigours of pro touring and the sound of the unit was very impressive, giving my piezo a more authentic tone.
The Venue DI isn't cheap, but it's also not super-expensive and I should point out it comes with a case that will help you to protect your investment. In terms of value for money I think it would be well worth checking out if you are serious about your acoustic tone. Just as the maker says, it really does everything you need in a single tough, compact unit and also offers professional connection options. Definitely a keeper.