Four new pedals designed to enhance acoustic amplification.
by Teja Gerken
August 01, 2018
L.R. Baggs Align pedals demo Part 1
L.R. Baggs Align pedals demo Part 2
L.R. Baggs founder Lloyd Baggs began experimenting with ways to process the signal of his pickups not long after introducing his original LB6 pickup in the early 1980s. By the time the now legendary Para Acoustic DI was introduced about a decade later, L.R. Baggs had produced a succession of preamp and EQ boxes designed to give players the tools to shape their sound and solve common problems that may arise in performance. Now L.R. Baggs has come out with the Align series, which consists of four stompbox-style pedals, the Session, Equalizer, Reverb, and Active DI. I recently had a chance to check out all four pedals in the Peghead Nation video studio, and in these two videos, I discuss the pedals and demonstrate them through an L.R. Baggs Synapse speaker using a Martin OM with an L.R. Baggs Anthem pickup, a Mario DeSio baritone with an L.R. Baggs M80 pickup, and a Collings MT2 mandolin with an L.R. Baggs Radius pickup.
The Align Session is based on the L.R. Baggs Session DI, but in a smaller size and with no XLR output. Designed to give a studio console sound to a live performance setup, the Session offers Saturate and Comp EQ controls for warming up the instrument’s tone and dynamic compression for taming common problem frequencies. The Session also has controls for input gain and output volume.
Using the circuitry of the Para Acoustic DI as a foundation, the Align Equalizer has six bands of EQ, a variable high-pass filter, phase-inversion switch, three-position input-gain switch, and notch filter. A volume control sets the output level. The Align Equalizer sets itself apart from other L.R. Baggs products that include EQ by offering a footswichable on/off function, thereby facilitating the use of multiple Equalizers in situations where multiple instruments require different settings.
The Align Reverb is based on the digital reverb L.R. Baggs developed for its Synapse personal PA system. Designed specifically for use with acoustic instruments, the unit uses a side-chain design and analog EQ to enhance, rather than completely modify, the instrument’s signal. The unit has a seamless range of room and hall reverbs, and its simple controls include reverb level, decay, volume, and tone.
The Align Active DI completes the chain of Align pedals. While previous L.R. Baggs DI boxes have always included EQ and other signal processing features, the Align Active DI is a single-purpose box. Similar to other professional-grade DI boxes, the unit has XLR and ¼-inch outputs, switches for ground lift and phase reversal, and a three-position pad function. To make it pedalboard-friendly, the unit includes a footswitch for muting the signal (a switch labeled “thru/out” selects whether both outputs or only the XLR output are affected by the mute function). In addition to the option of using a nine-volt battery or external power adapter like the other Align pedals, the Active DI can also be powered by phantom power from a mixing board.
L.R. Baggs provided us with a pedalboard that included all four Align pedals and an extra two Equalizer pedals, and all pedals performed impressively. The Session subtly warmed up the instrument’s fundamental tone and provided highly musical compression that was particularly effective when strumming the instruments. Using several Equalizer pedals can be very effective for multi-instrumentalists or anyone using more than one instrument onstage. I was able to quickly dial in perfect settings for the three radically different instruments I was using, and, rather than having to adjust settings between instrument changes, the sounds were only a tap of a footswitch away. The Align Reverb offered excellent studio-like reverb sounds, and I was particularly impressed with its beautiful, smooth decay and ease of use. The Active DI performed transparently, and the mute switch was a helpful addition to the end of the pedalboard.
Overall, L.R. Baggs has come out with a well-thought-out set of pedals that should be considered by anyone wanting to enhance their plugged-in acoustic sound.
ALIGN SESSION: Signal enhancer with analog saturation and compression/EQ. ¼-inch inputs and outputs. Footswitch engaging effect or true bypass. Controls for volume, gain, Saturate, and Comp/EQ. Powered by nine-volt battery or nine-volt DC power adapter (not included). Metal enclosure. 5 x 3.25 x 2 inches. Made in China. $179 street.
ALIGN EQUALIZER: Preamp with EQ. ¼-inch inputs and outputs. Footswitch engaging effect or true bypass. Six-band equalizer (85 Hz, 350 Hz, 700 Hz, 1.6 kHz, 4.8 kHz, 10 kHz) with 9 dB cut or boost in each band. High-pass filter (40 Hz, 80Hz, 120Hz). Notch filter. Phase inversion. Input gain switch. Output volume control. Powered by nine-volt battery or nine-volt DC power adapter (not included). Metal enclosure. 5 x 3.25 x 2 inches. Made in China. $179 street.
ALIGN REVERB: Digital reverb. ¼-inch inputs and outputs. Footswitch engaging effect or true bypass. Controls for volume, tone, reverb, and decay. Side-chain circuit. Powered by nine-volt battery or nine-volt DC power adapter (not included). Metal enclosure. 5 x 3.25 x 2 inches. Made in China. $179 street.
ALIGN ACTIVE DI: Active DI box. ¼-inch input, XLR and ¼-inch outputs. Footswitch-mute function. Output-pad switch. Ground-lift switch. Thru/out switch. Phase inversion. Powered by nine-volt battery, nine-volt DC power adapter (not included), or 48 volt phantom power. Metal enclosure. 5 x 3.25 x 2 inches. Made in China. $159 street. lrbaggs.com
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