Should I use a Buffer in my amp's effects loop?
Many players may not even realize that they most likely have a buffer built into the effects loop of their amplifier. MESA owners have had a buffer in their effects loops since the Mark IIC+ and while for most of us there really isn't a need for an additional buffer in the effects loop, there are a few circumstances where you might find a buffer like our CLEARLINK™ (SEND) LINE DRIVER, beneficial.
Buffers are used to maximize the signal transfer between circuits or devices, by properly matching the impedance between them. If your amp's effect's loop isn't buffered and you use your loop, a buffer placed between the Effect Send of the amplifier and the Input of the effect may be of benefit, because the buffer will more than likely have a higher input impedance than any effect being used and it will maximize the signal transfer while minimizing any loading placed on the amplifier’s send circuitry.
Should you need a hotter input signal for an effect placed in the loop (most typically in the case of a rack mounted effect designed to operate at higher levels and either the amp signal isn’t high enough or the effect doesn’t have enough input gain), the CLEARLINK™ (SEND) can provide up to a 12 dB signal boost to your signal if placed between the Effect Send of the amplifier and the Input of the effect. This will increase the signal to noise ratio within the rack processor and allow its output level control to lower the signal going back to the amplifier’s Effect Return.
While many effect pedals have an Effect Level control, oftentimes they may not offer an Output Level control. Some pedals don't maintain unity gain and may actually have a slightly lower output level than input level, regardless of whether on or off. In these circumstances, once again, our CLEARLINK™ (SEND) can provide up to a 12 dB boost of the signal and therefore compensate for any loss of signal level. It can be used between the Effect Send of the amplifier and the Input of the (first) pedal effect, where it can provide better noise performance and a very low impedance output signal, thereby supplying maximum signal transfer to the effect pedal(s). It can also be used between the (last) pedal effect Output and the amplifier Effect Return, where it can provide the necessary drive, if needed, to compensate for long cable runs between the effects loop and pedal effect(s).
For those of you that just like to experiment, adding a buffer like our CLEARLINK™ (SEND) to an already buffered effects loop will certainly not cause any damage and you may find the results to your liking. However, in the majority of cases, an additional buffer (should your amp already have a buffered effects loop) isn't necessary.