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Radial Tonebone PZPRE Acoustic Instrument Preamp

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Product Details

The Radial Tonebone PZ-Pre is the most powerful acoustic preamplifier ever to be put inside a pedal. And by say acoustic, that does not just mean acoustic guitar; it means ANY acoustic instrument including banjo, violin, cello, mandolin, contrabass, bouzouki or lute. The magic of the PZ-Pre lies in the combination of high performance 100% discrete class-A piezo boosters, an ultra-quiet preamp circuitry that will adapt to any pickup system and a host of connectivity options that put you in control of any situation.The PZ-Pre features two inputs for quick instrument changes on stage, a powerful yet warm sounding semi-parametric EQ to tailor your sound, plus a host of feedback eliminating controls including: a dual-Q notch filter to surgically remove feedback points, a high-pass filter to cut low frequency resonance and a phase reverse switch to optimize the acoustic environment on stage. The PZ-Pre is equipped with three separate outputs: a 1/4-inch on-stage instrument amp out, a balanced XLR pre-EQ direct out for the house mix and a balanced XLR post EQ out for stage monitors or in-ears. A dedicated tuner out with mute switch is provided for quiet on-stage tuning as well as an effects loop and power booster to add sizzle and dynamics to the performance.Compact and easy to use, the Radial PZ-Pre packs in all of the features you need to take your acoustic instrument from home to studio and club to concert.It all starts with great toneAs with all Radial products, all efforts have been made to ensure the very best and natural transfer of the instrument's tone is maintained. The PZ-Pre features 100% discreet class-A piezo boost circuitry (PZB) to provide the most musical transfer plus a high efficiency preamp designed reduce distortion and noise while maximizing headroom.Inputs:There are two inputs on the PZ-Pre. Each of these may be used independently for two instruments or combined using the blend (mix) function. These can be used with instruments equipped with a built-in preamp such as an acoustic-electric guitar or using an external buffer from a piezo type source.Input select:The instrument select footswitch lets you chose which instrument is active by selecting the input channel. Adjusting the level controls lets you control the level for each instrument or pickup and balance the tone as needed.PZB boosters:Each input is also equipped with a piezo booster (PZB) that allows a low output pickup such as a piezo electric element to be connected without the use of an external preamp. The ultra-high fidelity of the class-A piezo booster coupled with the high 10 meg ohm input impedance assures you get the best signal transfer without distortion or degradation.Blend:The blend allows you to accept two sources and mix the two channels together. This is a welcome addition for instruments that may have two pickups built-in or when combining two sound sources. You can even have two guitarists connected at the same time for a jam.High-pass filter:Acoustic instruments are notorious for on-stage feedback and runaway resonance. A three position high-pass filter (which means that it reduces the low frequencies) is extremely effective at getting rid of runaway resonance which often causes harmonics to feedback. This also serves to get rid of low end rumble that can cause a mix to sound muddy.Notch filter:The size of the instrument determines its tone and resonance, which in turn can cause feedback. This is addressed by providing a variable notch filter with two different Q's or notch depths that lets you dial in the offending frequency and eliminate run-away feedback.Semi-parametric EQ:Once again, since all instruments are different, the PZ-Pre's tone shaping has been designed to address the various characters with a 3-nand EQ and semi-parametric mid range control. This simple yet highly effective EQ is lets you dial in the sweet-spot for the most natural and dynamic tone.180 Degree Phase reverse:Technically speaking, this is actually a polarity reverse switch that lets you control the internal polarity of the signal path before it reaches your on-stage amp. It is used to help reduce feedback on stage when the physical location of the performer, the monitors and the stage amp coincide to cause a feedback hot-spot.Power Booster:This foot switch lets you activate the power booster for soloing or add-in effects using the inserts send & receive jacks. For instance, you could add a chorus and slight boost for a passage. The power booster assign switch lets you assign the boost footswitch to activate the power booster, the effects loop or both. Adjust the power boost level to suit.Mute and tuner out:A mute switch lets you easily silence all of the outputs except the tuner out for quiet tuning on stage. The tuner output is separately buffered so that it does not load the pickup or allow tuner clocking circuit to cause noise.Instrument out:This is a buffered output that is designed to drive an on-stage amplifier.Balanced DI outputs:The PZ-Pre is equipped with two direct boxes: one is pre-effect, pre-EQ that sends the unprocessed instrument signal to the PA system to allow the house engineer to set the tone for the room. The second is post-effect, post-EQ for on-stage wedge monitors or in-ears. This is used when you want to send 'your' sound to the PA system.Using the PZ-Pre Although absolutely jammed with features, the Radial PZ-Pre is actually very easy to use. To begin, as always make sure the equipment you are connecting is either turned off or the volumes set to zero. This will eliminate any turn-on or connection transients from harming the electronics or speakers.Begin by connecting the PZ-Pre power supply. The 15VDC supply is included with your purchase in the correct voltage for your country. The LED on the input channel will illuminate to let you know power is connected. Using the input select switch, ensure input A is active. Begin by setting all of the controls 'flat' to 12 o'clock and switches in 'bypass' as shown here. You will also want to make sure the boost and mute switches or off (LED off). You are now ready to make the connections.Input optionsThere are two inputs on the PZ-Pre for two instruments. Each is equipped with its own PZB piezo booster circuit. If you are using the PZ-Pre with a contact pickup, you will likely want to turn the PZB booster on. This switch is recessed to avoid accidentally turning the PZB on or off as the turn-on transient could create a loud 'pop' which could damage your speakers. Pushing the PZB switch IN will active the boost circuit. If you are using a magnetic pickup, you should first try the unit without the PZB to see if the output level from the pickup is sufficient. For instruments with built-in electronics such as an electric violin or acoustic guitar, the PZB would be left in the out position. Connect your instruments.Sometimes, you may want to have both input channels on the PZ-Pre active at one time. This could be for a jam session with two guitars or more likely; it could be for an instrument with two transducers such as one inside the acoustic cavity and the other outside near the bridge.By depressing the recessed MIX switch, the toggle footswitch will be defeated and both channels will be on at the same time. You can then feed the inputs with any form of source and then blend the two signals using the two level controls. The PZ-Pre is not equipped with any form of phantom or power to supply a remote microphone, so this must be powered independently.Once you have found the balance, try adjusting the EQ and filters as described here to find the tonal balance that works best. When using multiple sources, you are creating a complex tone that may take some practice to get just right. Take your time, experiment and have fun.Output optionsThere are 4 different outputs on the PZ-Pre:1. Instrument amp output
- used for your personal stage amplifier, this is a high impedance guitar or instrument level signal. Connect using a standard coaxial guitar cable2. Tuner output
- works with the mute footswitch for quiet tuning on stage. If you have a tuner, you would connect it here using a short instrument cable. Muting the signal will turn off all of the outputs except the tuner out which is active at all times.3. The pre EQ, pre-effects output
- this low impedance balanced XLR output is generally sent to the main PA mixer and is generally used when you have a sound engineer doing the mix. Like all direct boxes, it is mic level and therefore should be connected to a mic preamp. This output sends the 'dry' signal to the PA without being affected by the tone controls or effects on the PZ-Pre. This allows the FOH (front-of-house) engineer to adjust the tone and effects as needed for the room sound.4. The post EQ, post effects output
- is also a balanced mic level output but this time, the signal includes all of the EQ settings and effects (if used) on the PZ-Pre. In a large scale concert production, this output would generally feed the stage monitors with your 'wet' sound. It would also be the preferred output to the PA in show clubs where you may want to send your sound to the house mix.You are now set to connect the outputs. Now turn up your amp and PA system to make sure you are getting signal. If you are also using monitors, you should now turn these on. It is good practice to always do you initial sound tests at low volume. Increase the input level to where you feel it is comfortable.Setting the EQYou are now ready to experiment with the tone controls. Start by adjusting the low and high controls and then work on the mid range. Keep in mind that feedback is generated by excessive resonance and adding bass on a loud stage can cause your instrument to vibrate, resonate and 'feed' back into the PA causing a run-away feedback loop. The PZ-Pre's powerful EQ is designed with plenty of swing so small changes will have a big impact on your sound. Remember rule number one in audio: with EQ, least is best.Another important fact is that all of the personality and energy in an acoustic instrument is found in the mid range. This is also where human hearing is most sensitive. So if you cut the midrange out of your signal because it sounds nice when you play alone, you will no longer be heard in the mix when you play with a band.The midrange controls on the PZ-Pre include a frequency knob and cut & boost knob. Most acoustic instruments tend to favour a minor midrange cut: try setting the mid control to 11 o'clock and rotate the frequency control until you find the sweet spot. There are no rules, just use your ears and remember... least is best.Controlling feedbackOnce your tone has been adjusted, try increasing the level to the point where the instrument begins to resonate or cause feedback. If low resonance is encountered, try activating the low frequency roll-off (high-pass filter) and setting it to the first position. This setting will give you a gentle roll-off that will usually tame run-away bass resonance.Next, you may encounter mid-range or high frequency squeal. This is best controlled using the notch filter. A notch filter is basically a type of EQ with a very narrow Q or notch that cuts out the center frequency as set by the notch control. There are two settings for normal and extra deep notches. Simply select the first notch setting and slowly sweep the notch center frequency control until you locate the offending frequency. This control extends over a wide range from 56Hz to 330Hz If you find that the normal notch is not sufficient to suppress the problem frequency, try extending the filter by going to the deep position.In some instances, as you move around the stage you will notice that feedback or resonance seems to increase in certain spots between the wedge monitor and your personal amp. This is caused by nodes either amplifying each other or cancelling each other out at various frequencies. Try reversing the (absolute) phase with the 180 degree polarity reverse. This can often help minimize this occurrence. Keep in mind that the louder you set the on-stage volume, the greater the occurrence of feedback or resonance will be. This is a fact of life when trying to amplify acoustic instruments.Adding effects and power boosterOnce your main sound is set, you can now begin to add effects such as chorus or reverb in the effects loop and play with the power booster for soloing. The PZ-Pre's power booster will generate up to 8dB of additional gain. This should be plenty for soloing. Be careful! The powerful booster will augment your level to a point where it could introduce feedback; so try increasing small bits at a time.You can also add effects using the effects loop on the PZ-Pre. You may want some of these effects to be sent to the PA system while you may only want some to go to your stage amp. For instance adding a chorus pedal to your acoustic guitar is likely an effect that you will want sent to the PA system while adding reverb may be an effect you only want to ad to your on-stage amplifier.These of course are all based on personal preference and technical requirements based on the size and complexity of your sound system. Standard coaxial instrument cables are used to connect the effects going from the 'send' jack on the PZ-Pre to your effects and then back via the 'return' jack.The PZ-Pre effects loop is turned on using the boost footswitch and is activated by selecting the 'loop' or 'both' using the footswitch assign switch. If you do not need a power booster, you could dedicate the effects loop for your effects only. You can also use the power booster as a 'gain make-up' for effects that may need more punch by setting the switch to both. You can also add a delay, fuzz and chorus and boost the signal for an avant-garde electric violin solo without having to tap-dance to create the effect. One foot-stomp and everything goes on.Eliminating hum, buzz and system noiseThe PZ-Pre internal electronics employ what is called a 'virtual ground' whereby they create a internal ground for the safe operation much like an airplane. (Ever notice there are no ground wires connected to airplanes and they seem to work just fine?) But as soon as the PZ-Pre is connected to your stage amplifier or to the PA system, it acts like a bridge and connects all of these electrically charged devices together. This can lead to stray currents working their way into the sound system.The PZ-Pre is equipped with a ground lift switch for the XLR outputs. If you encounter buzz and hum, try depressing the ground lift switch as this often will help. There is also a second 180 degree polarity reverse switch on the main PA output that is designed to help reduce stage feedback or reverse the electrical polarity on the XLR when using the PZ-Pre with older pre-AES standard equipment. (AES = Audio Engineering Society
- Pin-1 ground, pin-2 hot, pin-3 not cold).
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Circuit type: Proprietary active circuit

Standard input impedance: 16.8k Ohm at input jack ('PZB' switch out)

Piezo input impedance: 10meg Ohm at input jack ('PZB' switch in)

Output impendence: 1k Ohm

PZB Booster level: 10dB

Low cut roll-off:
Position 1: 75Hz
Position 2:220Hz

Notch Freq. range: 56Hz to 330Hz

Notch Q: Setting 1: -8dB

Setting 2: -15dB

LOW: +/- 12dB @75Hz
MID: +/- 12dB @82Hz to 5.6kHz
HIGH: +/- 12dB @ 7.5kHz

Boost level: 12dB

Effects send & receive: -10dB

FX loop impedance:
Send: 1k Ohm
Receive: 15k Ohm

Polarity: 180 degree switch (absolute phase reversal)

Input-1: 1/4" unbalanced
Input-2: 1/4" unbalanced
Insert Send/Receive: 1/4" unbalanced
Amp output: 1/4" unbalanced, Hi-Z, 1k Ohm
Tuner output: 1/4" unbalanced, Hi-Z, 6.8k Ohm
Pre-EQ output: XLR balanced mic level 600 Ohms
Post-EQ output: XLR balanced mic level 600 Ohms

Three: Mute, Boost, Toggle 1-2
Heavy-duty high-cycle switches

LED indicators: Large 3mm OD ultra-bright LED indicators for:
mute, boost, Ch-1 & Ch-2 toggle status

Switching: Opto-coupler assisted, 5msec Rise time

Construction: 14 gauge steel, baked enamel finish

Size (W x D x H): 8 x 4 1/4 x 2" (205 x 110 x 51mm)

Weight: 2.7lbs (1.2kg)

Warranty: Radial 3-year limited warranty

When will I receive my shipment?

We ship on business days (Saturday, Sunday, and holidays are not business days). Packages ship from Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, or Ohio -- we cannot guarantee that any product will ship from a specific warehouse. Expedited Shipping (1-Day Air and 2-Day Air) is the only way to guarantee that you will receive an item within a certain time frame. Delivery estimates for expedited shipping options are listed on the product page for the item in question. All expedited shipments are delivered Monday-Friday.

Ground Shipping typically takes 1-4 business days from the date of shipment (for orders within the 48 contiguous United States). Residential ground and Free 2-Day shipments are delivered Tuesday-Saturday. Commercial ground and Free 2-Day shipments are delivered Monday-Friday. Make sure to select the proper address type for your address in checkout, as delays may occur if your selection is incorrect.

For APO/FPO customers, all orders ship via USPS. Expedited shipping is not available. Tracking for these orders is not available.

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For most products shipping to the continental United States, customers may choose Ground, 2-Day Air, or 1-Day Air delivery. We also ship to Alaska and Hawaii; however, due to carrier restrictions, we cannot ground-ship to those states.

In addition, we ships to the following destinations, though some restrictions apply:

  • Canada
  • Puerto Rico
  • U.S. Territories

See instructions below for how to search the site by our eligible shipping destinations.

Note: We cannot change a shipping address on an order after it has shipped. If an order is returned because it couldn't be received at the listed shipping address, we will accept the return but will not refund the shipping charges.


We ship a lot of our most popular gear to Canada! To determine if item(s) ship to Canada, add the item(s) to your cart and enter your shipping postal code. Items that ship to Canada are sent via International Air, and delivery is typically 2-5 business days from the date of shipment.

Canadian orders are charged in U.S. dollars. Actual charges are dependent on your bank's conversion rate. Your bank may assess additional fees for international orders.

Although items shipped to Canada receive their full factory warranty, they must be returned to a United States service center for repairs. We're not responsible for any shipping or customs fees incurred in such a case.

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We ship many items to Puerto Rico. To determine if item(s) ship to Puerto Rico, add the item(s) to your cart and enter your shipping zip code. Eligible items ship via International Air, and typically arrive 2-5 business days from the date of shipment.


We ship to APO/FPO addresses for free, though over-sized items may be ineligible. To determine if item(s) ship to your APO/FPO address, add the item(s) to your cart and enter your shipping zip code.

U.S. Territories

We ship eligible products to American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, the Marshall Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, and the Virgin Islands. Eligible items typically arrive 2-7 business days from the date of shipment.

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Please be aware of customs fees such as taxes and duties, which are not included in our shipping charges. Customs fees vary from location to location. Please check with your local customs office for more information on the fees in your area. If you refuse to pay these fees, your order will not be delivered. We cannot refund shipping charges if an item is returned due to refusal to pay fees, and a restocking fee may be applied to cover the cost of return shipping. Customs fees are non-refundable.

Which items ship immediately?

Most orders ship the same business day your order is placed when you place a valid order before the shipping deadline.

Immediate shipment is available Monday-Friday. A valid order placed before 5 p.m. EST will ship the same day when using Ground or Free 2-Day shipping. Ground and Free 2-Day shipping orders placed after 5 p.m. EST will ship the next business day. Many orders using an expedited shipping method (2 Day Air or Next Day Air), and placed before 10 p.m. EST, will ship the same day.

Shipment and availability information updates from our warehouse to our website almost in real time. We are highly confident of the status of each item when you view a page. However, we do not reserve inventory being viewed or even placed in shopping carts, so we cannot guarantee an item's availability until you have placed your order. In particular, if you have been in the checkout area for more than about 10 minutes, we do recommend that you refresh the page to get the most current inventory prior to checking out.

What is a valid order?

A valid order is for a valid item at a valid price, placed with a credit card with complete and verifiable address and other information. Details.

Does immediate shipment mean immediate delivery?

Once an order is shipped, our carriers (Federal Express and UPS) typically guarantee a service time for when the order will be delivered to you. Our carriers have a very good record of delivering at their promised service time. We will ship immediately, and on all items, we will refund expedited shipping charges if the carrier's service levels for your chosen shipping method are not met.

If a product is in stock, is there any reason it will not ship immediately?

Exceptions are very unusual, but here are some examples of reasons that might prevent us from shipping immediately:

  • Warehouse, call center, or web operations lose power or telecom connectivity.
  • Warehouse, call center, or web operations lose capability due to adverse weather (blizzard), safety threat, or other factors.

What can I do if I don't feel you've lived up to your guarantees?

If you ever feel we have not lived up to any of our guarantees, we want to know about it -- and we want a chance to do right if we agree. Contact Us.

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