This is the newest, and for some, the most useful version of the "PZ" lineup from Radial Engineering.
We've been carrying the PZ-Pre at Gollihur Music for years - it's a really solid, excellent two-channel preamp that allows for blending or instrument switching, with proper optimized impedance for our upright basses that are equipped with piezo pickups. It's been a great-selling piece of kit, and deservedly so. A number of years back, they came out with a smaller, 1-channel version of it, for folks who didn't need the blending or switching, and that unit is also outstanding.
That said, there have been some practical hurdles for some players; for one, the PZ-Pre's EQ would only apply to the entire signal - you don't get true separate EQs for each channel. Also, there's no built-in capability for blending a mic with a pickup, which is a common aspiration for upright players looking for dependable, high-quality sound for live performance.
This new PZ-Pro provides a savvy player with lots of options:
- Combining two pickups? The PZ-Pro gives you the ability to balance the levels between two pickups. You can blend two different pickups (or instruments!) while adjusting individual EQ and filter settings, to dial in your preferred tone on each pickup -- and reduce feedback on stage. Each channel features a “PZB booster” that can smooth out the sound of piezo-equipped instruments by properly buffering the impedance and gain. Also has a master mute footswitch for silent on-stage tuning.
- A pickup and a mic? One of the channels features an alternate XLR input with 48V phantom power for condenser microphones, so you can blend a pickup with a high-quality mic for a more natural sound. Again, full EQ and filter controls on each channel allow you to dial in the perfect sound (check out my article on blending a mic and pickup for more on how to do this – it’s in the “Resources” tab above!)
- Doubling? This preamp can blend, but it can also be used as a "switcher" with true preamping and EQ. Plug your pickup-equipped double bass into one channel, and your Electric Upright or "slab" bass into the other channel. Need to jump from one instrument to the other? Kick the button and jam on.
- Switching to the bow? Taking a solo? Kick in a built-in clean boost with the press of a footswitch. Some players use the boost as a “volume pedal” – you can set the boost to provide a second, “preset” volume and switch between them, either for soloing, or also as a convenient way to switch between pizzicato and arco (since the sustained attack of arco often creates a hotter signal from your pickup output.) The footswitch can also be used for the built-in effects loop, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Here’s Radial’s description (edited to just cover the bits pertinent to bass players):
Take complete control over your tone, EQ settings, and effects with the PZ-Pro, a two channel instrument preamp, DI and switcher. Each channel features a separate equalizer strip complete with a semi-parametric equalizer and a filter section to reduce feedback on stage. The second channel of the PZ-Pro also features a microphone input to allow any dynamic or condenser microphone to be used, including clip-on instrument mics or even vocal microphones. Three footswitches provide the ability to toggle between each input channel, activate a built-in booster and an effects loop, or mute the signal for silent tuning on stage.
An FX Loop with a wet/dry knob provides the ability to blend in as much or as little pedal effects as desired, with a footswitch to bring them in and out of the signal chain at a moment's notice. Finally, once your tone is completely dialed-in, balanced XLR direct outs feed the PA system or a recording interface, with both Pre-EQ and Post-EQ outputs available.
The PZ-Pro is highly configurable, so you can adapt it to meet the needs of your performance, instead of changing your performance to fit the limitations of your gear. Connect magnetic pickups, instruments with on-board preamps, or piezo transducers, and optimize the sound of each with powerful EQ controls and a variable notch or high-pass filter. Blend an instrument mic with your pickup, switch between two instruments, or connect a vocal microphone and feed it through your guitar pedals. The FX loop can be assigned to channel A, B, or both at once, and you can activate it with a footswitch or assign it to be always on, saving footswitch control for the variable clean boost function. With the PZ-Pro, you get the durability and performance Radial is known for, along with all the features you need to put on an unforgettable show.
- 2 channel acoustic instrument preamp with separate EQs for each channel
- Blend/Mix or Switch between each channel
- Piezo input boosters available on both channels
- XLR input with available phantom power on channel 2
- Assignable FX loop with wet/dry control
- Boost Control with Footswitch
- Mute Footswitch
- Top-shelf Radial Engineering sound and construction
Need to figure out some of the more in-depth features of this product? Here's a copy of the manual, in PDF format, here.
You may wish to visit the manufacturer's website to see if a more recent version is available.