US pedal specialist Morley offers a simple but effective method of maintaining signal quality when using several stompboxes. Review by Roger Cooper.
Introduced last year, Morley’s Buffer Boost is intended to rectify the loss of level and sound quality that can occur when several stompboxes are linked together. As the pedal’s name suggests, this improvement is achieved via a buffer circuit that adds some extra oomph, either at the front or end of the signal chain, as desired. In addition, up to 20dB of controllable clean boost is on tap and tailor-made for solo work.
The Buffer Boost is much smaller than many Morley products and comes in a square-edged, bent metal box that’s undoubtedly roadworthy. Height-wise it adopts a lower profile than normal, while the wide but short proportions also differ to those of most pedals. Depending on available board space, this shape could either make it tricky or easier to accommodate.
The control layout couldn’t be much simpler, with a level pot plus an on/off footswitch, while red LEDs indicate power and boost operation. Input and output jacks bracket a socket for an optional mains adaptor supplying the requisite nine-volt power. This is a more convenient alternative to the onboard battery, as replacing the latter requires removing the pedal’s metal baseplate, which is more time-consuming than some easier-access methods.
Where to incorporate the Buffer Boost is a matter of personal preference plus which position best suits partner pedals. Using it before all other effects could be considered ideal, but this may invoke unwanted distortion if too much boost is engaged. Locating it last in the chain allows the overall signal to be boosted, but any attendant noise will also increase accordingly. It can also be employed in an amp’s FX loop, although performance may vary in relation to level compatibility.
Having established where to insert the Buffer Boost, operation is simplicity itself, matching the pedal’s minimalist approach and image. The Power LED proves useful, as there’s no noise to indicate operation, while the Boost function is similarly silent, with slight hiss apparent only at maximum. With Level at about a third, output matches the bypass volume and then progressively increases as the control is advanced. Used in isolation, the Buffer Boost adds a crystalline quality to the tone, but this becomes less pronounced when other pedals are added.
Depending on the number, design and build quality of the partner effects, the sonic improvements supplied by the Buffer Boost can range from subtle to significant, with the latter displaying very noticeable differences in overall volume and tone that help restore original signal quality. If the amount of aural assistance is very apparent then the Buffer Boost could become an essential part of the pedalboard that’s left patched in permanently.
Morley’s unassuming Buffer Boost should prove a real asset to any player concerned about counteracting the adverse affects associated with employing a number of effects pedals. The variable boost is a useful bonus, supplying anything from a slight increase in volume to the hefty extra amount available at maximum. The end result is an appealing combination of two simple but effective features.