Looking for an alternative (venue dependent) to my JD Aura/Fishman Pickup live rig. Chasing the ever elusive natural dynamics that come with picking thru a mic.
I have an AT Pro 35 clip-on condenser mic, which I’ve used with good results on occasion. It seems fairly feedback resistant in the right setting.
What I’d like (ideally) is a way to mute, boost, tune, and MAYBE to use subtle reverb. I found this box which has both XLR and 1/4” inputs and outputs, boost, mute (via tuner), phantom, eq, feedback kill, and a bunch of other bells and whistles, most of which I probably wouldn’t use. I’m not really interested in the emulation/modeling features, so scratch that as a consideration.
I can pick one up used for $120 ish. It’s the Zoom A3.
I've looked into the A3 a few times over the years but have never had one in my hands so I've been reticent to pull the trigger. I've been happy with the Fishman Aura setup so I haven't had any burning desire to try one out, though I've been curious as to what the resonator setting sounds like - and have never been able to find a demo related to that. My gut tells me it's sort of an add-on that might not be impressive. The settings heavily emphasize various flattop guitars, a lot of Martins and Gibsons.
Modeling is different than Aura technology so I don't know what to make of this thing for use with a dobro. The resonator setting could make your guitar sound more like a biscuit bridge National.
The A3 has been around for ballpark 10 years and I have to wonder if the technology has been dramatically improved in some of Zoom's newer products. Like my circa 2007 Line 6 Floor Pod XT I've used for lap steel and occasionally electric guitar, the newer Line 6 products blow my old one out of the water.
If I did have a clip-on mic for dobro I would be more inclined to go for the Fishman ToneDEQ, that will give you a lot of sound shaping options - but they don't come so cheap, even if it is second hand.
Thanks Mark! It doesn’t look like the ToneDEQ has an XLR input (I know it does have an OUTput…). So using a clip-on condenser mic, I’d need to use a XLR to 1/4” adapter, which I’ve heard is problematic. But I dunno, I don’t have much experience in that area.
The A3 looks appealing due to the XLR/mic input, and the ability to boost, mute, etc. i don’t actually care so much about the resonator modeling feature, although I will likely tinker out of curiosity.
I just ordered the $80 A3…I’ll post up when I’ve tried it out.
^^ Looks more than likely that this zrbotique offer is a scam Chinese site, based on the transaction details (or lack thereof). If by chance anyone else is looking to score an A3 here, best to hold off until I see what happens to my $79.99.
Mark did lead with the proper caveat, so this is totally on me…rushed a purchase as I was heading out the door to run an errand…Oh well, we’ll see.
Mean time, additional inputs on the discussion thread appreciated!
Hey Jonathan, the condenser does a much better job in capturing picking dynamics. I also get some stray noise and pingy stuff with the JD Aura/pup that isn't a factor with the mic. I haven't been able to completely manage that.
Don't get me wrong...the JD Aura will likely continue to be my main amplification choice for most venues.
Just looking to see if i can work in an alternative that gives me a purer experience, and whether that can be an option for certain venues.
OK, I did receive a Zoom A3…$120 used from Guitar Center. (I had to file a dispute on the original order from the other site, which was in fact a scam…I did get refunded).
First, running a 1/4” cable from the Fishman Nashville pup through the Zoom A3 on “Resonator” setting does nothing really. It sounds like a straight piezo pickup with a tiny bit of eq shaping. It is useless for that specific function IMO. The JD Aura totally blows it away.
That said, it does exactly what I wanted it to do as far as accepting an XLR input from a clip-on condenser mic, providing phantom power, and allowing for many functions like a boost, a mute (via tuner button), an on-the-fly anti-feedback button, and various digital effects like reverbs, delays, compressors, and a whole slew of other things that can be programmed and easily selected via foot switch. The reverbs are good if taken in small doses.
I could also blend the JD Aura signal and clip-on condenser in this one DI / pre-amp, and send to PA by either XLR or 1/4”. (They have separate gain and wet/dry controls for instrument and mic).
So yeah, I could see possibilities here. Would get me down to 2 pedals…JD Aura, and Zoom A3, and allow for blending mic and JD Aura if desired.
If I cannot manage to get acceptable gain-before-feedback with the clip-on condenser mic, I may use the Zoom A3 instead of my Baggs Para to receive the JD Aura signal alone. At least then I could dump my other dedicated pedals like the tuner, compressor, boost, and delay, and just use the Zoom A3 as an all-in-one. Same benefit here as the various other DI/pre options out on the market.
It will take some experimenting to see where I land with this. All in all, a good secondary option for $120, even with last decade’s technology.
I’ve come to conclusion that I cannot confidently use a clip-on condenser mic in the situations in which our band plays. It’s a 6-person bluegrass assault, with loud monitors, loud PA, and typically loud crowds in enclosed, echoe-y, bar type venues. We’ll have some outdoor gigs, but I don’t want to be messing around with multiple, venue dependent amplification rigs. We are DIY sound.
Further, I did an A/B comparison of my Baggs Para against the Zoom A3, and I’m disappointed to hear undesired coloration with the A3 when using it as a DI box for my JD Aura /Fishman Pup. I hear almost a magnetic pickup type flavor. No like.
So while a worthwhile side experiment, I’m now further convinced JD Aura /Fishman Nashville is the winning combo for me…and the Zoom A3 goes to the “also ran” bin.