Para D.I. with passive iBeam and other piezos
Does the Para D.I. really have enough gain/headroom to amplify a passive piezo like the iBeam all the way to line level? Doing so without clipping when you strum as hard as you can? I'm thinking that you are better off having two separate preamps - one on the instrument and another in the D.I. box.
This is all aside from the pre-EQ that goes along with active piezos.
First, I want to say that LR Baggs always recommends an appropriate preamp as close to the source of the pickup signal as possible for best results. That being said, you are correct in thinking you are better off with an active pickup system on the guitar and an external preamp. It's not that the active system really needs the external preamp but the signal quality can benefit from it.
The iBeam Active System's(iBAS) preamp has a gain structure that takes into account the strongest energy the iBeam can expect to be given by any guitar ever. It ensures the signal doesn't overdrive the preamp's input...unless the battery is weak. The signal from the iBAS should be as clean as the guitar would be acoustically at any playing dynamic. Where an external preamp can benefit you is optimizing the gain before overdrive. The usual method is to strum or pick as hard as you expect to in a performance, turn up the gain until the signal breaks up, then back it off until you can wail on it and stay clean.
I was under the impression that an onboard preamp doesn't boost the signal all the way to line level - more like to the level of a magnetic pickup.
Depending on what resource you're referring to, references to "line level" can range anywhere from -20dBu to +30dBu.
We design the majority of our systems to produce an output level of -10dBu, which is standard for consumer electronics.
Here's one reference that correlates with information from a textbook that our engineer Justin and I referred to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_level
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