LR Baggs Align Series Pedals review
Matt ORee, American Songwriter Magazine, June 7, 2018
How many times have you been on an acoustic gig and the only option is going through the PA direct without any DI boxes in sight? I think we all know how the sound of that scenario has the potential to be the worst sound your prized acoustic can ever produce. It’s pretty unfair to your guitar (and to the audience) to let it be heard in such a flat and uninspiring way.
I recently started a series of gigs and was desperately looking for the best way to capture the tone from my older Martin guitar through the PA. I also wanted to have some touch response to get me through the gig when I needed to pick harder or take a few solos. The solution? Without a doubt, the new Align pedal series from LR Baggs.
The new series consist of four pedals: the Session, Equalizer, Reverb, and their new Active DI. For those of you that have been using their tried and true PARA DI, these beautifully made pedals take your tone a step further and add more feel and touch response to your acoustic guitar. Our review pedals were sent to us fully loaded on a pedalboard that was wired up and ready to take out on a gig. A lot of time was spent fine-tuning not only the sounds but also the design and color scheme of each pedal. Man, do they look nice on the floor!
The Session pedal is a Comp EQ pedal based on the sound and tone you would get from higher end gear found in recording studios. It’s a revamped version of their Sessions DI introduced several years ago with some changes. The folks at Baggs have set up a facility in Nashville and spent time recording many artists for their video series (hence the Sessions name). While there, they spent some time in top studios analyzing and perfecting the saturation and warmth certain vintage rack units produce and incorporated into the Session. The pedal features compression and EQ and instantly brought my sound to life with some real easy settings. In fact, none of them can steer you wrong- even having them all at 12 o’clock produced a sweet sound. The output jack on the new Align Session is ¼” only, where the original unit had both ¼” and XLR balanced.
The Equalizer has a real simple yet well-balanced six-band EQ that gives you all you need to make your live performance a smooth sailing show. It also features a 3-position high pass filter (HPF) to tighten up your low end frequencies and a Notch filter to dial out annoying frequencies and eliminate annoying unwanted feedback. This one is a home run.
If the Align Equalizer is a home run, the Align Reverb is the grand slam game winner in this pedal series. It gives perfect studio quality sound and adds so much life to your guitar. It’s like sitting in a perfect sounding room with incredible decay and tone.
Their new Active DI is another leap forward from their long standing Para DI including a ground lift, phase reversal switch and pad. If you already own a Para DI, this pedal would probably be the last you might purchase out of this series. But there are several improvements and upgrades, including a handy mute switch so you can safely unplug and change guitars without the sound guy yelling at you. The Active DI features a ¼” and XLR out so you can run one to an amp and one to the PA, or just use one output.
The Align Series are must have pedals for any serious player who wants to add life to your acoustic guitar. All Align pedals are housed in rugged road ready stomp boxes with a classy and aesthetically pleasing design pattern.