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Thread: Radial Tonebone PZ-Pro vs. EBS Stanley Clarke preamp pedals

  1. #1
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Radial Tonebone PZ-Pro vs. EBS Stanley Clarke preamp pedals

    I had a chance recently to compare and contrast two 2-channel acoustic preamp pedal units, the Radial Tonebone PZ-Pro and the EBS Stanley Clarke Signature Acoustic Preamp. Both are aimed at acoustic players who require two separate instrument (and/or mic) inputs, and the ability to eq each separately, apply effects and select between (or blend) the two channels to send to an amplifier or FOH feed.

    A bit of context for my own situation: I'm the bassist in a three-piece (guitar, bass, drums) roadhouse/rock band, and we have recently been adding what we call a "dinner set" at the front of performances, which consists of playing acoustic instruments. I play guitar and mandolin during these sets, and wanted a way I could eq the mandolin and acoustic guitar separately, then send that to either one channel in my AI Clarus amp or to the FOH mixer if we are in a bigger room. I had tried the Red Eye Twin unit, but only having a Treble boost did not fully cover the eq'ing I wanted for the mandolin (namely, a high-pass filter so I could eliminate the low frequencies).

    My current approach was setting up a pedal board with two Red Eyes, each with their own tuner, and sending those two outputs to a small mixer board I could keep on my side of the stage to control the eq for each. That mixed signal then went to my amp. I used the tuners as mutes. It is, admittedly, way more complex than it should be, but it worked pretty well.

    Enter these two units, which both effectively contain all that functionality in one box. I took both to a friendly jam session where we were all plugged into a small PA and everyone was pretty game for checking out the two units and seeing what they could do. I won't go into the features that they have in common, like 48V mic inputs, signal blending, FX loops, high-pass/notch filtering, etc., because they are equals in those areas. You can go to the respective web sites if you want an exhaustive list. And it is exhaustive, and impressive, what these things can do. I'll focus on the differences here.

    Note: I am aware of the Grace Felix preamp, but its price tag alone was a non-starter for me.

    I was skeptical at first that the eq and preamps would sound as clean as the Red Eye, but I was pleasantly surprised right away. These are both top-notch preamps. Both contain essentially the same set of features regarding eq, effects and other tone-shaping capabilities. I was able to dial in the eq for both instruments in about ten minutes on the Radial, a bit longer on the EBS. To my ears, the Radial unit sounded just a bit better.

    The Radial is much larger, heavier and more expensive ($639 MSRP). At first I thought those could be deal-breakers, but there are a couple features that the EBS unit doesn't have that were very important to me. First, astoundingly, there's no Boost switch on the EBS unit. Seems like a no-brainer. Second, while both have XLR outputs, only the Radial gives you two separate XLR outs for pre- or post-eq signal, The EBS has a pre-eq XLR, but only a post-eq 1/4" out. A minor thing, yes, but it's a thing. I like sending the outputs through XLR connections.

    Also, I slightly preferred the layout of the Radial. The larger size made it easier to tweak knobs on the fly, and the layout of the controls was just more intuitive for me. All connections for the Radial are on the back of the unit, while the EBS has connections on both sides and the back. Again, my preference was to have everything on the back. All these things combined made the Radial my choice. I can deal with the larger, heavier footprint for the additional features, better layout and just-enough-better tone.

    These are both really high-quality units, and the EBS unit is about $140 less (MSRP $499), so it may be just fine for those without the specific need for a Boost feature (or willing to add a separate Boost pedal). It was a fun project to be able to see both of these in a real-time session. I'm very happy with the simplified live rig!
    "Keep your hat on, we may end up miles from here..." - Kurt Vonnegut

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  3. #2
    Registered User Mark Seale's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radial Tonebone PZ-Pro vs. EBS Stanley Clarke preamp pedals

    I've always been super pleased with the Radial products and I'm certain the PZ Pro is good bit of kit. If it had been available when I bought my Felix, I likely would have gone that way. The missing piece to me is that it has phantom power on only one channel. But, look and feel are very reminiscent of the Felix, just swap the position of the mute and toggle switches.

  4. #3
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radial Tonebone PZ-Pro vs. EBS Stanley Clarke preamp pedals

    * self edited* I read your other thread and it answered my questions.

    You mentioned using an Acoustic Image Clarus; I use the 900 watt two channel AI Focus. Are you setting those controls flat?

    Do you still run a Redeye before going into the PZ Pro, for that little bit of extra Redeye mojo? I know several folks that use a Redeye into a Noble tube pre (twice the price of a Felix, if you can find one!!!). I tend to use mine as Redeye only to the front of house or use the whole massive 25 lbs of pedalboard chain.

    The funny thing is that I've probably spent $2000 from every time a new preamp comes out, only to go back to my 20 year old Baggs' Para acoustic DI 95% of the time.
    Last edited by j. condino; Feb-23-2024 at 1:19am.
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    Default Re: Radial Tonebone PZ-Pro vs. EBS Stanley Clarke preamp pedals

    I, like James run my RedEye to the house. I have a mute switch wired into the RedEye, so I can mute, without losing the boost.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  6. #5
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radial Tonebone PZ-Pro vs. EBS Stanley Clarke preamp pedals

    My previous setup was the "dual RedEye" pedal board, with both outputs going into my little mixer, which then sent it's single output to either the FOH (large room) or the second channel of my Clarus/Acme rig (for a small room). And yes, that channel is set flat and remains such for the Radial-based setup. Channel 1 is for my bass in either case (Clarus DI out to FOH if needed, but frankly, a Clarus and two Acme B1's can handle most any room I would play).

    The Radial unit has two XLR outputs, one pre- and one post-EQ. As described, it contains my whole jerry-rigged setup in one box, without compromising the quality of preamps I got from the RedEye's. In fact, the Radial offers quite a bit more tone-shaping than the Red Eye. Like I said above, it was really easy to dial in a great sound for both instruments, but also super easy to make any adjustments on the fly.

    I'm plum tickled with this thing. The only thing I wish was different was that it could run on a 9V power source, but that's a pretty minor ding.
    "Keep your hat on, we may end up miles from here..." - Kurt Vonnegut

  7. #6
    Registered User craig.collas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radial Tonebone PZ-Pro vs. EBS Stanley Clarke preamp pedals

    I used the radial yesterday for the first time and I am very pleased with the result. I ran a Bartlett fiddle mis into ch B and an Ithaca bridge into a wireless. The tuner send is fantastic as I could read the tuner in full sun. I separated the boot function to the ch A so as not to over exite the mic but this was with drums, electric bass, pedal steel, electric guitar and acoustic guitar. I managed my own foldback through the amp out into an Acoustic Image chorus +.
    It was the best sound I have ever had so well pleased.
    All in all the clarity of the eq and the functionality are clear wins for me.
    Next step is to get a radial sb 15 that will convert 9v to 15v and a Shure radio for the Bartlett.
    Craig

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