Steampunk Boost/Buffer (Demo & Review)

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Brian Johnston
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Steampunk Boost/Buffer (Demo & Review)

Postby Brian Johnston » Mon Oct 01, 2018 4:46 am

SOUND:
If you’re looking to clean up your signal and return those sparkling highs, Steampunk makes for an excellent Buffer choice. Moreover, this pedal also is designed to drive your pedals and amp harder with up to 20 dB of clean boost, as demonstrated in the YouTube video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wu5wJVi0aMs&feature=youtu.be

There’s a little switch under Steampunk’s chassis that allows you to disengage the Buffer component of this Boost/Buffer pedal. I was curious to know how well it ‘buffered,’ and so I did some comparisons with both clean and distorted signals in the above video, and the result was surprising. The signal sounded fine without the Buffer, but when engaged the tone suddenly cleared up and became defined (particularly the high-ends), as though an EQ was added in the mix. I had a total of six pedals in the demo – the four JET series pedals (including Steampunk), the Le Lead Preamp and the Rock Bug amp/cab simulator. Not exactly a large signal chain, but apparently enough to muddy the waters.

Significant, but not exaggerated, the Boost does a fine job (some boost pedals are so extreme I can’t imagine anyone using the full amount as it would cause clipping). There is some added noise when using the boost, but considering you would use such an effect when pushing heavy rhythms or going into a lead solo, you would not hear the noise (only if you stopped playing with complete silence). This is not an entirely clean boost, but it’s not too dirty either. I found it added some ‘oomph’ to the original tone and in a good way, as though the crunch became crunchier and the leads had some added sustain and body.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:
Developed by J. Rockett Pedals, the Steampunk Boost/Buffer is one of a limited edition four pedals in the JET collection. Also available is the Squeegee Compressor, the Touch Overdrive and the Immortal Echo. Half the size of a regular pedal, Steampunk comes in at only $99 USD (as do the others in the collection). The Buffer aspect works exceptionally well by clearing up the tone by regaining any high-end loss that may occur with long cables or a lot of pedals within the chain (and it can be used without engaging the Boost). The Boost provides upward of 20 dB to push your solos or to add some drive to your amp for some noticeable crunch-factor. It is a fairly clean boost, but it’s obvious that the tone takes on some added aggression when already distorted or driven; as for clean signals, they become more pronounced with some additional rowdy push (as opposed to any distortion). Overall, an extremely useful pedal as you get two common features in one and the price is excellent. It’s available at: https://rockettpedals.com/product/steam ... ostbuffer/

EASE OF USE:
Super simple to use, the Buffer switches on and off via an internal switch, and so you need to decide whether you need it or not (necessitating the removal of four screws to gain access), whereas the Boost is controlled by a single knob. Steampunk’s Boost is marked by a small line (about quarter way) to show parity, which does not boost the signal, but does add some energy and sustain when turned on and kept low. Of course, there’s a lot more sustain and grain to be added as you crank the Boost upward of 20 dB extra.

RELIABILITY & DURABILITY:
The Steampunk Boost/Buffer is a hefty little guy with its all-steel chassis, while barely taking up any pedal board space and measuring in at 1.75 x 3.5 inches (4.44 x 8.89 cm). There’s only one knob/pot, which feels very solid and smooth when turned. Due to Steampunk’s small size, a big foot may touch down on the plastic knob occasionally, but the knob feels of heavy enough construction that there shouldn’t be an issue in cracking or breakage. The Buffer aspect is turned on and off via an internal switch, which may be an annoyance if you’re constantly turning it on and off, but since the Buffer makes such a significant different in sound quality I doubt you would want it off. And if you do want it off, then there’s no issue in wanting to turn it on. The input/output for cables are located in the back, whereas the power supply (standard 9v 2.1 mm) insert is on the side. Even with the power insert located on the side, you still can fit pedals rather tightly around Steampunk, which helps to keep the power input snug and in place (another pedal sets up against the power input cable), and out of harm’s way.

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