Every stompbox needs to have a way for signals to get in and out . Connections include not only the usual audio inputs and outputs , but also those for effects loops , additional footswitches , expression pedals , connections to outboard gear , and lots more .
Oh , and by the way : audio signals into and out of pedals always flow from right to left . Don ’ t ask us why .
True vs . buffered bypass True and buffered bypass are two options for how a pedal behaves when it ’ s off . True bypass means that the signal is routed directly from the input to the output , without passing through the rest of the circuitry . Guitarists who want to keep their tone unaltered favor this bypass method , because it doesn ’ t change the signal impedance ( critical for fuzz ). However , true bypass can pop when engaged , lead to high-frequency loss over longer cable runs , and will abruptly cut off effects like reverb or delay .
Buffered bypass manages these problems by running the signal through a buffer . This lets you preserve effect trails and makes the signal low-impedance , so it can travel over long cable runs cleanly ( important for large pedal chains ). But beware : a badly-designed buffered bypass can sabotage your tone , even if the pedal is off . For example , for best results you should usually place buffered pedals after fuzzes .
Quarter inch TS and TRS The 1 / 4-in . (“ phone ”) plug and jack are by far the most common on pedals . They ’ re used for audio ins and outs , as well as most control signals . However , there are two different basic types of 1 / 4- in . connectors : TS and TRS .
The 1 / 4-in . plug , as seen in the diagram above , usually has either two or three connections : the tip , the sleeve , and sometimes the ring between them . The black bands are insulators , used to separate the different connections .
A tip-sleeve ( TS ) cable carries a mono signal on the tip , and is the standard for guitar , as well as patch cables between pedals .
A tip-ring-sleeve ( TRS ) cable has three conductors , so it can carry two separate signals – tip and ring . The job of the sleeve is to provide grounding , both for TRS and TS cables .
Send + Return = Loop One useful feature found on many pedals and amps is a send / return loop , also known as an effects loop . An effects loop allows you to send audio out to another pedal for further processing , without affecting the dry signal . The signal is then returned , and proceeds to the output . Effects loops can also have more functional benefits , like you might see with noise gates or some envelope filters .
TRS for stereo One of the most common ways to use TRS is to send stereo signals : left on the tip , right on the ring . That ’ s how headphone jacks work . Some pedals use this method too , to save space ( and cables ) – for example , the Red Panda Particle V2 and Meris pedals . Some , like the Neunaber Immerse V2 , have two inputs which can take either one or two mono signals ( TS cables ) for a combined stereo signal – or just one TRS cable in one of the plugs , for a stereo signal in one cable . Shown here is the Meris Polymoon .
TRS for control TRS can also be used for expression control , MIDI , or to connect two or three footswitches over one cable .
Beyond audio Nearly all modern pedals include power jacks , and rely on external power supplies . Other common ports include expression pedal or external footswitch inputs , MIDI or control voltage ( CV ) jacks to interface with other gear , and USB ports for a computer . Some even have wireless Bluetooth – a connection without a connector . Zen !
TRS for send / return A common approach is to put a send and return on the same jack : send goes out through the tip , and return comes back through the ring ( or vice versa , depending on the pedal ). This saves space , and allows you to use a single Y-cable . Examples of this approach include the Keeley DDR and the DOD Rubberneck .
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