SELDOM DOES AN acoustic-electric advancement come along that has the potential to redefine an iconic company or surprise a veteran editor, but L.R. Baggs’ Voiceprint D.I. is that rare bird. The pedal pairs with an iPhone app designed to enhance acoustic-electric pickup tones via custom filters that mitigate undesirable elements and highlight the guitar’s best qualities.
To use it, place an iPhone a few inches away from the guitar and follow the free AcousticLive app’s prompts to play the instrument in various ways. Using the iPhone’s onboard mic as a measurement device, it utilizes the powerful processor to produce a detailed Impulse Response map of the instrument according to your touch. It also “considers” the pickup tone and renders a filter, or Voiceprint, to make that pickup sound more like that acoustic. Customize the EQ, anti-feedback and other settings in the app to your heart’s desire, save it to one of the 99 available pedal patches and name it. The anti-feedback and voice (blend) knobs on the pedal are handy for final tweaks.
Voiceprint does what it’s designed to do, but unlike, say, the Orange Acoustic Pedal, it doesn’t add its own global color. With the preset bypassed, the D.I.’s core sound is on the soft side, but it gets bolstered in the processing phase, and I cranked up the volume knob for good measure. Voiceprint truly excels at its primary purpose: making an acoustic-electric played in one’s own style sound like the best version of itself once amplified.
For my test, I used a new Taylor GT 811e, a Breedlove Oregon Concerto with a Baggs Element system and an older Taylor 514ce with a Fishman Prefix. My amps included a Fender Acoustic Junior GO and a Baggs Synapse Personal P.A. In the effects loop, a Baggs Align Session brought extra mojo, while Align Reverb and Delay added ambience.
Voiceprints can vary greatly depending on your iPhone’s placement and how you play your instrument. The filter was usually a bit more woofy and resonant than required, but a bit more boom that includes an element of the room — without inducing feedback — is always welcome, in proper proportions. Using the AcousticLive app, I customized the EQ and anti-feedback and employed about a 70 percent ratio of filter to pickup tone in favor of the Voiceprint. With that basic strategy, all the guitars sounded much more like themselves with the tones opening up and beefing up as if they had been miked.
I found Voiceprinting more like sonic sculpture, creating detail through subtraction, along with infinite opportunities for subtle enhancement. Like an artist working with light and shade via a treble lift here or a bass cut there, you decide the balance.
Studio possibilities are plentiful, as Voiceprint allows you to save presets for many guitars, or several presets for one guitar played in different ways. But Voiceprint is probably even handier as a live tool, because it brings a studio-like level of tone shaping to any stage. It’s ideal for those that play a variety of guitars on a gig, and the targeted anti-feedback function can work wonders.
In last month’s Meet Your Maker spotlight, Lloyd Baggs detailed Voiceprint’s extensive development and how it represents a bold digital step forward. The Baggs brand is long revered for its analog excellence, and I’m confident firmware updates will continue to bring improvements, and that Voiceprint will be influential at Baggs and beyond. For being a real breakthrough and bringing digital customization to the masses, the Voiceprint D.I. earns an Editors’ Pick Award.
PRICE $399 street
CONTROLS Volume, anti-feedback, voice (blend), select (preset), pad (-3dB, -6dB, -9dB), ground lift
FOOT SWITCHES Mute (hold for bypass), next
CONNECTIONS Input, output, EFX send & return, XLR balanced out, USB, 9-volt DC in
FEATURES & EXTRAS Free AcousticLive app runs on Apple iPhone (iWatch can serve as extension) and pairs with pedal via Bluetooth. Pedal Stores up to 99 Impulse Response- based Voiceprints
BUILT China (designed in U.S.A.)
KUDOS Innovative technology uses Impulse Response customization to yield an impressive array of realistic enhanced acoustic-electric tones
CONCERNS Core D.I. tone is slightly soft. App only works on Apple iOS (Android app expected by 2022)