FOR MORE THAN four decades, Lloyd Baggs and his company, L.R. Baggs, have routinely upped the ante for acoustic-electric tone. Baggs began as a luthier working closely with Ry Cooder. Through a bizarre incident involving a guitar Baggs made for the guitarist, Takamine’s pickup system and Cooder’s disdain for his unwieldy road rig, Baggs became focused on acoustic amplification. He’s been an analog man all along, creating ever-improving pickup systems, preamps and direct boxes. More recently, Baggs released the Synapse Personal P.A. and a range of Align acoustic effects. Both earned Guitar Player Editors’ Pick awards and represented the company’s first wadings into the digital waters. Baggs’ newest innovation, the Voiceprint D.I. ($399 street) is a headlong dive into the deep end.
Voiceprint is a direct-input stompbox for acoustic-electric guitars that works in conjunction with Baggs’ new AcousticLive app on iPhone via Bluetooth. Using the iPhone’s microphone, it maps the guitar’s acoustic sound qualities while taking the player’s style into consideration. Voiceprint concurrently gathers pickup information and relays it to the iPhone. The app is designed to reckon both signals and create a custom filter that mitigates troublesome characteristics and highlights those that are most appealing. The resulting tone may sound as if it were captured using a great studio mic, but nothing is added, other than a bit of ambience due to the guitar’s distance from the phone. Voiceprint also identifies feedback hot spots and creates a custom cancellation curve, plus a customizable EQ. Saved presets are sent to the pedal for easy recall in musical environments.
Voiceprint works its magic using Impulse Response signal processing, the same technology behind the Kemper Profiler amplifier and Fishman’s breakthrough Aura imaging pedal. In fact, Larry Fishman at Fishman Electronics is Lloyd Baggs’ primary competitor. Their friendly rivalry has led to a host of fantastic inventions on the acoustic-electric frontier, and we guitar players continue to reap the rewards.
What’s the Voiceprint origin story?
It started with the Fishman Aura, and I’ve got to give Larry props for doing that. He’s a real innovator. A number of years ago, when Pete Newport owned Breedlove and Fishman had come out with the Aura, Pete scheduled Larry and me to address his reps at the NAMM Show. His reps said, “What’s your answer to the Aura?” I didn’t have one. So the Anthem was born out of that. It was called Anthem because it was our answer to the Aura.
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