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Is M80 swappable with my existing M1 Active 1.8" cabling

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  • #16
    Well I got the M80 today, and popped it in my new Martin DX-1 right before heading off to an open mic. Wow, I really like this pickup. Once I got home I tried it through my amp (an Henriksen Bud). It sounded a little boxy, but putting the amp on a stand instead of the floor and dialing out a little 420 Hz fixed that. I've just spent the past couple of hours fine tuning the pole heights and it really is feeling and sounding very good.

    The Martin DX-1 is working really well with this. I'm not getting any of the squeak from my clothes rubbing against the guitar body that drove me nuts with the M1a on my Recording King R06 (with a glossy finish). I'm not sure if it is the HPL material not being sensitive, or the matte finish, or the body sensitivity going to lower frequencies, but the the body noise doesn't bother me at all with this setup. I'm also experiencing far less finger squeak which surprises me given the increased body sensitivity.

    Anyway, I love this pickup. I've never experienced this good an amplified sound.

    I'm also really glad I went with the M80 instead of the Anthem. My main thing is jazzbox type archtops with floating pickups and the volume control on the pickguard, and I really love that tone, so the magnetic quality of the M80 probably appeals to me more than it would to some others. The body sound added in really adds that "acoustic guitar" quality though and I like it sound very much. Having just spent so much time adjusting the height of the pole pieces to get the right string balance, I realize that the lack of individual string control of another pickup system would be a bad thing for me.

    It's not just the sound, it's the feel. I really hate playing amplified guitars with stock under saddle pickups. Notes jump out. The strings squeak when I move my hands. There isn't enough low end, but when you turn it up it sounds boomy. This M80 pickup lets me play amplified the way that I do when I practice unplugged. The M1 was close, but this is quite a bit better.

    Anyway, I'm really happy. There were some much better guitars at the open mic tonight, but none of them sounded near as good over the PA as mine did with this pickup. Great product!
    Last edited by Lkingston; 07-06-2016, 09:53 PM.


    • #17
      That's fantastic to hear!

      I'm so glad that the M80 is working so well for you.

      Thanks for sharing your experience.


      • #18

        Ok, I just put an M80 in my original Recording King replacing the M1a. It sounds fantastic! The issue of the the glossy body squeaking is simply not an issue. The sound is great like it is on the Martin. This is definitely my favorite pickup for my own style of fingerstyle playing. Jazz voicings sound beautiful and melodies and inner voicing are as clear as they are on an archtop. The sound is woody and acoustic and any taps on the body sound like you would expect them to on a miked guitar. The best thing is that playing it amplified feels just like playing it acoustically. It is not overly or underly sensitive, which has been a problem on everything else other than my floating pickup archtops.


        • #19

          Thanks for following up! I'm sure this will be helpful for future readers.


          • #20
            Not good with Carvin S600, fantastic with everything else!

            Today I went over to a friend's house to practice and since we were going to need three channels (his and my vocals and my guitar), I grabbed my Carvin S600 to use as a practice PA. My guitar with the M80 sounded just horrible through the S600. The S600 has this low mid resonant frequency that seems to emphasize a nearby resonant frequency in the M80. The Carvin's three band EQ is nowhere near precise enough to deal with this. I'm not exaggerating when I say this was nowhere near good enough to use even for practice. The S600 sounds fine with other guitar pickups. It resonates, but the resonance that it adds is usually missing from piezo equipped guitars and the net result is an improvement. With the M80, it's like both the guitar and the amp were adding the same resonance it was way too much.

            Meanwhile the M80 sounded awesome with three different PA systems last week and it sounds absolutely glorious with my Henriksen Bud (which is my main amp for acoustics and archtops). The Henricksen Bud is really an amazing sounding amp. I may have to sell the S600.


            • #21
              LR Baggs systems and acoustic amps.

              This horrible experience with the M80 and Carvin S600 has me wondering about LR Baggs Anthems, Lyrics, and M80s and acoustic amps in general. I've read some posts by some people who are pretty frustrated with the sound of their LR Baggs pickups. This has puzzled me because I think that these are the best sounding pickup systems around.

              Could it be that some of this frustration stems from using acoustic amps which are designed to add low mid resonances that are missing from piezo equipped guitars and these are redundant with the bountiful low mid resonances of LR Baggs pickups which don't need and in fact might be hurt by this compensation? I haven't tried it, but I am pretty sure that a Lyric or an Anthem system would also sound terrible through the Carvin S600.

              If I just had the S600 and had tried that first, I would have hated the sound of the M80. Meanwhile, with the Henricksen (which sounds very much like a balanced PA system), the M80 gives me the best acoustic I have ever had. I wonder if some of these people that are complaining in some of the other threads might be over the moon happy with the sound if it they heard it through a different amp or a PA system.


              • #22
                You're definitely right on with some of your comments. So many people out there don't realize that many acoustic amps do a terrible job representing the acoustic guitar's full range, especially compared to a full PA. Acoustic amps typically lack real low end, so they make up for it by enhancing the low-mids. This can make some pickups sound bigger, but with others it can really enhance a frequency range that you wouldn't want to bring out in any other system.

                If a player doesn't have good enough EQ to counteract a cheap amplifier's natural response, many higher quality pickup systems will sound cheap and underwhelming.


                • #23
                  Strong 200 Hz peak in M80.

                  OK, a little more on this. Looking at an RTA, I can see the problem. The M80 has a strong resonance at around 200 hz. On the Carvin S600 this resonantes the cabinet like crazy when I turn up the guitar a little. I hadn't noticed it on my other amps, but when I turn it up on them I get a pretty bad 200hz resonance as well and at loud volumes it is equally problematic. Scooping out 200k with a Boss pedal EQ fixes this. I kind of wish I didn't have to carry around the EQ, extra wire, and battery just for this, but oh well. At least it is fixable.


                  • #24
                    Session DI and 200hz resonance

                    Another note. I saw a country band last night where the acoustic guitarist was using an M80 pickup. The guitar sound was pretty trebly and thin. Otherwise the band sound was top notch. My guess is that the sound guy was running into mid low resonance on the guitar and rather than find it he just cut all the lows. This is exacty the sort of thing I try to avoid.

                    Thinking about this and how to make my setup as simple as possible:

                    The M80 sounds really good with a bit of 200hz scooped out, even at louder volumes. It looks like the notch filter on the Session DI would take care of this nicely while providing a nice DI box and some additional sweetening.

                    This leads me to two questions:

                    1) The only control I see on the notch filter is the sweepable frequency, but no cut amount. How does this work? Does it sense the amount of resonance at that frequency and adjust itself? If so, how effective is this?

                    2) Would the Session DI provide enough preamping to use the M80 in passive mode? If I'm going to use an external preamp anyway, I may as well avoid the extra preamp stage. Is there enough boost in the Session DI for a passive pickup?
                    Last edited by Lkingston; 07-16-2016, 11:39 AM.


                    • #25
                      Ok, I found a good deal on a used Session DI and decided just to go for it. What I really need is the notch. Hopefully the touch of saturation and EQ/compression will sound as good as it does on the Charlie Worsham demo... ;-)

                      I'm still interested in learning as much as I can about the notch filter in the Session DI and Venue boxes. Does it sense and scale the amount of cut needed? How sharp is the Q? Etc.


                      • #26
                        The Notch on the Venue and Session is a very simple control, designed to cut out resonant feedback frequencies. It's a very deep and narrow cut, the specifics of which are in the Venue manual.

                        It's a -21db fixed cut, sweepable from 60Hz to 320Hz, 1/8 Octave Q.

                        The Notch actually has a very slight boost on either side of the cut as well, which makes it sound more natural.


                        • #27
                          That notch should work really well then. A little more on my bad Carvin S600 experience. When I got home I tried the amp again and it sounded fine until I turned it up pretty high. That day we were practicing in a big warehouse type room with no air conditioning so we had a couple of big fans running. To compensate for that I guess I had turned the volume way louder than I had realized, hence the bad guitar body resonance. It hadn't sounded that loud so I didn't realize how much it was turned up. Yeah, I need a notch if I am going to do that.

                          Im looking forward to getting and trying the Session DI.


                          • #28
                            Session DI with M80

                            Well I've had the session DI of about a week and it seems to work quite well with the M80. I just put the M80 into passive mode this morning and I have to turn the level all the way up on the Session DI and the level is still less than it should be but useable. Went back to active mode.

                            The notch filter seems to sound best turned all the way clockwise which seems to make the pickup sound less boxy as well as being less prone to feedback. The high pass sounds beat at 80Hz cleaning up low frequency mud and boom while leaving the fingerstyle bass feeling I'm going for intact.

                            The XLR output seems way hotter than any sound guy is expecting. Phantom powering works well. I've had a rechargeable 9.6v battery in it for about a week and the battery meter is still showing a full charge. A touch of saturation does improve the sound.

                            I especially like the EQ/compressor for my style of playing. It really is just a very transparent compressor, but I like that if it's compressing a melody note, it doesn't duck the bass and vice versa.
                            Last edited by Lkingston; 07-31-2016, 02:52 PM.


                            • #29
                              Glad to hear that it's working well for you. The compression is definitely my favorite feature on the Session. Like you said it doesn't come down too hard on the bass, so you can still play dynamically.

                              Thanks for sharing!


                              • #30
                                Changed my mind on the Session DI

                                I changed my mind on the Session DI after trying it playing out live. It just didn't work at higher performing levels. The notch filter isn't enough to get rid of the low mid frequency feedback and once I punch the volume a little it is unusable. The compression and saturation at performing levels only makes it worse. I have it for sale on eBay. I can get the feedback resistant EQ I need on my Tech21 Para DI so I'm going to just use that. The Session DI might work for others but not for me.
                                Last edited by Lkingston; 08-05-2016, 05:13 PM.