Palmer audio have been around for quite some time. And with a reputation for building exceptional guitar pedals and general routing accessories, sooner or later your bound to come across them. Today I am reviewing just a few of the many audio related solutions that Palmer supply. On show is the PAN01 pro passive DI Box, The “Deccappo” re-amping box and the amazing PDI09 “Junction” DI with speaker simulation out. To be honest, Palmer is a relatively new name to me. I had heard of the company quite a few years back but never came across any of their units. After a little research it became clear that Palmer is actually quite a widely used brand that has the backing of some pretty impressive engineers. The PDI09 for example is a workhorse stage solution for Tom Abraham, who has been front of house guy for the likes of Alice in Chains, Marilyn Manson and has been using Palmer solutions since 1998. For me this is an important review. I have been looking for a serious DI solution for quite some time, and the prices of the Radial kits are a little outside of my range. So I was very interested to find out how the Palmer’s match up to the “big boys” of Direct Injection. What I find very interesting is that Palmer manufacture their own balancing transformers. In fact they even sell the PCB’s for some of their units. Now that is an interesting move. Price wise the transformers are cheaper than Jensen’s, but only buy a bit. This to me is a good sign as many engineers get very selective over certain transformers, some will only use Jensen’s full stop! Oh yes! They also come with a five year warranty. Wow!
PAN01 PRO passive
First up is the PAN01 PRO Passive DI box. This simple little box features a guitar level in, a “Thru” output for you amp and balanced XLR out for the board. Also present is a ground lift and a -30dB pad, so nothing out of the ordinary there. First of all, I must say. These boxes have a build quality that would make NASA run for cover (Well perhaps not) but they are extremely well built. These solutions are all hand made in Germany using only, and I mean only the best possible components available. Atom bomb proof solid metal casing, Neutrik connectors all round, “in house” high quality transformers and beautiful satin paint finish with high quality silk screening on the text. If Palmer built tanks during world war 2, we would probably all be speaking German right now. These things really do feel indestructible. Whats also nice, is the PAN01 comes with this little canvas pouch with Velcro on both sides, this allows you to “strap” the little guys together providing a more organized stage setup and faster “break down” at the end of the gig.
In use the PAN01 PRO provides extremely acceptable results on guitar. Bright, very clean, detailed and surprisingly “warm” where many DI boxes tend to sound quite “cold”. The thing that impressed me the most was the lack of noise. These units are extremely clean, have a low noise floor and hot output. I must comment at this point on the input stage, high impedance guitar sounds are great! But, after plugging my bass guitar in, I was a little disappointed. It just seemed a bit dull to me, not a lot of life in the mids and higher range. I am a long time user of Radial J48 DI boxes when it comes to bass recording and have come to expect a certain sound when plugging in my Warwich Streamer 4 (A bass guitar that generally makes me grin from ear to ear when DI’ing with a radial) This concern seems to be more of a “taste” issue to me as the results could be considered very good indeed, just not quite as spicy as the J48′s to my ear. At the end of the day the PAN01 Pro is an affordable pro solution at a mere 90 euro. Yes, you can get DI boxes for less than 30 euro, but they are not going to give you the kind of signal integrity or the sound quality that you get from the Palmer’s. If you are looking for a DI box for stage or studio the Palmer PAN01 Pro is a very capable choice.
The DACCAPO re-amp box.
Intriguing name, does it cup peoples heads off? Or perhaps makes your head explode with glee after hearing the results? Guess the only way to tell is to try the thing out and see. The Deccappo from Palmer is a re-amping solution intended for studio use. If your just not happy with the tone you achieved during recording then you can quite literally “re-amp” it, providing you remembered to record a DI signal while tracking. If you have spent any time recording guitars then you will appreciate this immensely. As “proper” guitar tone can be one of the most challenging elements of music production. And the ability to correct during mixing can be a god send providing you have the amps and cabs. The Daccapo features a Balanced line input with -10dB or +4dB source options. An isolated jack output that can be fed directly into your amp and an independent level control for the output, this would have an effect on the amount of signal the amp receives and can be used to great effect when paired with a decent valve amp. Apart from that we can expect the Armageddon proof build quality and a really pleasing Lamborghini yellow paint finish.
In use the DACCAPO does not disappoint. The Level control provides a lot of range that makes this re-amp kit more compatible with variety of amplifiers. Valve amps in particular can benefit from hot source signals, so input level can really be experimented with. Again the Neutrick sockets provide quality I/O and the -10dB / +4dB pad switch allows for use with a range of domestic and professional interfaces. I was so impressed with the results I got from this box that I replaced my current re-amp setup and am now using the palmer DACCAPO as my main DAW to guitar amp solution. I find myself sending all sorts of things to my guitar amplifier’s these days. And with the DACCAPO sitting there ready for some signal I am confident that what I will get back will sound superb.
The PDI09 Junction splitter
This is an unusual one. The PDI09 “The Junction” is a specialist DI box solution that is designed to be patched between your amp head and cabinate, with a split going to the console. This split will then provide an Amp head sound with the isolation of a DI box. Amazing! If it works! The really amazing thing is, it does work! It actually sounds like a mic. There are top sound engineers out there that are using the Palmer Junction boxes as main guitar reproduction solutions for major artists and events. For example, Tom Abraham, (front of house guy for Alice in Chains and Marilyn Manson) swears that the Palmer junction solutions have replaced his standard mic setup. There are quite a few ways you can configure this little box. Anything you introduce to your amps chain will inevitably carry along to the input of your console. And with the speaker sim being this convincing, there really is a lot you can do with the provided tones. The PDI09 provides some handy features. An attenuation switch goes from 0dB to -15dB to -20dB and the “Bright, Normal, Mellow” switch provides some tonal range.
In use I found the PDI09 to be very cool indeed. You will need a cabinate to get anything out of it as the output requires a speaker load. There are “hot plate” or “dummy load” solutions out there if you dont have a cabinate. If you use this box without the cab or dummy load, you can actually damage the device. So please read the manual before assuming what this box actually does. After setting up with a 2X12 Marshall cab coming directly out of the back of my Marshall Class 5 gave amazingly realistic results. Granted, I did need to EQ the signal a little, but after a bit fo careful console filtering I found the PDI09′s sound to be close and detailed with with great tonality and dynamic range. It hasn’t replaced my beloved TUL G12 prototype as a close mic sound but as a blending element in recorded guitar sounds, the PDI09 gives great detail and tonal range. On stage the PDI09 is a no brainer, the band will love you for giving them the closest guitar sound they have ever heard.
With the use of their own transformers combined with a build quality that should make all audio manufacturers stop and think, the Palmer DI solutions are excellent! I have personally purchased all three of these boxes because they have provided me with an affordable DI solution that spares no expense. Palmer clearly use the best quality components and exhibit serious expertise in the field of impedance matching technology. I was very impressed with the sound quality that came from all of these boxes. DI boxes might not be the most exciting of subjects but if you are serious about recording great guitar sounds then they should be very high on your list of concerns. I have used a huge range of DI boxes over the years, there are some horrendous budget boxes out there that can really degrade your signal quality. The Palmers provide a professional solution at an easily accessible price point. Palmer provide the whole range, there is a solution for just about anything. So if you are unfamiliar with their products you should check it out, it might be worth it.
Artists that are currently using palmer solutions include, Joe Bonamassa!!!!!!!!!!! (Sorry, just had to use a whole bunch of exclamation marks there.) The Black Keys! Def Leppard (Bad spelling included) Emmure and SUM 41. To name a few.Share