The Venue DI from L.R. Baggs is a superhandy expanded version of their famous Para Acoustic DI, which I’ve had in my rig for over a decade now. In addition to the 5-band EQ, the Venue includes a Garrett Null anit-feedback notch filter, a tuner and a truly useful clean boost. I’ve plugged into enough PA systems over the years to prize highly a piece of gear that lets me take control of my sound, bust the feedback for myself (almost instantly) and be heard clearly the way I want to be heard inside a mix. The Venue is a powerful weapon in the fight against those frightening creatures known as “Soundtechs From Hell”—you know the ones. They think acoustic guitars are for girls and old people, and have usually burned out so much of their hearing that they can’t tell what you sound like anyway.
Take a Tour of the Venue
The Venue is a sleek-looking piece of gear that will be immediately familiar to users of the ParAcoustic DI or the Baggs Core 1 Reference Monitor. The 5-band EQ section is responsive and powerful, with Bass, Lowmid, Hi-mid, Presence and Treble controls, with the mids controls being particularly robust, allowing you to choose the specific frequencies to cut or boost—from 100Hz– 500Hz in the lows and 500Hz–2.8kHz in the highs. The Bass, Presence and Treble controls are 12dB boost/cut at 90Hz, 3kHz and 10kHz respectively. There is the customary 1/4" instrument input, an XLR out and a line out. The unit requires a 9V battery or a standard DC power supply, and cannot be phantom powered.
The proprietary Garrett Null anti-feedback control is easy and quite effective. The knob allows you to sweep through all the usual suspects (that pesky 60Hz–320Hz range) and eliminate just the offending frequency while doing virtually no damage to your tone. The knob clicks off when you turn it all the way counter-clockwise. When you hear feedback starting to blow up, simply sweep the knob slowly from left to right; when the knob reaches the problem frequency, the feedback just ... stops. That’s it. I’d call that an idiotproof solution that’s tone-friendly, too.
The Venue has Gain and Volume controls, which gives you yet more control over your tone. The Gain should be set so that the LED clip indicator is flashing up to orangeconsistently, and only occasionally into the red. This is important—not enough gain and your tone is wimpy and there’s a danger of generating the dreaded “self-noise.” Too much gain and you may overdrive whatever system you are plugging into. Once the Gain is set appropriately you can bring up the Volume accordingly. According to the manual, “The XLR output is not affected by the volume control, but is affected by all other controls.” Good to know.
Another Gain control, located on the back, works with the Boost, and this is my favorite part. You can set the Boost to make you from 0dB to 9dB louder when you stomp on the switch. I tested it with my bass player and drummer at a recent gig and it just about made me giddy. When it was my turn to solo, stomp, “Wow!” We could all hear every note I played (fortunately, I was having a good night). You can boost a little or a lot, and a little is a lot more than you might think. Frankly, it’s darned impressive.
The pedal also includes effects send and return and a ground/lift. According to the user manual, “The transformer-coupled DI provides full isolation through the DI output when the switch is in the “lift” position to help defeat ground loops that can occur when more than one connection is made to the DI.” Handy.
My only quibble with the tuner is that it’s a little slow to respond and seems to lock up once in a while. This just isn’t okay when you’re trying to keep momentum going during a set. The tuner is really cool looking and brightly lit with big letters (which is a huge plus), and when you activate it the signal to the board is muted, which is a very smart feature. I wish it were quicker to respond, though, because the ease of use makes it a highly desirable function.
The Final Mojo
If you frequently plug into PA systems, this can be a tone-saving device that can give you the option to control your sound completely. The clean boost and feedback control are simply fantastic, and combined with the EQ, Gain and Volume controls, this could become essential gear for acoustic players everywhere. Those crafty elves at Baggs have done it again!
you like the ease of going direct to a PA system, but want more immediate and user-friendly control.
you use a high-end guitar amp as a DI/monitor, or you only want one of the things this pedal can do.