Reviewed: Radial Engineering AC-Driver

Amber Technology | ambertech.com.au | Expect to Pay: $319

Acoustic guitar live sound can be a very different beast compared to its electric brothers. Yes, you can just plug and play and let the sound guy/FOH operator work his magic, but a little initial control can be a good thing too. Radial is known for its super reliable stage gear offering a range of high quality DIs/pedals/preamps for both live and studio situations. Focusing more on the live acoustic instrumentalist, the AC-Driver should appeal to a range of players in the acoustic domain.

Designed as a live tool, the AC-Driver seems built to last. A tough steel casing with quite a bit of weight feels solid and super sturdy, and the same can be said about the sockets, controls and switches (as seems to be the Radial way). A 9V DC plug on the back powers the unit with your standard input/ output jacks and a Mute footswitch.

 

Further rear plate options include a balanced out (great for sound guys), a dedicated tuner out if you want to keep your tuner on and not in your signal path, and a ground lift switch. Control-wise, on the face of the pedal there are controls for Low Cut, Level and Notch with a switchable option for Off, Normal and Deep, and a Phase reverse switch used to help with feedback by reversing the polarity of the XLR output.

 

 

Plugged in, the preamp sounds clean and clear with plenty of headroom. The Low Cut is handy for dialling out extra (often unwanted) bass frequencies. Good for guitars, it could also be super usable for any acoustic instruments (mandolin and violin come to mind). More sculpting can be performed with the Notch control, which allows you to find and target frequencies that are feeding back without hacking into too much of your tonal spectrum—great for live sound where some extra control is needed.

 

More top quality stuff from Radial here in the form of the AC-Driver. I’d imagine you’ll see them in live sound guys’ kits, backline PA setups, and many gig bags as a handy preamp and tonal shaper. Some may be a bit miffed with the power-supply-only deal (no batteries), but in this day and age and as a serious live tool, there’s always power and power supplies readily available on your pedalboard, at a gig or on stage, so it’s really no huge deal breaker. Rock solid and easy to use—win.

Hits and Misses

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Clean and clear

A serious live tool that’s built to last

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None

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