Switching between instruments during performances always requires some fumble time and a second direct box and console input. Fire Eye Development’s Red-Eye Twin Musical Instrument Preamplifier ($325 list, $295 street) is a handy stomp box for musicians who alternate between two instruments, especially instruments with piezoelectric pickups.
I have two different K&K piezo systems: a three piezo Pure Mini (kksound. com/puremini.html) in my D-28S Martin and a two piezo Pure Archtop (kksound. com/purearchtop.html) in my Harmony Sovereign 12-string (the Sovereign isn’t an archtop, but that’s the solution K&K recommended). These are passive systems, coming straight out to the jack/strap button. The 1 MOhm input impedance of the two Red-Eye Twin preamps matched particularly well with these very high impedance piezos, but they also made my semi-acoustic Tele with humbuckers sound just fine.
In live performance applications, I have really enjoyed the sound of my Martin directly into a Fishman SoloAmp SA220 amplifier system [previously reviewed in PAR — Ed.] and was curious to hear what the Red-Eye Twin would bring to the party. After setting the tone controls for both inputs of the SA220 identically, I plugged the Red-Eye Twin’s 600 Ohm XLR output into Channel 1 and played a bit before going straight into Channel 2 with the same cord I used to plug into the Red-Eye Twin. With SA220 gain set at the midway point and treble controls flat, the Martin sounded basically the same. There was enough range to allow me to make it sound louder or softer and brighter or not as bright as the direct connection. The same scenario existed with the Harmony 12-string, but, as expected, the levels and EQ were noticeably different between the two guitars. With minimal fiddling, I was able to get both guitars to sound as though they were definitely in the same universe.
If you already use pedals, the Red-Eye Twin has I/O jacks for an effects loop. You can insert your tuner or other pedals before the output transformer. It also has an adjustable solo button that can boost the level between 4 and 9 dB when pressed.
Contact: Fire Eye Development | 512-346-6944 | fire-eye.com.