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Old 04-20-2013, 11:47 PM
Aussie Matt Aussie Matt is offline
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Default K&K Pure Mini - a review and a journey

Hi everyone and greetings from Sydney, Australia. This is my first thread and I wanted to use it to share a little journey I've had with my K&K Pure Mini hoping that there could be some useful information for those in a similar situation.

I play an Australian made Maton 225 acoustic. It's Maton's lower end model but it shines. My live playing nowadays is primarily playing and leading a worship band in front of roughly 100 people on a Sunday morning.

Several years ago I bought a K&K Pure Western Mini after reading a thousand threads, and I bought a K&K Pure Preamp to go with it. I was really happy with it so bought one for my Alvarez 12 string (AD60-12) as well. Both sounded great, especially the 12 string actually.

About a year ago I started to really struggle with the Pure Mini in my 6-string. The sound had become very thin and was getting thinner and it wasn't the preamp battery. I spent more time tweaking on stage than playing and could not get a decent sound.

BTW, my sound chain is: guitar > Pure Preamp > Behringer DI where I send a 1/4 jack to a Roland stage amp and an XLR to the desk. Sometimes I leave out the Roland and go straight to the desk and rely on stage monitors for foldback. Nothing longer than a 10' cable between guitar and preamp either.

I contacted Dieter at K&K (what a true legend, by the way. His service and care for his customers is astounding). With Dieter's input and further reading, I concluded that I had not installed the pickups properly in the first place.

So, with some new Superglue gel, a razor blade, an iron will and the knowledge that the pickups may not survive, I set to work. The pickups came away reasonably easily, something Dieter later indicated suggested that not enough glue was used when I first installed them. I carefully cleaned up the pickups and the bridgeplate and re-installed.

Wow. Night and day. Full, rich, everything that you read and everything that they should be.

I went up to church and spent a good deal of time adjusting my gain and EQ settings and now have it dialled in great. For the record: gain is about halfway; bass at 11 o'clock; mids completely out; and treble at about 1 o'clock. I've also pulled the mids out of the stage amp and run the bass and treble flat.

The only thing that concerned me was playing in a loud band. I usually play with drums, piano, bass, another guitar (often electric) and a couple of singers and was worried that the K&K would not cut through.

You do get a pretty full spectrum with the Pure Mini and even K&K are quite up front about the Pure Mini being designed for solo acoustic or lower volume playing in mind. It shines at this BTW. Those acoustic intros and acoustic quiet sections in songs are spine tingling.

But my thinking was to wire in a soundhole pickup to the TRS jack like a Baggs M1 passive and blend off board or simply send two lines to the desk.

However, the more I think about it, and the more I play, the more I just want to leave the Pure Mini alone. It just sounds great and despite many people's concern about SBT's and feedback, I've never had feedback issues, even standing with a monitor at my feet and a loud and crowded stage. I do have a soundhole cover but never bother using it.

Others may find a need for a dual source but I'm going to run with it as is for now. Partly because I got two great compliments this morning: the first from the drummer who I don't usually play with. He said I had the sweetest acoustic tone he'd ever come across.

The other was from the electric player (a professional guitar player, guitar teacher and gigging musician) who commented on how beautiful my guitar sounded since I re-installed the pickups (he's now interested in the K&K Pure Classic for his classical guitar). And then there were a lot of comments from the congregation about how nice it all sounded (what we're there for).

So, the purpose of this post? In a lot of my recent searching trying to find answers, I came across some folks who found the K&K Pure didn't live up to expectations and even dissed it somewhat. If you're in that camp, my suggestion is to check on the install. If not enough glue was used, you may be finding what I found. The difference for me was simply breathtaking. It could be that simple, even if a guitar tech installed it.

Mine also seemed to get worse over time. Still no idea why. I did move out about a year ago while I re-built my house and my guitars went to a pretty cold and damp environment. My Maton is very light and responsive. Perhaps the humidity and temperature changes took their toll.

Also, use a good preamp. The K&K Pure Preamp which is impedance matched specifically to the high impedance Pure Mini, is a great and obvious choice. Yes, you can go straight to an amp or the desk but seriously, the difference again is remarkable. I tried it to see what it sounded like and hated it. Yes you could do it if need be but compared to running it through a decent preamp it's a last resort option for me.

I haven't used other pre's but apart from K&K many people seem to be having a lot of success with the Fire-Eye Red Eye, Ultrasound, Headway EDB-1, and D-Tar Solstice among others.

Finally, take some time and set your gain right and get a good ballpark EQ which can be easily adjusted if needed.

So there you go. Sorry for the lengthy post but I simply hope that my experience may be of help to someone.

Regards,
Matt.
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  #2  
Old 04-22-2013, 08:14 AM
J Patrick J Patrick is offline
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...an excellent account of your experiences and plenty of good info for those considering a K&K.....fwiw...i've used a dual setup with a K&K and a Baggs M-1A for just the reasons you mentioned....i was using either a stereo preamp...(a Raven Labs PMB) or two separate signals via a stereo y chord to the board (with the K&K through a preamp)....that dual setup enabled me to get great sound in pretty much any environment....its a good way to go if you're playing out with various ensembles in a variety of situations...
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Old 04-23-2013, 04:31 AM
Aussie Matt Aussie Matt is offline
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Originally Posted by J Patrick View Post
...an excellent account of your experiences and plenty of good info for those considering a K&K.....fwiw...i've used a dual setup with a K&K and a Baggs M-1A for just the reasons you mentioned....i was using either a stereo preamp...(a Raven Labs PMB) or two separate signals via a stereo y chord to the board (with the K&K through a preamp)....that dual setup enabled me to get great sound in pretty much any environment....its a good way to go if you're playing out with various ensembles in a variety of situations...
Thanks JP.
Are you still using that rig? It sounds like you might have moved on from it.

The jury is still out for me on whether to add another pickup or not. Right now I'm just not finding reason to. I'll be playing with another acoustic player this weekend. He plays a Gibson J-45 with LR Baggs Element. It'll be nice to see how the two sound together.
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Old 04-23-2013, 07:42 AM
J Patrick J Patrick is offline
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...i do not presently have that rig or the guitar that it was in...(a Santa Cruz OM/PW)....i've since stopped playing out on a regular basis and moved to another town where i am musically non affiliated...on the rare occasions i do play out i have a guitar with a D-Tar Wavelength in it....its a great undersaddle pickup and similar to your mates Baggs Element...but not on par with good soundboard transducers.....
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Old 02-25-2023, 04:15 PM
StellaBlue72 StellaBlue72 is offline
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Hi J Patrick,

Been a long time, still got your ears on? - I'm glad I found this thread! I have a Santa Cruz D-PW and I'm considering installing a K&K pure mini. I would not use a pre-amp because I'm trying to remain a minimalist. As a solo acoustic would it be fine? In a band would I at least hear it if I turn up the volume?

new to electronics, thanks,
J
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Old 02-25-2023, 05:20 PM
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Methos1979 Methos1979 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StellaBlue72 View Post
Hi J Patrick,

Been a long time, still got your ears on? - I'm glad I found this thread! I have a Santa Cruz D-PW and I'm considering installing a K&K pure mini. I would not use a pre-amp because I'm trying to remain a minimalist. As a solo acoustic would it be fine? In a band would I at least hear it if I turn up the volume?

new to electronics, thanks,
J
The K&K Pure Mini will work without a preamp depending on what you're plugging into (amp vs. PA) and you're playing style (fingerstyle vs pick strummer). A decent acoustic amp with input gain will go a long way toward getting you where you want to go. Though passive, the K&K does have a fairly hot signal. Plugging straight into a PA you better have someone running it that knows what they are doing. A simple DI box would help a lot in that case.

That said, nearly any decent preamp will go a long ways towards give you much better sound and tone control and it doesn't need to be an expensive preamp. I used K&K's for years and struggled to get great tone mostly because I didn't play with a pick but rather fingerstyle with no nails so everything tended to be muddy. I picked up a used K&K Pure preamp on the cheap and I was quite frankly stunned at the difference and improvement in tone.

I have since gotten away from the K&K Pure Mini pickup system having gone over to guitars with built-in multi-source pickup systems. But I just picked up a new guitar with no pickup and I'm going to install a K&K Double Helix combo system which uses the Pure Mini in combination with their excellent Double Helix magnetic soundhole pickup coupled with their dual source preamp. I'll be installing probably next week and I'll put up a demo video shortly thereafter.
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Old 02-27-2023, 01:12 PM
Colin_Mac Colin_Mac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StellaBlue72 View Post
Hi J Patrick,

Been a long time, still got your ears on? - I'm glad I found this thread! I have a Santa Cruz D-PW and I'm considering installing a K&K pure mini. I would not use a pre-amp because I'm trying to remain a minimalist. As a solo acoustic would it be fine? In a band would I at least hear it if I turn up the volume?

new to electronics, thanks,
J
It's possible to use a K&K without a preamp, and you can likely get away with it if you only use it in specific situations where you know it works. But the K&K can be a bit mid-heavy, so it can be worth having a preamp just for tone shaping.

I use a Fishman Platinum Pro EQ with K&K pickups, and as well as just amplification it offers a tuner, mute footswitch, boost footswitch, four band EQ and DI. That's a lot of useful stuff to give up in the name of minimalism.
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Old 02-27-2023, 03:11 PM
ACOUSTICDEWD ACOUSTICDEWD is offline
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Having installed the K&K in every single gtr (for 2+ decades) and tried a wide range of cables, I found the VariCap from Undertone Audio, which has 15 different capacitance settings. You WILL hear a difference toggling through them all and get one last degree of control. The low end of the k&k is already near perfection and I just do a 80hz cut and a few notches here and there, within the Source Audio EQ2 pedal. The upper mid/treble is handled perfectly by my Line Audio CM4 SDC mic and I blend the two when recording

As for live, I'm still looking for a nice gooseneck to take the place of that mic.
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Old 02-27-2023, 05:10 PM
aschroeder aschroeder is offline
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I have a love/hate relationship with the K&K. When you get it dialed in the sounds is incredible. But it is nearly unusable without major EQing. It has a hot enough signal to run without a preamp, but I always use an external preamp with EQ to deal with the excessively boomy low end and lacking high end.

I finally found the secret weapon when I started using IRs (impulse response). I recorded my own IRs with the EQ flat on the K&K and then the IR gets rendered to cut the low end. With the IR turned on I can finally run my EQ in a more traditional mid sweep and it sounds amazing. I use a Boss GE-7 pedal as a preamp and EQ adjustment that works well with the K&K (with a preamp boost/cut of up to +/- 15dB). The nice thing is the Boss GE-7 runs on a 9V battery or a 9v plugin adapter which makes it versatile when you can't plug it in.

If you're willing to put in the work the K&K is a great pickup. With that said, there are other soundboard transducer pickups that are easier to work with and sound great without major EQ.
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Last edited by aschroeder; 02-27-2023 at 05:17 PM.
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Old 06-30-2023, 09:43 PM
daverenick daverenick is offline
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Default I understand the love/hate deal all to well with gear. very useful thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by aschroeder View Post
I have a love/hate relationship with the K&K. When you get it dialed in the sounds is incredible. But it is nearly unusable without major EQing. It has a hot enough signal to run without a preamp, but I always use an external preamp with EQ to deal with the excessively boomy low end and lacking high end.

I finally found the secret weapon when I started using IRs (impulse response). I recorded my own IRs with the EQ flat on the K&K and then the IR gets rendered to cut the low end. With the IR turned on I can finally run my EQ in a more traditional mid sweep and it sounds amazing. I use a Boss GE-7 pedal as a preamp and EQ adjustment that works well with the K&K (with a preamp boost/cut of up to +/- 15dB). The nice thing is the Boss GE-7 runs on a 9V battery or a 9v plugin adapter which makes it versatile when you can't plug it in.

If you're willing to put in the work the K&K is a great pickup. With that said, there are other soundboard transducer pickups that are easier to work with and sound great without major EQ.
I had the k&K mini installed today on my Martin 000-18MD. I am not up to speed on all the electronic variables. I don't understand your comments on the IR for instance. At the tech's I played it through an acoustic amp (without any external pre-amp) and it sounded OK but not what I was looking for. My tech recommended the Boss GE-7. I mainly play out with a Deluxe Reverb. I'm after an amplified tone that replicates as closely as possible the sound of the guitar. I am very willing to put in the work to get that and your comment makes me more optimistic. Right now I am getting an interesting sound, but it's more like a Gibson L-5 then a Martin Acoustic.

Boldly revealing my ignorance yet again, I really don't know much about pre-amps. That they clean up signal distortion before transmission to the amp is about it. Is that what the Boss GE-7 will help accomplish? Is Getting the Boss EQ all the gear I will need to dial in the K&K? I have heard a lot of great things about the K&K system and want to get the most out of it. Is it possible to get a clean acoustic guitar sound with it at low to room filling volume? Now it is amplifying everything, the squeak of my fingers moving on strings, and the tone is loud, but is not getting subtleties. It's my knowledge curve and not having the gear I need I guess. I also think it might be good to get the Schatten BB-03 black box for a volume control on the cord. Any advise appreciated.
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Old 07-01-2023, 01:38 AM
Colin_Mac Colin_Mac is offline
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Originally Posted by daverenick View Post
Boldly revealing my ignorance yet again, I really don't know much about pre-amps. That they clean up signal distortion before transmission to the amp is about it.
Fundamentally the purpose of a preamp is to increase the voltage of the signal coming from the guitar. Pickups typically produce a very low output, and mixers, amps, etc., are designed for stronger signals. The preamp is there to increase the signal.

A welcome side-effect of a preamp is that the output impedance is low, while the output impedance of a pickup is high. I'm not going to say why that's a good thing, I'm only mentioning it because if I don't then someone will jump in and point out that I didn't.

What is typically referred to as a "preamp" here is a box that contains a preamp, but also contains tone controls. It might have a DI output, and it could have a tuner. Also phase switch, effects loop, headphone output, and so on. But technically the preamp is one component in that box.

What a preamp doesn't do is clean up distortion. An ideal preamp it's one that faithfully reproduces the source signal, only stronger.

Quote:
Is it possible to get a clean acoustic guitar sound with it at low to room filling volume? Now it is amplifying everything, the squeak of my fingers moving on strings, and the tone is loud, but is not getting subtleties.
Yes. But the K&K picks up whatever vibrations are present in the guitar top, and string squeaks are part of that.

'My guitar but louder' is the holy grail of pickups, and it doesn't exist. Closest you'll get is with microphones, but any pickup installed in the guitar is a compromise.
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Old 07-02-2023, 08:34 AM
pittsBGpicker pittsBGpicker is offline
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Would you consider/recommend adding a K&K Trinity Microphone Pickup w/Gooseneck Mount to your set up?
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Old 07-02-2023, 12:31 PM
SpruceTop SpruceTop is offline
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I'm surprised that more players haven't discovered Dazzo passive pickups. These systems will give you everything a K&K Pure Mini will but do it with a clear and balanced tone without a lot of knob twiddling on an outboard preamp. The passive Dazzo systems cost about $60 USD more than a K&K Pure Mini but are a first-time/every-time great sound from the get-go after installation.
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Old 07-03-2023, 04:42 AM
Colin_Mac Colin_Mac is offline
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Originally Posted by SpruceTop View Post
I'm surprised that more players haven't discovered Dazzo passive pickups. These systems will give you everything a K&K Pure Mini will but do it with a clear and balanced tone without a lot of knob twiddling on an outboard preamp. The passive Dazzo systems cost about $60 USD more than a K&K Pure Mini but are a first-time/every-time great sound from the get-go after installation.
There are challenges there though. First is actually getting them if you don't live in the USA, since the website offers no clues on international shipping (and the OP's forum name suggests he is in Australia).

Second, they are listed at $225 for a set, but I can easily find K&K pickups at $110 online.

If I was buying a pickup the K&K is a no-brainer, because I know that I can actually buy them. And I've never had to do a lot of knob twiddling - a little mid-range cut does the job fine (and that's on a rosewood + cedar jumbo, that is heavy on the mid-range).
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Old 07-07-2023, 01:57 AM
daverenick daverenick is offline
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Default K&K with Fishman Loudbox Artist Amp and the Platinum Pro

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin_Mac View Post
It's possible to use a K&K without a preamp, and you can likely get away with it if you only use it in specific situations where you know it works. But the K&K can be a bit mid-heavy, so it can be worth having a preamp just for tone shaping.

I use a Fishman Platinum Pro EQ with K&K pickups, and as well as just amplification it offers a tuner, mute footswitch, boost footswitch, four band EQ and DI. That's a lot of useful stuff to give up in the name of minimalism.
I have the K&K mini in a martin 000-18 md and the feedback is bad news with the Fishman Loudbox Artist amp. Using a Fishman Aura doesn't help and the feedback control on the amp is useless with anything louder then speaking tones. I like the Fishman EQ/DI products and am thinking maybe I should get the platinum pro. I'm not an electrical engineer and there are so many products, wildly divergent subjective opinions, that I feel like just forgetting the whole acoustic pickup thing. Before I do, is there any way to get a good sounding combination using the K&K mini? Should I rip those out and put in a Fishman or Baggs etc. where feedback will be more controllable? Is the hype about K&K being the most "true" sounding pickup credible? It sure doesn't sound special to me. The Loudbox Artist amp is good enough, I guess, but I just want the simplest basic system that does not require genius to operate. And if I can't get the feedback under control, I'll have to install a more complex pickup. Will the Fishman Platinum Pro work as an effective EQ/DI/preamp as well as the touted Headway EDB-2, for one example among the zillions out there, specifically in negating the ugly and very pronounced tendency of the K&K to feedback?
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acoustic guitar pickup, k&k pure mini, k&k pure preamp, lr baggs m1 passive, maton 225

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