LR Baggs Venue DI
It's not cheap, but the Venue DI is one of the most versatile acoustic preamps available, and just makes your guitar sound better. It's my personal favorite, especially for acoustics with limited onboard preamp functionality.
It's difficult to get a feel for what the Venue DI does for your sound without using it yourself. I did a simple demo video below, but it doesn't do the Venue justice.
You have to be doing the playing to really appreciate the improvement.
Not only is your sound quality dramatically improved, but it gives you a massive amount of control over your acoustic's sound, yet without covering up the natural resonance of the guitar. This is particularly crucial if your acoustic guitar doesn't provide a ton of onboard functionality through its preamp.
Even if it does, the Venue DI is a better solution, setup to handle level boosting, gain control, noise reduction, feedback protection, tuning, and all the EQ you can think of.
For testing and recording the Venue DI, I used my Taylor 114ce with the onboard preamp settings all set to 12 o'clock, and medium Elixir acoustic strings.
Here's how I scored it in our grading chart:
Point Value (%)
Venue DI Score
1. Overall Tone Grade
3. EQ Comprehension
5. Noise Control
6. Additional Filtering
7. Build Quality
8. True Bypass
9. Tone Quality Bump
The Venue scores perfect on EQ comprehension because it covers everything you could ask of an acoustic preamp. We have it a little lower in additional filtering and versatility, just because it would be nice to see some form of modulation or effects (maybe reverb?) built into the box.
LR Baggs Venue DI Comparison Table
In this section we've put together a small comparison table with other preamps similar to the Venue DI. Note that we've used partner links to Sweetwater as a means of supporting our site without intrusive advertising.
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LR Baggs Venue Isolation DI
LR Baggs Para DI (traditional DI box)
LR Baggs Session DI
BBE Acoustimax Preamp
IDEAL FOR: Live acoustic performances, recording, and acoustic guitars with limited onboard preamp functionality.
Tone & Preserving of Natural Acoustic Resonance
I was particularly fond of the tone I got out of the Venue when the "boost" button was engaged. This is a small boost that gives you a thicker, heavier tone which I thought sounded better with my guitar's soundhole cover in use. There's a control on the back of the pedal that allows you to set the boost amount, up to 9db.
I think I tested it between four and five decibels.
Turning the boost on and the volume of the PA channel down, right before you start clipping, gives you a nice warm sound, even on my 114 which is naturally brighter because of body type and the cutaway.
It didn't seem to "process" or "electricize" my tone, allowing it to retain a natural acoustic guitar sound.
A lot of the settings I tried were fairly bright and intense, which could be partly due to the concert-shaped acoustic and the guitar's natural resonance.
You get some nice finger scraping sounds and little more pinch out of your fingerpicking movements.
You want to warm it up you can push the gain a little higher and turn up the bass response. You can also use the treble/presence controls to remove natural high-end from your tone. It's a lot of controls to think about, but that's not a bad thing if you take the time to learn what everything does.
Tone Controls and Functionality
Here's a look at the control scheme on the Venue DI from a top-down shot of the LR Baggs stock photo:
First, notice that the gain and volume control function as the preamp volume and power amp output. In other words, you can set your gain preference first, then use the volume knob to increase or decrease your overall output (what you're sending out of the unit).
The highlight of the Venue's control system is a five-band EQ which sits on the top row with bass, low mid, hi mid, presence, and treble knobs. This is more than enough tweaking ability to customize your acoustic's tone any way you want.
These is a dramatic improvement over the typical three-band EQ we see for most electric guitar preamps, and even tops what we see on most other acoustic preamp pedals.
These filters in the above photo allow you to control and eliminate feedback by determining the frequency where feedback starts. I didn't have a chance to test this thoroughly, mainly because my guitar's soundhole cover prevents most feedback concerns, but it's a pretty thorough system that isn't just a noise gate. It literally helps you weed out the problem frequency while preserving the rest of your tone.
LR Baggs Venue DI Controls
- Lo Mid
- Hi Mid
- Notch (feedback control)
- Tune (200)
- Tune (1k)
- Phase button
- Mute/tune button
- Boost button
- Boost amount control
- Ground/lift switch
After the front panel you'll have the balanced XLR output on the back, along with a send/return effects loop. There's also the boost control we mentioned and the gnd/lift switch. Unbalanced TRS inputs and outputs are on either side of the pedal.
Cost and Value of the Venue
The Venue DI usually retails around $300, though can hover around $250 if you buy in used markets like Reverb, eBay, or Amazon.
Even at $250, you're effectively buying a complete replacement for your amplifier.
This only makes sense if you play live and/or record on a regular basis. For example, a couple of the guys that play at our church use a Venue DI weekly, which allows them to EQ their acoustic guitars and send a balanced signal straight to the PA system via the XLR output.
If you just play at home or on occasion and you don't need to go into a PA system, a more traditional acoustic amp - with its own speaker - might be a better fit for you.
At this price, it's important to make sure you need something like the Venue DI before pulling the trigger.
With that in mind, here are a few situations where we think it's a good fit:
- Leading worship in church
- Acoustic artists that record regularly
- For solo artists going straight into a portable PA system
- For acoustic guitars that don't have a good onboard EQ
Alternatives would include the Session and Para DI, both of which we listed in the comparison table near the beginning of our review.
FAQ about the Venue DI
Here are a few frequently asked questions about the Venue DI that we've provided quick answers for:
- Where can I find the Venue DI user manual? The most recent copy we've been able to find is downloadable here in PDF form.
- Is the Venue DI always on? When an instrument cable is plugged in and the unit is powered, the preamp is on and processing your signal. There's is no bypass button.
- Is the Venue a pedal or a DI box? Both. It's a pedal with boost and mute/tune controls, but it's also a DI box that allows you to send a balanced output via an XLR cable.
- How do I power the venue DI? Most 9V power sources will work. Officially you need a 9V DC connection.
- Would I be better off with the Para DI? The Para DI has a similar EQ setup, though it does not have the gain button or the muting/tuning functionality. It's more of a DI box and less of a pedal.
Do you have additional questions about the LR Baggs Venue DI? If there's something I failed to mention in this review, drop me a line in the comments section below and I'll do my best to help out.
I had this pedal for several weeks and have used it live a handful of times, so I've had plenty of opportunities to get familiar with the functionality and tone quality.
You can also drop questions about our review and/or grading process there as well.
We'll talk to you then.