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This year’s NAMM has brought us some new gadgets we want to get our paws on. Here’s one that stood out from the crowd- the Empress EffectsStereo Buffer Plus.

As the name implies, it’s a double buffer unit in one box, set up for stereo, and probably the ultimate in analog I/O for the guitarist. It offers all the features of their standard Buffer Plus (input pad/instrument loading/30 dB of boost, tuner path, etc.) with added lil’ goodies, such as an assignable foot switch – A/B or A/Y mode. One output is transformer isolated, both channels offer several bands of noise filtration per the original, plus there are multi-impedance options on the first input.

A great feature is the multiple output modes – you can mix and match for stereo outputs, or sum to mono (I tend to run everything through one channel of my Super Champ, but I’m a Luddite), and more. According to Empress, there are ten (!) operating possibilities.

It looks to be a good tool for folks with larger rigs, or multiple instrument setups – they say it’s a good tool to buffer a pedalboard inline, or in effects loops. But I also see this as very useful for multi-instrumentalists with smaller rigs. For instance, in one of my bands I often switch between a vintage ’66 Epiphone electric mandolin with a sweet-but-buzzy P-90, and a quiet as a church mouse humbucker-loaded ’85 SG, which both have drastically different outputs and tones.

The fact that I can shape two separate ins with multiple output options – with boost! – is very attractive to me. I’ve tried mere A/B boxes in the past and they don’t jive with my usual setup. I’ve resorted to just using one input and adjusting volume on each instrument, but that’s honestly a pain, especially on quick changes, and doesn’t allow me to run my mando into a separate channel. This might be a solution, though. I am excited for its debut in a couple of months and can’t wait to try it out to see if it works for me. – Mya Byrne