Little Labs PCP Instrument Distro 3.0 Review

The Little Labs PCP Instrument Distro 3.0 ($950) signal splitter and routing box is as versatile as it is compact. The PCP Instrument Distro has the unique

The Little Labs PCP Instrument Distro 3.0 ($950) signal splitter and routing box is as versatile as it is compact. The PCP Instrument Distro has the unique ability to split a guitar's high-impedance signal without compromising audio quality and then route the output to three amplifiers or effects pedals at once. For guitar-intensive studio productions, in which different amps are selected or combined in each section of a song, the benefits of the PCP Instrument Distro are obvious. However, electric basses, keyboards, and other stage or studio instruments can also benefit from the PCP Instrument Distro's many functions.

Not Your Mom's Splitter

The PCP Instrument Distro is a fully professional studio tool that bears no resemblance to the footswitch splitters of the past. Each of the three high-impedance output channels features input switching, phase reverse, ground lift (with individual status lights), and trim controls. An active DI (with 16 dB of gain and a balanced, line level +4 dBu output) and a multed output are also included. The PCP Instrument Distro's low-impedance output is designed especially for driving long guitar cables — for example, between the control room and a distant amp stack. Should you feel the need to branch out beyond the unit's three outputs, an expansion jack lets you connect a pair of PCP Instrument Distros together using a ¼-inch TRS cable.

The input/output switches are located on the front panel, and unbalanced ¼-inch input jacks are conveniently provided on the front and back panels. The back panel also features three XLR inputs and one XLR output for balanced, pro-level (+4 dBu) sources.

The front-panel ¼-inch input takes precedence over the rear-panel ¼-inch input. That means not having to crawl behind your rack to reconnect cables if you have the unit racked up in your studio: simply plug in to the front-panel input jack and you're ready to go.

The PCP Instrument Distro is 2U in height but less than a half-rack wide. Little Labs offers optional mounting hardware to accommodate the unit's narrow width in a professional rack. The PCP Instrument Distro's sturdy, foam-lined plastic carrying case can hold the external AC power transformer. This heavy-duty 48V power supply uses a standard three-prong IEC plug, thus avoiding the dreaded wall wart.

It's the Cheese

In case you're wondering, PCP stands for Professional to Cheesy Pedal, a moniker for yet another of this unit's multiple personalities. The high-quality DI portion of the device can be used to send a direct instrument signal to any effects processor or recorder that operates at +4 dBu.

On the other hand, you can simultaneously feed different signals to the PCP Instrument Distro's three balanced rear inputs and route them in any combination to the unit's three high-impedance outputs. This function, commonly known as reamping, allows effortless interfacing between virtually any combination of studio devices at a variety of operating levels.

The PCP Instrument Distro can be put to use in other ways. For example, you can use it to blend or compare processed and unprocessed instrumental sources. You can also use it to perform live with prerecorded tracks or rehearse to CDs and other sources without using a mixer.

Not for Guitarists Only

Whether you're using the PCP Instrument Distro as a DI, splitter, or line driver, the transparent device doesn't color the sound. In fact, it can help a high-impedance instrument, such as a guitar, maintain its sound over long distances.

Because of the PCP Instrument Distro's versatility, you can use it on just about any instrument as well as prerecorded tracks. So if your idea of fun is running a track through a creamy tube compressor and then to the world's cheesiest stompbox (or vice versa), the PCP Instrument Distro is your invitation to a nonstop studio party!

Overall EM Rating (1 through 5): 5 Little Labs; tel. (323) 851-6860; e-mail; Web