Buffer/preamp pedals are typically deployed to reinvigorate a signal sapped of its treble vitality by lots of circuit capacitance (e.g., tons of pedals or long cables). But they’re useful for far more than that—especially if you prefer tube amps dialed to the verge of breakup.
In this age of Klon worship, high-end buffers like the Crazy Tube Circuits Magnifier can often be a smaller, simpler, more affordable means to many of the same ends—particularly if the Centaur’s main allure is its ability to massively boost your signal without changing its essential character. When I stuck the Magnifier at the end of a board with only eight pedals (including a tuner and one of the best Klon clones on the market), its 20 dB of clean boost—courtesy of a front-end by Butler Audio (of BK Butler Tube Driver fame)—rejuvenated my signal in ways that were, frankly, revelatory. Sparkling treble crispness returned with the gain knob around 9 o’clock, and from there on up I could drive my amps to so many degrees of gritty or sizzling glory that I began wondering what box might make better use of the clone’s real estate.