Radial Engineering SGI Guitar Interface

I know I’m not the only person around who has tried the old 100 foot long guitar cable trick. You know, the one where you run the really long cable from the guitar player in the control room to the live room (or iso booth) where the amp is? Like me, you’ve probably noticed that it doesn’t work all that well. Either you get lots of hum and other noise, or the guitar player remarks on the dead feeling of his normally lively rig. Enter the Radial SGI…

The SGI is a two part solution comprising the SGI-TX transmitter and the SGI-RX receiver. Built to the normal sky-high Radial build quality, both are very heavy brick-like yellow steel boxes. The SGI-TX requires power from the included wall wart adapter, and like some of the other Radial guitar oriented boxes, there’s the somewhat enigmatic Drag control. Don’t worry, you won’t be wearing a skirt if you turn it up…rather instead you’ll notice some pleasing tonal variations that allow you to darken the tone, and change the feeling of the guitar/amp interface through some impedance matching mojo. The SGI-RX which is passive, has the essential ground lift button.

In Use
Operation couldn’t be easier. Plug into the TX’s input from your guitar (or bass) with a standard 1/4” cable, then string an XLR microphone cable between the TX and the RX, find your signal in perfect condition at the output of the RX and plug into your amp. Done.

For this review I used 50′ lengths of Gotham Cable GAC-3 for the mic cable, and the excellent Vovox Link Protect A (5 meter lengths) for the instrument cables.

Radial claims that the SGI can drive up to 500 feet of balanced cable. Being the natural skeptic that I am, I decided to give it a try. In a happy coincidence, I’d just constructed ten 50′ mic cables using Gotham GAC3 cable and Neutrik XLR connectors. So, I set up the SGI-TX in my control room, plugged in my 1980 Les Paul, and plugged the output of the RX into a Polytone Mini-Brute close mic’d with a Violet Audio Amethyst Classic.

Amazingly enough there was virtually no difference between the sound of 50 feet and 500 feet of cable (as well as the intermediate lengths, of course). That’s not to say that there was no difference between a straight 15′ cable right into the amp, and the SGI chain. There was a slight attenuation in volume, and a minor tonal shift. All in all though, the difference between the two setups was extremely minor, and only noticeable if you were listening for it. The Drag control further narrowed the gap.

Already impressed, I tried the same setup with a FBB Custom fretless bass, loaded with a single Bartolini Humbucker and an active on-board preamp, to see how the SGI coped with an active instrument. As expected, the SGI sounded great, and proved to be a useful addition to the session.

As has been the case with other Radial Engineering products I have used (and purchased) in the past, the operation and build quality were literally without fault. Highly recommended!

Radial Engineering, www.radialeng.com, 604-942-1001.