Mess of cables

The Radial 4-Play

Four balanced XLR outputs
feed individual channels at the PA

4-Play™ Development

The best products always come from real world problem solving. In this case, the 4-Play stemmed from a discussion we had with a guitar tech that was looking to find a solution for a client of his that uses four instruments on stage. He needed to quickly change instruments, yet he did not want to disrupt the audio engineer each time a changeover was to occur. Although this may sound like an easy road forward, there are some hidden ‘pot holes’ that were not immediately visible.

When you are on a busy stage, switching instruments can pose several challenges. When sharing the same direct box, switching between an acoustic guitar and mandolin requires both the front-of-house and monitor engineers to mute the active mixer channel in order to avoid damaging plug-in transients and painful pops for the audience. You then need to alter the EQ, change the effects and adjust the level to adapt it for each instrument. Alternatively, when using separate DI boxes, you end up with a bunch of wires connected to each instrument which often get tangled. Ask any stage tech and they will tell you that the preferred approach is to use a single cable and manually switch between instruments.

With the 4-Play, because the artist himself can mute the instrument on stage, you avoid having to flag down the FOH and monitor engineers between each changeover. Since each instrument is now connected to a dedicated channel, the signal level, EQ and effects can be predetermined and optimized without having to make radical changes every time an instrument is changed. With so many auxiliary musicians onstage these days, there has never been a more appropriate time for this type of solution.

The 4-Play is basically a 1-in, 4-out DI box that lets the musician or stage tech control the active instrument. The following are some of the key development milestones:

  • Muting system for tuning and changeovers
    Disconnecting and reconnecting a cable can make a terrible noise! An on-board mute footswitch solves the problem as it turns off all of the balanced outputs leaving the tuner output on. This allows the artist or guitar tech to stomp on the footswitch, make the change, tune and be back up in seconds.
  • Compact design to reduce freight costs
    With the high cost of airlines, everyone is reducing the size of their setups in order to save expenses. Instead of using four footswitches to activate each instrument, a single footswitch is used that advances through the outputs. This saves space on the pedalboard and expenses on air travel.
  • Multiple outputs
    Four balanced DI outputs allow you to connect to dedicated channels on the PA for each instrument. This allows the engineer to have EQ and volume settings ready for each individual instrument, making changeovers easy and efficient.
  • Super bright LEDs
    Each output has its own super-bright LED indicator that is visible even under full stage lights. Each output is also color coordinated to quickly identify the active output. This ensures the selected instrument will be routed to the desired output. A 5th LED lets you know if the instrument outputs are muted.
  • Ground lift switches to eliminate noise
    When connecting instruments to the PA, noise has a nasty habit of finding its way into the sound system. This often occurs when using electrically powered preamps or stage amps. The 4-Play incorporates handy ground-lift switches on the XLR outputs to help reduce hum and buzz caused by ground loops.
  • Standard 9V powering for pedalboards
    Finally, for integration into pedalboards, the 4-Play conforms to most power bricks with standard 9V powering – such as those used by Boss®. This makes it easy to mount the 4-Play into an existing pedalboard without having to change the power brick.