StageBug™ SB-6 Development

When we first envisioned the SB-6, we wanted to create a passive isolator that could be used in a multitude of applications. In other words, we wanted it to be a jack of all trades that could be called upon in almost any situation to accept balanced or unbalanced signals with almost any signal level.

Although this may sound simple, truth is, the transformers that make up the passive circuit tend to work best when they work within very specific confines. In other words, when you can control the input impedance and know what the output destination will be, you can ensure the circuit will work in a predictable fashion. With the SB-6, we ignored the rules. We wanted an isolator that would simply work in any given situation.

Setting the performance standard

When it comes to building a Radial box, we expect the performance to be top notch. To this end, we forged ahead by listening and comparing a multitude of transformers until we came up with one that worked equally well with low-level instruments like electric guitars, yet was able to handle higher output levels that are common with consumer electronic devices and professional audio systems. It took about 8 months of searching and testing until we came up with a solution. The diminutive Eclipse transformer is remarkable in that it delivers an exceptionally linear response from 20Hz to 20kHz and is able to withstand audio signal levels greater than +10dB without choking. Best of all, when you give it a listen, it sounds warm, dynamic and musical.

Establishing the feature set

Next of course, we had to establish the feature set. To work with guitars, regular ¼" mono jacks are required. For balanced signals you either need an XLR or ¼" TRS connector. As we wanted to keep the SB-6 as compact as possible, we felt that using TRS connectors could serve double duty and address both.

We started by making sure the SB-6 could effectively isolate both balanced and unbalanced signals so that it could perform the task of eliminating noise. We then went about figuring out how the SB-6 could work when combining balanced and unbalanced signals together. With three parts innovation and one part magic, we were able to get the SB-6 to handle just about any connector configuration:

We then added a -10dB pad to help tame extra hot sources, added a polarity reverse switch to help phase align stereo signal paths and wrapped it all together in a nice compact 'gift sized' package!

We call it the SB-6 Isolator!