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Old 11-18-2012, 08:32 PM   #1
KSEjunkie2468
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How is the D Activator™ Bridge DP220 pickups?

The title ^^

I'm considering this Dimarzio Bridge pickups in my Mahogany body, ebony fingerboard, floyd rose, guitar.

I want pickups that can have a beautiful clean tone (bridge) sparkly maybe w/e, but also function great with high gain, whether it be modern heavy metal, or a Joe Satriani like rock-high-gain tone.

I've had an EMG 81 and 85 set, and they sound a bit sterile, nice sounding, but without the warmth of the Seymour Duncan Invader (bridge). Do the D-Activators have a warm sound to them?
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:36 PM   #2
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To me they sound a bit flat in my RG7321, they're not very treble or bass heavy in my experience, but they sound really clear.
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:50 PM   #3
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A lot of people also put the D Activator Neck in the bridge slot, and that kicks ass.

But D Activators in general kick ass.
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:57 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by jeleopard
A lot of people also put the D Activator Neck in the bridge slot, and that kicks ass.

But D Activators in general kick ass.


Yea some people do that with the EMG 85 (normally in the neck), they put it in the bridge, but I tried that and it sounded weaker, didn't have the pinch harmonics.
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:58 PM   #5
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The SD Invader really doesn't have any 'warmth' in the usual sense, it's just so bloated that the treble is overpowered.

D Activators aren't much better. What you're basically looking at is a regular, generic, high-output humbucker with a ceramic magnet, but with the coils slightly offset so you get a little wider response at the cost of some added low-level hum. It's a pretty standard design, really, and not something that should blow your mind unless you have very low standards. With a Floyd Rose bridge and an Ebony fretboard, they're going to be very bright and brittle-sounding. You know how you thought the EMG 81 and 85 sounded 'sterile'? Imagine those with the treble knocked up, that's the D Activator sound in that sort of guitar.

First thing I'd suggest you look at is the EMG X-series pickups, specifically the 60AX. It's clearer than the 85 whilst being smoother than the 60 and warmer than the 81. It does have lower output than the other three main EMG humbuckers, but it's still much hotter than any passive pickup. Most importantly, it will stay sounding fairly warm even with a Floyd Rose. It's basically made to be the most all-round balanced pickup possible.

Second choices for a Floyd & Ebony combo would be the SD Alternative 8 (basically a less muddy Invader, and warmer than the D Activators) or a DM Tone Zone (same as the Alternative 8 but to an even greater degree; much less treble).
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:18 PM   #6
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Dude, a warmth comes from the magnet more than anything. The only problem here is that if you want a pickup that is really good for high gain, you typically go with ceramic. And A8 pickups might be better than ceramic if you are looking for warmth, but there are few on the market. I believe the Tone Zone handles gain very well while having an A5 magnet, but I personally don't like the Tone Zone for metal. Also, "sparkly" is just a terrible way to describe a tone, imo. I don't even know what you mean when you say that.
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W4RP1G
"sparkly" is just a terrible way to describe a tone, imo. I don't even know what you mean when you say that.

That's how I feel anytime people discuss pickups or I read reviews on tone.
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFlibble
Imagine those with the treble knocked up, that's the D Activator sound in that sort of guitar.


Basically that. Moreso like the 81 model than the 85. Personally I reckon the D'Activator is a fantastic bridge pickup in mahogany for playing metal BUT it has really unimpressive cleans so if that's a deal breaker then I would suggest you avoid it.
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VVolverin3
Basically that. Moreso like the 81 model than the 85. Personally I reckon the D'Activator is a fantastic bridge pickup in mahogany for playing metal BUT it has really unimpressive cleans so if that's a deal breaker then I would suggest you avoid it.


Tosin Abasi, Phil Collen, and Chris Broderick beg to differ.
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:37 PM   #10
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Alright let me rephrase. It has really unimpressive cleans imo


I'm sure you *could* get a decent sound out of it, particularly when you're playing with something like an Axe-Fx but I found that it doesn't naturally sound as nice as other pickups I've used on the clean channel - it sounded a bit lifeless. Don't really know how else to describe it. Didn't sound much better in the neck position either.


Again... IMO
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:50 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFlibble
The SD Invader really doesn't have any 'warmth' in the usual sense, it's just so bloated that the treble is overpowered.

D Activators aren't much better. What you're basically looking at is a regular, generic, high-output humbucker with a ceramic magnet, but with the coils slightly offset so you get a little wider response at the cost of some added low-level hum. It's a pretty standard design, really, and not something that should blow your mind unless you have very low standards. With a Floyd Rose bridge and an Ebony fretboard, they're going to be very bright and brittle-sounding. You know how you thought the EMG 81 and 85 sounded 'sterile'? Imagine those with the treble knocked up, that's the D Activator sound in that sort of guitar.

First thing I'd suggest you look at is the EMG X-series pickups, specifically the 60AX. It's clearer than the 85 whilst being smoother than the 60 and warmer than the 81. It does have lower output than the other three main EMG humbuckers, but it's still much hotter than any passive pickup. Most importantly, it will stay sounding fairly warm even with a Floyd Rose. It's basically made to be the most all-round balanced pickup possible.

Second choices for a Floyd & Ebony combo would be the SD Alternative 8 (basically a less muddy Invader, and warmer than the D Activators) or a DM Tone Zone (same as the Alternative 8 but to an even greater degree; much less treble).


Well the EMGs were with a rosewood fingerboard and an alder body, different guitar. And the alternative 8's treble is horribly high for me. I have the SD fullshred now, and I think the treble is as high as I would want it.

The alternative 8 is almost a LOT more trebly then the D Activators according the each site's respective equalization chart. And the EMG-60AX, I are two mild in output.

Aren't passive pickups supposed to be really versatile? Why would their be a problem with the clean tones with high gain pickups? Do you know of any passive DM or SD pickups with high output and better cleans?
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:52 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VVolverin3
Alright let me rephrase. It has really unimpressive cleans imo


I'm sure you *could* get a decent sound out of it, particularly when you're playing with something like an Axe-Fx but I found that it doesn't naturally sound as nice as other pickups I've used on the clean channel - it sounded a bit lifeless. Don't really know how else to describe it. Didn't sound much better in the neck position either.


Again... IMO


Thank you all for your responses. A question VVolverin3, what pickups did you had in mind that sound better in clean than the D Activator?
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:59 PM   #13
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D-Activators are essentially Dimarzio's answer to active pickups. Same sound characteristics, but as a passive.
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Old 11-18-2012, 11:48 PM   #14
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The DiMarzio Super 3 has warm tone to it though it's middy as **** and highs are dark.
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Old 11-19-2012, 12:35 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KSEjunkie2468
Thank you all for your responses. A question VVolverin3, what pickups did you had in mind that sound better in clean than the D Activator?


I'd love to help you buddy but in all honesty I don't know. I've not yet found a bridge pickup that I'm totally happy with. I would potentially think about putting a D'Activator in the bridge and then a different pickup in the neck for cleans. Again, which one? I dunno sorry
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Old 11-19-2012, 10:13 AM   #16
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Id try some invaders yes they can be muddy but with a good amp and some propper eqing
you can get a decent clean tone and they work great for metal. And yes i use them so thats
my experience with them.
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Old 11-19-2012, 12:30 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dark Mass
The DiMarzio Super 3 has warm tone to it though it's middy as **** and highs are dark.


Hmm yea I see on Dimarzio's site that pickup has

Mid: 8.0

Bass: 6.5

Treble: 5.0

For the EQ chart.

Are the mids too much do you think, and is it good sounding more metal? (I don't like scooped mids)
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Old 11-19-2012, 12:53 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KSEjunkie2468
And the alternative 8's treble is horribly high for me.
Er, the Alt 8 has very little treble detail. I don't know how anybody could think it has too much treble. The only pickups which have that sort of output and less treble are the DM Tone Zone and Breed pickups.

Quote:
The alternative 8 is almost a LOT more trebly then the D Activators according the each site's respective equalization chart.
You can't compare chart-to-chart, and in fact those sorts of charts tell you nothing anyway. There's no way to test a pickup's EQ other than by playing with it and hearing, then judging it based on your previous experience with other pickups. DiMarzio and Seymour Duncan could create exactly the same pickup but because SD test their pickups in standard Fender and Gibson guitars into Fender and Marshall amps, and DiMarzio mostly demo theres in Ibanez and Music Man guitars into Peavey, Mesa Boogie and Randall amps, the two companies could come to completely different conclusions about the EQ of the pickup.

Quote:
And the EMG-60AX, I are two mild in output.
They have about two and a half times the output of DiMarzio D Activator pickups and more output than a regular EMG 81 or 85.

Quote:
Aren't passive pickups supposed to be really versatile?
No. Versatility comes from the amplifier mostly, and second to that it depends on the exact model of pickup in question, not simply whether they are passive or active. In fact, if anything, the vastly wider response range, lower noise and lower impedance of most active pickups makes them far more versatile than any passive pickup can ever be.

Quote:
Why would their be a problem with the clean tones with high gain pickups? Do you know of any passive DM or SD pickups with high output and better cleans?
The most commonly-loved clean tones come from lower output pickups. By using softer-sounding magnets and cooler coil windings you expand the response range of the pickup, increasing its dynamic range and giving a generally more balanced tone. When you make a high-output pickup, you have to sacrifice stuff. The higher the output goes the more dynamic control you lose and the more the pickup will start to respond to one particular area of tone. This is why lower output pickups are generally rated as having quite even distribution of bass, mids and treble while higher-output pickups are almost always really highly rated on one thing, rated medium for something else and rated very low for the third part.
There's also the problem that the vast majority of high output pickups use ceramic magnets, and this is what gives the typical sterile tone. Ceramics give you more power but they don't really enhance the EQ like various alnico magnets can.

This is why I suggest a pickup like the EMG 60AX. The active design means it has a wider and more dynamic response than any lower-output passive pickup so cleans sound very detailed, the alnico magnet keeps it sounding smooth and not overly-bright like a ceramic-magnet high-output pickup would, and yet it still has more output than any high-output passive pickup. The 60AX has become my 'default' pickup for this very reason; out of all the high-output pickups I have, it's the only one with truly tasteful clean tones. Of all the low-output pickups I have, the EMG is still more dynamic.


What I'd suggest is you think hard about what sort of tone you're trying to get and how a pickup change may help you. Bear in mind how different a pickup can sound in different guitars and through different amps. Ultimately it is your amp that defines your tone, then the guitar, then the pickups a distant third place. And rather than think about pickup choices in terms of what the manufacturer's websites say or which famous people use them or what you think you've heard in other peoples' guitars, think about your current rig, think about how the whole thing sounds and in which direction you'd like it to change. Don't think "waaa er well I guess I'll use D Activaors because of REASONS". Think (for example) "okay, my tone with this guitar is a bit too thin and lacks character, so I should look for something with an alnico magnet and medium-hot coils".

Stop worrying about model name and marketing talk, just check out the magnets, the coil winding style and think about how that will interact with your guitar's construction and your amp. It makes choosing pickup s lot easier and you'll often find that the best thing for you is something you would have never thought of if you only thought about pickups in terms of the manufacturer's EQ ratings and the model name.
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Old 11-19-2012, 03:27 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFlibble
Er, the Alt 8 has very little treble detail. I don't know how anybody could think it has too much treble. The only pickups which have that sort of output and less treble are the DM Tone Zone and Breed pickups.


No, the invader has little treble, the Alt 8 is very high on treble, this can be observed from pickup comparison videos switched in and out of the same guitar, and SD's chart has a high treble rating, plus I've heard it in person and its way too trebly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFlibble
They have about two and a half times the output of DiMarzio D Activator pickups and more output than a regular EMG 81 or 85.


A D Activator has an output of 470 mV. So you're saying the 60AX has an output of "about" 1175 megavolts? Isn't that a bit high XD?

"if anything, the vastly wider response range, lower noise and lower impedance of most active pickups makes them far more versatile than any passive pickup can ever be."

Then why is the EMG 81 a one trick sterile pony? XD My invader is superior-ly versatile to the 81, it sounds warmer and less thin.


"There's also the problem that the vast majority of high output pickups use ceramic magnets, and this is what gives the typical sterile tone. Ceramics give you more power but they don't really enhance the EQ like various alnico magnets can."

But my invader using a ceramic magnet sounds warmer than my full shred which uses an Alnico 8 magnet.

"This is why I suggest a pickup like the EMG 60AX. The active design means it has a wider and more dynamic response than any lower-output passive pickup so cleans sound very detailed"

My guitar only works with passive pickups

"Of all the low-output pickups I have, the EMG is still more dynamic." Isn't the 60AX higher output than an active 81?


For a tone I want, higher gain than the full-shred, a warmer sound (maybe not the same warm that other people call warm, because a lot of people call neck pickups warm and I think of those as toneless and sterile), so a "hotter" sound would be a better term. And I want a decent clean tone too as well.

You've helped very much thank you! But do you know of any passive pickups that would suit such requirements other than the Alt 8?
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Old 11-19-2012, 04:05 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KSEjunkie2468
A D Activator has an output of 470 mV. So you're saying the 60AX has an output of "about" 1175 megavolts? Isn't that a bit high XD?


I really have nothing to contribute to this discussion on the whole but I did laugh at this
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