Palmer PDI-03 Speaker Simulator

The PDI-03 ($565 retail/street N/A) is a combination signal splitter, DI, and load box designed specifically for guitar and bass. According to designer Martin Schmitz, this reissue is nearly identical to the original, which won raves from major artists such as Keith Richards, Alex Lifeson, Joe Satriani, and Eddie Van Halen for its ability to capture the complete sound of an amp—including the power-amp section—without the use of microphones.
Publish date:
Updated on

The PDI-03 is a passive device that takes the signal from an amp’s speaker output, and converts it to balanced and unbalanced signals suitable for feeding the input of a mixer, recorder, or power amp. The unit is preset for an 8-ohm load, but can be factory modified for 4 or 16 ohms. You can go direct and use your speaker simultaneously if you choose by using the Thru jack, and there are also four additional unfiltered 1/4" outputs with a separate level control. Two three-way filter switches allow you to adjust high-end response to simulate “American,” “British,” or “bright” speaker types, and adjust low-end response to simulate closed-back 4x12, “neutral,” or open-back 2x12 speaker cab sounds.

I routed the PDI-03 to a MOTU 828MkII via a balanced XLR connection and tested it in a studio environment using several guitars and amps. Whether handling clean, crunchy, or distorted sounds the results were uniformly impressive. In all cases, the PDI-03 effectively captured the personality of the particular amp, and the only aspects of the original sound that didn’t make it through were hum and noise. Although pricey, the PDI-03 is arguably the best-sounding speaker simulator you can buy.

Palmer (Distributed by JAMS Audio), (866) 380-5267;