Seymour Duncan Blackouts(2)

Active pickups have certain advantages over passive designs in that they can deliver more output over an extended frequency range, they’re quieter and less susceptible to RF interference, and they have a less compressed dynamic response. Seymour Duncan previously relied solely on its LiveWire models to court the active crowd, but with the launch of the new Blackouts ($248 retail/$173 street, pair), they appear to finally have a pickup that can win in this arena. Specifically, Blackouts are advertised as having 14dB less hum than competitive pickups—a figure arrived at by using balanced inputs on the amplification circuit—and they promise more lows, more highs, and more output than other active pickups. The Blackouts feature a black plastic cover, and the internal components are epoxy potted. Power comes from a single 9-volt battery, and the pots, jacks, battery clip, and a detailed instruction sheet are included. We tested these pickups as installed in a Schecter Blackjack ATX, whic
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In comparison to guitars with standard humbuckers, the Blackouts are much louder and punchier. No huge surprise there, but what’s interesting is how open they also sound. I expected the Blackouts to be more clinical or hi-fi sounding, but their gushing vibe was totally happening, with excellent note detail and the kind of fat-yet-crisp stringiness you associate with great passive pickups. The sense of authority they provide throughout the frequency spectrum is amazing. If you live for massive lows, they deliver. If you want upper midrange presence to cut though a heavy onstage mix, no problem. And if it’s top-end shimmer you’re after, these pickups do the deed. For ballsy rock riffing and hyper-gain shredding the Blackouts are simply outstanding, but they also can pull back to provide very rich and sweet textures—especially when combined—while staying clear and focused at lower volume levels. The Tone control installed on the ATX also operated in a very predictable manner, providing effective treble rolloff without killing the clarity at the lowest settings.

The Blackouts offered better noise rejection than standard humbuckers when tested in proximity to a computer monitor. You can still hear buzzing if you get too close—so the Blackouts aren’t entirely immune to this kind of interference—but, kept at a reasonable working distance from the monitor, it was possible to run a very high gain setting on the amp and not hear any hum being injected into the signal. Based on our experiences with the Schecter ATX, the Blackouts easily deliver everything you want from active pickups, and then some. We’d advise against anyone engaging in blackout drinking, but we’d certainly urge power mad rockers to give Blackout pickups a try.

Kudos High output. Extended frequency range. Clear and open sounding. Quiet.
Concerns None.
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