The new Pop Top Boost from Milkman Sound takes its inspiration from the classic American recording consoles of the 1970s. They designed a discrete Op Amp which fits the standard 2520 footprint and put it into a modern pedal enclosure for use with guitar or any other instrument that uses 1/4” phone connectors.
The Pop Top takes power from a common 9V center negative pedal power supply and converts it to 36V of internal headroom (that’s more than a tube has!). This unusually large amount of headroom has many practical uses ranging from a 30dB clean signal boost, a unity gain buffer with midrange focusing detail, or a line driver.
They designed the Pop Top to run at “unity gain” with the control set at zero. At unity you can hear the discrete op amp color and find a sweet spot without dropping any signal. There is enough headroom inside to use the Pop Top at the very end of a pedal chain even in tandem with other gain and boost pedals.
As a preamp, the Pop Top can enhance the subtle details of the source in the same way that a microphone preamp in a classic American recording console would. In the 1970s discrete op amps were designed to be used at the input and output stage to both preserve detail and slam magnetic tape with as much signal as was necessary to capture the sound. The Pop Top is designed to inspire some of that same magic and creativity from the world of classic record production but in a much more guitar friendly package.