Mini Booster: How Does It Work?

Intensification at high performance

The Mini BOOSTER is an oscillating booster. As a result, higher outlet pressures are achieved and oil loss is compensated on the high-pressure side. The animation, it shows how the mini booster operates based on its patent-pending system.

The basic design includes a piston with low pressure (LP) and a piston with high pressure (HP) along with a reversing valve with bistable action (BV1). DVs (dumping valves) are optional.

Port IN is supplied with hydraulic fluid at system pressure. Bypassing through check valves KV1, KV2, and DV (if included) on port H, the flow is uninterrupted. After the Booster Mini, all flow takes place through a cylinder on the high-pressure side of the pipeline. A cylinder meeting resistance increases its pressure on its high-pressure side H equal to the pump’s supply pressure. DV and KV1 close, and oil is directed to Vol 1.

Vol 3 connects to Vol 2 via the bistable valve BV1. Pump pressure causes the pistons in Vol 1 to move downwards.

Consequently, Pilot Supply 1 energizes the bistable valve BV1 so that its position is changed when the piston has fully moved down. As Vol 2 moves upward, the pistons provide fluid at higher pressure.

We determine the resultant pressure by comparing the area of the low-pressure piston LP to that of the high-pressure piston (HP).

BV1 returns to its original position so that the piston that moves up to high pressure (HP) can move down to Pilot Supply 1. The cycle repeats until the desired end pressure is achieved. The intensifier will stop at that point and only restart to maintain pressure at the high-pressure side of H.

The high pressure can be reduced by using DV (if included) on the pilot-operated side. The Pilot Supply 3 can be pressurized by connecting port R to the supply pressure and port into the tank, allowing fluid from the high-pressure side H to flow back into the tank.

The Sound

Booster pedals do exactly what their names suggest- they boost the clean guitar signal before it hits an amplifier or other pedal. You won’t find any wily ‘effects’ here unless you consider your amp going into natural overdrive or adding more attack to a certain pedal chain an effect. Anyhow, as with all good booster pedals worth their weight, the Spark Mini’s boost is essentially transparent, even at its maximum setting, so you only hear your guitar and your amp, but with a lot more kick. Les Pauls, Telecasters, and what not sound like anything else.

The Spark Mini worked great with our Marshall combo and we were very pleased with the results. Even with only one control knob, we managed to produce a wide range of sounds. By turning the knob slightly, the volume will increase as well as the bass will be thicker and the high end will sound brighter. Tube amps are legendary for their warm, gritty overdrive, which can be obtained when the baby is tweaked into full drive.

It is also possible to overdrive amps that already have an overdriven tone for an even sweeter distortion. Booster pedals work best with valve amps, however, the Spark Mini works just fine with transistor-based amps, otherwise known as solid-state amplifiers, although the sound quality is affected by the amp. It also works great with pedals, as mentioned before. Adding a bit of kick to solos or heavy riffs is especially useful with this effect.

Final Impressions

This portable version of the Spark Booster from TC Electronic packs in as much as possible from the original Spark Booster. Though the Spark Mini lacks 6db in boost power, it is not a slouch. The Mini might not have the same level of power or controls as the original Spark Boost, but PrimeTime’s versatility more than compensates for any shortcomings in specs – and it’s significantly cheaper. The Mini is a great option if you’re looking for an affordable, unique booster pedal. Highly recommended.


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