Jumbo Sunshade - Ezine

 
Music Gear Review - DiMarzio DP224 / AT-1 (Andy Timmons signature humbucker), and DiMarzio DP192 / Air Zone Pickups
 

[DP420 & DP224]

Just over a year ago i had decided on DiMarzio DP420 pickups as neck position replacements in two of my guitars (replacing Carvin AP11s).  I had matched these up with Carvin C22 humbuckers at the bridge (C22s are lower-output, PAF-style).
[read my review of the DP420]

With the DP420/C22 combination i had to go with an overdrive pedal into the rhythm channel of my high gain rig,

and with settings that were a compromise between these two pickups' individual characteristics.
I was very happy with this combination initially, and then less happy a few months later. Finally after about 9 months of gigging with those two guitars i knew that i really needed to find a humbucker that was alot better match for the DP420.

After lots of research and getting other people's opinions i

bought two more DiMarzio pickups - an Air Zone (DP192), and an AT1 (DP224).

I'm trying these pickups through these amps: mid 90's high gain boutique, early 70's Twin Reverb, modeler/SS combo.
Using these speakers: closed back 1x12, 4x12/vin30, 4x12/EV, closed

back 2x12 EV.  By far the main cab i gig out with is a closed back 2x10 with very clean high-power speakers.

I actually loved both of these humbuckers through every amp/speaker combination, with and without an overdrive boost pedal in front of the amps.  The Air Zone and the AT1 both sounded great through from crystal clean tones, to warm and crunchy, all the way up through six preamp tubes of high-gain

ridiculousness.  The combinations of DP420 (neck) / DP224 & DP192 bridge - just awesome, seriously.  I would've
been completely happy with either the Air Zone or the AT1 as a compliment to the Virtual Solo (DP420) but there are differences between the DP224 and DP192.

Sonically, the differences between the AT-1 and the Air Zone were so subtle that i actually had to go back and listen to the recordings i'd made and then A/B them that way.  I jammed for a really long time with the Air Zone when i first installed it, and then when i was done with it all i jammed for at least as

long with the Andy Timmons pickup.

I ended up spending about 2 days each just going through all my gear and really getting a feel for the pickups, especially when combined with the DP420 (at the neck).
 

I have to say that a review of one of these humbuckers is a review for the other; they're just that much alike in my opinion.  The Air Zone has an output that is just slightly higher than the AT1, and to my ear this was really only noticeable through the modeler/solid state amp rig.

The less distortion you put to these pickups, the more sustain they have when compared to pickups that are higher output.  The reason for this is because the magnetic pull on these pickups is fairly weak.  This is by design.
With more distortion up to high-gain, these pickups are less aggressive and have less sustain than higher output pickups.  This makes perfect sense.  But because of this, for me personally i need to use an overdrive pedal going into the rhythm channel of my high-gain amp, which is something i never had to do with pickups such as Super Distortion, J90 (Jackson), or M22SD (Carvin).
 

In terms of pick attack, the dynamics of the DP224 & DP192 humbuckers are outstanding from clean to heavy distortion.  You change the way you play; you change the way you sound.  This characteristic is perfect for me, although for some material this could easily be a bad thing (unless you had compression in your signal chain); it

just depends on what kind of a player you are and what gig you're using this type of pickup for.

On balance, the lows and mids of these pickups are more pronounced than the high end.  You can easily get plenty of bite, if you want it, but some players might want to also take down the Low EQ on their amp just a bit.  I will say that even with the pronounced low end, these pickups are not muddy at all, and they maintain awesome definition even on the lead channel of a cranked high gain amp.
 

For most players, both the AT1 and the Air Zone humbuckers (at the bridge) would be a great compliment to a high gain tube amp.  For those players who are doing

metalcore or some other material where what they're after is a very muddied tone - there are other pickups that would be a much better choice.

The pickup i ended up keeping was the DP224 (AT-1).  Honestly both pickups sounded great through all my tube amps, but the Andy Timmons model was a slightly better compliment to my practice amps and my modeler/SS rig.  It's impossible to describe; maybe it was due to lower output hitting the digital amps but it just sounded slightly less harsh than the Air Zone.  I also felt like the AT1 was just a bit more sensitive to pick attack, which is something that i personally like.

I have to say that there is nothing wrong with the Air Zone, and i would have been completely happy with that pickup as well!  I just slightly preferred the DP224.

 

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