XR Spectra v2

This is the best full frequency range pickup! The XR Spectra v2 is now available for pre-order, with an estimated 4-6 weeks lead-time. See below for pricing info. For inquiries and orders, please send us a message using our online contact form.

Overview

The XR Spectra pickups are low-impedance pickups with a uniform frequency response from 20Hz to 20kHz. The XR Spectra pickup is engineered to capture the signal induced by the string with no added coloration.

Traditional high impedance (Hi-Z) pickups have their own baked-in character. You will have to replace the pickup to get a different tone — defined by the pickup’s frequency response and characterized by its resonant frequency, which typically starts to fall off around 2-6 kHz. The XR Spectra pickups, on the other hand, allow you to change the pickup’s tone anytime using post EQs.

The XR Spectra v2 pickup can be active (powered with a preamp), or passive (no preamp, no batteries). In passive mode, it has an output comparable to passive under-wound pickups. In active mode, it has an output comparable to an EMG81 pickup.

The XR sound

Throughout the development of the XR-Spectra, we used the original XR pickup as our sonic baseline. Here, we compare the sound of the XR vis-à-vis XR Spectra v2. We then compare the sound of full-range XRs to some common high-Z pickups: the Gibson BurstBucker, DiMarzio Injector Neck and DiMarzio Evolution Neck.

✏️ Note: Please use a decent set of headphones or speakers, or ideally, a good reference monitor.

The audio clips below are recorded dry, direct to the audio interface and a DAW. No effects, no EQ. The sound clips were taken with the pickup selector in the neck position. The strings are picked at the 24th fret (or where the 24th fret should be on the Les Paul and the Strat). All audio clips are normalized to -0.1dB.

The original XR and the XR Spectra v2 have almost identical spectral fingerprints, although if you listen closely, there are subtle differences, especially in the higher frequencies above 8kHz. This is due to the different magnetic structures: the original XR is a side-winder, while the XR Spectra v2 is a dual-rail. Such minor differences can be compensated with a judicious amount of EQ:

The key point here is that all the harmonics are present, and each XR Spectra v2 pickup is guaranteed to have the same frequency response. This consistency is important in establishing a baseline, or reference point, before dialing in the desired EQ.

For comparison, here are the audio clips from the Les Paul Studio (Gibson BurstBucker), a Fender Stratocaster (DiMarzio Injector Neck), and an Ibanez JEM7V (DiMarzio Evolution Neck). As expected, there’s a 12db/octave cutoff somewhere around 2-6 kHz.

Here’s another test video clip demonstrating the original XR in various positions and combinations, courtesy of Fabio Mittino:

 

If you want more audio demos, the original Cycfi XR sound clips showcase the sonic quality of the Cycfi XR extended response pickups. 

Listen to samples →

Is it for you?

  • If you play clean, this is the perfect pickup for you! This is probably the cleanest sounding pickup ever.
  • If you play exclusively with distortion and high gain, you are likely better off using high impedance pickups.
  • Tone Block
    If you frequently switch from dirty to clean, and everything in between, then the XR Spectra, together with the Tone Block, is well suited for you as an extremely versatile pickup.

The Tone Block is a small passive second-order (two-pole) resonant RLC filter with variable frequency and Q (resonance). It is specifically designed as post filter for the XR Spectra pickups, active mode, giving you the freedom to change each pickup’s character on the fly.

What People Say

Hi! Pre-production is ready for my solo project Simple Music for Difficult People! I’m used to hi-fi pickup (I’m a long time user of Q-Tuner pickups) but the XRs sounds way better to me, and they perfectly fit in my style.
 
— Fabio Mittino fabiomittino.com

We are overwhelmed by the sound of this amazing pickup combination by Cycfi Research Inc. The XR is an active humbucker at the size of a single coil pickup. The sound is clean and transparent, almost acoustic.

— Touch Guitars www.touchguitars.com

Best pickup I’ve ever used in any guitar. It does not sound sterile in the slightest; it sounds full, reproducing the entire frequency range of the instrument from top to bottom with no dips anywhere in the frequency range. Since installing the XRs in my custom Jaguar, my passive guitars have remained untouched and I don’t see that changing in the future.

— Dylan Reznick

Evolution

There are evolutionary modifications from the original version released last year. Most importantly, v2 is re-engineered with a better magnetic structure for optimum output, using low impedance coils vs. medium impedance coils. The passive-mode output is now very usable. A big step up from the original. The preamp gain (in active-mode) is reduced, while maintaining the same output level. This means that the broadband noise floor is also significantly reduced.

Pricing and Availability

The XR Spectra v2 and the Tone Block is available for pre-order, with an estimated 4-6 weeks lead-time. For inquiries and orders, please send us a message using our online contact form.

✏️ Note: The list below includes sizes for 6-string (3.3″), 7-string (3.5″) and 8-string (4.0″) electric. The 3.5″ also fits most 4 string basses’ string spacing, and the 4.0″ fits most 5 string basses’ string spacing. 

✏️ Note: If there’s sufficient interest, it might be possible to manufacture 4.5″ and 5.0″ extended widths, as originally planned. Send us a message.

✏️ NoteWe can customize a baseplate for your particular need if you provide is with some info.

XR-Spectra 3.3″ (For 6-String Electric)
Single unit$99.99
Set of 2$159.99
Set of 3$224.99
Set of 4$279.99
XR-Spectra 3.5″ (For 7-String Electric)
Single unit$109.99
Set of 2$175.99
Set of 3$247.99
Set of 4$307.99
XR-Spectra 4.0″ (For 8-String Electric)
Single unit$119.99
Set of 2$191.99
Set of 3$269.99
Set of 4$335.99
Tone Block
Single unit$29.99
Set of 2$47.99
Set of 3$67.99
Set of 4$83.99
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Ray D
Ray D
3 months ago

When you say:

In active mode, it has an output comparable to an EMG81 pickup.

Does that include the EMG’s compression, or are there a full-range/linear dynamics too?

Last edited 3 months ago by Ray D
Ray D
Ray D
3 months ago
Reply to  Joel de Guzman

Thanks for the quick reply!

Stefan
Stefan
2 months ago

Hi Joel,
I’m a happy owner of the original XR pickups with the first gen Q filter. It’s a great improvement to make the frequency selector switchable, because I always fail to get the sound I want with the original design in a live setting. Is this achived with a pot with rasterization or a switch with different resistors?

While the old XRs are the quitest pickups I own, I always dream about even quieter ones. You did a comparison of Nu v1 and v2 noise levels a few years back, could you also do this with the original XRs vs Spectra v2?

You are one of very few people bringing electric guitar to modern audio standards. Please never stop developing and improving. Thanks and all the best to you Stefan.

Last edited 2 months ago by Stefan
Chaz
Chaz
2 months ago

If you play exclusively with distortion and high gain, you are likely better off using high impedance pickups

Can you elaborate on this? I think the tone block in a stomp box idea is great, it’s essentially different pickups in a box on the floor! Just curious why this wouldnt work as well for high gain tones?

Eleanor Fontaine
Eleanor Fontaine
2 months ago
Reply to  Joel de Guzman

Distortion character and per frequency envelope response can be sometimes drastically altered by filter resonance range and Q though which I think is a huge advantage in high gain.

Largely the biggest advantage I see in Spectra for high gain is the incredibly low noise floor. The lower the noise floor, the lower the noise gate setting one can get away with and the more dynamics one can get under increasing gain.

Chaz
Chaz
1 month ago
Reply to  Joel de Guzman

I’m not convinced 🙂 I still want to try Spectras with dual tone blocks and a good parametric EQ before preamp gain stages. I bet theres some really unique high gain sounds to be achieved! My favorite trick is sucking most of the lows out pre-gain, then adding them back after the gain stage, but I’ve never been able to do it with anywhere near this amount of control!

dave Carness
1 month ago

I’m mostly a purest when it comes to classic guitar tone with the right combo of vintage gear or modern emulations but am also a sucker for a deeply saturated distortion and filter sweeping capabilities attainable through Moog or Arp type filter matrices. Ergonomic control via guitar knobs would be a blessing. Is this something I should be looking at for the latter application?

dave Carness
1 month ago
Reply to  Joel de Guzman

I think I would need both an on board fuzz and overdrive circuit with order switching capabilities to go along with this. Low z would change everything I know about those circuits though. A hollow body guitar would add in some natural resonance to the equation.

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