Active Bass Battery Question

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Matt Call, Oct 2, 2004.

  1. Matt Call

    Matt Call Supporting Member

    Aug 1, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN

    I was sitting, jamming out today and my 9v battery died on me :( . So I went to the store and bought some new ones, and then it dawned on me... What if a different brand of battery made basses sound better/worse?? This may be a dumb question, but I'm interested to see what people have to say about this.
  2. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    If you mean alkaline batteries...

    There's some variation in the voltage curve of different 9vs (none of them put out straight 9v until they suddenly die- they may start out just above 9v, spend a day or two around 9v, a week or so between 9 and 8, two weeks between 7 and 5, and then steadily decline).

    Some will stay between 9 and 8 volts longer but last a shorter period, others will stay between 8 and 6 volts longer, and have a longer useful life.

    As to which sound better, it depends on the circuit and how critical it is that the voltage stays near 9v, as well as how fast that circuit will drain a battery of power.

    But as long as the battery is putting out a usable amount of voltage, there is no audible difference.

    Now where it gets weird is that some stompox effects sound very different when the battery gets low, and some people prefer that kind of sound. Certain brands last longer in the low voltage state, so to those people, those brands "sound better."

    I can't imagine that a voltage-starved bass preamp would sound better though. They barely have enough headroom at 9V as is.
  3. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    just for a second, I've used lots of different batteries including rechargeables and I haven't distinguished any variation in sound/tone regarding an onboard preamp. I presonally went to all rechargeables in short order, not only for cost but convenience. Now I run all passive.

    The comment on the stomp boxes was interesting as you have to watch rechargeables becuase MOST of the 9V rechargeables are not 9 volts at all. Many are 7.5v. I mention it cause those batteries don't work well for onboard preamps (bassplayer recommends changing batteries when they drop to 8.5v but mine worked fine down to 7.5v) but they may be just the ticket for those stomp boxes.

    Another thing about the rechargeables is many of them are a little smaller than the typical 9v size which can make a difference in a tight control bay and even more so with an 18v system.
  4. well i dont use rechargeables...mainly becauase they dont last as long, and dont have as high an output, but myself i use energizer industrial alkaline battery's, which are trade quality which last about twice as long as conventional off the shelf batts...mind you my preamp is 18v and has a 1000 hour life on standard off the shelf batt's...but ive had these in for almost 12 months and noticed no lack in performance....

    my teacher uses a fender deluxe active jazz, mexican, and he uses a rechargeable and recharges it once a month..but i dunno, i plan on changing mine at the 12 month mark to prevent leakage...ewwwww, leakage ;)
  5. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Yea, I don't recommend rechargeables for onboard use. Rechargeables work best for devices that require frequent battery changes. A NiCd or NiMh battery loses its charge even when it isn't used. So, a bass sitting in its case for a month or two will come out of the case with a dead battery.

    Unless you are using your bass every day and leave it plugged in for 8 hours a day, you won't go through alkaline batteries very quickly. Most players report that they can go 6 months to a year without a battery change. If you don't use your bass, the battery could be left in even longer than that.
  6. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    I agree with everything posted above between (and including) these comments.
    From a tehnical POV, I can see why some circuits sound different at different voltages. Why people stuff around with batteries in them in this tenuous state baffles me though. Get someone to make a couple of adjustable voltage regulators and set them for the "correct" (ie sounds right) voltage into each stopmbox and know that it will sound the same every time you use it.
    Clipping sounds bad in opamps, especially low voltage and current ones, which is what most pre's use.