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Active vs passive in effects

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Zorth41, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. Zorth41


    Dec 28, 2013
    I recently heard the an active bass will react differently with effects than a passive bass, can you people explain this?
  2. BFunk

    BFunk Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    That is true is some cases. An active bass has a lower output impedance than a passive bass, so it interacts with dynamic effects differently. Also some actives have very high output compared to typical passive instruments. So the gain structure is different. Most modern pedals are designed to work well with either one. But you may have to adjust settings if you switch from one to the other.
  3. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Everything BFunk said plus headroom. Most 9V active basses have less headroom than passive ones, so they can act as if you have a compressor between the bass and the effect. Sometimes this can be good, sometimes bad.

    I used to have an octaver that tracked better with active basses. Most envelope filters I've used sounded far better with passive instruments.
  4. Vic Winters

    Vic Winters Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2006
    Rochester, NY
    I prefer actives, but stuff like the VT Bass works much better with passives.
  5. BFunk

    BFunk Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    They don't have less headroom, they have higher output. The device receiving the signal has fixed headroom, the amount of gain it can take before distortion. So a hotter signal is more likely to use up the available headroom. Headroom is actually a complex discussion that I won't get into here, but I think you get the idea.

  6. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    While active basses often have higher output, there are plenty of low output active basses and high output passive ones. Just by adjusting pickup height you can make most active instruments have lower output at full volume than most passive ones.

    I'm not talking about the device receiving the signal, I'm talking about the dynamic range of the signal being generated by the instrument. Passive instruments usually have a greater dynamic range than 9v active ones. Slapping or other hard right hand action often sounds compressed on 9v basses as compared to passive basses because the headroom of the preamp is being exceeded. That is one of the reasons 18v systems sound so much more like passive systems, because of greater headroom.