Ag DB680 first impressions

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by blamkin, Dec 13, 2001.

  1. blamkin


    Nov 28, 2001
    Broomfield, Co
    Welp, the UPS man delivered my aguilar DB680 preamp on Tuesday night. Last night, I got to spend several hours with it. I thought I'd post my first impression for those of you thinking about one of these, and solicit some responses for those of you with the 659...

    First off, the thing has great tone. In fact, you can stop reading now, because that's the most important bit of info to get from my post. The tone's so good, I really don't care about all the nitpicks I'm about to list.

    That said, (aside from the tone) here's the good stuff:

    a) This thing has a built-in crossover. I can choose 100-1K frequency, and volume for each output. This one feature is the 2nd biggest reason I opted "up" for the 680 over the 659. Truly, my whole rig sounds better because of this. I love biamping, apparently. I can also run full-signal to one channel, then either high or low to another channel. I guess technically I could even run full to one rig, then high and low to two other rigs. My "sound" may eventually revolve around this feature. I'm impressed.

    b) There's a three position (off, +, and ++)
    "deep" switch just above the bass knob, to add quick boost to bass. This thing is killer. EQ a little wimpy? switch to "+" and instant beef. Love it. "++" is too damn heavy for me to use -- wonder what it's like on stage with other musicians? Anyway, dig it.

    c) There's a two position (off, and +) "bright" switch above the treble knob. Room a little dead? EQ a little flat. Flick. Treble. Nice. Dig it.

    d) Para EQ. two bands one like 180 - 1K (or so) the other from like 1K to 4K or so. I know at some point I'm going to love these... they really affect the sound. I just am not that familiar with how to use 'em -- trust me though, I will love them.

    e) Foot controller for input 1/2, and mute. Change basses, click a button. Nice. Tune? Kick. Nice.

    f) XLR out has four-position knob for -40db pre EQ, -40db post eq, 0, +2, +4. Sound guys will love all that when I'm on stage -- Plus I can easily use to record right from this preamp to some digital recorder whatnot stuff. Nice again.

    OK, now for the completely whack "what were they thinking???" stuff.

    a) There's no headphone jack. $1250. You've got to be kidding me.

    b) The ONLY balanced output is the (one) full-range XLR output. The crossover outs are plain old 1/4 inch unbalanced. No TRS anything. Why not biamped balanced?

    c) The XLR out "selector" only lets you choose pre-eq with -40db. If you want 0, +2, or +4, you're stuck with post-eq. Why not two switches?

    d) The nice footswitch does not have active/passive on it. So, if you have one passive bass, and one active one, you hit the footswitch to switch inputs (nice) but have to walk back to the rig to switch from active to passive. Why bother with the footswitch???

    OK, those are my FIRST impressions. I have another day or so to checkout the unit, but right now, I can't imagine parting with it. The tone is simply wonderful, and I'd be afraid that the 659 wasn't as good tonally.

    Ask away with any questions you like... I'm pretty much positive I'm keeping it... you'd think for that much money I'd be absolutely positive...

    Don't get me wrong: I bought this for tone and biamping... In those respects, I can't return this thing. The whacky stuff makes me just shake my head and <sigh>


    Any 659 users have comments?

  2. Sounds very nice!

    I really like the 659 because of the simplicity - it's just so damn easy to get a really great tone with that little sucker. I've used the 659 for live and recording applications, and all it's done is offer up a warm yet hi-fi, flexible sound. Some of the features included in the 680 sound very cool (biamping, expanded deep switch, parametric EQ, etc.), though. Aguilar gear is top-notch, so I know you'll enjoy yours!
  3. PJR


    Jun 20, 2001
    N.E. PA

    I've been Gas'ing for one for several months now....

    Where'd you say you picked yours up from ???

    As far as the balanced out.......why would you want to send anything other than a 'full-range' signal to the house board ?? The House system would then split the bass signal accordingly.... makes sense...doesn't it ??

    I'm with ya on the headphone thingy though...

    Congrats......and good luck with it.

  4. blamkin


    Nov 28, 2001
    Broomfield, Co
    Hey Peter, thanks buddy. I got it from Gard at He matched another online price, of $1250. I'd rather buy from someone who supports this board.

    As far as the XLR out... you're right about sending full-range to the board, but then, I personally at my rig don't get balanced anything.

    Maybe, I don't really need it, since the amp is merely inches away. It just didn't make sense to me, because in my understanding, it's not much extra effort to make a unbalanced output into a balanced one... my QSC takes balanced so, that's where my thinking comes from.

  5. PJR


    Jun 20, 2001
    N.E. PA
    .....that's about the goin' price I guess.... :)

    Good Luck !!

  6. Balanced connections have better signal transmission and are way better for noise rejection (the signal is referenced to an out of phase copy of itself, not to the cable's shield/ground). Also, most power amps have balanced inputs so feeding them an unbalanced signal results in a 6dB gain loss. The noise and signal transmission things aren't that big of a deal on short cable runs, but a 6dB gain loss raises your noise floor by 6dB.... It makes sense to have balanced outputs to drive power amps. It's also more expensive to balance because you either need a transformer or an active circuit to produce a balanced output. Maybe that's why they didn't do it. Although for that price tag....
    Sweet preamp, though. Those things sound amazing. Congrats!
  7. bill- I'm coming over, give me directions to your house. you've got my #
  8. coyoteboy

    coyoteboy Bongo destroys villages and does my laundry Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2000
    Sactomato, CA
    I sure do love my DB680.

    Rear input is nice-parallel to input 1.

    I've only used the passive input mode once. It's hot!

    The ++ bass boost is too crazy for most situations, unless you have a bass with a weak bass output. I have the + bass boost on about 50% of the time.

    I haven't played around with the eq much, I haven't had to, but there sure are alot of tweaking to be had there. Its all very smooth and musical sounding, even at extreme settings.

    It would be cool if the crossover could be routed for use in the fx loop for high/low specific effecting, then routed back for a full range output. My old SWR SM-900 worked like that, and I thought it was very useful.

    Balanced outs would be nice, but my DB728 only has one unbalanced input, so I guess I don't need it.

    Duh! Where's the headphone jack?? I agree, but perhaps think of it this way, it was designed primarily as a recording preamp, and how often, in a recording situation, are you listening to only yourself playing?

    And hey, I got a vintage unit. it has a purple crystal!:D
  9. Thanks for the in-depth user impressions.

    I have to agree the limitations mentioned above are sore spots for such an expensive piece of equipment.

    Worse is the balanced out configuration. I'm a die-hard bi-amper, and the lack of balanced outs from the built-in crossover completely turns me off. The XLR out (pre-EQ) at MIC level also turns me off. I use Rane crossovers that operate on balanced LINE levels, so I get no hum problems. The DB680 balanced out will give me no tone controls. This sux hard.

    The unbalanced outs from the built in crossover will unbalance my entire system. Dunno what Aguilar is thinking, but most two channel amps are designed to use balanced inputs.

    I was looking for an addition / replacement to my SWR Interstellar Overdrive, but neither the DB680 nor the Demeter are going to do the job. Both have insufficient balanced outs. The Demeter also uses MIC level balanced outs, no other choice. This is also completely useless for my needs.
  10. j.s.basuki

    j.s.basuki Supporting Member

    May 14, 2000
    US $1250 is damn cheap , I bought it from Beaver of Bass Central for 1450 ????, How come so much difference ?
    :( :confused:
  11. About the headphone out-

    It's a friggin preamp; the thing outputs to line level. Just get a 1/4 to 1/8 inch converter and you've got yourself a headphone out.