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Aggie/Demeter worth the $$$?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by peteroberts, Feb 4, 2003.

  1. I'm looking for a preamp, something I can use live w/a Crown C1000 as well as in the studio.

    I have the software version of the SansAmp PSA-1, and I am pretty impressed by its wide range of tones.

    That's not my most desired feature in a pre, though, and am not in a position where I can go out and try out stuff (none of the stores here in the ATL have pre-amps like this in stock).

    Most important for me is tone (want great lows and transparent highs). I also want something where I can choose between pre- and post- on the output to the house/board. Why spend all that $$$ when all you have is basically a direct box?

    So my question is...is the Aguilar DB659 worth the extra $600? I could by 3 SansAmp RBIs for that.

    The Demeter gets good reviews, but is pretty expensive too (2x the price of the RBI).

    Do they really sound that much better? What about features?
  2. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    I can't tell you how the RBIs sound, but the high-end preamps give you a clarity that you wouldn't believe. Is it worth it to you? That is up to you.

    It wasn't worth it to me. I just sold my Kern last night because it was worth as much as my bass 2.5 times my power amp. Worse yet was I'm in need of cash right now and what else could I sell? If money weren't an issue, I would have never sold my Kern, but for me it just didn't make economic sense.

    Best of luck on your quest.

    BTW, where do you find RBIs for $200?
  3. submelodic


    Feb 7, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    I would say that once you're at a certain level, you get diminishing returns as the price increases.

    IMO the DB659 is not worth $600 more than the RBI. If you can close the gap in price by buying used, you may find spending a little more is a good investment.
  4. sorry I meant I could by 3 RBIs for the price of one Aggie.
  5. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    I'd agree, I've been trying out a bunch of preamps in the last two months and while I really like the 659 I don't think I could justify paying $999 for a new one. $600 shipped, no tax, for a used one in good condition? Sure (and that's what I did).

    As xyllion said it's all about whether it's worth it to you.
    I tried the Demeter HBP-1, and while the sound wasn't for me I thought it was an excellent preamp.
    To me it felt 'worth' $700, which is the best new price I got quoted on it.

    On the other hand the Ampeg SVP-PRO is, to me, overpriced at $499 new. Despite the great 'ampeg sound' from it, I hated the hiss. But I'd put up with it if i paid $300 used for it.

    Note, these are my opinions. They're not meant to be bashings of Ampeg or whomever. Just my subjective preamp testing thoughts.

    Now if I had a million $, I wouldn't give two hoots about the price!
  6. well, I dont have a million dollars, but could afford a $1000 pre-amp if I thought it was worth it.

    Why am I always hearing about hiss w/the Ampegs?
  7. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    The Demeter is a pretty pure pre-amp, and might not give the low end you seek, unless your bass already has a nice low end. But if you like the sound of your basses and want a pre with a excellent direct out.....I would check the Demters out.
  8. vanselus

    vanselus Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Boulder, CO
    there's no good indicator of "worth the price" - if somebody buys it, it's worth the price.

    however... i had a DB659 and didn't really care for it - so $600 would be pushing it, and $999 would not even be a consideration... BUT I paid $850 for a used DB680 and I love it so much that i'd pay double that if I had to.

    now I also used to have a demeter (the old 1.5 space one) which i raped from guitar center for $420 (they didn't realize it had the Jensen Transformer)... to ME (and me alone) the dem is easily work twice that.

    hip. hop. POW.
  9. what was the difference between the Aggies?
  10. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    I own the Aguilar DB659 and the Demeter 201S. And I just bought xyllion's Kern. Yes, they're worth the money...to me. Obviously, I don't "need" three preamps of this quality. But I can afford them and I appreciate the difference. The Aguilar is warm and very punchy. The Demeter is transparent and very open sounding. Haven't received the Kern yet. I also have an Ampeg SVP. Yes, I'm a maniac. I like 'em all for the different tones they convey. My rationale is: I've got a fortune in high-end basses, power amps and cabs. Why pinch pennies on one of the most important tone links in the chain?

    The short answer to your question boils down to: anything's worth it if YOU feel the tone makes enough difference to justify spending YOUR money on it!
  11. vanselus

    vanselus Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Boulder, CO
    The two preamps are really night & day different to my ears, which was kind of a surprise.... now don't get me wrong, they're in the same LEAGUE - not like comparing ampeg vs. raven.

    The main difference was the amount of midrange complexity. I know that sounds like bass player magazine hokey words - but instead of being overly mellow and just "unexciting" to me like the DB659, the DB680 just had that certain shimmer, the indescribable INTEREST to the sound. Not to mention the tighter bass, glassier more airy highs, and a rounder tone overall.

    That doesn't even begin to touch the DB680's monumental (for analog) tone shaping abilities, or how it absolutely SHINES as a studio DI.

    In comparison the Demeter was CLEAR clean bright and just beautiful sounding to my ears. However, I prefer a fatter (yes, less distinct, less clear) tone overall. (also why i don't play epi/berg/acme/ea etc cabs)

    The other "crazy Aguilar surprise" (would be a good band name, eg?) was how different the DB728 poweramp sounded with the DB680 than the Stewart 2.1 I was previously using. They both sounded amazing, but I preferred the DB728's fat, organic - and somewhat mushy, colored tone.

    If you have specific questions, ask away!
  12. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    Boogie, I'm right behind you..
    I'm going to start collecting preamps next. I found my cabs in the Bergs. I have a HT212 HT322 HT112 and will soon have EX1112. sheeeze. Now I'm looking for a Kern too (no wall-wart) Maybe even a FX-1 and I can't wait to try the Bergantino pre... There is some consolation for being middle aged (I can buy what I want) Only one more to put through college, yippee!
  13. Yamarc

    Yamarc Supporting Member

    Jun 25, 2002
    Okemos, MI
    I am debating between the VTBP 201S and the DB680 (used). I play a modulus Flea bass and I am still trying to narrow down what I am looking for. I loved the clarity of the Avalon U5 but miss the warmth of the DB659- it was just too limited for me, a good rock and nlues pre but not jazz, etc.- Vaneselus, Do you find that the DB680 is versatile enough for you? I use 2 Aggie GS112' s and a Crst power amp, I don't want too mushy but I am worried that the Dem will be too bright on the graphite. What do you suggest? Thanks, Marc
  14. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    $999 for a DB659 is ludicrious to me.

    a year ago, they went for $650 which is average for a high end preamp. but what the hell happened? unless Alex is personally hand wiring each one to my exact specswith silver wire, and lining the chassis with 24 k gold, then i'd consider it. but these are pretty much what's been selling all these years, no? anyone know what's up with the price increase?

    the DB680 is all over the 659, but they are hard to come by used. the tone, versatility, mojo factor far out weight the 659.

    i personally use a Demeter VTBP as my main pre cause its my voice, but use the DB680 for studio and occassional live use.

    do a search on the forum, and you should get MONDO number of hits.

    also, IMHO, if you're gonna spend this much cash, getting both on evaluation from a reputable dealer is a must. sure, you're gonna be out on the shipping which prolly totals $20, but what's that compared to buying a $700 pre that you might hate in the end?
  15. Matt Morgan

    Matt Morgan Fellow Conspirator Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2001
    Plano, TX
    I'm playing through a very similar set-up to the one you're considering: VTBP-201S, Crest LT1500 and two Aggie GS112s. I would call the Demeter very "clear" not necessarily "bright". It provides a very uncolored, precise sound. I'm playing Cirrus 6 string basses which may not be quite as bright as the Modulus but they are neck thru and graphite reinforced, etc. To me the overall sound of the Dmeter is very full, clear and articulate and has really been what I've been looking for.
    Just my two cents.
  16. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    Ummm! Demeter? yes! Love mine.
  17. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
  18. I've been lurking and must say this has been helpful to me. I now use a Dem 201 and love it BUT I do have GAS for a Fatter/Warmer/Rougher sound at times.
    Played the Ag 659 and was not impressed, the Ampeg SVP-PRO was hissing like a pissed off cat. The 680 sounds great and I'm now looking for one.

    Thanks boys
  19. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    I recently got an EBS Fafner. If the EBS preamp is anything lie the Fafner then you can sure get that Fatter/warmer/rougher tone. 'Cause that amp is capable of that in spades!;)
  20. vanselus

    vanselus Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Boulder, CO
    I second the EBS vote. If I didn't love my Aguilar setup so much i'd be an EBS man all the way

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