Aguilar, a new chapter in the preamp saga

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Brandt, Nov 8, 2001.

  1. I've really done it now. After weeks of trying out what I could get my hands on, I've decided to get rid of the POD PRO (painful story under EA/Roscoe and Pod trial thread) and go with an Aguilar 680 pre to replace the old Trace that's currently in "intensive care". My new set-up for the trial will be Roscoe/Aguilar/Crown/EA.

    My plan was to also check out a Demeter and Kern pre before buying, but this was just too good a deal to pass up. Most people who've tried them have described the Demeter and Aguilar as being similar but saying the Aguilar has a little more tone shaping ability and a slightly more agressive mid-range. Anyone out there with experience and advice for me about the Aguilar would be appreciated. I have liked the Aguilar sound, but never owned any of their gear before.

  2. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    well, what advice would you like? i've recorded quite a bit with my aguilar, and i love it. in fact, i re-recorded stuff that i originally did with my old demeter. not that the demeter sucked - it didn't at all, very nice, clean amp. the aguilar just, ime, has a better tone, more meat and grind.

    best preamp i ever played.
  3. JT,

    1) Can you describe "grind"
    2) Does the DB680 do it?

    I wasted an afternoon at a Guitar Center having the nice young man demo the SVT4Pro and SVT Classic through Ampeg cabs, and all I ever heard was a bass guitar. No revelation of any kind. He used a 1972 P, a Zon, and a Warwick.

    I have an Alembic F-1X I am pretty happy with, just hunting around to see if I'm missing something having a pre that doesn't "grind."

    Maybe I should play through an In-Sinkerator...?

  4. I was wondering how best to get the gain stages right with the Aguilar and any things it may do differently than other preamps. One thing my Trace had was a series of LEDs for setting optimum input level. The controls did what any sound engineer would expect them to do. On the other hand, The POD I have been tinkering with has numerous controls that effect the gain stage and it will distort before any clip light blinks if you're not careful. Also, It's terminology (IMO) doesn't always match up to what it's actually doing. The Roscoe has an 18 volt system and can challenge a lot of inputs in the "heat of the moment". How's the headroom with the Aguilar? Are there any "quirks" you ran into? I'd used the same Trace pre for 12 years and though it had some short comings, I really liked it and knew it like the back of my hand. I'm in a situation where any good advice I have will help my break in period seeing as I'm taking it on the road the week I get it.
  5. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i've never played with an alembic f-1x before, so i don't know, maybe you're getting what i call grind already and you don't realize it. :D

    brandt, in answer to your question, i played through a trace ah600smx for a long time (live) and i loved it. going from the trace to the aguilar, it seemed to me that my sound opened up a bit - got a bit more airy. the aguilar had the best features, imo, of both the demeter and the trace - the clarity and distinction of the demeter with the liveliness of the trace, tonally.

    as for overdriving it, i have a few of my basses equipped with 18 v electronics, and they can over drive the aguilar if i crank all the on board eq controls. i have to crank them to the top, though. anything less and it's fine. the aguilar also has an input attenuator, active/passive, but i always use it on the passive setting
  6. Bichegrinderboy


    Nov 8, 2001
    Hey Guys!

    The Aguilar DB 680 is really versatile despite the fact that it doesn't have LED's like the Trace Elliot. I've used one at my friends studio a bunch and have found that if you back the volume (your gain) off to around 9-10 o'clock you'll get a very smooth tone, the more you turn it up the more you drive the tube and the more you get that classic Ampeg sound - slightly overdriven and fuzzy around the edges.

    In general I find the Aguilar to be a lot more "Flat" sounding than the Alembic. The Alembic has a huge scoop in the mids which make the highs stick out too much for my taste. The bottom end also sounds huge though...Great preamp but I have better luck live with preamps that have more midrange. Those are the frequencies that sit you properly in a mix. The Aguilar gives you so much EQ that you can get almost any sound you want but it always works in a mix. You pay for what you get I suppose...that's why it's on my wish list! Now if only my wife didn't want to remodel the kitchen...
  7. That's some good info to work with. It sounds like I made the right choice based on the Trace/Demeter/Aguilar comparison. Thanks, John. We bassists are a picky lot who seem to get more emotionally attached to our gear than most other musicians. I always liked the lively sound the old Trace gave me and it worked real well with the Crown powered EA cab. I agree with you guys. It's the mid-range where our "music" is coming from. I understand you may want less mids for some styles of playing, but to have nothing but boomy lows and sizzling highs makes for a nightmare on stage with the volume police. That's the very reason I didn't go with an Alembic pre. What good is it to go over and beyond the "call of duty" as a bassist if no one can hear it?
  8. coyoteboy

    coyoteboy easy there, Ned Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2000
    Sactomato, CA
    Hey JT, I always have the input switch on my DB680 set to active. The passive setting is way, way hot. I can't even imagine using 18v with the passive setting, as the master would be at 1. Guess everyone's gain chain is different.

    talk about hot, my new IOD is crazy! I now officially have too many tubes...
  9. When I was using the G&L 2500 I had to run my 680 in passive mode. It had too much growl to it. The Laklands I'm using now have a more refined tone to them and I'm able to now run the 680 in passive mode and still get a nice clean tone. I have my gain set at about 2 o'clock. It gives just a very slight hint of overdrive but still maintains a real clear, round tone. The 680 is a great preamp