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Aguilar DB680 Preamp

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Lockout, Apr 16, 2003.

  1. Save up for the DB680

    28 vote(s)
  2. Buy the cheaper DB659

    10 vote(s)
  3. Go back to the Ampeg

    2 vote(s)
  1. Lockout


    Dec 24, 2002
    What experiences have you TBers had with this preamp? Is it worth the money? I'd like to try it out in person, but there aren't any Aguilar dealers nearby. I like the way it's set up, but I'm just not sure it's worth the investment.

    I'd probably use it with an Aguilar GS212 (maybe two later on if absolutely necessary) powered by a QSC RMX2450. I was originally thinking of buying an Ampeg SVP-Pro, but the noise problem has me a little worried, as well as a few other small details.

    What would you do?
  2. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz

    Mar 28, 2002
    Santander, Spain
    what are you going to use it for? If you're going to use it for recording and you also like to tweak your controls a lot then save the money and get the DB680.
    I've got the DB659 and I couldn't be happier with its warm, deep and thick tone. But I'm the kind of guy that set the controls flat and rarely move them from there. I also use its DI out for home recording and the tone is warmer and more organic than when I plug my basses (Lakland 4-94, MM StingRay and Danelectro LongHorn) straight to the recorder (tascam 788).
    The DB680 has nice features, but think twice if you're really goning to use them.

    hope this helps

    keep groooovin'
  3. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    I owned the DB659 and while it was good, I didn't think it was all that. Especially for the price premium they go for. My current main pre is a Kern.

    However, the rehearsal studio we've been using the last few months in NYC has the DB680, I get the most amazing fat warm tone out of it. I'm not normally one for using the deep / bright switches on preamps as they usually seem to add too much bottom / top. But the boosts on the DB680 have been very well thought out - the bass boost makes the sound extra fat without being boomy, and the high boost adds just enough top end to cut through.

    I've been keeping an eye out for a used DB680 for a while now, just managed to snag one. I'd advise the same, as list price for the DB680 is about $1500 these days.

    In my opinion, the DB659 is good but the DB680 is great and really in another class. If you can afford the extra dough, go for it. If you can't, the 659 will serve you perfectly well but you may then also want to look around at similar preamps in same price range which I feel are better value for money (Kern, Alembic, Demeter).

    If you're going for a fat, warm sound then in my experience the Kern and Alembic pre's do a better job than the DB659 for less money. The Demeter is more hi-fi and clean.
  4. Check out the pre-amp shootout.
  5. I recently acquired a DB 680 in a trade and have been very happy with it. I have a Demeter 201s pre and an SVT4 pro currently and have owned GKs and SWR heads.
    I just A/Bed the Demeter and the Aguilar and my first impression is that the Dem. adds the least "color" and has a tight/clean sound. If you own a nice bass and want to 'hear' it, that's the head. The Aggie is definately fatter and seems to bring out harmonic tones. The parametric EQ is not as tricky as I thought and I'm an electronic idiot. As Joker has said many times, it is an Ampeg on steroids. The SVT 4 pro, although a nice amp, can't compare to the Aggie and is on the chopping block.

    The 659 and the 680 are truly different creatures and I would save for the 680. Hope that helps.
  6. fender58

    fender58 Guest

    Sep 8, 2000
    Southern California
    I'm staying on the subject a little bit by asking you Aguilar users what tube do they use in there pre amps? Thanks right now!
  7. Chuck M

    Chuck M Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    San Antonio, Texas
    Aguilar ships their preamps with military GE tubes.

    I presently own an Ampeg SVP-PRO, Demeter VTBP-201 and an Aguilar DB659. The Demeter is my favorite and the Aguilar is my second favorite. Unless I'm using the Aguilar, then it is my favorite! They are great preamps and I could live with just either one.

    I've owned 3 Alembic preamps and they are indeed very fat sounding, however, they do not have the clarity of the Demeter or the Aguilar.

    The Ampeg is just not in the same class. It is far too noisy for the studio or even to use the DI to the mains. It is still a very nice preamp and I use mine when I want a big and fat tone and want to tame down a bright sounding bass.

  8. I think like stated above, the aguilar rocks, I own a DB750 myself, and for me at least i keep everything flat, so i really don't need the extra tweeking. The Aguilar sounds excellent run flat. so consider that when purchasing.
  9. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    i'm more than happy with my DB680, but i'm starting to figure out, that the Demeter VTBP201s is more my sound. IMHO, the brite switch on the VTBP is sooooooooo much sweeter. but like Dave W. said, the two levels of bass boost on the 680 does seem nicely voiced.

    i also have Demeter's HBP-1 which is the parametric equivalent to the 680. tho, it has only one tube vs. the Aguilar's 5-6 tubes, i like the fact that it lets you shape and sculpt the mids as well as the lows. the 680 does highs and mids.

    in my experience, i dont really see the need for messing with the highs of my bass setup. i'd rather focus on... what else? but the lower end! helps me tame that pesky boominess, or fatten things up for those dead rooms.

    of course, one tube aint gonna match the juicy curves of the 680's 5-6 tubes. to me, the 680 literally sounds, plays, and feels like a bed of soft s'mores. :cool: oh yeaaa...

    then again, the HBP-1 is MUCH tighter and taut in the low end. if i leave both flat, the HBP's low end stands at attention and does your bidding. while some of my buds say stiff, i say responsive. no matter how much booty i add, it handles like a dream. the Aguilar, on the other hand, sometimes just feels a tad slower and spongier.

    then again, under the din of a loud live gig, i'd be hard pressed to tell the diff. :p
  10. Lockout


    Dec 24, 2002
    Okay, sounds like a plan... I think I'll go with the DB680. :)

    Any suggestions where to buy it? I've looked around online, and e-mailed a few places. The lowest price I found was $1400, which is a bit more than I'd really like to spend, so If you've found it for less anywhere, please share :D
  11. vanselus


    Sep 20, 2000
    Boulder, CO

    DAMN IT JOKER. How many f'ing times do I have to tell you. 10 tubes. The damn 680 has 10 preamp tubes. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10. 10. 10.

    But that said, I totally agree with you - compared to the Demeter, the Aguilar is flabby - the quickness and punch of the Demeter sounds like your bag, baby. However for me, the Aguilar is THE ****. (and i almost never use the bright or bass boost)
  12. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    woah, my bad... didnt know it had 10 freakin' tubes... sheesh, pretty crowded in there, yea? ;)
  13. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    vanselus: Wrong!

    The Aguilar site refers to the DB680 as a "10-stage tube preamp", but it has five tubes:
    -Two 12AX7A/7025 high-mu twin triodes
    -Three 12AU7 medium-mu twin triodes

    Just wanted to clarify that.

  14. vanselus


    Sep 20, 2000
    Boulder, CO
    damn. i'm so ashamed. now what am I going to do with the other 5 tubes? no WONDER they're just rattling around inside there!
  15. Lockout


    Dec 24, 2002
    Back on topic, if you guys don't mind :)
    ^^^^ Read that :D
  16. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    well, with tone that gushy stuff thick, i'd be more than willing to believe 10 tubes. :p

    btw, i spoke with Alex at the shop, and asked him what tubes he likes best in thar, to which he responded the pre is voiced specifically for the generic russian tubes. but, i'm like, "wha?"

    cmon, i doubt sticking a few nice Telefunken ECC83's, and Mullard 12AU7's i got lying around would really hurt anything. :meh:

    i'm gonna try it this weekend, i'll post back with a mini wannabe basstaster review. :bassist:
  17. vanselus


    Sep 20, 2000
    Boulder, CO
    Great joker! Can't wait to hear what you think of the difference!!

    tell us as soon as you do it :)
  18. I own the DB 659 and I am extremely happy with it. It's got a nice clean, warm sound, and it sounds great flat. the deep and bright switches are also nice and tasteful. I've also tried the DB 680, and wasn't the crazy about it. It didn't sound as warm, and all of that parametric EQ stuff confuses the heck out of me. (That's just me). Worth the extra money? Definately not. I like the DB 659 for its sound and its simplicity.
  19. Daytona


    Apr 26, 2003
    I just recently picked up a DB680 and I am playing it through a QSC PLX1602. I can't imagine the 659 sounding better than this. As far as the controls are concerned, set them at zero and have at her. This rig is absolutely incredible!!!!
  20. vanselus


    Sep 20, 2000
    Boulder, CO
    The 659 does not sound better than the 680 - it sounds different. Like Jacob said, (and i completely agree)

    "It's got a nice clean, warm sound, and it sounds great flat. the deep and bright switches are also nice and tasteful."

    However, I prefer the glassy clear high end and chewy mids of the 680 - and he prefers the 659. It's all about what you're looking for. There's sound clips of both at www.basstasters.com (the 359 has essentially the same sound as the 659)