Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by TroyK, Sep 26, 2005.

  1. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    So, just to relate a story, not to try to definitively review equipement, I had occasion yesterday to really thoroughly A/B my GK MB150 and a friends AI Series II Combo.

    We both play small group jazz in town and have been curious about each other's amps. I've been thinking of looking for an AI Combo just because of what I read, but he always seems interested in my GK.

    As I've posted in other places, I'm usually happy with my combo. Sometimes I think it sounds GREAT, other nights I'm fighting my sound. He says basically the same thing about his AI. He also reports that at volume (jazz combo volume) his clips or distorts sometimes. Mine almost never does that, but have OCCASIONALLY hit a head room problem, which I think comes from a combination of the room and the music, rather than just one or the other.

    He plays a new Chinese hybrid bass. I play a 1900ish Chezk bass.

    So, yesterday there was a 5 hour session and we were the only 2 bassist. There was piano, guitar, vibes, drums and a handfull of horns throughout the day. Here's how we tested.

    * His amp, his bass, him playing, me listenning
    * My amp, his bass, him playing, me listenning
    * His amp, his bass, me playing, him listenning
    * My amp, his bass, me playing, him listenning
    * His amp, my bass, him playing, me listenning
    * My amp, my bass, him playing, me listenning
    * His amp, my bass, me playing, him listenning
    * My amp, my bass, me playing, him listenning

    Everything else was the same, we both use a Realist. We kept the bass and amp set up in the same place, but whoever was listenning, moved around the room. The instrumentation around us changed a bit, but that's normal for jazz.

    Both amps did the job, we didn't get any distortion or clipping from either. We could always be heard. I don't think that either one sounded more "Natural" than the other, at least not to mortal ears. Both as players and listenners we liked the sound from the GK a little better on this particular day. It was more clear and focused and we felt a bit more confident with it. There was a point in the night that I didn't like the sound from the AI and a different point where I felt it had openned up (both with my bass), but I don't know why. I fooled with the knobs a bit and people moved around the room. At no point, though did I like it enough to think of replacing my GK with one. Conversely, I'm not sure I would switch the other way if I had an AI. There just wasn't all that much difference, but consensus yesterday was that the Gk handled the session better.

    So, I'm just reporting here, not trying to insult acoustic image or anything. I know a 3rd guy who uses one with a Stat-B and gets a much different sound that I really love. Our test was with no seperate preamp and the equipment we use.

    I also know that the trend now seems to be to team up the AI heads with different cabs. We didn't use extension cabs with either set up. Just a straight A/B experiment with the equipment we use.

    So, if I didn't own a portable combo, what would I buy? That's an open question, but my urges to switch from my GK are waning, at least until I hear something new. I also tried the Rev Solo pickup this year as an alternative to the Realist, but went back pretty quickly. I still don't quite hear what I want to when amplified, but I don't have an affordable, portable alternative yet and I think that there are just inherient issues with amplifying doublebass, especially if you like your acoustic sound (which I do).

    I wanted to share our experiment. Hope someone found it interesting.

  2. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Which version of the Gallien Krueger were you using the MBE or the MBS. Since the midrange controls are different on those two models it would help to know which on it was. Thanks

  3. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    It's an MBE.
  4. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    The Acoustic Image amps IMHO don't color the mid range timber like the GK MBE's do. In you're case with you're bass that must be a good thing. ;) Since the GK preamp actually sounds more like you're bass it's great, unfortunately the oppsite is true for mine.
    I get a nasty midrange honk that you just can't dial out.


    PS. I'm using a Realist as well.Go figure?
  5. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Yeah, if I've learned one thing it is that there are seemingly a million factors that make us have different experiences with the same equipment. In this case, keep in mind that we had 2 basses, 2 players, each bass very different in tone.

    It's hard for me to hear "smiley eq" and such. I just don't have that much of a hi-fi trained ear. My judgement is much more "how does the bass sound? Can I hear myself? Does it sound good with the band? Does it sound good out in the room?" Not very sophisticated or precise, but it's how I think.

    We certainly didn't have the "the gk sounds electric and the AI sounds natural" experience that one might expect.

  6. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Here are the tone curves that I measured on my MB150E combo. The thick line is with all the controls flat, meaning the big knobs are centered and the little knobs are all the way to the left.

    Attached Files:

  7. After A/Bing the GK MB150 and AI Clarus using both as a heads through a Flite 112 cab I believe that an amp needs to be voiced. Otherwise it's like to drink distilled water - no taste. In my test (with Realist, in three different venues) the GK through Flite sounded pretty decent while AI was VERY midrangy and there was no way to dial the middle frequencies out. I still believe the MB's are the best for upright. They sound fat all over the range while the other amps (including AI) sound big on the bottom but become very thin and nasal in the middle/upper register. The only thing missing at the GK is the 10 Mohm input. Just my (maybe quite radical) opinion...
  8. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Most, if not all, pickups add a lot of "color"- that is to say, they do not reproduce the acoustic sound of the bass, but over- or under-emphsize certain frequencies compared to the pure acoustic output of the bass. In that case, a perfectly neutral amp doesn't give you the sound you're looking for. When you have a microphone that does accurately reproduce the sound of the instrument, neutral reproduction is indeed what you want.

    The only combination I ever heard that sounded just like the bass it was amplifying was an AMT microphone through an AI combo.
  9. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    You are correct sir! Depending on the pickup, my friends use
    a number of simple 10 meg ohm buffer pre's to make it work.
    People don't understand, its not the eq on the amp, its the
    impedance mismatch of the pickup. Easy to fix.