1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Alembic FX-1 v. Demeter VTBP-201S v. Demeter Hbp-1

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by LaBassGuy, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. LaBassGuy

    LaBassGuy Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2008
    I own an SWR Marcus Miller Preamp as well as an Avalon U5. I get great tones out of these two but I am looking to add a tubey, warm preamp to my rack--something that's bit away from the clean sterile tone of the SWR and the warm but still clean tone of the Avalon.

    I don't care for distortion or overdrive but do want that natural tube compression you get from tube bass heads. Something that will sound great slapped but also will give me a deep fat tone.

    Of the three preamps above, which one will give me what I want?

    Thanks for your opinions.
  2. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I owned a F-1X many years ago, and I liked it very much. It was very warm & tubey IMO.

    I've never tried the Demeter VTBP-201S, but I'm a longtime Demeter HBP-1 user. I wouldn't say the HBP-1 is quite as warm & tubey as the Alembic, but it's somewhat close IMO.

    I find the HBP-1 to be "quicker" in response and it's (defeatable) solid state parametric eq makes it more versatile tonewise compared to the F-1X.

    IMO between the F-1X and the HBP-1 there really isn't a wrong choice. Both are fantastic IMO.
  3. Quackhead


    Jan 17, 2012
    Elk Grove, CA
    Just to add that I've heard the VTBP-201S is a great tube preamp but it doesn't do the big, pillowy low end thing. Great high end though.

    If I were you, I'd look into the Aguilar DB659 as well. They are discontinued and can be hard to find sometimes, but they're out there.
  4. pbassnut

    pbassnut Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2004
    Falls Church, VA
    If you're looking for deep and fat, the F-1X is probably the best one of the bunch, IMHO. And as Quackhead mentioned, the Aguilar DB659 is an excellent choice, too.
  5. LaBassGuy

    LaBassGuy Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2008
    Is the VTBP-201S similar to an SWR or Eden type sound?

    Btw, if the 201s doesn't do the tubey thing, I am thinking the HBP-1 surely doesn't since it has one fewer tube.
  6. LaBassGuy

    LaBassGuy Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2008
    I also want to throw in the Fender TBP-1 into the mix.

    How does it compare to the Alembic Fx-1?
  7. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    F1-X with a separate EQ so you can use the interactive eq for tone rather than eq. Demeter is not a lot different than SWR for me.
  8. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    If you're now allowing more options, how about the Monique? Personally, I greatly prefer octal tubes to 12A...7 variants for bass applications.
  9. JEDBass

    JEDBass Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2009
    West Hartford, CT
    LaBassGuy, Here's my description of the three (never played thru the Fender so I can't comment there):

    F-1X: definitely has it for big warm low end. Not the most flexible EQ and defintiely not a pre you want to pair up with scooped sounding cabs (too much of a good thing). Pair it with a sealed box or something like the Berg HS410 and watch out though. From what you describe, I think this is your best bet. Personally, I'd add a parametric EQ stomp box to give a little more versatility but that's just me.

    HBP-1: Easily the most versatile of the three. The paramteric EQ is very powerful and incredibly handly for dialing in rooms. I would put this somwhere between the SWR and Eden tones, and I'd say closer to those two than the F-1X (or from what I understand the DB659/680 neither of which I've tried). FWIW, I'm using both a Mesa Walkabout and an M6 Carbine now, and I can say that I can get the Mesa to sound a lot like how the HBP was, but with a little extra upper mid bite that the Carbine's known for. The HBP is a bit more polite but still very precise. Since you already have the Avalon, I think the HBP would be somewhat redundant tone wise.

    -201s: IMO, the -201s really has its own sound. As Quackhead mentioned, it has excellent high end, an almost sparkly sheen to every note you play. I never owned one, but played through one enough times to have a good feel for it. Comparing it against the HBP, I swear I think I heard a little more inherent low end coming from the -201s, but it was close from what I remember. Also, from a tone scultiing stanpoint, I feel it sits right in between the Alembic and the HBP.

    They're all great pre's. Just keep in mind what cabs you're running these into. Especially with the Alembic (IMO of course), it can have a pretty big effect.
  10. Dee-man

    Dee-man Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    Of the ones the OP specified, I've only played through the F1-X, which was very nice. The Alembic F2B (?) was tubier sounding to my ears. But if you want a big, tubey pre, of the more common ones discussed here on TB, you should look at either the Kern IP777 or the Aguilar DB659 (pm me if interested) or, for a cleaner tube sound, a Read Purity (there's one for sale in the classifieds). Good luck, DM
  11. alembicbones


    Nov 10, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    I've owned an F-1X for years and it's a great preamp. As mentioned before, you might also want to consider an F2-B also. Two separate channels and you can cascade one into the other if you are looking for some tubey overdrive. They come up used very often on ebay.

  12. BrBss


    Jul 9, 2010
    F1-X is more suited to that than the Demeters. I have a VTB-201, and while its a great pre, its more about clean articulation than tubey compression.
  13. LaBassGuy

    LaBassGuy Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2008
    And how does the Aguilar DB659 compare to the Alembic and the Demeters as far as tube warmth and compression?

    Does the Aguilar DB659 have the pillowy sound of the DB751?
  14. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    I peraonally dig the Alembic thing way more than the Demeter 201 anyway. The Demeter is very, very clear. To me it is very much like playing through a good mic preamp. Great River, etc. I have that sound covered in an actual mic pre.

    The F1x and F2B have warmth and the certain something... I'm not doing rack rigs anymore. So when I want that I turn to an old Music Man RD100 which has a similar vibe. I'm adding in a Twin Reverb chassis, mounted in a Showman style cab soon. That one I'm planning on adding a line out to... If I needed the rack rig at this point it would house an F1X and as mentioned previously, I would keep a good stomp EQ in the mix as well...
  15. LaBassGuy

    LaBassGuy Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2008
    So I guess the Demeters are no different than what I can get with my Avalon U5 and/or SWR Pre.

  16. mindwell

    mindwell Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2006
    Wichita, KS
    Acoustic USA endorser
    +1 to that. F-1X has a very detailed top end to complement that big low end; three-dimensions of sound and articulation. For low mids, which it doesn't do nearly so well, I've added a one-band parametric stompbox, the E.W.S. Bass Mid Control (BMC), to delightful results. Lots to like about this rig with both active and passive basses. There's a reason it's the standard.
  17. LaBassGuy

    LaBassGuy Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2008
    I wanted to consider the Eden Navigator too, but I heard some samples where the DI was pretty noisy. Plus, I don't think I'd be able to get that tubey compression from the eden.
  18. Hi,

    i've had friend's F1X for some minor repair and valve swap at my bench some time ago. Because i didn't have any bass at that place for testing, i've ran demo file from Jule Amps (original bass recorded via Countryman 85 DI) through DAW analog loop with F1X. I can't recall exact Fender tone stack settings, but there was some natural mid dip.. it was set for pleasant sound by ear not for measured flat sound.. so it can't be really directly compared to other demo files on Jule Amps website. Also passive bass guitar have much higher output impedance than my audio interface, which will also change result sound quite a bit. Anyway if you find it useful for listening to basic sound character, here is sample:


    (first is always Countryman, second is Alembic. Original links to Jule amps files is in description)

    It sounded pretty good to me. Circuit is pretty simple and bulletproof with one ECC83 valve (first half for input buffer and driving FX loop, second as main gain), opamps buffers for driving crossover and output. Fender classic tone stack.

    From mentioned preamps, i like TBP1 by Fender. It has same nice valve fatness plus practical room tilt EQ and vari-Q. Also very good build quality (at least one, that I saw)


  19. Doug Parent

    Doug Parent Gold Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    San Diego, Ca.
    Dealer Nordstrand Pickups.
    I liked the HPB-1 over the Alembic mainly because of flexibility. The F1X by itself was a bit limited tonally but it is a monster at what it does.
  20. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I was going to bring up the Read Purity. A very good recommendation IMO. And you don't see these coming up for sale very much. Unfortunately Jack Read got out of the business not very long after the 'Production Model' came out. I don't think he made a whole bunch of them.

    I have a Read Purity in addition to my Demeter HBP-1. IMO the Purity has a very tubey, pillowy low end and a tube 'sag' effect. Of the preamps I've owned or tried, the Purity has the most tube amp 'feel' I've personally found , and is the reason I've never bought another Alembic F-1X.

    To my ears, the Purity and F-1X are very similar tonewise, IMO the Purity's eq is slightly more expressive. The Purity also has an EQ bypass and a built in Jensen D.I.. A very cool tube preamp in my book.