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Amp/Cab simulators (like Line6 Bass Pod) vs. basic multi-effects

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by davesisk, Aug 30, 2004.

  1. davesisk


    Aug 30, 2004
    Raleigh, NC
    Hi folks:

    I've got an Ernie Ball MusicMan Stingray5 (which I feel is a very versatile bass), I've previously played in a few local bands (5 - 10 years ago), and now it looks like I may start playing with the musicians at my wife's church. Sunday morning gigs don't sound too bad... :cool:

    Anyway, I won't be playing through my SWR SM-800 and Carvin 410T cabinets...instead I'll be playing direct into the PA system. I've got quite a bit of control over my bass tone at the bass itself (the Stingray has a decent 3-band EQ and switch to flip between bridge and neck pickups...I usually leave the EQ at the same setting and flip to bridge pickups for slap, neck pickups for finger-picking).

    In the original music I've played before, I have generally favored more slap-oriented tones (if I'm going to slap and finger-pick in the same song, I would generally set the bridge pickup and use a slap tone for both...if I was going to only finger-pick I'd use the neck pickups). Most of these songs for church are very finger-picking oriented (I may slap parts of a few). I'm actually very interested in learning these, because they're quite different from the funk/metal that I played in bands...the songs are still rock, but a mellow finger-pick tone is needed for most of the tunes.

    Anyway, to get the point of this thread, I've never been particularly impressed with the bass effects on the market, particularly the ones that fall into the "affordable" range (this is different for everyone, but for me that's $200 or less, maybe up to $300 in some cases). I want my bass guitar to sound like a bass guitar, not a spaceship or some other weirdness. (That said, some weirdness could have it's place, but only occasionally, IMHO.)

    I'm very curious as to what people think about some of the newer bass effects that have the whole amp and cabinet simulation/modeling ball of wax. First off, is this the real deal, or just marketing hype? I gather there's at least some realness to it.

    There's a few that come to mind specifically...the Line6 Bass Pod (obviously), the Korg AX10B stomp box, the Korg PXB4 Pandora, the Behringer Bass V-AMP...I'm sure there's other that I haven't stumbled across yet. It seems most of these have this modeling/simulation tone-shaping capability, plus a reasonable multi-effects processor built in.

    Who uses some of these amp modeler/simulator plus multi-effects units? What do you think of them.

    There's really maybe 4-6 tones that I want to get easily: a mellow finger-picking tone (think Fender Precision Bass), a somewhat growly finger-picking tone (maybe a little chorus and overdrive and/or octaver), a clean sounding slap tone, maybe a second slap tone very compressed with some chorus, and a guitar pick-friendly tone. I'd really like some VERY advanced EQ capabilities to replace the two-channel EQ capability on my SWR. For instance, I'd like to be able to split the bass signal into highs and lows (like with a crossover), add chorus or overdrive to the highs, then mix just the effected highs back with the lows. (I've done that with the SWR before, and it's very cool, although quite a complicated mess of cables.) And Etc.

    Based on what I want to do, do you think one of the boxes I've mentioned above might give me what I want? Any suggestions?

  2. Kelly Lee

    Kelly Lee Yeah, I'm a guy! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    I personally have no stage experience with the above mentioned units. However, I do have a pretty decent amount of experience with an old ART Nightbass SE :D It can do most of what you want I'm for sure. The mixing of the effected highs with the clean lows I haven't tried yet but from the adjustability of the unit I believe it can be done. You can pick them up really cheap (compared to when they were new @$600) at around the $100-$250 range. If you would like to here some samples that Superbassman and I recorded click here.
    If you would like to download the two online manuals to see if it will do what you want, here are the links:
    ART Nightbass PDF manual
    Nightbass SE adendum PDF manual

    EDIT: I forgot to mention, all of my samples were recorded straight fron the Nightbass into the soundcard on my PC. Hope that helps.
  3. hyperlitem

    hyperlitem Guest

    Jul 25, 2001
    Indianapolis, IN
    i have a johnson j station. I play and record both guitar and bass so this was a perfect happy medium. Theres like 5 or 6 different bass models on it, but its the most popular bass amps ever used pretty much. Lets be honest who needs 28 different bass amps unless you really trying to record something out there. The effects built in were very usable. I know behringer makes a vamp i beleive for bass so you might also try that.
  4. I've owned the following:

    Boss SE-50/70/VF-1
    Alesis MidiVerb 2, 4...Quadraverb 2, 20
    Rocktron Replifex, Intellifex
    Line 6 Bass POD Pro
    Boss GT-6B
    Digitech RP-12, RP-20

    The best suggestion I've got, and catered to your requirements, would be to look at the Bass Vamp by Behringer and a small 2 channel mixer by Behringer. It will be the cheapest solution, give you the modeling you're searching for, and give you some 'weird' effects as well. The Vamp is not a full-blown effects processor, but the effects it has are well done and tasteful. It's 'modeling' is not quite on par with Line 6, but from what I can tell, you're still going to be playing this through a P.A. I find modelling to be particularly advantageous in a studio environment. The second you take ANY modeler into a live situation, the models get corrupted by the room, speakers, amplification, etc.

    Not too many (if any) multi-effects or modelers have crossovers built in. That's why I suggest the mixer. You can split your bass signal to two channels, effect one, then send them stereo to the actual house mixing board. You've got level control and can EQ out the lows from the effected channel. Plus it'll give you a few more bands of EQ to tweak.

    For pro recording, go with the POD, for Sunday Church service, go with the Behringer. I've watched many pro's make a living with the Vamp.

    The unit with the most 'stuff' is the GT-6B, but for all that it can do, it doesn't really do any of it all that well. I love the unit, but I found better tones with stomp boxes and never had the need for the modeling. If floor-mounted multi-effect/modelers are what you decide, I'd suggest the Digitech BNX-3.
  5. Kelly Lee

    Kelly Lee Yeah, I'm a guy! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    I forgot to mention that the Nightbass does have a built in X-over as well.
  6. davesisk


    Aug 30, 2004
    Raleigh, NC
    Hey guys:

    Thanks for the posts. After researching several of these and getting plenty of opinions, I gather that there are very few multiFX processors that don't in some way degrade the original bass signal, even in bypass mode.

    Someone strongly suggested a Tech21 Sansamp Bass Driver DI or MXR M80 Bass preamp/DI. I've tried the M80 and I really REALLY liked it. I also tried the Korg Amp Modelling processor, and I liked all the amp/cabinet models moreso than the few effects that it has, but I really think the M80 stompbox sounded better, particularly with a 5 string bass. In fact, I think the M80 sounded better in some ways than the tube preamp in my SWR SM-900 head. I was thoroughly impressed. This thing sounds more like a tube preamp than my tube preamp does... :eek:

    I also tried out Aphex bass exciter, and was quite disappointed, though perhaps my expectations were out of line with what it's designed to do. I guess I expected some huge fat tone out of the Aphex, and didn't expect much more than a good distortion sound out of the M80. Turns out I had it backwards.

    Anyway, I think I'm going to continue to bark down the stomp-box preamp route. I'm going to go tommorrow and compare the M80 and Sansamp side-by-side. Everyone seems to love the M80....everyone either loves or hates the Sansamp. But tone is very personal thing, so I've got to form my own opinion.

    I'd also like to try out a Radial Tonebone Bassbone, but I'm not sure there's one locally. I'd also like to try another one of the amp/cab modelling processors, just to see what I think of it in comparison to the Korg.

    So, I may very well not go the multiFX route at this point.

    Oh, on the Nightbass, I've heard some great things and some not so great things about those preamps. I've been told (although I don't know from experience) that the preamp in my SWR sounds much better than the Nightbass. I actually looked at one of those before for my rack, but at the time it was just too expensive for my budget. The nightbass really isn't what I'm looking for at this point, but I do appreciate you pointing it out to me. Ideally I'd like something small enough to fit in my bass case, and I really like the XLR outputs as well as the 1/4" outputs on these stompboxes.

    I'll post more after some experimentation.
  7. Jack


    Sep 6, 2003
    Newcastle, UK
    Just like to throw in a vote for the usefullness and versatility of the MXR here.
    And I kinda want to see what you choose. :D
  8. davesisk


    Aug 30, 2004
    Raleigh, NC
    Well, I went and compared the Tech21 Sansamp Bass Driver DI and the MXR M80 side-by-side. I liked the M80 the best...I think it'll work really well going straight into the sound board at church. Here's a the post from the other board where I was discussing it:

    ...the winner (for my tastes, anyway) is: MXR M80. I hooked them both up to the same rig and my bass and compared them side by side with the same licks...I like the M80 the best. They both sound very similar (after I tweaked them both to get them as close to what I was looking for as I could without getting microscopic about it), and it seemed like the Sansamp took away a little bit of the low end attack when finger picking (couldn't detect a difference when slapping/popping). The M80 didn't seem to do that.

    Also, it seemed that the Sansamp was by default a little brighter sounding (although I tweaked them to be about the same). Since my bass (a Musicman Stingray) is already quite bright, I was after what I felt was the best lo-mid punchiness, and with the better finger-picking attack (everything else about the same for the lo-mid area), the M80 is the best fit.

    I also noticed that with any gain at all, the Sansamp appeared to be more noisy (now, perhaps that's not true of the XLR outputs...I was using the 1/4" outs). The M80 didn't appear to add nearly as much noise, plus it has a noise gate built in.

    Finally, I liked better that the M80 has an effect channel (essentially the tube emulation and EQ) and a seperate distortion channel. On the sansamp, you have to set the gain one way, so if you wanted to "punch in" or "punch out" distortion while keeping everything else the same, you'd have to bend down and turn the knob. These are seperate on the M80. I doubt I'll be using distortion much, but hey...if I've got a good sounding distortion available, maybe I will actually work it into some of the tunes.

    I did like the presence control on the Sansamp a little better than the mid EQ on the M80...it seems like the presence control on the Sansamp is a very specifically placed and Q'd mid-control...my best guess anyway...there may be some other magic in there.

    Anyway, for my tastes and goals, the MXR M80 is the winner. My birthday is next week, so I've already advised my lovely wife on what I would like :)

    I am really glad the bassist at this shop suggested this gadget to me...I like this much better than my original idea of a multi-effect pedal with amp/cab modeling built in. Cheaper and it sounds better...that's a win/win. I'd say for the price (best online price is $120), it's a bargain given what you get out of it. I really had no idea that a stomp-box preamp/DI would make this much difference in my bass tone. I'm still reeling from the pleasant surprise.

    I would still like to taste test one of the Radial Tonebone Bassbone's (with the expectation that it would be very similar to both these), but there simply isn't one locally that I've found. That said, I believe I'll be quite happy with the M80. Too bad is doesn't have a "cool" name like the other two...Sansamp and Tonebone...lol, but the tone it produces is more than cool enough to compensate :p

  9. Jack


    Sep 6, 2003
    Newcastle, UK

    Welcome to the club, we got jackets. :D

    Seriously, this unit is SO underrated, there are about 5 TB'ers who use this and about 5 million who use the Sansamp. its cool to be different. :p
  10. Edwcdc

    Edwcdc I call shotgun!

    Jul 21, 2003
    Columbia MD USA
    One other nice thing about the M-80 is it can be phantom powered. If your church has a board putting out phantom power you don't need to waste batteries.
    I really like my M-80. My signal chain may change but I will keep this thing in there as long as it works. I think that will be a long, long time. :D
    Has anyone recorded with it?
  11. davesisk


    Aug 30, 2004
    Raleigh, NC
    The M80 just came, thanks to my lovely wife! Woo who! I can't play it through my rig since my daughter (and the neighborhood :eyebrow: ) is asleep, but I can tell the tone that I want is there even with the headphones. I just realized this thing has a parallel output jack for a tuner...very cool...didn't notice that before. I wonder if it degrades the main output any?

  12. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    shhh. let's keep it quiet...

    but seriously, it's a great unit. So is the Sansamp mind you, but I find the MXR more practical for my live uses.
  13. j-bass


    Feb 5, 2004
    we use the Bass POD XT, straight to the PA and it sounds great but then again our PA has 2 x 800watt RMS Bass bins so their is plenty of low end.

    The key to this approach is getting a good monitor mix.

  14. Jack


    Sep 6, 2003
    Newcastle, UK
    Ooops, sorry. :D

    I agree, both great, but the Sansamp wasnt what I wanted in terms of sound. It was a great sound, but not my thing.
  15. Jack


    Sep 6, 2003
    Newcastle, UK
    Not that Ive noticed, but then Ive only used the parallel out live (to another rig, not a tuner), and not to record.