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Aptflex Pick up (from Jonas Lohse) review

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by flatback, Aug 26, 2006.


  1. flatback

    flatback

    May 6, 2004
    Jonas just sent me an Aptflex to try. It is an under foot pick up that looks similar to the Pick up the World or Realist. The piezo element is housed in copper foil, and fits nicely under the E foot . I believe it is a piezo film developed by the company that created the B-Band pick up. The under the foot concept has a lot going for it, it seems like a perfect place to get a combination of body and bridge sounds.
    I have gone thru a lot of pick ups looking for a sound that is a compromise between a real bass sound and a sound that works with a band.(Fishmans, Underwood, Schertlers, Wilson, Realist, PUTW, Rev Solo,Etc.)
    I like to mix a mic signal in with the Pup too. What the mic does, a pick up won't do and vise versa. There are two pick ups that I think rise above the rest for different reasons: The Vektor, which is a contact mic embedded in the foot, and the Full Circle which is embedded in the height adjustment wheel. The Vektor has a crazy installation requiring a hole be drilled into the foot and careful placement, but it has a warm (contact) mic like sound. I love the Vektor because it is elegant and natural sounding and there is no piezo twang. Piezo's can have a 2 dimensional sound, that can be really useful for cutting thru but uninspiring and electric sounding. The FC has been my favorite piezo cause it has a fattness and naturalness (on my bass) that no other piezo has had...Until now.
    The Aptflex sounds very similar to the FC. It is, on my bass, a lot brighter but even all across (my) Bass does not have too much of the piezo nasal twang or the electric sound(at least as little as the FC). The Aptflex is super clear sounding with a lot of harmonic richness. I played it on a gig last night going back and forth between the FC and Aptflex and I really dug it. Like the FC it has a nice thump at the front of the sound, and the Thumb Position sounds excellent. Arco sounded really good too (not as good as the Vektor but really usable)
    Installation was easy and it worked without fussing from the moment I plugged it in.
    This is a serious contender not a finicky boutique Pup. Requires no special install, does not require adjusters, is as elegant as the realist but sounds a lot better (no mud)..
    I did not push it too hard so I dont know yet how it will sound cranked, but It will stay on the bass for sure.
    Wanna hear it? Heres Jonas playing a chorus of the blues...(I dont know how he recorded it)....ok so my upload failed...maybe Jonas will upload it?
    Piro
     
  2. bribass

    bribass

    Jan 25, 2006
    Northern NJ
    Endorsing Artist; Arnold Schnitzer/ Wil DeSola New Standard RN DB
    I agree. I'm intrigued. Who makes them etc.?

    BG
     
  3. bassist14

    bassist14

    Oct 17, 2005
    Germany
  4. jonas

    jonas

    Dec 9, 2003
    Frankfurt am Main/Germany
    Lando Music (Germany)
    Actually, there is no piezo (!) inside the copper foil. The material is called "electret film", and it's different from the PVDF-film used by PUTW or others.

    Ok, the URL is http://www.jonaslohse.de/mp3/aptflex01.aiff.zip
    It's just a quick'n'dirty recording: the APTflex plugged directly into my Digitech JamMan loop pedal. No preamp, no editing. Generally, I don't like this kind of directly recorded soundclips for demonstration, because if played live and amplified, it sounds very different ... but it may give you an idea of the sound, however. The bass is a 1954 Framus Cutaway (fully carved) with Presto Nylonwounds (light gauge).

    Update: the URL has changed to http://www.jonaslohse.de/mp3/aptfex01_2.WAV.zip.
    This new clip was recorded with APTflex --> d-tar Solstice preamp --> JamMan; and again without further editing. The preamp's tone controls were all flat (12 o'clock).
    I think that using a preamp makes the soundclip more significant.
     
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Is this the pickup designed by Nikolay Savinov? If so, he sent me a prototype and I tried it. Let me know, and if it's the same one (it sure looks like it), I'll add my review here.
     
  6. jonas

    jonas

    Dec 9, 2003
    Frankfurt am Main/Germany
    Lando Music (Germany)
    yes, he is the maker of the APTflex.
     
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Thanks Jonas. Nicolay, who asked to be called "Nick", was kind enough to send me a prototype to try out and send him my thoughts on. He did this completely at his own expense, and was very patient in waiting for my new bass to be ready so I could install it. The pickup was installed on a brand new laminate New Standard LaScala with brand new Dominant strings on it. I'll paste parts of my correspondance with Nick here by way of review.

    I should note here that while my new bass and strings have mellowed a bit since then, it is still a much "brighter" sounding bass when amplifying than my hybrid LaScala, even with the Full Circle.... a fact which caused me some consternation at first because acoustically, it's a bit darker and thumpier. Go figure...but it does explain a good deal about my review.

    The next excerpt from my reply to Nick refers to a great Russian bassist who was here at the University last year. I don't have his last name handy at the moment. At any rate, Robert (the bassist) played a concert during Jazz Week here in which he got the best sound out of a BP-100 I've ever heard, bar none.

    At this point, I should add that as of two days ago, the prototype pickup now resides on the bass of one of my secondary students, a classical bassist who took lessons from me last semester in order to play in a jazz combo here at the U this year. Before I removed the pickup from my laminate (my office bass) to let him borrow it (he's a broke college student who had no money and no pickup), we plugged it in to an AI Clarus amp here in my office and it sounded pretty damn good; way better than it had when I first reviewed it. When I hear how it performs on the student's bass - which is a very dark instrument - I'll post further. I imagine it will sound very nice, as it was the brightness on my new bass that I found a little objectionable.

    Kudos, Nicolay!
     
  8. flatback

    flatback

    May 6, 2004
    Well I'm really interested in what Cris has to say...I am having a very good experience with it. Thru my system and on my bass it sounds really good very clean. It does not have quite the body of the FC but it has other qualities that are working really well. Yesterday I put on my bridge with the Vektor and put this the Aptflex on as well (E side right under the Vektor) and both work great this way. The Aptflex with the right EQ: Avalon U5 into the Focus III sounds unlike a piezo and really is an elegant sounding pick up. I'm lokling forward to mixing it with a mic tonight at the gig. I was expecting it to pale next to the Vektor which has a body sound that is very unpiezo and very mic like (without the air) but it held up just fine. The Vektor has the edge in depth but the Aptflex does not at all sound like a piezo (on my bass). I am always curious about these new materials (electret film) and I think that this one is going to supplant a whole lot of piezo's.
     
  9. bribass

    bribass

    Jan 25, 2006
    Northern NJ
    Endorsing Artist; Arnold Schnitzer/ Wil DeSola New Standard RN DB
    I'm a long time Realist user and I would love to try one of these APTflex pu's and compare and contrast their response on my Prescott.

    BG
     
  10. flatback

    flatback

    May 6, 2004
    well I've had this pick up on for a few weeks (along with the FC) and I think that with the right eq it can have a really good clean sound. Its funny though cause what I really dig about the Full Circle is this big fat body sound that it gets (especially thru the Avalon U5) that no other pick up has. The Vektor is far and away the best pick up to record with direct, it just sounds a lot more like a mic then anything else. But this Aptflex thru a good treble reducing eq sounds kind of clear and clean. It has a funny way of accenting the finger noise (like a lot of pick ups) but responds really well to having that rolled off (unlike a lot of pick ups) Thru the Avalon it sounds really good. I can imagine that players who like a very lyrical clear distinct sound would dig this (I imagine John P. would dig it or Gary P). If this kind of pick up were anywhere on the bridge I'll bet it would not sound so good, but the fact that it is under the foot gives it a great source without the mud of the realist.
    I have tried it on a bunch of gigs and it really cuts thru and sounds fairly natural, but without the thick attack that the Full Circle has.
    I'm coming to the conclusion that something like the Avalon is just where it's at if you've got a pick up. At a certain point it makes anything sound better, but the Aptflex sounds really good thru it. I played it a bit this afternoon straight into the Focus and it was way brite (flat) and sounded a little electric-y. But back in the U5 it sounded sweet.
     
  11. bribass

    bribass

    Jan 25, 2006
    Northern NJ
    Endorsing Artist; Arnold Schnitzer/ Wil DeSola New Standard RN DB
    Flatback,
    So, which is your favorite for live performance? Aptflex, Vektor or FC? Are all three on the same bridge? Are you putting the signal from the Avalon into the regular input of the Focus or the Effects Loop?

    Thanks, BG
     
  12. flatback

    flatback

    May 6, 2004
    na the Vektor is on another bridge. But now I have the FC and Aptflfex on the same bridge. I run the U5 from the back into the input with an xlr. I roll off the highs a bit unless it gets loud and have the Hipass filter on about half (noon)
    I was swapping them out last week but the FC with a mic blended is still by favorite for live. It sounds fat and warm and present and I can hear it and there is no nastyness in the sound. But the Aptflex with a mic sounds damn good too. (thru the U5)
    The Dyn B in my opinion is a Vektor wanna be and so if you dig that kind of sound it is fantastic. It sounds very mic like and just really good. But it amps what you got. I love it on my bass but I keep coming back to the FC with mic (the FC takes care of the lows and the mic takes care of the air)
     
  13. bribass

    bribass

    Jan 25, 2006
    Northern NJ
    Endorsing Artist; Arnold Schnitzer/ Wil DeSola New Standard RN DB
    I hear ya. THANKS, Bri
     
  14. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Actually, I posted pics of the Aptflex about a year ago some where
    in this thread. The film looks to be quite a bit thinner that the Realist. Yes? I would think that that would give it better response agianst a vibrating top and be easier to mount between the bridge and top.
    Anyone know about such things?

    Ric
     
  15. seamonkey

    seamonkey

    Aug 6, 2004
    Regardless if it uses electret, it seems to infringe on Gage/Steinberger US patent for under the bridge foot placement.
    I hope it's licensed.
     
  16. mje

    mje

    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    I wonder what kind of film they use. And BTW, PVDF or any electret film is indeed piezoelectric.
     
  17. flatback

    flatback

    May 6, 2004
    check out B-Band's web site I think that it is the film used by Aptflex. The way they describe the film (I'm a sucker for a good line) got me interested. The pick up is much thinner then the Realist and lays against the bass very flat.
    As for patent problems I dunno. Seems like a different beast even tho it looks similar...can someone patent the placement? What I don't know about this stuff...
     
  18. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    Mystic, CT
    President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
    Thats where they got us. Not what it was...but where you put it.
     
  19. flatback

    flatback

    May 6, 2004
    ah ha. Uh...well I really wouldn't want to get into any trouble with this. I think that it is a great pick up solution with the right eq. I really hope that they are able to bring it to market here cause its better then a whole lot of others...
    What kind of trouble did you find yourself in? Were you just unable to legally bring to market an under the foot pick up?
    Anyway I'm just reviewing it, I am in no way affiliated with the company. But it sure would be a shame not to be able to get these.
     
  20. bribass

    bribass

    Jan 25, 2006
    Northern NJ
    Endorsing Artist; Arnold Schnitzer/ Wil DeSola New Standard RN DB

    You're talking about the Aptflex, yes?