Are there any "Pure" Outboard Preamps out there???

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by rogerbmiller, May 7, 2016.

  1. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    I need some advice from those more experienced with electronics than I. And I wasn't sure if this post belonged in pedals or electronics so mods, please feel free to move this if you see fit :)

    I have decided that since I much prefer my active basses again (I went through a 5 year passive only phase), I need to invest in a good outboard preamp that brings out the zest in my passive basses and as importantly, matches passive bass levels with my active bass levels for live situations.

    I tinkered with my Behringer BDI21 with this objective in mind, and while I absolutely love the tones it produces for that warmer, "tubier" Ampeg vibe, when using it more as a simple preamp, there is a pretty tight window in which you can equalize passive bass levels with active bass levels without over-driving the signal. But the presence, and treble bass boosts working alone (i.e. flat gain) actually fall short of passive output, using my passive P bass as the subject. In other words with gain too low, the signal is choked and with gain too high I get overdrive.

    So I am on the hunt for a good pre which will need to be demoed, a challenge given how aptly named Guitar Center is!

    From what I am observing in my web research, almost all preamps out there (including mine) seem to be geared toward either tube amp emulation or DI/overdirve/preamp hybrid functionality by design. I already have that in my Behringer. I just want a good outboard preamp that helps a passive bass sound more active. Basically an outboard preamp that acts like an onboard preamp.

    Is what I am after even available? Am I just getting google bombed by the usual advertisers?

    I would appreciate any recommendations fellow TBers have to accomplish what I am after. Thanks!
    slap2much likes this.
  2. Personally I love the Sadowski outboard preamp. The new MXR preamp pedal seem clean and transparent. Definitely nothing from Sansamp if you need something transparent. The Aguilar preamp is based on their onboard preamp and is a fantastic one too.
    Now, keep in mind that the same preamp onboard vs outboard does not sound 100% the same due to the loss of bandwidth through the cable.
  3. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    Would an old school EQ pedal accomplish what I am after?
  4. Plenty of manufacturers sell their onboard preamps in outboard form. If there is a particular preamp that you like, which isn't available in outboard form, then it would be extremely simple to make it an outboard preamp, by installing it in a stompbox enclosure.
    Clark Dark likes this.
  5. Yes a bass eq works too but what is the difference between that and tweaking your amp? Unless you just need to switch between two different bass sounds.
    It depends on what you really miss about on-board preamps.
  6. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    Well in the one hand I was hoping to match levels between passive and active basses. Imagine running a J and a Dimension through the same amp and switching via an YAB. The J side of the Y chain would need something inbetween to match the levels of the 18V D bass circuit.

    On the other hand I like the presence you get from boosting certain low and mid frequencies that you don't get with a passive bass.

    Hope this makes sense.
  7. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    These are the ones I have experience with:

    F Bass- Big F Boost
    Fodera- Model 2011
    Mountain King Electronics- Behemoth I
    Mark Bass- Super Booster
    Tri Logic II
    Eden- WTDI
    BBE- Acoustimax
    Kaisser Instruments- Priapos
    ElectroniX Submarine- Preamp Pedal
    Fuzzrocious- BDPG
    HBE- Hematoma Bass Pre/Driver
    rogerbmiller likes this.
  8. If you like some aspects of that behringer why not try the pedal it's a copy of? Sans amp work great, especially for rock and metal tones. I have a sans amp RBI and love it. People can hate on them all they want but if they were junk you wouldn't have guys like Geddy lee from Rush all the way to Danny Kenny from suicide silence using them.
  9. Personally, I found the MXR Bass Preamp to do exactly as you're describing. With controls set flat, it still just seemed to enhance the signal, and all the gain is transparent. With pre and post gain controls I'm sure you could match the active signal of your other basses, and the parametric EQ will boost those low mids for you
    fclefgeoff likes this.
  10. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    The problem with those is that like the Behringer, they are more geared toward emulating the Tube amp sound of an Ampeg, etc. I am looking for a pre that allows for transparency and operates more like an onboard preamp on an active bass, i.e. bass, mid, treble cut/boot, frequency sweep, etc
  11. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man

    Apr 10, 2015
    I use an aguilar tone hammer pedal for balancing a passive or piezo channel and love it. I use the other channel in an aby switch for an active 5.
    rogerbmiller likes this.
  12. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Lots of good "clean" outboard preamps. MXR, Xotic, Sadowsky, the discontinued Alleva-Coppolo or 3Leaf Ensbler Etc

    But another option is the Source Audio Programmable EQ.

    Source Audio Programmable EQ

    You can tweak the sound, match the gain levels and have a different preset for four different basses.
    SplinteredSkull likes this.
  13. The Darkglass b7k ultra is very transparent without the distortion switch on. It's literally just EQ. Really good EQ though
  14. Tritone

    Tritone Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2002
    Santee, America
    The older Sansamp Acoustic DI works great, if you can find one.

  15. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Why not just turn the volume of the active bass down to match the passive bass? No additional gear required.
  16. FingerDub

    FingerDub Inactive

    Jan 8, 2016
    GK Plex

  17. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science!

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    Sounds to me like the op just needs a switchable buffer for his.passive instruments, possibly with a gain control. A full on preamp might be overkill?

    There are lots of simple, minimaly coloring buffers available. I've used this one & can vouch for its quality:
    walterw likes this.
  18. tedsalt


    Aug 5, 2010
    Kansas City
    If you're looking for a straight preamp that doesn't color your sound and works for everything, maybe a Headway EDB-2 ? If you're looking for the ampeg tone, you could use one of their PF-20T or PF-50T as a preamp and/or DI without connecting a speaker load, connecting the transformer balanced line out to a power amp effects return (which is what I'd like to do).
  19. +1
    SteveBass5 likes this.