Bass Amp vs. Preamp and PA?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by HeavyDuty, Aug 7, 2001.

  1. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Central Texas
    I tell 'ya, the temporary loss of the TB search function is killin' me.

    Threads like "Line 6 Bass POD questions" and "DJ and PA subs anyone?" make me realize how little I really know about amplification technology. I just picked up a Johnson J-Station for use as a headphone amp with effects and amp modeling because I'm worried about the small size of my bass Pandora. I'm beginning to think that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the capabilities of the J-Station.

    Today, I spent an hour on the phone with my uncle (five years older than me, we grew up like brothers) who's my playing mentor. He's been jacking his Zoom 9002 guitar headphone amp into a set of powered Walkman speakers for home practice for years, and we've been discussing upgrading him to some of the newer, inexpensive computer powered speakers with separate subwoofers, and getting me a set at the same time for use with the J-Station.

    I've never really given it much thought before, but why can't a J-Station or a Bass POD be jacked directly into a small PA for home use or portable jamming? As an example, in a Guitar Center catalog that came recently I saw that JBL is making a self-contained 1X15 (plus horn) biamped PA speaker that runs about 180W, as I recall. What would the advantages and disadvantages be for using an amplified PA speaker and a preamp/J-Station/POD, instead of a bass combo or small amp and bottom?

    It just seems that a POD/J-Station and PA rig for home would be the most flexible and versatile way to go, because:

    1) You can use the POD/J-Station all by itself as a headphone amp or an amp for powered Walkman/PC speakers;

    2) You can jack the POD/J-Station into your little PA like a combo;

    3) You can jack your POD/J-Station into a small mixer along with your buds, and all jam together thru your little PA;

    4) And you can take your POD/J-Station for a ride, and jack into the house PA wherever you end up.

    What am I missing here? If it were this simple, everybody would be doing it, right?
  2. FalsehoodBass

    FalsehoodBass Guest

    Jul 22, 2001
    Denver, CO
    im not tech wiz, but i think my bass sounds a lot better coming out of a bass cabinet than out of PA speakers. For practicing, your idea is rad, but i'd much rather have a set of speakers just for my bass, then maybe run a line out of my preamp to the board. It might just be in my head, and im selfish in wanting my own cabinet, but im guessing that's why everyone doesn't just do it your way. I'm interested to see if there is another reason though.
  3. ThunderStik

    ThunderStik Guest

    Jun 25, 2001
    Claremore OK.
    I have tried some of this stuff before and really just did not like the sound of it. It may just be me but pulling around a nice little combo sounds so much better and easier to deal with. Depending on the pa setup and the combo you compare to for the most part a small combo will have more things to tinker with just for the bass itself and for "your sound" and a combo is 1 peice with a handle on it so it just seems easier. my .02
  4. Acepiloto


    Aug 25, 2000
    I have thought about using this method for a while now, but mainly as a type of "flavored DI" I own the Line 6 Bass Pod and when you take the signal from the amp model output, it simulates the sound from a mic'd bass cab. It kinda gives you a third way to blend your sound. (Your bass amp, the regular DI, and the modeled sound). I have heard that just using the modeled bass amp doesn't sound that great on it's own, but it sure seems better than lugging my 1x15 and my 4x10 around in my extremely small car (I wouldn't be able to fit both cabs in at the same time.) Well there's my 2ยข worth of fatigued ramblings.
  5. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    it really depends on what you do and where you do it.

    I have been using a Bass POD pro for a while now. I wouldn't trade it for anything. Sometimes I use it alone as a DI, other times I use it as a preamp for my power amp.

    I play in a praise and worship band. Every Sunday morning we play in the main worship center. Seats about 2000 or so. EAW center cluster with two sets of side fills, three sets of balcony delays and about a dozen or so smaller under balcony fills. Four pairs of subs. All EAW and powered by six 4,000 watt Crown power amps. Basically it is a 24,000 watt hifi stereo system. We play on a penninsula type stage and bleed is a problem. We all DI. No amps at all. I use the POD, the guitarist uses a Marshall SE100 and the drums are roland V drums. IT sounds AWESOME. The EAW wedge monitors that we use are so flat that I have no problem hearing. (Plus I stand in front of one of the subs) We push 96-97 db in there sometimes and it is clear as a bell.

    When we play outside the worship center, I sometimes carry an amp, but it is just a stage monitor. I have been going the music thing for going on twenty years and I still listen to a bunch of bands. Nine times out of ten, when a band sounds like crap live, (especially in smaller venues) it is because the stage bleed is killing the sound tech's ability to control the mix.

    It is about what it sounds like out there, not on stage.

    I saw BTO in about 1987 or so. I had second row stage right. There were two Marshall stacks on stage and behind them was a little combo with a mic in front of it he was actually using. You have to be able to control the mix.

    It may be true bass sounds better coming out of a bass cabinet, but the listeners are going to be hearing it coming out of the PA anyway.

    I say go with whatever you like, but a huge amp is by no means needed.

  6. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Central Texas
    OK -

    It sounds as if:

    1) Cheap, small PAs (like the typical portable ones) probably won't sound decent, unless I also drag a subwoofer around with me;

    2) Really decent PAs can sound great (like the church gig Chasarms plays);

    Maybe I should be looking at a power amp and bass bottom (like Chasarms is doing) if I want to use the J-Station as a primary part of my rig.

    I'm still gonna try to find a store that has a self-powered 15" PA speaker to try, just for my own curiosity and education.

    Am I on the right track?

    Thanks, guys!
  7. ThunderStik

    ThunderStik Guest

    Jun 25, 2001
    Claremore OK.
    Not cutting or anything but im curious as to why you seem to be set on PA speakers? "Most" pa speakers underperform as bass cabinets untill you get into the really expensive stuff and by that time you could have a really nice bass cab. Im not familiar with the j-station but maybe what you can do is use it as a preamp and run it into a power amp and power your cabinets from that. Hope this helps a little.