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Bass head vs Preamp/power amp

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by iwearpumas, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. iwearpumas


    Aug 12, 2011
    Middletown, NY
    How many bass players play out of bass heads, or how many play out of preamp/power amp combinations. I have both, but lately my power amp has been flipping out on me. I notice that the volume control on my power amp has no effect on how much power it pushes out. I dont want to get a new power amp though. Maybe ill just get rid of the power amp and buy a second bass head.
  2. craig.p


    Sep 28, 2008
    New Hampshire
    I'll use either separates or an all-in-1, depending on what's required for a particular job.

    Non-functioning gain control should be an easy fix. Might be as simple as a broken or worn out potentiometer, or a broken solder joint at one of its legs.
  3. Helaskold

    Helaskold 100% Mediocre

    Jul 22, 2012
    Austin, TX
    I've got my BBE Bmax preamp and Crown XLS 1500 power amp in the mail right now... so take that as you will. But I really just like the look and versatility of pre/power... people are just as happy with an all-in-one.
  4. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    I use bass heads, always have. I don't know what the ratio is between all bass players, but I suspect the majority also use heads. That said, I agree, your poweramp would probably be repaired for alot less money than a new bass amp would cost.
  5. JonnyAngle

    JonnyAngle Dropping Acid Pedal Etching .com Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 24, 2008
    Maple Grove, MN
    I use a GK mb500 but bypass the preamp. I use geb7 s to eq or different ods with eqs. I like having the option to use the amps pre if I want to bring a simple setup
  6. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    Okay, I'm a bit new on this, sorry about the noobieness, but can someone explain to me, how much different will a poweramp be compared to a bass head?
  7. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Tell us more about the hardware in question and how you have it cabled / connected with the preamp. There is no true volume control on a power amp...they are attenuators which help gain-match the power amp with the preamp and that's a gross over-simplification. I see more operator errors as opposed to truly broken or wonky equipment.

    ...and to answer your question, I use pre / power configs only. Overall, the wattage is cheaper (yucks / bucks) plus I can roll pre's in and out of the rig as I see fit.

  8. I use a pre/power for large gigs (BBE 383 & Samson SX1800) and I have a bass head that I use for rehearsal/small gigs. For me, not really a huge proponent either way. I little more control/flexibility with a pre/power setup. However, the power available via the pre/post route in terms of dollar/watt is fairly significant. Additionally, most power amps have a crossover option if you want separate lows and mids/highs. I don't think one is necessarily better than the other, simply a matter of preference.
  9. SERPENT865


    Jan 1, 2007
    Wichita , KS
    i do both
  10. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    A bass "head", is an all-in-one unit that contains a preamp and a poweramp. A "combo amp" contains both of those PLUS a speaker. A poweramp is just that, a poweramp. It requires a preamp in front of it, and speakers after it.
  11. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Mount Prospect, IL
    Separate power amps run clean - If you are adjusted to listening to old Acoustic heads, all-tube power sections, and other amps where the power section is not clean, you may be disappointed. Whatever you put into the clean power amp is going to come out clean/clear sounding. For clean style bass tones, you really can't lose. If you want dirty tones, overdrive or whatever, the pre-amp, or a pedals/other rack gear will have to deliver it. Don't expect those items to get close to a tube power section..... However, if you use pedals all the time and like them, you should be just fine.:bassist:
  12. I just made the switch to a pre/power amp set up. I find its much eaiser to get more Watts for less money. Plus most power amps can be run down to 2ohms or be bridged to get more power out of them. This give me a lot of options as far as running more cabs. Lets face facts. Who doesn't want the ability to run two 8x10s. Sure its way to loud to be practical but its awesome.
  13. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Heads exclusively for me. Never once owned a pre-power rig. I figured why bother since they're all bundled up nicely like that? But it doesn't matter...sometimes your stuff works and sometimes it doesn't. Just have to measure the repair/replace ratio and decide what's the best way to cut your losses.
  14. I really don't hate heads, but I prefer the flexibility of pre/power.

    ^^ I also like pushing my power. Hard to do if you're carting around an SS amp designed never to permit itself to be pushed.

    ^^ and yeah 810s. Nothing looks cooler behind a bassist on stage.. cept, perhaps, a sulking guitar player.
  15. Mykk


    Aug 22, 2010
    Prescott, AZ
    I'm doing both, at the same time.
  16. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Inactive

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    Pre/power for me. That will change if I can ever afford an SVT
  17. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Knobs on bass heads sometimes break too.

    Depends on your pre-amp, and what you want, but most rack mount pre-amps would be designed to pair with a true power amp. Heads may have too much coloration, they all add it. Mostly you can plug your pre-amp into the effects return on a head, but this don't always bypass all the coloration added by the head. Try it, see if you like it.
  18. Korladis

    Korladis Inactive

    I play through a bass head. Just how things ended up for me.
  19. Franklin229


    Jul 25, 2004
    Northeast USA
    I use separates. Just my take on things:
    Always prefer the flexibility of being able to upgrade individual components w/o throwing out the whole unit, I think there are sonic advantages to having simpler components vs "all in ones", and last, I think there are companies that excel at making either amps or preamps but not too many that do both really well.
  20. bassman10096

    bassman10096 Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2004
    I use both, but I've run into worse trouble when an integrated head craps out on a gig than when a pre or power amp misbehaves. With a bass head - when it's dead, its dead. However, with a pre/power arrangement there's usually enough back up gear for the PA that I can replace or reroute around the malfunctioning unit. I have several pre's and several power amps to use when something's in the shop, too. Overall reliability is same or similar for pre/power vs integrated head.

    As far as sound goes, I like both - usually I use either a Mesa M6 head or an Eden Traveler pre through a Crown XLS2500. BTW: The Eden/Crown rack is considerably lighter than the Mesa head. :cool:
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