Best Preamp for under $700?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Jason Hollar, Dec 28, 2005.

  1. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    Howdy cats, I'm looking to complete my rack system. I'm seriously thinking about an Eden Navigator due to the many options including mulitiple DI outs, on-board compression (this feature is very important to me) and precise EQ.

    I've done searches on various models, but would like to hear opinions on reliable units that you are currently using. Other important considerations are high headroom, whisper quiet operation, and bullet-proof operation. Tubes aren't really an issue...I'm thinking more on the solid state side -- although the Eden does have one tube!

    I'm starting a new gig in 2006 playing in a working rock/soul/blues band (12-20 jobs per month) :D . I also recently bought a Yamaha TRB1005 and plan on running through my Crown K1 and SWR Goliath III 4x10 cab.
  2. I think that most preamps are under $700. That popular BBE one is like $300.
  3. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    I have a Navigator, and like it lots. Big flexible tone shaping, great in and out options, great compressor. The tube control is not like a big overdrive, more like a little more warmth and grit. You can get them new on ebay fro ~$600 if you keep your eyes open. There a used one on there now.
  4. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    Bass ManO -- Yes, the BBE's "look" great and the price is right -- but on some recent posts, folks have been complaining about the input levels, etc. Do you currently use one of these? BTW -- I've had a Korg Rack Mount Tuner in my rack for over 15 years oldest piece of gear actually...and it's fabulous. Get one!

    Chef -- Thanks, good to hear. I've enjoyed many of your other posts and I appreciate your endorsement on the Nav. I used to own a Road Runner WT 600 but sold it because I felt I needed more power. Didn't have a compressor either...
  5. I actually don't use a BBE, but I've heard great things about them, and I've seen people that obviously don't have any financial constraints use them. As for recent posts, can't say that I've seen them.

    About the Korg... Check my thread here See if you can help me out :meh:
  6. I like it.
  7. Templar

    Templar Supporting Member

    For $700 you could prolly squeeze into a brand new Demeter if you shop around. Clean used ones for under $500.
  8. I like my SVPCL - which i got for a lot less than $500US BTW!
    This pre isn't everyones' taste - but i love it!
    Simple, tube tone.....mmmmmmmmmmm ;)

    But if you're playing with a bit more cash, (and willing to bon voyage your extra dollars) - i'd second the demeter's.
  9. anyonefortennis

    anyonefortennis Supporting Member

    Jun 28, 2005
    Lincoln, NE
    Demeter or Ashdowm ABM Evo 2
  10. Matt Morgan

    Matt Morgan Fellow Conspirator Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2001
    Plano, TX
    Hard to go wrong with a Demeter!
  11. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    Yeah -- I kind of forgot about the Demeter line...I'll have to check them out again...thanks.

    Korg Tuner -- yeah, too bad you don't have a Tuner Out on the bass head...but there are also some groovy pedals and DI boxes on the market that have tuner outs. I was just checking out the Radial Bass Bone as an option because currently my SWR XLR DI/Line Out is feeding my Crown I'll need some other kind of DI to go to the board. I have a nice Country Man, but am looking for a preamp (hence this thread) that has more than one XLR I don't need yet another box & cord on stage.

    Cool you cats...keep the good ideas happening now you hear?
  12. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    Wow -- Both the Demeter and Ashdown look very cool!

    I like the idea of a subwave octave sound blend on the Ashdown -- and I think that new Demeter Hybrid pre (only one rack space!) looks very groovy as well. Wish there was a decent store round here I could go try these. :scowl:
  13. klamaz


    Aug 8, 2004
    My opinion might not hold a lot of weight since I haven't played all that many preamps, but I'm really digging the sound I'm getting from my GK 2001-RBP, which I picked up for 450$. It may be worth checking out, at the least.
  14. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    I do own and use a bbe bmax as well, paired with a qsc/plx 1202. It's fabulous for what it does, and they show up used around here for under $200 regularly. Yes, the gain structure can be a little limiting, and in fact I just sent mine back for the input gain reduction mod. As an orginal purchaser, all it cost me is one way shipping. As it came to me from the factory, I was running even passive basses thru the active input, and still had to keep the input gain nearly off. But, aside from that, it's pretty fabulous. It can go from fat dub booty, to bright and snappy. It's in the Fender/Alemic "mid cut, bass and treble boost" family. The semi para mid is a nice room tweaker, and the bbe process and low contour add a lot of other tone shaping power.

    Why do I have the Nav and the bbe both you ask? I bought the bbe on a lark really, it was so dang cheap. Very functional piece of gear, but for double bass it just flat bites;)
    Thus the Navigator, which does electric and Double Bass quite well. I frequently play DB only jobs, and a lot of jobs with both. Few electric only jobs.
    The bbe is a keeper, and pretty cheap.

    I also own and use an eden wt800B, but really, my main rig anymore is a TFB420. Two rack spaces, better eq than any of the above, more than enough power. Plenty to read about on those elsewhere here...

  15. If I am right.. I saw two on there now.. one is the Demeter VTBP-201S Bass Preamp and the other is a DEMETER TGP-3 PREAMP but has no pictures on the auction as of yet.. though the seller says that they are going to post some..

  16. I think you could probably find a new Alembic F1-X for that price. Retail list on them is about the same as the Demeters.
  17. bigbajo60


    Nov 7, 2003
    Laredo, Texas
    No onboard compressor, but howzabout an Avalon U5? They're definitely in your price range.

    You could always hook into a compressor pedal or a rack-mounted compression unit.
  18. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    There are lots of great preamps in that price range. Some excellent used/new units that I think you could pick up for under $700 would include:

    Aguilar DB 659
    Alembic F-1X
    Ashdown RPM-1
    Avalon U5
    Demeter HBP-1
    Demeter VTBP-201s
    Eden Navigator
    Fender TBP-1
    Hughes & Kettner Fortress
    Kern IP-777
    The Low End True Voice
    Trace Elliot GP12 SMX
    Trace Elliot GP12 XV

    If you could find an Aguilar DB 680, Read Purity, or Epifani Quest II in that price range, then by all means do, but my guess is that even used, they would be just outside of your range.

    The above preamps are all quality units, IME/IMHO, and each has their strengths and weaknesses. If you haven't already, check out the clips over at to get a feel for what they sound like. One note on the Fender TBP-1 (since I have recently addressed this issue in PM's), it really does not sound all that great to my ears with the tone controls set flat, but if you spend some time dialing in the EQ, I find it to be a very flexible preamp, and a bargain for sure.

    Hope this helps, Tom.
  19. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    I got my DB680 for around $700 on eBay, but I needed to replace the ground lift switch in it and all the tubes (hurr they all look like 12AX7s so I'll just put those in even though the old ones were 12AU7s :mad: ) I've seen them go for 800 pretty regularly.

    Another nice preamp if you're playing rock stuff is the SWR Interstellar Overdrive. Paired with a more traditional sounding bass it kills.
  20. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Tom...have you ever used/liked any of the aguilar preamp pedal boxes like the 924?