Choosing a preamp

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Golem II, Feb 24, 2002.

  1. Golem II

    Golem II

    Jan 4, 2002
    Macon, GA, USA
    My current bass rig is a yamaha GC2020 compressor run through a yamaha p2201 poweramp into an eden d210XLT. That's right, no preamp, I just use the compressor as a DI. This doesn't actually sound half bad, but the only tone shaping controls I have are the EQ dials on my active bass.

    I'm looking for a tube preamp to add some warmth and versatility to my rig, and due to price constraints I'll have to buy used. So far it looks like a choice between the Eden Navigator, Aguilar DB 659, Demeter VTBP (probably an older 1-space version, hopefully with a DI) and Alembic F1-X. The demeter seems to be the cheapest, but I've heard that its EQ isn't very flexible and it doesn't seem to have many noteworthy features aside from good overall sound. The Eden has all the features I like (compressor, crossover, volume boost control on a footswitch,) but it's expensive and I've heard complaints about the tone. What do you think would be the best choice?
  2. Golem II

    Golem II

    Jan 4, 2002
    Macon, GA, USA
    Actually, I've just begun to consider the possibility of buying a Kern IP-777 instead. How does this one measure up to the others I listed?
  3. Zoot H Rollo

    Zoot H Rollo Supporting Member

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    i'll let ya know this week about the DB659.

    i've heard about reliability issues with Demeter product.

    i've known users who bought the Aguilar pre and went Kern.

    who the heck knows.

    its a luxury, but trying stuff first is the best bet.

    lord knows, i wasn't able to.

  4. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    I fortunately had a few extra bucks several months ago so I picked up a Demeter VTBP-201DBL, an Alembic F-1X. I've had my Navigator for about a year.

    Out of the three, I'd still say that the Navigator is my favorite because of all the flexibility (great EQ versatility). But since I've gotten the F-1X that's all I've used. I put Amperex "Bugle Boy" tubes in both the F-1X and the 210 which really made things nice. Both the Eden and the Alembic are built like mini-bomb shelters. They both have a great solid feel. Oh by the way, the older version of the Demeter is a 1.5 rack space. All three seem to have first class components inside.

    Tone-wise they really are very close with the edge going to the Alembic.

    As far as the Kern goes, the list price has shot up considerably and also the used price seems to be in the $500-600 range. Too spendy, I think.

    This is just my take on the topic. I am running the preamps through a QSC PLX2402 into either an Aguilar GS410 or a pair of Bag End D10X-D's.

    I could be happy if I could only have just one with any of the three.
  5. SWR Interstellar Overdrive. the only one with a pair of power tubes.warmest, best sounding pre i've ever played. (sometimes i wish it had more EQ, but i think that's just from the nerd side of me. the musician side says "this thing sounds exactly how you want your bass to sound, why do you need more EQ)

  6. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Warmth? I'd say Aguilar or Eden for warm.
    Versatility? Hmn. Alembic or Demeter, both are excellent.
    Both? Maybe Alembic.
  7. Zoot H Rollo

    Zoot H Rollo Supporting Member

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    2 words...

    AVALON 737!

    that will end your search for a pre!

  8. FalsehoodBass


    Jul 22, 2001
    Denver, CO
    add the ampeg svp-pro to your list to try out... it's warm.. and warm.
  9. Golem II

    Golem II

    Jan 4, 2002
    Macon, GA, USA
    About the Avalon... I've considered such a thing, but it falls just SLIGHTLY out of my price range. Same for the Aguilar DB680. If I had that kind of money, I'd go for an EA or Walter Woods Head, or maybe a Manley voxbox through that $15,000 tube poweramp I've seen posted on some other threads :D. My limit, though, is more like $700 for a new pre or about $500 for a used one.
  10. Zoot H Rollo

    Zoot H Rollo Supporting Member

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    yeah, i agree.

    that's why i went with the db659.

  11. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    if you're into the Ampeg sound, but want something more hifi and articulate, then try the Aguilar. the DB659's is pretty sweet sounding to me.
  12. Chuck M

    Chuck M Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    San Antonio, Texas
    That preamp shootout that Bass Player did a few years ago has cost me a ton of money. Once I started trying tube preamps I could not stop myself!

    I've owned:

    Alembic F-2B
    Alembic F-1X
    Ampeg SVP-PRO
    Trace Elliot V-Type
    Demeter VTBP-201L
    SWR Grand Prix

    I've also tried the Aguilar DB659.

    I presently own a pair of the Demeters (no reliability issues with mine), an Alembic F-1X and an SWR Grand Prix. I prefer the Demeters(with Telefunken smooth plate ECC83's) for Electric bass and the SWR (with an RCA 7025 tube) for upright. I use the Alembic (GT 7025) once in a while if a room needs more EQ than the Demeter will provide.

    If I could only have one preamp, it would be the older 1 1/2 rack space Demeter. Best tone IMO of all that I've tried.

    I use Stewart power amps and Eden cabs (210XLT and 410XLT for electric and 210MBX for upright).

    Tone is subjective. Trust your ears and nobody else's. That said, I ended up using the same preamp that Bass Player uses in their standard test rig.

    The only preamp I've owned that failed was the Trace V-Type that smoked after I sold it. The Ampeg had a lot of hiss even with new tubes. I've heard Ampeg uses cheap components in them. The preamps I have now are very quiet and all have excellent DI's.

  13. Zoot H Rollo

    Zoot H Rollo Supporting Member

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    bassplayer also uses a Hafler power amp and an Avalon halfrack U5.

    point is, they have a few different rigs to test gear with.

  14. Chuck M

    Chuck M Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    San Antonio, Texas
    Bass Player does indeed use a lot of different test gear. However, the Demeter/Hafler/410XLT combination has been one of the constant test rigs for a number of years.

  15. jchikhale


    Feb 25, 2002
    Los Angeles, CA
    the Sansamp PSA-1 sounds amazing. that thing is kickin. check it out. i had a hard time finding one, but its worth it. it provides unbeleivable control over your tone.
  16. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    A vote for the SansAmp RBI - I've never regretted it!
  17. Primary

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