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Compare the EMG active tone stack with other brands?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by bdplaid, Jan 3, 2017.


  1. bdplaid

    bdplaid Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2007
    I have mostly used passive pickups and, when I go active, EMG active electronics in my builds for ease's sake, but was never really happy with the sound. Can anyone compare the sound of the EMG active circuits (not pickups) to any other brands you can think of?

    thanks!
     
  2. edervjo

    edervjo

    Nov 19, 2009
    Santa Rosa, Ca.
    I have 2 basses with EMG actives and pups, love the tones, and the versatility. The only comparison I have had is with a custom build supplied with Nordstrand pups and the 3ba-5 pre. I was underwhelmed. Got tones to shift, but when I switched from active to passive, I had to reset all the EQ points . To my ears it was like 2 diff versions of a passive tone control, nothing aggressive or remarkable., until the extreme, and not so useful end of the range. I also had to push the gain on my amp a bit more than with the EMG basses.

    I guess the question is, what is it about the EMG pre's are you not liking, and what are you looking for?
     
    Remyd and bdplaid like this.
  3. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    I have a bit of experience here. To me, the EMG tone circuits are rather polite. It's their pickups that (can) provide that aggressive tone. When I've used an EMG preamp with other pickups it always seemed a bit underwhelming. They get the job done, but they don't make you go "wow!" like an Aguilar or an East.
     
    edervjo and bdplaid like this.
  4. bdplaid

    bdplaid Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2007
    This.

    Above. :). The sound of EMG tone circuits to me is, it just smooths everything out, and makes the bass sound rather vanilla. It kind of de-emphasizes the things that make one bass sound different from another. That's not entirely so, but is the best way i can describe what I don't like about EMG. Vanilla is a good description. Alternately, kind of what the plastic surgeons did to John Kerry's face when he became Sec of State, looks like they sanded off his features. :)

    I really like the bark of passive electronics, when it's passive all the way through, but I don't like having the tone change, dependent on which cable I use. I also would like more control than just rolling off the high end.
     
    edervjo and ctmullins like this.
  5. edervjo

    edervjo

    Nov 19, 2009
    Santa Rosa, Ca.
    It should be expected that a given manufacture's hardware is designed to work best as a "system".
    Do the EMG pre's you have tried feature a variable mid frequency?
     
    Remyd likes this.
  6. bdplaid

    bdplaid Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2007
    Some do, some don't. For what I'm talking about, there is no difference between the two. I'm not really complaining about their performance as much as I want something that better reflects the sound of the bass rather than the sound of the pre. FWIW, I think the EMG pre's are good bang for the buck, and have a good physical design.

    What I mean in this discussion, If I change back and forth from EMG pre to passive, that sound is dramatically different. It's much smoother with the EMGs, I guess people would call it less "organic." Yes, I know about capacitance and the cable and the ohmage difference and all that. I'm looking for a pre that will give me a good representation of the passive sound of the bass, but with some active controls.
     
  7. bdplaid

    bdplaid Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2007
    I'm looking strongly at the Audere.
     
  8. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Are you running the EMG at 9V or 18V? Sometimes it can make a difference. If you have very high output pickups feeding into a 9V preamp, you might be experiencing the natural compression of being limited by only 9V. In that scenario, switching to 18V should better preserve the dynamicism of the original signal coming from the pickup.
     
  9. bdplaid

    bdplaid Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2007
    I've done both. Didn't make a diff. I am using the EMG pre's in a couple of basses, which have Fender CS, Nordstrand and Duncan pickups. The Duncan NYC is the hottest of all, but seems to have no issues such as compression nor distortion. And anyway, I took the pre out of that bass it's now gloriously passive. The EMG was really stifling what that bass can do.

    And to be clear: I'm not trying to make the EMG's work better. I am trying to find a better pre that lets the natural bass sound through rather than applying its own mojo. I want a transparent pre.

    thanks.
     
  10. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Gotcha. The Audere is a very nice unit, still squarely in the "transparent" camp, but quite musical and user-friendly. I love those tiny pots they use. And the price is great too! I'll be ordering another in the future, to be sure.
     
  11. wcriley

    wcriley

    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    That's never been my experience.
     
  12. SpasticTastic

    SpasticTastic

    Dec 22, 2012
    Louisiana
    I did notice my Spector Q5 with the EMG BTS system sounded rather... boring with everything set flat. Pair that with the EMG HZ40s and it was a very bland bass. When I had it set with both dip switches set down (high-mid boost rather than a treble boost) and boosted the treble pot, it did help make things more aggressive. But overall the bass was pretty flat sounding.
     
    bdplaid likes this.
  13. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Apr 18, 2021

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