D-tar solstice or Raven labs blender?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by B String, Jan 30, 2006.

  1. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I can get either of these units. Which is best for upright
    bass? Opinions please.
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I own the Raven Labs, and have almost bought a Solstice on several occasions. What always keeps me from doing so is the lack (on both units, actually) of what I consider to be the most important EQ function of all: a High Pass filter. But speaking for the RL unit, I've found it to be clean, built like a tank, and very reliable. It does put a little bit of "thickness" onto the lower frequencies, but it's not an unpleasant color at all, and easy enough to roll out if you don't like it. Mine lives under the front seat of my car, so that I can choose to use the house amp if the place I'm playing has one. I wish it had an XLR in for the mic channel like the Solstice, but a cannon plug seems to work fine.

    If they ever put HP filters on both Solstice channels, I'd be first in line to get one.
  3. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Have you ever used the Solstice? Hows the eq for bass?
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Sadly, I have not used a Solstice.
  5. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    I don't know if this makes any difference or not but Steve Rabe has evidently shut down Raven Labs. So you would have to find one from a
    second party or purchase a used one.


  6. Brennan


    Sep 29, 2004
    I want to pull the trigger on something as well. How about adding the Baggs, Fishman, and Avalon box to the discussion? I usually use the old Fishman preamp but I need A little more EQ. I know the Avalon doesn't have EQ per se but I'm still curious. I have a notch filter/highpass on my focus but I don't find it very sweet sounding.
  7. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    One of the guys from D-TAR posts on this forum. Perhaps, he can listen to suggestions about the high pass filter and comment on whether or not it's a possible future feature of the Solstice.
  8. JonB


    May 27, 2003
    In my opinion, Solstice has a better sound for upright, as well as more choices with inputs and outputs.
    I still keep the Raven Labs for a backup. It is completely reliable, but as Chris mentions, adds a thickness to the sound. When I bought it, it was so much better than any of the little battery powered preamps I had.
    Solstice sounds quite natural with the most headroom of any preamp I've owned. There are 4 inputs, which can be used simultaneosly. Each of the 2 channels has it's own output if you want to bi-amp or send your mic to the house, plus a blended output.
    I don't use much eq - sometimes I'll boost mids a little in order to cut through the mix, and occasionally cut bass if we're in a boomy room. I understand Solstice wasn't designed primarily as a bass preamp, so the eq points may not be ideal for bass, but I find them useful enough.
    One other thing. Raven Lab PMB can run with batteries. Solstice must use a wall-wart.
    Please pm with any questions.
  9. larry


    Apr 11, 2004
    I have a Solstice. I think it also seems to put some low end into the signal. Not sure why - I wish it didn't. Other than that, it is a solid unit and it sounds good. Like Jon said, it's very flexible and has tons of ins and outs for whatever you need it to do. For example, I can blend a mic and a pickup, then send just the mic to the house PA while my amp gets the blend, etc.

    Be aware that the phantom power is not 48v. It is less, somewhere around 18v I think. I have several condenser mics and only one of them does not work properly on the lower voltage. If you have a specific condenser mic in mind to use, I would check whether it can run on lower power.

    I'm not familliar with the RL. I don't think it has XLR ins. Does it? If your intent is to blend a mic, you may want to check that out. You still could, but you'd probably need some extra adapters or power supplies, etc.
  10. JonB


    May 27, 2003
    No, it's all 1/4".
    The mic only works in channel 2. And the input impedence is lower on channel 2 - around 6K, if I remember correctly. This would be a consideration if you're trying to blend 2 piezo elements. They like higher impedence.
    That's what I was doing when I bought the Raven. At the time I was using a Pick-Up the World and trying to have control over each element.
    Good idea, perhaps, but it didn't work out too well.
  11. PB+J


    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    I have a pmb-1 and I've always been a little dissapointed in it. The output signal is low, and it never drove power amps very well--I think in the PMB-II he boosted the output. I always found something that bugged me in the tone--some harsh high midrange or something, the same thing I always hear in SWR stuff. (SWR was Rabe's first company). I also found it to add a lot of lows and I was always cutting bass

    I a/b'ed it repeatedly with an Avalon U5 and the avalon was just a lot better, but then they are very different animals. I still have the PMB-1 but I don't use it since A: I'm not blending two pickups at the moment, and B; I don''t like the sound all that much

    I haven't tried the fishman blender, but I have used the pro platinum eq for bass, and it's a pretty good unit. It's not "hi fi" but it gives you a very workable tone
  12. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    The EQ on the Solstice has the bass control centered at 155 Hz, mids at 796Hz, and treble at 10KHz.

    I could be wrong, but that seems to align more with acoustic guitar. And there is an illustration on the cover of the Owner's Manual that depicts a dude strummin' a six string. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that acoustic guitar players would blend a pickup and a mic like we do.

    The 155Hz range for example is something I think of more as a "resonance" range for the amplified DB than a "bass" frequency range. But that's jus' little ol' me.

    I can see how the Solstice's EQ parameters might cause reservations for some. But it never really bothered me, since I run it flat. The unit sounds good to me, and I've never had a problem with mine.
  13. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I can't tell if you like this unit or not. You say the eq points
    are wrong for bass, but you have a Solstice anyway, but
    you don't or can't use the eq. Have you never been on a
    stage or in a room where you needed some tonal
    compensation? Are you saying its a good unit because you
    never have to use the eq, or you can't use it? Sorry to be
    so slow, but I'm not understanding. If I need eq, should I
    be looking for something else?
  14. PB+J


    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    B string, the bass control of the solstice is centered at 155 hz. The low E string on a bass is 41 hz, so the solstice will roll off higher frequencies and I assume not low. The PMB-1, for comparison, roll soff the bass at 80 hz., which to me seems more suitable for bass than the solstice.

    One of my biggest problems with double bass has been boominess, and I'm wondering if the solstice would address that--it rolls off a much higher frequency than I imagine I'd want. But I've never tried a solstice
  15. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    B String, that post of mine wasn't very clear, was it? So sorry. To your points:

    I do like the Solstice - for its sound, and its routing options.

    I have EQ available on my amps. So I feel like I don't really have to rely on the Solstice's EQ I guess.

    If you want to have EQ capability at the preamp stage of your signal chain, I might be less likely to recommend the Solstice perhaps, based on the previous points about the EQ frequency centers being voiced "too high" for DB.

    When I am in a room that needs "EQ", I still run all the controls on the Solstice and my Wizzy flat. Instead of turning EQ knobs, I put the Wizzy on the floor or rest it on an Auralex Gramma if I want more low-end heft, or I put it up on a chair or a stand if I want more presence and punch. In a similar fashion, I move the cabinet away from or move it closer to walls or corners for deemphasizing or emphasizing low end via reflections.

    Hmm ... Now that I've just put that into words, it does sound like an unusal approach to "EQ" for a given room, huh?
  16. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    PB+J, I've heard so much about high-pass filters that I think they might actually be better at taming boominess in your case. Maybe you've already tried that. I don't have an HP filter that I use regularly however, so it's hard for me to comment.

    On the Solstice, I think the Bass control will cut out a range of frequencies centered at 155Hz. However as you alluded to I would venture a guess that some of the lowest frequencies of the bass probably aren't affected at all. It is not described as a shelving EQ control. The bandwidth for the Bass knob is Q-.61, if that helps any.
  17. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Spoke to the nice people at Dtar about the blender.
    According to them, the Solstice is aimed primarily at
    guitarists, but works very well for bass. The frequencies
    are eq'd a little high for bass but if you use the eq very
    sparingly, it again works well for bass. The Raven labs
    blender is more of a "bass" component, but without the
    flexibility of the Solstice.
  18. brooklynbassguy

    brooklynbassguy Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2004
    maplewood, nj, usa
    I have the Solstice and Equinox, and owned the PMB II, and the True Blue EQ. I love the solstice, and have yet to have a situation we've I've needed more eq than what the solstice offers. I sometimes add a touch of bass. I use it going direct into power amps on the road, Sometimes I blend a mike and that can get trickey, but I still find a minimum of eq goes along way. This unit has great dynamic response and a warm sound. I found the PMB II a bit harsh, and a little compressed sounding.
  19. PB+J


    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    Harsh is a word I'd use to describe the PMB-1 too--something a little harsh in the sound
  20. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    For another option, consider the LR Baggs MixPro. It doesn't have as many options as the two larger boxes but it is tiny, the price is right, and the sound is as good as if not better than the Solstice. I've owned one and also owned the Solstice. I am currently using a GigPro which is basically a one-channel version of the MixPro. At one point I dumped the MixPro and went to the Solstice since it had more options but I could not deal with the much, much larger size.
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