Darkglass B7K Ultra V2 vs X Ultra for Ampless rig?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by StanM42, Dec 25, 2019.

  1. B7K Ultra V2

    9 vote(s)
  2. X Ultra

    7 vote(s)
  1. StanM42


    Oct 3, 2019
    Hi all!

    I play bass in a progressive metal group (inspired by Jinjer, Toska etc.) and my old distortion pedal recently gave out on me. We're very small, very local and moving my amp alongside with the rest of my gear is also starting to become an inconvenience that is starting to get on my nerves. I figured the time had come to invest in one of these Darkglass pedals that everyone seems to talk about and I've been very impressed with every single one I've tried. I've narrowed it down to the B7K Ultra V2 and the X Ultra as these have the distortions that I like the most, not to mention I need the cab simulation that both of these pedals provide.

    I'd like to use it in the little home studio our band has, as well as live at local venues. Monitoring is not an issue, I just need a good sound coming out of the PA. The features of the X Ultra are great, that low-high separation is exceptionally clever and appears to make dead strings sound much brighter again as well, but the actual distortion on the B7K sounds so much more my style, and seems a lot easier to dial in. Not to mention it's an older pedal than the X Ultra, so it's a lot easier to find videos and endorsements of it than the X. I haven't been able to demo either of these in a full band context, so I've no clue which of these sound better in a full mix yet.

    It's a lot of money for a pedal, so I want to make sure I'm getting the right one for my situation. I use fingerstyle, slap and tap in my playing and only very rarely bring out a pick. Which one do you guys think would serve me better?
  2. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Denver, CO
    If the B7K sounds right up your alley already then it’s probably the right choice. It is pretty intuitive to dial in once you understand the switches (which are pre-drive EQ shapers), and the EQ has plenty of options to get you where you need to be.

    The X-Ultra is much less intuitive to dial in, and while the drive can get similar it will be more difficult to get there and will never exactly match the character of the B7K. The X-Ultra does have a better/easier EQ for my taste, and also has the compressor that can be engaged for the full-range signal in Clean mode which is pretty useful. I find the X-Ultra more versatile and better at low-drive tones, which is why I prefer it for my needs.
  3. StanM42


    Oct 3, 2019
    This is really useful, I usually prefer higher-drive tones for most of our work and I already have a dedicated compressor for my clean tone which I love, so I'm still leaning more towards the B7K at the moment.

    How would you compare the two pedals in a recording environment? Is it easier to get the X Ultra to blend in a mix whilst still cutting through, or would you give that to the B7K?
  4. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Sorry I missed this!

    I actually never recorded with the B7K- I just never really jived with it and sold it when DG first released the Vintage pedal (which was much more what I was ending at the time).

    I will say that the X-Ultra is quite a bit more versatile because of the crossover circuits, so it can be dialed in to poke through more or blend in more depending on how much signal you are pushing into the drive circuit and whether or not you are also pushing clean midrange at the same time. Because the crossovers have a lot of overlap you can either set it to give you a significant midrange bump or a significant midrange scoop. You can sort of dial in similar tones with the B7K, but because the Blend is always rolling in a full-range signal I found for my tastes it never sounded as natural to me as the X-Ultra can. The drive in the X can almost sound like just a very aggressive bass, which I hear in a lot of the Djent-y demos of that pedal with Dingwalls and other active basses (I feel like these are the kinds of tones that it was really designed for). I set mine for much more vintage-y drive tones which it can also do well IMO.
    tonymcbony likes this.
  5. FLV


    Sep 14, 2013
    I was looking through the forum and I found myself in a pretty similar scenario. I'm currently using the X7 in my ampless rig and it does a great job, but I'm looking for something with more midrange. I can't decide between the B7k Ultra and the AO Ultra, since both seem to be a great choice. I'm looking for an always-on pedal.
  6. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I’m a big fan of the AO circuit, and it’s my favorite DG pedal for medium to heavy distortion and probably the most amp-like of their preamps in my opinion. It is also inherently very midrange-heavy, and so a good complement to a B7K or X7. I personally run a regular AO into an X-Ultra, but the newer version AO-Ultra (with the aux-in) would be just as good at the end of the chain (I used the original version AOU at the end until the X-Ultra came out, the new AOU should have improved noise floor and cab-sim).
  7. Once i got the X7 I sold my B7KU and AOU, and haven't even touched my AOm. The X7 is so good it just makes everything else sound weak in comparison
    FLV likes this.
  8. tonymcbony


    Mar 21, 2006

    Been running this as my whole rig ever since the X Ultra came out. Ultimately I think there is vastly more flexibility and great tones to be had with the XU than any other Darkglass combination. That setup pictured is what I used for church - XU setup for a little bit of hair and Spark Booster to slam the input for more overdrive.

    You can set it to be grindy heaven but I thought it would demonstrate its versatility.
    opivy3056 and FLV like this.