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Darkglass Preamp Help: Vintage Ultra V2 vs. Microtubes X Ultra

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Doctor Bass, Oct 19, 2019.

  1. Hey there fine bass folks.....long time lurker/first time poster here looking for help with the eternal debate of which Darkglass preamp to plunk several hundred dollars on.

    My MXR M80 is about gigged out and I'm looking to update and upgrade it. I seem to have narrowed it down to Darkglass after looking at several other quality options (SolidGold Beta DLX, Aguilar Tone Hammer, Tech21 VTBassDI.) I'm looking specifically for a 2 stage pedal with a more versatile distortion than what I already have, although my distortion use would be very light 95% of the time and primarily used to cut through the mix only. I like Darkglass's distortion in my Vintage Microtubes pedal and they seem to have some of the most versatile distortion options around in their Ultra series preamps, but despite listening to lots of demos I still can't figure out which out of Vintage Ultra V2 and Microtubes X Ultra has the most versatility and simultaneously is relatively easy to use on the fly in the middle of a gig if need be. (Am I asking too much?)

    I play primarily in cover bands with styles varying from modern pop/rock, vintage eighties pop and hard rock, nineties and millennial rock, as well as electric jazz and blues. That said, the clean capabilities of a preamp to color the tone are much more important to me than the distortion, though as mentioned above I would specifically want to blend in a touch distortion much like I have with the VMT and M80.

    TalkBassers, what are your experiences with these two pedals and which gives you the most bang for your buck in that context?

    BTW, if it helps, I primarily use active instruments (Alembic, Warwick, vintage 80's Spectors) but have been known to break out a passive instrument once in a while. I admit I may be slightly bass-schizophrenic!?! ;-)

    Thanks so much for your help and input!!
    BrentSimons and Fuzzbass like this.
  2. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    VU will definitely win for ease of use on the fly... and it's a great pedal. I personally prefer the versatility of the X7, but it can be tricky. First, multi-band distortions are tricky as a rule. Second, the filter frequency knobs on the X7 (where much of the magic happens) are small black shafts that can't be read from a distance.

    Anecdote: even though I've become familiar with the X7, I slightly annoyed bandmates at a rehearsal the other week because I was tweaking it so much ("dude, don't you have that thing dialed in yet?"). Reason for the difficulty: I was using the bandleader's bass combo, which sounds a LOT different than my normal bass rig.
    Doctor Bass and BrentSimons like this.
  3. tonymcbony


    Mar 21, 2006
    I had the V1 Vintage Ultra (no cab sim) and currently have the X Ultra.

    The V1 wasn’t really a two stage preamp - it was incredibly difficult to get a decent tone I liked both Clean and Dirty. You kinda need to pick one sound and go for that. I was running it into an Cab Sim but still didn’t work out for me.

    X Ultra you actually can run like this! I set up a great clean tone and use the filters to get a decent dirt, and use the two drive circuit levels to match the dirt volume with the clean vol. You do compromise slightly on total control of the dirt, and particularly the midrange level but it sounds damned good.

    I’ve run the gamut of preamp pedals and the X Ultra does all the things I need as a bass player that uses IEM’s - crossover dirt, compressor, tasty & useful EQ for great clean, cab sim, aux in, headphones out, great XLR out.

    It cleared the board of 4 pedals in one hit for me.

    Second best setup is Tonehammer DI with Maxon CP9+ Pro compressor, Vintage Microtubes dirt, into a Shiftline Cabzone LE cab sim, headphone and aux device.
  4. 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 10, 2021

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