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Demeter VTB 201 VS Kern-777

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Jeff Haley, Jan 20, 2003.

  1. Jeff Haley

    Jeff Haley

    May 17, 2001
    Atlanta, Ga.
    I'm still researching pre-amps. These two are now under consideration. I am also looking at the Alembic F-2B and Raven Labs USIP . I play a Fender RB 5 and my style is classic rock and blues.
    I am a fingerstyle player and I'm looking for a warm tone with a big bottom but not muddy. Thanks for the help.
  2. BassGreaser


    Aug 22, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I'd say go for the kern or alembic. the demeter might be too detailed if that makes any sense
  3. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    My Kern has a very fat sound to it. Much like the Alembic F1-X. The Kern gets a great fat old school tone and can do the modern thing too. IMO it's rather versatile. I've never played a Demeter, but from what I hear they have more of a clear sound to them. People who don't like the Demeter pre's tend complain that they don't have enough low end.

    Joker has just about every pre out there, I'm sure he'll chime in with his thoughts.
  4. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    You might also consider the Aguilar DB659 given your stated preference for warmth and low-end. I alternate one with a Demeter 201S for different gigs. The Aguilar is very fat...and good. The Demeter is very clean and transparent on top.
  5. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL

    terrible but true. ;) btw, howya doin' Phatty? havent seen you in a while.

    the Demeter has a more detailed sound true, and is cleaner & more transparent up top. for my tastes/situations/etc., the Demeter is great for my slap/funk playing.

    also, make no mistake, but the Demeter does have awesome low end, especially when you flip the 120/60hz switch. sooooooo nice with my Elrick's lowB. (i'm startin' to sound like a broken record here...:p)

    on the other hand, the Kern sounds like it'd be perfect for you. it is FAT FAT FAT. Corpulent, obese, practically dripping with thick flava! yet, never gets muddy. pretty sweet. to say the least, i was really bummed it didnt work out for my setup. a little too dark. but, if you're looking for that old skoo Bassman flavor but with a healthy dose of modern hifi, the Kern will do ya.

    the Alembic is similar take on the old Bassman thing, but i like the extra hifi sense the Kern has. LOTS of blues/motown boys i've run into all swear by their Alembics. they say its like having that sweet Bassman sound, but with the flexibility a 1200 watt power amp. :eek:

    the Raven Labs i havent played, but the consensus from the DudePit seems to point to a very hifi, modern, transparent mic pre sound.

    i say get the Kern, tho you can find reeaaally good deals on used Alembic's these days.

    also, like Boog pointed out, an Aguilar DB659 is a great choice as well, if you like a muscled yet hifi Ampeg sound.

    so, lets recap!

    Demeter - audiophile, refined modern tube
    Kern - FAT old skoo, with a modern twist
    Alembic - sweet Bassman like with a dab of hifi
    Raven - like a DI into your mixing board
    Aguilar - Ampeg on hifi steriods

  6. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    I'm totally happy with my Kern. And the DI is wonderful for recording: superb tone and great s/n.

    The only amp g.a.s., and it's a mild case of it, I have is for an overdriven sound like an old SVT but nice o.d. unit like a Sansamp or other would take care of that.
  7. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    I've got the Dem and love it. I have not tried that many others. Don't forget the new Bergantino pre will soon be available. I heard that it made a big splash at the Namm along with the new 6x10 and the muscular HT322. :D
  8. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    I haven't had time to talkbass much since school started back up. It's that darn C++ I tell ya. And I'm an EE major. What the heck am I doing computer programming for?
  9. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL

    well, here's hopin' that there're be plenty of time for you gigs this year, too. :D
  10. Given time I think you'll get your sound out of any of these fine pre-amps. I've used an Alembic F1-X for some years now and I think it's fine. But, I think I could get a sound I can work with out of any decent pre-amp. Not too long ago I used an ART dual 15 EQ as a pre-amp and it worked great. I chained the 2 channels together and set up 2 different curves. By bi-passing or engaging each side of the EQ I got 4 different tones just by touching 2 buttons. And, this cost all of $100 (MARS) and was CLEAN. Buy the one that makes your heart go the fastest....... :D
  11. BryanB

    BryanB Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I am using a Kern with an RB5 too. One advantage to the Kern is that it has an insanely high input impedence, (10 MOhms). This is great for passive basses. It really helps bring out the detail of the sound. There is plenty of big, warm bottom. With the RB5, which is a very warm, thick sounding bass, you have to be careful about getting too muddy in the low mids. The Kern's 3 band EQ is excellent for overall tone shaping, but lacks the ability to fix-up particular bands. For that I am using a Raven Labs True Blue EQ. It cleans up the low end a bit and adds a little more detail to the highs. The master tone control on the Kern is awesome for quick tone changes. The DI is trully spectacular. (I really think they were thinking about studio use first when they designed this thing.) Also, I replaced the 12AX7s with Sovtek 5751s. The Sovteks has less bottom and more top end detail. I also like the way they break up better. I don't miss the added bottom from the 12AX7s. The Kern already has gobs of that. One other great feature of the Kern is that it has the fastest transient response of any pre I have ever tried. This is great for those 16th note triplets that you often hear in old skool bass.

    I also tried the Aguilar DB659. This is a great pre. It has less bottom and more mids than the Kern. It tends to have more of an SVT sound as stated earlier. It did not have the lightening fast transients, but it was no slouch either. I prefered the effects loop of this pre over that in the Kern. I preferred the Kern's eq only because of the very cool master tone control.

    I would recommend either one for stuff you are playing. If you are more of a rock player, go for the Aggie. If you lean more towards the R&B sound go Kern. But either one would go well in both styles.

    I think a lot of it will depend on what you are using for a power amp and cab, and what effects you might use.

    Other pre's I have owned or tried:

    Alembic F-1X: the LA sound. Fat bottom, glassy top, and no mids.
    Demeter: Shy bottom, shimmery top
    Ashdown: big clear bottom, very even overall response (check this one out too.) Not quite the complex character of the other pre's.
  12. mgmadian


    Feb 4, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I've never compared the Kern directly vs the Demeter, but I recently A/B'd my Kern (along with a QSC power amp) to other heads such as the SM-900, Boogie 400+, and Boogie's new combination heads. The Kern has a natural deep sound on its own.... thick, meaty, lots of fundamental. In comparison, the SM-900 sounded downright 'honky'. The Boogie amps sounded 'honky', also... though a little less so.

    FYI, I followed some advice from lo-z and replaced the Sovtek 12AX7 tubes in my Kern with some Sovtek 5751s, and do prefer the sound. Interestingly, I don't hear any differnce in either low end, or overall gain. If anything, with the 5751s in there, the low end is at least as prevalent, if not moreso, but is also clearer. I swapped the tubes several times, trying to really hear and understand the differences between them, and ended up preferring the 5751s. So... net-net, if you go the route of the Kern, this is a pretty good mod to look into.

    One caveat: I'm not a big fan of the treble EQ of the Kern. It's frequency center is too low for my tastes (regardless of which tubes are in there), it's more like a high-mid, pretty touch to get a high-fi sound without engaging the 'Bright" switch alone (which occasionally works well).
  13. BryanB

    BryanB Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I agree about the treble control. It seems to be centered around 3-4k. This adds more bite than air. The bright switch seems to be around 1.6k where you would get some finger-on-string sound. (Nice for finger style.) The master tone really adds the air range when you turn it to about 3 o'clock for the RB5. (Adding more air was another reason why I added the Raven Labs True Blue EQ.)
  14. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    With the on-board pre in my Sadowsky j- bass and the Kern I've got enough tonal flexibility...IMHO.
  15. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    i agree, too, but with my Acme cabs and setup, the Kern's brite boost seems to just add hiss instead of cut for slap on my basses.

    a little annoying, but when the mids and low end are as rich and moist as the Kern, who needs it? ;)
  16. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    Are we talkin' preamps or homemade brownies? ;)
  17. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    tone soo thick, its freakin' Pillsbury... :D
  18. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    I know they're new but has anyone had a listen to the new Epifani pre-amps?
  19. GRoberts

    GRoberts Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    I know they're new but has anyone had a listen to the new Epifani pre-amps?

    With any luck, fellow TB'er, Brian Barrett of "thelowend" will chime in. I believe he has some experience of the Epifani preamp and was extremely impressed. Brian is an incredible bass gear consultant resource . Check him out at www.thelowend.com.

    I'm not affiliated in any way. I've simply been talking Brian lately. I'm in the same decision process of choosing a preamp to complement my Roscoe 5 string through a Bergantino 322 bass cabinet. Brian has been very helpful and actually has a lot of experience wih a variety of gear. He is first class and very very helpful. Some shops I have spoken with recently are equally friendly, but their businesses are so crazy, they don't really have time to check out and compare all the gear we want to know about.

    I am deciding between the Kern, Demeter VTBP-201, SWR Grand Prix (can get one cheaper than anything else) EBS classic and the Epifani.

    I will add the question, anyone have experience with the EBS Classic preamp?

  20. Zoom


    Mar 31, 2002
    I know a few months back, Kern preamps and the company (in general), were MIA.
    Have things improved?
    Are the preamps readily available now?
    I was hoping to try a 777 out.
    At one point, the company phone numbers & e-mail address (I had), were useless.


    Those of you talking about swapping tubes in your preamps got me wondering if biasing is needed for preamp tubes, as it is for power amp tubes.