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Demeter VTBP-201S Tone Settings

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by lo-freq, Jul 1, 2003.

  1. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    I am curious to see if any other Dem 201S owners get similar results with various tone settings as I do or if my case is particular to the combination of bass guitar (SR5), tubes (one Russian and one Chinese--not sure which is in which position), amp (QSC PLX1602), & cab (Bergantino HT322) I use.

    If some of you could try this and let me know the results, I would appreciate it.

    With everything on the preamp set flat and all the switches out, I get a ballzy, warm tone that is fairly articulate and solid. The low end and lower mid-bass has just a bit of smooth raggedness (a little bit of overdrive and compression, the harder it's driven, the more pronounced it becomes, but always stays pretty smooth).

    I noticed that if I have problems cutting through live, I can boost the articulation by engaging the Bright switch (& usually cut the treble & mid control on my SR5 just a little to keep string/fret noise under control). This seems to affect the entire sonic range of the bass all the way down to Low B; tightens everything up a noticable amount and cuts through really well. I usually boost the bass control on my SR5 just a little to keep string volume even.

    If I want more of the overdriven tone, I disengage the Bright and engage the 120Hz Low Freq switch and boost the midrange a little (usually on my SR5). I can get even more of the effect by switching my SR5 from Single coil mode to Parallel.

    I don't have to change the rotary tone controls on the preamp at all to get these effects.

    Can some of you check and see if you get similar results?
  2. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    whatever works for you, works!

    but i'd get rid of those russian and chinese tubes. the Demeter's very sensitive to what you put in there. kinda like a good diet for your body.

    i personally used a JAN Philips 12ax7 or Mullard CV4004 in the first slot for a soaring high end, steely sounding midrange and tight low end.
  3. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    I'm just a curious type of guy as to whether other bassists get the same results with their Dems.

    I've been thinking about trying one of these or one of these or one of these.

    I'm just a bit short of spare funds at the moment.
  4. Interesting thread! I would be interested in what others guys(or gals) use for sttings on their 201s.Or what kind of tone you can get with different settings.
  5. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL

    i've tried it with the Tunsgram, but found it to be too soft and juicy. not authoratative enough.

    the GE was cool too, but found the mids to be a bit sucked out, and not upfront enough. VERY hifi tho, and gorgeous as a solo bass sound. but for band mixes, i felt like i was getting buried.

    also, keep in mind, i'm pretty sure the first tube position which is on the left, is what affects the tone the most, while the other tube on the right drives the effects loop.
  6. Aram


    Feb 2, 2003
    New York, NY

    I don't remember what tubes are in my '201...I did call the company and spoke to James Demeter (I would recommend calling -- and call early -- he's very helpful). I bought whatever tubes he suggested -- I can check for you if you want, but I don't have the unit here...

    For tone controls, I usually leave the bright switch disengaged, and the bass switch at 60hz (not 120)...then I keep everything else mostly flat, but boost the bass up a tad, and roll of the treble just a hair. This gives me the best tone (IMO) for my Bergie HT-210 -- warm, round and juicy. I keep the horn tweeter on the Berg at about 1/4 or so... If I need to cut through more, I boost the mids on my bass's bart preamp (250 hz), and that gives me a nice farty midrange.

    Oh, my power amp is an RMX 2450, and I bridge it (so 1000+ watts into the 210).

    Hope this helps...

  7. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    Thanks, Joker. I'm hoping to avoid the pricier NOS tubes. Are any of the 5751's good?

    Anyone tried the Ei ECC83?

  8. Aram


    Feb 2, 2003
    New York, NY


    Will do.

    I'll give that a try this Friday -- my rig resides in eastern Long Island, but I live in Jersey. I have the 4th off, so I can mess around with it then.

  9. The tone controls on the Demeter preamp are Passive. Setting them at 12:00 will not give you a "flat" setting.

    The only "active" control on it is the presence control (6db per octave shelving upper mid to high frequency range and boosts from 1K to 20K) and it is flat when set totally to the left counter clockwise.

    The best way to build your tone on a Demeter preamp is to turn all of the tone controls "off" and turn each tone knob up gradually until you find the desired sound for each frequency range.

    The tone controls are subtle.. be patient, take your time, listen closely and write it down.

    I have one of the first bass preamps James ever built. I've tried just about everything else out there and it is still the best sounding preamp I've ever heard or used.
  10. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    I knew about the Presence control, but I thought the others were at least close to flat at 12:00 (Central Standard Time) with all the switches in their "out" position.

    I have my cab HF driver set to flat (fully clockwise); if I set the controls on the preamp to my idea of flat and the controls on my bass flat I get too much midrange and treble, but I thought that was just my bass (or my taste in tone),(I get the same results using my Nemesis NC-210P--that is too much midrange and treble with all controls set flat--of course, it's sound is much harsher than my big rig).

    BTW: What kind of tubes are you using?
  11. JD:

    If you have your cabinet HF level turned up fully clockwise the tweeter is then all the way up and that certainly isn't "flat".

    With the tweeter turned fully up, all you do then is accentuate finger noise, string buzz, hiss and other useless crap... while eating up amplifier headroom.

    Remember this... "Flat" doesn't matter at all, unless its tuning the room EQ in a PA system installation.

    The tweeters (usually a Foster) used in most bass cabinets usually cross over at around 500Hz and go up to 15K.

    Honestly, there is really no useful sound for a bass in the at 5-15K region. Although a lot of people will argue the point.

    And, the tweeter on bass cabinets have a maximum throw of about 10 feet in the real world since it isn't a constant directivity horn.

    So I figure with the tweeter turned way up, all you do is entertain yourself and annoy the people on the front line. And, if you stand in front of your cabinet, like most players do, you totally block it.

    Look at it like this:

    The highest possible fundamental fretted note on a 24 fret bass is the G on the 24th fret and it is 392Hz. It is also the 2nd harmonic.

    The 12th fret note and 12th fret harmonic on a G string is 196Hz

    Most plain old bass cabinets go at least up to 3500Hz without a tweeter. That is a plenty sufficient frequency range for a good sounding bass cabinet.

    So really, what's point in having a 15K bandwidth
    tweeter on a bass cabinet? Unless you are using it for keyboard too or just to further injure your hearing.

    I turned the tweeter on my 410 totally off and I get a great sound with just the right amount of crisp, smooth high end that isn't brittle or harsh.

    Take a step back and try backing off of your cabinets' tweeter and work with your Demeter's tone controls.. you'll be amazed.

    The tubes in my Demeter are some Chinese tubes I got from James.. At the time, he said they were
    the best sounding ones to use. They last for years.

    Good luck.
  12. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    Bergantino's HF pads are cut only, no boost.

    Thanks for the input; I'll keep fiddling with everything.
  13. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    I'm not at home to check my 201 but in light of this I was wondering why this info from Jim's website says this:

    Tone Controls

    Treble: The treble control gives 6dB of boost or cut at 4 kHz (6 dB per octave, shelving type).
    Middle: The middle give 6 dB of boost or cut at 500 Hz (wide Q, peaking type).
    Bass: The bass control gives 9 dB of boost or cut at a selectable frequency of 60 or 120 Hz (6 dB per octave, shelving type).
    Presence Control: The presence control gives up to 12 dB of boost at a selectable frequency of 2 kHz or 4kHz (active type, 6 dB per octave).
    Bright Switch: The bright switch gives up to 6 dB per octave of boost from 2 kHz.
  14. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    HI everybody.
    Lo, your assessment is right on target. You pretty much summed it up. I play a Lakland 4-94 mostly with drop D-tuner. I set my Dem flat sometimes boosting the bass to about 12:30 or 1:00. I do the rest of the eq on my bass. The 4-94 has Bartolini's with treble, mid, bass, panning for jazz pickup at the neck and humbucker at the bridge with coil splitter. I usually run the bass eq at - 1:00 treb, mid flat, bass 3:00. Since I got the Berg 322 I now get tones on the Lakland I wouldn't before. They all sound great. The purity of the Dem and the perfect reproduction out of the Bergs. Yummy. I do favor the panning to the jazz pickup very slightly and get a real good "old school" sound. If I need to cut the mix I add a little mid on the bass and pan favoring the dual coil bridge pickup.

    Back to the Dem. For slapping I hit the bright switch or for instant mix cut. I usually leave it off. I mostly stay at 60hz with my 322 and sometimes go to 120hz with my two small 112 Bergs. They sound better on 120 than does my 322. I usually leave the presence knob off. I always run the 322 just slightly cut on the horn. I play with attenuator and the treble on my bass to get a shimmery high but not too bright. As my strings get broken in I will add some treble/brightness.

    Tubes: I'm still experimenting. I keep going back to the 12ax7EH (electro harmonics) Supposedly not the best, but still very good. I'll always keep a couple of those around. I have some new JJ12ax7 that I have not tried yet. I tried Sovtek 5751 but they had a ping/ring that I could not tolerate. They sound very smooth though and 5751 to cut the gain 30%, but that is not a bad thing. NOS tubes like Amperex Bugle Boys are hard to find these days, Joker prolly has them all...:>O The Jan/GE 5751 Black Plate with triple mica spacers is supposed to be great and the Gray plate not bad either and more plentiful. I'm still researching tubes and have a lot to learn. The only way is buy them and try them. It's good to get other's result too to save us some cash too. So, I wouldn't say the Sovtek 5751 were bad, but I must of gotten a bad tube, because it had the slight micophonic thing happening. I should try and get my money back or a replacement.
  15. The original 1.5 space 201's were passive..mine was built in 1985. Demeter told me they were based on the preamp section of the original 1959 Fender Bassman.

    Demeter does have some newer single space preamps that are active, I think one model even has a paramatric midrange.
  16. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    Sounds like it was based on the same type design and then modified some to balance the amount of cut & boost available for bass, middle, & treble.

    I believe that Alembic is closer to the original (Fender implementation) as far as range of tone adjustment.

    Anyway, I have been playing with the controls on my bass (SR5) and the 201S. I heard that the newer SR preamps are not as smooth as the older ones, so I set the SR controls to flat (except for the Bass control which is boosted about 1/2 of the available boost amount) to hopefully get minimal coloration from it and started playing with the HT322 HF level and the Dem tone controls. There are some interesting sounds in there. Found a setting, I will try live Thurs. & Sat. at a couple of gigs and see how it sounds.

    I have a set of DR LowRiders on my bass which are fairly bright.

    I have the Berg HF level at -5db, the 201S has only the Bright switch engaged, the Treble control at 5:15 (cut almost all the way), the Middle at 4:30, and the Bass at 5 or 10 minutes short of 12:00.

    Not particularly what I would call a beautiful sound, but it is very punchy and fairly articulate and I think it should really cut through live.

    To get more of a grindy, ballzy tone, I can switch from single coil to parallel and cut the SR5 Bass control a little. [The SR5's B string just sounds so much more articulate and blends better with the sound of the other strings set to single coil.]
  17. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    If you haven't already done so make sure you stand at least 6 to 10 ft. back from the 322 when checking your tones etc. I did a lot of experimenting with that cab in a small room and you just can't hear it properly in that small space unless you stand back (and stop everything in the house from vibrating) It's a different story with my small Bergs but they still sound better too with some distance. Sometimes I even get kneel down and get right in front and I can hear the tone much better.

    That is also true about "flat" setting on a passive unit. I said I set my Dem flat but really I meant at 12:00 (also CST) I think it might be your bass giving you the greif. My Lakland has inherent tones too. Although the Lakland are designed around the Stingrays/Jazz/P-bass Leo Basses the Laklands do have their own sound and are very versatile. Not that your SRay is not, but I never was fond of the limitations of Stingrays (sorry). Remember as I think you once said yourself, the Demeter and Bergantino combination really let the sound of your bass shine through weather it be good, bad, or ugly. I can tell you also that the Demeter will sound different than other preamps with the same tube, so again you have to try the tubes in your rig.

    Sorry if you already know all of this stuff I'm chattering about. I, like you, have done a lot of testing and sometimes it happens right away and sometimes not. If you get frustrated, shut it off and go have a beer and come back the next day when your ears are fresh...:)

    Oh by the way, I have pretty much have gone back to the Parallel mode on my PLX2402. The bridged is useful but always seems to make my sound like it's busting at the seems. The passive doesn't allow for as much headroom, but the whole rig seems to be at ease so to speak, yet very punchy and authoritive still. I put my HT-112 on top of the 322 last outside gig and it totally blew me away.
  18. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    Thanks BS.

    I'll try all of the above.

    I've never even heard mine non-bridged.

    For the SR5, I plan to get an Ag OBP-3 first and depending on the results maybe an Aero or SD MM pickup.
  19. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    You know I forgot you have a PLX 1602. That might not be enough to run in parallel at a gig. I guess you'll have to try it. Maybe that is why mine sounds sort of stressed in bridged mode because it's more powerful. Some guys swear by the Bridging no matter what amp their using. I guess you just have to get it dialed in, I will probably try it again.

    The PLX amps are great. I'm trying something at a party tomorrow. It's just a jam session with "who ever", shows up to play. There will be a set of drums and some guitar players showing up. No PA. So, I'm bringing my monitors and switching my amp to Stereo Mode and I'll be able to power my bass cab from one channel and my mini mixer and monitors for vocals in the other channel. It ought to be interesting. I have a BALL at those types of venues.

    Have a Good 4th!
  20. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    [I played my combo at the gig Thursday, since it was a smaller, less loud situation.]

    Last night we played outside under a pavillion type thing and there were no walls close by for acoustic reinforcement. I had played around with different settings on the Dem 201S and found something I though would work well live.

    BTW: I checked the tubes in my 201S and the dealer had put a GT-5751 in the main socket (on the left), which I believe is a Chinese tube with less gain). I swapped it with the other tube which was marked Mesa Boogie (I assume Russian 12AX7 probably EH). It has much more volume than before at lower volume settings and a bit cleaner sound.

    I was amazed by how everything sounded (even my bass--somehow sounds much better in a live setting than in my house). There wasn't as much of the compressed, almost-overdriven tone as I usually get. The sound was pretty clean (for an HT322), very solid, extended, articulate bottom and punchy, kicking mid-bass. The midrange and high end were just right, very clean and very smooth.

    Here's the preamp settings: Bright switch in, adjusted overall level with the volume control (just below 1:00 at its highest), Treble fully counter-clockwise, Middle about 8:50 (small changes with this thing do make a difference), Bass 11:55, Presence fully counter-clockwise, Bass Freq switch out, and (the main other change) Presence switch in.

    With the Bright and Presence switch in, I had to do some cutting on my SR5 treble control (about half of the available cut was used) and just a little bit of midrange cut, along with a small amount of bass boost.

    Got a lot of comments from the band and audience on how good the bass sounded. I just said "Thanks" with a big grin.