Doubler, Headway, and now Clarus?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Adagio, Oct 18, 2012.

  1. Adagio


    Jul 21, 2011
    Quebec City
    Hey guys, I apologize for the long post but anyways, here's my story:

    I bought an iAmp Doubler a couple of months ago and I really wanted to love it, but the truth is there isn't much love going on. As much as I like its portability and some of its cool features, there are downsides I can't live with. To begin with, I had some issues with the amp when I first got it (bought it used). The power supply just gave up and then ALL of the 1/4 jacks eventually broke in two pieces, they were falling appart just by touching them (I still don't understand why they didn't used the metal ones in the first place, as they're as light and not really more expensive). But I can't blame the amp for getting broken... perhaps that was just bad luck. To me, the dealbreakers are more the loud pop when I hit that "mandatory" mute switch and then there's the sound I get out of this amp. Or perhaps should I say it's the sound I cannot get out of it.

    I've litterally spent hours trying to dial a sound I'm happy with, but that was all in vain (yep, I'm very picky, just like the rest of you!). I'm used to blend a FC and Ehrlund through a Headway EDB1, so I've tried everything to make my PUs work with the Doubler only. I've tried them individually; blended together or with a mic; with and without preamps in the signal chain; tinkered a lot with the EQ and other params; I've run it through different cabs but nothing would do it. And just when I tought I might have dialed a decent sound, I plug the Headway back in to compare and it always sounds so much better. This box really does a great job at capturing the acoustic sound or my bass, unlike my Doubler which I feel is killing that vibe, giving a much more flat and electric texture.

    That being said, I'm well aware that many of you in here like the Doubler, endorse or even designed it. And I'm happy you're happy with it! My point isn't to say it's a bad amp, on the contrary it's quite a good product. I just needed to explain why it's not for me, so I could get better guidance on the following questions:

    Now that I've decided to part with the Doubler, the other amp on my list was a dual channel AI Clarus. I was wondering if anyone as ever compared it with the EDB1? Would I find what I'm looking for in that amp? I don't have any AI dealer nearby and I would really hate to buy this amp only to find out it doesn't live up to my expectation. On the other hand, one of the best upright tone I've ever heard on a gig was coming from a FC through a Clarus, but I guess just not everyone gets the same results!?!

    I really dig the sound of the Headway, and I'm starting to think I should just stick with it and get a small power amp or powered PA.

    Any thoughts?
  2. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    EA has great customer service. I would contact them about your jack and sound problems and maybe have them go through the amp to make sure it is working as intended. I bought a used EA micro from someone on TB, and it crapped out on me on the second gig. EA took it back and made it easy to buy a new Doubler, which I've been very happy with.

    The mute switch pops are part of the particular circuit design, mine does it, and they all do, AFAIK. Maybe you should experiment with other speaker cabs? I've used mine with 5 or six now, and like the sound with all.

    Maybe someone can recommend a small, lightweight power amp to go with your Headway.
  3. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Setup and repair/KRUTZ Strings
    I have no experience with the Doubler so I can't compare it to the others.

    I did use the Headway with a small power amp (swr amplite) for several months and thought it was the most transparent, natural sound I had ever gotten. The phantom power is low but it worked well with my mic.

    However, I picked up an older Clarus and think it sounds every bit as good as the Headway and is much simpler to operate. The little Headway knobs were a bit fussy when all I wanted was to dial in my sound. After experiencing Rick's amazing warranty service on my ten year old amp I'm very happy with Acoustic Image.

    I no longer use a mic, preferring the simplicity of pickup. A few years ago I owned a series III Focus and it worked well with an AT Pro35 mic but using a mic is just one more thing to dial in and I prefer a more 'plug and play' approach. :D
  4. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Setup and repair/KRUTZ Strings
    Eric, your querry just now registered with me. The SWR Amplite is a great little power amp. I found it to be 'overbuilt' and honestly rated for power. Some amps sound like they just barely are up to it but the SWR isn't one of them. The only real drawback is the noisy fan, although I rarely noticed it.
  5. Nathan Levine

    Nathan Levine Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2008
    Anchorage, AK
    I recently sold my AI codaR series 3 combo because I just felt the Headway was a very perceptibly better sounding preamp than what was in the AI. Bypassing the AI pre through the effects loop worked fine for s time. By some small miracle I found a Focus SA power amp shortly after beginning the search for one and I liked that I could fool about with different cabinets in search of "the sound".

    But honestly, I have been considering selling the SA and picking up a Series 3 Focus2R lately. Why you might ask? There is something very tempting about simplifying ones rig IMO. An AI head and a great cabinet is about as simple as it gets.

    I've been using a DPA almost exclusively during the past year due to it utter transparency. I've tried all kinds of piezos and I just can't wrap my ears around them. They all seem to have an unnatural quality that I just am unwilling to forgive or accept. The Headway has been fine for me because of this. I just can't get too loud. Luckily my current gig doesn't require the ability to get real loud so I've been ok.

    Gigs seem to be on the horizon though that will require a bit more volume, so when i saw the chance I grabbed a fairly new Ehrlund at a great price recently. I am thinking I'll blend it with the DPA which is why two independent channels is starting to sound better and better. Might be microphone overkill but I guess I'll see in the next fe

    Before you jump on a Clarus though, I would take your Headway down to a local QSC dealer and check out the K series. If you still are loving the sound of your FC and Ehrlund blended through the Headway, it seems like this could be a really good bet.
  6. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    I'd definitely get the Doubler checked out, like Eric suggested, to see what the deal is with the power supply. That amp hasn't been around long enough, to have it fail like that. I just ordered a QSC K8 to do double duty as a mini P.A. and a mini amp combined with my Headway EDB-1. I won't have it until next week. So after I run it out on a gig or two, I'll post something. My intent is to use it in conjunction with the Ehrlund EAP.

  7. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    The difference is the Headway has a class a dual stage FET front end. You're not going to get the sound from the Doubler that comes from the EDB-1 since it's essentially a 5 band EQ vs a 3 band. IME, different pre amp voicings yield dramatically different results.

    My take on Acoustic Image is "what you hear" coming off your bass acoustically, is "what you will get" running the AI preamp. So the better you bass sounds naturally, the better it's going to sound through a Clarus or Ten2 which is the amp I'd buy, if I were going that route. I did a direct comparison between the Focus Series II head and my Walter Woods Ultra and Woods MI-400-8. Personally. I preferred the Woods Pre Amp Voicing with my bass and the Realist. My reason for buying the heavier Ten2 would be that the one down firing speaker in the Clarus, has limitations that I don't wish to except. On the other hand lots of other players love those little guys.

    There are several T.B. enthusiasts that love the DPA 4099, Headway, QSC K10 combo. As I said above, I just ordered a K8 for those small intimate gigs I tend to play.

  8. lrhbass

    lrhbass Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2009
    I own both the doubler and the Clarus head. I also use the Headway,and DPA,but as stated by others here. I use the return input to by -pass on both units and run the DPA through the amp pre itself. Both amps sound great. I have AB ed each amp side by side with various combinations. they both are in the ball park with a little tweeting .So I always have a back-up. I have dealt with both companies ,they are great!!
    My suggestion is to experiment, going through the Return,with the Headway and use a great speaker such as the Thunderchild,EA M Line,or one of the new speakers made by TB er.Mike A.,would always help. let us know what works for you in the future.
  9. pbasswil


    Feb 17, 2008
    Under chaotic gig conditions, IME, "transparency", naturalness, etc. is almost irrelevant. (I emphasize: IMHO, YMMV, etc.)

    What I seem to require is EQ flexibility. Depending on what cab I've brought, what the room is like, what other musicians I'm trying to slot my sound into -- the sound I require varies widely from gig to gig.

    I use the Headway, because it has a few bands of relevant EQ, particularly in the mids.
    However, if there was another device that had all the same great features, _plus_ a couple of bands of sweepable freq. mids, I'd be there in a heartbeat.

    What I don't get is: bass amps/pres with one fixed band of mids. Sheesh, for me, the mids is exactly where I crucially want lots of control.

    Specifically: a band of lowest mids/highest lows (100hz to 200) is a completely different commodity than Low shelving an octave or two below. You may well need a bit of thud in the lowest mids. But on acoustic I almost never want to add true lows. (I find it only muddies, and often challenges a small speaker/amp.) So low shelving is only useful to me for cutting away rumble.

    And then I almost always want to add or subtract a little of what I call character/texture, a couple of octaves above those lowest mids. I prefer to tune that freq. by ear.

    So any amp with only 1 fixed mid band requires me to carry a second EQing device; which is a bit dissuasive/inconvenient.
  10. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Setup and repair/KRUTZ Strings
    About five years ago, I was using a new hybrid bass with a Full Circle pickup and either a series III Focus or Clarus head. I had been playing DB for about two years after a long hiatus and hadn't really developed the mature sound that I have now. Looking back on that time I know that I was looking for 'my sound' in the amp rather than myself. So, what did I do? Change basses and amps!:crying:

    Three years+ ago I searched for a bass that I could really get to know and grow old with. What I found doesn't really matter other than knowing that we work together in getting the sound that goes to the amp and out into the room..Now I feel much better about the sound I'm getting acoustically.

    So how does this relate to this thread?

    I would describe the Headway as a clear, clean window. What goes in comes out. The sound is round, three dimensional. The EQ is amazingly effective. I normally left it flat or nearly flat, using only the HPF. It's a great little preamp. The Acoustic Image when set flat sounds just a bit less three dimensional, smaller. The difference is slight and irrelevant on any gig. It's very warm and slightly fatter in the low end and rolled off up top. The EQ is much less effective but I don't use much other than the HPF. The knobs are almost always between 10:00 and 2:00. Five years ago that wasn't the case because I was looking for the amp to fix the sound rather than make it louder.

    All amps are voiced to some degree. The Acoustic Image just gets it done in a simple way. I like the black knobs with the little white indicators because they are easy to to see. It's a very ergonomic amp. Again, Rick makes a great product and stands behind it. That is worth a lot.
  11. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    I guess I'm fortunate to be playing more concerts, churches, and small intimate gatherings, rather than clubs and receptions. In the later situations, you could have the finest rig in the world, and the crowd will just raise their volume level until they can hear each other talk.

    Since I tend to play with the same group of musicians, the guitarists, pianists, singers, and percussionists are very adept at leaving me "the bass territory," so I'm rarely competing with other instruments. Again, I realize how lucky I am. It's a blessing

    Absolutely, I'd be there right behind you. I was kind of disappointed that Headway EDB-1 isn't a full two channel device. Of course, if it was it would cost the same as one of the less expensive micro heads. There's always a tradeoff.

    My older Walter Woods MI-400-00 has two, three way, switches adjacent, the treble and bass controls, that will either reduce, flatten, or boost those frequencies. Along with a single mid range control, that's just voiced in the right place, it works fine. I've never seen any other amp with a single midrange that worked that well. That's why I'm so fond of the Headway, even though it needs second channel, and input attenuation switch on the piezo channel, if you're going to use a Realist or Full Circle. IME, IMHO

    +1 I've always thought that Double Bass EQ is counterintuitive to Electric Bass EQ.

    Interesting, I'll give that a shot, might work for me as well!

    For me it's a total PITA, fortunately the Woods gets that problem solved. Unfortunately, it's stupid expensive now. I couldn't afford one, at todays prices. I'm lucky to have purchased mine a while ago.

  12. playbass0410


    Feb 8, 2008
    I do play a Bassbalsereit pickup into Baggs Gigpro into a BOSS GT-10B MFX board into PUHMA TecAmp Combo 2x12, 500Watts. The Puhma Compos is located on a small table lifted about 1m away from the bottom. Thus the amp is in ear height and does not resonances with the floor.

    This setups gives me a transparent yet deep sound.

    The Boss is used as Stagetuner, Volume Pedal and maximal EQ flexibility. I can use up to 6 Band Full parametric EQ. Normally the EQ section runs almost flat, but in a giging location I do use the parametric EQ's to adopt to the room. This takes quite some time and experience but I'm mostly capable to notching resonance frequencies of the room without the need to use a heavy highpass filter that takes away all that deep bottom end. The nice thing with the parametric EQ in the Boss is that it graphically displays the resulting EQ curve - that helps a lot to see how set Q factors affect the eq curve.

    I do not use the effects it offers. But I'm also also capable to design my solo sound that is a little bit different from the comping sound: more heights and lows for more meat in thump position just a foot switch away.

    I know this is quite a high tech approach that purists do not like, but it gives me the sound flexibility I already loved in my gone years as EB player...
  13. pbasswil


    Feb 17, 2008
    Yup. Concerts remove some of the variables, for sure.

    Double yup. :^)

    I have my own wish list for the Headway. E.g.: I'd love to be able to send the EQ to my amp, but have the DI Out be pre-EQ, since the FOH can do its own EQing (for its entirely different speakers, which I can't even fully hear).
    But parametric mids would be my #1 wish.

    Yeah, he's responded before about designing his device, and how it was a delicate balance of features and price, fraught with anguished choices.

    I've been ok keeping the input trim very low, but yeah, the gain is a bit much.

    On the lows/sub lows, for sure. But I still tweak the mids a lot, on both double bass and electric.
    If only DB gear came with EQ like on my Eden WT800!

    I don't know which is more of a pain -- not having the EQ control you want, or having to string together multiple little devices to get it (each requiring power or batteries).

    Love threads like this -- comparing notes with other DBers. Everyone has a different approach to amplification. Cheers all!
  14. Adagio


    Jul 21, 2011
    Quebec City
    A lot has been going on during the last day! It's great having these kinds of exchange indeed, thank you all for your valuable feedback.

    @ Eric : I thought about contacting EA but I doubt they would a second hand amp, perhaps I'm wrong. Anyway, I fixed the broken parts and it's working fine now.

    @ Nathan : When I talked about a getting powered mon, I pretty much had the QSC K-12 in mind. I should definitely try it, if I ever find one!

    @ Ric : I'm definitely looking forward hearing more about your experience with your new QSC before making my move. I think it would be a smart buy as I always decouple my cab from the floor and don't really care for having powerful lows that much. Saving a ton of money is always good too!

    @ pwbasswill : About naturalness, I must admit I rather think the opposite. The better your sound is, the better it sounds with more volume (unless you reach that bloody feedback / bleed limit) but a bad sounds just get worse with more power. Like Rick, I think I'm blessed with having my "bass territory" free. My gig is a trio so I've got plenty of ground to cover!

    As for the Headway having a single EQ section, I thought it would be more limiting before I playing with it at first. But in the end, it think I prefer it this way rather than dual EQ. Easier to set up, sounds as good IMO. The feature I'd really like though is an effect loop: I play a lot of arco passages in pizzicato tunes and I use a volume pedal to lower my arco output. Since I send my signal right to the console, I can't use my headway as a DI and so I always need an extra one. If we had that, only then the pre/post on DI would become my #1 wish!
  15. pbasswil


    Feb 17, 2008
    I always learn something, often a lot.

    I definitely love a pure, natural acoustic sound, if the bass is good.
    But what I was suggesting is that the band, the room (& its resonances), and crowd noise all hugely influence what frequencies need to be accentuated or tamed (that's my experience).
    Like I said, a concert situation takes away the variable of crowd noise (which I'm habitually struggling to cut thru), so that changes things a lot.

    The fact that most users have a Headway wish list is a testament to it being such a basically useful device -- it's only gear that we intend to keep using that we dream of further customizing.
  16. Adagio


    Jul 21, 2011
    Quebec City
    After tinkering quite a lot with my Doubler, I think I found a setup I like and I thought I'd share the good news (I find it really useful when others do!). My signal chain is still more complex than I'd want it to be, but I guess that will do for now:

    Ehrlund (near bridge foot - treble side) and Full Circle through my Headway EDB1 on channel 1 blended with a Geoff44's mic on channel 2.

    Sounded great this afternoon both through my Eden EX-112 and through in-ear monitoring. The whole idea of getting a Doubler was to get rid of some of my gear; I ended up with three inputs and two preamps! But since I liked it so much today, I think I'll just stop worrying about optimizing the whole thing. In any case, I've decided to stick with the Doubler for a while, or at least until my next G.A.S. attack hits me!

    Attached Files:

  17. Adagio


    Jul 21, 2011
    Quebec City
    Hey folks, this is kinda old but I finally had my anticipated G.A.S. episode and got myself a Clarus amp a few weeks ago. This amp sounds really great with any pickup and mic I've tried, exactly what I was looking for! I've even rediscovered my Full Circle which sounds way better with this amp than with anything else I've tried so far.

    The thing is, while it's awesome through a cab, I got distortion on low E through low G when I monitor it through headphones (DI out). It's seems to be somewhat similar to this thread. and to what I experienced with FC and Headway.

    I've tried several things:

    FC -> Clarus Headphones out -> Mixer = Distortion
    FC -> Clarus DI -> Mixer = Distortion
    FC -> HPF3 -> Mixer = Distortion
    FC -> HPF3 -> Clarus -> Mixer = Distortion
    FC -> Doubler -> Mixer = Ok!

    Now what? I clearly prefer the Clarus over the Doubler, does anybody has a hunch on the cause and possible solutions?
  18. If possible, you might try something to reduce the signal level going from your pickup into the Clarus to see if it helps. My Rob Allen bass overloads my Clarus (Series IV) if I turn it's volume knob up more than 25%. I emailed Rick Jones about it and he said that the Series IV amps have more sensitive inputs and I just need to compensate by keeping my bass turned down.

    Unfortunately, there's no volume knob on the Full Circle. I'm thinking you might be overloading the input just a touch when you play your lowest few notes. Maybe it just isn't as audible through a cab... I don't seem to have this problem with my FC into my Clarus but your bass/technique might yield a higher output from the pickup than I get.

    It kind of sucks that the input gain knob on the Clarus can't compensate for this - I had the same issue (although to a lesser degree) with my Rob Allen and a Series 3 AI amp I used to own.
  19. Adagio


    Jul 21, 2011
    Quebec City
    That makes sense, I have a series 4 too. The input is too hot with my old TRB-6 if my volume knob is higher than 25%. Perhaps the padded cable from Gage's would be useful here? What I don't understand is why do I get this issue through the DI out but not at all through the cab?

    I really like the feature on the Clarus which allows to send the second channel through the DI but not to the cab (for mics). It's much less appealing if the FC farts though!
  20. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I'd try the padded cable. I used to gig with the FC and an AI Focus a lot, and both the FC and DI signals are relatively "hot". one club I played a lot used to have to adjust the DI signal almost completely off to avoid distortion. This is also acommon issue with the FC and the Headway EDB-1, and some people have had their preamps' gain structure modified to account for it. The padded cable seems like a far simpler solution.

    The AI 2 channel heads are a great swiss army knife in one simple compact box. I hadn't used mine for a while but am testing out a couple of Mike E's Big E cabs, and I was reminded about what great amps these are. I no longer bother with mixing a mic for reasons I won't go in to here, but still am impressed with the AI amp heads through the right cabinet.

    I reviewed the Doubler for BG magazine a year or so ago, and while I liked the features and thought it would be great for some people, I wasn't tempted to replace any of the stuff I had with it in spite of the size.