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EA Iamp800 Vs. Aguilar DB680 + QSC2402

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Poon, Oct 17, 2004.


  1. EA Iamp 800

    14 vote(s)
    28.0%
  2. Aguilar DB680

    29 vote(s)
    58.0%
  3. Run The EA with another pre-amp or effects

    2 vote(s)
    4.0%
  4. Just Use the Carrot Pre-Amp

    5 vote(s)
    10.0%
  1. Poon

    Poon

    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Weight aside...which would you go with?

    I'm thinking of maybe trading my EA Iamp 800 for a DB680. Am I crazy? Do I have the same disease as the rest of you gear traders? I like the Iamp's power to weight ratio and the built in tuner, however I still feel like the Iamp lacks something for me and my type of music. I play rock and will probably continue to play rock. I'm going to be using two Aguilar GS410's (Each 4-ohm Cabs) and I'm thinking it might be pretty sweet to have an all aguilar rig.

    I'd appreciate any insight that people have into this.
    People like David Wilson and Big Joe or Todd Vanselus(The Basstaters guy) who've owned both. Remember I play Rock/Punk/Pop mainly now. I still sub in playing with funk bands and jazz combos, but my main gig is going to be with a touring Rock/Pop-Punk group, so take that into consideration.

    To give you an idea of my tastes.
    1.) I wasn't a huge fan of the Aguilar DB659 Live, but on a recording it sounds cool. (It sounds great on Basstasters by the way)
    2.) I'm a huge fan of the Alembic F1-X when playing on it's own. It doesn't cut through the mix incredibly well, but it sounds so great played on it's own...especially with Fender Family/Ernie Ball Family Instruments.
    3.) I thought that the Mesa M-Pulse was great, but it didn't have speakons and that really annoyed me.

    Bottom line is that i'd either like to keep the Iamp800 or get the DB680. Tell me which one to chose and WHY.
     
  2. the dude

    the dude Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2004
    Indy
    If you're not 100% on the Ag, why not rack the iAmp with the Ag pre and see if you really want the Ag pre exclusively? If you're totally digging the Aggie, then you could dump the iAmp.
     
  3. jobu3

    jobu3 Artist formerly known as Big Joe

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    I liked the iamp best with the EQ bypassed. I didn't care for how it's upper mids to highs were voiced. IMO, the upper range was a little thin where as the lows and low mids were very defined, smooth, and pronounced. I thought it was a very warm sounding amp while remaining very clean. Almost too clean. I was considering adding something to the signal: An SIB fatdrive a'la Joker, or an SABBDI, or something. I did try a Fulltone and a DAM Ezekiel which were both pretty good but not really what I was looking for. I realized that what I was missing was probably some dirt from tubes and that sticking a pedal in to spice up the iamp's tone (and generally bypassing the EQ) were not using it to it's best advantage and I could probably get more for my money to sell it and get something with tubes.

    Like you, I didn't care for the 659 too much. I think it was little too boomy and honestly, just a little too sloppy for my tastes. Not a lot of tonal control either, IMO. I liken the general Aguilar sound to Ampeg with some manners. Better lows, smoother, much more refined mids, creamier highs, relatively good definition and really fat! The 680 is all of that while I found the 659 to be not so much of it, but perhaps a good effort... Others may agree to disagree.

    The 680 is much more pleasantly harmonic. Fantastic, fat lows, detailed midrange (although not as much as some cleaner sounding amps/pres), and big airy highs are all with in its scope. It is not overly out there or so buried that it turns to mud underneath everything: It sits right where you want it in the mix. It also gets really close to some of that classic tube tone but with better definition. Right now I am playing a bass with flats and one with snappy, SS-string tone for a little more cut and top-end definition. The 680 handles both with aplomb. It provides realistic and usable tones and although I continue to EQ pretty close to flat (or as flat-sounding as I can get with certain rooms), the semi-parametric EQ on the 680 is is very handy. (It is not as powerful as that of the Navigator or the iamp.)

    I read lots of reviews for the iamp before I jumped the gun and bought it and several said it was too clean for certain situations. I play mostly blues and asst'ed genres of rock myself and no matter how you EQ the iamp, you'll still get a warm but very clean sound. I still think it is a great amp as are many out there. I think that I'll miss it a great deal when my fretless comes, but if need be I can just put a direct box in front of my power amp and go direct for that hi-fi goodness.

    Every preamp, power amp, and head have their own voices which to a certain degree will be inescapable regardless of gain stage or EQ settings. I think that there are some amps/pre/power setups out there that are slightly better suited for what you are after than the iamp. With that said, it may rock on out with your Aggie 410's which are voiced a little more aggressively than what I was playing through so don't write it off just yet. Also when you consider the jazzier stuff, keep in mind that both John Patitucci and Gary Willis use Aguilar stuff too.
     
  4. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    As you pointed out, I've owned both. Joe has done a good job of describing them, thanks for saving me some time there ;)

    I thought the iamp was a great amp, light and powerful. That being said, I never played it and said "yes, this is the sound I want"

    As you noted there are other variables in the mix, in particular what cabs you're playing through. To me, the iamp/EA CXL112 combo just wasn't for me.

    I'm also someone who wasn't a huge fan of the DB659. I found the low-mids kind of woolly, and considering other options round at the same price I didn't feel it was worth the money to me

    I do love the Alembic F-1X, it's flat sound is probably my favorite.

    But the DB680 is my favorite overall preamp, it's fat yet articulate sound and intuitive eq'ing always gave me a great sound.

    And yet I sold my DB680 recently. :help: And bought an AG500. There's no doubt it's not as tubey fat as the DB680, but it has plenty of low end booty available. My reason for downsizing was convenience, it's just easier to navigate a 19lb head in a bag round NYC than a 60lb rack case (even when it is a case on wheels). The AG500 gets damn close to the DB680 sound. But who knows, maybe I'll miss the DB680 too much and end up buying one again some day.

    Anyway, to sum up. From the options you list.
    If I was going purely on sound, I'd probably go with the DB680 + power amp. If portability was the main concern, I'd probably go with the iamp (or try out an ag500!)
     
  5. I'm sorry I haven't played the iAMp but the 680/728 is the S#$t!!. I've also used the 680 with a Stew 2.1 which is great also. I once sold a 680 and missed it so much I bought another at a loss. Only gear I ever repurchased.

    David, is the AG 500 a nice little brother for the 680? I'm thinking of getting one for portability. Obviously the 680/728 is a Chiropractor's dream.
     
  6. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    That's a cute way of putting it
    :)
     
  7. I really think we're comparing apples to oranges here aren't we? Price? No comparison. Tubes vs. Solid State? No comparison. Weight? Well, we really can't compare that either 'cause...well I don't need to say. It may sound as though I'm 'sticking up' for the Iamp, but I'm not, its just the Iamp is not designed to be in that class for competition...its just not anywhere near the piece of equipment the 680 is. (I think you'd even get the guys at EA to admit that..well...maybe.) I've owned them both and IMO the ONLY reason to go w/ the EA is size/weight. That DB680 is the best production run preamp out there. And as iterated by others in the thread...not a lot of eq is required, despite its very comprehensive tone section...a minor bump here or a Q change for a particular room and you're right on target. Just a very musical sounding preamp. Its a keeper for me (the ONLY production pre I own!)
     
  8. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny

    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    lots of great thoughts from gents who know. i'll just add, my iAMP-800 actually replaced my old DB680/Stewart setup. both setups sounded great, tho the 680 is obviously a bit warmer, but i really dug the the exacting, and strangely fat tone of the iAMP. really let the character of my Sadowsky shine thru. also, the light weight spoiled me after a while. YMMV.
     
  9. Poon

    Poon

    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I had a really good night with my Iamp800 last night. I think I was fiddling with the EQ so much, I stumbled upon a sound that I love and everyone else in the band seemed to notice too. So maybe no 680 for me. I'm selling my Alembic F1-X, if anyone is interested.
     
  10. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    I had a "Eureka moment" with my iAMP 800 also. :D It took me a while to find the right EQ for my Epifani cabs in a given room. The EQ is so powerful, you can easily overpower in one direction or another. What I have found is that I am better off using other cabs in that room (two Wizzy's is my current fave!). And I am also finding that in larger rooms, I am preferring the iAMP 800 set mostly flat.
     
  11. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny

    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    good stuff, Poon.

    i have those moments often with my iAMP. :)
     
  12. Poon

    Poon

    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Tom & Joker:

    It was cool. I just found myself saying, wow, this setting really evenly represents all the notes I play. My low B isn't bottoming out the 10"s and everything sounds really clear without being overly loud. My singer said to me "wow, you're not killing me tonight". I think he's usually full of crap when he's telling me that i'm the loudest of everyone. We have two TSL Marshall Half Stacks and a Drummer who is even oud when he talks. Anyway, my singer doesn't understand the physics of sound all that well, so he hates it when I argue with him about how the crowd gets a totally different perception of what we sound like and why I have to fiddle with the eq because of the room dynamics. But, I guess we really came to a consensus on what sounded good last night. I guess I got to just give it some time.
     
  13. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Heh. Singers and drummers... What are you going to do? :p

    Glad you're digging the iAMP! I hope it continues to work out well for you.

    Tom.
     
  14. Poon

    Poon

    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Do you guys ever have bad nights with the Iamp too? I was playing in a new venue in San Jose called the Cave and my Iamp Just got completely lost in the mix. I tried fiddling with the EQ (as much as time permitted) and I tried boosting the volume to no avail. I was just lost in there. Damn room dynamics probably played a big part, but still...I felt like tonight the amp was missing the tube warmth that some of the other bassists rig had (with their ampegs/svt rigs) It's odd that the night before I felt like there was plent of warmth, however i was in a bar sitting ontop of my cab. Anyway my guitarist on the other side of the stage told me "tonight is the night that i've heard the bass the least"...meaning it was really unusual playing tonight and him not being able to hear me. Well tomorrow is another day and another gig. Ideally, I'd like to have both the 680 and the Iamp800. The search continues. Maybe I'll get Dave, Dave, and Alex to Endorse me... :D
     
  15. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny

    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    not really,

    but then again, i'm pretty familiar with what i want out of the iAMP. i could give you examples of my settings, but IMHO, that's meaningless, cause all cabs and basses, playing styles, band mixes are all different.

    just gotta keep experimenting, and fiddling.
     
  16. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    The Republic of Texas
    Maybe something was not quite right with the AC power available that night (brown power night).
     
  17. LoFreq has got a point. That has happened to me before. My sound just vaporized.... and I know for sure one time this past summer that happened.
     
  18. vanselus

    vanselus

    Sep 20, 2000
    Boulder, CO
    None
    I've owned the 680/728, and currently own the iAMP - bias: the iAMP is my gigging amp of choice, and the only amp I currently own. Here's my thoughts:

    1) "I wasn't a big fan of the DB659 live"

    Well, then what makes you think you're gonna love the DB680? It's roughly in the same ballpark, with more EQ options and a more complex, airy sound. That said, I've yet to play a rig that sounded better FOR ROCK than the DB680/DB728/Epifani T410. The iAMP sounds great in that area too, but just a little less grit. Doesn't matter how it sounds recorded at this point, that's not your current application.

    2) "I'm a huge fan of the F1-X"

    IMHO the iAMP sounds WORLDS closer to the F1-X than the DB680. The warmth, the roundness of tone, and the smooth highs. The DB680 is much more aggressive, bright, and cutting than either the Alembic or the iAMP.

    3) "huge m-Pulse fan"

    The DB680 is much more aggressive than the mPulse, and the iAMP is smoother and more transparent. Neither sound much like the mPulse to me... but both ways you'll have Speakons :)

    4) "I play Rock/Punk/Pop mainly now"

    Like I said, if you're rockin it hard, you'll be hard pressed to find a better sounding amp than the Aguilar. Flexible? Not really, imho. Lightweight? Hell no. For touring, unless you have a roadie and a backup rig (all three of my Aguilar amps broke down at one point) the iAMP would be a safer choice in my eyes. But it all depends on your priorities and what you're looking for.

    Oh, and about the "disappearing bass", yeah sometimes that happens. Especially on stages that have subs underneath, and sound guys that like to pump the kick drum. Usually the FOH still sounds good, but the stage sound is crap - normally my only saving grace tip is to turn down the bass knob, and give the amp more volume. The more venues and gigs I play, the more I realize that sometimes, you're just not going to have the sound you want. You'll just have to buck up and play it anyway.... that is, until your band is big enough where you can dictate every aspect of the gig.... diva power, unite!

    Have a great Saturday night everyone!
     
  19. vanselus

    vanselus

    Sep 20, 2000
    Boulder, CO
    None
    That's my job, buddy!
     
  20. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    ROTFL!!!