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Great preamp for < $1000 (not necessarily vintage-like)?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Richard Lindsey, May 11, 2001.

  1. Hi, anybody have any ideas about what a good bass preamp would be for under $1000? Unlike the poster below, I'm not really looking for a fat, vintage, "tubey" sound--I'm looking more for something clean, accurate, light, and quiet that does not sound cold and clinical. It can be tube or SS, I have no preferences or preconceptions. The sound is the point, not the specific technology used to achieve it.

    For starters, I figure I should look at the Demeter, the Kern, the smaller (and cheaper) Aguilar, and maybe the Eden Navigator. Dunno about the Alembic.

    Anybody heard/tried the Dutch HEVOS stuff? Looks nice, and their pre is reasonably priced.

    Any other ideas? (I'm not a huge Ampeg fan.)

  2. Personally, I feel that one of the pre-amps you mentioned (Eden Navigator) is the best pre-amp in that price range. In fact, the Navigator is a steal to be in that price range!!!
  3. ADA MB-1, it has tube AND solid state, + distortion and chorus.
  4. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA

    Anyhow, check out the Aguilar stuff, or an Alembic FI-X.
  5. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    For the sound that you are describing you want to have, you should check out the Demeter preamp. I am very pleased with mine.
  6. Angus why yuck? I love mine!
  7. The ADA is very processed sounding so you'll have a strong opinion about it either way.
    As always, the best way to go about it is to audition every preamp in your price range. Also, make sure you are using the same power amp and speaker cabinet when testing the preamps. Here is a list of all pramps that SELL under $1000...

    Aguilar DB659
    Alembic F-2B
    Ampeg SVP-BSP
    Ampeg SVP-PRO
    Ashdown AMB-RPM-1
    Demeter HPB-1
    Demeter VTDB-201-dbl
    Demeter VTDB-201-L
    EBS 1-Classic
    Eden Navigator
    Peavey Max
    SWR Grand Prix
    SWR Inerstellar Overdrive
    Tubeworks 9002
    Warwick Quadruplet

    That's all the one's I can think of.
    I believe the ADA MB-1 has been discontinued.
    Happy searching!!!
  8. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    the grand prix's been discontinued too (dumb IMO) but they're still easy to find new.

  9. Good list, Mr. Dead!

    Having had the opportunity to mess around with pretty much all of those listed, I can give my personal favorites:

    Eden Navigator
    Any of the Demeter
    Peavey Max (Same pre as my favorite Peavey head)

    The ADA has been discontinued for several years, as ADA hasn't been in business for several years ;). As for the SWR pre's, the Grand Prix is still listed on their price list and in their product catalog, and we haven't recieved any notice (I work at Bass Central) of it being discontinued. The Interstellar Overdrive is also still available, but only as a special order item, not a normal stock one.
  10. Gard,
    The Peavey preamp is the bang for the buck winner and the Demeter's are high quality. I especially like the Eden. I haven't tried the EBS preamp,however.
  11. there are a number of players in my area who love the Kern preamp. I've tried it and it seems to be right in the middle of the road sound-wise between the cleanliness of the Demeter and the fatness of the Alembic pre-amps. I'm currently using an Alembic F 2B which I find can produce some very usable tones in a number of situations. Only one way to describe this pre - FAT!!!
  12. Hey folks, thanks a lot for the suggestions. There were a few in there I'd never thought of. Mr Dead, kudos for the list.

    Here's something some of you guys might be interested in. Obviously, no way to test drive this, but I believe the price of the tube preamp converts to $600-700, which ain't bad:

  13. Richard,
    Happy to be of help! I checked out the Hevos website, seems like interesting gear. The price seems reasonable. If you have the opportunity to audition Hevos amps, please let us know how they sound. Of course companies like Eden, Aguilar, Demeter etc. build their line by hand as well. Consider everything, even gear you've heard negative things about because even though they may not work for others, they may work for you!
  14. alembicbones


    Nov 10, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    For right around a grand, you could pick up an Alembic F-1X preamp and an Alembic SF-2 superfilter.

    Your tonal possibilities will then be endless.

  15. It has worked very well for me. It is 2 rack spaces, but contains and entire rack of effects as well as both tube and solid state pre amps. x-15 foot controller lets you turn presets instantly, and has 2 expression pedals to change any paremeter. Even without the effects it is still a great preamp if you can find one used. Cheers, and bass forever.
  16. I've been snooping the archives and kinda coming up with generalities.

    Aguilar... wow, $$$$, EQ less flexible than Eden
    Alembic phat, shallow crossover slopes
    Ampeg, phat but lots of hiss
    Demeter VTDB-201, clarity, low EQ disappointing
    Kern, several reliability problems and wallwart issues
    Navigator flexible, more fuzzy+compressed
    SWR Grand Prix, thin (?)

    Granted these are all generalities and opinions. It does make for a lot of detailed and interesting reading.

    The Navigator seems to have the more flexible and usable controls, but so many knobs... wow. I need a rig with an adjustable Linkwitz-Riley 24 dB crossover (Rane), and a parametric equalizer where I can dial the Q and the centerpoint between 30 and 45 Hz.

    I guess I'm hunting for just a preamp with good tone, and will have to add the EQ and Crossover as additional devices in the signal chain. I'm leaning toward driving it with a Crown PowerTech-3 amp head.

    Anybody got the name of a real good parametric EQ in the range I mentioned above?
  17. KERN 777: I've have no problems and someone I know who has one and tours all over with it has no problems with the Kern. I ordered mine without the wallwart but with a built in power supply and ground lift for the DI at not extra charge for under $700. It sounds phenomenal. You may like Demeter or the "baby" Aguilar (I think the DB680 or whatever is way overpriced) but I think it would be a shame for you to not try the Kern. It sounds incredible, the tone controls are simple and massively effective, and it's quiet. A unit I plan to keep for decades.
  18. i agree. the Kern definately sounds good. the funny thing is that its almost impossible to get a bad sound out of it, no matter what settings you're using - a different world from the navigator for sure. its really easy to sound like crap through the navigatory if you don't know what you're doing eq wise.

  19. JimS, would you mind posting some of the specs for the Kern? Their site is very weak on details.

    I'm interested in where the tone controls are centered. If there is an EQ, where it centers, etc.

    I think ordering with 120VAC built in is the right way to go here. The Kern site mentions using the wallwart because of "local laws", yet all the other major preamp manufacturers avoided using them. Something doesn't jive.
  20. I'm not an electronics maven but I have noticed that some high end products with seemingly low end wall wart power supply do so because it makes it easy to adapt the unit to 120v and 220v (European) and they don't have to make two separate power supplies. See my post in the adjacent " fat sounding vintage" or whatever preamp/amp thread.

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