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How does the SansAmp Really work??

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by DaveMcLain, Jun 20, 2005.

  1. DaveMcLain


    Jun 19, 2005
    Cuba MO
    For the last several months I've been using a SansAmp RBI in my bass rig. All I'm using is the SansAmp box, a Crown Macro Tech 1200, my bass and a speaker cabinet. This thing is very simple, reliable, easy to haul around and it sounds great. My question for those who have more technical knowlege than me is how does the SansAmp really work?

    I've opened the box and there is almost NOTHING inside! From what I can tell, as you increase the drive it seems to compress the signal as well as changing the frequency response all at the same time. The controls are also interactive with the whole thing, does anybody have an idea about what they are really using in the circuit?

    I've been using this thing live and also for some recording and with it I've ditched my compressor and tube preamp from before and I couldn't be happier as have many other folks who also use this unit in their setup.
  2. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000
    I do not know.

    to me a bass amp ca be home of sugar eater mosquito as well. what i highly consider is sound, power and reliability. and my TECH21 Landmrk600 is performing the way I like!!!

    thumbs up TECH21!!!
  3. DaveMcLain


    Jun 19, 2005
    Cuba MO
    Their circuit must be a real secret. When you look inside of the box there are some support components and then one big IC that's black with no numbers or anything, I guess that's where the stuff happens with the sound.
  4. Thats where the sound pixies live :)

    :p :smug:
  5. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    It's prohibitively expensive to get a custom IC made. What's more likely is a conventional circuit encased in black epoxy. Just my guess. Given the features of the circuit, the only secrets are probably the configuration of the distortion circuit and the tone curves. This may not sound like much, but you can screw around forever and not get those things right. And once you've got it, then you want to protect yourself from the next guy coming along and just copying it.
  6. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Well, the circuit is patented...you can surf over to the patent office online and read it.

    There's no "magic" in a SansAmp, it's just a preamplifier circuit like fdeck mentioned.
  7. Audere

    Audere Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 7, 2005
    South Beach, OR
    Owner: Audere Audio
    Got a number?

    My RBI has zero numbers on it and/or the documentation
  8. DaveMcLain


    Jun 19, 2005
    Cuba MO
    I don't have a number, no. That component has no numbers on mine either. I'm just amazed how the SansAmp can do so much with so little. I'm not using a compressor or anything with mine and it sounds very good. The drive and other controls are VERY sensitive and sometimes a little means a lot, I'm curious how the circuit works because what it does it does very well...
  9. Is it actually an IC, does it either have legs on it or at least look like a big square piece of manufactured plastic? Or does it look like a chunk of black epoxy.

    Full custom ICs are expensive to do, but there are lots of alternatives - one could get a DSP with on-board masked ROM amd RAM for a lot less. Open up most MP3 players, and that is what you will see.

    And expensive is a relative term - it's non-refundable engineering cost that is the problem. If you are going to sell enough of a product, the NRE gets paid for by amortizing it over the volume.

    Often the numbers aren't there because they don't want to give any information away. Sometimes an internal part number is on these ICs, but SansAmp must have decided to not mark them in any way. That's a pain, it's harder to keep track of in a factory or maintenance center.

  10. Audere

    Audere Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 7, 2005
    South Beach, OR
    Owner: Audere Audio
    I was looking for a patent number not a part number - no patent number (after it is issued by the patent office) on the part/documentation normally means no longer a valid patent in the U.S.

    I do not want to use any part of their design but I wanted to read the patent to see how it was written as the acceptable style/content level changes in different fields.

    FYI - the part is not an ic but more like a black box glued on the board.
  11. remo


    Jan 15, 2005
    have you tried emailing SansAmp with the question? They were very helpfull to me with a question I had a while back.. very open about it.
  12. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    The box glued to the board is called a "potting box." There is probably some goop inside the box. Besides keeping the design a secret (not much protection against a determined attack), it also stabilizes components that are sensitive to microphonics or damage from vibration. Contemporary components make these extreme measures less important, but the manufacturer might be following a "better safe than sorry" principle.
  13. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    It certainly wasn't Behringer-proof. :bag:
  14. DaveMcLain


    Jun 19, 2005
    Cuba MO
    I'm not wanting to steal their technology or use their circuitry ideas in anything of my own, I'm just curious what the SansAmp is really doing to the signal I'm feeding to it. I like the sound but I'm curious how the circuit interacts with the tone controls etc. Does it have special circuits dedicated to harmonic distortion generation and or compression? I wonder....

    Hell of a box...
  15. Tim__x


    Aug 13, 2002
    Alberta, Canada
    I don't have any hard proof, but from what I've heard; they, Sansamp, mostly take old tube designs and rework them for JFETs.
  16. DaveMcLain


    Jun 19, 2005
    Cuba MO
    I think the SansAmp also does some form of frequency response modification to the sound after the amp modeling because it does give a sound that's similar to a cabinet with a mic in front of it, or so it seems. My favorite recording setup has been and still is a 10 inch speaker close mic'ed with a Groove Tubes Model 1 mic running through a Brick preamp, I just play the cabinet at a very low volume and it records great with very little EQ needed. It's still better than direct with the SansAmp, not all that much but I think it sounds more "real". I do use the SansAmp as a preamp on the recording rig however.
  17. If only they hadnt ballsed that one up
  18. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    what? no pics?! tsk tsk! :p :smug:
  19. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    Well after reading this i got a bit intrigued. I went and opened up my sans amp the other night.

    Turns out the black dodad in the sans amp is a small piece of licorice.
  20. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    Yeah, it definitely does some speaker simulation. If you plug a regular overdrive unit direct into a board, you'll get that really fizzy (and nasty IMO) high end, but the SansAmps roll off those high frequencies in a nice musical manner that's consistent with putting a mike in front of a guitar speaker cabinet.

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