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I may have found the best preamp for my needs...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by MWBass, Aug 11, 2007.

  1. MWBass


    Jun 19, 2005
    Belford, NJ
    So, I have noticed a bunch of preamp threads popping up lately and I have been reading intently. I have always had mixed reviews on many preamps, and have had trouble nailing down the best one for my needs...

    I will be getting in a Bergantino IP310 with the new DSP sometime this week. I have been trying to decide upon the pre that I want to use...

    So, here is my view on set up...

    At the bass level, I tend to use my on board preamp a lot. Mostly midrange tweaks and a little bass cut here and there... and obviously swinging between my pickups. One thing I have noticed about onboards is that I always prefer the volume knob be completely open. I feel that on all of my basses, as soon as you pull the volume back from full on to just a tad rolled back, the tone has changed a lot... maybe its just how the preamps in the basses I have owned react, but regardless, I have never performed with the volume rolled back on the onboard pre...

    Now for the preamp. I am a set it and forget it type. The only thing I do at the preamp is adjust the volume. Whenever I get a new preamp or amp, i fiddle with the EQ until i find my tone, then it never gets touched again, literally ever... Now, most of the amps I have ownd, I have had to do some tweaking to the EQ to get my tone, but occasionally, I come across an amp / preamp that I set flat... which is nice...

    The thing I like most about a traditional bass preamp is the input and output stages... I always go through the same routine, like the book tells you, I raise the input gain until the led peaks with the hardest possible notes... then the eq is set to my liking of tone, then the only thing that ever gets touched is the output volume knob, and I just raise it to the lkevel needed for the gig or practice session.

    At the amplifier level, i always hook the amp to the cab, and turn the level full on... and done...

    So, ultimately, I would love a preamp like many use, especially with the IP, that has no eq... as long as the tone is right in the spot that I like it...

    Now, I have found that as of late, i have been driving a lot of flat signals... with the IP, I found that i liked the TD-1 millenia set flat, and the ampeg SVP-CL set flat, just used some bass eq'n to pull out the overbearing bass on the older ip310 dsp. that and on my most recent EA CXL rig, i even preferred the iAMP800 set flat going in...

    So, what am I looking for in a pre...
    well, a lot of the new line level/mic level pres that are showing up, that many are using, i refuse to use. I am sure they sound great, but 90 percent of them only have gain, not gain and level. whcih is how I like to use the system...

    This rules out a lot, like the TD-100 from Summit, and even the TD-1 Millenia that i used to have. Both of which are great preamps, but as i said, I like output volume control, its what I am used to and would like to stick with.

    So, for instance, the Millenia STT-1 origin was great when i owned it. Needed to use the low mid para eq at 250 hz, to make a cut on the Accugroove Whappo Jr's, I had... but after my tests of the TD-100 through the IP310, I wouldn't even need that EQ... So, the STT-1 would be great because it has input gain and an overall output volume control...

    Main problem there... I will not spend $2700 on a super flexible recording channel, when i just need its volume output knob... AKA pointless...

    So, I got to the point where I really wanted to find a Preamp, / DI / whatever that had Gain, an output volume control and 2 balanced outputs one for line level to the amp, the other for DI purposes ( pref mic level). As long as when the signal went through without eq, i liked the tone, i'm set... Just a few simple things, but not the easiest thing to find... trust me...

    So, I did a bunch of searching, and found a few that meet the criteria, but they got dismissed. for instance, ART has a few of there smaller units that have the features, but I just never dug the sound of the art stuff... Grace Designs has a nice Model 101 special edition that has a DI out, but the output level isn't a level, but a trim of -10 db, which will never give you a full off / full on ability... Then there were a few Joe Meek units I have been ehhhh, about, then of course, the small floor style Ultrasound Ultra PDI with DI and the Fishman Platinum Pro Bass both of which have the features, but are hard for me to grasp because I am used to having demeters, millenias, avalons, etc... Speaking of avalon, had a 737 for a while but the avalon 737 and the U5 remind me of the millenia STT-1 and the TD-1, in that the Avalon 737 has what I need but is over-kill, and the U5 doesn't have output volume control, like the TD-1... What else, other units from Sansamp and Korg, have the goods, but just never had the clarity of tone that I look for... Which left Units from Great River and the Universal Solo 610 in the mix... The GReat River piece didn't quite have exactly what I needed or wanted, and the Solo, which laid out perfectly for the design, but was a tube based piece... in which i am 95 percent a Solid state man...

    So, after all of this, in the rhelm of mic/recording pres, the Millennia TD-1 was still the closest, even though it didn't meet all of the criteria. It gave me a solid state gain section, with the ability to blend in just a touch of tubeyness from the tube pre side, if i needed it. Great clear presentation, and enough gain to win wars... Line level out and DI out... in a small package.... Just no output level...

    So, I was basically sitting here in the IP310 pre thought process, figuring if I go rack, its going to be the Ampeg SVP-CL or the Demeter HBP-1... just because I know both units and I like the way they work with the IP. Beyond that, I would love to have a floor based pre that does the trick, but unfortunately, nothing on the floor has that type of pure clarity. So, i was left with the TD-1 again, where I was before, not meeting my criteria...

    That is until today... when I read another preamp thread...
    -------------- ---------------------- ---------------- ------------------

    Enter the Sound Performance Labs Gainstation 1... or as i will refer to it now, the SPL G1...


    Saw the unit, just thought it looked kind of neat, and went to there website, and started to read...

    bamm, there it was...

    Input gain solid state, Input gain tube, and stackable.
    Saw it had output level that ran from negative 26 db to positive 6 db. later found out that its max output is 34db with output level at +6...which means at -26db, its at 0db... so I have the volume control I wanted.
    Fully class A circuitry across the board.
    Small, and easy to use...
    Also, has slight limiting option for mild compression...
    Looked at the back, had 2 Balnced outputs... both line level, (wish one could be mic level, but that would only be for the once in a blue moon that the sound guy can't handle a line level signal at the board...)
    Finally, I had talked to Jim Bergantino once about having a hi pass filter modded to the appropriate drop off frequency for an IP310... I asked him what frequency he would recommend... he said for the IP310 it would be somewhere between 45 and 50 hz@12db an octave... Looked at the SPL G1, had a hi pass at 12db per octave at 50 hz. Ever unit I have seen had them set at 70 or 80 hz... It just lined up perfect.

    Now, I do not know what this unit sounds like, how clear, just right, sterile, etc... but this copuld be the ticket I have been looking for.

    ------------------- ------------------------ ----------------------- ----

    So, i just figured I would post to see if anyone has ever used this unit with an IP or ever had any experience in general with it. I know its gonna be a tad over 1000 to get, but coming from a former STT-1 owner, its not so bad...

    Ok, i'm done for now...hehe
  2. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    How about the Summit 2BA-221.
    Has input gain and output gain.
    Has a hipass filter but only on the mic side.
    Call them and get specifics!
    I'm interested myself.
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    It does look extremely cool!


    However it is a terribly ungainly shape (3 ru high, too) for gigging. I have tamed my TD-100 by putting a parametric EQ after it, which provides the output gain control. Result = 1 ru of tube happiness.
  4. MWBass


    Jun 19, 2005
    Belford, NJ
    ha... that was definetly one of the pres. I came across. if theycould somehow mod it so that the input gain, output gain, and VHPF are all in a line level path that is moded to match the required gain for the ip, that would be something special...

    same as the spl g1, with tube and regular input gain... but also a VHPF... I need to send an email...
  5. musicmansf


    Jul 23, 2007
    Los Angeles

    Damn, I get they're trying to make it unique and all...but 3U??? Harsh for a pre man! Then again, maybe its alot stronger of a design...my Demeter 201s had a warp issue upon arrival (I dont know how, that box could take a bullet and be fine) that eventually settled out...but that was the least of its problems...damn silver solder! :spit:
  6. MWBass


    Jun 19, 2005
    Belford, NJ
    I don't feel they made it unique for any particular reason, its just the way the design came out. Its not actually that overbearing. It is smaller and lighter then a Millennia TD-1. The designed it for a 3 space rack hieght, but 4 of them can be placed side by side in a 3 space rack, studio use stuff... If you don't plan on racking it, it is no different then a Millenia TD-1, Avalon U5, ETC...

    As for the TD-100, it is a very small great unit, me and Chadds have been talking about seeing if the other Summit piece can be made to work for the berg, and that has a VHPF... but it would have to be moded to work...

    But who knows, I'm still researching...
  7. MWBass


    Jun 19, 2005
    Belford, NJ
    Here's a question I have...

    as a part of my floorboard, i currently have a boss RC-50 Loop station, a boss GT-6b,and a radial bigshot passive true bypass loop box. then I have a peterson strobe stomp 2...

    Now, the only thing I dislike about floorboards is that if you don't use an effects loop, like myself, then you have at least 30-40 feet of instrument cable before you hit the preeamp... which kind of sucks...

    However, the Strobe stomp, has an active DI output, which sends out a balanced single... So, if I were to run into my floorboard through the true bypass loop, then into the strobe stomp, Could I feasibly run balanced from that Strobe Stomp DI out into the balanced mike input of one of these pres, then run balanced out to the IP310... That would be cool, because then half of the signal path would be balanced. I am just not sure what running your bass signal at mic level up through the preamp would do...

    Any thoughts...
  8. el_Kabong


    Jul 11, 2005
    My thought is you've got to be kidding, can you actually hear the difference if you use a shorter cable?
  9. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Yes, with a passive instrument and no buffers in the signal path, you often can hear a difference. With an active bass or buffered pedals in the chain, the difference becomes less audible.
  10. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Yes, the DI out of the Strobo is at "mic level", so it would be ideal to go into a mic input on a pre. Except, unfortunately, the DI out of the Strobo is the worst-sounding DI I've ever heard. I have a Strobo and love it for its tuning function, but you couldn't pay me to use that DI out. :meh: OTOH, maybe mine is defective, or maybe yours would interact better with whatever pre's you might have handy, than mine did with the pre's I have.
  11. MWBass


    Jun 19, 2005
    Belford, NJ
    No, i can't here a difference between a 10 ft. cable and a 20 ft. cable. however, when you get over 40 feet, you get to the point were not only does your signal grow weaker, but along a longer path, the signal picks up more noise...

    Where as balanced cables can run longer distances with a more solid signal and have virtually no noise picked up, via the way the balance cable works...


    As for the DI out on the Strobe stomp, I don't know what it sounds like , i have never used it. I am just more interested in cleanly converting my unbalanced signal to balanced at the board level, so that i can run back to the preamp in balanced fashion..

    Maybe you know of something else that can convert the unbalanced signal to mic level balanced, without doing anything to the actual tone of the signal...

  12. MWBass


    Jun 19, 2005
    Belford, NJ
    Once again, this could all be solved simply if there was just a great floor based pre, or pre small enough to have at the floor board that could send a balanced out back to the IP. Then I wouldn't need to convert to balanced prior to the pre, just do it at the pre and then run a 20 ft. balanced xlr to the IP...
  13. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Have you checked out the EBS Microbass?
  14. Smallequestrian

    Smallequestrian Rock and/or Roll

    Jul 6, 2004
    New Jersey

    Apparently it floats as well! Awesome!
  15. el_Kabong


    Jul 11, 2005
    Ok different question. Can you hear the difference with a short cable vs the actual cables you intend to use? If not, forget about it.

    If you can hear a difference that you find significant I suggest you try higher quality cable first. Canare is good. As bongomania indicated, a cheap di is going to degrade your signal more than a cable. My strobostomp sounds ok at best.
  16. OldogNewTrick


    Dec 28, 2004
    Germany, EU
    Marc, that would have been my thread, since I never saw the SPL GS1 mentioned here before.

    As mentioned in my mini review, I found it with my own setup a bit too neutral for my taste. That again might just be the ticket in conjunction with the IP Bergs, which I only know from reading posts on Talkbass, since there are not available here.

    Recording engineers hold the SPL in very high esteem from what I gather. Build quality and general engineering leaves absolutely nothing to be desired. I can assure you, the units I tested in both auditioning sessions confirmed the impression you get when scoping out the high res pics from their website.

    If you manage to audion one, please do post your assessment, as I'm wondering if I gave the unit enough time.....

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