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I need tube sound from a simple little box

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by duke2004, Feb 4, 2006.

  1. duke2004

    duke2004 Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2004
    Cambridge, Mass.
    This might be another "impossible dreams" but...I do have a SansAmp Bass DI, but dont like how it crushes the tone... Just need overall tubey roundness from a small pedal or DI, something to throw in the gig bag.
    Obviously its not going to sound as good as my Alembix F1-X but thats the real sound im going for.
    Am thinking about getting the Radial JDI passive and seeing what that does.
  2. Tedintheshed

    Tedintheshed Banned

    Oct 8, 2004
    Columbus, Ohio
    No one does "tube" better than Demeter, IMHO. This DI is what put them on the map.

    VTDB-2B Tube Direct

    The Demeter Tube Direct Box is the DI of choice for hundreds of studios, engineers, producers and artists the world over. The clear, warm quality of the Tube Direct enables it to maximize the sound of all types of musical instruments. Whether your application is an acoustic guitar pickup into a porta-studio or thousands of dollars of synths and samplers recorded direct-to-disk, the Demeter Tube Direct Box provides the highest fidelity available.

    The original single-channel Tube Direct Box (VTDB-2B) is our most popular tube direct box. Used in the studio and on the road over the past fifteen years, this is the choice for flexibility, portability and economy. It has the extremely high input impedance and tremendous headroom necessary to prevent loading and to preserve the wide dynamic range of the instrument.


    What are some applications of the Tube Direct Box? The Tube Direct Box is being used by top artists, producers and engineers because it enables the true, uncolored sound of electric and amplified acoustic instruments to emerge. Here are some specific applications:

    Acoustic Guitar: The extremely high impedance (over 20 M) of the Tube Direct insures a perfect match with every pickup to provide a warmer, more natural sound-both live and in the studio.

    Electric Guitar (clean DI sound): The Tube Direct provides a clear, warm sound that retains all of the guitar's natural brilliance and harmonics for creating a viable (many feel the only) direct electric guitar sound with or without additional signal processing.

    Electric Guitar (amplified): The buffered 1/4" output jack can be used to drive an amplifier through up to 50 feet of guitar cable. It also prevents cable loading to produce a fuller sound from both single coil and humbucking pickups.

    Pedalboards and Effects Devices: The buffered 1/4" output jack is ideal for running through all types of pedals and effects with virtually no signal loss.

    Synthesizers, Drum Machines and Samplers: The Tube Direct warms up the sound of the synthesizer and provides an ideal interface for the variety of synthesizer output levels and impedances.

    Digital and Hard Disk Recording: The clarity and sheen of digital and hard disk recording can sometimes seem a little harsh or more brittle than desired. Judicious use of the Tube Direct can often mitigate this problem at several points in the recording chain, including mixdown.
  3. duke2004

    duke2004 Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2004
    Cambridge, Mass.
    quite the advert for that product. i was hoping to find something a bit more economical, since the VTDB-2B Tube Direct goes for about $520 i believe . always a challenge to do things on the cheap
  4. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Your best small/inexpensive option might be a FET booster such as the Bad Bob or Fulltone Fat Boost. Larger, but not expensive, is the EH English Muff'n.
  5. duke2004

    duke2004 Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2004
    Cambridge, Mass.
    cool, those seem along the lines of what might fit the bill
  6. Tedintheshed

    Tedintheshed Banned

    Oct 8, 2004
    Columbus, Ohio
    Yes- if you buy one new. I've seen them as low as $350.00-$400.00 used.

    Can you tell me what specific price range you have in mind?
  7. bassman314

    bassman314 I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process...

    Mar 13, 2005
    Bay Area, CA
    If $300 is out of your price range, you might look into a Tube Mic Preamp. Pre-Sonus has a single channel jobby that can double as a DI and as a pre-amp for around $100.00.

    I've used it on my own rig, and it sounds great. It's about 5" squate, by 2" thick. Small enough to go in a Gig Bag.

    There are several other companies that make these small units, and all of them work pretty well, and don't cost a whole heck of a lot, either.
  8. duke2004

    duke2004 Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2004
    Cambridge, Mass.
    I should have put the sub $250 price in the first post. Been wondering about some of those "optical tube compression" devices. you're about the first person ive heard who likes the pre-sonis. I tried a mini rack tube mic pre from Rolls/Bellari and didnt think it did anything.
    wonder if anyone else has had decent experience with these 100-$150 mic pre's
  9. On a budget, I hear great things about the small ART Tube pres...
  10. CallMeBlind


    Jul 19, 2003
    I heared good things from studio guy about art tube pac.
  11. why not a behringer tube ultra gain mic pre?
  12. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004
    I have both ART devices mentioned above-- Tube PAC and Levelar. The Levelar is a tube based (1X 12ax7) leveling type amplifier (a compressor of a sort) and the PAC is the same circuit with an added mic pre (so it has 2X 12ax7). I've used them both extensively and here's mine:

    Love the Levelar! Cheap, simple to operate, pretty quiet, and makes a nice warm sound. Can provide some gain (it has a "makeup" gain knob to compensate for lost gain in the compression stage.

    The Tube PAC works great too, but is a bit noisier. The best part about it (IMO) is the ability to really lay on the gain in the preamp section to get a nice "driven" tube sound, and than use the compressor section controls to get back to unity gain output (or +4 if your feeding soundboard or something).

    Of the two, I use the Levelar more. It's my favorite compressor (I have a few). The PAC is bit too hissy for my purposes and I prefer other preamps (a few of those too).

    I think ART makes nice products and prices on either of the above would be cheap. The Levelar is not made anymore but I see them from time to time on e-bay for $50-ish. The Tube PAC, I think sells new for about $100.

    Best of luck,


    PS: I consider parting with my Tube PAC. PM if interested.
  13. PB+J


    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    Try a compressor. A lot of what's cool about tube amps is the natural compression you get as the power tubes are pushed a little. Hit the string hard and there's a tiny delay--"sag," it's often called. It sounds fat and round. A compressor, if it's set right, has a similar effect--it evens out spikes and clacks.

    The aphex punch factory sounds good but IMHO it's not very reliable. I have one and don't trust it. I have a diamond pedals compressor I like a lot, but it was pricey. In my opinion--and it's just that--those tube front end boxes don't really do what you want, because they don't get into the power tube section. They just add a little fuzz

    Try a compressor--the BBE opto-stomp is probably a good choice
  14. I'm on the same search for a warm tube sound DI. I currently use an MXR M-80. It's quiet, and great for general tone shaping, but doesn't add any tubelike qualities.

    My priorities:
    -studio quiet ,95 dB or better
    -small, PreSonus size okay
    -wall wart okay (more power, less noise, usually)
    -compressor not required

    Someone gave me an Art Studio MP, and that thing is reeealy noisy. Probably going to ebay it.

    I've used a homebuilt version of the Fulltone Fatboot a few times. It works okay in some live settings, but doesn't do much to make an actual tube sound. BTW, if you have a soldering iron handy, you can make that pedal yourself for under $20. Don't worry about copyright infringement...Mr. Fullerton stole the design from Jack Orman, the inventor.:bag:

    I'm zeroing in on the Studio Projects VTB-1, for $100. Very popular as a mic pre, but much more quiet than PreSonus for the same size and price. My church has a crapped out PreSonus sitting around. Don't know if it's just the tube, or what. Whatever I get will be getting a nice tube, either NOS or an Electro Harmonix 12AX7EH.:bassist:

    If it turns out I also need compression, I might consider something like the Aphex Punch factory. I'll burn that bridge when I get there.
  15. Tedintheshed

    Tedintheshed Banned

    Oct 8, 2004
    Columbus, Ohio
    Cool bro- I have a couple of ideas that fit the bill for you then.

    Well, once again Demeter make a great little opto-compressor called the COMP-1 Compulator. The circuit is a lot like the famous UA LA-2A that was typically used to fatten bass sounds when recording, but in a stomp box.

    I've seen them used for as little as $125.00.


    The sound of classic studio optical compression of the 60's and 70's at your feet! The first compressor pedal not to suck the life out of your tone.

    Operation is fairly straightforward. There are two inputs on the front side of the unit: a 1/4" input jack on the right and a 1/4" output jack on the left with a battery-ground switch on the input jack.

    There are two controls on the unit: Compress and Volume, plus a foot switch to bypass the effect, and an LED to indicate effect operation. On the side there is a trim pot to set the overall gain of the unit.

    Compress affects the amount of Gain reduction (compression) of the input signal. Turning this clock wise will give you up to 30dB of gain reduction (depending on input gain). Please note that the Compulators max gain is 26dB (see Trim Pot) so in some circumstances if your instrument is very hot you could achieve less than unity gain if you turn up the compress knob too much.

    Volume increases and decreases the output volume of the Compulator. Use this for level matching between the effected and unaffected signal.

    Trim Pot sets the gain of the compressor's pre-amplifier. If distortion occurs turn this down until the signal is clean. The unit is set at the factory at 20dB of gain which is perfect for most instruments. If you have weaker pickups or want to push the envelope turn it up to its max gain 26dB.

    Power Supply: 9 volts DC. Either external or internal. For internal power, use a 9 volt battery. To access, remove the four screws on the sides of the unit and pull apart. Note: battery must have at least 7 volts for unit to work! External power supply using mini plug, tip positive, 9 volt DC regulated (100 milliamp or more).

    If you want to go the booster route, there is now a booster built specifically for bass. It is called the Pro-Tone Low Gear Thruster. Admitedly, I haven't heard this yet, but it looks like a great idea. It lists for $89.00

  16. didier


    Aug 4, 2005
    I really like the EHX balckfinger for this. Tubes, versatile gain & compression. Just another idea
  17. duke2004

    duke2004 Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2004
    Cambridge, Mass.
    Lots of cool ideas. I must say i have tried the low priced ($100?) Behringer mic pre, and again, found it seemed to do nearly zero for tube compression. i do agree its not so much a tube, as it is the compression and attack/release that is important. the little demeter box looks quite cool. keep them ideas coming...
  18. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004
  19. Tedintheshed

    Tedintheshed Banned

    Oct 8, 2004
    Columbus, Ohio
    Hey bro- to each their own.

    With that said, many like the Aphex Punch Factory too.