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Kern IP777 v. Aguilar DB659

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by basss, Feb 9, 2003.

  1. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2001
    Has anyone directly compared these two preamps? I have the aggie so I'm pretty familiar with that one but I can't find a Kern anywhere near me to try and I'm wondering what it sounds like. I've heard people compare the kern to the alembic preamps. Do the Kerns have the same scooped mid EQ scheme?
  2. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    Yup, in fact I'm doing it right now. I've also owned the F-1X, so I have a pretty good idea about all three.

    First off, I'm using these through an EA 1*12.

    The Kern has the same type of tone circuit as the Alembic (mid=cut, bass=boost, treble=boost), and the same bright and deep switches. Compared to the Alembic, it feels like you can dial in more bass although that may be my perception due to the large amounts of gain possible. Or the Kern may have slightly different boost/cut frequency ranges than the Alembic. I don't have the manual, so I don't know, but it certainly feels like a deeper sound is possible.

    The Tonal Balance knob is very useful for quick adjustments, all the way left it boosts bass and cuts highs and all the way right it does the opposite. If I want to dial in some more top (at the expense of bass), I find myself using Tonal Balance more than the bass/mid/treble controls.

    I haven't used the Kern live yet or at a full rehearsal, but like with the Alembic I'm going to need a parametric with it for minor adjustments.

    Comparing it against the Aguilar, the 659 has the advantage of having the more conventional bass/mid/treble eq available. So you can move between different eq shapes quicker.

    Personally, I prefer the sound out of the Kern over the Aguilar. The 659 is great, but the Kern is more 'my sound'. A/Bing the Aggy with the Kern I just kept coming back to the Kern sound despite the Aggy's greater flexibility.

    After trying out a boatload of preamps: SWR IOD, F-1X, RBI, SVP-PRO, Demeter HBP-1, Aguilar DB659 and Kern it's nice to have found a keeper. They all have pluses/minuses, but the Kern is the best I've tried so far and the ones that fits my needs best.

    In an ideal world, I wouldn't have to use a parametric with the Kern as it's one more piece of gear to carry around. But I'm getting a Raven Labs True Blue EQ, which is a non-rackmount unit so I don't have to go to a 4 space rack. That's probably the best compromise I can hope for. I think the Aggy is off to the 'For Sale' section very soon, I can't justify two high end preamps if I'm using one of them 95% of the time.

    Hope this helped, any more questions feel free to ask.
  3. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    I also own both. The Kern has considerably hotter output, it seems. The Aguilar did not put out enough for a QSC 1602, the Kern does. I'm planning to try the Ag with a Stewart 1.6 to see if it likes that amp better. I agree with David's tone assessment of the two.
  4. SCT1422

    SCT1422 Supporting Member

    I've also owned the Alembic, Aguilar and currently use a Kern... The Alembic is more old school thich, warm tube tone.. The Aguilar, a more modern round sound... Both are great, but with the Kern, I feel I can get both...
  5. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2001
    Did you need the EQ with the aggie? The Kern has me interested but I like to hear some mids in my sound. I usually end up boosting some mids with the aggie. I'm concerned that the Kern won't have enough. If the aggie's EQ is that much more flexible that would be make a big difference to me.
  6. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    The Kern's 'Tonal Balance' knob seems to be a variable low pass filter of some sort, with the cutoff frequency for boost / cut varying as the knob goes from left to right. I don't have the manual, and I've heard the manual that does come with it is a one page effort. Anyway, I've found you can affect the mids this way. This does give it more flexibility than it's tonal brother, the Alembic F-1X.

    I'm pretty much running the Kern flat and eq'ing it offboard, as all of my basses are active and have onboard bass/mid/treble. I'll be using the True Blue EQ to adjust for room factors.

    But if you're looking for boosted mids and don't have offboard eq that you can use for that or prefer to do it on the amp then you're probably looking for the Aguilar.

    Wanna buy one? ;)
  7. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    How 'bout two? ;) :p
  8. kernpre


    Sep 12, 2002
    I have both the Kern and an Aguilar DB680.

    Two totally different worlds really. The Kern is sooo sweet by itself or in a band/combo that isn't saturated with noise. It really is very warm and silly amount of deep end.

    But given the need to cut like a knife through marshall driven guitar heads, or looking for more low mid growl from a pre, than the Aguilar 680 is more "old school". Stays in the mix big time. Great studio tool. Maybe less plesant in the purest "ear candy" sort of way, but very functional with sitting in a band mix.

    I keep them both and swap out depending on the gig. About 50/50 I would say.

    BTW.. powered by stewart 2.1, running Berg cabs.
  9. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    Does anyone know what the output voltage of the 1/4" jacks on the Kern is? I have a Kern and plan on getting a QSC PLX2402 sometime in the near future, but I'm worried about the higher sensitivity of the QSC amps. I can get one modded, but I don't know what input sensitivityt to get it modded to.
  10. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    Good questions. I not only failed to get satisfactory answers to similar questions regarding the QSC line and an Aguilar DB659 but, in fact, was advised incorrectly that the Ag would drive the 1602 to full output. The only pre I've tried so far that seems to juice the QSC to full output is the SVP and that thing is insanely noisy through the 1/4" outputs, even after being re-tubed. So I sorta give up. I can tell you that the Demeter 201S works great with a Stewart 2.1. But that's a whole different story...GOOD LUCK! :D

    PS: The Kern is extremely quiet and, depending on the efficiency of the cab used, probably a great choice with a QSC.
  11. do you notice any tonal differences between the qsc and the stew? i think i remember reading vanselus saying that he thought the stew had a more midrangey sound than the qsc.
  12. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    Well, I can't really say. I haven't run them with the same preamp yet. I'm expecting to try a Stewart 1.6 soon and I'll use it with the same pre's back and forth with the 1602 and post impressions later.
  13. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    the Kern has a sweet vintage voiced feel. alot like an old bassman with a dallop of hifi. has a bassman like feel similar to an Alembic F-1X, but the Al cant touch the sweeeeeeet deep feel of the Kern. found the EQ to be very versatile, tho the deep switch seems to do incredibly little. the cut/presence knob is great to suit the room or mix you're in. DI is to die for.

    the DB659 is like an ampeg on steriods. muscled sound with a harder, hifi edge. feels much more taut and tighter, while the Kern can feel a little on the sloppy side. but that might just be me. EQ isnt as drastic, yet does its job. overall its just not as sweet feeling as the juicy Kern, but more rigid, woody, and tough.

    both are amazing. your choice depends on what you want.