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Looking for a rack preamp: BBE BMax-T vs Sansamp RBI

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by El Raro, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. Wanna give rack pres a good shot so I'm going on a hunt for one. At present I'm looking at two in my pricerange: The BBE BMAX-T and the Sansamp RBI. Both are practically the same price but one is tube driven while the other is solid state.

    I'm after a preamp that will give me a warm crunch and natural sounding low-mids. I'm gonna be coupling it with a GK 1001RB-II so I want the preamp to complement the clean tone of the GK but to give it that bite. As a comparison, I guess I'm looking at something that sounds a bit like Justin Chancellor's tone from Tool (not going for his exact tone just his mids-driven influence).

    I have my eyes set on the BBE because of its tubes but sources have told me it doesn't do a great job at driving well. That's definitely something I want to achieve with the pre to get that low-mid grit. I've heard the RBI and so far really liked what I heard but I just want to get feelers on how the BBE compares and if it does the overdrive thing better than the RBI.
  2. srxplayer


    May 19, 2004
    Highland, CA
    I have been using a BMax-T for about 5 years. It's true that is doesn't do a fuzzy overdrive sound. The RBI will give you that. However I really love the warm tube driven tone I get from my BMax-T.

    Here are some things to consider:

    The BMax-T is about $599.00 new. The RBI RPM is less then $350.00 new. BMax Solid State model is about the same price as the Sansamp.
    The Bmax-T has a passive tone stack. It's a little weird and counter intuitive to anyone who is used to an active tone stack with a semi-parametric mid control. Once you get used to it it's really nice. The Sansamp EQ is easier to use.

    The RBI has separate DI output control. The Bmax does not. The DI output is directly affected by the master volume.

    As much as I love my BMax-T I think the Sansamp product is a bit more versatile and is more forgiving as a live bass rig preamp.

    I use my BMax-T along with a Sansamp BDDI feeding into the front end.
  3. Thanks, SRX. I'd just like to clarify that here in Australia, the RBI retails at $550 and the BBE Bmax-T I can get through an online supplier for about $50 less than the RBI. Hence the comparison. The same supplier sells the solid state BBE preamp for around $300.

    Didn't know about the BBE not having a separate DI output. That's definitely something I need to toss up because I run direct almost always live.
  4. Arjank


    Oct 9, 2007
    Above Amsterdam
    I can only comment on the BBE Bmax-T, I think I own it for about 8 years maybe 9 and it's a very good pre-amp.
    As mentioned before, you can't get tube grid out of it, if you want that you need to look for something else. But if you don't need that overdriven sound you probably won't find a better pre-amp then this unit. It sounds warm and crystal clear(two things that aren't easy to combine) and it's very low noise. The only complaint that some owners have is the Fender tone stack, but once you get used to it doesn't matter.
  5. srxplayer


    May 19, 2004
    Highland, CA
    I believe BBE designed the Bmax preamps as recording units units to go into a rack and record direct. That is why they lack the separate DI output. As the Arjank said, these things are very low noise. BMax-T has an outstanding Jensen DI. They record beautifully.
  6. I've been using the RBI since it came out. Between the Aguilar obp in my bass and the RBI i can get any tone i want from clean modern tones to gritty rock tones. It doesn't get as dirty as the vt but ID personally never run a ton of dirt for an extended period of Time anyways. Mine is setup for a gritty rock tone and when i want a cleaner tone i just turn the blend down. The magic of the RBI as with several of the sans amps is the blend. For me its at 2 o'clock for the gritty tone and 10oclock for clean. Doing it this way i don't have to tweak eq or gain at all to change tones.

    I'd also like to mention i have a bbe sonic stomp and for the cost of the sonic stomp and RBI together it's still cheaper