mid-to-high-end combos and heads vs. cheap racks

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Golem II, Jan 4, 2002.

  1. Golem II

    Golem II

    Jan 4, 2002
    Macon, GA, USA
    Sorry this post is so long, skip to the bottom if you want to get to the point.

    This is my first post here, so I'll start by saying that this board is incredibly helpful and informative and you all seem to know your gear pretty well.

    I've been trying to swap out my workingman combo for a more powerful stack or rack setup, and it seems like a rack would be a more flexible and possibly less expensive option. I'm buying an eden 2x10 XLT cab that's supposed to handle 350 watts at 8 ohms, and it's almost impossible to find a regular bass head that can deliver that much power at that impedance. I can bridge a head (which I'll have to buy used for $600+,) or get started on a rack that won't color or alter my sound. I play a yamaha rbx active 5-string, which sounds pretty good in the studio (it's not a Zon or anything...) compared to the fairly annoying live sound I get driving small gigs with my workingman and no PA support.

    A popular bare-bones setup I've seen discussed here consists of a yamaha pb-1 preamp ($100-150) and a carvin DCM-2000 poweramp ($539.) I currently have access to a yamaha p2201 poweramp (230 watts@8 ohms per side,) but it's not mine and I won't be able to use it forever. I'm also worried that this won't be enough power to get all the sound I want out of my 2x10 (I'm not sure if it can even be bridged at all.)

    My question is this: should I splurge and buy the PB-1 and DCM-2000, or will I just end up with a worse sound than I can get with my WM 15? If anyone has played with this rig, does it measure up to the sound of an eden or SWR pro level head? If it transfers the sound of my bass to the cabinet perfectly, with no coloration or distortion in between, I'll be happy, but if I end up with some new tone resembling a peavey or fender amp (my least favorite major brands,) I will cry.

    If you think this setup won't deliver the tone and reliability I'm looking for, would I be better off with a more expensive preamp or poweramp? For power, I'm looking into the Eden WT-1000, QSC PLX series, or Stewart World series. For pre's, I'd go with an Eden Navigator or Alembic F1-X. Any suggestions?
  2. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Welcome to Talkbass!

    I don't know anything about that Yamaha preamp. BUT, if it is "good" (like you said, if you can get a relatively uncolored sound out of it, and it has the features you want), your setup sounds good.

    The Carvin power amp has been generally praised as a good bargain, and certainly won't color the sound as much as a cab or preamp would. The power is probably overkill for that cabinet - it's pretty efficient (one of the loudest) and like they say rated at 350 watts. Then again, the way Carvin's amps are priced, why not. Anyway, if you were to just run one channel of it into the Eden that would probably work great. If you decide to add more cabs later you're all set.

    The Eden is also popular of course, but not a completely "neutral" sounding cab - I think they're a little woofy, some people say "earthy", but it's really just a bit of emphasis on the mid-low bass I think. Certainly more neutral than a Fender or a "classic" Peavey combo.
  3. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    carvin power amps are KILLER. do not hesitate to buy one if you can't find some strange reason to justify paying more for somethign more expensive.

    rack units ARE cheaper. and much more flexible. i'd get the biggest carvin poweramp you can afford, and get a cheap, nice pre like a sansamp or basspod - or maybe something used for the meantime. then i'd look into the navigator, f1x, swr grand prix and interstellar overdrive....the beauty of it is that to change your sound isn't a huge deal with a rack unit. you just have to unload a preamp instead of your whole rig - which you may be without for a while.

    hope that helped?

  4. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    Crucial for a good sound (= no unwanted distortion, no boxiness or mud) is
    1. more than just enough power for your application (=headroom)
    2. a good cab (and the Eden for sure is a good cab)

    Both are often not provided with cheaper combo amps (and I guess that's why most of us have a disturbed relation to such gear ;))

    Of cause the preamp is essential for the sound too, but IMO more in the sense of adding a certain 'signature sound' rather than being responsible for (possible) poor sound. Also a well designed EQ can help you to adapt to room acoustics without messing up your sound too much.

    I don't know the Carvin power amps but I guess you run no risk of sounding 'cheap' with the Eden and the Carvin.
    But you should keep in mind that a 2x10 cab is not too much for a loud band - even from an Eden cab you can not expect wonders...

    BTW the Eden D-210 XLT is available as a 4Ohm version too.

  5. BigBohn


    Sep 29, 2001
    WPB, Florida
    I've only had my Carvin DCM2000 for 3 weeks now, but I say its the best buy for a poweramp ever. The price, the quality, the construction, the features, the price, and not to mention, the price. These poweramps don't color your sound, they're built like a tank, and so far mine hasn't gotten hot from running 1 channel max for a few minutes. Its good quality stuff at a good price. I don't know why everybody doesn't use this poweramp. Its great!

    As for a preamp, try out Kern, Demeter, Aguilar, SWR, Eden, and a SansAmps, if you're feelin' for some distortion in a small package.

    I totally recommend the preamp/poweramp route because it ends up to be more cost efficient over a head/cab or combo setup, and its modular, meaning if you want to replace 1 certain component in the system, you just replace it, rather than having to buy a whole new piece of equipment.

    Good luck on your bass rig journey. Oh, what an ever so long path that we have all been on...
  6. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The Yamaha PB-1 may be an older preamp (late 70s early 80s) but at that time it was one of three preamps commonly used in pro racks (the others being Alembic F2B...the F-1X had not come out yet...and the Ashly BP-40/41).

    Used they are super cheap but they still stack up well against newer, trendier preamps. Mated to a good power amp you'll have a nice rack rig.

    For $550 I'd get into a Crown or QSC amp before considering a Carvin, that's my $0.02.