MXR M81 bass preamp yes or no ....if no, then other suggestions :)

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by pvj scotland, Dec 22, 2014.

  1. pvj scotland

    pvj scotland

    Mar 3, 2014
    Hey guys,
    I'm thinking of adding a preamp to my setup and have been taken with the mxr m81 demos they sound really good plus iy takes ip such a small footprint on your board , can you recommend this and I'll go for it or have suggestions of other ones to try
    cheers guys
  2. jumblemind

    jumblemind I also answer to Bryan Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2011
    I can recommend its quality and performance, but it depends on what you're after in a preamp. If you want something small with nearly-transparent EQ controls, go for it! If you want something to add a bunch of beef and signature tone to your sound, then you may be better with something else.
    Dave Neal, BrentSimons and rmars like this.
  3. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    Yeah the M81 has become a vital part of my sound, it's fantastic. Probably the best 'clean' preamp pedal out there. Like jumble said, if you want distortion look elsewhere. Personally I'd rather do that with a seperate pedal (or pedals!).
  4. another option would be the basswitch, although it is more than a preamp/eq/di
  5. jumblemind

    jumblemind I also answer to Bryan Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2011
    Slight derail, but do you run it at the end of your chain? And how are you using brighten up a passive bass? Dial in a good sound for each room? I don't have it on my pedal board yet; I've been setting it on my amp (so still last in the chain) as an always-on to round out the sound when I play my jazz bass, as well as to keep other effects from spiking my amp's front end.
  6. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    I use it at the very end of my chain so I have a level control, EQ, and DI at the very end. Most places we play I don't even take an amp anymore.

    If there's one thing I wish it had, that would be a parallel out to feed a tuner. But considering the size and price that's not a huge deal.
  7. spaz21387


    Feb 25, 2008
    Portland oregon
    I love my m81. I got the first run and it had an issue. I plugged in the di and it didn't work after that but sweetwater replaced it and the new one is great. it sounds awesome with my stingray. it also brings out the mids a bit with my classic stingray! if you want a dirty pre Id suggest the vt bass or sft but if you want a nice clean eq you can't go wrong with the m81.
    waynobass and Buzz E like this.
  8. friendlybass

    friendlybass Guest

    Jul 19, 2012
    Used it with a passive DI while I was between preamps, I personally didn't like the color of it, the mids and highs were not to my liking!
    Try it if you can, some guys love em
  9. nicopiano

    nicopiano Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2012
    Levis, Quebec, Canada
    I tried it in a store and also the
    Tech21 VT. I got the VT.
  10. BazzTard

    BazzTard Inactive

    Sansamp Programmable Bass Driver DI

    I had to laugh at myself. As someone who had a Bassman100 in the 80s, who now has a nice clean punchy SS MarkBass amp and has added the Sansamp PBDDI to get that old Bassman tubey warmth.

    Progress ! lol
    Alan Ace Cooper likes this.
  11. I wanted to like it except my favorite frequency points are nowhere to be found. Kind of like my GK800RB. I still like the amp, but having a Parametric that does 1.6-3K is great.
    davidchampoux likes this.
  12. Giwtrah

    Giwtrah Guest

    Nov 9, 2014
    Queensland, Australia
    I used to have one and had no issues with it, very useful tool for tone sculpting. I didn't fancy the distortion on it though, so I sold it. To a keys player, even!
  13. jumblemind

    jumblemind I also answer to Bryan Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2011
    I believe you are talking about the M80, and I had the same basic assessment. This thread is about the new-ish M81 "Bass Preamp".
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2014
    Giwtrah likes this.
  14. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    Makes sense, as the M81 does not have distortion :) If you got distortion out of it, you were doing something very wrong!
  15. Giwtrah

    Giwtrah Guest

    Nov 9, 2014
    Queensland, Australia
    Apologies! I confused my M80 for an M81. D'oh! Carry on :facepalm:
    jaydnt likes this.
  16. rmars


    Jan 2, 2004
    Bettendorf, Ia
    Love my M81! As mentioned before it is fairly clean/uncolored. Stays tight, doesn't get blurry as you boost the bass. If you want something to add a lot of color look elsewhere. If you like the sound of your bass/hands but want to tweak without ruining the original character of your tone then this is it.
    5StringAssassin and sleepyEDB like this.
  17. NickyJ312

    NickyJ312 Guest

    Jul 25, 2014
    Columbus, OH
    Another satisfied M81 user here. I can second what others have said in that it is very, very clean. The sweepable mid-range coupled with the tiny footprint are the best part of the pedal. You can really dial in a lot of things, especially if you are experimenting with boosting AND cutting. It all stays very simple. I used to have a much more complicated EQ, but making quick changes was just a pain and took the fun out of it because I was thinking about 10 sliders all the time. Over-analyzing.

    Another thing that's really nice about it, is that it will interact very nicely with everything else you are using. I've had a BDDI and a VT in the past, also an Enabler. The BDDI and VT were great in a simple setup going direct to board or in studio. Perfect for that 'sans-amp' application, but in a chain with other pedals and an amplifier (who's tone I really liked alone), it just got too crazy and even muddled at times (pre's on pre's...). I found myself having to move other pedals around to figure out where they would sound right etc, I also found myself still preferring the tone of my amp usually. The M81 can go anywhere and can sweeten up a setup nicely while playing well with everything.

    The Enabler was very similar to the M81 (clean, pristine DI and EQ), but it lacks a sweepable mid range (which ended up restricting me a little) and has a larger footprint. The Enabler is very nice, but I honestly thought the M81 did the job just as well for half the price, thus it replaced the Enabler. The direct out on the pedal works great as well and offers pre/post EQ.

    As others mentioned before. If you like your bass's natural tone, and maybe you dig your amp and pedals, give it a try. It will be a subtle enhancement and provide some tonal options/DI/signal boost. With other more invasive DI's you are getting some dirt and slight compression all in one place, but with the M81, I like that I was able to pair it with a compressor and a dirt pedal of MY choice, and I have everything I need, and I really like the tones. If you want more of a drastic change in your sound, or want to bipass an amp most of the time... I'd try something else.
  18. Did I not read somewhere the MXR uses a very similar circuitry to the Sadowsky preamp ?
    Dave Neal and Bassmunnky like this.
  19. RGB74

    RGB74 Guest

    Jul 19, 2014
    Picked one up for a real bargain and I haven't touched the eq on my amp ever since (ampeg pf 500) not that the ampegs eq is that bad, but the mxr simply blows it away. Boosting the lows with it sounds just a bit tighter and fatter, and i can add some definition without making my sound too harsh. I use it at the very beginning of my chain, followed by a ashdown hyperdrive (so so) a boss ceb 3 chorus, an then a trace smx comp. I like the tone of my bass, a 81 ibby roadster, and I love the subtle extra tweakability the mxr gives it. Its not for dirt, obviously. Just a good eq pedal
    eadg98005 likes this.
  20. Another satisfied M81 user here. It simply does what it should sitting at the end of my chain (subtle eq-ing, DI), it's nice and small…and presents itself in a rather alluring shade of green. Great little box.
    eadg98005 likes this.