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My new Zon Sonus 4 (passive!)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by CaptainWally, Aug 10, 2007.

  1. CaptainWally

    CaptainWally Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2000
    Sandy Eggo, CA
    I recently picked up a preowned Zon Sonus 4, and I have an immediate affinity for this bass. It's got all the well documented charm of a Zon bass, but with a slight twist. The previous owner wired it passive (volume, volume, tone), replacing the stock Polyfusion preamp.


    I assumed I would probably re-install the preamp, but upon playing it, I'm not sure about that at all. I already owned a Sonus 4 with a Bartolini preamp, and the contrast between these basses is very interesting. The passive setup yields a more natural and organic sound. Although it's obviously less tweakable, I think I like the basic sound better overall and it's definitely a less noisy bass. I haven't gigged with it yet, but the output seems to be plenty hot. In any case, I would probably opt for an outboard if I needed more gain as I dig having the passive setup.

    Which outboard is a question that belongs in a different forum.
  2. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Great bass, nice and simple from the looks of it.
  3. Andy Brown

    Andy Brown Commercial User

    Jul 23, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Founder/Owner: Wing Instruments
    Nice score from eBay! I was looking at that one. Zon's are incredible.
  4. RG


    May 11, 2000
    central Illinois
    I think Zons are great. Congrats!
    The passive set up on a Zon is very interesting. Bet it sounds great.
  5. CaptainWally

    CaptainWally Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2000
    Sandy Eggo, CA
    Update: Still love it. But I decided I want more gain and onboard EQ options on this bass, so I think I'm going to have a Bart system installed.

    I think the tonal differences between this Sonus and my older one have more to do with the old vs. new style Bart pickups. Also, my older Sonus does not have a Phenowood board.

    So I'll take it by Zon for a set up and a preamp. The Polyfusion is interesting, but I've never heard it. And since I know I like the Bart preamp, I'll probably go for that.

    Opinions welcome.
  6. I personally HATED the Bartolini preamp that Zon had put into my Legacy Elite... I replaced it with an Audere and have not looked back since. I am not sure how the Polyfusion preamp sounds, but I can tell you that the Bartolini preamp that I had was either defective, or simply incredibly weak.
  7. CaptainWally

    CaptainWally Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2000
    Sandy Eggo, CA
    Can you compare the sound of Audere to the Bart?

    I'm very interseted in your thoughts!
  8. Well, apply what your signature says here because this is definitely just my opinion...

    I found the Bartolini to sound pleasant when ran flat in the center detent but was not pleased with it when I needed more power to my sound. For starters, the treble EQ barely added any high-end until it was cranked completely. The bass and midrange seemed to only add more volume but not what they were intended to do.

    Again, I may have had a defective unit, but when I called Zon and asked them why my Legacy Elite did not come with what was supposed to be the stock Polyfusion preamp, they told me that they substituted it for the Bartolini preamp because they were out of stock at the time. I asked them if there would be a cost to replace it and if I recall correctly, they quoted me at $150 + shipping both ways (NY to California)... I was a little miffed about that (having purchased the bass believing I had the Polyfusion preamp and all...) so I decided to give the Audere preamp another shot.

    Having had one before inside of a 60s MIM Jazz reissue (you can actually still find my little [rushed] demo on the Audere website actually..) I knew partly what to expect.

    I hate using buzz words or cliche'd terms like "fat bass," "high-end sizzle," or "transparent tone" so I will simply tell you that it delivered what I was looking for.

    The Z-Mode switch is very nice and is highly configurable if you open up the control cavity and mess with the capacitance. Every now and then just to try out new things I open up the the bass and tinker away. I find new and interesting sounds each time, although the stock settings were also nice (but never again recoverable I fear) .

    Dave @ Audere is incredibly helpful and will provide excellent advice if you give him an idea of the sound in your head. My preamp is setup to be volume, balance, stacked treble and tone, passive tone, and of course, the Z-Mode switch. Again, suits my needs, may not be your thing though, especially if you already like the Bartolini tone.

    If you have any other questions feel free to PM me :)
  9. CaptainWally

    CaptainWally Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2000
    Sandy Eggo, CA
    Wow...thanks for the thoughts. That is very odd that you didn't get the product you thought you were getting. I guess your dealer should have explicitly specified that your Legacy would come with a Bart preamp. Oh well. Sounds like you're happy now.

    Anyway, I also wonder if your Bart preamp wasn't defective. My experiences have been very different. Slicing highs and booming lows, but not particularly natural or transparent. I've had *many* a bass with the Bart system, and this has been my experience each time.

    I prefer the Bart System to the Aguilar and the Sadowsky preamps. I've never tried the Polyfusion, but I'm curious. And I've heard great, great things about the Audere system, but never heard either. It is a little on the expensive side, and I've only got 3 holes in my bass. Do they make a 2 band, pan, volume preamp?

    Overall, given my preferences and uncertainties, I guess I'm still leaning toward the Bart system.

  10. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Gear Reviewer - Bass Musician Magazine Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    great looking bass wally!

    I say go with the polyfusion in this one. That way you have a bart preamp in your older one, and a polyfusion in the newer. They both sound great, but I remember liking the polyfusion circuits better personally.

    I really like that ash body too, its a looker!!

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