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Navigator review

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Dr. PhunkyPants, Aug 20, 2005.


  1. Dr. PhunkyPants

    Dr. PhunkyPants Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    USA
    Just thought you might be interested in this feedback. At this point, I've owned the following preamps. It's a little scary when you look down the list.

    Ampeg SVT-IIp
    Ampeg SVP-Pro
    Ampeg SVP-CL
    Aguilar DB-659
    Aguilar DB-924
    Alembic F-1X
    Demeter VTBP-201
    Eden Navigator
    Raven Labs PHA-1
    Sansamp RBI
    Sansamp BDDI
    SWR IOD
    Sadowsky Outboard
    Trace V-Type

    A couple of these (the DB-659, SVP-PRO, and SVT IIp) I only had a few days and sold or returned because of mechanical issues (transformer hum, noise, etc.) That said, the issues didn't prevent me from getting a fair feel for the functionality of the unit.

    My main pre for blues and rock has been the IOD--for about two years. But lately, I relized I had the basis for a smaller-venue rig, I just needed a preamp. Since I play everything from Fleetwood Mac to Pink tunes, flexibility was important. After thinking back over the units I'd owned and doing some reading, I decided to try the Navigator.

    As luck would have it, I found an Eden WP-100 Navigator preamp in "like new" used condition. One year old, bought from another TB'er, who purchased it from Bass Central in 04. Came with 4-function footswitch. Perfect condition.

    If you've seen the unit, you know it's about the most complicated thing going. Lights, all kinds of balance controls, compressor, semi-para EQ. Phew! But like with anything, you bypass as much as possible, start "flat", and work from there. And frankly, it wasn't hard to do that on the Eden--it's pretty clearly laid out.

    What's been VERY interesting about this unit is the way that two KEY controls offer up an unparalleled diversity of tones. The first is the "tube" control which blends in tube artifacts and actually can get pretty overdriven. But, I found the overdrive a little rougher than, say, the gooey goodness of the IOD and I really only go up to about halfway before it's enough. So, unlike the Alemic or V-Type, you can get a harder rock sound if you want it.

    The second is the "enhance" control. This pre-eq control is right after the tube stage and I think the best way to sum it up is to imaging a flat Alembic at one and an SWR SM-500 at 10. Turning that enhance control produces an amazing conversion in tune--from mid-heavy and less distinct to crystal clear "hi fi" bass tone. The footswitch includes a bypass for this control, so you have two very different sounds available there. And what's also nice is that the volume doesn't drop too much in switching. These two controls together give me the ability to get close to most of the other preamps on the market.

    Other cool features are a footswitched tuner mute, which doesn't "bang back" when disengaged--the volume ramps up slowly to protect your rig (and the audience!). The "studio quality" compressor does the job nicely without getting in the way. I would rather that the "default" setting be "off" instead of on, though. It's wierd to look down at your footswitch and have the light ON over "compressor bypass"--you have to double check yourself. Wait, uh, is that ON or OFF? Sounds simple enough, but on the gig, it's easy to get confused--I know, I've played tunes with the compressor on when I didn't mean for it to be. Anyway, it does a good job regardless.

    The semi-parametric EQ is more powerful than any EQ ought to be. I've read complaints from people who say they can't get the EQ right--because they're introducing major alterations without knowing it. The knobs on the faceplate are very high-quality and move in subtle detents--you could probably run the range of an SWR eq in three clicks, with 17 more to go!

    I don't mess with dual channel crossovers or stereo effects, so I don't need any of those features. There are like three effects loops, which I also don't use. There are lights across the bottom of the unit that look like christmas lights but whick serve no function except to look funky and provide illumination. I wonder why somebody doesn't ever put some of those on the BACK, since you can never see it if you're using a power amp-depth rack. Knobs on the faceplate are color coded which is helpful I guess, but also contributes to the Eden's overall "bling" look, which ain't everybody's bag. But it sounds so good, I could care less what it looks like.

    Strengths:

    Versatility, great tone, light weight, awesome construction (I mean it, open it up and say "wow". best of ALL the pre's I've owned).
    OH--there's a jumper inside that you can use to double the output voltage for those hard-to-drive power amps--YEAH!!!!

    Weakness:

    Complexity has its dangers--battlefield weapons are kept simple for a reason.
    Tube--the stock tube (or at least the one sitting in mine when I got it) was noisy. When I dropped a new 7025-rated 12Ax7 in, bang--silent. Same for the AC cord--the one that came with my unit was defective and picked up interference.

    All in all, I would HIGHLY recommend this preamp to anyone who is looking for several great tones and isn't afraid to tweak knobs. You can get VERY close to the Alembic, SVP-PRO, SWR Grand Prix, while still having something unique to offer. The ability to adjust/incread output voltage was a HUGE selling point to me. Why don't more makers do that?

    Anyway, it's a few bucks more, but I think it definitely worth it. If anyone ever has questions about the unit and its features/reliability, send 'em along!
     
  2. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Preachin' to the choir here brutha;) I loooves my navigator!
     
  3. BigMikeW

    BigMikeW Banned

    May 25, 2005
    Nashville, TN.
    Banned by TB Administration for refusal to account for funds
    Exactly. I just got back from a long test of pre's and cabs.

    I still love my Nav/WT-1000 rig.
     
  4. I had a navigator with my setup. It had a boatload of options, but I sold it as soon as I heard an EA. No comparison. That said, they are completely different. The EA was just so much better sounding it wasn't even close.
     
  5. BigMikeW

    BigMikeW Banned

    May 25, 2005
    Nashville, TN.
    Banned by TB Administration for refusal to account for funds

    See, I am just the opposite. I thought the EA was VERY sterile and I just didn't dig it at all.
     
  6. Great review mate - just a quick one: have you reviewed any of those other pre's here on Talkbass previously?

    (Linkies would be much loved :D)
     
  7. Dr. PhunkyPants

    Dr. PhunkyPants Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    USA
    I did some reviews of the SVP-CL and the issues I had with it's low output voltage. Those complaints (I'd like to think) helped get the production settings changed at the factory.

    Other than that, no I haven't reviewed the others.

    Note: the above comments on EA are valid, just as everyone's views on tone are valid. I usually try to make a "disclaimer" about needing to look at the WHOLE signal chain. If you play a P bass through a 15" cab, then you'll have a WAY different view on the Eden than if you play a Modulus through an EA cab. Neither is "better" its just that a preamp is one single link in a multi-link chain.

    For the record, I've been playing a Sterling into the Navigator into an EA VL210b.
     
  8. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    Great review. I am still looking for a second rig so I can switch things around once in awhile from my current Ampeg rig. And Eden is up at the top of my list, so this review was very helpful.
     
  9. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    I imagine that's real nice...I push my Nav thru a qsc/plx 1602. Do the Eden power amps do the same thing that the Nav and the WT800b do in terms of the round warm full "semi hi-fi" knida thing? I find the edens to be much more that way than the swr stuff I used to like which seemed real sterile-ish...
     
  10. BigMikeW

    BigMikeW Banned

    May 25, 2005
    Nashville, TN.
    Banned by TB Administration for refusal to account for funds
    Yes. I absolutely LVOE Eden poweramps. I am planning on ordering the WT-1550. I played through it at NAMM and loved it. Higher output and a tube front end to drive the mosfets. Add's some extra warmth.
     
  11. My Lord... there is just so much fantastic bass gear out there.... just amazing....
    I used my Aggie DB750 for the second time last night through the EL Whappo... Still just blown away, I am. It's limited on tweaking compared to a Nav for sure, but my Sadowsky VJ4 and EW was amazing again. This room was like playing in a fish bowl.. big echo...all glass .. yikes for sure. Still I just kept the gain at 9:00 and master on around 10:00 upped the middle to around 1:00 and it did a great job.. the throw was amazing at such low volume. My very picky keyboard man said ... " man that rig sounds really really good." Sorry for de-railing a bit. Just kinda bustin' some grins here. :D
     
  12. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    very cool.

    i have to say that the preamps of the wt series (including the navigator, 400, 550, 800, etc) are my favorite part of the eden line. The power sections on the heads ore good, but the 400 wasnt the loudest 400 watts i've ever heard. likewise, i like the cabs, but the mid bump of the xlt series kind of got annoying after a while (but i absolutley love the original 410t aka swr goliath 1, and almost a clone as the swr goliath 2).

    the eden eq is an enigma. if you understand how powerful it is, and if you exhibit restraint, it is extremy handy. the enhance control is also very cool, but i found it gets to be a bit too much past 11 o'clock (usully i left mine all the way to the left to maybe 9 o'clock)

    all that aside, the eden preamps are probably in my top 3 favorite preamp sounds. on the flat setting they are plenty full and warm sounding, yet still retain enough clarity for most people.
     
  13. inazone

    inazone

    Apr 20, 2003
    Colorado
    Nice review.

    I sold my navigator and moved on but I still hold it in high regard. Nice preamp.
     
  14. I am a tweaker and I love all the knobs. My only complaint is that the Navigator/WT1550 setup in a 4 space roller Warwick rack bag is almost 60lbs!! Ive tried lightweight poweramps but did not like the way the bottom end sounded. Unfortunatly good bass requires heavy transformers.
    Cheers!

     
  15. rockstarbassist

    rockstarbassist Banned

    Apr 30, 2002
    The Woodlands, TX
    Endorsing Artist: HCAF
    I've had my Nav for about 2 weeks but just got in my PLX3402 today, so haven't been able to jam it out yet.

    However I did once own a WT-550 (or 500, can't remember) and I really liked the tone and traded it for a vintage V4-B. Bad move.

    So, I jumped on one of these from a fellow TB'er, after the Aggy pre went in like 5 seconds. ;)

    I used to have the Demeter VTBP-201s and it sounded good, but not too many options. Got an outboard graphic EQ just to help out. Maybe I couldn't work it right, who knows. :)

    But the Eden has so much stuff on it it's crazy. I want wait to jack with them all.


    Also, as mentioned in the first post, does anyone know if I'll need to adjust the output to properly drive a QSC PLX3402? Just curious. :)
     
  16. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    I did not have to change mine to run to a plx1602...but, call eden customer service or pm Bob Lee (QSC) , he'll likely know.
    Or ask at the eden forum.
     
  17. RicPlaya

    RicPlaya

    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI

    There is a internal output limiter switch inside on the PC board in the Nav I had to adjust to run my Crown 402. The amp was too high output and was peaking and spiking my cab. Now that I did this it sounds great. I would call Eden CS, they could tell you right away.
     
  18. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    Dr. Phunky Pants,

    Could you please offer some specific suggestions for a replacement tube for the Navigator?

    The only complaint I have about my unit is the hiss is more than I'd like to hear (in a quiet studio or practice situation). The noise seems to disappear on the gig. Cymbals anyone?

    Another very handy feature I've found is the Record Out DI. I use this to send to the live mixing board. I can adjust the output level from the front panel. I send a post-Compressor, pre-EQ signal which makes the sound man happy.

    I love the EQ and Compression on this thing.
     
  19. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    JJ 12ax7 from Bob at eurotubes...
     
  20. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    I ran mine with a PLX3002 for years with no problems whatsoever. That rack sounded pretty good, in fact. :)

    The Navigator was my first "high end amplification" purchase, and it replaced my BBE 383 (which served me faithfully for years, and was great for the pittance it cost me). Since then, I have picked up a number of additional preamps, some of which I do somewhat prefer (in some settings) to the Navigator, but I gotta tell you, even with all the gear I've tried, nothing just blows the Navigator out of the water, and it still remains the Swiss Army Knife of signal routing and tone control! :D

    Great preamp! :cool:

    Tom.