New Oracle Tube DI w/XLR out!!!

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by hopturn, Jan 20, 2021.


  1. hopturn

    hopturn

    Sep 19, 2010
    Charleston, SC
    Hello all...I don't write a lot of reviews, but I felt someone needed to talk about the new XLR-equipped version of this preamp. Just got it over the weekend (shipping from Arkham Sound was QUICK). First of all, it's built like a tank...you can tell it will be around years from now. Unboxed it and hit my first rehearsal in a full band context...WOW!!! It is a huge improvement in my tone. I ran it direct XLR out into the board (the rehearsal space uses two QSC K12's) with my Lakland Decade (passive) and Fender Jazz (active) and I was so happy I'm thinking of ditching my amp/cabs for most gigs. I think I've finally found a way to sound like my preffered studio sound all the time! The tones in this preamp have been written about elsewhere by better reviewers, but after researching for almost a year (Broughton was a close second) I think I've found my soul mate. Gentle tube characteristics and depth...just beautiful. Sounds like an old school tube amp with none of the "flabbiness."

    I had an Ampeg PF50-T for a while...which was in the ballbark of The Oracle, but it was a bit cumbersome to transport and didn't have as fat a tone. Plus, I needed more power althought not everyone would. I've also used REDDI, Noble, etc. THIS box has the tone, the best form factor for a gigging musician...AND IT JUST WORKS, there's not an unusable sound in it.

    Also, regarding the DI. I've been recording some new tracks with it and it is pristine. Quiet and full flavored! It's nice to be able to be able to get "my sound" at the gig and studio.

    Currently, I am running the XLR to the board and the 1/4" into the effects loop on my old Genz Benz Shuttle. Once the gigs pick up again here in a month I'm going to try getting a small power amp, like a Baby Sumo, and then I think I'm finally set for a while. I've been through Ampeg SVT's, Fender SuperBassman's, some Phil Jones stuff, three different preamps, etc. My band told me that my search had better be over. oracle tube DI.jpg
     
    PeterH, mikewalker, kranahan and 8 others like this.
  2. dlb1001

    dlb1001

    Jan 30, 2007
    I have been thinking about getting tube preamp, after I got a chance to use one, when our band did a recording a few months ago. The engineer ran my bass through a REDDI and it sounded great. But, looking at the size of the REDDI, its form factor was a little larger than I liked.
    So, the Arkham might be the way to go.
     
  3. hopturn

    hopturn

    Sep 19, 2010
    Charleston, SC
    I liked the REDDI a lot...BUT, I really think I'm going to like being able to get a better sound when I show up to play a backline-provided rig by bypassing the amp and using the Oracle's eq section. The REDDI doesn't do that, but it is awesome. I just wanted more features for more applications...basically, one rig to rule them all!!!
     
    Zbysek likes this.
  4. Zbysek

    Zbysek

    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    Could you please kindly elaborate on the difference netween PF-50T and Oracle? I am using PF-20T myself as kind of preamp… THX.
     
  5. hopturn

    hopturn

    Sep 19, 2010
    Charleston, SC
    I'd do a sound clip comparison for you if I still had that Ampeg, which I traded away last year. In my opinion, the Ampeg seemed a little too flat for me and I couldn't get a variety of different tones that I personally liked. It was a great amp though, and I did like its tone...but just couldn't justify keeping it because it wasn't loud enough (again, for me) onstage without it breaking up (and I tried a 2x10, 2 2x10's, and also a single 12). I also thought the Amped sounded more like a "rock amp," if that makes sense? Really focused and driving, but I like smooth and present. I really can't explain it, but to my ears the Oracle just sounds like the best parts of a tube amp without any of the flub or lack of focus. I'm not really into fuzzy bass sounds, although the Oracle can be pushed a bit into distortion. The Ampeg did that better. I gotta say, that the Oracle just pushes through the mix so beautifully with both my main basses...I can clearly hear more harmonic content, and there is a deepness that my band is really into. I'll try to post some sound clips next week if I remember after a couple gigs that I'm recording live this weekend.

    Mainly, I feel like the Ampeg was a fine choice as a desktop tube amp. However, the Oracle is just PHATTER with more going on in the frequencies that I like. If you heard them side-by-side, I think you'd think the Ampeg a bit more aggressive sounding while the Oracle just sits comfortably in the center. It's a round, funky sound with plenty of headroom without breaking up. I wish I had more of a gift for explaining tone. Take if from me though, it's a great piece of equipment...and you will not be able to find a bad tone in it. The owner is a straight up cool guy too, and he will answer any questions you may have and give you straight answers...I feel like he's going to stand by his product, and it's built and wired like a boss, too. VERY impressed by this preamp. In fact, I think this is the first "review" I've written in all these years on Talkbass.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2021
    Slaymus and Zbysek like this.
  6. Zbysek

    Zbysek

    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    Thank you!
     
  7. scubaduba

    scubaduba Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Michigan
    Yep, these are fantastic. If you've had a look at my Tube/DI thread you'll see I've been through 20 or so different devices but the Oracle is still one of my favorites.
     
    mikewalker and thumbslapper like this.
  8. HoochfromParis

    HoochfromParis

    Jan 14, 2013
    Got an Oracle (non DI version) which earned a permanent spot on my board, and i've been curious lately about adding this nice DI option... Is it possible ? I *think* Micah confirmed it would.
     
  9. hopturn

    hopturn

    Sep 19, 2010
    Charleston, SC
    i read just about all of your thread! i meant to post this in the preamp section, but i made a mistake. i love this preamp...really is a game changer for me. today there's a provided backline...i'll be sending one line to the board, and another to a recording device, and everyone gets that super fat tube tone. ahhhhh....
     
  10. hopturn

    hopturn

    Sep 19, 2010
    Charleston, SC
    it is possible, and i think it's worth it if you have the same needs that i do.
     
  11. HoochfromParis

    HoochfromParis

    Jan 14, 2013
    It'd ease the pain on my shoulders in public transport essentially, which is something i quite value. Any idea of the cost of such a mod ?
     
  12. hopturn

    hopturn

    Sep 19, 2010
    Charleston, SC
    Just wanted to add one more thing here. Took the Oracle out to my first gig with it over the weekend. It was perfect. I was using a provided backline that had an effects loop...but it was hard to access, so I just plugged it into the input and deactivated the amp's EQ section. Worked like a bell, and EVERYONE complimented my tone...band and sound engineer. The bass sat perfectly in the mix, had a little "bloom" to the notes that you would expect from a tube amp, but was clear and detailed...brought out the soft mids I love about my Lakland passive basses. Kudos again, Arkham Sound. I will be holding on to this preamp for a long time.
     
    Zbysek likes this.
  13. labeledbass

    labeledbass Supporting Member

    May 24, 2015
    Micah does amazing work, I wish these were transparent so you could see the beautiful wiring. If this has the same output as my Zephyr it should sound amazing. Comparing it to the newer Ampeg portaflex, I've been able to get more range of tube breakup, through the Ampeg via speaker. I'm not sure the 6L6 outputs either of the 2 XLRs though, just the preamp section, so as a DI you wouldn't benefit in my opinion anything with the Ampeg. Arkham preamps are amazingly clean, up until a certain point and then they can get decent breakup, especially with a higher output bass. Its a breakup I don't hear often, which is nice and personal. I would normally run it to that point and back off the tiniest bit. At first you think the EQs don't do much, but give it shot, compare different ranges and you'll notice that he's tuned this very nicely so you can utilize ALL of the available EQ, not just +/- 25% of the knobs range. I've heard 2 people state the Zephyr/Oracle had sloppy dynamics, I don't hear it, its not Class D clankly clear but for a tube pre the harmonics are crystal clear and not overly "3D". I don't know the difference in the output but with my Zephyr I always used the XLR output, so I would opt for the newer balanced line out version of the Oracle, and there are a couple ways of adding a balanced line to the standard model, via Arkham and adding a passive box post preamp
     
    kranahan likes this.
  14. hopturn

    hopturn

    Sep 19, 2010
    Charleston, SC
    i think it's identical to the Zephyr, but i'm not 100% on that. i had an Ampeg PF50-T that did feature a post-transformer XLR which was pretty nice...gave you the tubes and tone that you'd expect, and was pretty awesome as a practice amp. i know there are people who gig with them, but i just couldn't get my band projects to respect my volume considerations, lol. regarding the Ampeg's tone, i just wasn't as pleased with the tone for whatever reason. i'm not an SVT guy, either, which i've also owned. also had an Ampeg V4B for a while...sounded like a good rock band foundation tone to me.

    i just like it funky and old-school. i think The Oracle does that extremely well. how much easier could it be? and i absolutely LOVE the EQ section...very powerful, but basically impossible to get a bad tone out of your bass. adds heft to the notes in a real way, not some weird digital trick. i'm not really a big "break up" guy...prefer the clean, punchiness, with just a tad of that dimensionality that you are referring to. basically, the oracle just has this weighty presence that really rounds out my tone, and i prefer it. my next purchase is a mini-power amp...thinking demeter minnie, bassics a900, or guitar systems sumo. never had any experience with any of these.
     
  15. labeledbass

    labeledbass Supporting Member

    May 24, 2015
    Does that output capture any of the power stage valves though? or just an output transformer? I know there are some out there, but not many, that harness the power stage for recording. Typically they need to have some type of load, like a 100T or fryette PS2/P100. That doesn't really mater for this comparison, I just noticed the Ampeg sounded so much better in the breakup range when running through a cab verse a interface/phones, the preamp seemed "ok" but better matched up with the entire amp via loudspeaker. I can't remember if Ampeg offers "silent" recording like the Fenders.

    I matched up my Zephyr with a Fryette PS2 50 watt tube power amp an that sounded amazing, was able to get more of the preamp to come through but also the depth of a decent power stage. Micah makes the "The Beast of both Worlds", Zephyr and Class D in one, as well as stand alone all tube power amps, in due time I'm sure he will also make full tube amps with the Zephyr/Oracle heart. He makes as much custom work as typical "stock" items all the time, just check out his Facebook
     
    Agosix likes this.
  16. hopturn

    hopturn

    Sep 19, 2010
    Charleston, SC
    it did capture the powerstage as far as i remember. i think i'm going to be going the preamp/mini power amp combo from now on. trying to find a used sumo 1000watter, or possibly a Bassics A900, Demeter Minnie. something small and powerful enough to properly drive my two Audio Kinesis 12" cabs.
     
    labeledbass likes this.
  17. labeledbass

    labeledbass Supporting Member

    May 24, 2015
    It looks like you already have half the equation, but this does exist Arkham Sound - the Beast Amplifier, pretty sure its a ice module class D. I know in the classifieds people snatch them fast at close to posted new cost
     
  18. BostonJazz72

    BostonJazz72 Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2010
    Chicago
    Just inquiring if you have any sound clips of the preamp?
     
  19. Agosix

    Agosix Supporting Member

    May 7, 2013
    Woodhaven NY
    I use a Quilter BB800 with my Zephyr...great combo.
     
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