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NYC 2-bands: DB924, Sadowsky, Alleva-Coppola, Pensa

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Wilbyman, Mar 6, 2006.

  1. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    Hi guys - I doubt anyone has had much experience with all of these allegedly very similar boxes, but I'm curious as to whether anyone can opine as to the differences between them!
  2. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    One thing I noticed is that the Pensa has treble cut, whilst the others all have only boost for bass and treble...interesting.
  3. Type-55


    Jul 20, 2000
    The Pensa was originally designed by John Suhr. Don't know who makes them now. The Coppola pre is a Suhr preamp with a little different treble eq. The Sadowsky/Aguilar hook up is well known. The Suhr 2 band I had in a Mike Lull with Fender CS 60's sounded very smooth. Coppola, I assume, would have a little more bite in the treble. I have not heard one but that's what I was told by Suhr. The Sadowsky is much more aggressive sounding than the Suhr or the Aguilar. These are my findings.
    Yours may be different.
  4. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    Will, I've always been most interested in the Pensa preamp because of the treble cut option. It's also the one that Bona uses with his Fodera.

    I've had a Suhr 3 band before in a bass and it was a beautiful preamp. I'd trust anything made by John.
  5. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    Thanks Doug...thanks Andy. The differences are probably somewhat slight, the treble cut thing does definitely intrigue...
  6. Pickebass

    Pickebass Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    I own the Aguilar and Sadowsky. Although exactly the same (both boost only at 40hz and 4khz), they sound different. The aguilar IMO has a bigger bottom and the top end can geit a little be over the top with the treble. The Sadowsky has a smoother top, but the bottom end is not a full as the Aguilar. Both excellent units. I use the Sadowsky on my jazz style instruments and it works great. The aguilar works great on my Pbass. I think the Sadowsky is more "hifi" of the two...
  7. spc


    Apr 10, 2004
    South of Boston
    Honestly, try them out, I don't think you'll go wrong with any of these units. I have the db924, and love it with my passive j basses. It worked great for me in the studio, I kept the 2 bands almost flat (about 2 or so) and it really helped warm my sound up. I dig it if I'm borrowing an amp, or if I just want some of that active oomph...ymmv and all that...

  8. mebass5


    Nov 27, 2005
    I own two Sadowsky basses (a NYC P/J-5, and a Metro 5) and I also own a DB924 that I've used with some other basses.
    I agree that the Sadowsky pre is more aggressive, with a bit less weight in the low end, and a bit more bite (albeit not unpleasant) on the top end, while the DB924 has a fatter low end, though to me the highs are more musical as well.
    For me, the DB924 wins for its transparency. It adds an incredible amount of height and depth to the sound, without over-coloring it. I recently A/B'd the two pre's, taking using the DB924 with the Sadowsky, completely bypassing the Sadowsky pre. It's a very similar sound in many ways, but I believe there is enough difference for me to say the DB924 is just warmer, fatter, and more transparent.
    I vote for the DB924!
  9. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    I'll drink to that review. Do you find that the DB924 softens your sound too much? I'm sure that it works good for rock, but for playing tight jazzy stuff I think it gets a little mushy in the low end. However, I bet it is nice when you have to lay down a big wide low end.
  10. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Just to pile on here. How different is the j-retro from
    these other preamps? The j-retro verses the Sad or
    the Shur?
  11. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    the j retro has a lower voiced bass knob, and an overall glossy voice. while the variable mids on the j retro is very handy to have, i actually prefer the sadowsky's overall sound, which seems to sit beautifully in most mixes.
  12. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    Lower than 40hz? wow...I can't imagine that being useful.

    I also remember the Jretro having a great deal of high end, much too much for me.
  13. mgmadian


    Feb 4, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Ditto on the above, namely that you can't go wrong with any of them. My Sadowsky Tokyo has the... um... Sadowsky Tokyo preamp, while my 71 Jazz has an OBP-1. Also have a Pensa Suhr outboard preamp that I've used off and on for the past 12 years ago... all great. The Suhr sounded a bit more cutting than the OBP-1, and don't recall hw the bottom end compared, just remember thinking they both sounded different, with one neither one necessarily better than the other.
    MSIMSBASS likes this.
  14. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    For me, it's finding a pre with a somewhat fat/warm bass boost that stays tight. The Pope/HazLab/Smith does it, I haven't found another one which does.
  15. brandonwong

    brandonwong Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2003
    J-retro has a most unique way of boosting the low end.
    The frequency boost goes lower as you turn the bass knob up.
    In this way, it beefs up the tone without sacrificing clarity on the bass sweet spot.

    The high end can be tamed if you learn how to tweak the controls.
    The treble knob can be quite glassy if you turn it up a lot.
    Alternatively, you can make use of the mids to boost up the frequencis slightly lower than the treble knob.

    IMO, its a very flexible preamp if you take more time on it.
    A little goes a long way... and just take note that bass knob is boost only.
    There is a recent release of a 4 band retro with 2 bands of mids.

    PS: I've tried using it on my double bass with most excellent results.
    + John East has excellent customer service, one of the best in the industry.
  16. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY

    Thanks for the additional info Brandon. Very helpful. I haven't had a (U)retro for some time now. When I had one John was having issues with lots of noise form his units. I'm told that this is an issue any longer.
  17. brandonwong

    brandonwong Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2003
    Anytime mate...

    We all love talking about gear that works for us.
    I have a J-retro in my 77 jazz and a external stompbox for my other basses.
    Currently using the stompbox with my BN6 with good results :)
    (mixing the FBass pre with the retro gets me my tone for any situation)

    The issue with noise for the older retros has long been solved.
    Audere might have a lower noise floor but the retro isn't a big problem for live situations where we really need to cut thru sometimes.
    As for hiss/noise, dun expect any treble boost with absolutely no hiss at all.
    It's like making an order "Can i have a club sandwich with no bread please?"

    BTW, i have a DB924 too and it didn't work quite as well for my needs.
    Its the most transparent pre i have tried so far, other than onboard FBass pre.
  18. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    The audere is more transparent but not as powerful. I'd love an Audere with some different eq points and a little more umph. When I took the Audere out of the F Bass and put the original preamp in to sell the bass I really got it. The Audere is really clean and similar to really good outboad eq's. However, the F pre has a grunt to it that really kills on those basses. The two are very different and both equally great, just different.
  19. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I just tried a Sadowsky pre (stomp box) and a Sansamp
    Acoustic Di next to each other. The Sad had a fairly
    harsh top end and we couldn't seem to get rid of the
    ground hum. The Sansamp had a sweeter sound, while
    still keeping the firm lows. I left the blend control off.
    So which one of these "in bass" preamps sounds most
    like the Acoustic Di?
  20. Dan Knowlton

    Dan Knowlton Sarcasm: Just ONE of the many services I offer! Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    Palm Coast, FL
    I have an Alleva Coppolo LG5 and a Sadowsky 5-24 but don't feel I could do a comparison of the preamp as the basses are SO different. That being said - I LOVE BOTH! I really don't think you could go wrong with either. I had a bit of a difficult time getting used to the Alleva controls as it is V/V/T/B but I got through that.

    I'd recommend either bass equally.

    Dan K.

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