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ONBOARD VS OUTBOARD PREAMP

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by backdraft31, Apr 26, 2010.


  1. backdraft31

    backdraft31

    Mar 4, 2006
    TRYING TO DECIDE ON PREAMP. THE MARCUS MILLER M2 OR THE J-RETRO MARCUS PRE...
     
  2. Rick Auricchio

    Rick Auricchio Registered Bass Offender

    Assuming the preamps are identical, then it's just a matter of convenience and whether one fits inside the bass.

    As long as the distance from bass to outboard pre isn't more than to a normal pedal, you'll be fine.
     
  3. TB member Narud has a post on this subject, although results may vary depending on the preamp you use.

    The conclusion was that there IS a noticeable difference between onboard and outboard.
     
  4. backdraft31

    backdraft31

    Mar 4, 2006
    thanks for the info....
     
  5. The difference is an extra cable :p

    Out of those two, I'd probably take the J-retro for tweaking. I'm happy with my SVT and don't need anything else in my signal chain between bass and amp.

    But, what do you want/need to add to your setup?

    What bass do you play, what style of music, do you play live, do you record, whats the rest of your setup like etc etc etc
     
  6. darkstorm

    darkstorm

    Oct 13, 2009
    If its short cable to the pedal should be minimal to no diff in sound. However I over and over notice that onboard preamp just seems to give the bass sound a little more air and somehow the overtones, upper treble content, is more naturally there. Maybe naturally isnt best way to describe it. But it just reminds me of how higher qaulity cables open up the sound so you here upper treble content details and low end articulation better. Same for mids. Prob has something to do with the immediate conversion to low impedance that onboard preamp gives. I do use my processors eq section to further tweak sound. But onboard preamp wether 2 0r 3 band does just seem to drive processor better and creates more open, complete, detailed sound. Better then happens when I put a nice eq pedal in front of processor for passive bass. Sometime back I read an article about how onboard preamp affects pickup loading different then pedal eq. Maybe thats part of it. Not sure.
     
  7. backdraft31

    backdraft31

    Mar 4, 2006
    i just bought the marcus retro 01 today and i'll let you know how it turns out.. To answer your question -i got a mo hawk,- i play a marcus 4 stringer with gk 1001 head and 4/10 mark bass cab. I play everything from pop to rock to r/b mostly live gigs. Hopefully the j-retro will give me the ump and sound that the factory pre isnt doing..... i also use a bass xciter.
     
  8. I was curious about this as well, so I tried my Nordstrand 3 band pre built into a pedal vs installed onboard. There is a noticable difference, but neither was better than the other, just slightly different. Onboard seemed to give my Delano pups a more open, articulate sound, if that makes sense?
     
  9. TonyP-

    TonyP- Excuse me but you have your I-IV-V in my II-V-I Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2003
    Boston Mass
    A-Designs Audio Mike Lull Custom Guitars Gallien Krueger amplification Tsunami Cables GHS Strings RMI Basswitch Nordstrand Pickups Darkglass Electronics
    Hello Joe

    Curious

    How do you like the Nordy outboard?

    What situations are using it with, passive or active?
     
  10. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    The benefit of an onboard preamp is it isolates your tone from your cable. The low impedance output allows you to drive longer cable lengths and you wont lose high end from the cable capacitance.
     
  11. nic salsus

    nic salsus

    Mar 16, 2010
    That and how compact it is for transport are the two big pluses. The downside for me has always been that batteries are required....maybe install a bypass so that when the battery dies on stage you aren't dead in the water?

    The upside of an outboard unit is it works with multiple instruments, it can have a lot more features and isn't a battery slave. Down side is they can cost more, it's another thing to carry and it won't help signal loss down a long cable.
     
    rocket45 likes this.
  12. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    A bypass is an easy enough thing to install, but to be honest I don't think it's needed. I first installed a battery powered circuit in one of my basses back in 1977. Back then there were no "battery boxes", so I had to remove all the pickguard screws on my Rick to change the battery. I've been using active basses ever since and have never had a battery fail on me during a gig. So I think it's an unfounded fear. I've broken more strings during a gig!

    Just check your battery every so often. I used to change my strings every month, so I changed the battery too. But they usually last a lot longer than that.

    That is a good way to get a tone shaping device in your signal chain. I look at the two as playing slightly different roles. A floor preamp is just doing what your amp's preamp does already, but you can use that for presetting different tonal variations.
     
  13. nic salsus

    nic salsus

    Mar 16, 2010
    I could never grow enough brain cells to remember to unplug when not playing and had a lot of issues before deciding passive instruments work better for me. I'd HAVE to have an bypass to stand a fighting chance of showing up with enough voltage....I'm the dummy in "dummy-proof" here. Never broken a string onstage though!
     
  14. I really like the nordy 3 band outboard, but I suck at describing sounds. I use it my Warmoth with passive Delano JMVC4 FE/M2 pups as well as my Spector with passive EMG SSD pups (Delano Sonar 3 pre in passive mode) through BBE Bmax>QSC RMX850>Warwick 411PRO in a loud heavy hard rock band with 2 guitarists each running les pauls through 100w tube heads and a heavy fisted drummer.
     
  15. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Sure you can! You learned how to play, right? :)


    I used to break heavy picks too! I don't bash the strings that hard anymore, but I used to get the tone I wanted that way.

    _
     
  16. Low_blow

    Low_blow

    May 14, 2005
    As for me, I like when there is a DI socket in an outboard preamp with pre/post EQ button. You can send the "dry" bass signal to PA via XLR plug, and connect the 1/4" jack out directly to combo's effects loop return. It's a very useful feature, especially when you don't have an opportunity to carry your combo with you everytime.
     
  17. Visti

    Visti

    Aug 20, 2005
    Aalborg, Denmark
    This is actually something I've wondered: I have a couple of basses with pre-amps in them, but not that good pre-amps. I don't really have the expertize to switch them for an Aguilar, for example. If I buy the outboard and run it through, will it sound awful? I guess I can always bypass the preamp, but I was wondering if it's just worth the trouble exchanging the pre.
     
  18. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    Here's my take:

    If the exact same pre mounted in your bass sounds different that that same unit sitting on the floor 10' away, then you can hear your cable's cappacitance and/or pup loading characteristics as the ONLY difference is 10' of wire

    With that said, can you hear a difference with your passive bass with a 10' cable as opposed to a 20' cable?

    I think I can hear a very slight difference with Mogami cables when I'm in my living room but am dead certain that even the player could not hear this on stage in a band situation
     
  19. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    It depends on the cable. If the cable has high capacitance then you should hear a dulling of the highs as you move to a longer cable.

    Cables have capacitance specs listed in pico Farads per foot.

    You might not hear much between 10 and 20 feet, but some people use much longer cable lengths if you are playing on large stages. I've often used two 25 foot cables with effects in between. You have to also add up the cables used between effects pedals, as well as the wire and bypass switches in the pedals. True bypass pedals add more to the capacitance than the JFET switching pedals.

    But if the tone sounds good to you with the cable you use, that's all that matters.

    Here's a story to illustrate the cable capacitance thing. Back when Carlos Santana started using PRS guitars, he also used a wireless system. He told PRS that he didn't like the tone of his guitar without the 50 foot cable he used. His guitar was now too bright. So PRS came up with a circuit they called the "Sweet Switch" which introduced a component called a "passive delay line" into the signal path. This simulated the effect of a long cable between the guitar and amp. The guy that designed that circuit said in retrospect that he could have done something similar with caps and resistors. So that shows the filtering effect your patch cord has.

    Now if your not using a bright tone from your bass, than the cable loading doesn't matter, and in fact you might prefer it, as Santana did. Some of these bass specific cables, like from Monster, actually roll off some top end to give a fatter tone.
     
  20. backdraft31

    backdraft31

    Mar 4, 2006
    if you can afford a different onboard preamp, I would definetly considered doing so. since getting the J-Retro marcus pre. I can safely say that i am happy with the change...everything from sound, and tone are adjustable on the fly. the difference is amazing...
     

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