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Opinions on Preamp/Amp

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by bill_90125, Feb 23, 2005.

  1. bill_90125


    Feb 22, 2005
    I've been unhappy with the sound I'm getting, and now that I've gotten the string and pickup situation solved (Obligatos and Underwood, respectively;happy with both), I need to remedy the amplification setup and I'm at a loss as to what to get. I currently use a SWR Workingman's 10 for use in big band and smaller group situations that vary in size. Like other users have commented, I find the SWR 10 sound thin and I'm driving it way harder than I should be. I currently go straight into the instrument input without using a preamp. I'd love to hear opinions regarding preamp vs. no preamp, and personal opinions about amps. I've looked online at the Acoustic Image Contra, the GK MB150S and the Euphonic Audio combo (I would like to stay with a combo). Because I'm in a rural locale I generally research and then order and try it out, making forums like this very valuable. Thanks for your opinions.
  2. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    That SWR WM10 is a pretty good little amp, but is really designed for EBG. The impedance of an transducer like the underwood is probably less than ideal for the input. That would explain the thin, meatless tone and lack of bottom end.

    A preamp specifically designed for db would give you plenty of options. The input signal would work with the amp much better. You have a lot more gain and likely would not push the amp as hard.

    You may also get EQ shelving better suited for DB.

    With an outboard preamp, you can even bypass the preamp stage of the SWR and insert the preamp at the effects return. The allows the sound be be less colored by the SWR's electronics. It basically becomes a powered monitor. I use my ampeg like this regularly to amp my db.

    All have their good qualities. I like the Fishman platinum a lot. I have had very good luck with K&K preamps as well as baggs. As long as you have decent tone to start with and don't overtweak, you can get a good sound with about any decent preamp.
  3. Touch


    Aug 7, 2002
    Boulder, CO
    I use a SWR WM 12 BUT I use a SansAmp ADI as a buffer/preamp.This works well with a piezo pickup (I use a BassMax and an Underwood with this setup). You can find the ADI on E-bay all the time.

    If you just put any piezo pickup straight into the WM, it will sound like crap since the input impedance is 20K or so. For a piezo pickup you want 500K or 1 Mohm input impedance on our preamp.
  4. As others have mentioned, you probably need some type of preamp as much for impedance matching as anything else. For piezo pickups, you usually need an input impedance of at least 1 meg ohm. The input impedance of the amp or preamp you are using definitely makes a very big difference in the sound character of piezo pickups.

    The SWR WM10 is a nice small amp, but it is a little underpowered for all but the smallest rooms and lowest volume gigs. One option might be to get an extension speaker for the WM10, however I would go with a more powerful amp like those made by Acoustic Image. The AI amps are so small there's really no penalty to carrying around a separate head over a combo amp. I also like the flexibilty of having a separate amp and speaker over a combo. The Acoustic Image amps work well with piezo pickups (usually no preamp is required) and they also have much flatter response and a more neutral sound than most amps designed for use with electric bass guitar.
  5. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    SWR wm10 is "ok only."
    Of their combo products, I like and use the swr super redhead (2x10, 300watts), and baby blue (2x8, 160 watts)...
  6. bill_90125


    Feb 22, 2005
    Looks like a preamp is a good place to start. Judging from what I've read in various places of the forum, the Fishman Platinum is a good choice. I'm going to to try that out and then take it from there. Thanks guys!
  7. JazznFunk


    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Lakland Basses Artist
    I too use the WM12, but I have gotten more than acceptable results out of it and The Realist, sans preamp. I was using a K&K setup with the Bass Max, Golden Trinity mic, and the K&K pre, but it still never really sounded right to me. I had experimented as well with the BM into a Sadowsky outboard preamp (the pre-stompbox model), and it was a little better, but still too "electric" sounding. The mic sounds great of course, but I never could get past the unnatural sound of the BM, even with the preamp. It always sounded too "electric" to me. I've been using the Realist solo for the most part, cutting back a bit of midrange, one notch of treble, and turning the horn off on the WM12, and people have raved about the sound. I'm not about to dispute the notion that a better amp designed specifically for upright amplification would sound better, but if you don't have that option, you can make it work. If memory serves, the Realist does have a reputation for being more compatible with common amps, sans preamp. Anyway, I've had good and bad experiences with preamps thus far. As long as I'm using the Realist, I won't use a pre. Now for my electric basses, if someone stole my Sadowsky, I'd be up a creek. That's been an essential piece of equipment for almost ten years now.
  8. Bill -- I can vouch for this setup. I also use the SWR Workingmans 10. I was unhappy with sound quality and also with volume, particularly when playing with a 20-piece jazz big band. I recently added the Platinum Pro EQ Bass Preamp, and I am quite pleased with it. I plug it into the back of the amp, into the "effects return" input rather than the instrument input (just as Chasarms suggested). This allows a lot of flexibility in the tone of the sound I get. The preamp also provides more volume.

    I know there are better amps on the market, but they cost big bucks. For now, adding the preamp is a much less expensive solution.

    -- John Greitzer
  9. Just to add to the talk about WM 10 with a pre amp;

    I did and outdoor festival last Sunday with the SWR WM 10, I ran from the head phone out into a JBL eon 10 on a stand (All Hail Bob's suggestion of a monitor at ear level) and borrowed a MXR micro amp from the guitarist and went straight into the SWR iinstrument input with a realist. The micro amp has no tone controls, just on-off and volume. The sound man miked the SWR. The band was loudish but I was able to hear myself without blasting to feedback levels and I was even able to forgo the foam rubber under the tail piece bit. the sound man said it was a good combination. I had really bad luck with my K&K pre-amp and I REALLY want to get a D-TAR, but today I am going to look for a used MXR Micro amp. Has anyone else used one?
  10. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Definately try a preamp. Those WM10 combos are great little amps. Wish I still had mine. I have used various preamps, in the loop and in-line with great success.

    If I didn't like my current rig (Avalon U5/QSC/Bergantino) so much, I'd be using a WM12 and a preamp for my gigs.
  11. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    The wm 10 is a killer small amp for electric bass, especially
    if you bypass the preamp. I use a Fodera pre into the effects
    return. NOT GOOD FOR UPRIGHT! The amp is scooped in the
    upper mids with a less expensive tweeter. Very thin sounding.
    Works better with a boomy Realist sound. The Underwood
    usually needs a 10 meg ohm buffer pre to work well. Lots of
    them out there, but the problem might still be the amp.
  12. bill_90125


    Feb 22, 2005
    Thanks for all the great opinions (no shortage of them here, I came to the right place). I've also found this forum to be extremely friendly, and if there's been any harsh discussions anywhere on this forum I haven't seen them. My Fishman Platinum is on the way. I'll see how much improvement I get with that, but if a better amp is still needed I will query the group again. Thanks everyone!
  13. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Also...... Turn off the tweeter in the back of the amp.
    It may fatten up the sound a bit, and take some of the
    "nasal" sound away. Just maybe.
  14. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    Go with the outboard preamp first...I use an older Fishman Pro EQ with Underwood pickup and WM12 amp.

    The WM12 can have its EQ adjusted to sound okay with Underwood, but the preamp does a better job with less EQ because of its high impedence.

    I think the setup does best plugging into the amp's input rather than the effects return, though. Seems to be more volume that way with the controls set at lower levels.
  15. brooklynbassguy

    brooklynbassguy Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2004
    maplewood, nj, usa
    I had to jump in on this one. I've been very happy with the D-Tar Solstice. I had the fishman platinum before, but the D-Tar has more gain, so I use instead of the amps' preamp, and alot more flexibilty. It has two inputs, that can be mixed as you like, and mic inputs, separate DI outs for the to two channels, and it sounds much warmer. I take this around the world with me.
  16. JohnThomasson


    Feb 3, 2003
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Supro, Mesa Boogie, DR Strings, Source Audio, Pigtronix, & Fishman
    +1 on the Solstice. I can plug it into pretty much any backline that is around and it works great and it's superflexible. I want to get one of the new Acoustic Image Slave Amps and run that with the Solstice. I wish they would make a bass version with a little more bass friendly EQ, but I usually keep it flat anyway except for when I try to mix in my Dyn-B.

    I dig the Fishman Pro EQ, but I was blown away how well the Solstice works even in front something like a Ampeg SVT with the Soltice set flat! It solved all my worries for touring in a loud situation in larger clubs (500-1500) and the big outdoor sheds. YMMV
  17. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    When I first started playing amplified upright, I looked into a number of buffering preamps to use with my electric bass amps, and I came upon a review of the Stewart UDP-1a in Electronic Musician. They really loved it, so I picked one up. I must say, I am thrilled with this product. In addition to Bass and Treble controls, it has a variable Notch Filter, which I found to be helpful in controlling feedback. I'm not sure if they are still available (I think they are, but only on special order), but I paid just over $100 for one (with AC adapter). It also sounds great on electric bass. You can hear clips of mine on basstasters.

  18. svali


    Feb 25, 2005
    Umeå, Sweden

    I'm using a Hartke Kickback 12 with a Wilson pu and a Fishman equalizer to my 7/8 double bass. I'm happy with the sound, even if I need to filter a lot of treble noise. But I need more power, as my gigs sometimes take place in bigger rooms, and our PA doesn't give the bass sound I like. The suggestion I've got is to get myself an Acoustic Image combo. I read in this forum that a lot of you seem to be happy with the AI, but does it give me the power I need?

    Thanks in advance for comments on this!

    Svante Lindroth, Umeå, Sweden

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    It depends on the gigs that you are playing. The acoustic image sounds very natural with a strong low end when playing lower volume gigs, but I feel it gets muddy when the volume goes up. The downfiring woofer no doubt has a lot to do with that. However, you would get a more natural sound with it. A better idea might be to get an Acoustic Image head and match it with a good cabinet.
  20. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA

    If you have a good preamp that is proven with DB, you can probably get a nice, usable sound out of about any decent bass rig as long as it has a loop that will allow you to bypass the native preamp. Most all of the tone color of a SS amp it developed in the preamp stage.

    I had been fighting a usable DB sound for a while, and just picked up a fellow TBer's Raven Labs USIP. I have already used it live three times, twice with DB and once with acoustic guitar.

    I run it straight into the power amp of my SVT 200T with my 210. It sounds VERY good as a DB amp as well as an acoustic guitar amp.

    Using this method, you are basically reducing your slab amp to an amplified cab or mini PA. As long as it is fairly flat, which most bass cabs are, you will get a good sound. You are only limited by its FR and power handling.

    Even if it does color it a bit, it doesn't matter much, as the house send will come straight out of the preamp anyway.

    I know Raven Labs stuff is no more, but if you can find a USIP or PMB, you will get very good results from it.

    I used USIP on acoustic guitar this week. My J100 is rigged with a K&K setup, a triple transducer on the back of the sound board and a mic in the sound hole. It has always sounded pretty good, but using this Raven Labs pre, I got an acoustic sound as good as any live acoustic guitar sound I have ever heard anywhere, anytime.

    It is equally usable with DB. Twice, I have ran an Audix adx-20i on one channel and a Revolution Solo on the other. Pizz or bow, it works really, really well.

    Makes a pretty nice slab pre as well, if you like the tight, modern tone.

    I like this approach because it allows me to get the most use out of my equipment. The last thing I want is to have to buy a slab amp, DB amp and acoustic guitar amp.

    I haven't tried the Solstice, but based on the reputation of the guys that put the thing together, I would expect it perform pretty well. I know it has been reviewed well so far.

    It is featured very similar to the USIP, but smaller.