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Outboard pre vs. rackmount pre?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Soppy Hat, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. Soppy Hat

    Soppy Hat

    Jul 14, 2012
    Hi guys. I'm currently attempting to build the Cost Effective Rig o' Doom. ANNI GOT A QUESTION.

    Is it viable to use a decent outboard/pedal preamp instead of a nice rackmounted or head-integrated preamp?

    I ask because I'm currently looking into purchasing a Darkglass B7K:

    ...and I don't think I have enough money for the Darkglass AND some random Pre.

    The sound our group is going for involves fast dynamic changes- growly, angry overdrive and distortion thrown into clean instrumental sections. Will a pedal pre get in the way of this?

    I'm in love with distortion and the Darkglass would provide me with... yeah, my favorite overdrive of all time, DI, EQ, etc. :bassist: But... for that clean, hi-fi type sound, would I be better off with a rack unit or will the DG do the jorb as well?

    The Darkglass is around 400. I expect a decent pre would run me 150-350 on Ebay. I'm trying to cut costs wherever possible. :)
  2. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    It is, in fact, viable.

    Here's the thing to consider:
    A preamp - internal or external - lowers the impedance of the signal coming from your bass. Low impedance signals are less affected by long runs of cable (treble loss). If the preamp is internal, your impedance is lowered before your signal hits any cables. If your preamp is external, the first run of cable between the bass and the preamp will load - and thusly affect - your signal.

    So, what to do? For best results with an external preamp, keep the first cable as short as possible. As long as you keep that factor in mind, you can use an external pre with excellent results.
  3. pbassnut

    pbassnut Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2004
    Falls Church, VA
    The new Tech 21 VT Bass Pedal w/DI might just be the ticket for you.
  4. wcriley


    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    Many pedal preamps don't have enough oomph to drive a power amp properly if that's your goal.
  5. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    This. The main functional difference between a typical rack preamp and a typical pedal preamp is that the rack one is more likely to have strong-enough output to properly drive a power amp. Many pedal ones are designed for use more as "effects" that will go into the regular instrument input of an amp, or the mic pre of a mixer, and so are not designed with very high output.

    There are exceptions though--so you need to find out what your power amp needs, and then figure out whether the preamp you're considering will meet that need.

    Or if you're not trying to drive a power amp, then tell us what you ARE trying to do with the preamp. For example if you're just recording, then you don't need such high output, and any pedal preamp will do.
  6. pbass6811

    pbass6811 Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2008
    Indy, IN
    What he said!! I've been searching the last few weeks, trying to find a suitable preamp pedal to be the control center of my rig. My only criteria were it had to sound good and it had to have enough output to drive a power amp. Right now, I'm using the Aguilar Tone Hammer, which sounds awesome and has plenty of gain to drive a power amp, BUT, now I'm finding that I'd like a bit more flexibility. My next preamp, which will also be a pedal, needs to have an F/X loop.

    I'm pretty sure the Darkglass B7K has enough gain to drive a power amp. You might also want to check out the Aguilar Tone Hammer, Tech 21 VT Bass Deluxe(& the VT Bass), and the AMT Electronics BC-1. I'm sure there's a ton more that I don't even know about. Honestly, my next pedal pre will probably be a custom unit from Max at [sfx]Sound.

    Listen to Bongomania-he is a veritable warehouse of knowledge and he's willing to share it with us...

    Edit: forgot about the EBS Microbass II-it can drive a power amp.
  7. Apparently Tech21 are bringing out deluxe versions of all their character pedals. One of them may be up your street.

    They do drive power amps. You get three channels upfront ( and another three channels with another tap) with the FX loop preselected on or off, would be right up your street if your basic tone is there.

    I use my BDDI deluxe as a clean pre with a little warming. EUB funky jazz. My fx have two of levels of drive to get juicy, straight into the PA as backine, no vocals. I'm tempted to try the VT version but I'm quite satisfied so not too bothered to search the classifieds for a bargain. $200 was going rate last I checked.
  8. Soppy Hat

    Soppy Hat

    Jul 14, 2012
    I am trying to drive a power amp- a Mackie M800, by the looks of things. I'm also looking for something with some very gnarly overdrive, which is the main reason I'm looking at the B7K. Checked out the VT bass and the Deluxe version. Both of them look awesome-very versatile- but I don't know how much overdrive/distortion I can get out of them, seems like far less than the B7K from the video.

    I might end up buying a cheapish used rack pre for my clean tone, and the B7K as a distortion/DI box/overdrive, in which case I might go for the less expensive B3K.

    So I've noticed ;D

    That thing is PACKED. Might be what I'm looking for. :)
  9. tech21nyc

    tech21nyc Commercial User

    Aug 17, 2010
    Manufacturer: Tech 21
    The VT Bass Deluxe is the only Character pedal we offer as part of our standard line of products. The recently released Blonde Deluxe is a limited run private stock product.
  10. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Hey Tech21, you know what would be GREAT? If you made a Deluxe "base unit" with a cartridge port where we could plug in modules containing each of the Character series voice circuits!
  11. tech21nyc

    tech21nyc Commercial User

    Aug 17, 2010
    Manufacturer: Tech 21
    It sounds like a good idea to me as well. I will pass it along>
  12. With a sweeping mid, and switching Q.
  13. Soppy Hat

    Soppy Hat

    Jul 14, 2012
    I actually ended up emailing Darkglass and they got back to me very quickly. For those of you who are curious, it turns out the B7K can indeed drive a preamp:

    Looks like I'm going to have one crunchy preamp... once I can afford one. :3
    It's likely I'll still try to score a cheapish-but-not-horrible "backup" preamp- a Peavey MAX or something similar to go with it. I'll scout around.
  14. dave2


    Feb 10, 2007
    I faced a similar problem or test if you will. I wanted a preamp in the form of a pedal to push my Crown XTi 4000 power amp which has a high input sensitivity rating of 1.4V I believe. The Crown's inputs are only an XLR for each channel.

    The best luck I had with a pedal preamp was the Aguilar Tone Hammer which had plenty of power (but I sold due to lack of a mute button) and the EBS MicroBass II which had power and more bells and whistles than the Aggie (and I still have and may use it the studio sometime).

    I've gone back to my Demeter HPB-1 preamp pushing the Crown power amp. This is an awesome combination in a 4 space rack. My Warwick Thumb basses sound great through this! In case of an outage I carry a passive Radial DI box to run to the PA.

    Just my $0.02

  15. Darkglass

    Darkglass Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 10, 2008
    Helsinki, Finland
    Douglas Castro, Founder: darkglass.com
    Hey mate! Glad I could help. Here's another thread on the B7K+Poweramp topic: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f36/pedal-preamps-will-drive-power-amp-931009/