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PJB bass buddy: Is it for me?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Phat Ham, Apr 20, 2006.

  1. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    I did a search but didn't come up with a whole lot of info. My digitech BP8 that I've been using as a headphone amp recently decided to crap out on me. I know there are cheaper options for a headphone amp than the bass buddy, but I'm thinking of downsizing my rig and on paper the bass buddy looks to be the perfect multipurpose tool for what I need.

    My main use for this would be as a headphone amp. I need something to practice with in my room. Something I can plug my bass and another audio source (iPod, laptop, cd player, etc) into and listen to through headphones. The BP8 got the job done but it was noisy and didn't have the greatest sound quality.

    I could also use the bass buddy as a preamp in my live rig. Right now I have a Kern pre and an FMR RNC compressor taking up two spaces in my rack. If I take both those out, put my x-wire wireless in thier place, and use the bass buddy I can reduce my rig to one 6 space rack instead of the two I have now and not lose much functionality if any. Not quite sure what I'm going to do for cabs right now, but I'll likely sell my 4x10 and get something smaller and more flexible, like two 1x12 cabs. This way on smaller gigs I could take just the bass buddy, power amp, and one small cab.

    I guess the most important question is how does the bass buddy sound? From what I've read it's very clean with little coloration. I'm looking for something clean, as I can always put my sansamp in the signal chain if I want some tubey warmth or overdrive.

    Second question: How good is the compressor? I know the ratio is fixed but 3:1 is actually a pretty good ratio for me, so I'm fine with that. Is it musical or can you hear it breathe like lots of cheap compressors out there? I used to compress the snot out of my signal but I've gradually realized that less is more.

    Finally: noise. The BP8 was plagued with horrible noise. I lived with it but now that I'm replacing it I'd like something with little to no noise. I read one review saying the bass buddy was noisy, but that may have just been a lemon. Can anyone comment on noise levels with the bass buddy?
  2. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    If you are primarily looking for a headphone amp, the Cafe Walter ($179 from Bass Northwest) is awesome sounding... clean, loud, simple.

    I'm not familiar with the Bass Buddy. If it's the front end to the Briefcase, it's a pretty nice sounding unit IMO.
  3. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    (250 watt Bose power amp)
    world's smallest kickass amp. :D
  4. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I was in a similar position about a month ago. From the research I did, I narrowed it down to a few units, and made the list much smaller from there, given that I also wanted to add in my iPod to the signal.

    From my research, I read a few scattered comments about the Bass Buddy having a good eq and sounding good, but being somewhat noisy. I've never heard it myself to verify that statement, however.

    I ended up purchasing the Cafe Walter. At first I was reluctant, because I was hoping for more "bells and whistles", which the Cafe Walter definitely does NOT have. What it does have, however, is a very clean, crystal clear sound. If you play well, you'll be handsomely rewarded with musical magic. If you play badly, or make a lot of fret noise, you'll have a frown. My iPod through this unit sounds very clean, too, which I suspect may be a problem for some headphone amps that have more bells and whistles. I get a good blend between my bass and iPod, and am really happy with my choice.

    The major downside, in your situation, may be that the Cafe Walter cannot effectively be used as a preamp in your rack. Other than that, I'd choose this over any other at this point.

    Oh...and the new ones run on either batteries or power adapter...they come with both.:D
  5. Hyde


    Mar 30, 2006
    I'm sitting here trying to imagine how awesome it would be to carry around a briefcase with that stuff in it in one hand and, say, an Epifani UL-210 in the other. I'm thinking it would be pretty awesome.
  6. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    So nobody's actually used one of these? I guess I'll just have to bite the bullet and order one. I guess worst case scenario is I don't like it and eat the shipping cost to send it back.
  7. TaySte_2000


    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    I believe there is one currently for sale here on tb

    I have nothing to do with the seller but thought I'd try to help you and save some $$$
  8. You have got to be kidding me!
  9. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004
    I had a Bass Buddy briefly-- sent it back. I found it to be too noisy and did not like the compressor. I know there are some solid players on TB who are fans of the PJB stuff, and maybe it was just the one I was sent, but it really was unusable.

    IMO, replacing the Kern/RNC combination you're used to with the Bass Buddy will produce profound disappointment. That's like replacing a Porsche with a {insert a common econo-box here}. They're not even the same league-- not the same animal-- not even in the same species of animal.

    If a headphone amp is what you're after, the Cafe Walter can't be beat.

  10. Do you mean it was too noisy as solely a headphone amp? Or just too noisy in general?
  11. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004
    Both. Lots of hiss on the headphones but also when I tried it live (di-- sound man didn't like it).
  12. the_home

    the_home Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 14, 2005
    Pensacola, FL
    I've been using a Briefcase's direct out to a mixing desk for most of the past year with no noise problems. I use the 2X5 speakers for a monitor - no noise there either.

    I really like PJB's hi-fi, uncolored sound.

    As with everything, YMMV.
  13. Sounds like you got a dud unit there, given that nearly all feedback on the unit is very good. Either that, or you have super human hearing :D
  14. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    Oops, forgot one key ingredient:


  15. Jean Baudin

    Jean Baudin

    Aug 27, 2003
    redwood city, ca
    Endorsing Artist: See Profile
    I'll echo this. I have a PBJ Briefcase which I use for practicing and for impromptu busking... and I recently picked up a 2nd one for portable stereo sound. It's both super quiet and and very uncolored (I believe the bass buddy is the preamp for the briefcase).
  16. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004
    The one I had sounded like ass. I guess maybe I did get a dud. I've been using an Avalon U5-- now that's quiet. The Bass Buddy just can't compare.
  17. 808


    Jan 24, 2006
    For the record, both my PJB Briefcase and Bass Buddy are extremely quiet.
  18. Paddy


    Apr 19, 2005
    Kent England
    I've recently got myself a Bass Buddy.

    I'm very pleased with mine and haven't noticed the noise issues others are talking about.

    Not sure I'd want it as a replacement rig though - ymmv

  19. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004
    Just curious-- why not?
  20. richmoore1998


    Sep 11, 2006
    Niagara, Canada
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amps, D'Addario Strings, Planet Waves
    I own a bass buddy - I wanted a preamp that I could use for small rehearsals through a PA, as well as something that I could take with me to use either in-line on gigs with backline (you never know for sure what will be waiting for you), or smaller gigs... the bass buddy is very quiet and sound guys seem to love it...

    I've recently starting using it in combination with a power amp on small to very large gigs and I'm very happy with it... just throwing my 2 cents in here...

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