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power amp/pre vs head

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Jon Burnet, Jul 8, 2004.

  1. Jon Burnet

    Jon Burnet

    Jan 21, 2001
    Memphis, TN
    i know the debates and the pros and cons of each. but i was wondering something. every pro rig you see, i mean the guys we all know and love, use heads. nathan east, marcus miller, vic, jaco, stanley, and just about any other pro bassist. can anyone shed light on this for me?
  2. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Keep in mind that anyone in that class always goes through the PA, usually including the monitors, and doesn't need the stage volume that a pre/power amp rig can provide.
  3. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Really? I just read an article yesterday which highlighted Nathan East's gear, and in his stage rack were two Avalon U5 preamps running into an Aguilar power amp. Go figure . . .
  4. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    I haven't seen Marcus play in years, but IIRC he had Crown amps in a rack setup when I saw him with Miles. I know he's doing the EBS thing at the moment though.
  5. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    I would like to be able to afford a head, but pre/power kills that route as far as more power for your money.

    For Example.

    Ampeg B2 - 300 watts (I believe), can be had for about 600
    PV900- 300 watts per channel, 300ish and a preamp and you start to get in the same price range, but with double the power.
  6. TheChariot


    Jul 6, 2004
    Boston, MA
    Yeah... that sounds sweet. I should probably pull my head out of my ass and give up on Ampeg, huh? :p I have the Ampeg gear that most people like... which is the cabs. I have to say, I was impressed with some of the QSC stuff I checked out.
  7. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    If I could swing it and lift it without giving myself back problems, I would get a SVT. Cool tone from those bad boys.

    Ampeg makes good amps, they are just a more expensive way to go when compared to the typical Pre/power setup. Of course if you have a 1500 preamp and a 1000 power amp then it is less of a savings, as far as dollars per watt.
  8. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL

    Good question...I've noticed this too. Lot of times the big names are using some like an SVT head. I think it's because they rely on an expensive PA and don't need the extra power of a separate power amp. The main reason I have a pre/power rack is because there aren't too many heads that give you as much power. The big names have the luxury of a great PA and a soundman, when a lot of us have to provide our own sound.
  9. I most definately switched to the pre-power setup to attain an affordable, powerful rig. If I had the luxury of a great PA and monitoring system I would rethink my rig.

    About five years ago I was in a band with a nice medium venue PA with good monitoring. The monitors gave me a better sound than the crappy rig I had so I ran straight into the board and left my amp home. Worked great for about 50 shows!
  10. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    In the late 70s, pre/power rigs were the rage because pres like Alembic, Ashly and Yamaha came on the market. It STARTED in the touring pro market (the Grateful Dead were early adopters, using Alembic pres driving McIntosh power amps) and trickled down to the weekend warriors. Heads soon caught up in terms of features (especially flexible EQ) and power. Now it's becoming trendy again to have a rack because of really cheap power amps.

    I think heads will come back in vogue soon as more and more 1000+ watt heads come onto the market. Carvin has a 1900 watt head for $700, try putting a rack system together for less than that.
  11. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    BBE BMax + QSC RMX1850HD :: less than $750 and I suspect would kick some Carvin butt rather severely, but yeah, I see your point.
  12. ArnoldoAC


    Aug 23, 2003
    Can you send me or post that article?


  13. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    It was in this months "Bass Guitar" magazine, I think its the one published by Guitar World. I'd be happy to xerox it and fax or mail it your way. PM me with your address or fax number, I'll be happy to send it along.
  14. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.

    Not to be unnecessarily picky, but technically, Jaco's Acoustic 360 is a preamp that runs through a seperate power amp contained within the cab. :p

    Anyway, I have two rack setups - one with a Sunn 1200s head and one with an Ashly BP41->Trace Elliot setup. I like them both but prefer the latter for my main rig. This is due to the specific tone of the Ashly and the ballsy power of the Trace.
  15. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    .... and you think many of those guys actually pay for those heads ? Sponsorship money & gear ...
  16. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    I bet most of those guys aren't all that picky about gear. They probably use what they do because it's free gear provided by the companies they agree to endorse.
  17. BigRed


    Apr 1, 2004
    Palestine, TX
    Really? You don't think that Vic and those others are picky about their gear? I would think that they would be the pickiest people about their gear...they can just pick and choose which company to get free crap from. Vic and Steve Bailey helped design the Ampeg cabs that they use. That tells me that they are VERY picky about their gear.
  18. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    I think that this is only partly true, at least for lesser-known bassists. Many bassists are offered multiple endorsement deals from competing manufacturers. Quite often the choice comes down to personal preference of
    a particular maker.

    One of our own here on TB just got an endorsement deal with GK and, IIRC, he picked GK over a competing interest due to his preference for the tone and features and experience with GK.

    Can you imagine how many endorsement deals a guy like Vic Wooten is offered? I would have to think that personal preference for a specific brand comes into play when such a big name ultimately decides which deal to take.
  19. joetheragman


    Oct 4, 2004
    I agree with Schwinn et al, that to get the headroom we need and the channel flexibility it is better to go pre/power. I will say that the band I am playing with now has really beefed up their PA and my cabinets are really just stage monitors for the band at this point. At smaller gigs I leave the rack home, and take one 2x10 and a behringer 3000 ($200 new) and a little alesis nanoverb and it is more than enough. The Behringer only weighs 30 lbs.

    I know Victor W. uses a rack set up now and he is continually trying stuff. I just saw him with Reggie and Joe, Anthony W. and Doriko W. and I did not take note of the power amp but he had his pre amp and a Korg tuner in there and some other stuff. Anthony does the same.

    I have a problem dialing in the sound I need from most heads. I am a member of the Sansamp RBI legion. It is really good understandable, and consistent. Having said that, a couple of weeks ago I tried the Hartke 5500 (approx $580?) and it WAS able to make all the sounds I needed. It is hard to imagine needing more power than that unless you are Flea or someone.

    On the pro rack side, I like having another channel, which is a kind of a back up, unless the power supply blows. It can also be used for a completely different set up like for double bass or something. Finally, I am not that bright, and I understand a pre-amp and a power amp, and there isn't any weird kooky stuff like a tube section and solid state section and blending them and all that. I look at heads like that and I am too stupid to be able to operate them on the fly, jump between sounds during a performance and get consistent results.

    In the end: Let weight be your guide!!! Yamaha just came out with a head that weighs 10 lbs or something and puts out 250 watts at $ ohms. That is a winner. Get that and a 50 lbs. Schroeder cab and you have the ultimate anti-hernia set up which will sound wonderful I am sure.

    Thanks to all for letting me pontificate for so long. It was fun!
  20. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com

    Very True about the gear and endorsements. Some get it discounted some Free and other's even get paid to play it.

    I wouldn't state that they aren't picky, but getting paid to play gear and being part of your income also changes the way you hear things.

    It’s the way of the industry and the big money manufactures. You will get a lot more for your money with a Power amp and pre amp setup. You can even get that Ampeg/EDEN/SWR/Aguilar, etc. preamp to run with your power amp and save money and have a much better power amp section, not to mention more power.