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Rackmount Preamps VS. Stompbox Preamps?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by kwrbassist, Mar 11, 2008.

  1. kwrbassist


    Dec 15, 2007
    Lately I have been looking at new preamps for my bass rig. I currently run a Sansamp RBI, but feel it just isn't my tone. It's too bright sounding and too distorted. I've noticed a lot of preamps offered from companies are a pedal. I am kind of skeptical on how the pedal would be compaired to a rack mount version? Can you really get good tone out of something that small? I know it sounds like a stupid question, but I just feel like a rackmount pre would sound better than a pedal.

    Some preamps I have been looking at are:

    EBS Valvue Drive
    Aguilar Tone Hammer (based off the ODP-3 Pre)
    Tech21 RPM
    Demeter HBP-1 H Series

    I am looking for a punchy, aggressive, clear, balsy tone that is not too bright. Go to www.myspace.com/hastetheday. That bassists tone is kind of what i am going for. Anybody know of any good preamps?
  2. MODNY

    MODNY Guest

    Nov 9, 2004
    sell the rbi and just get something else?

    i'd probably look at ampeg or mesa
  3. kwrbassist


    Dec 15, 2007
    mesa doesn't have a pre for bass and ampeg doesn't make preamps anymore.
  4. playibanez


    Apr 3, 2006
    the bbe is supposed to be a nice smooth clear tone isnt it?

    ive heard nothing but good things about it
  5. kwrbassist


    Dec 15, 2007
    not sure. I already have a BBE sonic max which would probably makeup a lot of the BBE's preamp tone. Dammit, I wish Mesa made a preamp.
  6. MODNY

    MODNY Guest

    Nov 9, 2004

    buy a used pre son.

    i'd probably get an ampeg pre.
  7. kwrbassist


    Dec 15, 2007
    I am not really into USED things. hahaha, I know...I'm a picky son of a bitch. I just might have to though. I wish there was a music store that had just the products you want to test out, haha. I heard the Ampeg PRO pre put off a lot of noise and it hasn't gotten that great of reviews. Any of you have experience with Aguilar?
  8. VastDreamz


    Aug 9, 2005
    I use a Demeter HPB-1
    It's very clean and very punchy! It doesn't hurt to have the DUAL FULLY parametric eqs either!

    I got this to replace my Ampeg SVP-Pro. (which was a decent pre.... if only the Hornets would move out)

    With that said.... I will never and i mean NEVER play a gig or record in the studio without my Demeter.

    Just listened to Haste The Day.... I believe you'll be able to get that type of tone with the Demeter (with the right bass/Strings and speakers of course... it's all a combination)
    Happy Hunting
  9. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I have owned a bunch of preamps in various formats. There is nothing inherent to rack or stompbox formats that affects the sound quality. Granted, stompboxes are often marketed to a budget-minded consumer, so more corners may be cut (component quality, power supply design, etc.) when you're looking at a mass-production pedal.

    Another important factor to consider is that the word "preamp" is used a lot of different ways by both consumers and manufacturers. A "preamp" pedal is very often just a tone-shaping device. Rack preamps are usually also designed to be able to drive a power amp. There are many variations in output level and impedance in both rack and pedal formats, so double-check each device on a case-by-case basis to see if it puts out the type of signal you actually need (based on what you're plugging it into).
  10. buckminster

    buckminster Banned

    Apr 29, 2006
    Sacramento, CA
    With this in mind, does anyone know if the Aguilar Tone Hammer could be used with a power amp or is it just a "tone shaping device?"
  11. The main difference is that stomp box pres are mostly designed for battery operation - 9V. Typical rack pre-amps run at about + and - 15V. Vast difference in headroom capability.

  12. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    In my experience, the SansAmp Bass Driver pedal does have the gain to push a power amp, but in order to get a suitable amount of output, you have to push the drive control, which adds the tube emulation to your sound. That's good if you want that extra drive, but bad if you want a clean bass sound. The RBI, on the other hand, seems to be able to reproduce a very solid clean tone that is usable.

    As far as the BBE - The Sonic Maximizer can be engaged or defeated (personally, I think it makes lower quality speakers sound good, but it actually works against high-end speakers). The EQ section of the Bmax really is something seperate from the Maximizer, so already owning a SM doesn't really give you a clear indication of the two Bmaxs' tone. I've used the SS version of the Bmax for years, and I'm very pleased with it. It's a realy clean and transparent preamp.

    I'm quite intrigued by the Demeter though.
  13. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Without starting to sound like a repititious commercial, the EBS Valve Drive runs on 12 VAC, and imo, is one of the best sounding preamp/overdrive units of any format. It will drive a poweramp, though I don't use it that way, and the tone is purely magic. 3 band eq is the only thing I would say is a bit underwhelming, but it does work. (treble control adds hiss past 12:00, fairly common problem). If you can try first, it might be the ticket.
  14. buckminster

    buckminster Banned

    Apr 29, 2006
    Sacramento, CA
    I checked Aguilar's website and the Tone Hammer comes with an optional 18V power supply. Does that make any difference?
  15. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    It likely means it would have better headroom (in this case the ability to take stronger peaks without clipping) than a similar design run on 9V; but the 18V doesn't tell us anything about other qualities necessarily. None of the other threads I saw mentioned it being able to drive a power amp; and the latest news is that it won't be shipping to anyone until late July.
  16. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    Check out the Tech 21 VT Bass pedal, it has lot of gain and sounds absolutely fantastic.
  17. The sansamp RBI can sound a little woolly.
    I run mine straight into a tube power amp.

    Instead of dropping big dollars - have you tried using an EQ or line booster pedal etc to boost the signal to the poweramp, negating the need to increase drive/distortion?
    This may just help you retain a cleaner signal, and the EQ would help shape your tone also. I've done this before while recording.
  18. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    The problem that comes up with most (but not all) EQ/boost pedals is they have an unbalanced output, while many power amps can only be driven well by a balanced connection. An unbalanced output into a balanced-only input will have about half the signal strength of a correctly-matched connection.

    Luckily there are exceptions: power amps with unbalanced inputs, inputs that can self-correct for balanced or unbalanced plugs, and pedals with balanced outputs. But those exceptions are not the majority of cases.
  19. danster


    Jul 13, 2007
    Connecticut, USA
    Of course the sansamp programmable pedal has an output boost feature for direct to poweramp use....
  20. JehuJava

    JehuJava Bass Frequency Technician

    Oct 15, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Though not on the list of choices, I love the Aguilar DB-924 running into my SWR SRH. And I can't wait to try the Tone Hammer.

    With that being said, I love the little pedal pre's beacuse they are relatively inexpensive and I can experiment with many different ones pretty cheaply.

    BTW: I hooked up those battery terminal to power supply connectors so the 924 doesn't have to use batteries anymore.


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