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Recommended Preamp for Cort A5

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by RumbleMan3, Apr 6, 2020.


  1. RumbleMan3

    RumbleMan3

    Apr 14, 2018
    Australia
    Hey, so soon to get a beautiful Cort A5 bass. Been wanting one for a while, they are a lot of bass for the money... great solid build, stunning looks, playability and the sound is pretty good too. Although, I'd like to take it that step further.

    Now I've heard the Bartolini Mk1 pickups are fine, in fact they are actually really good with another preamp. According to many users, the Mk1 preamp is the weakest link.

    Now all I'm after is some suggestions for preamps. I've heard most people have put in an audere preamp in theirs, and it's a warmer, more natural and transparent sound than the bart one.

    The stock preamp controls on the Cort A5 are as follows:

    1 master volume knob
    1 pickup blend knob
    1 bass boost/cut knob
    1 mid boost/cut knob
    1 treble boost/cut knob
    1 preamp bypass switch

    pretty simple really. I'm happy to keep this same layout with the new pre, but one thing I would like is to make the switch a real passive/active function, so I don't need a battery if I want to use the bass passive. The current one, as far as I know, just bypasses the eq but as far as I know, the bass still needs a battery to work in "passive" mode. Am I able to change this with a preamp or is this fixed another way?

    Anyway the main reason for the change is to improve the sound. Would an Audere be good, or are there any other options out there I should consider? Which Audere would fit?

    Thanks.
     
  2. 4StringTheorist

    4StringTheorist Supporting Member

    I am a huge fan of Audere preamps, but their preamps for a rear-rout bass like the A5 don't have active/passive switches. They're just always active.

    I don't consider this a bad thing (I've got two Audere-equipped basses right now!) but if an active/passive switch is a deal-killer for you, then you might look to other brands (Aguilar/Bartolini/Nordstrand/Delano/etc. etc.)
     
    RumbleMan3 likes this.
  3. RumbleMan3

    RumbleMan3

    Apr 14, 2018
    Australia
    Not a deal killer, but I would rather have that option. If there are any other preamps that will get me a more warm, natural and transparent sound like the audere, but have the option of active/passive, I would really like that then.

    Thanks.
     
  4. dab12ax7ef

    dab12ax7ef

    Sep 25, 2011
    Pittsburgh
    I put an Audere in my older A5, they are generally considered to be pretty transparent. I have two more in Jazz basses too. I find it to be very useful through all different settings. I happened to have changed out the pickups to Nordstrand Dual Coils, and I added coil selector switches. I’m not sure how much difference you’ll have with the existing pickups. But pickups are a flavor choice rather than good or bad, it’s worth playing it for a while before making changes.
     
    RumbleMan3 likes this.
  5. RumbleMan3

    RumbleMan3

    Apr 14, 2018
    Australia
    Regarding “tone” for the preamp, perhaps something that’s a bit more midrange orientated in colour? Because I wanna try and get a p bass tone from the neck pickup and stingray (ish) tone with both pickups, which it already does pretty well actually

    So yeah, that, aswell as 3 band eq and true active/passive? Anything out there like that?

    Thanks. Please keep the suggestions coming. Don’t hold back. I’d like to see all the options that are out there
     
  6. Rapisme

    Rapisme Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2007
    RAPISME
    I got a nice Aguilar preamp listed in the classifieds if you’re interested :smug:
     
    4StringTheorist and Zooberwerx like this.
  7. RumbleMan3

    RumbleMan3

    Apr 14, 2018
    Australia
    Which one? How many of my boxes does it tick? :)
     
  8. Aidil

    Aidil

    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    My preference would go to Bartolini HR-5.4AP/918 prewired preamp. With it your A5 will get 3 mid frequency options using a mini switch in the place of stock preamp on/off mini switch and still gain the function of active-passive switching with the included push-pull master vol pot.

    I used to have the A6 and upgraded the MK1 preamp to HR-5.2AP/918 prewired preamp (basically the same as HR-5.4AP/918 but with only 2 mid frequency selections due to the usage of push-pull mid pot instead of a mini switch for the mid freq selector). I chose it over the HR-5.4AP/918 because I needed the mini switch hole for pickup coil selector mini switch, as I also upgraded the Bart MK1 pickups to Bart MK6CBC which have coil switching features and I didn't want to make any modification to the bass body by adding another hole for the mini switch.

    I confirm this pre can still have output without any battery as it will automatically turn into passive mode.
     
    RolandMHall and RumbleMan3 like this.
  9. RumbleMan3

    RumbleMan3

    Apr 14, 2018
    Australia
    Beautiful! That sounds great. So is it like a drop in replacement, when u say prewired?

    So it’s real active/passive and not just an eq bypass? Awesome! Plus turning the switch into a mid selector and volume pot that push and pull for active/passive, sounds like added versatility to me. I’m sold! Thanks.

    I think I’ll keep the mk1 pups, as I have no need for coil splitting, as I already have a beast of a jazz bass. But that Bartolini HR-5.4AP/918 preamp sounds like a winner so far!

    Im expecting it to be costly though. Bartolini stuff is normally like that. Are there any cheaper alternatives by other companies with very similar layout?

    Oh and by the way how is the sound with the new Bart pre? An improvement from the stock mk1?
     
  10. Aidil

    Aidil

    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    Yep, prewired. All 5 pots and the mid freq selector mini switch are included and wired already. Thus, after the stock electronics are removed, it's a drop in replacement. Though you'll still need to do some solderings to wire the pickups, battery (or batteries in case you'd like to have the new electronics in 18 volt), and probably also the stock input jack.
     
    RumbleMan3 likes this.
  11. RumbleMan3

    RumbleMan3

    Apr 14, 2018
    Australia
    Ok cool. So just connect it to the pickups, battery and jack. Not a huge deal at all.

    So how’s the sound of it?

    And also is there any benefit of 18v over 9v? Wouldn’t it just be a pain having to use an extra battery if u don’t need to?
     
  12. RumbleMan3

    RumbleMan3

    Apr 14, 2018
    Australia
    6E32F9A5-9148-4F29-A890-558C2AA51BE2.png

    Is that what you’re referring too? The AP version.
     
  13. SgtHulka

    SgtHulka Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2019
    Fort Arnold
    I am in the Audere camp. It is an absolutely fantastic piece of kit. If you want something that just sounds really good and is very flexible and adjustable, this is for you. The idea of active passive is overblown. This isn't a standard active circuit that colors the tone, so in a sense you really are still getting a passive tone, the way your pickups were supposed to sound, except with a natural organic boost that sounds amazing.

    There's one thing about Audere preamps that you should know. One of the features is the "active blend". It's basically a stereo pre that mixes each pickup together.

    This way, the entire sweep of the blend pot is useful, unlike passive setups where all the difference is heard in the first quarter turn.

    To my knowledge, only Audere, East, and Pope offer this. Pope and east preamps are significantly more $$$.

    I encourage you to call the owner, I talked to him for a half an hour before I got mine and now I'm I am a customer for life. He will be happy to speak to you.

    Oh, and the Pepsi challenge says I bet you can't hear a difference between a 9 volt and an 18 volt preamp.
     
    Zooberwerx likes this.
  14. RumbleMan3

    RumbleMan3

    Apr 14, 2018
    Australia
    The audere classic pre is all active isn’t it? There’s no push pull for passive mode is there?

    I would rather go for the audere over the Bartolini because it’s cheaper, but then if it it’s active only I’d rather go for the bart.
     
  15. Rapisme

    Rapisme Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2007
    RAPISME
  16. Aidil

    Aidil

    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    For sure the preamp upgrade gave the bass broader tonal pallets. But by far, my favorite sound was when I flicked the mini switch to select the single coil mode of both Bartolini MK6CBC pickups so they could do like a pair of jazz pickups.

    The guy who did the upgrades wired 1 of the 2 included 9v battery snap connectors along the existing battery line, which run from the battery box to the electronic cavity, inside the electronic cavity, so I could put an extra 9v battery inside the electronic cavity to have the electronics run at 18v. And he made the 2nd included snap connector as a shunt (wired the positive & the negative sides together) so if I didn't like the 18v, I could just snap the 2nd connector on to the 1st connector, and run the electronics using just the single 9v battery inside the battery box.

    Turned out he was right, in a way, I couldn't hear any differences between running the bass at 18v vs. 9v, thus I chose to install the shunt connector. Probably, the way I play my bass had never exceeded the 9v headroom.

    Almost. I was referring to this one:

    Screenshot_20200407-182123_Chrome.jpg

    But, the FL one is also a good choice, despite it's voiced towards fretless application. A member here once told me that he chose the NTMB+FL for his fretted bass. IIRC, he said his reference was from Michael Tobias.

    Either way, yes, get the AP version if you'd like to have it with Active-Passive switching feature.
     
  17. I have Bartolini NTMB-918F in one bass and Audere Jazz in other. I think highly of Audere, see here.

    Bartolini is older version on 3-eq 3-mid knob discussed here. The sound of Bartolini is very clean, usable, quick to set right. I would describe it as 'no miracles, just a reliable, practical tool that lets the bass sound natural'. Lately I soldered off the blend pot and am using it now with my P. On that P I got flats, which is by no means a good way to judge sound of a preamp. With this said, I can add my personal characteristics: the best results with Bartolini preamp I got when tweaking highs. Mids are alright, but somehow the untweaked sound sounds usually best. Lows can be tweaked nicely, the overall sounds doesn't tend to be unnaturally boomy when turned to max.

    I should add that the Bartolini preamp is some 10 years old - likely more, I'm afraid to count it :) - and still no rattling pots.

    The main volume knob of Bartolini preamp can be lifted up, in which case the bass goes passive and even works without battery. I have a feeling this is very important, as I can compare the passive and active sound. With my P, the passive sounds better at home; I never used passive at a gig however. I guess the practical advantages of active preamp (you can go straight to mix, you can take any cable that lies around, etc.) outweighs the nicer, thumpier attack of passive. My opinion only, of course.

    Audere does't work without battery at all. The philosophy behind it is 'battery lasts so long so why should you want to go passive?' This is a real disadvantage to me. But, the sound shaping possibilies of Audere, with the super flexible Z button, makes it great.
     
  18. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    If you haven’t spent any time with an mk-1 preamp, I recommend trying the bass out “stock” first for a while. Maybe you’ll like it fine.

    Having said that, I don’t like the Bartolini sound in general. Considering how many high-end builders use Bart electronics, that probably puts me in the minority. I currently have two active basses, one with an EMG 3-band, and one with a Noll 3-band preamp. Both preamps seem pretty transparent to me. The Noll has an active/passive switch. I’m using the EMG pre with active EMG pickups, so that’s all active, all the time. The Noll might be worth a look.
     
    4StringTheorist likes this.
  19. KeithPas

    KeithPas

    May 16, 2000
    Poulsbo,Wa
    Does your A5 come with the Markbass onboard preamp? If it does you are good to go
     
  20. Sid the Kid

    Sid the Kid Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2013
    Illinois
    I understand the preamp bypass. If your battery dies at a gig you can flip the switch so you, your sound guy, and your audience enjoy compromised tone.

    I really do get it. Most cheap Basses that have a preamp bypass switch sound BETTER without the preamp. You will be spending several hundred dollars to replace the preamp so the tone is better. Why again would you want to bypass the new preamp? An 8 pack (limited lifetime supply) of 9v batteries will cost less than a pack of strings.

    The Audere, Glockenklang, and some John East preamps do not color the tone when set to flat. Disengage the preamp and you will be left with a volume drop, not a tone change. Unless you have a passive tone control the active/passive thing is sort of a moot point. IMHO, of course.
     
    RumbleMan3 likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Apr 11, 2021

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