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SansAmp or Aphex OR.....???

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by rickbass, Feb 20, 2001.

  1. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    In my continuing quest to be a big fish in a small pond, tone wise, I'm caught between getting a Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver or an Aphex 104 Aural Exciter Type C2 or something that maybe you can clue me into.

    I've not had the pleasure to use either unit. I saw a warm-up band at a Special EFX concert years ago and the bassist was using something that made his bass sound glassy, crystal clear and ringing without harshness or treble or taking ;the balls out of his bass. I've since concluded he was using the Aural Exciter, (just a guess really). But his effect was almost "trippy," as if the bass was in the seat next to me.

    On the other hand, I've heard good things about the Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver. It costs about the same as the Aphex from what I find, about $180.

    I would like something that will help add some authority to the B on my 5 string and will take some of the airyness, wimpiness, thinness, out of my D and G, (I'm using .045-.125 DR "Marcus/Fat Beams" . My E and A are just great).

    Any input is most appreciated. I'm trying to stay under $300.
  2. I've never used the Aphex 104, but I just got a SansAmp Bass Driver DI this past saturday. This thing IS EVERYTHING that it's been made out to be. I've never liked the wimpy tone in my bass when I run the EQ flat on my amp. Now, with the SansAmp turned on and a flat amp EQ, this tone is PHAT! Crazy big balls on the E-string and very cool when I tune down to D. If your looking for fat beefy tone.....this thing has it! It does alot more than that too. With the control knobs, you can dial up a number of diffrent tones. The nice thing too, is that the book has some cool recommended settings for diffrent kind of styles and sounds. I'm running it before my amp and using the XLR to the board. I don't use the XLR on my preamp anymore. It's a very cool box.

    p.s. I got mine at GC for 149.99. It list at 180, but you can talk 'em down.
  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Pez- That's exactly the kind of input I was looking for - someone who owns one or has used one for a while.

    I haven't seen anyone mention the Aphex on the board. Kind of makes it all the more intriguing, but the sound samples at the Aphex site aren't available for download. They have the function set up but no sample data loaded. Oh well, it would sound crappy over these Polk PC speakers anyway.

    I don't know of any site where SansAmp samples are available.

  4. Gear_Junky


    Jul 11, 2000
    I too own the SansAmp Bass DI and never even heard of the other thing. I like the SansAmp, but I wanna tell you: why should you listen to us, you MUST try both things. $180 is not pennies and no matter how good both are, you should get the one you like.

    I do understand your quest for comments, though, so I'll say that the SansAmp is nice, both into my Hartke Kickback 15 and direct into PA or recording. It has some natural tube simulated compression, so it's really cool for slapping, but also fattens up the sound, making it warm, yet clean. It makes it cut through better and maybe it's the quality you referred to.

    You might even end up getting both. SansAmp is a great box to have no matter what. If your amp should blow up at a gig, just take out the Sans, plug into board and keep pumping. Just having it makes me feel warm and fuzzy, just like having a Swiss knife in the woods ;)
  5. phil_chew


    Mar 22, 2000
    I can only vouch for the Sans Amp Bass Driver DI. I have not heard of the other one. The SA BBD is a great little box. It is meant to simulate mic'ed sounds from certain amps. So if you are not into mic'ed sound, this is not for you. I personally like it very much. Guess you just have to try it for yourself.
  6. I have to agree, i have had my sans amp for about a week now and really like it. There is a thread on this board about the sans amp, which i read and also a review some were else i read. I could not find anyone with a bad comment on the unit, so I went down to the music store and ordered one.
    I dont know about the other unit , but you should be happy with the sans amp
  7. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Where do you like to put it in your signal chain when you're not running into the board/mains (just using your amp) - the effects loop or between your instrument and the amp, or.....?????
  8. Gear_Junky


    Jul 11, 2000
    Never in FX loop, the thing is to be before the preamp. FX loop is usually best for time-based FX, such as reverb, delay, chorus, flange, etc.
  9. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Thanks, Gear. I couldn't tell just from looking at it in catalog pics.
  10. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I recently acquired a Sans Amp Bass Driver DI. I've never tried any other units, so I'm at a loss to discuss them. In addition, I've never used, and don't know if I will be using the DI feature of the Bass Driver. I can only discuss it as I use it: an external preamp with distortion...

    The first thing about this unit that I noticed is its headroom...I mean, when you crank a dial, you are really affecting the sound in a major way! And, while you can adjust the treble knob to adjust the treble, you're actually adjusting the midrange as well...but, more on that later...there's a knob called "Presence" which really affects the treble in a huge way...careful with this...too much, and you'll be shattering glass! Too little, and, well...you'll just have to dial in more presence. This feature also seems to have a big affect on the amount of "Drive" which is the distortion setting. Fortunately, it doesn't take too long to dial in good sounds, and the manual that accompanies the Bass Driver even provides some sample settings.

    Speaking of the sample settings, they're pretty true to form. I believe there's probably not a sound you couldn't dial in, given the patience...if you're really astute with eq's (which, admittedly, I'm not), you might find this easy.

    Back to the midrange...if you look at the unit, you'll notice that there is no midrange dial. However, the manual says that you can adjust the midrange by tweaking the "Bass" and "Treble" knobs, that the midrange is set at a fixed point. The way it works is that if you cut bass and treble, you're in effect boosting the mids, and if you boost bass and treble, you're in effect cutting mids, which gives you a really nice slap contour.

    Lastly I'll discuss the distortion, because this is important to some (such as myself). The distortion (drive) is setup so that it's actually touch sensitive. You can get some really nasty distortion settings by cranking out the drive and presence knobs. But, for the most part, I keep it set so that if I play softly (which is my general technique) there's little distortion that actually comes through. The manual discusses this, so I do believe that was intended. Some people have bought this specifically as a distortion unit; and, while you can certainly get some wonderfully ugly distortion out of it, I'm not convinced that this is the best use of the Bass Driver. You may feel differently: it's strictly as a matter of opinion.

    Bass NW sells this for $169 on their website, and Guitar Center was happy to match the price, so that's what I paid.

    All in all, I think the Sans Amp Bass Driver DI has tons of sounds lurking under its hood, and has good distortion to boot.
  11. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    EXTREMELY helpful, RAM! Thanks so much. I have a Korg ToneWorks PX3B I use as a headphone amp and practice tool. Having figured out that piece of Egyptian geometry, I feel I can figure out any of these toys. ;)

    Sounds like you found what you were looking for and maybe more.
  12. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL

    I obviously know little of accessories, so forgive me if this question is a little ignorant...

    Isn't your Korg unit designed partially to "cut out" existing bass tracks so you can play along with your favorite CDs as if you were the bassist?

    How do you like this thing? Is it a waste of money?
  13. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    RAM- It works in several ways.

    - You can play along with a song
    - You can loop an 8/16 second sample and play along
    - you can but out the bass on the sample
    - you can slow down the sample by degrees with/without the bass
    - you can change the pitch

    It does a lot of stuff besides. Those are just in the phrase trainer mode. There's about 4 million preset drum beats, (sound pretty realistic actually), like Thrash, Rock, Ballad, Blues, Samba, etc. that you can slow down by degrees or change the volume on. That's just the Rhythm mode.

    One thing it ain't is a decent effects unit. They sound wretched. Even the amp modeling.

    the thinking behind it was obviously engineer-centered, not musical. But it's stil a valuable tool to me, rather than playing a cut over and over to get the bass line or driving the gophers out of their holes with my amps.

  14. I also put the BBDI inbetween me and my amp. Not in the effects loop. ;)
  15. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I contacted Tech 21 and they told me to do the same thing:D
  16. Cool. ;)
  17. SlapDaddy


    Mar 28, 2000
    The 'glassy' sound you mentioned could have been from a BBE sonic maximizer, which is what I use in conjunction with a SABDDI to get that "clear,punchy" sound from the P.A. The Barts on my Conk help, too.
  18. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Slap- I have a 482. Sorry it doesn't show up in my profile. I've tried entering it in there twice but I guess the field only accepts so much information before it cuts off. The BBe is a good unit, but this guy I heard sounded almost "trippy" except somehow it didn't seem artificial or too exaggerated like and effects unit.

    Could you tell me something about the SABDDI? I'm not familiar with it.

    Appreciate your input.
  19. SlapDaddy


    Mar 28, 2000
    There is alot of info here at TB on this di/processer. I know of at least 5 different threads discussing this tool. 'ear candy' comes to mind as a way to describe it.
  20. spoolie


    Nov 30, 2000

    I've used both the Aphex and the Sansamp DI in the past. The Aphex needs to be between a preamp and power amp to get the maximum effect although it will work to a lesser degree in a fx loop. I won't go into the Sansamp, others have done a good job of explaining it, other than to say it fattens up your sound by injecting some pleasing overdrive (and tone shaping) before the input to the amp. The Aphex generates harmonics that are not strong in the original signal and adds them in varying degrees depending on how you have the controls set. It does not do this in an overt way (like a subharmonic pedal) but in a more subtle way to (in theory) enhance the fidelity of the output. It is used more frequently in full mix situations but can be used for single instruments. There are controls for bass enhancement ("Big Bottom") and for upper harmonic content. I used one for about a year and mostly shaped tone with it rather than getting a different sound from my rig. On tape it was terrific, at gigs most of the effect was lost to the room. It will definately help a bass deficient rig but, if that's what you want to accomplish, you can do better by just improving your amp. Pushing the high harmonics "live" usually made for a somewhat brittle sound. I finally sold it on Ebay where they can usually be had for around $110. On the other hand, I then got the Sansamp and kept it until I bought a tube amp and didn't need it anymore. We may be after completely different sounds so take all this with a grain of salt. Hope this helps .....

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