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Sansamp Para Driver DI for DB amplification

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, Mar 21, 2018.

  1. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Starting a new thread about this since I don't want to further derail the thread this discussion started in This thread. Based on the posts below by @jmlee I started researching the SansAmp Para Driver:

    ...and found that there are a lot of players here - including more DB players than I would have thought - who really like this unit. On a whim, I ordered one to see if I could use it to get some upper harmonics out of my dark-ish PJB Super Flightcase amp. It just came today and I'm sure I'll play with this a fair bit to learn how to use it, but my initial findings are:

    - It's got a really nice basic sound set flat. I never noticed what I would exactly call "piezo clunk" with the FC/SFC combination, but there has always been a bit of that artificial low end that I had to roll off with a HP filter.
    - I like it better so far through the regular input rather than into the effects return. There is still some Phil Jones magic in the preamp of that amp.
    - I have the V2 version, which has some features on it that the original doesn't: a "Rumble" switch, an "Air" switch, and a Blend knob.

    So far I've gotten the best results with all settings set flat and the rumble and air switches engaged, which enables me to forego the HP filter. I've been informed by @tech21nyc that the rumble filter was voiced for acoustic guitar and is likely too high for use with the double bass, but the ability to blend the original signal in with the affected signal seems to mitigate this and sounds nice at home. Obviously, lots of gig testing will be needed to flesh this out.

    Anyway, there is lots of testing still to go with this unit, but I thought it would be nice to get input from others who have used it for DB amplification and not derail the previous thread.
    Josh Kneisel and Earl like this.
  2. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    Looking forward to hear more. I really regret selling my Bass Driver as it was a great unit with tons of tonal flexibility. I am very confident it could had been useful on my DB to bring out tonal aspects i would not had gotten otherwise. It also fattens up the sound really well which could be useful for thinner sounding bridge wing pickups, like my Rev Solo II.
  3. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    I use the ParaDriver V2 as my preamp. My signal chain is as follows: RS2 > ParaDriver > TC Electronics Bodyrez > FX return. I'm not shooting for MBOL with my rig, but rather good live tone that mixes easy (especially in loud clubs). A HPF is on the way, which will be the last device in my chain.

    My settings shown below are pretty close to what I usually use, though I do adjust for each room. I set the mid-band around 700hz. Most of the time I'm either cutting the bass, or dialing the mids back towards flat for adjustments. This picture was taken in a horrible room for upright bass, so my EQ might have some more drastic adjustments than usual.

    The drive is always 100% off. I don't use the Rumble Filter. It just squashes too much in my setup. I've played around with the Air switch, but it doesn't seem to have any profound effect for me.

    Here is where the purists should turn away. I run the tube emulation (Blend knob) at 100%. For my ear, and being primarily a gut player, it just puts that warm oomph back in for me. It's probably not for everyone, and might not work for a modern jazz player using steels/hybrids.

    The output on it seems pretty hot compared to most other preamps I've used to drive a power amp.

    *edit* I'm a sansamp fan in general. I had a BDDI that I bought used, used in my BG days, then in my UB days, then sold it when I upgraded to the Para. It looked like hell, but performed flawlessly. You can't kill these things.

    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
  4. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004
    I'll put in a plug for the SansAmp Bass Driver DI. It doesn't have all the same useful features as the ParaDI, but I tried them head to head once and greatly preferred the sound of the Bass Driver. This was with an Underwood, which needs a little more help to sound good than a Full Circle. I absolutely love the BassDriver DI on electric bass, too, so it's a pretty handy piece of gear. I agree with sevenyearsdown that the blend knob is key, although I usually had it at about 75%. Really helps tame the annoying piezo tone. I often turned up the drive a bit, too.
    Trimmo91 likes this.
  5. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Good idea to start this thread, Chris.

    I've always kept my blend at 100% (like @sevenyearsdown) but never thought of it as the "tube emulation" feature, rather as the processed versus dry sound. I've done some mixing but prefer the pure, processed output. Also, I find that I actually like a bit of the Drive in the signal. I think it adds a bit of "grain" to the sound that warms my Innovations toward a slightly more gut-like character.

    I've been thinking that there may be something wrong with my old Para Driver DI, though, because I've never found the unit to have a particularly hot output. I actually keep the switch to line level out even when taking it into the front panel input of my Acoustic Image head. The instrument level out seems too low—although perhaps I've been too reticent about cranking the level knob.

    Here's another oddball thing. I think that my bass/rig is more resistent to feedback with the Para Driver in the circuit than if I run directly into the amp (HPF and phase switch notwithstanding). I played a loud blues gig not so long ago on a very small stage where I was pretty much in front of my stack of two Fearless F112s and was able to get silly loud without feedback issues. Couldn't do that without the pre-Para Driver and always felt it was a weakness of the Full Circle set-up.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018
  6. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    Apples to apples....or maybe Galas to Golden delicous.....

    The output on the new Para is WAY hotter than my old BDDI. I was able to compare them when I still owned both.
  7. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I had an older one died an unfortunate death and replaced it last year with a new one. They're good units.

    I don't use it all of the time for doublebass with my EA amps, but it makes my electric bass sound WAY better through the EA's. Good db amps are pretty clean and sterile and this helps a lot for BG, even playing at home.

    I used it last weekend at a big gig with a soundguy as a DI, but that enables me to maintain some of the control that was otherwise shifted to him. It also sometimes helps to have eq controls closer to me, depending on stage setups. Rumble and Air haven't won me over yet, but I'm still experimenting. I used to use it instead of an amp with a certain singer/piano player who always had a PA and wanted me in it. I didn't like it better than an amp, but I didn't miss carrying one and I made it work pretty well.

    For small gigs, i don't bother. I love to play acoustic and when I can't pull that off, I usually walk up my amplification gradually using the minimum that I need and fewest things in my signal chain that MIGHT fail.
    SSS, Keyser Soze and Chris Fitzgerald like this.
  8. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I still have an older Acoustic DI. Sounds great but lower output than the newer models. I often use the Paradriver just for the 4.7 input impedance. My FullCircle likes the 4.7 meg ohm more than 10 meg ohm. If I use it in active mode, its usually mainly for the sweep-able mids. If I have to play out of a strange amp, I use it as a preamp going straight into the effects return to avoid the preamp in the head I have to play through. Almost always sounds better and the sound guys like it too. So much of it depends on the bass and the player. For me, I look at the Paradriver as gig insurance. Sort of a musical "Swiss Army knife" for upright or electric bass.
    The Bassdriver has a 1 megohm impedance. Not the optimum for many Piezo's. No sweep-able mids.
  9. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    This is a great point, and another reason why I love the tube emulation, or blend, or whatever others consider it. My experiences using transparent style acoustic preamps on loud shows was always pretty awful. This is due mostly to running into sound guys who really don't understand the frequency spectrum, and have just been mixing 4 piece rock bands since the stone age. You send them a nice clean piezo signal, and they make you sound like a fart inside of a metal garbage can. Send them a nicely processed "wet", tubey style bass feed - their job is pretty much done.
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Spent a couple of hours with it yesterday in combination with practice to get to know it - will be playing a fun 3 horn funk show on DB this Sunday and figured the para driver would be a nice way to get a little more edge and weight on the sound if needed. Like @B String , I think the input impedance is perfect, and since it pretty much matches the input impedance of the amp it's fine to put it as the first thing in the chain.

    I haven't been able to find the same magic with the blend all the way on, or by using the sweepable EQ at all yet - the PJB amp is voiced very dark and thick, so I usually run it flat and carve away the bottom with the HPF. The para driver seems to only serve to thicken and warm the sound, which would be a terrible fit for my setup; the saving grace is the inclusion of the Rumble and Air filters combined with the blend knob.

    With these three little Swiss army tools, I found a sound that could be useful and articulate and possibly also let me not have to use my regular HP filter that lives in the FX loop. With Rumble and Air engaged and the blend full on, the sound is too thin because the Rumble filter is set too high. However, with the blend set at about halfway there is enough of the original signal (which I have been using and more-or-less happy with for years now) left to fill out the bottom end and supply the "thickness" of the sound; this gets combined with the more articulate signal from the unit that puts some definition and shine on the note, as if somehow enhancing the upper harmonics instead of the fundamental. It feels a bit like mixing a mic and a pickup in principle, but without the possibility of feedback.

    It's a neat sound, and I think it will be really useful. In this configuration, I may not even have to use the HP filter but will have it there anyway. The drive control adds something nice until you turn to too far and then it doesn't. Will play with that, too and report back after the gig.

    Also, as Troy mentioned, I think this thing will sound great for electric bass and I look forward to that learning curve.
  11. I've found the ParaDriver very useful on DB. My fave settings:

    1. MBOL Plus more: start with EQ flat & blend fully dry, then mix in 0-25% wet sound.

    2. Sonic Enhancer: Bass boosted to 3 o'clock, treble boosted to 2-5 o'clock and mix in 10% wet signal. Gives a widened HiFi sound.

    3. Creamier tone: set Drive about 1 o'clock, blend 25-40% wet signal.

    4. Mid Enhanced: cut bass & treble to 10 o'clock, boost mid 1-3 o'clock or to taste, blend 10-25% wet, then sweep for that magic mid freq. Useful when having intonation trouble.

    5. Ampeg tone: blend 60-100% wet, drive 7-12 o'clock. EQ much more sensitive, easy to make it sound bad with too much EQ change. Especially useful for making DB fit for the loud dance set, or switching to EB when using a small amp.

    IIRC Mid EQ is post-drive, where bass & treble are pre-drive? Check that.

    Tip: adjusting all EQ knobs to boost or all to cut will yield unique sonic textures. Your PJB might behave better with cutting the ParaDrivers bass/mid/treble knobs to 9-10 o'clock as 'flat'.

    HPF: I'll set my FDeck HPF3 to 70Hz for bigger rigs, 80-100Hz for combos. I think I found it worked better AFTER the ParaDriver, esp if using its DI to go to FOH.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
  12. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    What I should have started with is.... When you have a good bass, good amp, and an experienced player...less is more. This is why I usually use the Sansamp only to get the input impedance right. The Fdeck pre is great for that, along with the phase switch and HPF. (Great little box) A few of my friends have made the same comment about the rumble filter. Not really usable most of the time. If I have a good sounding bass I use these pedals and preamps etc to "try" for my bass only louder.
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  13. conte2music

    conte2music Supporting Member

    Jul 11, 2005
    Dobbs Ferry, NY
    I've really enjoyed the para driver when I'm trying to keep things simple. The battery life is quite long.l, and it always just does something nice to the sound regardless of what instrument you plug in. It can get a very usable guitar or keyboard sound throwing this through your effects Loop if someone else in the band has an equipment malfunction.

    Playing through a PA with double bass can be pretty challenging, but this little guy is really solid for that. It makes a marked improvement over going Direct to a portable mixer, and adds some color and warmth that breathes some size into your tone. I have a Hughes & Kettner B.A.T.T. tube preamp/di that I enjoy for the bit of electric playing I do, but this little guy gets you most of the way there with some extra features and is vastly more user friendly!

    I'm very fortunate to have many great pieces of equipment. If I ever need to get some money together, or really had to cut down on gear for space, this would be a keeper for sure!
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Progress report: The Para Driver did really well on a high energy 3 horn funk show in a small packed room with a tiny stage tonight. I was able to get a more focused sound and ability to cut and was able to forego the usual HP filter by using the rumble filter and judicious use of the blend knob. There was one place where I felt the sound was a little harsh when exposed, but in the context of the band it sat just right. Live and learn!
  15. shwashwa


    Aug 30, 2003
    hey chris, im not sure if the blend knob works like you think it does. im not even sure if it works like i think it does! i have the older version, without the rumble and air switches. on my version, with the blend all the way counter clockwise, you have a clean 3 band eq. the eq is always active. as you turn the blend clockwise you're adding in the tube emulation circuit, which also brings in the drive control. on the sans amp products, the tube emulation also induces a mid scoop, which may be why it sounds like its taming the piezo honk to you. this is just a guess, but i would imagine the rumble and air filters are always active just like the rest of the eq, but i could be wrong. the blend does not blend in raw unaffected signal though, as far as i know. i wasnt crazy about the mid scoop, so for a while i used an fdeck in front of a tone hammer pedal. for me, this was a better sound, although the sansamp wasnt bad. today im using this, which is totally awesome. (hpf, lpf, 3 band eq, and magic gain knob which does not add distortion per se. there is a transformer in there too) the maker put a 10meg ohm input impedance in there for me.
    Chris Fitzgerald and TomB like this.
  16. shwashwa


    Aug 30, 2003
    But that little F deck box makes all preamp pedals fair game. There are many quality pieces of gear out there not necessarily marketed towards upright bass players that you should check out if you can as long as there is an fdeck in front
    Keyser Soze, Ric Vice and B String like this.
  17. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    The mid-scoop characteristic is gone now with the addition of the mid band frequency selection, and the knob to boost/cut said frequency. They made that change to both the BDDI and the Para not too long ago. It makes the box much more functional. You scoop your own mids now. It's not baked in.
  18. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    This is what it says in the manual for my SansAmp Para Driver DI (older model like that that @shwhashwa has) with my emphasis added. It's consistent with the post above:

    DRIVE: adjusts the overall amount of gain and overdrive, similar to when the output section of a tube amp is being pushed.
    BASS & TREBLE: These active tone controls cut or boost ±12dB from unity gain at 12 o’clock. Bass is 80 Hz.Treble is 3.2kHz.
    Sweepable, semi-parametric EQ controls range from 170 Hz to 3.5 kHz, ±16dB, respectively.With Mid Shift, you can select the center frequency of the mid-range control (MID), enabling you to notch out specific frequencies that may be causing your acoustic guitar to feed back. To find the feedback frequency of your guitar, set MID at max (5 o’clock).Turn Mid Shift to the feedback point and leave it there. Cut MID until feed- back stops. However, you can achieve various unique sounds by boosting MID and selecting different frequencies with Mid Shift --such as the “Money for Nothing” sample setting. Note: If you set Mid Shift at 1kHz, MID operates as a traditional mid-range control.
    BLEND allows you to blend the direct instrument signal with SansAmp Tube/Microphone Emulation circuitry. In most cases, you will probably have this set at maximum (100% SansAmp). If you should want to hear some of the distinct timbre of a piezo pickup, or reduce the amount of “compression,” you can simply adjust accordingly by turning the Blend control counter clockwise. At minimum, the SansAmp circuitry is bypassed. However, all the other controls remain active. The unit then functions as a standard DI with EQ.
    LEVEL adjusts the output level of both the 1/4” and XLR outputs.

    There's no explicit reference to a mid-scoop with the SansAmp circuit active, but I wouldn't rule it out. My impression is no, but that scoop may have been a feature of the Bass Driver which doesn't have the sweepable mids as in the Para Driver. Certainly the EQ is active with or without the SansAmp circuit engaged on. I presume you have to step on the pedal (red light on) for the EQ to be engaged.
  19. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    @shwashwa I wondered about that, but my ears confirmed what @jmlee posted above. With the levels set at unity, there was no difference between the sound of the bypassed sound and the sound of the unit when on even with the Rumble and air filters on. I also do not hear a mid scoop, and I think I would notice because I am using the unit to brighten and tighten the sound a little. But as always, I could be wrong.

    BTW I think your custom pedal looks amazing! Someday I may go that direction as well.
    TomB and Groove Doctor like this.
  20. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    The scoop was baked-in on the older models that did not have mid selection/sweeping. The old BDDI's operated similar to a tone-stack circuit.
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