Sansamp RBI vs. BBE BMax

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by skunkrawk, Oct 20, 2003.

  1. skunkrawk


    Apr 25, 2003
    I'm changing my rig around (buy my swr and eden!!! theyre for sale) and hopefully switching to a pre/power setup. But I need help! I'm stuck! Should I get the Sansamp RBI preamp or the BBE BMax (thats the non tube one btw, which is 300 less). They cost about the same, so I'm stumped on what to get, or should I get something else entirely? Any help would be great! Thanks.
  2. I own a sansamp. My sound man told me good job in getting a tube preamp. I think the features alone are worth it. Tons of inputs and outputs. I

    If you do a search on the rbi you'll find a lot of praise. Few people get rid of theirs, and if they do it's because they upgrade to a preamp that costs twice the amount. Many people buy it, upgrade to tubes, and keep it as an overdrive unit.

    You won't find much on bbe as I think those pre's are really new.
  3. skunkrawk


    Apr 25, 2003
    anyone else have an opinion on the subject?
  4. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    I use an older BBE bass pre, the 383. I absolutely love it. It is a fine piece of equipment. I am sure the Sanamp is also, but I only know how excellent the BBE gear is. I will upgrade to the new BMAX soon.

    I recommend the BMAX.

  5. Mcrelly


    Jun 16, 2003
    Minnesota, USA
    I've heard of many people using RBI and loveing them, I do. I've used mine with my swr 350, but am currently bypassing the swr pre section with better tone results. I use to run the RBI through the effects loop or the SWR. my friend runs an RBI with a Yamaha cp2000 power amp (1000w/ch class D)(2000w into 4ohms mono) he loves it!

    Lately I've been considering the Tech21 Landmark 300 they also make a 600w version. here is the special part: the landmark series contain an RBI and acoustic DI tone controls for the preamp sections of the head. the plus of this situation is they contain a sweepable mid control that goes from 170 to 3.5k!

    Here is the 300 (just less power than 600)
  6. Just recieved my BMAX yesterday. I also have an RBI. IMHO the BMAX sounds better. Tons more tone. Also, the built in effects are great. The compressor works well and the BBE adds a lot. I'ts very clean and (ready, big word alert) articulate. I'm still working with the settings but upon my initial fooling around I think it has better tone. My cab is an Avatar 410.
  7. Sufenta

    Sufenta Trudging The Happy Road of Destiny Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2002
    The Signpost Up Ahead.
    Did you get the ss or T? Keep us updated on the BMAX review.
  8. I got the solid state BMAX.
    It absoulutely shakes the walls, and I'm only running it through a Stewart World 600!
    I've got rehearsal with my band tomorrow night and I'll be bringing it to the studio. That's the real test for me, how it will sound with a live band.
  9. Ok, used it last night. It rocked the house with my Stewart 600 thru the studio piece of crap cabinet (Lyric Studio). Everyone in the band commented on how good my bass sounded. Even the amp seemed to not be working as hard. It's a keeper. Can't wait to gig with it. Gonna probebly bring my Avatar 410 with me next rehearsal to seal the deal.


    Mar 12, 2003
    USA, PNW
    I own the RBI rack unit as a spare. I don't think it sounds tuby at all. But, it's nice to have extra stuff laying around.
  11. skunkrawk


    Apr 25, 2003
  12. Arranger


    Mar 9, 2003
    In one week I will have both of these in my studio. I'll be eager to see how they compare. The RBI is pretty cool, but not quite as noise free as I feel it could be. The BMax really caught my eye in recent posts here. Hope its a keeper.
  13. MascisMan

    MascisMan Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2003
    Dallas, Tx
    Hey arranger I just got to try out my new BMax for the first time tonight in practice. My current setup is a HWY 1 Jazz w/ BAII bridge and Model J pups into the BMax into a QSC 1850HD into an Ampeg SVT-410HLN. All I can say is that I am floored. I have a lot more headroom now (as opposed to using the B2R as a preamp) and the sound is very full and clean. This thing has tons of booty built in! Myself and my band could not be happier.
  14. I really like my RBI, I want to get an Eden Navigator and one of the rack Foderas when they come out...but for the price you can't beat the RBI...

    to quote a review from Harmony Central...

    "If it's good enough for Geddy Lee, it's good enough for me"
  15. Arranger


    Mar 9, 2003
    Well, here's my take on these two:

    These are VERY different pre's. Each with its pros and cons. I started playing one, then was amazed by the other, then again vica versa, back and forth. I guess I'm stuck keeping both! I can now see myself collecting pre's for a variety of applications, but these two can certainly cover the breadth of most electric bass requirements and I don't expect to go shopping for a pre again at any foreseeable time.

    The RBI really impressed me from the start and I can see why it gets so much attention here at TalkBass. The first thing I noticed was how versatile it was. Nothing beats having so many output formats which can be utilized simultaneously. I can run the XLR to the board, the reg out to my rig and still get a pre-out for my tuner. The XLR and 1/4" out have seperate levels which offers a lot of contol and allows meshing of the board/house tone with your rig. The RBI also has a blend that allows unaffected signal to be blended with your unique EQ, for a wide variety of tones. This pre is useful for nearly any style. It has an intuitive layout and I could get to my tones nearly immediately, without the use of the manual.

    The BMax (SS version) also impressed me with its unique capabilities and tonal palate. It has a more pre-determined sound with highly sensitive controls that sweep across a narrower selection of tonal range, offering more deep control of its inherent overall tone. It took more time for me to discover the full variation of its sounds - but I wasn't left hunting for a lack of any. The BBE Sonic Maximizer is quite useful for pushing the presence without the requisite brightening inherent in other pre's. The manual was necessary to prime my understanding of it's controls.

    Other feature variations between the two are that the RBI has no compression, and less mid control, yet the RBI has overdrive. It's a nice overdrive if not pushed too far where it can be somewhat harsh. The RBI is less responsive to effects that are placed before it in the signal chain as pedals. The BMax has fewer outputs, yet the BMax has seperate active and passive inputs and a dedicated para-mid EQ section.

    Tone-wise the RBI is more open and "analog-ish." The tone seems more uncolored and pure. It seems better suited for jazz styles or acoustic accompaniment, but comparatively lacks the deep punch that modern heavy styles might require. It sounds fantastic in the studio. The full breadth of traditional 4-string tone is available for crafting. That tone comes through clearly and precisely and it is super clean. The mids and upper mids possess the majority of overtones. Intervals in the middle C range are exquisite and more sustained. The RBI does not react as quickly to rapid playing. It really does seem to lag just a hair, again in a more analog way, presenting a refined style that is softer and less bearing and easy on the listener. It also does not take effects placed before it and magnify them very much. I feel myself playing more heavily and trying to isolate my notes more when using the RBI on heavier material.

    The Bmax dresses the tone in an incredible way and could easily be labeled as a definative tone in more pop/modern music circles. It is a must-have in my mind for any industrial, grunge, or similarly heavy musical style. There is just gobs of bass control and tons of harmonics in the lower mid and deep bass registers. Intervals on the lowest strings, an octave or two lower than the RBI, are super rich with maximum sustain. I bet this thing really does WOW the crowds and fellow players if you want to stand out in a heavy band. The BMax responds to effects placed before it very strongly, enhancing those effects (pedals) to the max. It also seems to isolate notes faster in rapid playing, as if it processes more digitally. You'd have to lighten up in your playing style considerably to play old Beatles with the BMax.

    If I had to pick one, AHHHH! How do you choose? I wouldn't say the RBI is more musical, but if I was playing along with an orchestra, I'd carry the RBI into the performance. For a night in a bar playing rock, or jammin with a synth guru, or a heavy drummer who is miced up irreverently, the BMax would help the bass stay more up front in the mix. In the studio, these two would be a very complementary pair of pre's to cover the variety of sounds that players would like to have at their fingertips. It is possible with careful tweaking to get these two preamps to sound almost alike, and that seems to be in the flatter settings. I think that's a good thing, leading me to believe that they both have wide capabilities.

    These two pre's are superb values for what I paid. I'm keeping both. For the time being, I'll use the RBI in my studio to keep my recordings free of coloration, and as a stage backup. The BMax will go out the door with me to the local pub to play with my rock/blues troupe and offer a refreshing change of palate in specific recording circumstances.
  16. MusicMan810


    Apr 2, 2008
    I like my RBI, i have no complaints. Well maybe I do, I went to record last week with it and as soon as I started running through it I got a whole lot of noise. But once I have it running through the power amp into my cab, theres no noice. I dont know maybe it was something else???? But it does give you a variety of different possible tones to dial in, I am overall happy with it.
    I am considering now picking up a BBE BMAX SS as well. I want to run two pres and have a low/mid round tone (RBI) with a mid/high punchy tone (BMAX) and using a ABY to switch between the two. I was thinking of my second pre as a RPM but I like the feature of the compressor on the BBE, it will give me the punch I want to get out of it. I found a used BMAX in my area lightly used for $175 so I think ill have to jump on that.
  17. Primary

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    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.

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