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sansamp rbi vs. bbe bmax

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by jnightmare, Jun 15, 2004.

  1. jnightmare


    May 12, 2004
    Carson, CA
    i've been recently considering of getting a preamp/power amp set up and seen tons of rewiews on it, that are quite mixed. i was wodering which pre-amp would work well for the type of music i play, i mainly play hardcore kind of stuff (bleedin through, on broken wings, as i lay dying, etc. for those that are unfimiliar). i also would like something that would go good with like indie rock that i like to mess around and play on the side. i've read that the rbi seems to go rather well with more modern rock type styles. but wantes more input on the two pre-amps. which would you think would suit me better? im not sure if theres really a place by me that has one to try out so i might have to go the used route and want to make sure i waste as little money as possible in this process that is why im asking for input.

    and thanks for taking the time to read this and helping me out in any way.
  2. xJasonSmithx

    xJasonSmithx Supporting Member

    Jun 25, 2003
    Denver, CO
    Terror and Bane, 2 bands your probably know of both use tech 21 products. So if you like the way their bass tones sound you may wanna go for it. Terror's bass player uses the RBI and Bane's Bass player uses one of the Tech 21 bass heads w/ the pre amps built in.

    -Jason Smith
  3. jnightmare


    May 12, 2004
    Carson, CA
    wow really? cool i dig the bane's bass players tone better than terror. i just saw them not to long ago to by the way. but yeah getting back to the topic yeah im debating wheather to go the pre-amp/power amp road or just a regular amp head. i just wanna keep my options open at the moment.
  4. Get a pre/power. The versatility is there man. Well, those pres are both good, and have nice features so either would be a good choice. If I'm not mistaken I think the BBE has a Sonic Maximizer AND a compressor onboard. Someone back me up.
  5. jnightmare


    May 12, 2004
    Carson, CA
    yeah it does. i checked out the features.
  6. Arranger


    Mar 9, 2003
    Here was my review of the BMax (standard SS model) - compared to the SansAmp Bass RBI:

    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.