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Separates & Preamps: experience, recommendations

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by JimS, Aug 30, 2000.

  1. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    I've got my EA 2x10 8 ohm cab and need a lot more clean power to run it than my Eden wt-800 can muster. I might add a Bag End 15" but right now I'll focus on the amplification. Consequently I'm off to rack/separates land.

    Amp: Stewart 2.1 or Crown K2 or MicroTech 2400

    Preamps: Demeter H(w/parametric eq), Kern, Alembic, EBS, unlikely Aguilar but haven't totally ruled it out

    (I think the Aguilar 680 is relatively overpriced considering the Kern and Demeter can be bought for around 1/2 the price. Heck, I could buy both the Kern and Demeter for a bit more than the price of the DB680.)

    Anybody w/ experience one or more of these puppies?

  2. Laker


    Mar 23, 2000

    I've owned two Kern 777 preamps but am presently using an Aguilar DB680. The first Kern started dying on me in the middle of the gig but it may have been because the wall wart supplied was too small (never figured out the problem). I got a second Kern 777 that lasted about three months and the same thing started happening. I'd flip the power switch a couple of times and it would start working again. I traded the Kern back and got the Aguilar. The Kern does have a very warm sound and is very simple to use, but if it isn't dependable what use is it?

    I like the 680's parametric mid section as I have been able to dial out most fret and string noise. I found that it took me about three months to tweak the 680 and my EA cabs to the point that I'm satisfied with my sound. Is it worth the extra cash? I really couldn't say. I needed something dependable and it gives me a good tax write-off.
  3. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    I know about the Kern wall-wart power supply. Kern will install an IEC (like an Eden head) power cord connecter and can add a ground lift switch.

    Other than the lack of reliabity, did you like the Kern? Comparison to the Aguilar? I know someone who uses their Kern a lot for gigs and recording and hasn't had a problem with it.
  4. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    Also, did you try Stewart World amps when deciding to buy your Crown K2? Try any other Crown series?
  5. Laker


    Mar 23, 2000
    I liked the sound of the Kern as it is, as Dave Boonshoft with Aguilar put it, a little darker sounding that the DB680. It is also very well made with everything handwired. My only complaint was reliability.

    I didn't consider the Stewart amp as it strikes me as being very similar to a Carver and I had replaced a Carver with the K2. I went with the K2 for a number of reasons, with the main ones being, very high damping, no cooling fan (doesn't suck a lot of garbage into the amp while cooling), and it had the power range I was looking for with a company name that is known for quality.

    I am extremely happy with this preamp/amp combination.
  6. I've been using a Kern for several months now, driving a QSC PLX-2402. I addressed the wall wart problem by mounting it to a Dr. Ferd's Wart Remover and then mounted that using 4 tiewraps to the bottom of my SKB case, with it sitting slightly in the inlet airflow of the QSC amp. The airflow over it helps to keep the wart cool, and the relatively solid mounting helps to protect it from getting banged around during transport.

    I haven't had any troubles with it in the several months I've been using it. If anyone is interested, I have photos I can email you of the way I installed the wart. Email me and I can email you jpg images.
  7. Bob C

    Bob C

    Mar 26, 2000
    Duluth, MN
    So how much does the 680 go for? I haven't seen the price anywhere.
  8. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    I have been using a Demeter with a Hafler Pro5000 power amp and it's the best sound I have ever had. If you want a "set it and forget it" type with great tone, I highly recomend this set up.
  9. Sammy


    Aug 31, 2000
    I'm also in the pre-amp market.

    I've been considering Kern, Demeter (either the "V" or "H" model), Alembic, or Ampeg (would lilke the SVT growl but I don't know if I can live with the noise). The Aguilar looks good but with a list price of $1800, it's more than I can justify. There are some basic questions I have when I've been trying out equipment (besides cost), could you tell be our opinion on the Aguilar and Kern? Thanks - Sam

    How is the noise level (hiss and/or pops from controls)?

    How flexible is the pre-amp?

    Can the pre-amp produce "SVT growl"?

    How clear is the B string?

  10. There's always the Aguilar DB 659 which can be obtained for about the same price as the Kern (around $700). I have one, and I'm pleased with it. I also have a Kern, and I like the sound of the midrange on the Aguilar a bit more. The Kern's for sale, BTW.
  11. Doug


    Apr 5, 2000
    Buffalo, N.Y.
    Sammy, you can eliminate the Ampeg preamp noise by replacing all the tubes with NOS or new ones.
  12. Sammy


    Aug 31, 2000

    Yes, I've heard this was true, though there will be some hiss left. Will this be less than other pre-amps? I haven't been able to try out other pre-amps, so I asked the question open ended. Since I am replacing my full system it is a good cost option, and I can upgrade if I want later. What have you compared the Ampeg with?

    I have read some tube reviews and the leading recommendations for 12AX7 tubes are between the Tesla JJ, Ei, and Ruby. I'm not sure if the Ampeg takes a 12AU7 (web site says 5 x 12AX7), but I'm diverging. Want tubes do you recommend?

  13. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    I bought the Kern and run it into a Crown K2 power amp and EA 2x10 cab. I'm very happy with the tone, the ease of use/simplicity of the Kern, and the versatility and great effectiveness of the tone controls on the Kern preamp. It is very quiet. It can record direct to tape. I ordered my Kern with a ground lift switch and built in power supply; not the wallwart.
  14. Doug


    Apr 5, 2000
    Buffalo, N.Y.
    The only other preamp that I had A/B'ed was the Eden Navigator. Great preamp, but for the money I was happy with the Ampeg. I have also played the Demeter, in the past, which are nice, but to clean sounding for me.

    As far as tubes go, the SVP-PRO has 4-12AX7's and 1-12AU7. The 12AX7's are Sovtek and the 12AU7 is Groove Tube. I replaced them with Telefunken tubes. These are very pricey and the only reason I got them was the guy that sold them to me had no clue how much they're worth. I would go with the Tesla/JJ 12AX7 and 12AU7 for newer tubes, but also try some NOS tubes like Sylvania or RCA. All I know is that when I slapped the Telefunkens in it completely eliminated the hiss and they sound incredible. They really brought that preamp to life. I could get a clean sound or overdriven sound easily.
  15. pierce

    pierce freethinker

    May 25, 2000
    San Francisco, Ca
    i am soooo glad i found this thread, because i have been pondering this type of set-up. i am considering using a mackey 1400i power amp, and now im stuck in the pre-amp portion of the show. these are my questions:

    -does anyone have an opinion of the mackey?
    -what preamps are available?
    -i have been looking at the line 6 bass pod, and im wondering, since this thing is set up to "model" diff amps and cabs, could i effectly use it,or other fx units, as my preamp, and if not , WHY?
  16. Laker


    Mar 23, 2000
    I have seen some negative comments about using Mackie amps for bass but have not used them myself. A better amp for you may be the QSC PLX series as they are very light weight and can be configured with some pretty high wattage.

    I use the K2 Crown because of its design (no cooling fan to suck a lot of garbage into the amp) and very high damping factor.
  17. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

  18. Chuck M

    Chuck M Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    San Antonio, Texas
    I have one of the older Demeter preamps in my rack wich also has an Alembic F-1X and a Stewart PA-1000. I use the Demeter about 95% of the time and the Alembic (which has a greater EQ range that some rooms need) the other %5. I'm very satisfied with my rig and the Stewart is a great sounding power amp.

    I had a Mackie when they first came out and sold it asap. It sounded like it had a compressor on all the time. The bass sound was "lifeless" and it felt like it had no headroom. My 300 watt Carver sounded better that the Mackie 1200.

  19. Doug


    Apr 5, 2000
    Buffalo, N.Y.
    ChuckM you hit the nail right on the head re. the Mackie. I used to use the 1400i before putting it in our PA system. Same experience, very compressed sounding. Altough it sounds awesome in our PA. Leave the Mackie's for the PA, go Crown, Crest, or Stewart for bass amps, IMO.
  20. Sammy


    Aug 31, 2000
    "I ordered my Kern with a ground lift switch and built in power supply; not the wallwart."


    Did the Kern "grow" with the built in power supply to 2U?
    How long did it take to get the it from time of order?


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