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Should I Buy An Aguilar DB659 Pre-Amp?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Johnny Fila, Mar 28, 2005.

  1. Johnny Fila

    Johnny Fila Formerly "The Crusader"

    Nov 21, 2004
    Elmont, NY (near NYC)
    So I'm always looking to improve my sound, who isn't?
    But I've got some decent basses with Aguilar OBP1s/3s
    in them already, I use a Hartke 7000 (an older one) a Hartke 4x10 Transient Cabinet and 2 JBL 15s. I get a good sound already, but would always love to improve. Let's take a poll, shall we?
    edit: where's my poll?
    re-edit: what's your favorite pre-amp?
    and favorite rack mount compressor?
  2. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
  3. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Well, I own a DB 659, and I am actually quite happy with it. I have read posts from others who moved on from the 659 to the 680, and now that I also own a 680, I can certainly see the allure. But, this does nothing to lessen the 659 as a viable option. It just sounds somewhat different. Plus, swapping tubes has quite a noticeable effect in the 659.

    Here are some things I really like about the DB 659. It is well-made, elegant, sturdy, and fits in one rack space. It delivers what I consider a good "tube tone", though it certainly has its own unique voice, and it does so in an articulate manner. The bass and treble EQ options are very powerful, but the midrange is not as dramatic. The effects loop is push/pull for series/parallel (very nice!) as well as push/pull for instrument level or line level (wow!). This allows for an extremely flexible effects loop that can work with either rack gear or stomp boxes. It does take some tweaking for best results, though.

    Some of the "drawbacks" would be that there is no parametric EQ (which is almost indispensable for upright, IMHO), no compressor, no crossover, and it does not do an overdriven tone. With certain preamp tubes, the midrange can be on the wooly side (NOS Telefunkens really improved the mids in my 659).

    Another "drawback" is that there is some stiff competition for the 659. In the one rack space category, the Alembic F-1X and two Demeter pre's are strong competitors, as is the Read Purity. Kern and Trace Elliot also may present attractive options, if their tone appeals to you. In the two rack space race, Aguilar's own 680 makes a compelling case, as does the Eden Navigator.

    What are your driving goals/concerns/desires for a preamp?
  4. metron

    metron Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    I havent used the 659 but I did just pick up a 680. I have to say that there are a few other preamps Ive used a lot that I love. Then I got the 680 and got used to its tone. Now when I go back to the other preamps I realize I had no idea what I was missing all this time. Moral to the story is yes you should get a 659. :p
  5. Johnny Fila

    Johnny Fila Formerly "The Crusader"

    Nov 21, 2004
    Elmont, NY (near NYC)
    Let me first say that I love your signature!
    Honestly? I don't know if it really will improve my sound. I get a really good sound now with minimal tweaking of the amp. I think what I need is a decent compressor, not an onboard one. I just need to even out the volume.
    I was in GC in Carle Place before and I saw the DB659 and checked it out. I thought it was nice and got a lot of tones to "pop" especially the underlying harmonics, but I can get this outta my set up also. Price was a factor too. It was a floor model and my limit was 600. They came down to 854. Too high.
    I thought the mids were a little weak also, the highs and lows were boosted more.
  6. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    You can probably get a used Eden Navigator for under $600, and in addition to being a very good sounding preamp (I might give the DB 680 an advantage in sheer tonality), it has an impressive compressor. I normally do not care for compressors a whole lot (certainly not if you can hear them pump and breath), but the Navigator's compressor is both very useful and very transparent.

    Just another option...

    Oh, if you want a standalone rackmount compressor, my two favorites are the PreSonus ACP-22+ and the Really Nice Compressor.