The *BEST* preamp

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by deadman9, Jul 28, 2003.

  1. deadman9


    Apr 7, 2003
    Hi Everybody!! Wondering what yall think is the best preamp in the categories of:


    best warm tube tone:

    best hard tone:

    best for under 600:

    best for under 300:

    best value:

    By best, I mean quality of tone coloring capabilities. So what is THE BEST

    note: You, my ears, and the friendly folks at guitar center are deciding my future investment in amplification. Whatever I wind up with will be dual use for both bass and keyboards. I've created three threads, one for power, one for pre, and one for cabs. It's just easier this way.
  2. Lockout


    Dec 24, 2002

    Have you tried using the 'Search' function? This topic, and the topics of your other threads have been discussed many many times..

    And there really is no "Absolute Best" preamp/poweramp/cab out there; it's all subjective. You have to let your own ears decide...I know that can be difficult if you live in the middle of nowhere like I do, but you have to try. ;)
  3. deadman9


    Apr 7, 2003
    I know, I just like getting opinions of others that have a heard alot more than I have, I'm new to this whole thing. I've been playing piano quite a while, I picked up bass about 9 months ago and love it, it's a whole new thing. I just know nothing about any of the technology that goes with it. I've heard stuff I liked and stuff I didn't. I don't remember what any of it was, but it was probably very expensive. There's is just so much crap to sift through before finding the good stuff. And oh darn, it looks like I've come off as some kind of a jackass for posting three times in a row, sorry. (four counting that accidental one). Good idea with the search function, I'll search for that right now. oh crap, where's the search for the search. meh, I'll find it, thanks.
  4. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    I went with the eden navigator......
  5. There is no best...

    Everything in the world of bass absolutely suxors, and no amp is a good amp.

    Actually i'm kidding...

    If your dad makes millions of $$ each year, look into Walter Woods, Glockenklang, and the more 'sought after' companies.

    If you have very little money, and still want a wicked powerful rig, without the drama of looking for a new head for cheap, look into a pre/power setup with the preamp that puts out the sound to your liking, and -perhaps... an Avatar cab???

    For a good chunk of money, you could get yourself an all tube head (mesa 400+), (Ampeg SVT-2),or a pre/power, all tube system (aguilar power/pre) if you enjoy crunch, clarity, and the SEX the rig will give you. Believe me, my Mesa 400+ is wicked, both on stage, and 'at home'.

    All in all, look for the *Best* rig for yourself, in your own budget.

  6. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    like the other guys said, there's not really a "one" best, but rather, LOTS of "bests". ;) just depends on what kind of sound you're looking for, cause some preamps excel at one thing, while another excels at something else.

    here are a few of my favs. do a search, and you'll see many people like 'em for all sorts of reasons:

    Aguilar DB680
    Aguilar DB659
    Kern IP-777
    Demeter VTBP-201s
    Demeter HBP-1
    Ashdown RPM-1 II
    Alembic F-1X
    Eden Navigator
    Sansamp RBI
    Avalon U5

    btw, why not take a trip over to, and find out for yourself. listen to all sorts of preamps that were recorded direct. not really a shootout, but more a reference site to enable you to listen to whatever preamp you wish.

    the site will help you find out which preamp best complements the sound of your bass, your cabinets, and one that fits you and your playing style.
  7. deadman9


    Apr 7, 2003
    Like I said, I'm new to the bass thing(and internet forums, as you can obviously tell by my brazen thread posting(I swear, it won't happen again)) I've been running on borrowed equipment so far and have finally decided to try to aquire some of my own. You bass folk seem to have an infinite supply of techno-junk and you seem to all know exactly what everything sounds like. I feel completely lost in it all and just want a few names to look for and some advice on what to stay away from.
  8. Lockout


    Dec 24, 2002
    In that case, there are several questions we need to ask you first. :)

    What type of sound are you looking for?

    What type of music do you play?

    What bass(es) do you own?

    How much are you willing to spend?

    Keep in mind, the last question will probably change over time. I was originally going to get a little 260w SWR Workingman's Combo (~$800), but now I'm putting together a big expensive all-tube Aguilar rig (going to be ~$3000 when it's all done.) It's definitely worth it though. ;)
  9. ebozzz

    ebozzz Supporting Member

    May 17, 2001
    Check out as much as you can. Don't rule anything out without doing your own research first.
  10. doc540


    Jul 28, 2003
    Beaumont, Texas
    I'm partial to the vintage Yamaha PB-1. (Partial since I'm broke and can't afford anything else.)
  11. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    After listening to the clips at basstasters, I REALLY REALLY want an Aguilar DB680. But it's too rich for my blood. I'm going to save my pennies, and maybe someday....

    Head over there and have a listen. Be aware that these things are being recorded direct, and also that the EQ chosen for the various styles probably doesn't match what you would have chosen. So it doesn't realy give you a good feel for what the various preamps are actually capable of.

    But even so, MAN, that 680 REALLY stands out. At least to my ears.

    I have an SWR Grand Prix. Nice unit. Discontinued, and therefore not expensive... I got mine for $275.
  12. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    SW, OK
    Here's some brief generalizations about a couple of preamps I've listened to (these are tube preamps and the particular tube(s) used can affect the overall sound):

    Demeter VTBP-201S, fast, fairly transparent, clear, & clean sounding, the rotary tone controls don't have a lot of boost or cut available, but together with the buttons for "norman/bright", "bass freq", & "presence freq", you can get a fair degree of different usable tones.

    Alembic F-1X, bigger bottom than the Demeter, somewhat scooped mids, very tubey sounding in an old-school kind of way, good for funk and slap; switches and controls give more versatility than the Demeter; a tab bit wooly sounding to my ears, but that might be remedied with a better tube.

    Aguilar DB659, I'm not going to comment on this one even though I did listen to it a fair bit; the salesperson I talked to thought that issues with the building's wiring was causing us not to be able to get a "clean" sound out of it. Could definitely get an overdriven, aggressive tone out of it, but not as much as say an Ampeg SVT-Pro preamp.

    If you get a chance check out all the ones mentioned here, hard to go "wrong" with any of them.

    My preference is the Demeter, but YMMV.
  13. If you want crunch, and that little bit of overdriven agressive tone, the MESA 400+ ownzors.

    Yea... as you might have all guessed, i'm all for the MESA.

    Still... not as much as munji is into the Eden, heh.

  14. thumbtrap


    Jun 26, 2003
    I listened to a dozen or so of the clips on basstasters, and ...

    Maybe it's the little bookshelf speakers I was listening with. I know I shoulda hooked up my computer to the FX Return on my bass amp and run it through my cabinets or something but - I didn't notice a whole lot of difference between the ones I listened to. I don't recall which ones I listened to, it was the same bass, and mostly the flat settings.
  15. ESP-LTD


    Sep 9, 2001
    Another vote for the Yamaha PB-1. (I never thought of it as vintage).

    It makes my signal bigger, and that's all I want a pre-amp to do.
  16. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
  17. thumbtrap


    Jun 26, 2003
    OK, you got me on that one. The kern is really dark sounding. I must not have heard those two.
    I was also listening mostly to the "groove" finger style samples, and the differences aren't as pronounced as with the slap ones. I went back and listened some more today and I'll change my statement.

    They all sound alike except the Kern and the IOD. Well, you can tell if you A/B them, but not enough that I could hear something with no context and tell which it was.
  18. holderman


    May 25, 2000
    Anyone tried the Summit TD-100? It sounds really good on paper.
  19. doc540


    Jul 28, 2003
    Beaumont, Texas
    "Another vote for the Yamaha PB-1. (I never thought of it as vintage)."

    That's just me. Anything I've owned for over 20 years gets dubbed "vintage".

  20. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL