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Toby Timber's Vektor pick up review

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by flatback, Jul 28, 2005.


  1. flatback

    flatback

    May 6, 2004
    Bolinas Ca
    Toby has created a contact mic pick up that is rocking my world.
    http://www.tobytimber.com/pickup_en.html
    (now mind you I got it yesterday and haven't yet put it thru its gig paces)
    The pick up is a contact mic imbedded into the E foot of a bridge such that the surface of the mic sits directly on the table of the bass. This is the same spot that the Realist and Pick up the world use and is close to the PUP I have been using, the Full Circle (in the adjusters)It is also how the Schertler Dyn B gets its tone.
    The problem with the Stat B is that contact mics are highly microphonic, which means they pick up everything, and placement is critical. The stat B picks up way too much finger noise (cuz its on the bridge)
    Toby put this mic under the foot (a hole has to be drilled for it in the foot) in a perfect spot. By imbedding it in the foot, it has more gain before feedback and is hotter then any pick up I've tried. The sound is the sound of close mic ing the bass. Yes there is more finger noise then a lot of piezo's (that can easily be dialed in or out)but there is NO piezo midtone funk. (you know what I mean) This thing is so clear and clean and all the nuances are there. It is neither woofy nor flat.
    The pick up needs 9v phantom and on mine Toby installed a little phantom unit in the 1/4 socket with a 9v battery that velcros to the tail piece. I think I am eventually going to rewire it passive and either get a schertler preamp or some other out board unit (the way it is works great, I just hate having anything, especially batteries attached to the instrument)
    This pick up needs to be installed professionally and it ain't for the faint of heart. The hole that is drilled in the foot makes it difficult for any adjusters to be installed (except for the Franz Moser titanium adjusters which can be cut short...see the review for these in set up/repair they also are a great product)
    In fact I first heard about Tobys pick up here in early may and he sent me one but it has taken a month and a half for a new bridge to be cut (with the Ti adjusters) and then fitted with the pick up.
    I had been really thinking about getting the AMT mic and getting so heavily into this pick up (new bridge,adjusters, drilling etc) was a huge gamble. If it sucked, that would suck.
    But man it don't suck. The question now is just is it good enough to use solo in all situations or will it benefit from blending with a piezo (full circle)
    I think that because it is so tightly configured and under pressure that it may work solo for almost everything. I hope so.
    I ran this both thru the Solstice/PA (Mackie 450) and the Woods/Kolbe cab combo and they both got great sounds. (I just ordered an LDS 1x8 3 way which will replace the Kolbe)
    I think this is a great pick up. I know that the install headache is going to prevent it from enjoying the kind of widespread trial that it deserves, but man this thing is closing way in on all the qualities that I've always wanted in a pick up: true mic sound, no feedback, lots of gain, dynamics, bass and high end clarity, No Piezo mids, no woof, simple low profile design. And if you are thinking about it get the titanium adjusters they make the set up really superior.
    Bravo Toby Timber

    Piro Patton
     
  2. Thanks Piro, I'm so glad the pickup works so well!
    It's always difficult to know how it will respond when I don't have the instrument when I fit it.

    I would like to add that I've managed to fit the pickup to a bridge with normal adjusters, in fact just finished and tried it. I fitted the adjusters at the same time I fitted the pickup, which makes it a lot easier.
    I used the Kolstein wooden adjusters which I prefer to the metal ones (except the Titaniums), and they have quite a long thread. But on bridges with long enough legs, it doesn't pose a problem, just instead of having the thread go down into the foot, it goes up and it is perfectly ok to shorten the other section a bit, so, as long as about 15mm of wood remain in the foot, the pickup can be fitted.
     

    Attached Files:

  3. flatback

    flatback

    May 6, 2004
    Bolinas Ca
    Oh and did I mention that this pick ups only visible imprint is the wire coming off the bridge (and the 1/4 in socket) IT is very elegant to have just the bridge back again.
    If toby has figured a way to use all different kinds of adjusters I think this will make it a much more viable and easier pick up to install and have on a variety of basses.
    BTW other luthiers can fit the thing too. The face of the mic must be flat on the table though.
    I can see having the Schertler Dyn B preamp attached. And I would love to know if the Solstice has variable Phantom (I'll email Rick) so that I could just plug it straight in there.
    and the arco is unreal.
    If some of you super hifi cats are looking for a pick up(mic) to live up to all the outboard audiophile systems give this a shot.
     
  4. Josh Ginsburg

    Josh Ginsburg

    Jun 20, 2002
    Is this pickup much different than using a contact mic just above the bridge?

    Josh
     
  5. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Soquel, CA
    flatback,
    Is it possible for you to post audio files of the bass? A/B the new mic with the FC for reference? It would be interesting to hear it compared to a pickup on the same bass.

    jk
     
  6. flatback

    flatback

    May 6, 2004
    Bolinas Ca
    It has a lot more warmth and a lot less finger noise. I think of it as the sound I was hoping the Dyn B was going to be: a high quality close mic sound picking up the sound from the table but with some of the directness and presence of a piezo (but none of that whiny electricy mess in the mids)
    Some how I messed up the jack today (its what I dont like about having electronics on the bass) and the phantom went out so I have to get a replacement. I really want to get a outboard phantom box like the stat b or pre A II
     
  7. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    This pickup is interesting and I'd like to explore it further but the adjusters are definitely an issue. A few things:

    It looks like those damn expensive titanium adjusters are not on sale. The web site says they have halted sale because of some patent issue.

    I had the Kolstein Lignum Vitae adjusters on a previous bass. I am not sure they were all that good acoustically. Bill Merchant told me he thinks they deaden the sound. I also found them much harder to turn than aluminum adjusters. And it sounds like even with the Kolstein adjusters that Toby had to shorten the non-threaded section.

    What exactly is needed to install this pickup? You have to drill a large enough hole for the pickup itself as well as another smaller hole further up and then another hole in the side. Toby mentioned a "pillar drill" - that's just a drill press right?
     
  8. flatback

    flatback

    May 6, 2004
    Bolinas Ca
    Adrian,
    Now that I've gotten into it a bit I realize that the install isn't that complicated. A lot of bridges that have adjusters have holes all the way thru the feet to begin with ( Mine do and it may be the only way to drill for the adjusters). Toby's design needs enough foot below the adjuster to recess the capsule which is a little less then a half inch. If you had enough room just widening that hole and adding one for the cord would be easy enough. Toby had mine in and out the door in a morning. (course it was a morning in Germany and I'm in California...)
    My luthier out here (who is also a player), heard it yesterday and immediately wanted to get one and install it on his own bass. Itried mixing it wilth a ATM 35 yesterday with favorable results. (but I end up just using the Vektor) it sounds so good.
     
  9. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    It does actually appear that you can still purchase those titanium adjusters. However they sure are damn expensive.
     
  10. Josh Ginsburg

    Josh Ginsburg

    Jun 20, 2002
  11. flatback

    flatback

    May 6, 2004
    Bolinas Ca
    Well the first thing is that Toby thought this up and tested it and spent a bunch of money having the thing manufactured sooo...I guess you could set about making one yourself but why? Why not just get the one that works and give the inventor a taste of the profits he deserves? Anyway they aren't that expensive.
    Toby said he is working on an outboard preamp (like the Schertler) with gain and a notch filter (altough if it is installed right I dont think it needs a resonance attenuator...but every bass is different...)
     
  12. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I believe that you're talking about two different things anyway. One is a condenser mic with a diaphragm and the other is a contact mic assumedly with a magnet in a coil. One senses vibration in the air and the other senses vibration by direct contact. I'm not sure how a condenser mic would work in such an enclosed space. I assume the sound would either bounce around like crazy or there would be too much energy for the diaphragm to deal with.
     
  13. Josh Ginsburg

    Josh Ginsburg

    Jun 20, 2002
    No, I think both are condensors, otherwise it wouldn't need phantom power. As far as I know a contact mic is basically just an enclosed mic of any kind. AKG makes a condensor contact mic. Of course you couldn't just stick the DPA mic in there you'd have to seal it in something.
     
  14. Josh Ginsburg

    Josh Ginsburg

    Jun 20, 2002
    I'm not really thinking of making one myself- It's just that it seems that there should be a way to install it with regular aluminum adjusters. They're pretty ubiquitous in the States, at least by anyone who's going to be amplified.
    I could see making just a new bridge foot with the mic in it, to keep the original bridge intact.
     
  15. flatback

    flatback

    May 6, 2004
    Bolinas Ca
    OK so here is the thing. I think Toby has solved the bridge adjusters issue. I think that a new foot might be a great idea josh. The adjuster on that side would have to be cut down and your bridge foot would have to have enough room. As to what kind of contact mic it is I dont know. I think it is probably similar to the capsule in a Stat B. (I think that the Dyn B capsules are custom made but I am not sure)
     
  16. flatback

    flatback

    May 6, 2004
    Bolinas Ca
    So after a cuppla too tree duo and trio gigs, I have to say I am still very into this pick up. I keep looking for things to complain about and I am not coming up with them. It is a natural sounding, present, mic like, sound that really represents my bass very well. I played a gig (on vibes ) with a bassist who was using the AMT into a WW Ultra and EA 1x8 and although the sound was excellent, it had a way of getting lost in the mix, especially when the solos got going. The Vektor has that presence of definition that just lets you relax and hear your sound. I played last night in a restaurant, with the Woods (Low Power) and even thru the din of diners the bass sound was natural and there.Both the lows and the highs come thru naturally.
    The one thing that I don't like about 9v batteries in the signal chain is that their perfomance tends to roll of as the battery power diminishes, and I prefer to just have something plugged in to run the phantom, Dr. Cho recommends the LR Baggs phantom unit which looks good (except it is battery powered too) Maybe the Schertler Pre AII is the way to go. But check this out, Toby hooked it up like the Full Circle (with an RCA jack at the pick up)so that you could swap out a powered socket (with battery attached) for a normal 1/4 socket if you want to use external power.
    Nice feature.
     
  17. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I have wondered about wiring up a DC adapter to power anything that expects a 9V battery. Surely Radio Shack already has one that has a 9V battery attachment instead the usual plug of sorts.

    I'm not entirely sure I understand what you described that Toby did. I'm still waiting for Toby to get back to me on whether he can get the titanium adjusters. Funny thing is that once done with the new adjusters, etc., this will end up costing a decent amount. Just sent my Dyn-B off today...
     
  18. flatback

    flatback

    May 6, 2004
    Bolinas Ca
    wht did you do with the Dyn B? I hope you didn't sell it...I was hoping you would be able to do a back to back...
    basically the pick up cable terminates in an RCA that plugs into the 1/4" socket.Toby's powered socket has a 9v that has to be attached(velcro) to the tail piece. But it would be a one second change to swap it for a normal socket(unpowered) if the phantom came from another source.
     
  19. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    You know, I would have loved to do comparisons but I'm just getting so sick of gear that I didn't want to bother. Dyn-B went in the post today. Solstice and Equinox went last week. Pub is still here but it is sold and just needs to be shipped. Interestingly though, it is going to someone who has an LDS 1 x 8 and will be able to compare it. I played with the Pub last night and just loved it and wish I could retain it as a powered extension or a dedicated bass monitor for a pianist.

    I was actually peeved last night because I played an outdoor gig in very windy conditions and only had the AMT. The mic was picking up a lot of wind and it was all coming through the amp. Fortunately it was just an all-latin thing and I was just playing bass lines all night but I spent a lot of gig rotating around to try and avoid the wind.
     
  20. flatback

    flatback

    May 6, 2004
    Bolinas Ca
    Adrian Cho sick of gear? uhoh...
    I know what you mean though. I am really hoping that the LDS 1x8 and the Vektor and a suitable amp (the woods Low power is nice but no headroom) will be it for a while.
    Yea the package with Toby's Pup and the adjusters is not cheap. But what is these days?