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Tube Pre for no-amp-gigs

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by karlgustav, Sep 14, 2008.

  1. karlgustav


    Aug 30, 2005
    this is focused for BG side (where the same subject is posted aswell) but as I use DB for some gigs, I ask for your opinions for these options on DB. Most likely DB will be miked, but for piezo signal and monitoring I'd use pre.

    I play mostly with inear monitors lately and am looking for a tube pre ( with compressor preferred ) dont have a huge budget so at this point I am between to options:

    ART pro channel

    or M-audio Tampa

    the signal chain is:
    bass - pre - D.I FOH and TRS split to stage for mon mix.
    to some point I want to add tuner and effect/multieffect.

    I know these are not bass designated pre amps but at least the EQ on ART makes me hope that there is few usable tones to dial from it.

    there are also some cheap and smaller tube pre's like ART tube pac and Studio V3 , but I dont trust in things so small and cheap ... altough it would save me from rack.

    any ideas? is anyone useing some of the pres mentioned or something else with good results (or bad just for a warning) in live or in studio.

  2. Revvv


    Oct 31, 2007
    Tech 21 SansAmp Programmable DI is the way to go. $200
    You Can also use the Aguilar Tone Hammer.
    Don't forget about the Hartke VXL Bass Attack

    All three of these DI boxes will do the job, and they can color the tone on your amp when you are playing with a head and cab.
  3. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    I think Revvv was answering for slab, but I know you were asking about upright. I double too.

    I really like the SansAmp BDDI for my EBs. Not a tube based unit, but analog tube "emulation." You can cut off the tube effect, or dial it in to whatever degree you want. Combine that with what I think are excellent tone shaping controls (bass, treble, presence). Reliable DI out. Runs on a 9V battery or a wall outlet. Rugged, reliable, dependable, all IMO of course. I have not used it with my upright (although some people do), but I always use it w/ my electric basses.

    I think the SansAmp Para Driver DI is pretty much the same but might be even better suited for DB, because it includes a sweepable mid-EQ. I would think that might be really handy for taming piezo quack. And the input impedance is 4.7 Mohms, vs. 1 Mohm on the BDDI. Even better for piezos.
  4. karlgustav


    Aug 30, 2005
    so no one is keen on tubes for DB?

    my sound engineer is demanding on a comp and hopeing for a something with tube in it (at least for BG) I all ready have a Fishman bass EQ wich does a nice job for DB in my opinion.

    so anyone with tube experience with DB speak up.

    I'we tried ampegs all tube head with 8x10 and that was far from what I want for DB.

    thanks for the replies so far.

  5. I have tube experience and now don't use any. Good design is what's important.
    I'm very happy with my Eden WT330, whether it's connected to speakers or just being used as a preamp/DI. I compared this amp with some tube alternatives (including Eden) and decided it sounded a little smoother and definitely quieter.
    Regarding comp, my favourite is an old dbx 163x. They have a preamp stage as well, so if you don't need EQ, that might be a solution. I used to use the 163 straight into a Crown power amp for my bass rig.
    I play slab and EUB.
  6. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Live sound reinforcement for DB is very different than for Electric Bass. My experience with sound engineers has led me to believe that most mid level crews down through the club level have very little knowledge of the DB reinforcement challenges. They try to apply the paradigms of electric bass to the DB instead of acoustic instrument reinforcement paradigms and make a big sonic mess.

    Using compression on FOH on the DB increases the potential for feedback. Limiting is ok if the player can't control their attack. Often it's better to use high pass filters to remove the dangerous transients from piezos rather than a limiter. If you remove the stuff below 30hz you aren't loosing much content but killing a huge amount of the attack transient that accompanies and otherwise softish note afterwords. This is of course in pizzicato.

    For Arco if you compress the players sound they'll have a hard time playing altogether if they can hear what you are doing out front or in the monitors. The bass responds to the PA rather than the bow making the whole experience out of control for the player. In this case the PA isn't helping it's a handicap. Where limiting can be useful pizz it is not needed arco either. The transients don't create a problem there and while the dynamic range is wide under the bow there is an easy to find upper limit that wouldn't require compression or limiting to find, just a bit of gain stage adjustment before the gig.

    As far as DI's go I use both the Aguilar DI and the SVT tube DI. They sound great. I don't know if the tube matters all that much. Good design=good sound tubes or not. The Fishman Pro Platinum is excellent and should work just fine.

    Fwiw my pickup straight into the DI with no other signals sounds pretty compromised for DB. I prefer mics or if possible a mix of mic and DI/pickup. Even if the mic only goes to front of house and stays out of the stage mix the overall sound is much more authentic and superior to the pickup by itself out front. The only reason to avoid a mic is if the stage volume is excessive or a mic with little off axis rejection is used.

    I'd encourage the sound engineer to look research the reinforcement of the DB live as it's own process rather than trying to mix it like a Fender Bass. The latter rarely works well.
  7. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Uncletoad said it all.
    Still gotta have tubes? :rollno: Then send this TBer a PM maybe. I copied this from another thread.
  8. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I'm a big fan of HP filters and have posted here many times regarding their use. Indeed, they are quite useful for removing the power-robbing, speaker rattling infrasonics that can be produced by piezo pickups. The "attack transients" will not actually be lost by proper high-pass filtering. Transients are short-lived broadband signals and their effect in terms of DB amplification stems largely from the high-frequency energy that they contain.
  9. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    +1. I have a great deal of "tube experience." My office is filled with them. The advantages of tubes in sound reinforcement stem from their overload characteristics. Many guitar players prefer them for the characteristic nature of the distortion products they produce. It's part of the "the sound." When most of us amplify our DBs, we aren't looking to push the amplifier into overload.

    On the other hand, some would argue that because some tube circuits distort more "gracefully" in that they produce largely even-order harmonics, they are preferred. Given a properly designed and used modern solid-state amplifier, however, this should not be an issue. That, coupled with the fact that tube-based amps are more delicate and potentially less reliable gives them, IMO, no advantage.

    Finally, if it is specific frequency-response anomalies that lead one to a tube circuit (i.e., the response not being flat), that can be achieved with a solid-state amp as well. Indeed, many of the pre-amps on the market are "voiced" to a achieve a specific sound. It's a practice I abhor.
  10. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Yea, ok that sounds better.
  11. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    When going direct, I find that some sort of bass preamp or preamp/DI is useful both for tone shaping and for gain control. I've rarely found that plugging directly into a tube mic-pre (without EQ) produces a good DI sound.

    There seems to be a perception that tubes are a "magic wand" for good sound. I often don't find that to be the case for bass. Sometimes too much tubeyness can have a way of slowing down the attack and making things mushy. Recently I played a gig (on electric) where the backline amp was a groovy, all-tube amp and I didn't like it. It made my Fender sound like Jack Bruce on "Wheels Of Fire" :) By contrast, I'm always happier with something like the GK RB 800 and 400 amps which have been popular for years, and those are solid-state and have a nice quick attack and clean sound. Also, I'd agree that perhaps a little peak limiting rather than compression on upright or is the way to go. Electric too for that matter. After all, bass is largely about punch and attack, let's not diminish it for no good reason.

    But back to upright DI, I'd go with a preamp/DI like a Sansamp, Sadowsky, etc. Studio mic pres and compressors aren't necessary for live applications, IMO.
  12. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Right. I forgot about that.
  13. Gearhead43


    Nov 25, 2007
    I think the Fishman Pro Platinum sounds great as a preamp/DI for slab and upright. Tubes schmubes.

    I enjoy having some control over the sound the "sound dude" (aka: some dude) is getting, and the pro platinum will allow a good deal of control.
  14. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    The Fishman is a great little pre/DI for any bass. If I was doing DI/Monitor only gigs, I would certainly consider this unit.
  15. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC

    Upright basses plus subwoofers are the stuff of many amusing gig stories. :D
  16. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN

    Oh my god! You ain't kiddin' there bro! I've played some "rock" stages and outdoor gigs where I've fed a DI to the house. Subs on the stage, loud monitors. Nightmare!! :eek::eek::eek: The bass vibrates and feels like it's going to explode, you can't control the strings, some notes completely disappear and others go wooooommm. Shoot me now! I really don't know what to do in those situations. Maybe you're better off with a mic? Opinions folks?
  17. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Been there. Nothing works. **** me. Should just brought the Fender....:bawl:
  18. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    There's good reason for what you observe when the power-amp section is a tube circuit. Almost all such amps have output transformers. The frequency anomalies introduced coupled with typically poor damping factor (in English this amounts to relatively poor control of the woofer cone) can lead exactly to the "mushy" sound you experienced. Tube power amps for DB are definitely NOT my choice and, as I posted before, neither are tube pre-amps. All this despite my being a vintage tube hi-fi hobbyist.
  19. anonymous02282011

    anonymous02282011 Guest

    Jun 27, 2007
    Informative posts above.

    My experience was with a tube pre-amp DI box made for electric bass, the Evil Twin:

    Plugging the DB into it and (then thru a solid state power amp) was quite nice, except for that with some of my cabs I noticed some unpleasant speaker cone excursion. I contacted the manufacturer of the tube pre and he told me that there's a "little boost" around 8Hz! Now, for electric bass, this adds some very lovely bottom end, but for DB, there's already a bit going on down there at 8Hz. My solution was to use a high pass filter, knocking anything below 34Hz down 12dB. This certainly tamed the cone excursion problem, but kept the warmth and wooliness of the tube sound. Now this comes at a price: I have to carry the DI box, the high pass filter and the power amp, as well as a speaker cab and my instrument!

    (Then again I could just get out the old Walter woods or Acoustic Image and DI off those, or just bring the DI and high pass filter and play thru the PA.)

    So the point is each tube pre is going to be voiced a little differently. Having a box with a wide open frequency range -- or one with a few decibels boost way down low -- is not necessarily going to be ideal with the DB.

    As was suggested, the fishman products, which are made for DB, are an easy and relatively affordable way to go.
  20. I just played an outdoor festival/fair with a small acoustic group -- in between a big electric gospel band (LOUD! about 12 pcs) and a band called "Vocal Trash" -- which plays medleys made up of 30 second snippets of all your favorite top 40 hits from the 70s and 80s (yay!) using electric guitars, keyboards, and trash cans for drums. I have to admit the sound guys had their work cut out for them no doubt, but they did us no favors.

    I wanted to use only my mic setup (audix d2 with the h clamp), since the rest of the band was miked, and I figured it would be easy on the sound guy. He had other ideas. He wanted to blend the mic with the pickup. ...so he could send the pickup thru the subwoofer! (noooooo) Well, needless to say, the sound was Godawful.

    An interesting side note: at one point while we were waiting backstage, the singer from the gospel group preached, "O Jesus, we prayin' for your help with our technical problems...." Not kidding. So I guess they were not thrilled with the sound guy either.

    Anyway, back on topic. The only affordable tube pre I have used in a live setting was the Presonus "TubePre" (creative name eh). I used it with my epiphone w/ the Realist pup going into an Ampeg flip top. Was not at all pleased. Maybe too much tube. I ahve used this thing as a DI to record my Fender bass and loved it. Live with the DB, not so much. It made an awful fuzzy sound, was slow to bloom, and I barely had the tube gain going.

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