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Unscientific Guess-the-Preamp Comparo: Demeter, Monique, Genz (with others later).

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by MarkA, Apr 11, 2015.


  1. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    Not so good.
    I misread the "bass direct into 2i4" as using the SF 2DI4.
    So my favorites were the 2 Dem preamps - that figures.
    The HBP-1 with the EQ bypassed is one of my all time favorite tones.
    In a live band setting, I doubt if I could tell whether the EQ was bypassed (assuming everything was still close to the flat settings).

    Thanks, MarkA!
     
  2. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Hey, all. Thanks for listening and for your replies. It didn't occur to me, when I added this most recent round of clips, that anyone would be finding the first round ("the guessing game") now. If that's you, I hope you have fun with it. ;)

    Time and work don't allow for much of that or for properly addressing your comments (re. Phase 2: Attempt at Objectivity) right now, but some thoughts, in no particular order:

    Knobs at noon: Yeah, not necessarily fair. I almost never have the Walkabout mids (passive control -- I believe the rest of its EQ to be active) at noon, for instance -- I usually boost those a good amount and goose the treble a bit, too. I might or might not fine tune with its semi-parametric section. The earlier clip of the Walkabout that I posted in this thread is a good deal leaner sounding (granted, it is played through a cab and mic-ed). Too, the second tube affects the feel and tone of the Walkabout a lot at higher volumes, and the D.I. level is tied to it. I turned the Master up about where I thought I'd have it on a medium volume to slightly louder gig. Keeping the Master lower and turning up the DI level would yield different results, even without a cab connected.

    The Zephyr Treble and Bass boosts -- haven't gigged the Zephyr yet (thought about it last night -- a rare-for-me-these-days gig -- but it was raining and I was exhausted and everything was lying about with its top off for tube-swapping, and I was taking a new cab out AND I couldn't find enough rack-mount screws for it and the amp... excuses, drama, excuses, but I just took the little Kustom KXB and my Arnopol MAS 46, which performed admirably together, though I think any of these pres would have kicked things up a notch or two)... anyway, I've been playing it with the treble and bass boost switches engaged. These feel different than the rest of the EQ section -- the treble boost just seems to open things up up top, with the treble control still being very useable. Don't know if the bass boost adds any extension or just bumps up the lows, but it feels a little different than just dialing up the bass control (though it is interactive with the bass control -- treble boost doesn't seem to interact with the treble in the same way). I will let Micah @Arkham Sound comment on their function further, if he wishes, but engaging both of those makes the pre feel bigger to me without being bloated. In the EQed clip, both were engaged, with small cuts, I believe, to the bass and treble knobs. Thought about recording another clip with those boosts engaged but the EQ flat otherwise, then thought I'd have to do the same for the Genz -- and, yeah... sleep.

    Gain: I could've dialed it a bit lower on all the amps and had a more linear/solid-state-type response and still had some tube color/harmonics. Maybe that would've been a better approach in some respects. I could've dialed it higher and gotten more squish/bounce/compression/whatever, depending on the amp and your preferred terminology. I tried to get just a bit of that, as I thought that differentiated the character of each amp a little better, and, for my (usual) style of play, more than a bit is more of an effect. I tried to listen reasonably closely when setting the gain, but wasn't super-critical in that step.

    Cabs (and power sections, to a significant but I think lesser extent)... yeah, they are important and part of the "electric bass instrument". I prefer the sound/feel/overall experience of my instrument through a good cab to listening to it "direct" -- cab voicing aside, there are aspects of that acoustic component of sound production that are important -- to me, anyway -- but I'll avoid derailing into that here except to say that I listen to a direct signal with an ear to how I think it'll translate through a cab. Which isn't to say that I can't enjoy a directly-recorded bass tone. There are some here that I really like.

    The GBE needs to be heard through a cab, preferably with a band, to be properly appreciated. This doesn't render any of the observations made about its direct-recorded tone invalid. Its single tube is run at a lower voltage, for what it's worth. @agedhorse has commented on that and the reasoning behind it elsewhere.

    I EQ with feel as much in mind as tone... I try to maintain an even heft and response throughout the range of the instrument, if I can manage it (though most of these recent clips are with knobs at noon).

    If I can add a useful refinement to these clips later, I will. Meanwhile, as before, these are just data points -- I think you can pick up something about each pre from them, but I don't any of them paint a complete picture of their associated pres.

    I'll refrain from further observations about the clips themselves at the moment!
     
  3. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Yeah, that's a Focusrite 2i4 recording interface. If I had access to a Sonic Farm 2DI4, I'd definitely include it here! I've played through one briefly on two occasions and it's an impressive bit of kit.
     
  4. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    I had concentrated mainly on just the 1st segments of the recordings.
    Sorry to beat a bloody horse, but I drug out my good Sennheiser headphones, I like the 201 better on the slap-bass parts & the HBP better on the fingerstyle parts, I'm guessing I could get the 201 into the warmth I heard on the HBP with a bit of EQing! The 201 just sounds a bit smoother than the HBP, which overall I like better.
     
  5. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    I have no vested interest in Demeter equipment, but on another thread James Demeter said that he could substitute the Deep switch that he has on the new 800 head he sells for the Bright switch on the older (no longer produced) 201 preamps.
    Just thought I'd pass the info along.
    I've been re-GASing for the 201 lately & between this thread & the mod available for the Deep option, is getting fairly serious!
     
  6. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Hmm... I'd have to hear more about the deep option and how it works. On the one hand, I almost never engage the bright switch. On the other, the 201 already has plenty of lows. To be clear, J.D. is not saying that the three way switch of the integrated amp can be swapped for the two way in the 201, but that you can swap one voicing option for another (deep for bright), right?
     
  7. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    That is my understanding 2-way for 2-way.
    Lemme see if I can find his exact words...
    Here it is -
     
  8. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    It looks like the orig 201 has rocker switches instead of buttons, so sounds like part of that was talking about the 201S, but should work the same for the orig design (I would think).
     
  9. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Hmm... Looks like part deux of the thread is off to a slow start. Part one did the same, then picked up steam. Maybe part 2 will, as well, maybe it won't. In any case, I hope that no one feels intimidated to comment! Not saying that anyone does, just that I hope nobody does, for whatever reason. I hope, too, that the collection of clips is more useful than overwhelming or confusing. I realize that there are significant differences (pickups, EQ, excerpts played) between this round and the first, and that people will necessarily have to take that into account - or else just take each round/clip as its own thing.

    Anyway, I'm posting here because I just played through the Genz for the first time since recording the clip with it. I listened to its clip last week and thought, "Hunh, it is a little disappointing in some ways, this time around," though I did like the clarity of the upper register. It's always done well for me live, though, and the impact and speaker control of it relative to any micro I've played is just in another league - that's why I remarked that you've got to hear it through a cab to properly appreciate it.

    When I was playing it just now, through my MAS 112, though, it felt lacking - punchy and clear overall, but thinned-out at bottom. It was still set with knobs at noon and all filters disengaged. I don't remember the default corner frequency of the HPF in there, but it's well above the fundamental of an open E - somewhere in the low 50s, I think. The LF Extend rolls that down into the low 30s, I think, when fully engaged. Anyway, things felt most "right" through that cab just now with that filter about 2/3 up. I don't think that any of the other amps/pres are high-passed as aggressively. Again, that doesn't render any other observations one might make about its recorded sound invalid, but if I record another round of clips, that's something I'll take into account.

    Something else: the nicer (to my ear) Hammond and EI tubes are back in the Zephyr and Demmie, respectively, and I played the Genz tonight with a plain, short plate JJ. I've enjoyed that tube in there before, but tonight I preferred the FET side of the amp. The tube side still has some more harmonic interest and texture in the mids, but the FET was more dynamic and a little more extended - some of that is the JJ, though, which I've observed to be slightly rolled-off in other amps. Finally, the gain setting does make a real difference in tone and feel on the FET side, though not in the same way or as obviously as it does on the tube side or with the all tube pres.
     
    AstroSonic likes this.
  10. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    If I record more clips of the GBE, I will record the FET side for comparison.
     
    AstroSonic likes this.
  11. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    The GBE HPF is about 42Hz without the LF Extend engaged and about 28Hz with the extend fully clockwise.

    If you record with the DI on the pre position, there is no HPF in the signal path.

    Hope this helps keep the discussion factual and accurate.
     
  12. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Well, 42 Hz being just barely above low E, I am, I confess, a bit embarrassed, especially since you've posted this info before. Seems I misremembered. Still, as much as I like the GBE, it sounds a bit thin on the E-string, at least compared to some of the other amps/pres, until the LF Extend is engaged to some degree. With the cab I used previously, which doesn't extend as low as this one, I either didn't engage the control or dialed it in to a much lesser degree when I did.

    Thanks for the info about the pre-EQ as well - I'd wondered about that, actually.

    Do you happen to know where and how the Walkabout is high-passed, if it is high-passed? That would make for an interesting point of comparison.
     
  13. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    It's lower than 49Hz, but I don't remember for sure.
     
  14. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Interesting - if it ends up being close to 49 Hz, it's high-passed higher than I'd have guessed. Interesting, too, in conjunction with the lowest semi-parametric EQ band, which can be dialed down to 30 Hz. With knobs at noon and filters disengaged, the low end of the WA feels much bigger than that of the GBE. I got the impression that there was more really low frequency content as well. I'll have to listen again and see if I still have that impression. Experimenting with my fDeck HPF3 in the chain might also prove instructive.

    I realize that, whatever the corner frequency, the slope and the implementation of the HPFs might still differ.
     
  15. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    There's a lot more voicing going on in the WA that's responsible for what you are hearing. The GBE is quite flat, which suits some players but not others.
     
  16. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Here is a clip of the GBE 1200 -- FET channel this time -- EQed so that it sounded good to me through my cab (at apartment levels), but recorded direct. Bass is boosted just a bit (2-3 clicks past noon), Low Mid as well (3-4 clicks), with Mids at noon, High Mids one click past noon, and Highs at noon.

    Both pickups up, very slightly favoring the bridge.

    No boosts/filters at first, then LF Extend (a healthy dose -- at or just past 2:00), then LF Extend and "HF Attack" (a Presence Control, as far as I can tell -- just a bit of this, with control at ~8:45).



    Two other differences perhaps worth noting: I noticed that the D.I. was set to mic level (can't remember if the last sound tech asked for that or what). I set it to line level this time and was able to dial down the recording level on my interface (since it was getting a hotter signal). I also recorded hotter than I usually do -- I think that I might set the levels lower than I need to, habitually, out of fear of clipping the signal (and getting that ugly, digital "BRAPPT!"). Peaks were close to clipping this time.

    Probably wouldn't have hurt to do the same thing on the tube channel, but see what you (whoever's listening ;)) make of this.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2015
    lo-freq likes this.
  17. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    Most recording interfaces are looking for line level, if the gain structure is not right there's no telling what may be happening. Did line level sound better to you? A mic level signal into a line level interface will require a ton of make-up gain, probably more than what's in the entire GBE-1200 preamp.
     
  18. Mark, Those EQ changes really improved the tone of the GB. Much more solidity, body, articulation and warmth in the bass. I preferred the tone with the LF extended. The HF attack was a bit much: the sound became too busy or cluttered with the added detail in the upper mids and highs. I am really impressed with how close this comes to the tube pre's. The latter seem to have a more responsive, lively sound - like you better hear the player. Not sure that you would hear the difference in a dense rock mix, but for genres with a less dense mix like jazz, folk, and some classic rock and country it would be (at least for some) an audible improvement.

    As for choosing between the tube pre's, they seem so close to me, and so responsive to EQ changes, that I would tend to choose based on EQ flexibility, overdrive tone and portaility (YMMV).

    And, yes it would be interesting to hear the GB's tube channel with the same EQ and filter settings.
     
  19. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    I monitored through my cab, not headphones, and didn't make a recording, this time, at mic level, so I can't say for certain. When I went to record, the level was lower than I expected, so I checked around back and flipped the DI from MIC to LINE. I have a vague memory of discussing the DI level with the gent running sound the last time I had the GBE out, and suspect that I switched it to MIC then and didn't switch it back when I got home.

    This recording sounds better to me -- more clear, full, and dynamic -- than the "knobs at noon" recording I made of the GBE in the clips just before (which I suspect was made at mic level). There are other differences (EQ, FET vs. tube, and an overall hotter-than-usual-for-me recording level), so I'd have to go back and make another recording at mic level on the FET channel -- or try to duplicate the "knobs at noon" tube channel recording with the DI set to line level and an overall similar recording level -- to know how much of a difference it would make in this case, but I suspect that I'd prefer line level.

    The level going into the interface (a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 -- nothing fancy, but the pres seem clean and natural compared to other interfaces in this price range) this time was pretty hot -- Gain was dialed almost all the way down. The interface seems to handle mic and line sources without introducing much noise, and I can't recall ever having to dime the Gain or anything like that. If I get a chance, I'll go back and try the FET at mic level and see how much of a difference that makes (I suspect it will make some). If I get nuts I might pop the top off the Zephyr and put the Hammond tube back in the Genz and try to record it again, flat, but even then there would be variables I wouldn't be able to control precisely -- the exact blend of the pickups, the way I was playing that night -- though I might be able to get close.

    I trust that the clip gave some indication of the effect of the LF Extend and HF Attack filters, at least.

    Some differences are more apparent in recordings, some less. Subtleties of feel, where and how they start to compress, I think are less apparent (though I think you can still pick up some of that). I spent some time trying to dial in the GBE, 201, and Zephyr last night, with similar goals for each (thought to record them all, but ran out of time). Now, I can try to EQ them to sound as close as possible to each other, or I can try to EQ each to get as close as possible to the sound-and-feel in my head. They have different strengths -- I might be able to dial more low end in with one and have it still feel controlled, where I won't dial in so much with another because it'll start to feel loose. Another might have more forward/detailed mids. Assuming I like that, should I try to dial them out to match a pre that can't quite get there, mids-wise? I guess this is fiddly, cork-sniffing stuff, in some ways. Some nights, it seems to make a significant difference and some nights, as you say, everything seems really close. Sometimes, playing out with a group, differences are obscured, sometimes they're brought out -- the way something sits in a mix... little annoyances can disappear or show themselves to be issues.

    That said, I know I'm fortunate to have any of this at my disposal. I've made much more humble rigs work and have seen people do magic with much less.

    I hear what you say about the HF Attack -- might be a bit much, as I have it, but I do like some of that.

    I'm just rambling at this point. Learning as I go, here. I'll check back in when I've got something substantive to add!

    Thanks all,
    Mark
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2015
  20. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    The problem with really low levels is the significant reduction in bit depth, you may have been losing 30dB of bit depth (or resolution) over line level. Noise really isn't going to be as much of an issue.
     

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