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What you want from a preamp

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Pete skjold, Jun 10, 2005.

  1. Pete skjold

    Pete skjold Gold Supporting Member

    May 29, 2004
    Warsaw Ohio
    Hello All ,

    I am in the process of designing a bass preamp for the professional player . I want to know what are the most important aspects you look for in a quality preamp . I have a pretty good idea of where I'm trying to go , but before I commit to any one thing I would like to hear from the talk bassers out there who have purchased and tested the highend preamps out there .

    My hope is I can put out a preamp that will actually be a step up based on your needs and desires .

    Thanks in advance :)

    Pete Skjold
  2. Pete skjold

    Pete skjold Gold Supporting Member

    May 29, 2004
    Warsaw Ohio
    Thanks :D

    Out board , ala Alembic FX-1

  3. Pete, I imagine you'll put the obvious things there, like bass, treble & perhaps midrange levels. What I would like would be a parametric mid knob, as mid adjustments have, in my experience, been just the ticket for 'cutting through' in a live setting. I know this is nothing new, but I don't see it too often. BTW, I love your basses.
  4. illidian


    Jul 2, 2004
    I got the feeling he's making a Pre-amp, as in a pre/power setup - example: Ampeg SVP-CL.

    Edit: Pete answered your question before I did, so I'll add to the thread.

    Input section with a four way switch or pad. 0dB, -6dB, -10dB, and -15dB. Or maybe just an active/passive input, each with a two way switch (0, -6dB for passive, -10, -15 for active). This would allow for some really loud basses to work well with the gain, and most accurately find a good setting.

    EQ Section: Solid-State and Tube, blendable, with independant EQ sections. Bass, Low Mid, Mid, High Mid, Treble; all active. Or a Bass/Mid (passive)/Treble with three parametric bands. If you're looking for specific voicings, let me know and I'll try to include them.

    Must-Haves: D.I. output, with pre/post EQ pad or switch, ground lift pad or switch as well. A level for the D.I. would be nice, as well.

    Nice, but not necessary: A good compressor, Mute, Tuner-Out, a Presense control, and a Timbre/Room control.

    Size: two rack spaces (to remain uncluttered), as little depth as possible.

    I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but it's a nice place to start.
  5. Tube input stage, 1 or 2 bands of parametric EQ for mids, bass/treble shelving.

    DI output (switchable, pre/post eq/effects. I don't care about effects loops, but some might. Tuner out with mute button. I don't care for stereo outs, but some might.

    Low noise, output level meters (led fine), input clip light, compressor/limiter. Passive/active inputs. Bright switch, deep switch.

    That's everything I can think of...

  6. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    The F1-X is a good place to start; I like it and, since you own one, I know you do too. Were I going to change it, however, I'd add a tuner out, a mute switch and a master volume so maybe the tube could be driven harder. I'd also move the power switch to the front. I don't know how much use the crossover gets by most folks so maybe that could be eliminated. To me the F1-X is the Swiss Army knife of preamps because it's very versatile and I'll never get rid of mine. The things I'm suggesting are just my opinion but they are what I'd do to modify it.

    Edit: Oh, yeah. I'd be tempted to move the XLR out to the rear.
  7. Pete skjold

    Pete skjold Gold Supporting Member

    May 29, 2004
    Warsaw Ohio
    Well Randy ,

    You have touched on many of the points I have addressed so I will throw out what I've got so far .

    first I won't be doing a parametric mid at this point , but will be doing a mid control that cuts and boost at the 250 - 350 range . I feel this is a very usable frequency . This is a passive preamp , it won't shelf frequencies .

    It will have a tube front end and a tuner/ headphone out , a mute switch and a bright switch , I thought about a deep switch but I opted for the full range @ 30hZ . Most deep switches just cut at a higher frequency and when you flip them on they allow the full range on , I keep the deep switch on all the time on my FX-1 . So I felt this was the way to go . It will have a pre EQ direct out for the soundman , which I feel is what they want ( based on eighteen years of pro playing ) from a bass rig . I will have a passive/active inputs . I am not putting a effects loop in . This adds the potential for more noise and it's not something I feel most pro players use on a regular basis . I just run my effects straight thru inline if I use them . As far as level meters , this will be a feature covered by most poweramps . BTW this will be handmade in the USA with point to point wiring . I am trying to keep the selling price under 1500.00 which is really hard for an American made product of this quality .

    Keep talking I'm listening :)

  8. Pete skjold

    Pete skjold Gold Supporting Member

    May 29, 2004
    Warsaw Ohio
    I do want to say that I did considered low mid , mid and high mid . I also considered parametric mids , this is where most of the tweaking happens . But like I said in order to maintain a pure sound that won't fight the basses natural tone I have opted for a passive tone shaping. this should still give a very musical platform to work from, like the FX-1 does .

  9. Not that I have tryed many Pre-Amps... Tryed a few heads though- the
    pre amp & power amp setup isnt as popular in Australia for some reason-
    odd because it works out much cheaper. :eyebrow:

    For an Outboard Pre-Amp. I would like the following.
    Adjustable input volume level tubeish stage, nothing thick though- more on that later.
    Pad for Active / Passive Basses.
    Input / Tuner out Mute.

    High, High Mid, Low Mid, Low, each voiced apporpriatly.
    Efects Blend- to belend the amount of effects, personally I generally like a little bit of something- as opposed to a whole earfull.

    Master Volume, Speaks for it's self really...
    Tube Boost / Gain- this one pushed hard to give a thick tube effect, or still ablable to give clean as a wistle sound- think like Gallien Kruegers G.I.V.E / Boost but thicker in the high setting.
    2 PreAmp output jacks Maybe with a crossover/fullrange option?

    Other Features:
    Effects loop
    DI Out- With Pre/Post EQ/Effects, Ground Lift.

    Hehehe Not to fussy, obviously it doesnt have to be that complex- I would be more likely to buy something more versitile than with a ton of features. So you could probably , drop the two Mid levels for one. Effects blend is useful, but not essential. Although Tonal Versitility is essential, simplicity is always nice too.

    Hope that helps- any comments I would be interested to see what someone who can make this happen thinks about my idea... :bassist:
  10. Pete skjold

    Pete skjold Gold Supporting Member

    May 29, 2004
    Warsaw Ohio
    Good da' Mate !

    I think all of your ideas are great ! As I have said , I am trying to do this for the player who can appreciate the simple appoach to the EQ section and a straight forward DI . You guys are echoing all of my thoughts and to do what most of you are asking for the price would be around 1800.00 for an American made product with all those features. I have had to be very practical here . I still want to hear all of what you guys have to say though , this means so much to me that you guys would do this at this level .

  11. what i want? everything.
  12. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Two DI outs. I like using the DI out on my preamp instead of the 1/4" preamp out to feed the poweramp.
  13. clean tone is not much of a problem. but if you could put overdrive on that amp without losing any of its character. something like chevelle's new album. the bass tone is just killer. i would buy that preamp.
  14. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    I think the preeminent feature in a preamp should be great tone.
    Get that right and you're headed in the best direction.
    I'd love to hear a preamp that has the fast, solid low end of a BBE BMax, the juicy midrange of a Walter Woods, and the spacious treble clarity of the Millennia preamps.

    As far as control feature set, I'd consider the following:
    If you have ruled out parametrics, two different freq. points would be nice for at least the bass control (40Hz & 80Hz).
    If all a person had was passive basses, I would consider this to be a big asset.
    Two freq. points each would be nice for mids and treble, but on a passive tone stack, it might be a piece of work to get everything voiced well.

    [FWIW: I would think the benchmark in the price range you're talking about would be the Millennia TD-1.]

    I wish you the best of luck in your tonal endeavors.
  15. `ash


    Feb 26, 2004
    biamp outs and an adjustable crossover would be nice.
  16. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    With the level of quality you are considering I agree with you Pete, clean and simple. IMO the bassists you are marketing to will want to hear the character and voice of their instruments. Clean and Warm. The Pre EQ send is a must. Having additional XLR balanced outs would add some flexability. I think the lack of a Parametric Mid may discourage some consumers but when the reviews start stacking-up in your favour that may be of little consequence. Bieng low note friendly is a must, 25-30Hz reads well on a spec sheet.
    Just for the sake of conversation I have always wanted to create a Pre with two(yes 2) Pari-mids both @ around 200-600Hz, I have this fantasy about them pushing and pulling against and with each other to creat the perfect mid range bliss, Yes I am pretty stupid.
    From a research point of view, without getting to technical because I lack any technical knowlege, the nicest sounding all around SS pre's I have played through in studio was Summit Audio.
  17. thejohnkim


    Sep 30, 2003
    probably a done deal, but just make sure your DI is protected from phantom power. ive been surprised by some high end preamps that lacked this, and one i owned myself. talk about stressful.

    oh and i like those preamps with the screw-in/out holsters for the tubes that let you easily grasp the tubes so you can swap them, but thats more like icing on the cake. i dislike the ones that make you open up the entire unit to remove the tubes.

    hmmmm cant think of anything else, since it sounds like the design will be K.I.S.S. while being high quality, maybe distinguish yourself with a nice looking front faceplate with sweet weighty knobs, and a subdued but styled out logo. hehe.

    maybe a drive knob that can get some grit out of the tube? then again its kind of annoying since all the preamps that do this require two knob twists.....one to crank the gain....anotehr to turn down the master so you dont blow up the cab/ears/power circuit.....
  18. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I currently use a Demeter HBP-1 or a Read Purity depending on the gig. The Demeter's variable "Q" midrange and bass EQ section is wonderful IMO, the Purity's warm, tubey tone is what I like about it most. If your preamp were to be a "cross" between the two, let me know how much money I need to send for a deposit. I don't know if having a tube in it's signal path is necessary, but I've found I prefer the warmth of one.

    I personally like a preamp to have a flat response and good EQ flexibility, especially in the midrange. I prefer to have simple EQ controls: bass, low mid, high mid, and treble all with boost/cut capabilities. A bright switch is handy as long as it doesn't scoop out any mids when activated. Same for a Deep switch. I'm not a big fan of graphic EQ's. I prefer an internal Jensen D.I., and maybe a built in compressor would be a nice feature.

    Something super reliable and roadworthy with lettering that's easy to read on a dimly lit stage.

    I'm feeling a G.A.S. attack coming on! Please keep us posted on your developments on this project.

    Best regards, -Art
  19. funky_bass_guy

    funky_bass_guy Guest

    Jul 30, 2004
    I think Trace Elliots traffic light style gain seting method is brilliant, red turn down, green turn up, yellow perfect :)
  20. Masher88

    Masher88 Believe in absurdities and you commit atrocities

    May 7, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    Some sort of compressor with adjustable attack/sustain adjustments and a ratio adjustment would be killer. I'm sick of the "one knob" limiter because I have a few basses that all react differently to this one setting on most pre's.

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