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Why Demeter VTBP-201s over HBP-1?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Classic5, Oct 28, 2002.

  1. Classic5


    Mar 31, 2002
    Sorry, I know there are lots of threads on these preamps but there's one question I haven't been able to find the answer to.

    Why does it seem that so many bass players going for the VTBP rather than the HBP-1?

    I'm on the verge of placing an order for the HBP-1 but this one question keeps ringining in my head.

    The HBP-1 is a newer model, its got a parametric eq, it's more versatile in a live situation, and it's not that much more expensive. So why go the VTBP-201?

    My concern with the VTBP-201 is that it won't give me the eq capabilities for those live situations where the room acoustics are a bit odd. Am I missing something here? (I can't try either of them before buying):confused:
  2. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL

    the HBP only has one tube, while the VTBP has two, and IMHO, it does make a diff in tone.

    the VTBP does sound palpably gorgeous, while the HBP isnt as dimensional.

    also, given the HBP's lineage which stems directly from James' studio gear, its tone has a much more "straight to desk" / DI sound, IMHO. you know how we're always saying the VTBP is exactly your bass DI, only louder? well, the HBP is even more so! its not as colored as VTBP which was developed from the ground up as a bass rig preamp in mind.

    does that make sense?

    but still, in a live setting, i've tried both with my Acme B2 and Demeter 3x10, and you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference.

    so, its a matter of what you need. if you're in a busy and dense sounding band that forces you find a sonic niche to groove in, or play in many different sounding rooms, or do sessions needing something versatile, then the HBP is a great choice for anyone. i think Gard uses one, and he gets lots of mileage.

    if you're in a small combo where people will actually be able to distinguish your gorgeously tone, and also you want a simple plug 'n play, sweet sounding preamp, the VTBP is your choice.
  3. Classic5


    Mar 31, 2002
    Jokerjkny, I've seen quite a lot of your posts in this forum and I've got to say that this is the best summation I've ever read on these two preamps.

    Most of my work is live, some rooms are great while some are well, less than great. I'm into R&B, Funk and Rock mainly, and yes usually there's quite a lot going on. It sounds like the HBP-1 would be the way to go in my case. I just couldn't understand why most of the people buying Demeter preamps seemed to be buying the VTBP. I guess from what your saying, if you try the two on their own - with no other band members playing (or in a small outfit) - the tone of the VTBP wins out. But in the real world of varying room acoustics and trying to cut through the rest of the band, the HBP-1 may be the way to go.

    Thanks again.
  4. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    np, classic

    not to throw another big wrench into the proceedings ;), but i gotta be frank & honest, and say once you try the VTBP, the HBP's tone might seem lacking despite all the technical goodies its got. its just that sweet, glassy, round, and smooth sounding.

    that's why i went with my VTBP. versatility-wise, i'm not worried cause, its all in my basses' J-Retro and 3 band Bartolini preamps. so i got the best of both worlds! :D
  5. ebozzz

    ebozzz Supporting Member

    May 17, 2001
    That's a nice way of thinking about it. I've been primarily thinking about versatility of the outboard preamp.
  6. JOME77


    Aug 18, 2002
    Which model did you go with? I struggled between the Demeter VTBP-102S and HBP-1 and the Alembic F1-X. I had previously owned a F1-X and although it sounded great solo, it didn't cut through the mix well at all. I was afraid that I'd run into the same problem with the 102S (lack of EQ). I play in some big older churchs with fairly bad acoustics and finally decided on the HBP-1 for flexability. The Bass Player magazine review rated it real well and overall stated that it would provide the EQ flexability that the 102 lacked. It should be in today. I'll let you know how I rate it.
  7. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    i think the HBP is much better suited for you.

    a friend of mine plays a reaaaaallly boomy auditorium at a local medical school, and his HBP cuts like a hot knife thru butter. his Eden cabs help too, but i like to think its the yummy Demeter pre. ;)
  8. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    I chose the VTBP201s. I play in a 6 man blues/funk/rock band with horns and it cuts real good. I didn't even bridge my amp. Like Joker said if you have an on board your set. We also play in a variety of rooms. I will let you now how it fairs as I go along.
  9. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    One of the reasons I like active electronics on a bass is so I could make room adjustments without walking back and forth to my amp. Most of the places I play are bar/restaurants and I never have the luxory/ time for soundchecks :(
  10. JOME77


    Aug 18, 2002
    I agree with you Jerry (and Joker). I have the 3-band Bart system in my Roscoe fretted and my under construction Roscoe fretless (any time now Keith!) will have the 3-band Bart system also. My 5-string Jazz Warmoth/Moses has the 2-band Bart but it's still capable of some serious EQ. I still like the 2-band Parametric on the HBP-1 to be able to fine tune in on a Freq and boost or cut with-out altering the ones that I like. I basically plan on EQing the room with the Demeter and EQing for each song with the bass on-board EQ. And by the way, the Demeter HBP-1 arrived today. Unfortunately the Stewart 1.6 won't be here until Monday!:(
  11. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    ok here goes
    i guess i am in the minority
    after a/b ing both preamps i found that the flat sound of the hbp1 was tighter than the 201s
    this was done with the active eq shut off (true bypass)
    the store owner also agreed
    calling demeter kind of confirmed this as they said that the solid state out would react faster than the tube out on the 201s
    biggest difference seemed to be much tighter lows
    so in my opinion the hbp-1 wins in the overall tone dept
    that being said, i think you would be hard pressed to tell which one i was using live if my rack was covered
    i also think that the 2 band fully parametric eq is far superior to any active electronics found on any bass
    another difference may be the tubes used, bp said the h series had a chinese tube while the 201s had 2 sovteks
    to add further cofusion, the store owner who i checked the preamps out with said a customer brought in one of the older 1 and 1/2 space demeters in for comparison and it blew both newer models away
  12. Classic5


    Mar 31, 2002
    Thanks for the constructive comments guys.

    The search is over - I've ordered the HBP-1 and it's on its way.

    In the end, because I'll be mainly using it for live gigs, and I have both active and passive basses, the HBP-1 made more sense.

    I appreciate all your input - it really helped make my decision less of a guessing game.

  13. JOME77


    Aug 18, 2002
    Same here Classic! I really appreciate everyone at TB sharing their knowledge and experience. Having not played through the Demeter it was difficult to make a decison to purchase it over the Alembic F1-X that I had heard. And to make it more difficult, I had to decide between 2 models of the Demeter that I had never heard. Special thanks to Gard who got caught in the middle and had to stop delivery of the VTBP-201S and ship the HBP-1! He's a great guy to deal with! The Stewart 1.6 won't arrive until Moday but I'll be sure to post some first impressions of the HBP-1!:)
  14. I've had the opportunity to A/B the VTBP201s and HBP-1 at length, being employed by a dealer with one of each on the floor and ready to go at all times.

    Tonally they are very similar when set flat - as IvanMike mentioned the HBP is a bit "tighter" in response, but otherwise, they're almost indistinguishable from each other.

    The biggest deciding factor for me was being able to tailor the precise frequencies and cut/boost with the HBP.

    In a live situation, I believe the HBP is the right choice, if you're recording the VTBP would be good. But, I did do some recording recently with the HBP and it sounded great on tape!
  15. JOME77


    Aug 18, 2002
    We'll my Stewart 1.6 arrived today and I got to check out the Demeter HBP-1 preamp that arrived last week. My first impression was that it is a much warmer sound than my SWR SM-400S. I certainly see what everyone was talking about concerning the limited tonal variations using the basic 4-band passive EQ! It appears to be a very flat sounding pre-amp. Great warm sound but very subtle EQ capability using the 4-band EQ section. BUT the HBP-1 has the additional 2 band parametric EQ section! Definetly the best choice for me! I can't imagine the VTBP-102S sounding any better and I would be forced to purchase some additonal EQ device (graphic or parametric) in order to dial in the sounds that I need in some of the large old churches that I play. Compaired to the Alembic F1-X I'd have to say that the HBP-1 has the ability to get many more useful sounds. The F1-X has a great solo sound (with the Mid's cut) but unforunately that sound doesn't cut through in a live band situation. The HBP-1 is a keeper! Still haven't played it in a real band setting but I expect no problems. And by the way, the Stewart 1.6 truely rocks!:D
  16. Chuck M

    Chuck M Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    San Antonio, Texas
    The VTBP-201S and the older VTBP-201 have an all tube signal path. The HBP-1 has some integrated circuits in the signal path. It does make a difference in the tone.

    I prefer the tone of the older VTBP-201 over the single rack space 201S. I may just be hearing what I want to hear, however.

    I've also installed some nice NOS tubes in my Demeter preamps and the 201S that I tried had the OEM tubes in it. Gotta make a difference.

    I think that we actually end up splitting hairs over the tone of our rigs. That is not a bad thing, however, I suspect that most of us would be very pleased with our tone while playing through any Demeter, Aguilar or SWR Grand Prix that had good tubes in it and the EQ tweaked to suit us.

    The EQ on my older Demeter preamps is subtle but has proved to be enough for my purposes. Most of my basses have nice preamps but usually sound great with the EQ set flat.

  17. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    I have the older 1 1/2 space unit and I haven't had to purchase any additional EQ device. I don't play in churches, but I have always been easily able to get a good sound.
  18. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    that's the only niggle i have with both preamps.

    the tone controls are useless. but the Parametric on the HBP is amazingly accurate. IMHO, its a bit more useful to me than my DB680, cause the DB sculps the highs and mids, while leaving the bass just a measily three way toggle and single boost/cut knob. the HBP on the other hand, allows you to sculp both the mids and bass, which IMHO, are much more important on a bass. i mean, its all about the low end, no? ;)
  19. JOME77


    Aug 18, 2002
    What's a good source for the NOS tubes? Would they be referenced as 12AX7NOS? I'd definetely like to experiment with some different tube types. And I do think that you're right when you state that sometimes we split hairs over the tone of our rigs. When you compare most high end gear, the differences can be very subtle in a live band situation.
  20. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    well, here are my latest thoughts after reading the replys after my last post...........
    i found the passive tone controls on both demeter preamps to be fairly flexible.
    in fact, i was kinda dissapointed that the h-series had fixed the bass and presence frequency centers (60 hz and 2k) rather than leave them adjustable like on the 201-s
    but the parametric eq definitely is hands down the most useful eq i have ever seen on any amp
    but, if you don't use it on a particular situation definitely bypass it. you can hear a slight difference in the tone when that circut is added to the signal path
    i currently use an alembic f1-x and an alembic superfilter
    i have found that that preamp can cut very well depending on the eq setting (without using the superfilter)
    outside of straight up tonal differences the biggest difference in the alembic and demeter passive eq's is what is and is not flat
    the demeters are flat with bass mid and treble at 12 o clock and presence completly off
    however, bass mid and treble at 12 o clock on an alembic is far from flat. the passive interactive tone controls take a lot of getting used to
    going by the #s on the dials flat is more like bass 3, mid 10, treble 3, bright and deep switches off
    to cut really well i like 10, 10, 10 which if you look at the alembic liturature leaves you with a low mid cut but not a dramatic one........very similar to an eden or swr set flat but with gobs more warmth and life
    still waiting to get a demeter and an a/b box before my power amp

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