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Why does my Fishman Pocket Blender sound so good?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by CHYC, Apr 23, 2019.


  1. CHYC

    CHYC

    Dec 28, 2018
    United Kingdom
    Hi all, first post and apologies it's so vague but I'm not an expert by any stretch.

    My setup is a double bass with a Fishman Full Circle [FC] going into a Fishman Pocket Blender [PB] going into an Acoustic Image Coda [AI]. Even though the Blender is capable of servicing a microphone I am just using it as a preamp for my FC. I am very happy with the sound I get. My worry is that I just cannot seem to replicate it with other gear and I'm scared now that I've learnt that the PB is discontinued.

    When I leave the PB out of the chain [FC straight into the AI], the volume seems to be inconsistent coming out of the amp. It starts of really loud, but as the gig progresses (say half an hour) I seem to be turning it up to hear myself until it starts farting. I don't have to do that with the PB. Even that aside, the sound I get is much more even and warm, less scratchy perhaps. It may just be my ears playing tricks on me which is why I apologize in advance for being so vague. Now there's something called impedence matching which I've heard about, but from what I've read the AI should cope with piezo pickups fine.

    I have tried a Fishman Platinum Pro EQ Bass (yes I'm a stickler for Fishman stuff) and despite all the extra knobs and notches I just cannot get the sound to be quite so nice as the PB set flat.

    I can try to post sound clips but I'm not really in a position to blast out at home so it may be a while before I can get the chance.

    TL;DR: To my ears my AI amp gets quieter through a gig without using a Fishman Pocket blender and the tone not so rich. With the PB it's perfect but I'm scared that this 15 year old piece of kit won't last forever and I'll have difficulty finding an equivalent should I need to.

    The PB was never famed for its tonal characteristics so I don't know what to look for if I ever were to source a replacement. I thought the Platinum Pro EQ Bass would be it, but it isn't sadly.
     
  2. conte2music

    conte2music Supporting Member

    Jul 11, 2005
    Dobbs Ferry, NY
    Guitar Center has a used one for sale for $99. If it truly provides you with that level of comfort and confidence; I think you should scoop up a backup or two as they become available on the used market.

    What works for you is all that's important. We can all claim you could find your tone with a whole list of other gear, but the point of equipment across the board is to make us more comfortable. It sounds like you've found it : - )
     
  3. CHYC

    CHYC

    Dec 28, 2018
    United Kingdom
    Very good advice, thanks. I was hoping there was some "make it sound better" button that is on by default on the PB but is off for the other preamps I've tried that look like a pilot's cockpit :) You're right though that buying second hand is a perfectly valid option.

    Have you heard of amps getting quieter through a gig unless run through a preamp? That may just be a psychological thing but the other members of the band notice it too so it's not just me.
     
    conte2music likes this.
  4. conte2music

    conte2music Supporting Member

    Jul 11, 2005
    Dobbs Ferry, NY
    What speaker cabinet do you use?

    Sometimes speakers can have thermal issues. In the most basic way I understand it; As you play they warm up and will actually rise in impedance which pulls less power from your amp. But...if that's not happening when you use your PB then that's probably not the issue.
     
  5. CHYC

    CHYC

    Dec 28, 2018
    United Kingdom
    It's an Acoustic Image Coda combo. The thing does get warm, but I wouldn't say hot and yes with the PB it's not happening. I cannot explain it either. I may try with the Pro-EQ to see if that's happening there. I haven't because I just prefer the sound of the PB so never used the Pro-EQ for extended periods.
     
    bdowd likes this.
  6. conte2music

    conte2music Supporting Member

    Jul 11, 2005
    Dobbs Ferry, NY
    It's likely that your band mates are just getting louder as the night goes on.
     
    Groove Doctor and Selim like this.
  7. CHYC

    CHYC

    Dec 28, 2018
    United Kingdom
    That's a possible answer, but a bit strange that it doesn't happen with the PB. I'll have to test further with the Pro-EQ Platinum.
     
    conte2music likes this.
  8. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Yes, this sounds like an undeclared amp-war going on to me, and your PB probably just gives you more headroom. I come from a primarily acoustic roots environment where folks aren't used to amps and only occasionally use them -- when they do use amps, no one knows to just leave them alone after the music starts, and these secret amp-wars start up all the time.

    Comfort is important with signal chains, but hardware obsolescence does become a problem. I have an old single channel Fishman ProEQ II pre-amp that I used for other instruments for years before I got my double bass; it worked fine with my double bass for the bridge wing pickup on my Vic's Model C 2-piezo set, but of course didn't support the fingerboard pickup for slap. I lived with that for a while, but after I saw I was going to use both pickups, I replaced the old Fishman with a K&K Dual Channel Pro ST -- still mildly older tech, but kept updated by K&K and still available all over the place brand new; I've been extremely happy with it and love only having two knobs to worry about. I still keep and carry the old Fishman as a backup.
     
  9. Not only the speaker may change the impedance, also the Full Circle might do that. A higher input impedance at the first amplification stage might reduce the (unpleasant) effect a lot.
    What is the input impedance of your preamp and your amp?

    A HPFpre with a 10 MegOhms input impedance might solve the volume issue.
     
  10. CHYC

    CHYC

    Dec 28, 2018
    United Kingdom
    Thanks.

    Pocket Blender: 10MΩ
    Acoustic Image: 1MΩ

    Is that going to make a significant difference?
     
  11. CHYC

    CHYC

    Dec 28, 2018
    United Kingdom
    Really interesting find today. Just for a laugh I decided to try comparing the PB and the Pro-EQ Platinum when playing an electric bass with a PJ pickup configuration (EB is not where my heart lies or where I'm comfortable, but that's not the point here). Night and day the Pro-EQ Platinum was the better sounding preamp all flat and it was a joy to make it sound even better with the notch EQs. I now totally understand why the Platinum exists (or existed).

    Now, turning to the PB, there is a most definite hump around the low G-B area where everything is nice, warm yet responsive. Everywhere else on the fretboard sounded weedy to my ears. I saw this as my opportunity and tried to dial that into the Pro-EQ, but it was no good. I could get a pronounced punch around that area twiddling a few knobs, but at the expense of booming somewhere else on the fretboard.

    It is interesting that I always thought the PB to be the holy grail of my tone quest when just swapping out for an electric really showed how coloured the box really is. Hopefully this is a chance to see if I can mimic the frequency response with another preamp, by using an electric at home.
     
  12. For a Full Circle it is common sense here that 5 MegOhms is best. A higher impedance is usually better than a lower impedance, so the 10 MegOhms (twice the optimum) should be a lot better than 1 MegOhms (a fifth of the optimum).

    A HPFpre also has 10 MegOhms input impedance and a very linear frequency response. Not many bells and whistles, but a good helper to get the signal as good as it can be for any amp that is not heavily voiced (which means that has a linear frequency response, not a shaped one which is often the case for bass guitar amps). And it is very cheap compared to typical preamps.

    BTW, any preamp with a (too) high input impedance can be modified to a lower one by connecting a resistor in parallel (with the MegOhm resistor which is in general the only one in that range in the preamp, so easy to identify).
    In case of the common 10 MegOhms to 5 MegOhms conversion a second 10 MegOhms resistor in parallel with the built-in 10 MegOhms resistor results in an effective input impedance of 5 MegOhms.

    And I'm sure Francis will make you a HPFpre with a 4.7 MegOhms resistor (or two 10 MegOhms resistors in parallel) if you ask for it. Just might take a bit longer since he cannot send one from the shelf.
     
    Selim likes this.
  13. CHYC

    CHYC

    Dec 28, 2018
    United Kingdom
    Thanks, I'll bear that in mind.
     
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