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Pre-amp Shopping!


Scoot

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Ah yes, the season of pre-amp shopping is almost upon me. The only prob is that most of these local dealers are not willing/able to carry expensive pieces of equipment in inventory. So this means that I'll have to buy blindly and hope that I don't have to go through the pains of returning equipment.

 

Anyways . . . here are the final contestants and the best prices I could get:

 

Ashdown RPM1 ($519)

Ampeg SVP-Pro (or the B. Sheehan model) ($399)

 

Any comments/suggestions? Other brands carried here in town are: Peavey, Hartke, SWR, and Yamaha. Is Bumpcity out there to talk me into the Ashdown?

 

thanks again

Ah, nice marmot.
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Scootdog, my main mission at the NAMM show this weekend is to try all the preamps that I can. Just recently I tried the Aguilar and the Peavey Max at a friend's house. The Peavey sounded good and is still in the running. Although my friend is really sold on the Aguilar it didn't work for me.

 

Wally

I have basses to play, places to be and good music to make!
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Scoot,

 

What's the max $$$ that you can spend? This would affect what I might recommend.

 

Also, there are often good deals on used preamps out there so some stuff that might be out of your price range new might be worth looking into used.

 

In addition, what kind of tones are looking for? (warm, bright, dub-worthy, etc.) What kind of features? (2-channels? overdrive? eq types? etc.)

 

Peace.

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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And, of course, even though I don't own one I still think they're the BOMB and then some --

 

Kern, Kern, Kern! (OK, so maybe it would run you close to $1000, but I still gotta put it out there!) I can't let a preamp thread go by without putting the IP-777 in the conversation. ;):D

 

Peace,

--s-dub

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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Originally posted by Wally Malone:

Scootdog, my main mission at the NAMM show this weekend is to try all the preamps that I can. Just recently I tried the Aguilar and the Peavey Max at a friend's house. The Peavey sounded good and is still in the running. Although my friend is really sold on the Aguilar it didn't work for me.

 

Wally

Wally,

 

After NAMM could you maybe give us a summary of your preamp testing experience?

 

Which Ag preamp? They've got two, I think.

 

--Willie

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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i can comment on the ampeg SVP-BSP and the peavey max, and i have, and love, both.

 

the ampeg has ampeg tone. it's great, and it's a lot of fun. i learned, however, that it's a preamp that, when the strings are dead, goes dead itself. this is not necessarily a bad thing; very few amps and preamps stay good all the time. but it was something i knew by the third set, when my strings were like rubber bands, that the ampeg would not sound good to me without mixing in a very healthy dose of overdrive as a mask. new, clean strings, however, and we're talking huge, snappy, aggressive tone.

 

part of the reason why i don't like SWR is because their amps sound decent to me when the strings are new, but absolutely atrocious the second the natural snap goes away.

 

i love my peavey max for that very reason. i don't know how they do it, but even when the strings are dead, it sounds pretty good. i also love the two-channel design they have. one is tubed, and the other is solid-state, and you can blend the two. there are a lot of different ways to use that feature, too, so it's always fun to try new things with it.

 

also, the max sounds pretty nice when everything is fresh. i would use it for recording, for its flexibility, and it has some great tones in it. in fact, if i were going direct, i probably wouldn't use the ampeg in the studio (not as a first choice, at least). the max is just more flexible and more able to all the things i want to do. the ampeg is very nice, and i'd love to get some of its amplified tones to tape, but it hasn't shown itself to be nearly as diverse as the max. they're both really great.

 

though they weren't on the top of my list at the start of my preamp search, they ended up on top. the only other preamp i would have liked to have tried is the warwick quadruplet. i have always enjoyed playing warwick amps, and i think their pre would be nice, too.

 

robb.

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Check out Demeter's great sounding tube preamps as well.

 

They have two models. The VTBP is a bare-bones, less-is-more variety (gain, bass, mid, treble, and a couple of EQ voicing switches), while the HBP-1 has some extra midrange controls.

 

Check 'em out. The Demeter scored nearly as high as the Alembic in BP's shootout, and some people say they prefer the Demeter to the Alembic.

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Cool, thanks for all the responses on a subject that is often discussed here!

 

As far as the Alembic, Demeter and Warwick, unfortunately there are no dealers within hundreds of miles from here (although I'm sure a Warwick would sound great w/ my Warwick cab and 4 string.) I'll check out a PeaveyMax, and I've already played through a friends' SVP-Pro.

 

But I gotta admit I'm itchin' to try the Ashdown RPM1 with it's 4 boost/cut sliders, sub-harmonizer and input mix. And I can't forget about that Old School VU meter!

 

Bump? We know you have an opinion on this pre.

 

BTW - I'm pretty much sold on a Crown MT1200 for my power amp ($560 new!!) I'm glowing already about having 970W instead of the 200W I'm used to. Ahh, I'll finally have headroom. :D

Ah, nice marmot.
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Originally posted by Scootdog:

Cool, thanks for all the responses on a subject that is often discussed here!

 

But I gotta admit I'm itchin' to try the Ashdown RPM1 with it's 4 boost/cut sliders, sub-harmonizer and input mix. And I can't forget about that Old School VU meter!

 

Bump? We know you have an opinion on this pre.

Forgive me... I'm a worthless slacker bastard for not commenting earlier. :D

 

Well, I think you can guess my comments on the Ashdown. It's sex. I love it.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

oh, you wanted more? ;)

.

I think the best statement I can make is this: I've owned the following amps in the past, and the Ashdown kicks all of their asses. Ampeg SVT-classic, SWR SM900, and an Eden World Tour 800.

 

The Ashdown can give you the snarly tube growl of the Ampeg w/o the wonderful 90lbs that you get with the Classic SVT. The Ashdown can give you a none-more-clean tone like the SWR and Eden heads can, but at significantly less $$$. It weighs next to nothing, it's got a super-cool VU meter so you can tell how fast you're playing :D , and the built-in sub-harmonizer is actually pretty darn good; although it does start to have some tracking issues in the upper register (above 17th fret 'C' on the G string). The EQ section of the thing just rocks, very small adjustments make a very noticable difference in tone. This means that you have a great deal of cut and boost if you really want it.. Truth be told, I have my EQ settings damn near flat on mine and my bass pre-amp EQ is completely flat 90% of the time as well. It just sounds really, really good.

 

Oh, and mine is the Entwistle signature series, so it's got a silver face and the 'power' button has a really cool blue LED in the middle of it. :D

 

Speaker cabs are an entirely different beast... even the best pre-amps, or amps for that matter, can sound like utter poo if your speaker cabs bite the hiney. Right now I use two Bag End S15B cabs (each has 1 15" speaker in it). I'm seriously considering selling them and buying 2 SWR goliath III cabs (4x10). :cry: That evil bastard Bryan Beller reminded me how much 10's can totally and utterly kick ass. I totally don't have the money to do this right now. I feel a bad case of G.A.S. coming on.

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So . . . you like it? Actually that's what I wanted to hear. Everything I've read about this amp is amazing. The two pair of boost/cut sliders in between the 3 eq knobs is a very nice feature (basically gives you a 7 band eq while keeping the hi/mid/low simplicity.)

 

I did have one question about it that I couldn't find in the manual. What kind/How many of tubes does this have? It says that the Input Mix Control "routes the signal either through a clean Solid State amp section or through a Dual Triode Valve/Tube amp section." Of course the answer may be in that "Dual Triode Valve/Tube" part, but that means nothing to me. Help Bump?

 

Also, you mentioned the octave tracking probs up high, how about way down low on a 5? No probs?

 

And yeah, the VU meter is one of those "so-cool-that-I'll-buy-it-just-because-of-that" features.

Ah, nice marmot.
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Originally posted by Scootdog:

So . . . you like it? Actually that's what I wanted to hear. Everything I've read about this amp is amazing. The two pair of boost/cut sliders in between the 3 eq knobs is a very nice feature (basically gives you a 7 band eq while keeping the hi/mid/low simplicity.)

 

I did have one question about it that I couldn't find in the manual. What kind/How many of tubes does this have? It says that the Input Mix Control "routes the signal either through a clean Solid State amp section or through a Dual Triode Valve/Tube amp section." Of course the answer may be in that "Dual Triode Valve/Tube" part, but that means nothing to me. Help Bump?

 

Also, you mentioned the octave tracking probs up high, how about way down low on a 5? No probs?

 

And yeah, the VU meter is one of those "so-cool-that-I'll-buy-it-just-because-of-that" features.

I honestly have no clue about anything inside the thing. I just know that the tube section sounds super-fly. Give Chad a call at Bass NW and ask him, I'm sure he knows (because he's a bass gear ninja) 206.622.2277

 

Oh, and I forgot to mention, if you call Chad, make sure you ask him about this bass... he LOVES talking about this monstrosity. :D:D

 

http://www.bassnw.com/Used%20Basses/fender_1957_pbass_bartolini_kahler.htm

 

Why anyone would do that to a 57' p-bass is well beyond comprehension.

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Wally,

 

After NAMM could you maybe give us a summary of your preamp testing experience?

 

Which Ag preamp? They've got two, I think.

 

--Willie[/QB]

 

Willie, I wasn't aware there are two Ags. I'll have to ask my friend which model it was that I tried. I'll post my experiences with preamps when I get back from the NAMM show.

 

Wally

I have basses to play, places to be and good music to make!
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Yeah, I'm sure that Eden sounds great. Always heard great things about their products.

 

It's just too bad that the "music store economy" here in Wichita doesn't allow the stores to carry larger inventories. I'd love to try all these expensive toys out.

 

PS - Bump, check your PM. I got info about the RPM1 tube section back from Ashdown.

Ah, nice marmot.
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One thing to consider is that (depending on your budget), you might be able to afford one "oops". Order a pre that you can't get locally from someone with a solid return policy, and bring it to the store with the Ashdown. If you suspect the Kern or Demeter or Warwick or Avalon or RavenLabs or whatever might suit your needs, that might be a way to be sure, and it will cost you the shipping to find out.

 

One thing about preamps is that I group them into two types. The "traditional" ones have tone controls that we see on bass amps (low,mid,high, or something like that). The other types have a less specific tone arrangement (like the Avalon U5). Lots of people love the Avalon (including our own Ben) while others go for the more traditional types (like our own Ben Loy).

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Originally posted by Sweet Willie:

 

Which Ag preamp? They've got two, I think.

 

--Willie[/QB]

Willie, I talked with my friend today and he informed me that the Ag was a model 659

 

Wally

I have basses to play, places to be and good music to make!
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Originally posted by Wally Malone:

Originally posted by Sweet Willie:

 

Which Ag preamp? They've got two, I think.

 

--Willie

Willie, I talked with my friend today and he informed me that the Ag was a model 659

 

Wally

Wally,

 

They also have the DB680, which is 2 rackspaces and has a dual parametric EQ (yes, parametric w/ Q controls, not semi-parametric). I haven't played it, but it's a little more full-featured than the DB659. It might be worth a test drive at NAMM.

 

You can find more details here , under "products" and then "preamps".

 

Peace.

--s-dub

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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Originally posted by Scootdog:

Anyways . . . here are the final contestants and the best prices I could get:

 

Ashdown RPM1 ($519)

:idea: I've tried the Ashdown and I'll tell you what, if you don't want it at $519.00 tell me where the deal is and I'll get it! :D;)

It is from Blues that all that may be called American music derives it's most distinctive characteristics.

 

-James Weldon Johnson

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And, I own a Peavey MAX. Don't be fooled by the Peavey name. It's a good preamp. I actually tried mine side by side with the RPM1 and it held it's own. I like the RPM1 a little more but most dealers are selling that RPM1 at $750.00. I didn't like it that much! ;)

It is from Blues that all that may be called American music derives it's most distinctive characteristics.

 

-James Weldon Johnson

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Originally posted by Scootdog:

I did have one question about it that I couldn't find in the manual. What kind/How many of tubes does this have? It says that the Input Mix Control "routes the signal either through a clean Solid State amp section or through a Dual Triode Valve/Tube amp section." Of course the answer may be in that "Dual Triode Valve/Tube" part, but that means nothing to me.

It's got one 12AX7 in it and so does the Peavey MAX. If I were buying new and I could get the RPM1 at $519.00, I would probably go for the RPM1. It just has a more depth, definition and clarity. You can get the MAX at about $330.00 new and as I have stated before, it held it's own wiuth the RPM1. Although, the RPM1 was clearly the better sounding preamp to my ears.

It is from Blues that all that may be called American music derives it's most distinctive characteristics.

 

-James Weldon Johnson

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I woke up this morn and felt a little saucy, so I went down to a couple of stores and ordered up my new rig. :D So now I have to wait about two weeks for the Ashdown RPM1 and Crown MT1200 to arrive. Should be cool. My singer is already threatening to quit if I get too loud. Who, me? ;)
Ah, nice marmot.
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I guess that means no RPM1 deal for me then, huh? :(;) Congratulations!

It is from Blues that all that may be called American music derives it's most distinctive characteristics.

 

-James Weldon Johnson

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I got it and thanks for the tip! I'm sending a message to them now. And, you're exactly right. Having friends does help tremendously.

It is from Blues that all that may be called American music derives it's most distinctive characteristics.

 

-James Weldon Johnson

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Originally posted by BenLoy:

The Demeter scored nearly as high as the Alembic in BP's shootout, and some people say they prefer the Demeter to the Alembic.

Wow, the 20 preamps shootout was back in early 1995 (Jan/Feb issue)! Good memory, or good archiving, Loy!

 

The Demeter VTBP-201, the Alembic F-1X, and the SWR Grand Prix were the high scorers. Although several on this board have extolled the virtues of the Peavey Max, the BP shootout shot it down. The Ampeg SVP-Pro also scored well, but was a little noisy/hissy -- but, hey, what d'ya want? It's got a buncha tubes in it!

 

Since that issue other preamps have come out (Kern, Ampeg SVP-BSP) and some in the shootout have been discontinued (SWR Grand Prix).

 

The Ashdown, which I haven't played, is probably a winner. Enjoy it, Scootdog!

 

Peace.

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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Originally posted by Sweet Willie:

Originally posted by BenLoy:

[qb]Although several on this board have extolled the virtues of the Peavey Max, the BP shootout shot it down.

In the 8 years or so since that shootout, maybe Peavey has made some improvements to the MAX. As I stated earlier, I really liked the Ashdown RPM1 but not at the price point that most dealers that I have contacted were asking for it. The performance of my MAX was very impressive when i compared it to the RPM1 but the Ashdown just did things more to my liking. It wasn't "night & day" better and I didn't leave the store feeling like I had to have it at $750.00. Now if I can happen upon a deal similar to Scoot's, I'd be very interested.

 

I'm not suggesting that you're looking for a preamp at this time but I would say that the MAX is worth a spin if you can try one. I bought mine for a short term fix but it has made my search for the next preamp more difficult as it's a pretty versatile piece of gear. The Chinese made 12AX7 that come stock in it was swapped for a Sovtek 12AX7LPS. I juts got an Ei Elite Yugoslavian 12AX7/ECC83 that I'm anxious to try. The LPS was a definite improvement though.

It is from Blues that all that may be called American music derives it's most distinctive characteristics.

 

-James Weldon Johnson

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