The Preamp DI Thread

What's Hot
BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
Thought I'd start a thread on a topic that might be of interest to folks. 

Lots of people ask about what amp/combo to get for home playing and occasional bedroom playing or maybe even for recording bass - it's popular on here with guitarists looking to put real bass down on recordings at home. 

Thing is, I haven't used a real amp for a long time now. For bass, both at home, and gigging, I use a small pedalboard with a Preamp/DI pedal on, and then:

Gigs = Preamp/DI -> FRFR (QSC K10.2) -> FOH
Home = Preamp/DI -> Helix -> Phones or Monitors

TBH you could use anything to convert the DI out into sound either through phones or monitors so the Helix is irrelevant - I effectively use it as an audio interface USB'd up to the Mac and then either XLR to the monitors or Phones out. It lets me use the whole range of helix effects tho. 

I personally think that a Preamp DI pedal is a better option for home use compared to a combo amp. So I thought it would be nice to have a thread to share experiences and collect thoughts over the good/bad/indifferent choices out there.

Preamp DI's I have:

Ampeg SCR-DI
EHX Battalion
Hotone B:Station
Dr J Sparrow
Dave Hall Amps VTI-EQ-DI-Std

The first 4 are transistor based, and the Dave Hall has a tube in it for Preamp - it's a 12AX7 (ECC83) and I have to say, this is the closest I've ever got to that full on Ampeg tone - I dunno what he does to them but it just sounds unbelievably natural, growly, thumpy and creamy and it's really changed my opinion of how to get that classic tone (if that's what you are after). 

Ironically, I've just ordered an Ampeg PF-20T to sit in the studio on top of my Barefaced Compact for recording - and it will be an interesting comparison, but so far the Dave Hall really is delivering the vintage tones that I've been looking for - it will be live gigging choice number 1. 



I'll share my thoughts on the others below - and I'm planning on getting a couple more Preamp DI's to go with it. 

Thoughts appreciated!
0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 1reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
«13456

Comments

  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
    Ampeg SCR-DI

    Costs around £180 new. 

    It's the preamp section from the PF-350/500 series in a box with a DI out and the scrambler circuit for overdrive. Solid construction. Looks work-like. 

    This was the first Preamp/DI I picked up and it's been gigged a lot. It does a reasonable Ampeg impression - EQ is nicely implemented with usable frequencies - the Hi and Lo boosts are useful if you like that sort of thing. The scrambler lets it down a bit as it's not a convincing overdrive or distortion - it's sort of in between but neither. For clean tones though, it's really good if you want that more modern Ampeg tone. 
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
    EHX Battalion

    Costs around £130 new.

    Really good value for money - you get EQ, Drive, Compression and DI for not much money. The drive is very controllable - you can set it to pre or post EQ and there's level/blend/drive/tone knobs. EQ is nicely voiced and usable but not as good at controlling mids as the Ampeg. 

    Good for Clean, but better if you like a bit of modern drive blended in. Definitely punches above it's weight for the money. I'd say it's worth it for the cash as the preamp character is a good warm balanced tone. 
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7201
    I've had a bunch of them!  I remember writing a long post about them a while ago, just found it - http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/comment/1694395/#Comment_1694395 ;

    I've since sold a bunch of those.

    My favourites are the Darkglass and the Tech 21 stuff.  Darkglass do their own plugin now under Neural DSP, it's worth a look and sounds very close to the hardware.  I've yet to find an emulation that has the character I like from my RBI.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
    Hotone B:Station

    Costs around £130 new.

    It's similarly priced to the EHX Battalion and in some ways they are similar. The B:Station is smaller if space is a concern, and the compression is a bit better on it. Less controls on the drive (drive & blend) but it does a really good job of giving a gritty modern drive tone. EQ is good - but the preamp doesn't have as much character as the EXH so it can sound a little bland. 
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
    Dr J Sparrow

    Costs around £60 new.

    It's cheap, and it's really small so you can squeeze other stuff on your board. It has a decent drive section with mix, and a harmonies knob for some character.. It's serviceable but not as good as the EHX/Hotone. EQ is a bit more limited and the drive is a bit on/off but otherwise it does a functional job for not much cash at all. If you are looking for a cheap backup DI it's more than good enough..
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
    I've had a bunch of them!  I remember writing a long post about them a while ago, just found it - http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/comment/1694395/#Comment_1694395 ;

    I've since sold a bunch of those.

    My favourites are the Darkglass and the Tech 21 stuff.  Darkglass do their own plugin now under Neural DSP, it's worth a look and sounds very close to the hardware.  I've yet to find an emulation that has the character I like from my RBI.
    Nice - I'll have a read of your post. I need to get a Tech21 Probably the vintage one for the tone I like.. tho I really should  have a Sansamp.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
    Thought it would be nice for people to fill in others and give comments if you think it's worth it so prospective DI buyers can get a round up.. also, feel free to disagree with my comments!
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
    Dave Hall Amps VTI-EQ-DI-Std

    Costs around £150 new.

    Crikey. You get a handmade pedal with felt pen writing on it and a valve sticking out the top. 

    It has a 3 way active EQ with a 'Q' knob to set the mids frequency - very very usable. You get a DI volume knob so you can set it separate to the output volume to your amp, an input level to compensate for actives etc. a gain, level and colour controls set which gives you proper valve amp drive. 

    There's also a boost knob which can be switched on or off. 

    It does one sound. Old school valve preamp warm chunky smooth bass. With drive. I really like this sort of sound so for me, it sounds glorious. It makes my 64 P sound like I'm actually in a Motown recording session. I love it just for that. For metal/modern sounds I suspect it's rubbish. I dunno.

    If you want that classic old school valve amp tone (Ampeg B15 etc.) then it gets close. Real close. And it does it in a nice compact box. Does take 12v tho to work properly (will cope with 9v but you lose output volume) so you need a posh power supply for it. 

    I bloody love it - but it's a proper one trick pony. 
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
    I've got a Behringer BDI-21 on the way so I'll pop that one in as well, and I suspect the next purchase will be a GK Plex
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7201
    Tech 21 wise I've got an RBI and the VT bass DI.

    The VT bass is super versatile but can be a little fiddly.  The character setting can change the sound a lot, you'll likely have to re-balance the drive and EQ as you change the settings.  But it will cover fat cleans up to tight drive.  It has a switchable cab sim, though sometimes I switch that off and use an IR in my DAW.

    The RBI basically does a couple of sounds, but the gritty sound it does is quite unique and it seems to especially like Fender Ps and Js.  I've found it doesn't so much like a deep low end boost from an active preamp into the front if you're using higher drive settings.  If you use full blend it can get a bit scooped sounding.  It has a baked in Cab sim on the drive portion.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
    Tech 21 wise I've got an RBI and the VT bass DI.

    The VT bass is super versatile but can be a little fiddly.  The character setting can change the sound a lot, you'll likely have to re-balance the drive and EQ as you change the settings.  But it will cover fat cleans up to tight drive.  It has a switchable cab sim, though sometimes I switch that off and use an IR in my DAW.

    The RBI basically does a couple of sounds, but the gritty sound it does is quite unique and it seems to especially like Fender Ps and Js.  I've found it doesn't so much like a deep low end boost from an active preamp into the front if you're using higher drive settings.  If you use full blend it can get a bit scooped sounding.  It has a baked in Cab sim on the drive portion.
    Was considering the VT bass to scratch my Tech21 itch I must admit.. fiddly sort of describes the Ampeg SCR-DI as well.. 
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
    Meant to add - for bedroom warriors and beginners, the following ones I have have a headphones out/line in

    Ampeg SCR-DI has Line in and Headphones out
    EXH Battalion has nowt (!)
    Hotone B:Station has Headphones out
    Dr J Sparrow has nowt (!)
    Dave Hall has nowt (not surprising!)
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7201
    I haven't used the Ampeg pedal.

    Basically the character control on the VT Bass DI changes the sound from scooped mids and fat/warm tonality to boosted mids and tight/clanky tonality.  It's very powerful.  If you just leave it in one position the pedal is easy to dial in.  If you move it a half turn you've completely changed the core sound of the pedal, so it's not a control you'd tweak much in a hurry.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
    I haven't used the Ampeg pedal.

    Basically the character control on the VT Bass DI changes the sound from scooped mids and fat/warm tonality to boosted mids and tight/clanky tonality.  It's very powerful.  If you just leave it in one position the pedal is easy to dial in.  If you move it a half turn you've completely changed the core sound of the pedal, so it's not a control you'd tweak much in a hurry.
    The issue with the Ampeg is the knobs hold very little resistance, and the EQ is really powerful - a quick tweak and the tone changes completely - so setting a sound and keeping it is pretty hard. The final result is very good tho. 

    Sounds like the VT is a set and forget..
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7201
    If the knobs have little resistance then buy some mini rubber washers.  Take the knobs off, fit the correct size rubber washer, replace the knob on top and you should get some decent friction.  I've had to do it on pedals once or twice.  To be honest I can't even remember what size washers I used, I bought a multi pack of sizes from Amazon and haven't ever run out.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
    If the knobs have little resistance then buy some mini rubber washers.  Take the knobs off, fit the correct size rubber washer, replace the knob on top and you should get some decent friction.  I've had to do it on pedals once or twice.  To be honest I can't even remember what size washers I used, I bought a multi pack of sizes from Amazon and haven't ever run out.
    Good tip. Ta. I think the other issue is the range is huge so a tiny movement makes a lot of difference - but that might just be cos there's a very free-n-easy movement of the knobs :D
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
    Been playing with the Dave Hall Preamp tonight - it’s a stonking bit of kit if you like your valve tones.. really classy sound and lots of flexibility with the various knobs and switches. 

    I think it will be staying on the pedalboard for a while...
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • valevale Frets: 1039
    edited August 12
    Thought it would be nice for people to fill in others and give comments if you think it's worth it so prospective DI buyers can get a round up.. also, feel free to disagree with my comments!
    neat idea for a thread. i'm kind of housebound for playing and recording due to health, but i'd imagine same applies across a wide range of player types, from students rabbit-hutched at home and in halls, to pensioners with limited mobility to get out.
    to play full-on through a valve amp is a luxury we can't really aspire to, so trying to fake it without sounding fake is a constant preoccupation.
    di is easy but getting that 'magical moving air' feeling into one's tone is the holy grail.

    I've got a Behringer BDI-21 on the way so I'll pop that one in as well, and I suspect the next purchase will be a GK Plex
    Tech 21 wise I've got an RBI and the VT bass DI.

    The VT bass is super versatile but can be a little fiddly.  The character setting can change the sound a lot, you'll likely have to re-balance the drive and EQ as you change the settings.  But it will cover fat cleans up to tight drive.  It has a switchable cab sim, though sometimes I switch that off and use an IR in my DAW.

    The RBI basically does a couple of sounds, but the gritty sound it does is quite unique and it seems to especially like Fender Ps and Js.  I've found it doesn't so much like a deep low end boost from an active preamp into the front if you're using higher drive settings.  If you use full blend it can get a bit scooped sounding.  It has a baked in Cab sim on the drive portion.
    Was considering the VT bass to scratch my Tech21 itch I must admit.. fiddly sort of describes the Ampeg SCR-DI as well.. 
    the Behringer BDI-21 is a clone of the Tech21 Sansamp Bass Driver, so that should scratch your Tech21 itch in a cloney way.

    i got one after it came up a few times as a highly recommended in the cheap rickysound thread (postponing giving it a playing-hearing until autumn as am focused on gear selling off atm).
    i dug around and found 'verified clone status' confirmed at the reliable places. so a steal at £25!
    hofner hussie & hayman harpie. what she said...
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 19109
    I most use two preamps/DI’s on bass for recording.

    Phoenix DRS1R, 500 series format.
    Groove Tubes ViPre.

    Live I just take a lead out of my Mark Bass head to the PA, or out of the Peterson tuner if I am not using a bass amp.
    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback

    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
    octatonic said:
    I most use two preamps/DI’s on bass for recording.

    Phoenix DRS1R, 500 series format.
    Groove Tubes ViPre.

    Live I just take a lead out of my Mark Bass head to the PA, or out of the Peterson tuner if I am not using a bass amp.
    Is the groove tubes valve based?
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • blobbblobb Frets: 935
    edited August 12
    I'll throw in the Eden WTDi:
    balanced and unbalanced output with ground lift
    3 band eq (bass/mid/treb) with bass boost and mid shift
    Gain / compressor / master vol
    'Enhance' control

    I use the balanced out (XLR) to DI into my interface when recording or the unbalanced (t/s) into f/x loop return for connection to an amp. You can use both at the same time.

    EQ is good and the bass boost/ mid shift allows you to focus the frequency it targets so you can get some good adjustment.

    Enhance is a strange one, I think it is unique to Eden and sort of flattens the sound out. Balancing this with the compressor gives some useable results.

    All in, pretty flexible tone shaper with good connectivity and definitely captures the Eden sound.

    I play two basses, an alum neck Kramer -which has a a very punchy sound - and a John Birch Rick copy which has incredibly powerful pickups. The flexibility of the Eden allows me to tame the JB!

    In front I have a Markbass micro distortion (which is fantastic by the way) or a darkglass vintage microtubes (also good but not cheap).


    Picked mine up for £49 second hand.

    Feelin' Reelin' & Squeelin'
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 1reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • John_PJohn_P Frets: 1677
    Avalon U5.   Picked up a used one years ago and for any recording work it’s great - limited options that sound instantly.  

    My gigboard has a tech21 vt di -  very flexible and does the job.    I’ll either set a sound and do from there to the desk or do from my amp and use the vt as an od pedal I can switch in and out.  

    For live PA work I have a pile of simple boxes usually in pairs -  passive behringer, older HK red boxes, orchid actives and a groove tunes - not often I need to use them for bass as I’ll usually take a do out of someone amp but I give the option to do before the amp and usually go for the orchids - which are a bargain for anyone looking for a good simple di box.  

    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
    @blobb - the Eden WTDI is on my list and looks great value for money!
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 19109
    octatonic said:
    I most use two preamps/DI’s on bass for recording.

    Phoenix DRS1R, 500 series format.
    Groove Tubes ViPre.

    Live I just take a lead out of my Mark Bass head to the PA, or out of the Peterson tuner if I am not using a bass amp.
    Is the groove tubes valve based?
    Very much so- 8 tube stages.
    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback

    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
    octatonic said:
    octatonic said:
    I most use two preamps/DI’s on bass for recording.

    Phoenix DRS1R, 500 series format.
    Groove Tubes ViPre.

    Live I just take a lead out of my Mark Bass head to the PA, or out of the Peterson tuner if I am not using a bass amp.
    Is the groove tubes valve based?
    Very much so- 8 tube stages.
    Interesting.. is it a rack mount or a board pedal?
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 19109
    4u of rack space and it weights about 40lbs.
    You can do some very interesting things with it too- it has variable slew rate/rise time and impedance settings.
    You can do a lot more with it than just a bass DI.
    I use it on vocals, snare, guitar and bass drum.

    Looks like this:



    Inners look like this:



    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback

    0reaction image LOL 1reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
    @octatonic - interesting - I will investigate. Might be really good for my home setup.

    I have an Ampeg PF20T on the way which will be a good “real” amp - but a valve Preamp is very appealing
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 19109
    edited August 12
    @octatonic - interesting - I will investigate. Might be really good for my home setup.

    I have an Ampeg PF20T on the way which will be a good “real” amp - but a valve Preamp is very appealing
    They stopped making them when Fender bought Groove Tubes (in 2008), so tracking one down will mean eBay or forums etc.
    They do show up from time to time.
    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback

    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
    octatonic said:
    @octatonic - interesting - I will investigate. Might be really good for my home setup.

    I have an Ampeg PF20T on the way which will be a good “real” amp - but a valve Preamp is very appealing
    They stopped making them when Fender bought Groove Tubes, so tracking one down will mean eBay or forums etc.
    They do show up from time to time.
    Thanks I’ll keep an eye out.

    Looks like Yamaha, having taken over Ampeg, are discontinuing the small all valve portaflex heads - just to a new one with £200 off
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16152
    @vale - I really wanted this to be an “all things to all boys &girls” - preamps suitable for stage, some for recording, some for bedroom enthusiasts - a sort of collective ramble through all things Preamp DI to give people ideas, inspiration and some reviews to decide what sort of pedals they do/don’t like.

    I have to say, knowing what you like sounds wise you would really like the Dave hall Amps Preamp I have with the valve in it - proper old school Voxy luscious thump 
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
Sign In or Register to comment.