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Tech21 Sansamp Bass driver - Love 'em or hate 'em?

Posted: Thu May 15, 2008 1:53 pm
by ryanmaiden
There seems to be a lot of love /hate attitude to this preamp/D.I box, I'm tossing up whether to get one or not. My alternatives are the MXR M-80 and maybe the Radial tonebone.

Now that I have have my nice new Parts-cision bass, my warwick head's EQ section does nothing to enhance the sound, it just gets in the way. I still would like a bit of versatility though, rather than just having the preamp switched out completely (which is what I am doing at the moment). The D.I on the warwick head is not particualry good either, so one of these kind of preamps sounds like the way to go. I would probably rather just buy a whole new amp more suited to the bass, but I can only dream of having the folding stuff to make that an option, so the next best thing I guess is one of these magic boxes.

My main concern is that the Sansamp box has no mid control, and the natural EQ of my pickups is quite scooped (quarter-pounders), so I am worried I would get lost in the mix with no mid control, which is why at this point the MXR sounds like the better option.

Any opinions/advice or alternatives would be greatly appreciated.

Re: Tech21 Sansamp Bass driver - Love 'em or hate 'em?

Posted: Thu May 15, 2008 9:37 pm
by timi
I hate the BBDI, because its meant to give you a DI tone that sounds like a mic'd up Ampeg SVT, and if your amp/cab setup is fairly flat you should also get this tone on stage.... Newsflash, it sounds NOTHING like an SVT. People have these delusions of the SVT sound, most gear that people say has "SVT warmth" is just midscooped with a really harsh top end, which pretty much sums up this unit to me.

It takes away the character of your bass and replaces it with the horrible Sansamp character, which I have already described. The massive lack of mids get you really lost in the mix, and its overdrive sounds really cheap and nasty to me. I tried the RBI (rackmount version) which has a mid knob, but the frequency range being scooped is not the same range as the mid knob.

The only way I can get a useable sound with one (for a slightly overdriven tone) is to run a tubescreamer in front. Its lack of bass and mid hump offset the BDDI, so you can get a full sound so long as you run the blend back a bit, however that causes some signal directly from the tubescreamer to go through the PA with no speaker sim, and that might sound a bit harsh.

Before anyone gives the typical answers to these problems:
I know about rolling back the blend control, it just blends clean in with the bad tone....
I know that if you run the bass and treb below 12:00 its technically boosting the mids, but it doesn't....

A few years after everyone started getting them Rockshop finally clicked and started stocking them.
Go and try one out, both DI'd into some studio monitors or a PA, and also into your amp or something very similar, you never know you might like it (it seems most bassists do!).

Also look at a newer unit called the Paradriver DI, which is very similar but has a parametric mid control. Its not a bass specific unit like the BDDI, but it was made to work on electric and acoustic guitars as well as bass. I've heard people say they are much better than the BDDI because you can have a nice solid midrange. Another option is the Behringer copy of the BDDI for around $100. I've compared them side by side and they sound pretty much the same (equally bad), but the real one did a better version of that typcal sansamp hardcore tone (listen to a band called Sick of it All).

Re: Tech21 Sansamp Bass driver - Love 'em or hate 'em?

Posted: Fri May 16, 2008 8:48 am
by beagle
Def a case of try before you buy I think as it doesn't suit everyone.
I tried one and it didn't do anything for me.
A friend of mine had a Sansamp PSA-1 (rackmount patch programmable model) into a bridged PA amp, running a 4x10 box and he loved the sound and versatility.

Re: Tech21 Sansamp Bass driver - Love 'em or hate 'em?

Posted: Fri May 16, 2008 10:39 am
by ryanmaiden
Thanks for the advice guys.

I've been around long enough now to know that if you want a valve sound, you need valves, so I was extremely suspicious of the whole SVT tone claims.
I'll give one a try though, but I think I'll see if I can use it at a gig as it is such a different environment to trying it out in the shop.

It's a pity I can't find a retailer with an MXR M-80, as I REALLY want to try this unit. The more I read about it, the better it sounds, and the mid control is a big plus.

I was playing around with my amp last night, and found that my bass sounded a lot cleaner and clearer plugging into the effect return jack, as this is a true hardware bypass of the preamp section on my amp. I think if I get one of these boxes, I'll be plugging it in like this.

Back to the valve thing, I always used to enjoy dashing claims from guitarists that they got a "great tube tone" using a clutter of pedals and other bits and pieces into their solid state amps. I would pull out the Mesa and blast them back into the real world after strumming just a couple of chords, it was all very Crocodile Dundee, "That's not a tube tone...this is a tube tone". I'm sure the same applies with bass. An intricate arrangement of transistors, capacitors and resistors is not a valve. Nuff said.

Re: Tech21 Sansamp Bass driver - Love 'em or hate 'em?

Posted: Fri May 16, 2008 10:56 am
by beagle
Yeah trying it a live situation is the only way I recon to give it a proper chance.... can be difficult to do without buying it huh.
Good thinking about the effects return dude... that would make a lot of sense.
Would that mean you could run an A B switch to choose between either amp preamp, or sansamp through the effects send? could be cool.
I'd love to try a selection of good tube and solid state amps side by side and compare them.... would be very interesting.
ryanmaiden wrote:Thanks for the advice guys.

I've been around long enough now to know that if you want a valve sound, you need valves, so I was extremely suspicious of the whole SVT tone claims.
I'll give one a try though, but I think I'll see if I can use it at a gig as it is such a different environment to trying it out in the shop.

It's a pity I can't find a retailer with an MXR M-80, as I REALLY want to try this unit. The more I read about it, the better it sounds, and the mid control is a big plus.

I was playing around with my amp last night, and found that my bass sounded a lot cleaner and clearer plugging into the effect return jack, as this is a true hardware bypass of the preamp section on my amp. I think if I get one of these boxes, I'll be plugging it in like this.

Back to the valve thing, I always used to enjoy dashing claims from guitarists that they got a "great tube tone" using a clutter of pedals and other bits and pieces into their solid state amps. I would pull out the Mesa and blast them back into the real world after strumming just a couple of chords, it was all very Crocodile Dundee, "That's not a tube tone...this is a tube tone". I'm sure the same applies with bass. An intricate arrangement of transistors, capacitors and resistors is not a valve. Nuff said.

Re: Tech21 Sansamp Bass driver - Love 'em or hate 'em?

Posted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 3:07 pm
by ryla
definitely try these things on appro, the only test is in the live mix - make sure you dont scratch it - its the same with basses and amps you need to try them with the band - the bass in the shop sounds exactly like the bass in your living room - nothing like the sound you get with your band in a big room.

Re: Tech21 Sansamp Bass driver - Love 'em or hate 'em?

Posted: Sun Jul 06, 2008 8:47 pm
by joppo
I'll confess to having the Behringer knock-off of the Sansamp, and I'm pretty happy with it - but it is all about expectations. Like Timi and others have said, if you want a genuine tube amp sound, get some tubes! However, I can get a useable tone out of it (I don't do overdriven, but when I tried it, it didn't sound that great to me) plugged straight into the sound system in a reasonably small hall, no big amp to haul in and out, cheap as chips. I think having no mids control is an oversight, so would love to hear what the MXR is like. Also, a lot of the reviews I read on the Behringer said the output through the XLR was a bit weak on this unit, and I'd have to agree.

Re: Tech21 Sansamp Bass driver - Love 'em or hate 'em?

Posted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 7:40 pm
by beagle
That Behringer gear is cheap as compared to the Sansamp.. but hey.. if it does the job.

Re: Tech21 Sansamp Bass driver - Love 'em or hate 'em?

Posted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:28 pm
by irvinz
im gonna be getting my second mxr m80 soon. not for any mishaps or problems with it , but for my girlfriend who has been complaining bout her bass tone. and when i let her use my board she seemed a lil bit happier. so yeah =p if she gets happy, i get happy too =p

( yes bring on the, what you both play bass jokes, so who is going to play drums? )

but i prefer it alot more to the sansamp. however the sansamp rbi is pretty nice to do recordings in the studio with.

if i get mine in soon, i'll be happy to let you try it out for a week or two?

for what its worth, there are importers of dunlop/mxr in the country over at hawkes bay, and they supply lots of retailers out here in new zealand.
either that. or ship it from the states like me =p

Re: Tech21 Sansamp Bass driver - Love 'em or hate 'em?

Posted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 9:28 am
by joppo
Where are you geting it from in the States Irvinz?

Re: Tech21 Sansamp Bass driver - Love 'em or hate 'em?

Posted: Sat Sep 06, 2008 8:55 pm
by irvinz
woah. sorry for the late reply joppo. havent been around for ages. just look on some forums online and stuff. they go for pretty much new conditions, from 80-110 bucks. plus shipping of course. shall i hook you up with one? i wil pm you as well. since this is from ages ago!

Re: Tech21 Sansamp Bass driver - Love 'em or hate 'em?

Posted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 7:16 am
by model.citizen
i thought the m-80 was gonna be gold what with it's midrange control...then discovered it's thin nasally transistor-sounding distortion. ick. that pedal didn't last long with me. probably a good sound for some, but with a Ricky it was 'orrid.

i've always ummed and ahhed about the sansamp bass drivers, but am getting one of the programmable models to see if that fills my multi-grit requirement. hoping that at least with it i won't have to run my amp with as much preamp gain to get some grit.

i'm certainly not expecting the SVT tone, you only get that by pushing a bunch of poweramp tubes into saturation. but i can't be arsed moving that amount of weight around anymore.

Re: Tech21 Sansamp Bass driver - Love 'em or hate 'em?

Posted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 12:46 pm
by definite
Ive got one and its good - i wouldnt rave about it but its solid and its got good controls (pity no mid knob tho!).

Id say its well decent but not the wonder machine that some people make it out be! :wink:

Re: Tech21 Sansamp Bass driver - Love 'em or hate 'em?

Posted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 5:05 pm
by timi
Seriously, the new VT bass is what the Bass Driver should have been.

Doesn't have a DI, but you can just run an external one with it (which means you can choose to go higher quality with a Countryman or Radial ecy).

Re: Tech21 Sansamp Bass driver - Love 'em or hate 'em?

Posted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 8:52 pm
by joppo
Timi, don't know if you can anwser or not, but they advertise the VT Bass as having a "direct-to-PA" feature. From what I can tell, I think that means the output (volume?) that comes out is really high so you can run it straight into a 1/4 inch jack on a PA and have reasonable volume. Would it still be better to run it through a DI?