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Thread: Onboard vs Pedal EQ

  1. #1

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    Onboard vs Pedal EQ

    Greetings,

    As many of you know I'm the proud owner of a EBMM Caprice and generally prefer the tone of passive instruments. What I typically will do on my setup is have my Caprice set with the tone cut 25% and the bridge pickup rolled off around 5% for a warm open tone. When I want a more modern sound I kick on my MXR Bass Preamp Pedal which I've set at ~4DB at 50hz, ~5DB at 450hz and ~3db at 4khz. This gives me the ability to have both great passive and active tones. I then run the signal through my MXR bass compressor.

    This setup allows me to boost my signal with a buffered output and compression. This got me thinking... These three aspects(Buffer/EQ/Compression) are typically why people prefer active basses. I'm curious is their any advantage to having an onboard EQ compared to my setup?

    Best Regards,
    -Greg P

    P.S. I'm slowly falling for a Classic Sterling...the active mojo is rubbing off on me ;-)
    Last edited by GregP; 08-20-2017 at 07:06 AM.

  2. #2

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    With an outboard EQ, you get to choose what frequencies you cut or boost, and you get to choose how wide the Qs are (based on what device(s) you choose to buy and how you use them). You also get to choose between shelving and peaking controls -- again based on the unit you buy. With onboard EQ, you're stuck with how the manufacturer decided he wants his tone circuits to behave. Not only that, but you also have no way of truly knowing what the curves look like at various knob positions without doing a formal analysis.

    I might debate one point with you: the compression piece. If an onboard preamp compresses at all, it's going to do only trace amounts of it unless the battery is weak or the preamp's design has a quirk or two that tends to cause it. In the former case you'll probably get nasty distortion as well, from the too-low rail voltages causing waveform flattening. In no way will an onboard preamp compress as well as a quality outboard unit, and it certainly won't offer the same level of control. In the real world, any token compression imposed by an onboard preamp will get lost in the mix. My experience has been that you have to have some pretty serious ratios and time constants going on for compression to be heard in any live band mix, at typical house levels anyway.

    If you want to see what SR preamps really sound like, may I suggest buying used. That way, if it's not for you, you can always resell at little to no loss.

  3. #3

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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by nhbassguitar View Post
    I might debate one point with you: the compression piece. If an onboard preamp compresses at all, it's going to do only trace amounts of it unless the battery is weak or the preamp's design has a quirk or two that tends to cause it. In the former case you'll probably get nasty distortion as well, from the too-low rail voltages causing waveform flattening. In no way will an onboard preamp compress as well as a quality outboard unit, and it certainly won't offer the same level of control. In the real world, any token compression imposed by an onboard preamp will get lost in the mix. My experience has been that you have to have some pretty serious ratios and time constants going on for compression to be heard in any live band mix, at typical house levels anyway.

    If you want to see what SR preamps really sound like, may I suggest buying used. That way, if it's not for you, you can always resell at little to no loss.
    The compression piece is actually new to me too. I picked it up from Casey's Blog on the difference between passive and active basses: "Passive basses are considered to have more dynamics than active basses, meaning that your playing can affect how the tone comes through in the bass. Playing gently can lead to a softer tone, playing harder will likewise affect the tone. Active basses tend to have a more compressed signal, which will normalize the output no matter how it is played."Passive vs. Active Basses Ernie Ball Music Man

    Although I suspect, the compression produced by an onboard preamp would be less noticable than the compression produced by a compression pedal.
    Oh and this right here...it's a beautiful thing with my Caprice

    Last edited by GregP; 08-19-2017 at 06:19 AM.

  4. #4

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    I just read that piece you referenced. There's useful info there. There's also some that is, shall we say, a bit less-so. I am trying to err on the side of graciousness.

  5. #5

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    Nice pedal board, by the way, and nice compressor. Probably one of the best stomp-box compressors available. What is the board itself? It has a real '50s/retro vibe to it.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by nhbassguitar View Post
    Nice pedal board, by the way, and nice compressor. Probably one of the best stomp-box compressors available. What is the board itself? It has a real '50s/retro vibe to it.
    Thanks, I love the vibe myself. It's a Holey Board M3 in Gotham Walnut. The preamp and my compressor are my bread and butter. As for the rest...I utilize them mainly for inspiration

    Holeyboard M3 Series - Closeout sale! — Chemistry Design Werks
    Last edited by GregP; 08-19-2017 at 08:20 AM.

  7. #7

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    Hey, thanks for the pointer.

    I see the Aguilar pedal at the top. I've been waiting for them to make a pedal that duplicates the preamp section of a TH500, with its variable drive control (not all or nothing like their current TH pedal). Whenever I need that sound, I bring my TH500 and run the preamp out to a DI, or run straight to the PA through the built-in DI. Seems kind of overkill, though... a 500-watt power amp inside the box doing nothing, just along for the ride.

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