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EBS MicroBass II Preamp


wateroftyne
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Hi folks

Historically, I've always used a SABDDI into the FX return of my AI Focus 2. By and large I've been happy with it, but I've never been too keen on a couple of things.

First there's the SABDDI mid-scoop, which plays havoc with my fretless P, and it just doesn't suit some rooms. I know you can defeat it to a degree by rolling the bass and treble knobs back, but the resulting tone can, to my ears, sound a little unnatural. I like plug'n'play.

Also, the drive is a little aggressive for my tastes. I think it works better with basses armed with roundwounds.

To cut a long story short, I began to look for something compact, with a more subtle drive and an effective-but-simple EQ... specifically the [url="http://www.ebs.bass.se/2007/microbass.htm"]EBS MicroBass II[/url].



I am SO happy with it. It's about a third larger than a standard SABDII, a bit heavier, and extremely well-built (like the SABDDI).

It has a myriad of knobs on it, all of which are incredibly useful. There are two channels - you can plug a bass into each, and switch between them, or plug one bass into channel A and swap between A and B, or you can simply sum A+B.

There's another feature which is of great use to me at the moment - you can plug headphones and an audio soure into it and use it as a personal practice amp. This is a godsend for those sunny days in the garden...

Anyway, channel A has a high impedance input, along with volume, bass and treble knobs, and a bright switch. These are all self-explanatory. In addition, there's an enhance filter. If you engage this, boosting the treble scoops the lows (for the slap-fans, I guess), while rolling the treble off increases the mids. This is *perfect* for my fretless, as it helps tame the clacks and clatters that result from my apalling technique, whilst bringing out the mwaah.

Channel B has a low-impedance input, along with a Drive (simulated tube drive), Edge and semi-parametric mid knobs. The channels can be a little tricky to balance, but I use A+B summed for my fretted, and A alone for my fretless (it's a little cleaner). I do need to give the volume a nudge when switching to A alone. It's not a big problem, though.

On top of all this, there is a variable effects loop, a mute switch, and two features which area God-send to me - Tube Simulator and mic'd Speaker Simulator.

As mentioned before, I do play quite percussively sometimes, and the resultant clicks and clacks can sound a bit unpleasant through the FOH, or when I'm recording. The Tube simulator adds a subtle growl on the extreme peaks, taking the edge off them without loss of punch. It's different to the channel B's Drive, or the SABDDI's drive.

The speaker simulator does what it says, and adds smoothness to the sound - the genius being that only the DI signal is affected. The output to my amp passes through unaffected.. after all, why would I want to run a simulated speaker signal into my amp? This was always a problem for me with the SABDDI as I would end up with an overy wooly sound sometimes.

I've used it a lot of gigs now, and instantly everyone mentioned how much they preferred the tone. I sat in the mix far better - the sound was round, tubey and defined with no muddiness. I found myself leaving it virtually flat. Also, my fretless sings now... I've finally found my sound!

It's a bit more pricey than the competition, but they really have thought of everything. It's remarkable and I love it. My SABDDI has now been sold...

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I use one of these as well, perfect if you use lots of basses. The boost on Channel A is to bring the level up to the same as Channel B, which may be louder if you are using a lot of Drive. Obviously affects the overall sound if you mix though. Marvellous bit of kit.

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[quote name='bass_ferret' post='738' date='May 17 2007, 08:15 PM']I use one of these as well, perfect if you use lots of basses. The boost on Channel A is to bring the level up to the same as Channel B, which may be louder if you are using a lot of Drive. Obviously affects the overall sound if you mix though. Marvellous bit of kit.[/quote]

Hello!

It can get a bit tricky 'cos If you have the tube simulation on, boosting channel A adds more drive to the signal.

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Guest subaudio

Congrats Wateroftyne, that looks awesome, does anyone have any experience of using these with a double bass, it would be cool to switch between DB and electric without a lot of fuss, could this be used to stright into a power amp for a live rig?

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  • 1 month later...
Guest subaudio

Hi W.O.T.

Still admiring this, could I bother you again and ask if the headphone output would be suitable for in ear monitors without a headphone pre amp (does plugging in the headphes kill the other outputs).

Many thanks

Marti

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[quote name='wateroftyne' post='1367' date='May 18 2007, 12:57 PM']Absolutely... I go straight into the FX return of my AI head.[/quote]


Ah! Answered my question! I wanted to know if the pre could happily drive a power amp too!

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I bought my EBS MBII because I was going abroad for a few gigs. As I wasn't carrying any backline, I wanted a solution if none was provided.

I too am in love with mine. It is just so damn versitile! I use it as a practise headphone amp, to jam with another bassist through the same amp, as a DI at gigs, as my main preamp for my backline and as a DI for home recording. I love the small details, like the mute switch and battery life indicator. You can really tell that working musicians were involved at the core of the design.

One thing I like about it, is its subtlety. The tube emulator isn't a full out blown ball crunching tone. More like a gentle soft clipping. The drive isn't great for that extrovert fuzz tone IMO, but great for warming up that low end.

In the end you have a product which is user orientated and a natural feel to the tone. That suits me just fine! It is quite dear I must admit, and wish I could have found one second hand. But once you've really got to grips with it you'll see why.

I should be bringing mine to the South East Bash, if anyone wants to have a proverbial bash at it.

Edited by s_u_y_*
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[quote name='s_u_y_*' post='32035' date='Jul 15 2007, 12:06 PM']One thing I like about it, is its subtlety. The tube emulator isn't a full out blown ball crunching tone. More like a gentle soft clipping. The drive isn't great for that extrovert fuzz tone IMO, but great for warming up that low end.[/quote]

Exactly! It's bl**dy great.

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I have a question!

ok, from what I can see in the manual, one channel has bass and treble controls, the other has a middle tone control. So, you can boost/cut bass and treble but the mid stays the same on one channel.. t'other one you can cut/boost the mids but not the bass and treble. So, if you use both channels at the same time, cutting the bass mid and treble from the zero position in theory will have little effect as the other channel without that control will negate the drop in volume at the affected frequency.

I hope this makes sense! - I'd want the eq sections to all be in series, so when I scoop the middle out, it isnt still 'there' in the other channel's signal.

(I havent had a chance to play with the pedal.. this is all theoretical, using the manual as a guide,)

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Makes sense to me dood. My reservation is that you can't apply the fx loop to just one channel. And I wish they'd offer a rackmount version.

But there's plenty of preamps that offer those facilities. What your getting with the Microbass is what it was designed to be - a swiss army knife for bassists. It will work as (amongst other things) a preamp, 2 channel mixer, distortion pedal, parametric eq pedal, fx loop switch (mixable from series to parallel and beyond) and DI box from which you can still drive your backline. Plus it will fit in your gigbag. All at a reasonable price.

If you want the same eq across both channels you could just put another eq processor somewhere in the siganl chain.

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You can use it as A & B and A + B, so you can use the T & B channel then add the parametric mid to it. I dont think it is intended to replace a proper pre amp unless you use it as 1 channel then its not a lot different from a HD350. EBS used to do a 1u pre but I think they stopped it now. The Gallary will rush you £850 for one!

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Excellent, definitely food for thought there. Flanker owns an EBS Classic preamp and thats *really* what I am after. It sounded amazing at the last BassBash.. interestingly It was that and has Epifani cab that started a bought of GAS.. if only I could talk him into selling!!! The Galleries 800+ for a preamp is just a little too hard to swallow.That really is pushing what I think a *bass preamp* should cost. They do sound good though. It'd be cheaper to buy a TD650 second hand too! - I'd thought about that option, but giving up my poweramp is as painful as giving up one of my basses right now!

My other alternative, that I am doing right now is building up a preamp out of modular parts. A pedal here, a DI box there, a rack EQ and line driver stage. Eventually either fitting it all in my rack or something similar. I'd prefer to have it all in one box, like a rack preamp, but I haven't found anything to tick ALL the boxes in a decent price range.

Going way off topic, I had a look at the Phil Jones Bass preamp. That looks really well spec'd, but again the price is prohibitive. I can't help remembering the torrent of abuse 'he' gave a BassWorlder as well for no reason which taints my view a bit.

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[quote name='Earbrass' post='36941' date='Jul 25 2007, 05:11 PM']How does this compare to the SansAmp Bass Driver DI? Anyone used both?[/quote]

I've used them both extensively, and they're night and day, IMO.

However, the MBII does it so much better, and is far more natural sounding. The SABDDI mid-scoop is always present, no matter how far back you roll the bass & treble knobs.

Sure, you can roll back the blend, but that's taking the interesting stuff out of the signal as well (drive, speaker simulation, etc.)

The EBS is great for rock and roll, but also... my fretless P sounded indistinct via the SABDDI. Using the EBS it has a whole 'life' about it.

SABDDI? Great.
EBS MBII? Far better.

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[quote name='wateroftyne' post='36950' date='Jul 25 2007, 05:42 PM']I've used them both extensively, and they're night and day, IMO.

However, the MBII does it so much better, and is far more natural sounding. The SABDDI mid-scoop is always present, no matter how far back you roll the bass & treble knobs.

Sure, you can roll back the blend, but that's taking the interesting stuff out of the signal as well (drive, speaker simulation, etc.)

The EBS is great for rock and roll, but also... my fretless P sounded indistinct via the SABDDI. Using the EBS it has a whole 'life' about it.

SABDDI? Great.
EBS MBII? Far better.[/quote]

Cheers wateroftyne - I was being a bit slow there - didn't realise the "SABDDI" people had been referring to elsewhere in the thread was in fact...oh well, it's been a long day.

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  • 8 months later...

I can't believe I haven't posted in this review thread earlier. The EBS MBII is an awesome pedal and I agree with all the positive comments above. Sure, there are probably a couple of features I'd want to tweak slightly to suit my specific purposes but I've never had a situation where I thought "damn, why can't it do this?".

I'll sit backstage with it and warm up before I go on, then I'll use it as my DI onstage and I don't worry about power supplies - I just run it off the phantom power from the board that most engineers don't even ask about turning off. If one of the valves goes in my Aguilar DB680 preamp onstage, all I have to do is take one cable from the EBS MBII and plug it into my power amp as a backup preamp. And if I want to switch between two basses of different output levels, I can EQ them separately on the EBS and balance the individual output levels accordingly - and just switch between the two channels.

I couldn't really ask for more. Well, I may as well tell you the one thing I'd change - I'd make the FX section foot-switchable. I love the fact that the FX loop means that your effects will go to the DI and into the PA but I just wish there was a foot-switchable option of taking the effects out of the loop in one go (rather than stepping on each pedal individually). That is the one change I would make.

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