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Hamster

Audere 3ZB on-board preamp

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These are my thoughts on my Audere 3ZB on-board preamp. I have one of these installed in my Lakland 55/01 and to say it makes a big difference is an understatement.

[b]Features: 10[/b]
It's a preamp and Z-mode impedance control in one module. Buying it from new, you can choose to have it delivered in many configurations. Mine has 4 bands of EQ control – low, high and a stacked hi/low pot for mids, 1 volume pot, 1 pickup blend pot, a Z-mode impedance switcher and a battery condition LED for the single 9v battery.

When you insert the jack into the bass, the circuit detects how much battery life is left and you get a series of coded flashes from the LED. The preamp is very clean, with no noise that I can hear, and the 4 band EQ gives you a lot of control over your sound. What adds considerably to your control is the Z-mode switch.

[b]Sound: 10[/b]
In Hi-Z mode you can get a very passive type sound. I also got a reasonable acoustic sound by changing the EQ and amp settings. If that's something that you really want, you can adjust the capacitance setting on the preamp module to match up with your bass/pickups to get much closer to that acoustic sound.

In Mid-Z mode you get an excellent active bass sound with more mid-range which you can further emphasize with the stacked hi/lo mid control. You can go from a clean almost hi-fi sound to something with a lot more bite and grunt. I use the neck pickup most of the time in this mode.

In Lo-Z mode the earth moves. You may have to turn down the gain on the amp to reel it in a little. It's loud, clean and deep, [i][b]v e r y[/b][/i] deep. The B on a standard Lakland is powerful enough but the Lo-Z gives it even more authority with no added distortion. If you've got the cabs to match it you're going to have a lot of fun. I like this mode best with the bridge pickup. I like Fender 5 strings but the B sounds a little lightweight, I'm guessing a Fender 5 with a Lo-Z switch will bring it to life. Once again you can adjust the preamp in Lo-Z mode to match your pickup output.

[b]Action, Fit, Finish: 10[/b]
Very well made and fits inside the bass in minimal space. If you want the battery condition LED you have to drill a small hole through to the control cavity.

[b]Reliability/Durability: 10[/b]
Not had any problems with it at all. Battery life is excellent.

[b]Customer Support: 10[/b]
I had to contact Dave Meadows as I wanted a wiring diagram and a bit more info regarding tweaking the preamp settings. Friendly on the phone, and everything I wanted was e-mailed within minutes.

[b]Overall Rating: 10[/b]
Within a few seconds I can go from an acoustic passive sound to way beyond a Stingray on steroids and get almost any sound in between by blending the pickups and controls. I should of got one years ago. Here's the website link [url="http://www.audereaudio.com/3ZB.htm"]http://www.audereaudio.com/3ZB.htm[/url]


Hamster


My dodgy photography

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I have an old Legend bass (very cheap) that I converted to fretless and have been considering getting one of these and whacking in some new pickups also, probably some nordstrands. A lot cheaper than buying a new bass with them in, but they would probably be worth twice the actual value of the bass!!

I look forward to actually hearing one of these soon.

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[quote name='mr_russ' post='33059' date='Jul 17 2007, 02:28 PM']I've ordered the jazz version- it's in customs as we speak ;D[/quote]

Sweet - let us know what you think of the Jazz version.

Hamster

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I have the same pre in my SG, very very versatile. It really is like having several basses in one, low z mode really moves some air, coupled with a pair of darkstars I am very happy with it.

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I have just ordered a J3ZD for my US Deluxe V. A snip at £104 inc priority express USPS shipping.

It's sure to be a major improvement on the stock Fender preamp.

Can't wait.

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[quote name='bassbloke' post='40839' date='Aug 3 2007, 11:48 AM']I have just ordered a J3ZD for my US Deluxe V. A snip at £104 inc priority express USPS shipping.

It's sure to be a major improvement on the stock Fender preamp.

Can't wait.[/quote]

I thought you were saving your money to get your bass amp fixed by Steve? :)

Hamster

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This was the lesser of the two evils.

I'll have the amp repair money next month. I'm still reeling from the thought of handing over £200 to fix an amp that cost me £300 a year ago.

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A quick mini-review.
I've just finished installing the 3ZB2 pre/eq and I have to say I'm VERY impressed.
Right from opening the box things looked good, the packing was excellent and the instructions seemed very clear.
Everything, and I mean everything, is supplied - right down to heatshrink tubing for connecting the pups to three different coloured washers/nuts for the switches (chrome, gold, black) and o-rings to use as spacers for the tiny pots if you had larger normal pots installed as I did. Even a watchmaker's screwdriver to adjust the trim controls!

The instructions were very easy to follow and highly detailed. Each step is clear and I encountered no problems at all. It must be said that even though I am an electronics engineer by trade, I feel that anybody with a bit of confidence and some basic soldering skills should have no problem installing one of these.

Now to the sound.
I plugged the two batteries in (this is an 18v option), plugged the jack in and set all controls to mid, set the 3Z switch to "high". The blue LED flashed on for 3 seconds (batteries are new so no level change) and I got sound. Very nice sound it was too, in active high-z mode it sounds the same as my pups passive but a little warmer and a fair bit louder. In med-z mode and you get a very "active" sound, just what you'd expect from a normal bass with a decent pre in it. There is loads of adjustment available from the three-band eq with some nice tones in there I'm sure. The lo-z setting is something else altogether, you've really got to hear this to believe it. The sound, to my ears anyway, is very similar to the pups in passive mode but just BIGGER. The bottom end is huge but very controlled, the highs are clear and not "tinny", the mids are well defined and you can still get a nice growl should you need to :huh:

The 3ZB2-VB 2 I installed has the 18v, pickup blend/balance, three-band eq and passive bypass switch options fitted and it was installed in my custom Jazz clone 5 string with a pair of custom Wizard "84" custom wound 5 string pickups and a set of D'Addario Pro-Steels.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to compare it to any other top-end onboard pre-amps (unless you count the Sansamp BDI I use in my rig), but I'm still very happy with the results - especially for the price.

If you need scores, out of 10:

[b]Quality [/b] 10 [i]Think of a Bavarian car maker[/i]
[b]Instructions [/b] 10 [i]Think of the opposite to MFI[/i]
[b]Sound[/b] 10 [i]Especially the Lo-Z mode :huh:[/i]
[b]Value[/b] 10 [i]Buy one![/i]


All in all I'm very impressed, I would recommend one of these babies to anyone wanting to "update" a passive bass that they like the sound of, but just want more flexibility and a wider range of tones. I haven't tried this out in a live situation yet, but I'll be very surprised if I don't like it and post any comments here.
Hope this was useful.


PS. I'll try and update this with some photos later, too busy playing at the moment :)

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As promised, here are a few piccies of the installed pre amp:








As you can see, the pre amp is small - about the same size as a normal 9v battery - and the pots are pretty tiny too.
Luckily my bass has a huge control cavity so there's plenty of room to fit 5 pots, two switches, an LED, the pre amp and two batteries in with room to spare.

I can't wait to see wait this thing sounds like at a gig :)

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You’re so generous with the “10”s. I’m so reluctant to give anything a 10 because once you do that you cant go any higher :) so it’s like you’ve reached absolute and complete perfection that cannot be improved on...at all, no possible improvement can be made because it’s an impossibility that something can succeed top marks and complete perfection :huh: ….do you see what I’m getting at.

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It's very easy to get enthusiastic about this preamp, i had a 4 band/ 4 pot version of this pre in a twin Darkstar equipped bass. They really are very good and it could go from deep Reggae to almost ricky like sounding and every thing in between.

Currently i am thinking about a new pre for my deluxe jazz ( not that it needs on i just can't help myself :) ) the choice between the audere, East and ACG filter offerings is going to be very hard, at the moment the ACG and Audere would be the first
choices.

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[quote name='benwhiteuk' post='217948' date='Jun 12 2008, 09:37 PM']You’re so generous with the “10”s. I’m so reluctant to give anything a 10 because once you do that you cant go any higher :huh: so it’s like you’ve reached absolute and complete perfection that cannot be improved on...at all, no possible improvement can be made because it’s an impossibility that something can succeed top marks and complete perfection :huh: ….do you see what I’m getting at.[/quote]

According to Spinal Tap, 11 is the new 10 :)

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Mine was a brand new install when I bought the bass. IMHO the best way is to order direct from Audere where David Meadows will help you to decide exactly what you want/need.

Hamster

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[quote name='muzzer' post='217866' date='Jun 12 2008, 07:30 PM'][/quote]

THAT is the cleanest Instalation I've seen yet... have to get me a bundle of those locking thingies to tame the jumble I left when I installed my first AudereZ into my Squier jazz 5 Deluxe this last weekend.

I've yet to play a bit more with it, but I must say Im quite happy with this preamp. In comparing it to the Aguilar OBP3 I have in my frankenstein bass, I'd say that the OBP3 has a little bit more range, but I havent yet played with the Audere's trimpots, still for versatility of sound at your fingertips, the Audere wins hands down (Hi, Mid and Low-Z in one switch, Active/Passive on another and Mid Freq x3 settings in another).
The Audere is more transparent though, the OBP3 seems to color the sound more.

I must try to do an A/B (in the same bass, as that will no doubt have diferent results ) with between the OBP3 and the Audere once I have the Audere set up to my liking.

Have you guys tried 9v vs 18v in the audere? any major diference?

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[quote name='muzzer' post='217866' date='Jun 12 2008, 07:30 PM']As promised, here are a few piccies of the installed pre amp:








As you can see, the pre amp is small - about the same size as a normal 9v battery - and the pots are pretty tiny too.
Luckily my bass has a huge control cavity so there's plenty of room to fit 5 pots, two switches, an LED, the pre amp and two batteries in with room to spare.

I can't wait to see wait this thing sounds like at a gig :)[/quote]

Nice install Muzzer, where did you aquire the LED bezel?

Cheers

JDH

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Great review and great to see the installation.

Just a small note - the battery level indicator for me is somewhat flawed; if you were to pull the jack out mid song (sometimes happens if you haven't secured your strap) or happen to have a dodgy lead, the battery test where the circuit flashes the LED, cuts the output from the bass until it has finished... and when you have lost output for a few seconds, on stage, that can feel like a lifetime!

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