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Ampeg SCR-DI

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[center]Edit: Added a few additional thoughts after a weeks use and a chance to get the unit working in a band situation[/center]

[center][b]Ampeg SCR-DI review[/b][/center]

[b]Introduction: [/b]I’ve just picked up one of the new Ampeg SCR-DI pedals and thought that it might be nice to share some of my thoughts about it.

Also, here is a link to a quick demo of the tones on offer: [url="http://basschat.co.uk/topic/273203-ampeg-scr-di-sound-samples/"]http://basschat.co.u...-sound-samples/[/url]

[b]First Impressions: [/b]Upon getting the pedal the first thing that struck me was the weight of the unit. This is one solid brick of steel. I’d guess it’s around a kilo, so pretty hefty as far as pedals go. It’s also pretty large. I’d say it would easily take up the space of three to four standard pedals on a board once you allow for connections.

The control knobs all feel good quality with a nice amount of resistance to them. The buttons for the ultra-hi/low feel pretty cheap. They’re made of plastic and wobble a little when pressed. I doubt it’s much of an issue as they’re well away from the foot-switches, but it would have been nice to have had something a little better quality in there.

The underside of the pedal is nice too, with four good sized rubber feet. Again the quality feels good and given the weight of the unit it should sit still on stage if you prefer not to Velcro it onto a board.

Finally, the LEDs used for the two parts of the pedal are great. They are both bright enough for it to be clearly visible when they are turned on in daylight, and under dim settings as will no doubt often be the case live, they show up a treat.

[b]Pre-amp Section: [/b]The pre-amp section of the pedal is pretty much the same as you’ll find on most of Ampeg’s amps. It’s got a three-band active EQ and the ultra-hi/low switches. With everything set flat there is still a little colouration of the sound. It seems to give a little more clarity to notes, with a subtle ‘zing’ on the highs. The three EQ knobs offer a nice range of cut and boost. It’s not so extreme as to produce un-usable sounds but enough that you can tweak the tones quite a bit.

The middle control is a little disappointing with only a 4db boost on offer. It sounds good, but it would have been nice to have a little more on tap for cutting through against a noisy Marshall amp.

The ultra-switches are great and offer sound that screams classic rock when engaged. The sound can end up a little scooped so I will hold judgement until I can try it at band practice next week, but it certainly sound nice when played solo.

[b]Scrambler Drive Section: [/b]The over-drive section of the pedal offers a simple ‘gain’ and ‘blend’ control. The drive itself is quite tube-like, fat and warm with a raspy edge to it. I’m not completely sold on the tone of the drive however. It’d be nice if it was a little smoother sounding, and I would have liked it to have been just a bit more aggressive. As it stands, I’ve just ordered myself a Red Witch Zeus to deal with the drive side of things. Perhaps the Scrambler will come into use sometime but right now I can see this part of the pedal being left most of the time.

Saying that, on balance the drive might be just what you are looking for if you’re after a bit of valve-like bite. My disappointment is more due to my love affair with full blown crazy fuzz – it would have been great if the pedal could pull it off but then it’s not really Ampeg territory I guess.

[b]Other Stuff it does: [/b]A really nice little feature of this pedal (and the one that pushed me toward this rather than the M80-DI+) is that it doubles up as a headphone amp with an aux input with a dedicated volume control. The pedal drives my 250-ohm cans very well so no worries about the power there. The aux input seems to be great with plenty of volume on offer.

Ampeg do suggest you can use this feature for the purpose of on-stage monitoring, however, there does seem to be some noticeable noise when the aux is used, so I’d be cautious if you intend to use this. I’ll try and test out a few different audio sources this week (so far I’ve only used it with my MP3/Phone and PC) and I’ll update the review accordingly.

Finally, there is also the obvious DI connection which seems to be good. I’ve only given it a brief try but all seems well. It was nice and clean with no noticeable background noise or hum. It has a ground-lift too which is nice. No option to pre/post the EQ which is a bit of a shame but not a major issue for me personally.

[b]Conclusion: [/b]Overall I am very pleased with the pedal. The EQ alone is just what I was after – it makes all the difference to my MiBass amp, turning it from sounding mushy to clear, crisp and deep. The Scrambler is not quite to my taste, but useable all the same. The pedal is built like a tank, and I can see no reason that it will not withstand years of gigging. The added bonus of it doubling up as a headphone amp was the kicker for me, and pushed it ahead of its competition. However, even without this it stands as a great option for those looking for a classic Ampeg tone.

[b]Additional Thoughts following Band Use: [/b]Well I have had the unit for a little over a week now, and I finally got a chance to use it at band practice last night. Here are some additional/updated thoughts following that:

(1) The DI is very good - I had the unit going into a good quality mixing desk, then out into a full PA (i.e. standard monitors and subs) and it sounded really nice. There was no issue with background noise - just good clear bass tone.

(2) It's a one-trick pony, but a great one. The EQ is the kind you use to compensate for the room you play in. It lacks the range (especially in the mids) to be used to sculpt your dream tone - if that is what you are looking for then perhaps a Sans-Amp/Bass-Bone is what you should consider. However, the basic tone is clear, clean and deep. My band-mates all commented that they could hear the bass in the mix far easier than before (when I was running direct into an Ashdown Mi-Bass). The tone also holds up well at gig volumes which is worth mentioning I guess.

(3) Despite my reservations I have come to love the scrambler. Used as a subtle bit of grit it just sounds great in the mix. It seems to add a nice bit of bite the sound and makes the bass stand out well amid the over-driven guitar sound. I'd still grab a dedicated unit for full on fuzz stuff but this overdrive is really nice when used as intended, and certainly holds up very well in band situations.

All things considered I am very happy with the pedal having now had a chance to get familiar with it. It holds up for use with my band very well and turns my otherwise underwhelming amp into a perfectly usable bit of kit. I guess the biggest competition would simply be the Ampeg Portaflex-500 head, and to be honest I am not sure which is the better option. The head comes with a semi-parametric mid control for a bit of added tonal flex, but lacks the scrambler.

In the end though, if you're after an Ampeg SVT-type sound in a pedal/pre-amp format this really hits the mark. I imagine I'll be using it for many years to come.

Edited by Naetharu

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Good review and sums up my thoughts about it, classic Ampeg sound and the Scrambler gets that "just breaking up" sound off to a tee. Didn`t have it for long as went back to my Aguilar Tonehammers, but it`s a cracking pedal. At one gig where I used it the sound-man was raving about how good it sounded, and before the gig he had looked a bit dubious about DI-ing from a pedal rather than the provided amp.

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[quote name='ahpook' timestamp='1447627414' post='2909155']
Thanks for the review...think I'm still on the fence about getting hold of one.

What's holding you back? If you have any questions/ want any sound samples that might help make up your mind feel free to prod me :)

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