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MXR M81 preamp?

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I'm looking for an outboard preamp to basically turn passive basses into active.

 

the obvious choice is the Sadowsky which is identical to the onboard systems on their basses, but it's expensive and it is boost only.

 

I had not heard of the MXR until recently. I realise it is advertised as a preamp and DI box rather than a onboard in a pedal format, but some reviews suggest it is very clean and works very well that way. I notice the bass and treble controls have the same freq centres as the Sadowsky too.

 

Anyone using one? How are you getting on with it?

 

ta

 

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I used to have one and found it to be very good. As you say, it is a clean preamp (which I prefer). The only reason I sold it was because all of my basses had active EQs anyway and I was downsizing my board so it was surplus to requirements. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy one again if the need arose though.

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I bought one of these about 6 months ago and love it. I preferred this to the others I was looking at as it doesn't colour the tone and the EQ is excellent. it's a small stomp box compared some of the others too.

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I've been looking at these, also so I'd have a di if I ever decided to do a gig at short notice (although not likely). But I already have an EBS microbass II from my gigging days. I was thinking of selling the EBS and getting the MXR... mainly because the EBS is hugely over-specified for my needs. But I decided "what the hell"... so I under-use the EBS as a clean boost with a minimal amount of bass and treble tweaking and it sounds great. I'm still interested in views of the MXR, though.

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I haven’t tried one, so this isn’t going to be that helpful!

It does look like a nice, simple pre/DI, with a good set of parameters, and no silly bells and whistles or vaguely named ‘magic buttons’. The semi-parametric mids can only be a good thing, and the sound quality, from demos, seems very good. The only slight question I have is quite what purpose the input gain serves in a pre which appears to be so resolutely clean. With no clip light, or even chance of clipping it seems, the input could easily have been fixed at the mid point. It’s not as if there is any dirt to be pushed/tamed or an envelope to trigger? I suppose it does make provision for the utter extremes of output, although I’d imagine anything that far in either direction needs looking at more closely.

That potential redundancy aside, it really does look cracking, and I love the colour! For all the difference it makes, it’s got that vintage studio gear hue that you just don’t see around much! 😄

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Used a M80 in live situation prtty often. Back then I was using a power amp as head for my rig (no preamp) so it was fitting perfectly, and used the DI for the console signal when needed. Sturdy and resilient, clean enough. These days I'm drooling after a Darkglass B7K Ultra, love the distortion.

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5 minutes ago, bassus_play said:

Used a M80 in live situation prtty often. Back then I was using a power amp as head for my rig (no preamp) so it was fitting perfectly, and used the DI for the console signal when needed. Sturdy and resilient, clean enough. These days I'm drooling after a Darkglass B7K Ultra, love the distortion.

I thought the m81 was quite different to the m80 tho?

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18 minutes ago, bassus_play said:

Doubt that. Would'nt be so cheap, if they had to build a new preamp for shure the price would be higher.

It is essentially the M80 minus the overdrive/clean blend/parallel out etc but plus the parametric mids. Great little preamp.

Edited by HazBeen
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Personally, I'd rather have semi-parametric mids than overdrive... that's why I fancy this pedal.

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9 minutes ago, Trueno said:

Personally, I'd rather have semi-parametric mids than overdrive... that's why I fancy this pedal.

Same here.....

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The M81 is a great little preamp. I use mine at the front of my board so that if I want to change basses (from a hot active to a lower output passive or vice versa) then I don't have to readjust all my other settings/levels on my other pedals, just switch the M81 on or off. Its very clean with a wide range to its EQ controls  On that basis it can definitely make your passive bass sound just like an active one.

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2 hours ago, HazBeen said:

It is essentially the M80 minus the overdrive/clean blend/parallel out etc but plus the parametric mids. Great little preamp.

Did you mean parametric mids?

It certainly has useful, but more limited, sweepable mids but I couldn't see any Q control I'd associate with a parametric EQ.

 

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30 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

Did you mean parametric mids?

It certainly has useful, but more limited, sweepable mids but I couldn't see any Q control I'd associate with a parametric EQ.

 

It's semi parametric... no Q control.

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These are excellent. Clean preamp / DI’s. I have them on two boards and have nothing but praise for them. If you want something more coloured / vintage sounding then don’t use it, otherwise you’re onto a winner!

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5 hours ago, Al Krow said:

Did you mean parametric mids?

It certainly has useful, but more limited, sweepable mids but I couldn't see any Q control I'd associate with a parametric EQ.

 

Ooh, someone had Ready Brek for breakfast today......yes, indeed no Q control so it is a semi.

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1 hour ago, HazBeen said:

so it is a semi.

Not after Ready Brek, it isn’t!

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30 minutes ago, Jus Lukin said:

Not after Ready Brek, it isn’t!

I think you're both getting confused with Weetabix 😀

Edited by Al Krow

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I have a lot of Pre amp DIs. Tried the B7K, sold it. Have the AmpegSCR DI and like it. Have the Tech 21 PBDDI and like it. Have the MXR M80,it's ok.

But the one I'm using to record our album is the MXR M81. That mid frequency selector knob is the magic. That is where all the good bass notes live :)

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2 hours ago, bazzbass said:

But the one I'm using to record our album is the MXR M81. That mid frequency selector knob is the magic. That is where all the good bass notes live :)

That makes sense and another tick in the box for the M81.

However for recording purposes if having one semi para mids sweepable from 250Hz and 1 kHz is the business, just wondering whether the Tech 21 Q\Strip which has TWO fully parametric low and and high mids at (i) 40Hz  to 700Hz and (ii) 300Hz to 6 kHz PLUS an HPF and LPF wouldn't be a step up and the logical choice?

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It has arrived and I've had a quick play on it.

 

It's very good. Super clean as expected and adds activeness to my PJ-Ray - and makes it easier to tame the top end as it is a bright bass - far more controllable than just a passive tone..

So far I think I also prefer it to the active circuit in my Marleaux too.

 

Excellent bit of kit.

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4 minutes ago, fretmeister said:

It has arrived and I've had a quick play on it.

 

It's very good. Super clean as expected and adds activeness to my PJ-Ray - and makes it easier to tame the top end as it is a bright bass - far more controllable than just a passive tone..

So far I think I also prefer it to the active circuit in my Marleaux too.

 

Excellent bit of kit.

Have you tried it with any drives/distortions before or after yet?

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23 minutes ago, Bridgehouse said:

Have you tried it with any drives/distortions before or after yet?

I have. It takes to them well, adding a bit of “activeness” to the sound. 

This is based on my experience of drives (all effects, actually) before the preamp. I have had the M81 for a year, perhaps a bit longer. 

Edit: as in, I have not tried anything after the preamp. I use it for a bit of extra oomph and got it for the DI. By having it last in the chain, I control the sound going to FOH. 

Edited by JimBobTTD
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