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Audere J3ZD preamp

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[b]Features: 8[/b]

There are two flavours of J3ZD available

1) Volume, Z-Mode switch, Mid/Balance stack, Treble/Bass stack, LED meter, passive style tone or
2) Volume, Z-Mode switch, Volume, Treble/Bass stack, LED meter, passive style tone

I opted for the 3 band EQ model with blend. The 2 x vol, 2 band EQ model is shown below.

Naturally, as this preamp is designed to fit onto the control plate of a Jazz style bass, you are limited to 4 pots and a couple of switches.

John East manages to cram 3 concentric pots onto the J-Retro deluxe, which gives you a mid frequency control on the third pot. However, the Audere has the three way Z-mode impedance control, which gives you extra options. Furthermore, having the pickup blend on the outer ring of the 2nd pot is a little fiddly.

[b]Sound: 9[/b]

At home I never use an amp - just my Korg Pandora, a pair of Beyer Dynamic DT150s and a short Monster bass cable. I've used the same setting on the Pandora for years, so plugging my bass in post upgrade was a shock. The flat sound of the preamp is lovely and balanced. The 3 band EQ is subtle. I'm used to the somewhat extreme EQ on the Fender preamp, which is kind of all or nothing - speaker flapping bass, horn frying treble and a very powerful mid that really affects the output level on the bass.

On the Audere, the 3 bands have a much more pronounced effect when boosted in isolation. This makes the EQ much more useable. If I'm honest, I just used the stock preamp on the Fender to beef up the sound because I felt the flat sound was a tad weedy.

Boosting the bass yields a lovely thick tone - not at all boomy, but really meaty and dark
Boosting the treble gives you that Marcus Miller slap tone- bright and cutting but not brittle or painful
Boosting the mids produces you a nice bark- much like a qualty passive bass, but does't push the output of the bass in the way that the stock preamp did, so you can accentuate that lovely jazz bass bridge pickup honk without suddenly drowning out your bandmates.

The Z-mode impedance selector is very powerful. The effect of Low Z mode is dependant upon the output from the pickups, so there are two controls on the circuit board to allow you to tweak the input gain. The frequency peak in high Z mode is adjusted by fitting different value capacitors to the circuit board. Crucially, different value capacitors can be used for each pickup.

The passive style tone control is a lovely addition and sounds much more balaced and musical than simply cutting the treble EQ.

The blend control is buffered, but there is still a noticeable drop in volume when both pickups are on. This is much more pronounced in low Z-mode.

[b]Construction: 9[/b]

The first thing I noticed when unpacking the preamp is how substantial it feels. The components are top quality and the electronics are top notch. Compared to the sloppy wiring of the stock Fender preamp, the J3ZD is a thing of beauty

Fitting the J3ZD was a cinch. The only tools you need are are a phillips screwdriver, a pair of pliers, wire strippers and some matches.

The preamp comes with jack and battery clip pre-wired. They also throw in a couple of crimps and some heat shrink tubing. All that needs connecting are the pickup wires and bridge ground connector. Now here's the good bit. On a Fender deluxe jazz (mexican or US) it's possible to extract the jack,battery clip and preamp in one piece. I simply needed to cut and strip the pickup and bridge ground wires, screw the pickup wires in the preamp board, crimp the bridge connector wires together with pliers, apply tubing and shrink with matches and I was good to go. It took 5 minutes.

The battery indicator is a nice touch. Plug in a cable and you get a sequence of lights that tells you how much juice is left in the battery. Unfortunately, a high pitched noise accompanies the sequence, so have your amp off or on standby when you plug in (which I hope you do any way) and wait until the light goes out before flicking the switch.

[b]Reliability/Durability: 10[/b]

I can't comment,but I would assume the unit is very reliable based on construction

[b]Customer Support: 10[/b]

I bought the Audere J3ZD as an upgrade to the stock preamp in my 2001 Fender US Deluxe Five String. I paid £104 for the preamp, incudling priority USPS shipping. I had to pay another £30.63 in customs charges and admin. However, £135 isn't a bad price. I ordered on a Friday morning and Parcelforce dropped it off exactly a week later.

[b]Overall Rating: 9[/b]

I've only had this preamp in my bass since Friday evening and was a little unsure at first, but within an hour of installing I was sold. Extra credit has to go to Audere for making installing such a breeze.

If I go for a Audere preamp for my other US Deluxe Jazz, I may well go for a 2 vol,2 band EQ model. I'll miss the mid EQ, but I'll appreciate the better control over individual pickup volumes.

Edited by bassbloke

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[quote name='finnbass' post='84272' date='Nov 5 2007, 11:38 PM']Very interesting review, thanks :)

I have just ordered a JZ3-VB-3B Z-mode Jazz Pre - Vol, Mid/Bal, Tre/Bass model which I intend to stick in my Aerodyne. I have a standard Jazz with a J-Retro installed so I will be interested in comparing the two...[/quote]

I wish I'd updated this review sooner.

I ordered a second preamp for my other bass. This time I opted for a vol/vol/2band/tone model thinking that the two volume controls would be more useable than the sometimes hard to reach blend. I much prefer this to the 3 band model which still has a noticeable jump in volume as you move between front to both to rear pickup. The 2 volume simply doesn't have this problem and it's much faster rolling off an indiividual pickup.

This still doesn't detract from the fact that the JZ3D is a great piece of kit. Since first installing the preamp, I raised the pickup height and lowered the gain of the low Z mode my bass sounds absolutely stunning now.

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Thanks for the review! Nicely put...that totally covers it!

I got this preamp in October for my old hybrid bass...I love it. I added an extra switch for on/off. Nice to have that onstage at times.

Your favourite passive bass is brought alive by this unit. With the vol/vol/treble-bass setup, it's a revelation.
This is some serious 'ahead of it's time' gear, totally clean/versatile great sounding and very high tech useful stuff for 2007. [almost '08!]

It's like adding another 10 years to your favourite single malt. It's even better, but you can't totally put your finger on it...but sure as hell, you don't want that lousy 12 year old anymore.

The Low Z is very cool, but only dial in a bit of the bass boost.. or it gets real muddy. The Mid Z is my favourite..it's BIG but really bites when you play back at the bridge...High Z..? maybe limited to your own pleasure on some tunes, I like it though..all very musical..

The bass boost is massive! I found that maybe a 1/4 of the boost range is plenty most of the time .
The treble boost has some hiss at full on, but on expressive TI flatwounds, 3/4 on is cool for adding a pleasant top end.

I have this preamp on a 'conglomerate' bass that has evolved in tonal quality over near 30 years, and this unit is right up there on the list with sex.

My other very cool basses have fallen by the wayside like some old cabs that are now fuzzy coffee tables, rounding out the stereo low end.

This is An early Tokai ..>Fender Jazz bass copy body of unknown woodage, with a newer slick Squire Jazz Bass Neck..it's a beauty for sound and feel.

Pickups are a Dimarzio DP123 at the bridge and an old approx '90 Bart at the neck position..., with a Schaller bridge and generic nut..oh, and Thomastik Infeld JF344 flats.

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Couldn't disagree with a word of that. I love the Audere circuit in my Frankenjazz and just how easy it was to fit. I think that three choice of all the ranges is really clever. The full range of each control is fully, musically usable and there aren't silly, unusable extremes. However, there is still a huge degree of flexibility and killer tones to be mined. Any other jazzes I get will have one of these dropped in as the first orderly business.

As to the blend control vs the double volumes... I am so used to a pickup blend from my Wal that it is completely intuitive to me in a way the dual vols wouldn't be. So, horses for courses, I guess!

Amazingly good piece of kit. Love the flexibility of that Z switch too!!!!!

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