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Killed_by_Death

East Pre makes pickups sound better, even in Passive mode

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Posted (edited)

 

Several months ago I was having a 'discussion' with a couple of folks about their East preamps & they insist that even in the Passive setting their Bartolini pickups sounded better than with the stock Ibanez controls also set to Passive.

At first I thought maybe the East pre uses active mixing, which would sound better than Passive, but apparently there's still an output signal with the battery removed, so it can't be that.

 

So, how in the world is John East designing them so that they somehow make the pickups sound better even when Passive?

I did read that the East pre has two separate paths for the signal in Passive vs. Active, but I'm wondering what values of Resistance he's using in there, maybe it's a 1 MegOhm M/N taper blend.

The Ibanez is a 500K Ohm A/C taper blend.

 

Edited by Killed_by_Death
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I honestly think it's just confirmation bias, no one wants to pay $250 USD for something & not get a dramatic improvement.

(but I was skeptical of that outcome when TWO folks claimed the same thing)

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On 15/04/2021 at 20:30, Killed_by_Death said:

 

Several months ago I was having a 'discussion' with a couple of folks about their East preamps & they insist that even in the Passive setting their Bartolini pickups sounded better than with the stock Ibanez controls also set to Passive.

At first I thought maybe the East pre uses active mixing, which would sound better than Passive, but apparently there's still an output signal with the battery removed, so it can't be that.

 

So, how in the world is John East designing them so that they somehow make the pickups sound better even when Passive?

I did read that the East pre has two separate paths for the signal in Passive vs. Active, but I'm wondering what values of Resistance he's using in there, maybe it's a 1 MegOhm M/N taper blend.

The Ibanez is a 500K Ohm A/C taper blend.

 

Maybe it’s just the quality of the Ibañez stock circuit? It’s built to a (low) price- and its passive bypass might not be designed to such high standards as the East circuit. For example more components, especially cheaper ones left in the circuit can create more noise, impedance loading and possible degradation of signal. There are ways of producing an effect or preamp which will work, for a cheaper price - and those more complex circuits that produce better results... at a cost.

so, to sum up, a better designed circuit will produce better results, but will cost more - and that’s not something the bean counters like when it comes to profit in already tight margins of mass produced products.

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There should only be 3 components at play when it's set to Passive, the Volume, Balance, & passive Treble-cut, & it just occurred to me that East could be using a different value for the Capacitor, but that would almost make no difference with the Treble-cut fully clockwise.

1 MegOhm Volume & Balance controls would give it a tiny bit more clarity Passive.

 

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I have an East U-retro in my Warwick (it replaced the old MEC 2 band unit) and it sounds a lot better in both active and passive modes. John makes seriously high quality circuitry that I don't think any mainstream manufacturer can match for the reasons that @Dood has already mentioned. Top quality = top dollar, which extends to Johns after sales care, after part of my preamp came loose (my fault!) he had me over to his workshop and sat me down with a brew while he fixed it free of charge. I would recommend his preamps to anyone, for me they are the best retrofit preamps available anywhere

Ben

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2 hours ago, Killed_by_Death said:

 

There should only be 3 components at play when it's set to Passive, the Volume, Balance, & passive Treble-cut, & it just occurred to me that East could be using a different value for the Capacitor, but that would almost make no difference with the Treble-cut fully clockwise.

1 MegOhm Volume & Balance controls would give it a tiny bit more clarity Passive.

 

100 nanofarads with a 500K pot for the tone control. Just checked right now.

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As I said I am sure that replacing my volume controls on my TMB35 over the stock ibanez ones sounded better, even though I am well aware it should make no difference (they were the same value, albeit log rather than lin).

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Posted (edited)

 

 

Something may have been amiss with the wiring otherwise, like a less-than-perfect solder-joint.

I once had an instrument cable suffer from that, yes I made it myself, LOL!

 

Also, I did the same operation on a GSR100EX, but changed both pots for higher-quality Alphas, no discernible difference to me.

 

Edited by Killed_by_Death
added GS100EX

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, Hellzero said:

100 nanofarads with a 500K pot for the tone control. Just checked right now.

That might explain it, 100 nF is quite high!

At first I thought you meant you measured the East pre-amp, but then recalled you didn't change your stock EHB pre-amp.

I was about to take the back off mine to measure that.

I was noticing I can roll back for p-bass sound quite quickly w/o rolling it back very far, which just corroborates 100 nF.

 

Edited by Killed_by_Death

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2 hours ago, Dood said:

to sum up, a better designed circuit will produce better results

That's the bit that's niggling at me, I wonder what East's 'trade secret' is, because a 500K Ohm pot is going to act like a 500K Ohm pot, unless it's really poorly constructed.

I realize the bespoke Ibanez pots from Alpha aren't top-of-the-line, but IME they do their job.

If I thought changing out the pots in my Ibanez basses would make a difference, I'd do it tomorrow, but when I did to two of them, there was no difference.

 

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2 hours ago, funkypenguin said:

I have an East U-retro in my Warwick (it replaced the old MEC 2 band unit) and it sounds a lot better in both active and passive modes

I spent some time looking at Warwick schematics & can't see room for improvement, so I will have to concede that East is just doing something better. I assume the Passive sound being better than stock has something to do with the separate paths for the signal when Active or Passive, but there's the mystery. Can you drive back over there & ask him to explain it you? 🤣

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42 minutes ago, Killed_by_Death said:

I spent some time looking at Warwick schematics & can't see room for improvement, so I will have to concede that East is just doing something better. I assume the Passive sound being better than stock has something to do with the separate paths for the signal when Active or Passive, but there's the mystery. Can you drive back over there & ask him to explain it you? 🤣

This is where taste comes into the equation, as opposed to being able to split them simply by looking at the spec sheet. I can't stand the voicing of the MEC pickups or their preamps, for me they are the weakest part of any Warwick bass especially at the top end. My own Warwick has Seymour Duncan pickups and the East preamp, and the bass sounds fuller and a lot sweeter to my ears. I have no idea about any of the technical specs of Johns preamps (or any preamps for that matter), I only know that I prefer how they sound to the MEC units :)

Ben

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I know the secret for Active mode, it's not Flat, unless you set it that way with the little jumpers. I play Passively 88% of the time, & would just be beaming if it could actually sound better.

I guess the next question is if anyone has tried dropping the 5-knob East set in an Ibanez EHB.

 

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49 minutes ago, Killed_by_Death said:

I guess the next question is if anyone has tried dropping the 5-knob East set in an Ibanez EHB.

You know the most irritating thing with the east and the EHB. On my two primary basses, the EHB and the shuker, they both have 4 knobs, vol, balance, bass/treble freq/boost. On the east the two last knobs are the opposite way round from the EHB!

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The East pre-amps are modular, from what I've seen, can't you position them wherever you like?

u-front-4-1200.jpg

I'm noticing those long circuit-boards would probably get in the way & limit your choices, however.

 

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I didn't like how the active/passive switch on my Premium Soundgear was ACTIVE when Up, so I switched it around, so it's in the Passive position when up.

Luckily Ibanez did the same thing, maybe from customer feedback, & my EHB came with the Passive position UP.

 

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10 hours ago, Killed_by_Death said:

...but changed both pots for higher-quality Alphas, no discernible difference to me.

If you change from carbon track to carbon track, there should be no difference. I suppose JE is using - probably, I am not 100 % sure - cermet or conductive plastic pots. They produce less noise.

Is there something in the East's signal path to make the sound slightly "better"? Anything affecting loudness curve or similar? 

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8 hours ago, Killed_by_Death said:

The East pre-amps are modular, from what I've seen, can't you position them wherever you like?

I probably could if I took it apart, which I have never done. But I would be more likely to change the ibanez as I assume they are just pots on cables like all the other ibanezes.

8 hours ago, Killed_by_Death said:

Luckily Ibanez did the same thing, maybe from customer feedback, & my EHB came with the Passive position UP.

I actually can never remember which way round it is, but it is active all the time, so it isn't something i have to worry about. The Shuker is also switchless (apart from the pull bright thing).

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Killed_by_Death said:

That might explain it, 100 nF is quite high!

At first I thought you meant you measured the East pre-amp, but then recalled you didn't change your stock EHB pre-amp.

I was about to take the back off mine to measure that.

I was noticing I can roll back for p-bass sound quite quickly w/o rolling it back very far, which just corroborates 100 nF.

 

I checked the East tone knob that I still have as spare part, not the Ibanez EHB tone that I don't own (don't know where you got that info), so yes, you definitely have some reading problems. Maybe you should stop cross reading and simply take the time needed.

Edited by Hellzero
Wrong place

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The John East J-retro, for Jazz bass, comes in two varieties.

There is one where the EQ is totally flat when passive and another where the EQ is 'tweaked' even in the passive position.

The standard issue J-retro is the one that is 'tweaked' in the passive setting.

This may be the answer to your question?

I recommend emailing John East to confirm.

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3 hours ago, Hellzero said:

you definitely have some reading problems. Maybe you should stop cross reading and simply take the time needed.

I have a *faulty memory & you didn't indicate which part you had measured, but thanks for that.

My first assumption was that you had measured the East treble-cut knob, but then I changed my mind, but should have known better, because Ibanez never uses a Capacitor of that high of a value.

 

*Thanks Desert Storm

 

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4 hours ago, Hellzero said:

not the Ibanez EHB tone that I don't own

I forgot to add (see there's that memory thing again) that you should run out & buy one as fast as you possibly can, best instrument I've ever owned, & I've owned Rickenbacker, U.S. G&Ls.

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Here are the main 8 basses I'm playing these days, in alphabetical order.

I think I'm quite very well served...

ACG Finn R Type 5 Fretless :

2044013739_ACGFinnRType5Fretless(1).thumb.jpg.735a2dce41b1e4886b8121862a05f523.jpg

Ibanez AFR A104F (Fretless) :

240975333_IbanezAFRA104F(3).thumb.jpg.ca9b2ec112a24cc82f51ca3cd911edf4.jpg

Leduc Masterpiece HMP 624 :

130224740_LeducHMP624(1).thumb.jpg.5578378f4e3d3f282ec3a2d543073e70.jpg

Leduc Masterpiece MP 524 :

IMG_20210419_155150.thumb.jpg.4d178d7edd60dc227628c5f3d609d159.jpg

Leduc Masterpiece MP 628 SF (Fretless) :

1461110753_LeducMP628SF01.thumb.jpg.72c2e0e7c7d670a398e52f81c988e67e.jpg

Leduc U-Basse U-MM4 SF (fretless) :

IMG_20210419_155259.thumb.jpg.910fb3ad3cb9793b57807802c3c6b8fc.jpg

Leduc U-Contrebasse 6 Moaï :

IMG_20210419_160542.thumb.jpg.c34f09b316155c66d2a7788854349643.jpg

Le Fay Remington Steele 6 RHT CC CAP Big Block (fretless) :

IMG_20210419_155104.thumb.jpg.e90845f4ad3bad1c017dda1ebeb52a47.jpg

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1 hour ago, Killed_by_Death said:

I forgot to add (see there's that memory thing again) that you should run out & buy one as fast as you possibly can, best instrument I've ever owned, & I've owned Rickenbacker, U.S. G&Ls.

Quite keen on giving the short scale version a try, even if it has the barts on it.

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