My friend in LA, who I had advised on his studio acquisitions sent me this Shootout of Direct Boxes by a Bassist out of Austrailia:

There are quite a few pieces in this video, the RedDi, Avalon U5, a MarkBass, Neve. etc.

Now this is coming from my friend with his own Neve and a Lightning Boy LA2A (copy with silver wire and hand rolled capacitors a Holy Grail of circuitry and musicality).

So, what did I have on him?

Nothing when you see what he has in his Studio.

Nevertheless, he asked me of my choices. Strangely the Neve and U5 did not really do it for me as much as the RedDi, the Ausie's A2D Channel Strip, and then the MarkBass, in that order.

Beyond that, when I was in LA, he completely ignored me, having no interest in what I had in my inventory at the time, so I whetted his appetite with this page:


He was floored by all of the information on Bass Pres, in light of us both being tone hounds.

I had to trigger his memory back to the days of yor when he was around me and I was using the Yamaha PB-1 Bass Preamp.
Finally, from this source he was willing to hear this device, despite having two of the most venerable pieces of sound gear at his fingertips, even an Avalon 737 to compare to the U5, which he was almost beset upon.

I told him all about the PB-1 and how not only did I have 3 of them, that you can get them for $100-295, but also that I had been using it again in the 6 months of gigs before I left the last town and it performed well enough for me as I await still my GBE600 PreAmp dissection from Fuchs Audio Technologies as my PreAmp of PreAmps.

What is astounding is that the PB-1 is originally a $200 Solid State PreAmp, and the Genz has 2 Pres 1 SS Mosfet, and 1 12AX7 in what Andy Fuchs described as a "follower circuit" [whatever that really means], thus the two units are only somewhat related in circuitry.

Having already made his choice from the video above, he turned his scrutiny to the Bass through his Neve, LA2A, and the Avalon 737 in deciding if he would sell the Avalon 737 to get the U5 or one of those other units.

He was busy trying to justify getting the U5 when I struck.

On the issue of the PB-1 I told him to get one for about $100, and if he did not like it I would buy it from him. Instead he found one for $75 in Santa Monica and went over and picked it up.

To my surprise, despite JohnK's rave review of the unit, neither the Neve, nor the LA2A actually made the cut as his choice Bass Pre. It was the Avalon 737 which even survived the first shootout with the PB-1. It was later that he realized that there was some EQ on the Avalon and the $75 30+ year old Yamaha PB-1 walked away with the Title of the best PreAmp/DirectBox.

Because of the longstanding prestige and industry standards set by Neve and the LA2A, I did not think the PB-1 would hold up in a shootout.

Asking about what I am using these days I had to tell him the PB-1 will be racked until the Genz Benz Pre is finished by Andy and Company, but I am still using an additional 12AX7 PreAmp in the Digitech BP-8 which he could get for about $100.

He expressed great interest in the BP-8 and I warned him of the digital nature of the circuitry. I told him I have 2 of these and cannot do without it.

He was not dissuaded from wanting to hear what I was using in all of the signal path, so I got on Ebay and sent him one, in really great condition, for $75.

Now this one too is a dinosaur as the first Bass Multi-Effect produced in the late 90's so it is now 18 almost 20 years old.

I am pleased that yet another aspect of my ear for tone is vindicated by time. Some even have agreed with me on the BP-8, but what is really important in this chapter of discovery is that what we are finding is very unassuming, vintage, inexpensive, gear coming out on top of $2400 LA2A, $1500 Neve, and $1200 Avalon devices.

Mind you this is only for the purposes of the Bass Guitar, but nevertheless, you do not have to spend much at all to discover your tone through what is the most amazing hardware for bass.

In the mean time, I have no fear that there are enough bassist in the world to cause any increase in the value of ether of these pieces of gear. Now my friend is going to have to tell his electronics repairman who said of the PB-1 "those things are built like tanks, can you get good tone out of them?" that is has beaten Neve, Avalon, and LA2A for forming Bass tone.

Since it is so inexpensive, it will not cost alot to try and prove us wrong.
Ibanez BTB 1006 Fretless and 405 (no Barts)
456 & 455(w/Barts)
Genz Benz NeoX400 112T & NeoX 112T cab.
Digitech BP-8 (x2)
Yamaha PB-1
Boss: SYB-5, PS-2, OD-20, EQ-20, PH-3,BF-3, CE-20, DD-20
Morely A/B
Update -

I thought my friend would find the BP8 a mere novelty.

He is asking about a case for it because he cannot seem to stop playing with it.

Not sure how it will play out for actual studio work,. but he is having a blast.

Fuchs finally got the Genz Benz PreAmp to me.

It took a year and $600 [Andy told me he did not have the time for the project], so I am not sending it to my friend in LA for a shootout.

Into the Gig rack it goes to drive the GBE1200.

Andy checked it out when he was done and said, "Nice, I see now why you did not just go buy a Tech 21 [product] like my friends suggested, It does what that will do and more."

I think I am finally played out on the quest for tone.
Ibanez BTB 1006 Fretless and 405 (no Barts)
456 & 455(w/Barts)
Genz Benz NeoX400 112T & NeoX 112T cab.
Digitech BP-8 (x2)
Yamaha PB-1
Boss: SYB-5, PS-2, OD-20, EQ-20, PH-3,BF-3, CE-20, DD-20
Morely A/B
The Avalon is a legendary preamp, but it is not designed for use with a bass. That it has become popular for bass is due largely to the fact that Geddy Lee of Rush has been using one in his bass rig since at least the Farewell to Kings album. Tech21's SansAmp (pedal or rackmount) pretty much rules the roost these days in the USA, but there are plenty of others. I picked up a Hartke Bass Attack DI pedal years ago for a song, and the thing is remarkably versatile. I've also used an MXR that was first-rate, along with a SansAmp RPB and an RPM. All were fine. You pays your money and you makes your choice.

Or you could always go old-school and use an amplifier and stick a microphone in front of it - or not. It's enough to make the FOH guy have a seizure these days. Sometimes it's fun to watch.
"Maybe this world is another planet's hell?" - Aldous Huxley
Thanks for chiming in Fatal.

What this was all about really was the shoot out of one vs. the other beginning with one group and then getting my friend to shoot out the PB-1 v. the Nece v, his Avalon.

Avalon almost made it past the PB-1.

Sad he will not get my Genz Pre to shoot out against the PB-1 which I have enjoyed for decades.

The Genz it is for me.

As for the Tech21 and SansAmp, I believe that they might not get past the Neve, then again, I really did not expect the PB-1 to realistically win the shootout.

So much for Studio snobs looking down at our amps and pres, and thinking the Neve is the all singing all dancing,
Ibanez BTB 1006 Fretless and 405 (no Barts)
456 & 455(w/Barts)
Genz Benz NeoX400 112T & NeoX 112T cab.
Digitech BP-8 (x2)
Yamaha PB-1
Boss: SYB-5, PS-2, OD-20, EQ-20, PH-3,BF-3, CE-20, DD-20
Morely A/B