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edgebass5
05-09-2005, 09:25 AM
Okay, this is a piece of gear that's talked about quite frequently, so its about time it had its own review thread.

Sansamp Bass Driver DI+

Manufacturer: Tech 21

Features: 4.5/5
Very feature loaded for such a small device. One instrument input, one affected output (post), one unaffected output (pre), one XLR/DI output, phantom, line or battery power supply, on/off switch (preamp), level, blend, bass, treble, presence, drive controls. I didn't give it a perfect 5, simply because it does not have a mid control. While many people complain about this, if you're judicious with your bass, treble and blend controls, you can have as much mids as you'd like.

Sound (preamp): 3.5/5
Very very very warm. Reminiscent of an all-tube amp. If you A/B the device with a real all-tube amp, its obvious which one is which, but this thing does a great job of recreating an all-tube amp's tone, but in a much smaller, much lighter and much cheaper package. The sound can easily become muddy if you're not judicious with the bass tone controls. Also, this is not the "quickest" preamp ever made. It does not pickup signal transients with lightning fast speed. In comparison to my BBE BMax (which is ridiculously fast) this thing is the sonic equivalent of a snail. The treble control is fairly tame, and even at high settings does not become harsh or put a lot of "hiss" into your signal. The presence control is a bit tricky. If you add too much your tone turns into an immediate "clank" machine, and adding more will easily create a lot of "hiss" in your signal. No mid control, but combine judicious cutting of the bass and treble bands, and use of the blend control, and you can have as much mids in your signal as you'd like.

Sound (DI): ?/5
I gave this a '?' rating because its too tricky to give an accurate review. I'll explain why and then you can form your own opinion. When the preamp is turned on, it delivers the preamp's tone to the board/PA. If you want this tone to hit the board, I would give this thing a 5, simply because it gets the signal there, and does it very well, with phantom power as well! Now, if you disengage the preamp, it delivers the signal to the board, but it still colors the tone, despite the preamp being disengaged. The sign of a good DI is how transparently it can deliver your signal to the board. In this regard, this preamp gets a 2 in my opinion. Engaged, good, disengaged, bad. If you like the tone of the Sansamp and you want it to hit the board, you'll be just fine. However, if you're only going to use this thing for its DI functions and don't like the preamp, I'd look elsewhere because this is easily the least transparent DI I've ever heard.

Sound (overdrive): 3/5
The overdrive on this thing sounds pretty good. Not like a digital or transistor driven overdrive, but very much like a 12AX7 preamp tube being overdriven by cranking up the gain knob on a tube preamp. The reason I only gave it a 3 is that its not a versatile overdrive unit at all. Even at its maximum setting, it can only create a mild overdrive. That being said, the unit was never intended to be a full-on distortion unit, so my point about versatility might be irrelevant. If all you're looking for is an overdrive unit to add some "grind" or "grit" to your tone, this thing will do it, and do it very well.

Portability: 5/5
A complete non-issue, the device is very small, and very light.

Reliability: 5/5
This thing is built like a tank. Heavy gauge metal casing (not plastic), heavy-duty on/off switch that will resist many stomps.

Overall: 4/5
I really like this unit for two purposes. To add a bit of warmth and grit to my ultra-clean toned BBE preamp, and to serve as a DI to get my signal to the board, before it hits my amp in recording situations. I wish the output voltage was high enough to drive a power amp without boosting the signal at some point. Apparently on the newer versions they have increased the output voltage to allow it to drive a power amp sufficiently.

Manufacturer's alternates:

RBI (rackmounted version of the Bass Driver DI, with the addition of a few more output options and a dedicated mid control)

Programmable BDDI (same as the BDDI, but with 3 preset channels for seamless analog tone switching between 3 presets)

Other alternates:

MXR M-80 (very similar, but with overdrive on a separate channel from the preamp, and a much more "modern" tone, described by many as being very "nu-metal")

Hartke Bass Attack, Aguilar DB 924, Sadowsky Outboard, J-Retro Outboard (very similar, but with no overdrive)

Wintermute
05-09-2005, 01:49 PM
((Please post a link to any new reviews in the review index. Great review though.))

Radiobass81
05-09-2005, 01:51 PM
Great review.

edgebass5
05-09-2005, 01:59 PM
((Please post a link to any new reviews in the review index. Great review though.))

Review index link posted :thumb: (thanks for the reminder). I'll try and post more gear reviews as I have time to write long posts (I'm posting while I'm at work :lol: )

mikespahn
05-18-2005, 11:19 PM
has anyone tried the rackmount version of this? i have been very curious about it but have been unable to find a store with one for me to try out.

edgebass5
05-19-2005, 11:39 AM
Its essentially the same thing, but it has a dedicated mid control as opposed to a relative one. There are a few more outputs on the back for different situations, but the core tones available are pretty much identical to the BDDI.

morpcat
05-21-2005, 04:30 AM
:) Good review edge.

Distorted Vision
05-23-2005, 12:27 PM
/pops head back into Bass forum


I've been after one of these babies for a while, and it seems like it would be suitable for me. I want one before I go to uni, but I'm not prepared to pay full price (180), so I'm keeping an eye on eBay.

That is, unless anyone here is selling one? I know 6 string demon sold his to Jaco about a year ago. :angry:

edgebass5
05-23-2005, 12:32 PM
^^^Keep checking ebay, the talkbass.com classifieds section and on bassgear.com

kilian
05-24-2005, 04:28 AM
Are there other things like the sansamp with the following things:
- mid control (I like to have a decent control there)
- more settings than on and off (more switches)
- overdrive may be in it..

edgebass5
05-24-2005, 12:32 PM
Are there other things like the sansamp with the following things:
- mid control (I like to have a decent control there)
- more settings than on and off (more switches)
- overdrive may be in it..

Mid control is present on the BDDI, its just relative. If you turn down the bass and treble and use the blend knob judiciously you can have as much mids as you want. I've heard people argue that they like to boost bass treble and mids, but that's just ignorant. All that will produce is a volume boost. The BDDI does have a mid control in my opinion, so does every other 2-band EQ.

The MXR M-80 has the overdrive functions on a separate footswitch so it can be used independently. That being said, the overdrive is really crappy on that unit (IMO).

kilian
05-24-2005, 12:52 PM
Thank you!
Than my eye is still on the sansamp BDDI :) I want to cut the mids though.

edgebass5
05-24-2005, 01:32 PM
Thank you!
Than my eye is still on the sansamp BDDI :) I want to cut the mids though.

To cut the mids on this unit, simply boost the bass and treble knobs a bit, and that equates to a mid cut.

kilian
05-25-2005, 03:15 PM
^I hope so. But I will check one out before I actually buy it so.. I usually cut the mids a bit and boost the bass and treble. So that should be allright then :)

Thanks!

edgebass5
05-25-2005, 04:06 PM
^^^One thing to be aware of with this unit. There's a treble and a presence control. Lately I've determined that the treble control gets everything in the ballpark of 1khz and the presence knob gets everything above about 2khz, so be careful how you adjust those knobs.

kilian
05-25-2005, 04:11 PM
^^ I still have to find one here around.. they are not SO expensive as I thought. But I will check it out before I buy one. I am still fiddling around and want to keep every way open :thumb:

edgebass5
05-25-2005, 04:39 PM
I think you'll like it very much, especially with your affinity to the mid-scoop type of sound, I think this device does that VERY well. One thing that I definitely don't like is that with the treble control bottoming out at around 1khz, if you boost it too much, your tone can become overly nasal and clanky in a hurry. I typically run a slight bass boost, a slight treble and presence cut and a slight drive boost and..... wow..... just..... wow.....

kilian
05-25-2005, 04:42 PM
HA ok :D
And the 3 presets are also a pretty good plus for the thing! I might get one as a gift if I get past my exams.. (when I put in some of my own money)

Thanks for all your help dude :smoke:

edgebass5
05-25-2005, 04:56 PM
3 presets... So you're looking into the programmable version. I have no experience with that model, only the single channel version. Should be the same though (as far as tone is concerned).

kilian
05-26-2005, 12:45 AM
It must be.. It uses the same technology etc. And it has the same functions :thumb:
The all-analog circuitry features the same controls as its single channel predecessor: Drive, Bass, Treble, Presence, Blend and Level.

I guess so.

edgebass5
05-26-2005, 02:38 PM
From what I understand, the programmable version has a high enough output voltage to drive a power amp on its own as well, which is VERY cool.

kilian
05-27-2005, 01:48 AM
HA edge.. you make me love the thing more by the day! And I haven't even got one. How come that the programmable version has a very high output? Just the regular output (to your 'normal' amp) or is it one of the other outputs? If it is the normal output; that means that I'll have to plug in into an active bass input?

And just a question.. you can bypass the whole thing, can't you? Is it true bypass? Because that would make 4 tones out of one box :smoke: Which is easily enough for me :p


EDIT: I see! It has a button with 1/4" out boost! That is nicccccccce :naughty:

edgebass5
05-27-2005, 10:10 AM
What I mean by the increased output voltage: The original versions of the Bass Driver DI did not have a high enough output voltage to drive an individual power amp. In other words, it was not possible to use them for a pre/power setup. This was the source of many complaints for Tech21. They revamped the new programmable version to have sufficienc output voltage to use it as a stand-alone preamp with a stand-alone power amp. Due to this increased voltage I would always plug this thing into the active input if you are using it in front of an existing preamp.

Yes, it is in fact true bypass, so in theory, yes, 4 tones are available right out of the box. Just make sure you program the level control into each setting so that you have unity gain throughout the settings and you'll be alright.

edgebass5
05-27-2005, 10:22 AM
Here's some soundclips of this thing (some are for other Tech21 products, but the sounds are virtually identical)

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7/fg=102/g=home/search/detail/base_pid/480206/
http://tech21nyc.com/sounds.html

Jaco
05-28-2005, 06:46 PM
Great review edgebass. I absolutely love my Sansamp. I won't play live without it, pretty much. Recently I picked up a Nathan East EQ box which is nice in certain situations, but I'll always turn back to the Sansamp. Getting the three way programmable one soon. Cant wait!

edgebass5
05-28-2005, 08:28 PM
^^^I'll be ditching my BDDI in favor of the RBI very soon (just to keep stuff away from my feet at a gig). Please post a review (or tack it to the bottom of this one) when you recieve your programmable version.

R.I.P John H Bonham
06-19-2005, 12:56 PM
Nice reveiw Edgebass5 but I need to ask your opinion on something and I've been told that your'e the person to ask, so here it is, I'm looking to buy and I would like to know which active pickups you prefer out of warwicks and fenders, another reveiw gave the warwick corvette standard electronics 6/10 and I seek advice as to go with a a warwick active bass or a fender active bass? please help

edgebass5
06-20-2005, 05:49 PM
^^^Well, to be logical, there are very few Warwicks that use active pickups (only the models with EMG's, which are not common anymore), and no Fender uses active pickups. You're thinking of an onboard preamp.... but I digress.

They're both very different animals in terms of feel and tone. While one may work brilliantly for you, the other might not. I really advise you to try them both out, because as I said, they are very different.

Oh, and you probably should have made your own thread about this :thumb:

blizzard
06-20-2005, 07:54 PM
^^^I'll be ditching my BDDI in favor of the RBI very soon (just to keep stuff away from my feet at a gig). Please post a review (or tack it to the bottom of this one) when you recieve your programmable version.

I might be interested in buyig it depending on how much you for it

edgebass5
06-21-2005, 12:15 PM
^^^It might be a while, but even then I might just keep it to have a backup DI in the case of amp failure.

blizzard
06-21-2005, 07:31 PM
^^^It might be a while, but even then I might just keep it to have a backup DI in the case of amp failure.

whatever you choose i don't really mind if i don't get one

kilian
08-29-2005, 02:42 PM
I will be picking up my programmable bassdriver tomorrow :smoke:

So I will write a review in a month (I will have gigged with it and recorded with it then ;))

kilian
08-30-2005, 08:39 AM
What didn't you like about it?

theosd
08-30-2005, 11:06 AM
Good review, but I prefer a more fuzzboxey MXR bass d.i.+ rather than the valvey sound of sansamp's. Maybe that's cos I use a valve head anyway :rolleyes:

kilian
08-30-2005, 03:02 PM
Edge, if you read this.. Can you tell how to get some more growl out of the bassdriver? I think it isn't all about midscooping anymore in my tone ;) So it can also be a midboost.. But I've no idea where to look.

I really like the thing though! It was a blind guess, but thanks :p

d-1
09-17-2005, 07:39 PM
Good review next time add a picture of the bass ;)

1-D
09-25-2005, 01:32 PM
Good review ;D

edgebass5
09-25-2005, 01:35 PM
Good review next time add a picture of the bass ;)

A picture of the bass? You do realize that this review was not of a bass, but rather a preamp don't you?

sixxbassist90
09-25-2005, 03:21 PM
A picture of the bass? You do realize that this review was not of a bass, but rather a preamp don't you?
:lol:

sixxbassist90
09-25-2005, 03:22 PM
Im not quite sure what the term preamp means. how is it different from a head. why people have stacks of preamps in a rack?

Killer Fridge
09-25-2005, 03:33 PM
A picture of the bass? You do realize that this review was not of a bass, but rather a preamp don't you?

(its because hes spamming, hes not reading the review nor what its even about :amaze: )

edgebass5
09-25-2005, 04:04 PM
Im not quite sure what the term preamp means. how is it different from a head. why people have stacks of preamps in a rack?

okay a head is a preamp and a poweramp in one casing.

a preamp is a device that increases the output voltage from your bass to a level sufficient enough to properly drive a power amp. They typically have eq and tone control circuits integrated into them as well.

dragonzmad
10-02-2005, 12:01 AM
would you recommend this unit over the hartke attack pedal? I have seen one of these pedals for $150 and the hartke pedals usually run about $100. I'm not going to use the overdrive at all so on that note is the simulated tube warmth it provides worth the extra $50 or should I go hartke?

kilian
10-02-2005, 04:07 AM
Sansamp Bass Driver DI Programmable

Manufacturer: Tech 21

Features: 4/5
A 3 band EQ with so many tones? You can't really believe it, right? Well the Sansamp is one of the things that uses a 3band EQ (bass, treble, presence) and you can get a lot of tones out of it. Drive, Bass, Treble, Presence, Blend, Level. That are all the controls of the sansamp. The drive function will at distortion or those upper harmonics to your sound, but beware! I found out that it also compresses the signal. This will bring in more mids to your signal (correct me if I'm wrong about the mids), therefore you can get lost in the mix. If your bass sounds good outside of the mix, it doesn't sound good in the mix. Remember that.

A mid knob would be useful, boosting bass and creating a mid cut isn't the real when you cut mids. I mainly use this unit as a stombox before the amp to get the perfect tone.

Sound (preamp): 3.5/5
Compressor activated! Watch out for this, you can get a lot of tones out of this thing. But it is hard to get them out of the box within a few hours. Use the blend control (very useful). The drive compresses the signal and like stated before: you can get lost in the mix and you lose the 'growl' of your bass. Although I wouldn't use this thing as a pre amp.. I love it when used before an amp. It makes the Peavey amps I use sound wonderful! The sansamp is like hot chocolate over the ice the peavey makes. The peavey growls and the sansamp delivers the warmth the peavey lacks.

The 3 channel function is lovely, I have it as followed: normal sound, fatter sound, overdrive sound.

To quote edgebass5 first:
Sound (DI): ?/5
I gave this a '?' rating because its too tricky to give an accurate review. I'll explain why and then you can form your own opinion. When the preamp is turned on, it delivers the preamp's tone to the board/PA. If you want this tone to hit the board, I would give this thing a 5, simply because it gets the signal there, and does it very well, with phantom power as well! Now, if you disengage the preamp, it delivers the signal to the board, but it still colors the tone, despite the preamp being disengaged. The sign of a good DI is how transparently it can deliver your signal to the board. In this regard, this preamp gets a 2 in my opinion. Engaged, good, disengaged, bad. If you like the tone of the Sansamp and you want it to hit the board, you'll be just fine. However, if you're only going to use this thing for its DI functions and don't like the preamp, I'd look elsewhere because this is easily the least transparent DI I've ever heard.
Edge is more of the technical features here. I used the thing to get to the board at a radiogig, the sound coming of the unit was very nice. Nothing to complain about, but really.. watch out with the drive (unless you want that sound)

I agree with edge:
Sound (overdrive): 3/5
The overdrive on this thing sounds pretty good. Not like a digital or transistor driven overdrive, but very much like a 12AX7 preamp tube being overdriven by cranking up the gain knob on a tube preamp. The reason I only gave it a 3 is that its not a versatile overdrive unit at all. Even at its maximum setting, it can only create a mild overdrive. That being said, the unit was never intended to be a full-on distortion unit, so my point about versatility might be irrelevant. If all you're looking for is an overdrive unit to add some "grind" or "grit" to your tone, this thing will do it, and do it very well.

Portability: 5/5
Small and easy to put in your gigbag. The cardboardbox (sp?) is handy to transport the thing

Reliability: 5/5
Built like a tank.

Overall: 4,5/5
I use it mainly as a stompbox, and then it does the job pretty good. I wouldn't use it in a stand alone pre/power setup. Therefore I think it is too fat/compressed when you use the drive. But when I use it to warm up my peavey.. it is lovely! A mid control would be nice, as stated before. But that's why I still use an amp. The 3 channel function is very nice.

edgebass5
10-02-2005, 03:06 PM
kilian: a couple of points regarding your review. First off, you stated that it has a 3-band EQ. That's not exactly correct, it has a 2 band EQ, plus a presence knob. Presence is kind of like an EQ, but not really. Its designed to bring out the upper harmonic content of your tone. However, it does feel a bit like a second treble knob. Let's just compromise and say that is has a 2.5 band EQ :p

Secondly, you mentioned that adding drive will add mids to your tone. Not at all true. The drive function is completely independent of any EQ control. Also, you mentioned adding mids will get you lost in a mix. Typically, adding mids will help you to cut through a mix more effectively.

kilian
10-02-2005, 03:58 PM
^^OK I can agree with you there! I didn't knew what the mid-thing actually was, but I knew that if I posted that, you would correct me ;)

But did you notice that the drive did actually compress the signal? It was pointed out to a studio engineer a few weeks ago. And when I tried it out at home, I could actually hear some kind of compression.. Do you know anything about it?

edgebass5
10-02-2005, 04:17 PM
^^^Its Sansamp's way to artifically create natural tube compression. As your signal passes through a tube the soft-clip curvature actually compresses the sine wave a little bit. As you increase the drive on the BDDI, it artifically increases this type of compression. Its actually discussed in the owner's manual :thumb:

nilon
10-06-2005, 04:45 PM
You mention in the review about how indestructable this thing is, but I'm thinking of getting one and the warranty would only be for the US, and I'm in the UK so shipping would be down to me both ways, but the actual sansamp would be half the price.

How likely is thing to break ever?

edgebass5
10-07-2005, 06:43 PM
Its VERY solid. Its got a metal casing, and then one button that you have to stomp on is very sturdy. I don't think you have to worry about it breaking.

Skit
10-26-2005, 05:46 AM
I just purchases The Original Sansamp without the controls outside (You have to unscrew the back to fit battery/alter controls) works a charm when using the XRL output (makes use of programed controls) but when using the standard output (not programmable) I notice little difference...

nilon
01-09-2006, 07:49 AM
Hey, time to purchase the sansamp has arrived!

Just wondering though, the programmable only appears to have an XLR output, is this the case, or does it have a 1/4 output like the standard?

Loads of places have the standard with xlr and 2 1/4 outputs, but nowhere mentions the programmable having a 1/4 output, and there's very few images of it available to get a good look at the thing.

Edit: Nevermind: I emailed Tech 21, it does have 1/4 output.