Tech 21 SansAmp 3 Channel Programmable Bass Driver and Direct Box
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  • Once I dial in the tone I like, I see no need to make changes, and the two other channels to program are rendered extraneous


    • by M. Berg
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      Not enough good can be said about the Tech 21 SansAmp 3-channel Programmable Bass Driver and Direct Box. Perhaps its biggest knock is that for a bass player like me, it’s too good. Once I dial in the tone I like, I see no need to make changes, and the two other channels to program are rendered extraneous. Also, due to the responsiveness and versatility of the SansAmp Bass Driver, I seem to care less about what sort of amp I’m using, and just that it’s loud enough. This thing would make me sound good playing through just about anything.

      As you may have surmised from how I use it, that I treat the SansAmp Bass Driver as a preamp. From info I got on the Tech 21 website, and from what the geeks on the bulletin boards say, the SansAmp Bass Driver is all analog, and it has some circuitry voodoo that emulates tube amplifiers. That’s almost sounds too


      good to be true, but that the SansAmp is analog gives its tone a very warm sound, like when I’d flip on my father’s old Sansui tuner and get that characteristic tube “THUNK.”

      I play a Fender Jazz Bass through a variety of amps; practice-sized combos, to multi-cab stacks of high-watt power. I use this thing with all of them. None of my amps are particularly awesome. If I had an Ampeg SVT or a Fender Bassman, I’d probably have no need for the SansAmp Bass Driver as a preamp, and I’d probably settle for some other stomp boxes to provide boosts or distortion.

      Before I had the Bass Driver, I was unhappy with my tone. My guitar is nice, and it sounds good in general, but the bass tone I was getting from my mediocre amps was very flat, with a very loose bottom end. Once I put the SansAmp in my signal chain, everything changed. I set all my amp EQ levels to the center, and used the Bass and Treble knobs to dial in my tone. The sweep of the knobs is so clean, I could hear right when I had too much or too little Bass or Treble. Also, sometimes when I feel like I need more bass, I just roll back the treble, and the bass is actually there. It’s very sensitive equipment for getting the sound just right.

      The Drive and Level knobs, predictably, control gain and volume. The balance of these two knobs determines how much louder they’ll make the signal, and how much overdrive dirt is on the signal. The Blend knob then determines how much SansAmp gets put into the signal, mixed with the dry signal. This can help turn blaring distortion into a nice fuzz around the edges. The Presence knob is probably the closest thing to a midrange control. Delicate use of this knob can really fine tune ...


      • Tech 21 SansAmp 3 Channel Programmable Bass Driver and Direct Box
      the sound of my bass.

      If I was interested in using the SansAmp as more of a stomp box, it comes with a boost setting for the signal chain out. It’s something wild like 15 db too, so it can blow the wall of your basement right out, if you’re not careful (just kidding). And that’s about it for as far as it sounds… there are some other features.

      The three-channel variety of the SansAmp Bass Driver has a digital component that programs in the analog settings, so they’re there at the touch of a button. Some uses for that would be if you play on different rigs with very different sounding styles of music, or if you really want to change the sounds of your bass on the fly. But the caveat to quick changing is that you’ll still need to match, approximately, all your levels in the three settings. To me, the three settings is not useful. The

      SansAmp bass driver is too good as a preamp to be treated as some sort of stomp box. I wish I had gone for the one with the single setting.

      What is useful is that the SansAmp has a direct out XLR port. This makes carrying a rig to a show completely unnecessary. You read that right. If the venue has a decent sound system, you can go direct in, and get mixed into the PA and monitors as you would if you lugged a couple hundred pounds of gear. Heck, if your amp burns out, the SansAmp is a backup. It’s name even suggests you don’t need an amp. Sans Amp – without amp.

      Unless you’re a bassist rocking the big gear in a place where you can actually turn it up loud, the SansAmp Bass Driver is indispensible. It will make any bass gear sound great, and it could even rescue you if your amp craps out on gig night.




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The review was published as it's written by reviewer in November, 2013. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 1611111621140930/k2311a1111/11.11.13
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