The Big Ballsy Battle of the Budget-Benign Bass Preamps ;-)

a.k.a. let’s compare some pedals 🙂

Introduction: In today’s world, there are a lot of ways to achieve a nice solid Bass sound in your homestudio. A gazillion of pedals, pre-amps, plug-ins and cab-simulations wait for the paying customer, and today we will take a look at three small, affordable devices, the Harley Benton Bass Drive BDI-2000, the Eden WTDI Preamp/DI and the Ampeg SCR-DI.

The first thing I did was just plugging my Bass in and playing around with the various switches and knobs of these pedals.

 

Ok, let’s get dirty! Here are my personal opinions:

The Harley Benton Bass Drive BDI-2000: hb

Being the cheapest one of the bunch, at only 58€ the BDI-2000 is really a steal.

It’s small, very silent and seems quite sturdy, although dialing in a sound seems quite tricky at times, and some of the knobs behave very strangely. The “color”-knob particularly gave me headaches, turning it up gave me a lot of deep bass, dampening the mids and highs, but also seemed to disengage the 3 EQ knobs. Speaking of which, those 3 seem to be almost non-functioning up until 12 O’clock, and really only come to life way beyond that. Maybe the guys at Thomann should have checked their design there.Speaking of which, they should also have checked their drive function, turning it all the way up it really only gave me a very dirty, cheap sounding distortion.

I like the “contour” knob though, it really changed the “voice” of your bass, and made my cheap Precision Bass sound like either a more expensive Precision bass, or a J-Style one with lots of nice mids.

Furthermore the BDI-2000 has two outputs (XLR & Line Out) which gives you the same processed sound on different levels (XLR being louder of course), and a parallel out that gives you your original, unprocessed (true bypassed – I checked) sound.

If you are tight on your budget, and are searching for a cheap and easy way to upgrade your Bass-sound, the Harley Benton BDI-2000 is for you! You really get a lof of bang for your buck!

 

The Eden WDTI Bass Preamp/DI:eden

Let’s make this short, the Eden WDTI thing is no-BS, 100% Bass sound-enhancing machine. It features very responsive knobs (which produce a bit of sizzling noise though), a compressor and an “Enhance” know, which actually DOES enhance your sound!

The compressor is also a nice feature, when playing lines on different strings or with a lot of dynamics it really works and evens out the peaks, but you wouldn’t want to turn it up to much, because after 3 o’clock, it starts to sound too “thick”. As in a lot of things in life, moderation is the key, I find the area between 11 and 2 o’ clock to sound the best.

The Bass Boost works as a kind of Sub-Bass enhancer, I found a nice sound engaging the Bass Boost and turning the Bass knob to 20-30%. The Enhance knob works like on the Harley Benton, but at least 10 times better (giving you more tonal options and more depth than the HB), the mid-shift button let’s you change the mid-range frequencies between 550hz and 2.2khz and and and…you see, this thing is about great sound, and in this area it delivers.

Unfortunately, not everything is so peachy.

The treble knob, when turned all the way up produces quite some noise, but why would you even think about dialing it all the way up? More troubling is the fact that the Eden WTDI seems to have some small, evil A.I. built in that sabotages all your attempts to set up the gain! I tried the Eden over the course of a couple of days, every time with the same Bass, a Fender Squier Precision, whose Seymour Duncan pickups are passive (and I assume not too hot) and still, every single time the Eden gave me a hard time setting up the gain! Immediately after plugging the Bass in and powering up the Eden, everything over 9 o’clock gave me a terribly distorted sound, then, after 5 minutes of cursing and swearing suddenly I could set up the gain at 12 or 1 o’clock! So I stand by it, either there is a little ugly gnome living inside the Eden who just loves to torture you, or -for some reason- it needs a couple of minutes to “warm up” (very strange, remember the Eden has no tubes in it).

It doesn’t help that the gain stage has a direct impact on the efficiency of the compressor, and it also doesn’t help that the manual only suggests to turn the volume on your Bass down if you experience distortion – if only it would tell you what exactly produces it! A kingdom for a PAD switch!

Furthermore, comparing to the Harley Benton and the Ampeg it looks a little bit fragile (features very sturdy full-metal knobs, though), and I miss some of the extras of the other two devices – a bypassed, unprocessed out, or an aux-in with headphone-jack as on the Ampeg.

Also, I hear bad things about the durability of these units, but only time will tell if they come true or not …

 

The Ampeg SCR-DI:ampeg2

I have to be honest, this thing was the biggest surprise for me in this little shootout! “Surprise” as in “Holy-shit-didn’t-they-quality-control-this-thing???”. Imagine, they took the most massive metal box i ever saw – one that literally would survive World War 3 – and then slapped the most shitty, most fragile plastic knobs on that thing that they could find! Seriously, these knobs wobble like those Elvis heads you see on the dashboards of cars, I bet you could rip them apart with two fingers!!!

So, being extra careful with this device, when plugging my Bass in for the first time, I noticed considerable distortion, and not only when the pedal was on but even when it was bypassed!! Thank got there is a pad jumper inside the unit, which reducers the input signal by 15 DB and took care of the sizzle (pay attention, Eden engineers!!)

On the sound, well, the three EQ knobs and two (Ultra-Lo an Ultra-Hi) switches work and all, but this thing has literally ONE sound. No contour knob, no enhance, no nothing, just a (somehow cold) Ampeg sound. If you like that sound, good for you, but consider that both the Harley Benton and the Eden can easily simulate that one sound, and still offer plenty of other tonal options.

Other than that, there is really not much left to say about the Ampeg SCR-DI. The DI works, it has a aux-in with even has a dedicated level-knob so you can make your own headphones-mix, it has a true-bypassed parallel out, and comes in a nice, colorful box.

I really think that the Ampeg is a nice little silent practicing device with built-in DI, but it nowhere matches the sound-tweaking possibilities of the Eden WTDI (which costs less then half of the price) or even the Harley Benton.

As a pre-amp for live shows it might be useful, but always mind these little knobs, one misguided stomp and it’s all over! 😉

Oh, and the less said about the built-on distortion unit, the better!

 

Here is a video of these pedals in direct comparison:

 

You will hear 4 different sound samples, two clean ones different settings on the units, one showing what happens when the gain is set to 100%, and one demonstrating how these pedals react with a distortion pedal (I used the Boss Bass Distorton).

Used Bass was a Fender Squier Precision Bass with Seymour Duncan PUS.

2 Comments:

  1. Thanks you so much for doing this! its exactly what i needed to see.
    I have the David Eden WTDI and i was looking if i should sell it for the Svt Scrambler. Turns out i’m pretty happy with the WTDI, you just need to tweek it a bit more. The SVT sounds good on its own, but I Guess i have more flexibility with the David Eden. i Just have to be carefull not to over crank the knobs which can happen quite easily since the range is it gives you is so big. The distortion sound does sound better on the SVT t but i almost never use a distortion anyways. Great video thanks a bunch 🙂

    • Hey Ash, it’s great to hear this review was usefull 🙂

      Yup, the Eden is a great device, from the 3 preamps in this review, that’s the one I kept and haven’t looked back!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *