I once read an article where some big boy engineer guy who had his name on a a couple number one hits back in the mid 80s stayed busy for years based entirely off a bass sound he nailed on some Peter Gabriel song. He said that everyone wanted him to engineer their recordings because they wanted that bass sound.
The ironic thing about the situation is the engineer admits now that he did nothing different on that bass sound than he had on the numerous other records he had done. Of course, no one cared much about the bass sound on the other records. It turns out that the only change in the equation was the song and the player. The engineer said that this one particular bass player just sounds that damn good. He has magic hands and no one else comes close.
This takes me to my review of the Sansamp Bass DI. I bought this pedal about the same time I bought my first microphone, so I've had it for years and years. Before I get into it's tone, I must say that bass is something that totally eludes me. Maybe it's just my guitar player instinct, but I never seam to record a bass sound that impresses me all that much. I'm not sure what the problem is, but more than likely the answer to my question was in the first two paragraphs of this article.
I wanted to blame my recording gear such as the Sansamp Bass DI for me not achieving a bass sound that I really liked. However, I'm starting to think that this is not the case. I read the forums where the big dogs hang out. Someone once asked about the Sansamp Bass DI. I was amazed at how many people truly loved it. I'm talking about engineers who had 20 platinum records on their wall. These guys usually refute anything that's not $3,000 but it seamed that no one had anything negative to say about the Sansamp Bass DI. Impressive.
So I sat down one day to play with my Sansamp. To be honest, I never played with the knobs too much on this pedal. I guess it's a little ridiculous, but I just haven't learned what truly sounds good on a bass. I think the biggest problem with my bass sounds (besides the variety of bass players) has been the quality of the basses. Almost every bass that I record with a DI has this over the top, unusable low end that just sounds like crap. While a few bass sounds do make the subs in the car go to town, I find that most of the time, the bass sound is up above the subwoofer level. It's in the low mids region.
I've been experimenting with knocking out a ton of the lows with the Sansamp and I'm getting closer to what I'm looking for. The tone controls on the Sansamp really do seam to do something cool. They do offer a lot of flexibility. I find it easier in my brain to twist a few knobs on a pedal to extreme settings ( if necessary) than I do using a parametric eq plugin.
So for me, I can't give the Sansamp a tremendous review. Honestly, I can't give a review at all right now. I've not hit the bass sound that I'm looking for, but I'm going to keep trying until I find it. I'm not sure that the Sansamp is the cause or the blame for the this.
With that being said, the best bass sound I've ever gotten was done with a very good bass player with a very good bass. We ran him straight into a Vintech 1272 preamp and it did sound excellent. For whatever reason the Vintech preamp did sound much better than the Presonus M80 I was using. The difference was night and day. It's very possible that the preamp you use the Sansamp DI with could make a huge difference in tone. I think the big engineers like it because it has all the knobs right there so they can fool with them as they choose.