What is it?
Upright bass is notoriously difficult to mix. When performing live, it is always a challenge to render the instrument's frequency range faithfully through a PA, and it's often the same story with an amplifier.
This after all is part of the reason why the electric bass guitar became so popular – it could be heard in ensemble environments, is tone easier to tweak. But help is at hand in the form of this EBS acoustic preamp bearing the signature of the great Stanley Clarke.
Think of it a little like a mixing console, as it too operates at +4 signal level, which you can send through two analogue channels and enjoy full control over both. You can stick your bass through Channel A, which can process your pickup signal while using Channel B's XLR mic input with phantom power to capture its mic'd sound. Then, mix to taste.
That level of control is invaluable. After all, many different environments will need a different approach. There will be times when you're in a band with a drummer and an electric guitar player where you'll need a lot more feedback-free volume to make yourself heard. At other times, perhaps in lower volume situations, you might want to lean on the mic'd tone and present your upright as naturally as possible.
Performance and verdict
The EBS Stanley Clarke is an easy win. It takes a lot of the pain out of your sound. It's just so functional. You can set up one channel for plucking, the other for bowing, and seamlessly switch back and forth.
Also, with a 10 Mohms impedance on both channels, it will serve more than just upright bass. Acoustic guitarists, another demographic who often struggles to find a good amplified sound mix, could well get a lot of joy out of the pedal. While electric bassists will love being able to have one EQ profile on one channel, switching back and forth or blending. That's where this preamp pedal can be worth its weight in gold.
Nixing those troublesome frequencies is a cinch with a high pass/notch filter available on both channels. Similarly, blending is trouble-free thanks to the phase inverter.
The effects loop makes it an ideal starting point for building a more expansive rig. Whether you are using this for the stage, studio or rehearsal room, there's a lot to like about the EBS Stanley Clarke. It's just the sort of super-practical solution that you use once and wonder how you ever managed without it.
Sound engineers will thank you, too. Taking the balanced output straight from the unit will make light work of dialling it into the mix. Plus, it has a tuner and headphones outputs, an Aux and mute footswitch – always handy.
Handy, practical, the saviour of your live sound? The EMS Stanley Clarke is all of these things, with a formidable EQ that puts pro-quality tones at your feet.
MusicRadar verdict: A no-brainer for upright bass and a powerful tool for bass players and acoustic guitarists alike, this is an exceptionally well-executed preamp pedal that could scarcely be more practical whether used live or in the studio.
- MADE IN: USA
- FEATURES: Two channels, 10 MOhm Impedance inputs, Individual High Pass/Notch Filter for each channel, XLR input with phantom power, tuner out, serial/parallel effects loop, balanced output with speaker simulator and ground lift, Aux-in, pro-grade headphones out
- DIMENSIONS: 168 x 124 x 53 mm / 6.6” x 4.9” x 2”
- WEIGHT: 660g / 1.5 lb
- POWER SUPPLY: 9V DC [included]
- CONTACT: EBS