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The RMI BASSWITCH IQ DI is a premium preamplifier, built with high-end studio-grade components (including a Lehle transformer-equipped DI) into a heavy-duty floor pedal unit. When I met Jacques Ruppert, the co-founder of RMI and designer of the Basswitch, he stressed that no expense was spared in the design and construction of this no-compromise unit. And our tests and experiences with the Basswitch IQ DI indicate that this is not just "marketing talk."
* Wait, Mark - you said "two-input" - why the distinction? Isn't it a two CHANNEL preamp? Well, yes, but the second channel has limitations... while the Basswitch IQ DI has two inputs for two different instruments, and you can switch between them, the "channel B" input does not have its own EQ or other controls. So when you switch to the instrument plugged into input B, the signal goes straight through to the outputs/DI - and while it is still preamplified/buffered, you don't have any tonal controls to play with.
What can it do?
Or, more accurately, what can't it do? It's a two-input* preamp, which suits itself VERY well for doubling (playing upright and electric bass on the same gig, through the same amplifier).
The Basswitch IQ DI works great for this purpose; simply plug your upright pickup output into channel A, and plug your electric bass (or electric upright bass) output into channel B. You have the EQ and other controls on channel A to shape your upright tone -- and when you switch channels, your electric bass (which often has onboard controls) gets "passed through" without alteration. Voila! Two basses, but only one output to send to your amp, and only one studio-grade DI to send to the house soundman.
You can also use the Basswitch IQ DI for a foot-switchable "alternate tone": If only one instrument is connected to input A, the A/B footswitch routes this same signal to either channel A or channel B. Your channel B "sound" is your non-EQ'd "straight" tone, and the channel A "sound" can be altered with different EQ. So if you are mostly playing straight jazz but want to throw a couple of Latin numbers into the set, you can have an alternate tone setting to quickly access the right tone for the song.
Or, maybe you want a "clean boost" for solos: The Basswitch IQ DI also features a Boost/Effects Loop footswitch - in boost mode, a simple knob allows you to dial in a bit more volume, so when you step on the pedal, you can "step out" in the mix and take a solo.
Perhaps you want to have access to outboard effects? The Basswitch IQ DI offers two effect loops – a passive serial loop and a switchable infinitely variable mixing loop – enabling you to go from a completely dry signal, through parallel, on to serial looping.
So, all of this sounds great, but how do I justify spending this much on a preamp?
You're right - the Basswitch IQ DI doesn't come cheap. But like I mentioned before - even just a quick look under the hood (see photo to the right) lets you plainly see the high quality components and construction used in this unit. Not to mention the highly respected Lehle transformer circuit - it was a costly choice to use that instead of a lower-grade, less expensive model. But considering the "no compromises" design ethic behind the Basswitch IQ DI, it was a no-brainer.
And there are plenty more useful features I haven't even gotten to yet (here's a complete list):
Switchable Impedance on Channel A: The Channel A input can be switched from 1M to 10M (1 to 10 MegOhm) - providing two options to get the best buffered signal from your piezo-based upright bass pickup! (Click here for an explanation for why this matters.) Channel B is a fixed 1M impedance.
Four-Band EQ: Bass/Low Mid/High Mid/Treble - specifically voiced for BASS instruments (a lot of high-quality preamps are "all purpose" - the Basswitch is expressly designed for BASS instruments!)
Low-Mid and High-Mid EQ's are semi-parametric: the EQ points are adjustable so you can fine-tune your tone
Dual Effects Loops:
Serial (interrupting) loop sends entire signal through outboard effects
Parallel (mixing) loop mixes the effected signal with the "dry" signal, and even has built-in phase inversion (on a switch) to correct phase cancellation issues that can arise with mixing a "dry" and "wet" signal.
Clean Boost: Footswitchable second preamplification stage; when no effects are present, this can provide a "boost" for solos or quick volume changes. When using effects, it's a separate volume control to ensure that your effected signal volume is appropriately balanced with the non-effected signal.
Studio-Grade DI: For direct connection to a studio recording console or a live mixing board; features a pre/post switch, a "pad" to attenuate the signal and prevent overdriving the mixer input, a ground lift to ensure noise-free signal to the board, and high-quality components.
Tuner Output: The dedicated tuner output does not include the effects loop signal, so you get an uneffected signal for better processing through an electronic tuner.
Separate Dedicated ¼" Output: A separate output can be used for your stage amp, headphone amp, stage monitor amp, or other gear.
Solid Construction with "Sheltered Knobs": Sturdy steel chassis, quality components, heavy-duty switches, and a special top panel design which prevents the knobs from being accidentally adjusted or damaged by an errant "stomp."
As you can see, the Basswitch IQ DI really is a boutique-level preamp - for the player who needs studio quality sound, coupled with instrument switching or effects/boost control. And it's a bass-specific product, unlike some of the other options available. If you truly care about uncompromising quality and sound, this may be just the unit you've been looking for.
Still not fully convinced? Check out the video to the right; it's "Bass Whisperer" Ed Friedland demonstrating and reviewing many of the features of the Basswitch IQ DI. He starts working with his upright bass at about 4:30, and demos the doubling feature at 8:30 -- but if you can spare the time, watch the whole thing for a full demo of the Basswitch IQ DI's many features.
Note: When judging the tone of the instrument in the video, please remember to take your own PC speakers' character into consideration.
Weight: approx. 1300gr/2.85 lbs
Overall height: 4.3cm/1.7"
Voltage range: 9-20V AC/DC (adapter included)
Power Consumption: 115mA
Frequency Range: 20Hz – 100KHz (+/- 0.2dB)
Input A impedance: 1M/10M (switchable)
Input B impedance: 1M
Output impedance: 150
Signal-to-noise ratio: -76 dBu
Max level: 5V RMS (approx. 16 dBu)
Max gain: +/- 15 dB
Equalization (Channel A only)
Bass: 33Hz (peaking)
Low Mid: 100Hz – 500Hz
High Mid: 840Hz – 5.4kHz
Treble: 10kHz +/- 18dB shelving
Power Supply: Certified High-Quality Power Supply (INCLUDED)