|A great sound is so much more important than even a lot of accomplished bassists seem to want to acknowledge. What would a singer be without a unique sounding voice? Like anybody - not somebody. As bassists, why should we hold ourselves to less of a standard? I've heard talented bass players playing amazing music brilliantly but their contribution was lost in a sea of rumble and hiss. They say that tone comes from the hands. I believe this to be 90% true. Trouble is, that remaining 10% can really do you in. If those hands are playing an instrument through a piece of gear that cannot reproduce what the player is hearing in his/her head, then what is the point? It doesn't have to be that way...especially now.
My musical philosophy revolves around the concept of me being a musician that plays bass more than just a “bass player”. In other words, the music dictates what I play; I don’t impose my will on the music outside the appropriate artistic context. Like every serious musician, I've had my share of struggles when it comes to finding my sound...my voice, if you will...and sound is at the very core of one’s ability to be sensitive to the music. If you don’t like the way that you sound, or if the way you sound isn’t enhancing what your fellow players are feeling, then the result is going to be less than stellar.
Over the years I’ve tried many different amps, speakers and preamps and some sounded great. But they either imparted too much of their own personality or just didn’t offer the features I needed to sculpt “my sound”. In the early years of designing I came to realize that certain design choices are made when developing a product that don't have anything to do with sound or performance. I think that happens when a gifted, but maybe non-musician type of engineer is doing the designs. I soon took it as a challenge to develop a tone circuit that focused on the elements that players use to shape a tone in a “musical” way. I've always appreciated the direct approach to both music and design and my inspiration came from playing with and appreciating the musical masters. It’s sort of like when Horowitz simply sits and plays the piano, it seems effortless. Nothing is spent doing anything other than playing the music. I wanted my preamps to simply amplify the signal unless asked to do more. There's an old saying in the electronics industry that says that the ideal amplifier is a “straight wire with gain”. This has always been my goal. Transparency and unobtrusive enhancement.
When you play music with other people and other instruments, each of those instruments has a sonic space where it lives. In my mind, a great bass sound is one where the subtlety and nuances of the player can be heard in the context of the music without encroaching upon the other instruments “space”. Not in the sense that it's louder than everything else, but that it takes up it's proper space. My earlier frustrations with bass gear came from the fact that so many products don't function in actual practice because they're designed to sound their best when auditioned by themselves in a music store. If something sounds unbelievable in a store chances are that in context it will get lost “in the mix” or worse yet, overpower the other instruments.
The circuitry in the MPP preamps is designed to help, not harm. When you set the tone shaping controls straight up, it's about as close to a straight wire with gain as you'll find anywhere. Each stage of the tone shaping circuit is isolated from the others, so there is no interdependency between them. The IC's used are 10 times more expensive (and infinitely more responsive) than what you'd expect to find in a run-of-the-mill $799.00 bass preamp. With the frequency switching in the tone shaping circuit you'll be able to dial in almost any character you want. From up front, in your face slap tones to dark “What is Hip” style finger tones...deep and hollow rock tones to an aggressive, Rickenbacker style edge. The circuit is there to help you without interjecting it's own personality. It's there to serve your needs. I really believe this preamp has your sound in it.