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Going Ampless - How To Play Your Bass Live On Stage Without Amplifiers?

Bass amplifiers, as you may well know, can be rather large and bulky. And many of us bassists in Malaysia don't have the luxury of hauling our own bass amps to gigs or rehearsal. As much as we actually love bass amplifiers, they aren't always practical!

That's where the ampless rig comes in — the idea of a complete bass setup for home, stage, or studio, but without the bulk of an amp. Today we'll talk about how to rock out your bass on stage or in the studio without using any amps!

1. Audio Interface With DAW Software And Plugins

If you're playing live, your setup must meet extremely strict specifications. While perfect sound quality may be a priority in your home studio audio interface, live performance necessitates minimal latency.

Instrument and microphone inputs are routed to a laptop or iPad through an audio interface in an audio interface-based arrangement. The device also functions as a mixer, sending the signal to the audio interface, which ultimately delivers it to the PA system.

With an audio interface based setup, instrument input is sent to a laptop via an audio interface. The laptop also doubles up as a mixer and sends the signal back to the audio interface, which then outputs it to the PA system.

When performing live, your setup must adhere to extremely rigorous criteria. While flawless sound quality is important in your home studio audio interface, live performance requires low latency.

So prioritize – latency > audio quality.

Why audio interface better than mixers?

    • An audio interface can do double duty in a home studio as well as be useful in a live gig – a major positive for cash-strapped artists
    • Audio interfaces usually have better analog-to-digital (A/D) converters and hence, offer better audio quality
    • Using the audio interface + DAW system makes it possible to use a huge array of effects and plugins
    • New audio interfaces have a large number of I/O options
    • Needs less equipment since the DAW can act as an effects box

Darkglass Ultra Plugins by Neural DSP is a Virtual Effect Audio Plugin for macOS and Windows. It functions as a VST Plugin, an Audio Units Plugin and an AAX Plugin.

Make sure that whatever audio interface you buy has the build quality to endure the harshness of touring. You don't want to arrive at a stage show just to find that the volume control knob is broken or a key port doesn't work anymore.

 

Designed for content creators and livestreaming, TC-Helicon's GoXLR Mini is the small-format mixer you need. This mini mixer makes juggling multiple sources, including a microphone, and headset, a gaming console feed, and audio from your computer a breeze. Each of the four channels has its own fader and programmable mute button. The GoXLR Mini also manage to kept from the full-sized GoXLR is the GoXLR Mini's !@#$?* expletive censorship button, which lets you keep it PG (and be generally goofy). Finish it off with a dedicated mic mute button and flexible onboard DSP that's easy to program, and you'll get a ton of mileage out of your GoXLR Mini.

To help you find the right interface for live gigs, check out these audio interface for your live performance.

Universal Audio Apollo Solo Heritage Edition

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Motu UltraLite AVB

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Audient Id4 MkII

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Motu M2

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Native Instruments Komplete Audio 1

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Apogee Duet

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2. Preamp Pedals

Many sound engineers prefer to take a direct signal from a bass guitar rather than mic'ing a bass amp since it is easier to control and allows for more separation in a mix. This is possible using a typical DI (direct injection) box, which allows you to connect your bass to a mixing desk through an XLR connector.

A bass preamp pedal is simply a versatile DI box with tone-shaping EQ settings similar to those found on a bass amp. Its ultimate goal is to mimic the sound of a bass amplifier's preamp section, allowing it to be utilised as a more compact and pedalboard-friendly alternative to a full-fledged bass amp.

Bass preamp pedals are used in both live and studio situations. A bass preamp pedal, which acts as a bridge between your bass guitar and a mixing desk/audio interface, enabling you to connect straight into a PA system or computer with believable tone. However, bass preamp pedals may also be utilised with dedicated bass amps, acting as another tone-sculpting stage or even as a form of overdrive. They're also excellent for silent practise, as many bass preamps have convenient headphone outputs.

Over the last few years, Darkglass have become one of the most talked about companies in the bass world creating a raft of bass overdrive, distortion, fuzz and compressor effects pedals.

Darkglass pedals are particularly popular among today's rock and metal bassists. This is because they specialise in preamps capable of producing powerful overdrive and distortion tones. Their designs are unique in that they allow you to mix your clean bass sound with their dirty signal, resulting in filthy distorted sounds that are clear, tight, and focused.

Darkglass' most prominent supporters include Jon Stockman (Karnivool) and Adam "Nolly" Getgood (Periphery). They were extensively engaged in the creation of the company's 'Microtubes' technology, which perfectly reproduces the harmonic content, break-up, and compression seen in top valve-powered bass amps.

Tech 21 are one of the most popular purveyors of bass guitar hardware in the industry today. Known for pioneering bass DI technology, they continue to produce top-class bass tones for countless players worldwide!

Tech 21 was a forerunner of the bass preamp pedal, releasing their renowned 'SansAmp' in 1989. The SansAmp series has grown into a full-fledged collection that currently comprises not only their most venerable versions, but also trademark 'Fly Rig' pedals for the likes of Steve Harris (Iron Maiden), Dug Pinnick (King's X), and Geddy Lee (Rush).

Check out our collections of bass preamp pedals!

Darkglass Microtubes X Ultra

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Darkglass Microtubes B7K Ultra v2

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Darkglass Vintage Ultra v2

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Darkglass Alpha Omega Ultra v2

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Tech 21 YYZ Geddy Lee Signature SansAmp

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Tech 21 Steve Harris SH1 Signature SansAmp

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3. Portable Amplifiers With Cab Simulation

Amplifier designers have been hard at work in the last couple of decades, breaking new ground on tone and crafting amplifiers that are changing the way we play and interact with our gear. Given bassists’ proclivities toward embracing technology, there may have been more advancements in bass amplifiers than in electric guitar amps! Enter Darkglass Electronics and their wide arrays of bass heads.

Premium handmade bass amp heads. All Darkglass gears are designed and engineered in Finland!

If you listen to modern music, you’ve undoubtedly heard Darkglass products in use. Their preamp pedals, overdrives, and amps are becoming a defining standard in today’s bass tone. And at the head of it all is their impressive high watt, 6.5-pound amplifier heads, the Microtubes 900 and 500 series. Bassists are able to blend the precision and immediacy of a Class D power amplifier with the Microtubes engine that imparts grind, compression, and harmonics to the tone while remaining tight and defined.

While it does offer an impressive high wattage to push some serious air through a speaker cabinet, the Darkglass amp heads has everything you need for outstanding direct tones, too. Fitted with a rear-panel XLR DI output, it has memory for up to three IR cabinet simulations, and you can upload your own via USB.

Check out our collections of bass amps from Darkglass!

Darkglass Alpha Omega 900

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Darkglass Microtubes 900 v2 Limited Edition Euryale

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Darkglass Microtubes 900 v2

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Darkglass Alpha Omega 900 Centurion Edition

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Darkglass Alpha Omega 500

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Darkglass Microtubes 500 v2

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4. Multi-Effects Pedals

Multi-effects processors have come a long way since their inception, and they’re only getting better. Units like the Line 6 Helix and Boss GT-1000 have made them a genuine alternative to all-analogue pedalboards without sacrificing tone.

Multi-effects units process a digital algorithm on-the-fly, rather than allowing your signal to pass through resistors and other analogue components that change your tone within a single stompbox. These effects units use DSP chips and as the world perfects digital chips in computer technology, consequently, our digital guitar effects improve.

Harmonic-enhancing saturation, fattening compression, and animating modulation can all play a big role in strengthening your bass tone. And, of course, sonically adventurous bass players can blaze new rhythmic trails with octave effects, fuzz, and other effects on the extreme end of the spectrum. Modern bass multi-effects pedals combine all of these effects offerings with conveniences any player will appreciate, like headphone connectivity for green room practice sessions and line outputs for direct connectivity to mixers and recording interfaces.

The GT-1000CORE isn't just for guitar. Bassists will have no trouble making the GT-1000CORE the centerpiece of their rig!

Loaded with the full processing power of the acclaimed BOSS GT-1000 floor processor in a compact format that’s equally suited for stage and studio, the BOSS GT-1000CORE multi-effects pedal packs as much potential for bass players as it does for guitarists. Of special note is its trio of AIRD preamps — Natural Bass, X-Drive Bass, and SVT Bass — that allow you to shape your tone with amp-like detail and realism. You’ll also find 16 bass-specific effects to optimize your sound for any genre. Complete with MIDI I/O for advanced control options and USB for direct recording to your computer, the BOSS GT-1000CORE could be the only bass processor you need.

The Tech 21 Bass Fly Rig v2 puts an entire bass rig — amplifier and effects — at your feet. All you need to do is add your favorite electric bass guitar, and you’re good to go!

As the creators of the legendary SansAmp bass pedals, Tech 21 has long been a leader in equipping bassists with tone-packed solutions that make gigging easier. The aptly named Bass Fly Rig continues that tradition by packing everything a gigging bassist would need for practically any application. The meat of your tone will come from its SansAmp and compressor sections, while chorus, octave, and fuzz effects are on tap, too. You have an impressive amount of control over the character of your tone in a compact format, complete with an XLR DI output for direct-to-the-board simplicity. If you had to head to your gig with just your bass and one other item, then the Tech 21 Bass Fly Rig would still give you everything you need for world-class tone.

Check out our collections of multi-effect pedals for bass!

BOSS GT-1000CORE

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Tech 21 Bass Fly Rig V2

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Zoom B6

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Line 6 Helix Limited-Edition Blue

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Line 6 HX Stomp

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NUX MG-30

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