The Basswitch IQ DI is a floor unit that contains a studio quality preamp, two inputs (A & B), an A/B input switcher, a mute switch, two effect loops, a clean boost, a studio quality DI and a line mixer.
I want to focus first on the switches in this unit. I don’t normally get excited about a foot activated switch, but these deserve some special recognition due to their design and performance. The Basswitch IQ DI does not rely on a typical stomp box button and instead utilizes a mushroom shaped button that is mechanically and electrically isolated from the internal circuit board. This design reportedly lengthens the lifecycle of the switch as well as improving the quality of the electrical signal. Lehle claims that this approach will allow for each switch to have a lifecycle of 2 million clicks, as compared to twenty thousand for your garden variety stomp box. More importantly, these switches are dead silent in their operation with no pops or clicks when activated. There are three of these foot switches on the unit for the following functions (1) an A/B selector to toggle between the two inputs, (2) a mute button and (3) a mix loop/boost button.
The Basswitch has two inputs. Input A is routed through a high-end preamp with a four-band EQ that is designed specifically for bass instrument with bass, treble, and two semi-parametric controls for the mid-frequencies. The A input has an impedance switch to accommodate both traditional electromagnetic or piezo pickups. Input B bypasses both the preamp and EQ sections of the unit.
The Basswitch has two effect loops: a passive serial loop and a switchable infinitely variable mixing loop. If you have effects that are continually in use, these would likely be placed in the serial loop. Effects that are used intermittently or that require more control over their mix would more likely be placed in the mix loop. For example: I placed an analog chorus and an analog delay in the mix loop and then mixed in about 50% effected signal with 50% of the original signal to help retain a little more bottom end to the sound. I could then bring both effects in and out with the single switch. If no effects are placed in the mix loop, the switch can then function as a clean boost. The mix loop also has a polarity switch to invert the phase if the two mixed signals sound thin together.
The Basswitch also has a balanced (XLR) DI to connect to a mixing desk. There is a ground button (to eliminate hum, a pad button to attenuate the signal if only microphone inputs are available and a pre/post switch to allow for an effects free signal to go to the board – if that is preferred.
The Basswitch also has a tuner output jack.
I have not described the external power supply, because one is not provided. I thought this a little odd at first and contacted the distributer only to find out that the Basswitch has been designed to accept virtually any power supply (provided that the jack is correct) that will provide any voltage between 9 and 20 volts with a minimum of 130 mA. I had at least 5 wall warts in my closet that would fit the bill – so this was a nonissue.
I took the Basswitch, a power amp and a speaker box to medium sized event where I would be playing both my fretted and fretless five strings. I ran the fretless through input A, with the preamp and EQ, and was able to quickly dial up a very nice sound. I ran my fretted bass into an Eden WTDI pedal and then into Input B (which bypasses the preamp and EQ sections). I was a little concerned that I might overload the input of the B channel with the WTDI, but found that the Basswitch could readily handle this signal chain with no audible distortion. This setup gave me all the flexibility I could ask for. I dialed in the EQ on the fretless to just get that slight growl that I like and the fretted bass through the WTDI allowed me to use the built-in enhancer and compressor to get a nice fat slap sound with just enough top end sizzle to give it some snap.
The knobs on the EQ are flush with the top of the unit with one side receded into the structure – all to reduce the possibility of damaging the unit. This design does make it slightly more difficult to adjust the knobs, but I found that once I set the EQ I didn’t really adjust it after that. I also have to say that this EQ section is quite possibly the best sounding and most musical EQ that I have ever heard on a bass preamp. The bass is round without being too boomy, the treble is glassy and the middle frequency parametric EQ is extremely flexible. The Basswitch handled everything that I was able to throw at it, which included an extra two hours of rock and country music, because no one wanted to leave when the event was supposed to be over. The common cliché would be to say that the Basswitch is built like a tank – but with all the attention to detail and the high level performance, I think it is more aptly compared to a BMW or Mercedes Benz !
In closing, I would like to thank Dana B. Goods, Musical Instrument Distributor, for providing the Basswitch IQ DI for this review.
The street price for the Basswitch is about $600.00. If you are interested in learning more, go to Basswitch.com