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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Audere Audio Engineering JZ3 Bass Guitar Preamp,... (Review)

Reviewed By: Jac Harrison
Purchased from: Manufacturer
Street Price: $149.95 USD + Shipping 

Audere Audio Engineering is the manufacturer of the Z-Mode preamp with impedance control for passive bass guitar pickups.

This JZ3 model is specifically designed as a replacement control plate for a Jazz "J" Bass with the standard three control knob configuration featuring (2) different control layouts vol/bal/tone or vol/vol/tone. This review is on a vol/vol/tone with a 3 band eq configuration and was installed in a 2012 GAMMA Beta Bass.

I took my time as I always do and from start to finish it was 15 minutes / 1 beer. If you can un screw the control plate on you guitar and use scissors – you can install this preamp. If not you should have a luthier from your local music store put this in for you. It is normally a 1 hour charge + bench fee to have a preamp installed. The total investment will be well worth it.

I used solder to secure the ground wire, but the wire crimps that came with the kit would work just fine.

In the words of the manufacturer:
To expand the player's range, most serious players have more than one bass. Different pickups and preamps change the output signal as these components interact with a vibrating string. Bass builders know it, so you'll often see the same bass offered in multiple configurations - different pickups and on-board preamps etc. This allows the bass designer to give the player a broader range of options to choose from.

The Audere bass preamp offers you this broader tonal range in one bass. The Audere preamp actually receives a different signal generated by the pickups depending on the Z-Mode switch setting. That is a fundamental difference from every other preamp.

Flip the switch while playing to get the best sound for your performance:

 High Z-Mode is the sound you'd get when pickup(s) are directly connected to the input of a tube amp, i.e. no tone or volume controls. This very high impedance load produces a bright, lively and aggressive sound.

• Mid Z-Mode  is the traditional and most popular active bass sound, offering solid bass line support.

• Low Z-Mode is a new sound for the Bass. Deep and driving with unusually low noise and distortion levels.


Amp used:
SansAmp Bass Driver DI into the board 

Cables used:

Reliability & Durability:
The preamp seems to be well made and should last the life of the guitar. 

This blew me away! I had used this product in my Jeppson bass -- but that's with a set of Jeppson hand wound pickups. So to test this out I wanted to try it out on a standard, run of the mill set of traditional  "J" bass pickups. Recently I had reviewed a Gamma Alpha "P" style bass and it is as good as, if not slightly better than, an American-made Fender. I was also given a Gamma Beta "J" style bass so I had my guitar to put this preamp to the test. 

After one of the easiest upgrades I have ever done to a guitar with an install time of 15 minutes -- I was ready to rock - n- roll.  I really said "WOW" when I plugged her in. There was such an increase in volume it was a shock to the system. After lowering the volume and setting the amp EQ to flat I was ready to play. 

With the Z-Mode 3-way switch and 3 band eq -- I was able to dial in almost any tone suitable for any style of play. Now there are a ton of bass preamps out on the market that will have the same functionality as this does, but the the tonality and warmth that this pickups retained without that metallic, quacky active sound is just amazing. 

Now the Gamma bass had a true vintage, lusty sound to start, but this preamp just pushed it over the edge. The Gamma bass went from "that kick butt guitar you want and will come back for" to that "what can I sell or trade-in to get this guitar today because I cannot live without it"  with this preamp

I have played many bass guitars ranging in price from under $200 up to $15,000 and to me there are price range thresholds that offer the player different options from the lower priced models. Gamma Bass guitars have a street price starting at $650 USD and go up to $1,000 USD. The Gamma I used this preamp in had a stock street price of $900 USD but I could easily see her selling somewhere between $1,500 to $2,000 USD with this $149.00 USD upgrade. It seems like the good folks at Audere Audio Engineering know what they are doing. 

My advice:
If you have a bass guitar with passive pickups and would like to optimize their versatility and tonality without that active sound -- you need this preamp -- buy it. 

Audere Audio
4909 S Coast Hwy, Suite 295
South Beach, Oregon 97366

(P) 541 867-6878
Posted 12/2012