WHILE SOME STOMPBOXES TURN heads with swirling modulation, crunchy overdrive, or bubbling filter sweeps, the Basswitch IQ DI is a stealthy but sexy device that serves several utilitarian purposes. The Basswitch can act as the command center for an intricate pedalboard setup, a buffer preamp for piezo pickups, a tone-sculpting tool for two basses, a clean boost, or a DI for recording or live performance. With high-end components and top-notch German manufacturing, the Basswitch may be the answer to any number of bassrelated problems.
For example, if you use the Basswitch with two basses, input A (which has an impedance switch for optimal response with piezo pickups) routes the signal through the EQ. Input B goes “straight through” the unit’s 18-volt buffered bypass. If you use only input A, however, you can switch between the EQ channel and the bypass. The Basswitch has a well-designed preamp section with up to 15dB of gain, and the unit’s 5-volt output is a good match for most power amps. The 4-band EQ is flexible and musically voiced for both electric and upright bass. Pedal pushers will love the two effect loops, a passive serial loop and a footswitch-controlled, variable mixing loop with a phase switch. The mix loop’s boost control can also be used as a clean boost for solos, or to provide optimal output for overdrive pedals. The Basswitch’s transformer is touted to provide the DI galvanic isolation, eliminating ground hum and background noise. The DI also has a pre/post-EQ switch, ground lift, and output- attenuation pad. A tuner out and mute switch are handy features as well.
Under the hood, the Basswitch boasts a level of uncompromised quality not often seen in a world full of inexpensive Asian imports. Best-in-class components like Wima capacitors and gold-plated relays give the unit technological pedigree, although they do add to the cost. To some, it may seem like overkill—but the sum of the parts increases when the parts themselves are top-shelf. And taking into account that these expensive bits are housed in a box that will be repeatedly stepped on, the pedal’s circuit board is isolated from the mechanical stress points of the footswitch, via a unique mechanism that distributes pressure to an actuator button and the unit’s housing.
The Basswitch’s fine Lehle components ease worried minds.Running the Basswitch through its paces, the inherent quality of the unit shines through. The footswitches operate silently and feel reassuringly solid. The control knobs are mounted to avoid errant swipes of the foot, and the potentiometers have secure and smooth travel. Tested as an instrument preamp/EQ with a Mike Lull MV5 in both passive and active modes, I found the IQ had the rich smoothness I’ve experienced with Class A studio preamps—this is no mere stompbox! The low EQ plumps up the bottom nicely without mud, while the high mids have a range that can aid articulation, or cut troublesome resonances. The shelving control for the highs can warm up the tone without taking away too much detail, or open it up with airy top end.
When I used an analog delay through the Basswitch’s mix loop, I was initially unhappy with the blend coming back to the amp. But a quick fl ip of the phase switch brought back my low end—a lifesaving feature. Using the boost control, I was able to set a slightly higher volume level for my soloing tone. The sonic benefit of the pedal’s high-quality circuit is noticeable through an amp, but it really shines as a DI. The signal is clean and dynamic, with plenty of headroom in bypass mode, but you can use the EQ to tailor the tone in any number of useful ways. Plugging my David Gage Realist-equipped upright bass into the Basswitch, I flipped the impedance switch from 1MΩ to 10MΩ and heard an astounding improvement. The low end opened up and all traces of nasal midrange disappeared. The EQ seems to work exceptionally well with the acoustic bass, too—upright players, take note!
A note on power: The Basswitch doesn’t come with its own power adapter, but it will work with any power supply ranging from 9–20 volts, so long as it delivers 130mA.
The Basswitch’s engineering, components, and tone far surpass typical pedalboard fair. It may be more expensive than most boxes in its category, but with so many applications, it is unlikely this monster will ever collect dust like your other pedals do.
RUPPERT MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS BASSWITCH IQ DI
Pros High-quality design and components, excellent tone
Input impedance Input A, 1MΩ/10MΩ; Input B, 1MΩ
Output impedance 150Ω
Frequency range 20Hz–100kHz
EQ Bass, ±18dB @ 33Hz; low mid, ±18dB @ 90Hz–500Hz; high mid, ±16dB @ 840Hz–5.4kHz; treble, ±18dB @ 12.5kHz
Power supply 9-20 volt, 130mA (not included)
Dimensions 6.3” x 8.6” x 1.6”
Weight 3 lbs
Made in Germany
Warranty One year, limited