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Tech 21 SansAmp RPM Bass Preamp Reviews

5.0 stars based on 14 customer reviews

Sweetwater Advice

  • Evan Mehre

    Bass amps aren't mic'd very often, so it's important to have a great DI sound. When my band went on tour with Saving Abel, I brought only a compressor and a Tech 21 Sansamp RPM with me to ensure that front of house was delivering my very best tone to the audience. It's got a number of tone-shaping options, including my very favorite bass overdrive. And it sounds great on a variety of input sources, holding its own against preamps twice the price.

  • from July 31, 2015

    Geddy Lee's preamp

    The sound quality is great on this. I record with it only and just gives you that edge and magic. If you like Geddy's sound really consider this preamp. Also, it is no slouch on guitar either.

    Thank you Jason Koons for the suggestion. It was the piece I needed!!

  • from Norfolk, VA December 8, 2013Music Background:
    Guitarist and Home Recording Engineer

    What's this? A non-Bass review!?

    First and foremost, this is NOT a Bass Preamp... this is an INSTRUMENT preamp. It is the rack-mounted version of the ParaDriver, which means it was designed for acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and bass... so it is by no means bass-exclusive. I have yet to run a keyboard or electric mandolin through it, but I would bet a pretty penny it can handle the task. Does it do vocals too? Oh yeah. BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE! Have an audio mixer? Want to run the balanced line out into this sucker? WELCOME TO THE NEXT LEVEL.

    Playing a gig at a bar with a great sound system? Run this little guy's XLR out straight into the PA instead of mic'ing your cab. Trust me.

    Recording an EP with your band at home, and don't want to piss off the neighbors when you crank your 4x12 to get up to decent studio/recording volumes? DONE AND DONE. The RPM functions splendidly as a DI box, if you want a Vintage 60s-era amp sound. Think Fender Tweed or Marshall Plexi fully cranked to tube saturated glory!

    No studio -- amateur or professional -- should be without a preamp. It is quite literally the difference between good and great analog recordings. If you don't own a preamp, and have a home or pro studio, YOU MUST BUY THIS PRODUCT!

    All this being said, the RPM is not perfect. The EQ is marvelously musical, especially with the Mid Shift knob, but depending on your particular instrument and pickups, certain tones and frequencies may be more annoying or prevalent than others. Because of this, I highly recommend running an additional EQ after this in your rig/chain, not necessarily because the RPM needs it per se, but more for "seasoning to taste" regarding your "final sound" output. Most instruments benefit from a big -12db cut somewhere in the 200Hz to 2kHz range, no matter what your setup is, so take my advice more as general.

    Off all the different shades of boost, OVERDRIVE to me is the most musical. Some players prefer Fuzz, Distortion, or a High Gain Clean kinda sound... but a solid Tube-driven Overdrive is the King of Guitar Tones. If you agree with me on that, then you will LOVE the RPM. If you don't agree with me, then you will LOVE the RPM anyway, because with the Mid Shift, you can get an amazing Fuzz sound, and if you want a High Gain Clean boost, the RPM also does that too. Being a metalhead myself, I can guarantee you that the RPM DOES NOT do Metal. Does it do the early-Metallica tone that was Hot Rod Plexi w/Tubescreamer... YES, BUT... it does not do "Distortion" by any means that could be construed as "Metal" by today's standards. Get an MXR Full Bore Metal if that's your thing.

  • from lexington, va, usa September 17, 2012Music Background:
    hobbyist for 16 years and counting

    buy this now!

    i've had this for a few months, but i didn't want to write a review until i got in a gig with it. i just played one a few nights ago with both of my bands, and holy crap my tone was awesome! i was able to dial in the perfect amount of grit within seconds for each of my basses: an ibanez soundgear 5 string and an ernie ball stingray 4. i got so many compliments on my tone, even from non-musicians! i definitely recommend this!

  • from Minneapolis December 30, 2011Music Background:
    bass player - 28 years

    Flat out fantastic.

    I knew I would be happy with this thing, I just didn't know I would be THIS happy. Everyone knows this thing is in Geddy's rack, so obviously it's a quality piece of gear with great sound. I bought it based solely on it's reputation. It literally made my tone come alive. I don't know how else to describe it. You need to really take some time with it and make tiny adjustments to the knobs as you tweak - a little bit really goes a long way. They didn't skimp on the back panel either - check out the connectivity options. I run two XLR's to my PC interface; effected (sansamp tone) and un-effected (dry - straight from the bass) so I can record two separate tracks to play with later, then I have yet another line going to my power amp/cab for rockin' out. I can go back and forth without having to play cable monkey anymore!

  • from Gastonia, NC November 30, 2011Music Background:
    Pro Musician/Audio Eng./Electrical Eng.

    A very well engineered product

    I am a working bass player. Over the last 40 years, I have played through numerous types of preamps, amplifiers (tube-SVT and solid state) and processing schemes.
    I was very suprised at the warmness and tone control of this Sansamp product.
    I have only used it for live performance; however, I am completely satisfied with the unit's operation in this enviroment.
    I find when arranged with just a simple preamp/compressor/solid state amp configuration that I get a versital and solid stage rig. Again, that warm tube amp sound and easy tone control with virtually no noise in a light weight package.
    In short, I recomend it.

  • from Miami, FL August 23, 2011Music Background:
    Pro bass player

    What a difference in my live sound..!!

    I strongly recommend this Sansamp preamp to any bass player that is gigging. I had an immediate response from my fellow musicians as well as the audience. Sounds like 'sonic meatloaf'..!! ( I made that up).. I am definitely going to be using this rig on both the local and national music scenes...very happy with this product..!!

  • from Chicago August 8, 2011Music Background:
    Songwriter Midi Arranger Bassist,Keyboard Vocalist Leader, former Backup musicial

    SansAmp RPM

    eliminates the tone problems (or the lack thereof) in using a direct box and using my mixing board tone controls which make the Bass guitar signam muddy at best The SansAmr RPM allows for a Clear signal with no overdrive though overdrive is available if needed.

  • from St. Louis, MO December 10, 2008Music Background:

    Can't be beat!

    The RPM is just an incredible unit. Looks like it would be complicated, but is not at all. Very intuitive to get great tones. Sweepable mids are the best - you can literally dial yourself into the mix and hear when you hit the magic spot. Worth its weight in gold. Been playing almost 30 years and never was so satisfied with anything in my amp chain as the RPM.

  • from Sao Paulo, SP BRAZIL July 16, 2008Music Background:


    If you (like me) are not willing to drag a 60-pound rig around and still sound good, you should give this rack a shot. Among the many good things I could say about it the best one by far is that it is really easy to get a good tone out of it with just a few tweaks. Already tested it with lots of amp heads (some pretty ugly sounding ones I should say) and I always can manage to get a good tone. The guys I play with noticed the difference immediately: first because I used to be the guy that took forever to get a usable tone, now I spend a minute or two to get it, second because the tone I get can really cut through the mix. The sweepable Mid control is a blessing!
    It´s been 4 months now since I bought it and I can only say great things about it. Ok, this is not a SVT Classic rig, but it sure does not weigh as much and still can deliver a lot!

  • from St Louis, MO December 31, 2007Music Background:
    Bass Guitar


    Been playing bass for 20+ years - I've own lots of amp & preamps, but nothing like this. I don't make that comment lightly. You owe it to yourself to give one of these a try. In all sincerity, it may just be the biggest improvement to your tone you'll ever make. This preamp is the most dramatic improvement to my tone than anything I've ever tried in over 20 years. This unit replaced an Ampeg SVP-Pro all tube preamp. The SansAmp RPM just plain sounds better, and I don't mean by just a little - far & beyond better. You couldn't hand me the Ampeg back for free, I'd never use it again. What is equally amazing to me is that just between the 3 bands of EQ (bass, treble, mid w/mid-sweep) I can get such an amazing variety of tones. This is coming from a guy who has always ran a fully parametric 5-band EQ in his rig. Trust me - this thing is flat out incredible. Just running through the circuit and using the 3-band EQ (whether you decide to mix in some Drive or not) will do it's magic for your tone. The main difference between the Ampeg SVP Pro & the RPM is that the RPM emulation encompasses the FULL Ampeg SVT tube sound (power tubes, not just the preamp tubes). Whereas the Ampeg, with only preamp tubes, only gave a taste of the full SVT tone. Huge difference. The sheer amount input, outputs, effects loop w 50/50 mix, Blend control & overall signal routing offers total flexibility to novices up through studio & gigging pros. The beauty of the SansAmp is that there are no tubes to mess with, worry about or replace and - NO TUBE HISS like with the Ampeg. Geddy Lee recently started using the RPM model (over his RBI model) due to the greater tone capabilities that the semi-parametric Mid-sweep offers. I understand that the RPM also offers more overall gain when using the Drive function than the RBI unit. If your looking for a major improvement in your tone & to obtain the classic Ampeg SVT tone, try out the SansAmp RPM.

  • from Girard, PA. October 7, 2016Music Background:
    Bass player and singer - 35 years experience.

    Great Preamp!

    I really like my new Sansamp RPM rack mounted pre-amp. Because I play live frequently, the flexibility of the output section and effects loop, along with the eq section make it perfect for any bassist who wants an easy to use unit that dials in quickly.

  • from Austin Texas January 19, 2016Music Background:
    Pro muso

    Direct love

    Sans amps are great. I owned the classic with the dip switches back in the 90s. Was great on my jazzmaster. They sound much better with reverb and delay etc when used with guitar so effect loop is handy, unfortunately only mono. That is one complaint, would love to see stereo loop and true stereo out with it. Does have plenty of mono ins and outs though . Have to buy psa 1 for that twice the price..,. Sounds great on my precision basses and Strat . Drive must be attenuated at level control most times for balance only a little needed for bass and for guitar you can add pedals in front to mix s distortion sound . I don't really need it for bass but it's useful to add delay to taste etc. I don't like the knobs they are too bulky and get in the way. Would prefer metal round knobs . Teamed up with my warm audio chain of tb12 and w 76 the rpm sounds deep and powerful. I like to blend the tube emulation with some dry. Not sure the circuit is the same as the old but it sounds very good . Purely for bass perhaps the rbi or by would be better but I like the rpm versatility . They also darken keys nicely but gotta have two !!! I use for direct recording into presonus pro and tascam uh7000 sounds very good.

  • from St.Clair, Missouri October 23, 2015Music Background:
    Classic Rock, Blues.

    Tech 21 SansAmp RPM

    I was looking for a portable yet viable backup in case my bass rig had problems. It isn't fun finding out at your gig that your amp or speaker cabinet has shot craps! I know from personal experience!

    Initially, I had decided on a pedal-type preamp-DI. My plan was to keep it in my gig box and if my current Markbass/Eden rig had problems I could use it to plug directly in to the soundboard and still be able to dial in some decent tone. But a friend convinced me to get the Tech 21 RPM.

    The RPM fills my need for backup AND I have been using it to preamp my Markbass head. The pedal would have done the same job, but it is a pedal. The Tech 21 fits in a rack with my head, tuner, and power conditioner. The pedal would have to sit on top of my rack or go on the floor. The floor would not be a good option for me. Sitting on top of the rack would work, but not something I would like to do on a regular basis. Chances are, if I had bought the pedal, it would sit in my box and only gotten out in an emergency. So I bought the Tech 21 RPM.

    Since it sits in my rack, I use it. While it isn't something that that is a world-changer for me, I do like it. I like it very much! Allow me to explain.

    The RPM as a preamp (for me) is really no different than dialing in the tone controls on my Markbass. I can get my preferred tone with or without the RPM. I do believe, however, there is more potential and range with the RPM. But for my purposes, using it as a preamp for my rig is really no different than without it. Since my Markbass head has a DI out on it, still no difference with or without the RPM. But the purchase price was still worth the money because it sends my tone to the soundboard with or without my onstage rig.

    I use the RPM to preamp my Markbass. I have it dialed in just the way I want it. And if the Markbass dies, the RPM is still sending my dialed-in signal to the soundboard. Gig saved!

    The quality of the RPM goes beyond the ability to dial in virtually any bass tone you want. It feels sturdy, looks sturdy. The controls are well thought out and user friendly/intuitive. The on/off switch is a real honest-to-goodness metal toggle switch! Not plastic. Not teeny-tiny. But a fairly large toggle with one use: On or Off. Sometimes it is the simple things that are best.

    The unit also has a bypass switch. The back has multiple in/outs on it. All that you need is there. Oh, and it is foot-switchable if you desire. I just turn it on and leave it on.

    I've used it for five gigs so far with no issues and seems like a solid performer. This was a great choice for me.

  • from Manistee, MI December 24, 2012Music Background:
    Bass tone junky

    Tech 21 Sansamp RPM review

    I have been practicing with this in a Rock Band, we play kinda loud, and so far I like the control the RPM has. I have the ability to have stand out notes with definition and punch. Sweepable mids, really wide choice of sound can cover about anything, Slapin poppin to metal.
    The gain or distortion I think is way overkill and unrealistic past the 12 o clock postition unless you use the blend knob bringing in some of the original signal. Pretty good for the money, a mute button and compression would have topped this off though. It is a pro unit, very quiet, would be awesome in a studio too. I like it!

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