Built for adding those famous steroids to passive basses, Aguilar’s DB 924 can do anything from gently adding vitamins to your signal to brutally beefing it up on a massive steroid rush!
To be 100% accurate, the Aguilar DB 924 is not exactly a pedal, but I’ll review it anyway. It is an external FET preamp that is designed as a fundamental tone-shaping tool with the purpose of always being ‘on’. In fact, it is based on Aguilar’s popular OBP-1 build-in preamp.
DB 924 is a boost only type preamp with a very simple control interface. Just 3 knobs BASS, TREBLE and VOLUME that act exactly as you would expect them to. The bass and treble bands are capable of boosting up to 18 dB at 40 Hz and 4 kHz respectively.
These bands are similar to the famous Sadowsky preamp, and they have been chosen for a reason – they simply work really well for sculpting a great bass sound.
DB924 runs on two 9V batteries unfortunately with no easy access, so you have to unscrew the bottom to replace the batteries.
The sound is always essential – not least for a fundamental tone-shaping preamp such as the DB 924. To get a basic idea, please listen to the audio clips.
NOTE! Please use headphones or ‘real’ speakers. You simply can’t judge low-end material on laptop, tablet or phone speakers…!
NOTE! If you are on a mobile device, please turn it to landscape mode to see the knob settings of the pedal for each audio clip.
The question is whether you actually need a lot of versatility if you ‘just’ need to add that one extra (steroid) dimension to your sound? However, DB 924 is in fact quite versatile, and even if I only did add clips using my Nordy PJ5, DB 924 is definitely capable of adding various flavors to classic Jazz and Precision and even Stingray basses.
The one thing it will not do is boost your mids. As a rule of thumb, whenever you boost one frequency area, you consequently cut all other frequencies. In other words, instead of boosting your treble, you could cut your mids and lows and add more overall gain to get the same result. Of course this depends heavily on the EQ tools you have at hand, but in theory that is what happens.
DB 924 is rugged, no doubt about that. Die cast chassis and the knobs seem to be mounted on very solid potentiometers, giving a very nice and firm feeling that just oozes quality.
There are two design/usability obstacles, though… First, having to unscrew the bottom to swap batteries is a pain on the… The option for using an external power supply had been the best, but as a second-best, at least easier access to the batteries would have been a plus.
Second, it’s a shame that there is no footswitch as DB 924 is indeed versatile enough to also be used as an effect unit that can be kicked in temporarily.
In all fairness, Aguilar did in fact discontinue DB 924 and it’s successor, the Tone Hammer, features exactly those things – plus a lot more!
As just mentioned, DB 924 has been discontinued, but used to retail at approx. $179. The price for a used DB 924 seems to have settled at around $80-100 (2015).
It would be most fair to rate DB 924 with the current price in mind, but bearing in mind that this is not for a new product. Still, less than $100 for a unit like this could be a bargain. I say ‘could’ because if you need that certain permanent steroid boost to your passive bass, this is a very nice solution at around half the price of a pre-owned Sadowsky preamp pedal (that also features a DI, which is part of the price-difference explanation).
Overall, I really dig the tones you can get out of the DB 924 a lot. The design fails in some regards, though. Overall, the DB 924 scores 77.8.
Attractive used price