Sometimes it’s the subtlest of pleasures that are hardest to tame. With buckets of fuzz and searing, high-gain solos spinning around the venue like air-raid sirens, it’s the foundations of sound that all too often get left behind. Bass and acoustic guitar players know this pain all too well and consequently have come to rely on some pretty crafty EQ trickery to carve their niche in a mix. There are already countless bits of kit on the market promising assistance in this endeavour but few with quite the bag of tricks that Trace Elliot have in store with their Transit A and B acoustic and bass friendly preamp systems.
By way of a brief overview, both are housed in a low profile, heavy-duty, black steel chassis about as wide as the five pedals they aim to replace. Both are peppered liberally with the ubiquitous neon green that is the Trace Elliot trademark and are controlled by a row of eleven knobs and five footswitches, across the top and bottom respectively, which double as indicators for the tuner and mute function. Both have a simple TRS input followed by dry signal out, pre and post XLR outs, aux in, headphone jack, ground lift and two main signal outs which differ slightly according to application; stereo for the acoustic and line versus instrument out for bass. On first glance they look like twins but when slipped seamlessly into your chain they perform vastly different sonic surgeries.
The Transit A is definitely the more hi-fidelity of the pair, as well it should be given the task at hand. Between the input and output gain controls you have a series of effects that in any other situation could prove problematic for the sound-hole-bound as well as a broad EQ sweep for dialling in the sweet spot of the whole affair. With one knob each you can let a chiming chorus or a lush hall reverb glisten as well as a tap tempo delay for even wider sounding arrangements. There’s a boost switch if it’s your turn to solo, a pre/post EQ hump for instant nudge and the all important phase switch for knocking the big, dumb woof on the head. Gain wise, it’s pretty difficult to get this thing to break up. There’s enough headroom in the circuit that any kind of maxed out clip only appears when you’re being particularly irresponsible.
The Transit B on the other hand is a much more concentrated affair. With a stern furrow in its brow it presents you with all the essentials of bass performance hocus-pocus. The five-band EQ here is switchable, as are the blended drive and two-stage compressor, which is great for either setting-and-forgetting your personal tone stack or layering different energies on the fly. There are passive/active and pre/post comp EQ toggles for extra preference and a super beefy bass enhance button just incase everything else wasn’t quite getting you over the line.
Long story short, the idea here is sound and the execution is exhaustive yet uncomplicated. Too often pre-amp pedals and tone-shaping tools that aim for this type of 360 degree control miss the mark and become overbearing, colouring original blueprint sound too much; some fall over entirely before reaching the finish line at all. Both of these units reach far into the tone cauldron but only pull out exactly the spells you asked for. The EQ sweep in both instances is broad enough for even the pickiest of players and the discerning nature of the tools on offer makes either or both ultimately useful either on stage or in the studio. No nasty surprises like low bit rate, digital clip or half-arsed engineering, just solid, sonic squire-ship to help you mount your chosen steed.
Hits and Misses
Simplicity and clarity of judgement and execution of engineering
Low profile and heavy duty enough for any situation
The colour is a bit to someone else’s taste
No option for buffered or true bypass