Realist "Super" Docking Station Preamp (ACTIVE Tailpiece-Mounted Volume Control/Jack Mount)
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- to the USA
UNIVERSAL: Works with Upright Bass Pickups from All Manufacturers!*
(* Some pickups with "string mount" jack brackets, like K&K Sound and Fishman, may need to have those brackets removed to fit the input plug.)
Here's the next generation of this clever jack clip for upright bass pickups; an elegant solution to an issue that has bothered bassists for a long time: where do you mount the jack for your pickup? Many other options have been available for a while, from string-mounted clips, to assorted plastic hardware that mounts through the tailpiece holes. Some pickups use a plastic loop that requires you to remove the string and thread it through - kind of a pain.
Here's a simple option that works! Non-permanent, and requiring no modifications to your instrument, it's a clean and simple way to mount your pickup's output jack to the bass -- finally, there is a pickup jack that doesn't look "hack!"
New ACTIVE Electronics
However, the new "Super" version of the Docking Station introduces yet another major benefit, and one that I've been asking for for a long time - an ACTIVE impedance buffer with a clean gain boost. Using a "no batteries" rechargeable system and a push-pull pot to turn on the active circuit, it's easy and convenient to use.
Those upright bassists who are "in the know" are familiar with the concerns of buffering when it comes to ultra-high impedance piezo pickups. A bad "match" of the high impedance of the pickup and the low impedance of many amps creates weird sonic issues: "quacky" tone, bass response that is out-of-balance with the rest of the sonic spectrum, clacky or hissy highs, dodgy and inconsistent midrange sound, and more. Getting a proper "buffer" between the pickup and the amp (which is usually provided by a preamp designed for acoustic instruments) can get you a truer, more accurate representation of the sound being produced by your bass. (If you're interested, here's our FAQ on the subject of impedance buffering so you can learn more.)
And it's always the first thing you plug the output of the pickup that matters; using a preamp "downstream" after you've already plugged in some other pedal, volume pot, or other bit of gear won't correct the "damage" done by that initial connection. To wit: The original (passive) Docking Station had a volume knob and the convenience of the mounting for the jack - but it did not account for this impedance concern. So using the original Docking Station, while convenient, could often cause some of those tonal concerns because it was the first thing plugged into the pickup, and it had a (passive) volume potentiometer in it, so it affected the impedance.
This new (late 2023) SUPER Docking Station adds a built-in active preamplifier circuit to correct the impedance, making your piezo upright bass pickup more compatible with a MUCH larger selection of bass amps, mixing boards, computer interfaces, wireless instrument transmitters, and more! It will provide robust, transparent sound by properly lowering the impedance going to the amp's input, and delivering a much more consistent, clear signal to the listener - without having to do a bunch of corrective EQ knob-twisting just to make it sound "passable."
It also can be considered a "preamp" because it offers approximately 7db of clean gain without introducing more noise. Note that there are no tone controls or other functionality - just the buffering, the boost in gain, a functional volume control, and input and output jacks. All built into a compact, high-tech tailpiece jack mount.
Featuring a very nicely crafted metal housing, it incorporates a string slot which slips behind (not AROUND) the ball ends of your two low strings -- you just need to loosen them for a moment to install the Docking Station, NOT remove them entirely. Once installed, it unobtrusively sits behind the tailpiece, at the side edge, for easy access -- and a low-profile appearance. It has an integrated "plug" which you plug into the ¼" output jack of your pickup, and its standard ¼" output jack accepts standard instrument (guitar) cables, just like you've always used.
It's not just a "jack holder," though.
Also incorporated onto the Docking Station: A volume control. It's really nice to have a volume knob handy on the bass, so you don't have to drag your whole instrument over to the amp to make an on-the-fly adjustment. Its location at the top of the tailpiece makes it very easy to reach down and make a quick volume change - whether it be for taking a solo, switching to arco, or taking a short break between sets or songs without unplugging everything.
So, you've got real options with the new Super Docking Station. It's an elegant method for mounting your output jack, includes a volume control and an active buffer/boost, and it features quality construction - ensuring years of trouble-free service.
- This product works with any string-bass pick-up. It is a "Universal Volume Attenuator" and it can be used with products from other manufacturers (as well as with the Realist pickups). Your output jack may need to be modified slightly - for instance, the K&K and Fishman Pickups have the string mount bracket on the jack, which will need to be removed (this is easily done - check out our FAQ with pictures and everything!).
- STRINGS: Your strings MUST have ball or "slug" ends to work with the Docking Station. Strings that have loops (like Velvet strings, Rotosounds, and most plain gut strings) cannot properly anchor the Docking Station on the tailpiece.
- No batteries required, it uses a flash-recharge circuit that is good for 16 hours per charge (and over 100,000 charge cycles!)
- MONO Signals Only: This Docking Station will not work with multi-pickup setups like the K&K Bass Master Pro, Bass Master Rockabilly, or Golden Trinity Systems, as they use TRS (Stereo) cables to carry each pickup's signal separately - this will only work with single mono pickups.
- Excellent interface for using a wireless system: This low-profile jack mount will take up very little space and add only a small amount of weight compared to a preamp mounted to the tailpiece - it's ideal for being the buffer for using a wireless system, as many wireless transmitters do not have a good high-impedance input for use with piezo pickups.
- There are no tone controls (Bass, Midrange, Treble) on this unit - it has only an active volume control.
TL;DR: The Realist Docking Station is a tailpiece-mountable jack solution for those who:
a.) Don't like string-mounted jacks, and
b.) Would like to add a volume control on their bass without the larger form-factor of a preamplifier.
c.) Want the benefit of impedance buffering and increased gain levels without the size and added features of a full-blown preamp.
Incredibly easy to install, it's fully compatible out of the box for the David Gage Realist Copperhead, Woodtone, and Lifeline, and can be used with most other pickups that use a standard jack (those with string mount flanges/brackets may need to be modified).