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Adapted from SansAmp's Acoustic DI pedal, the RPM from Tech21 is a 1U rackmount preamp featuring a parametric EQ. It's suitable for both live and recording purposes. While the unit was designed with guitarists in mind to provide amp-like tones in amplifier-free situations, it can also be used with acoustic and electric basses, outboard synths, or any instrument with a 1/4" output jack.
The RPM offers a drive control, a blend knob (for mixing processed and unprocessed signals), and a comprehensive parametric EQ. Look to the rear of the preamp and you'll notice the ability to output both effected and uneffected signals via pairs of XLR and 1/4" jacks. Additionally, the unit boasts an effects loop with 1/4" connections for send and return.
It is also possible to daisy chain this unit to other SansAmp rackmount modules and control the initiation of each one through the use of a footswitch (available separately).
Drive and Blend Knobs
Adjust the amount of gain and overdrive as you see fit, then blend in dry signal to taste.
With the bass and treble knobs affecting 80 Hz and 3.2 kHz respectively, boost or attenuate these frequencies by ±12 dB with the twist of your fingers. You can also manipulate the midrange of a signal, though these specific frequencies are selectable through a dedicated mid shift knob. Thus, in using this EQ, you can achieve many different tones, from hollowed and shrill to thick and growling.
The RPM sports 2x 1/4" inputs, one of which offers a switchable -20 dB pad for bringing the signal down to line level. The preamp also features 2x XLR outputs and 2x 1/4" outputs for a very specific purpose: one individual output will port dry signal, while the other will handle processed sound. This is the case for both the XLR and 1/4" pairs. You may find this useful should you wish to record both effected and uneffected signals, or if you wish to utilize more blending opportunities when connecting into a PA. Additionally, both sets of outputs have their own front-panel knobs assigned to them: Level controls the 1/4" outs, while the eponymous XLR knob controls the other set.
The RPM boasts an effects loop that is switchable between 50/50% and 100% mix modes. 100% mode will apply the effects loop to 100% of the outgoing signal, while 50/50 mode will halve that value. This is much like a blend knob for your effects loop, only with two static positions: fully effected, and half effected/half uneffected.
In the Box
TECH 21 SansAmp RPM 1U Rackmount Preamplifier with Parametric EQ
1x 1/4" Send: 1 kOhm min, 20 dB
1x 1/4" Return: 100 kOhms min, -20 dB
Front Panel I/O & Controls
1x 1/4" Instrument Input
DRIVE: Adjusts overall amount of gain and overdrive
MID SHIFT: Selects center frequency of Mid Control, with a sweep of 170 Hz to 3 kHz
MID: Active tone control, cut or boost ±12 dB
BASS: Active tone control, ±12 dB cut or boost at 80 Hz
TREBLE: Active tone control, ±12 dB cut or boost at 3.2 kHz
BLEND: Controls mix of dry signal and SansAmp circuitry
XLR: Controls level of XLR Outputs
LEVEL: Adjusts overall level of SansAmp Output
Rear Panel I/O & Controls
1x 1/4" Input, 0 dB or -20 dB
1x 1/4" Send Jack
1x 1/4" Return Jack
1x 1/4" Effected Output
1x 1/4" Dry Output (No SansAmp processing)
1x 1/4" Footswitch Input
1x 1/4" Footswitch Output (for use with other SansAmp RPMs or RBIs)
1x XLR Affected Output
1x XLR Dry Output (No SansAmp processing)
1x Mix 50/50 Switch: Feeds either all or half the signal into the effects loop before SansAmp processing
2x Level Switches: Sets range signal between line level and instrument level