Heads item created by DiMarco, Sep 3, 2016
Pros - Ampeg tone
Cons - Ampeg tone
Why consider this amp
As I am heavily into the harmonically rich and warm tone plus the responsiveness of tube (valve) amplifiers, looking for a lightweight backup amplifier that does not sound modern or "sterlile" as some would call it was not an easy task as I wanted an amp that sounded somewhat like my main amp; a 250w Mesa Bass Prodigy 4:88 all tube amplifier. Most class D amplifiers do not.
Knowing Tech21 from their awesome Sansamp products like the Bass Driver and VTbass D.I. pedals made me decide to try out this 500w lightweight head.
I'm certain you will be able to find the technical details pretty much everywhere on the net so I will not go into these too much other then stating the active tone controls with a boost/cut range of 18db work really well, and that the "drive" dial which is really just a gain knob works only on the Sansamp channel, not on the dry input side of the blend. The lack of a mute switch can be circumvented by using a single plug in the FXloop and switching that loop on to mute the amplifier, or of course you can use your tuner pedal to mute your rig like any other sane person would.
On the rear of the little amp head we find the power switch + socket and two speakon speaker outputs. The fan sits in the middle of the rear and also vents air through the sides of the amplifier, not the top or bottom. The fan only kicks in when needed. Splendid!
The amp can be switched to run at 110v in case I ever get to play in 'murica but most probably will need a different power fuse installed if I do so.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amp's punch and heft. The VT sansamp colouration is heavy and does resemble the famous tones of Ampeg SVT and B15 amplifiers good enough to make me happy even though it somewhat lacks the responsiveness of said tube amplifiers. Kicking in the Sansamp tone also compresses the signal quite a bit so I find that using an external compressor pedal is of no use with this amplifier.
I am using my amplifiers with a Barefaced BigTwin II gen3 bass cabinet which has a whopping pistonic sensitivity of 100dB. The 500 watts RMS of this amplifier is more then adequate for using it within this combination in a loud rock band setting for both rehearsal and gigs in a medium to large sized pub. The Sansamp tone also runs through the DI output so FOH will get a signal that is 100% your tone.
At a budget that is 1/6th of what I spent on the Mesa amp, this Tech 21 product is of great value. It sounds great but lacks some of the responsiveness of a real tube amp. When you're into big oldskool lively Ampeg like tone then this is an amplifier to check out. If it is a modern, more hi-fi sound you're after find something else.
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