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Little Lightweight Bass Amplifiers

Discussion in 'Bass Amps & Cabinets' started by DiMarco, Jan 4, 2019.

  1. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    I have always had my reservations about them.

    [​IMG]

    Yes the 28 kilograms Trace Elliot amp in the bottom sounds bigger and more lively. But it needs its power tubes replaced and its mute section repaired (it sometimes automatically goes mute in the middle of playing because it feels like doing so).

    Also, is it REALLY worth dragging such a hulk of an amp along to every gig in every little pub or toilet? I used to think so and I still like to think so... But I must come to senses. Maybe I notice the difference in my sound since I feel what I am playing. But nobody else does.

    So over the past two years I have scored a couple of these modern small lightweight bass amps. And here is what I think about them: When you make your tone with your bass guitar and your pedalboard, ANY amplifier will fit the bill.


    The first class D toy I bought was the Tech21 VT500. It is basically like any other class D - quite neutral sounding. But this one has the VTbass pedal built into it and you can emulate (analog) anything in between an Ampeg SVT and a B15 amp by twiddling knobs. By itself it sounds less open and lively then for instance the Trace Hexa Valve, but in the total mix of instruments it blends really well. This amp is a replacement for the more classic bass amps from the seventies and such. If you're after a vintage tone and don't want to bring any pedals then this amp is just lovely! And it is also capable of sounding more neutral. Retarded bit about the amp though is its D.I. output responds to the master level. So when you want your monitoring louder, the foh will also get louder. This is just stupid!


    Then, because I also owned the Trace Elliot Transit-B bass preamp I got myself that utterly cute 200w RMS Trace Elliot Elf toy. This thing is, much to my surprise, loud enough for the rehearsal room! But it barely holds its own doing so and leaving no headroom for any dynamics, which is something you want to have when playing a more modern sounding bass like a Warwick or Zon. The Elf has a three band EQ with its frequencies at very pleasant and useful points in the audio spectrum. It has a built in limiter as well. I however do feel it is not complete without the Transit-B preamp which adds a five band EQ with a BASS control that is NOT a shelving one and EXTREMELY useful for getting a PHAT tone without your speakers flapping out! The Transit-B also has a great dualband compressor and overdrive onboard. It is the best sounding external bass pre I have so far had the pleasure of working with.

    So - the Trace Elliot Transit-B plus Elf combination sounds great, is capable of smaller gigs if your cab has high efficiency (lots of decibels per watt) but it is what it is - a bit of a gimmick amp. That said, the Transit-B preamp is just great and I use that a lot.


    Today the Warwick LWA-1000 arrived and my first emotions about this amp are mixed. First off it does sound pristine and open with the EQ settings neutral! I managed to get great tone with my modern sounding Warwick and Zon basses, but also with my more vintage sounding Rickenbackers and Fenders.

    The EQ section has me puzzled though. While its upper mids and treble controls are very useful (but they should have been named treble and sheen instead of upper mids and treble), the bass dial however is just retarded and adds heaps of lower mids along with the lows. I will simpy have to dial in my lows on the Transit-B pre instead, which has a better EQ section then the LWA has. So I will use this amp like the others; make my tone on the pedalboard and only use the EQ on the amp for compensating room acoustics if needed.

    Then there's something completely weird about the input of this amp: When using my passive basses the low end of my neck pickups is over emphasised. I get tons of low end when switching to the neck pickup. The difference between the two pickups seems a lot bigger then when using any of my other amps. Is the LWA simply being more honest about what comes in? I do not know. I do have to get used to this. No biggie, just weird.

    The compressor on the LWA by the way is adequate; well usable and pretty neutral although it does add a lot of extra volume when compressing more heavily. I could well live with using this as my only compressor.

    The one big downer yet though is this: The poweramp clipping led blinks pretty much constantly even when playing at home in the attic. The Tech21 VT500 is a lot louder then the LWA-1000 is without its clipping led going berserk. I will hook up my pedalboard and try it with my Cali76 compressor or the Trace dualband hoping it won't clip at such low volume settings (it clips from below 12 o'clock already!) anymore. To be fair, the LWA volume knob works a lot different from most other amps which are already being loud at 9 o'clock the usable stage range on the LWA seems to sit between 10 and 2 o ' clock. This makes it easier to use the amp at lower levels such as at home and is nice...

    But a Clipping poweramp could very well kill my speakers though you see - and we do not want the pricey Barefaced cab to die because of this. I do not want to take any risks and will verify if that damn led is right about the clipping or not.

    If that clipping led is correct (I do not hope it is) then this amplifier is by no means a 1000 watts. My cab does 103 decibels at 1 watt and the LWA was not at all being loud while already clipping according to the led.

    Can someone confirm if the amp is indeed clipping when the led blinks or is the led simply too triggerhappy? If it does clip when the led says it does then this amp will not be loud enough for me at rehearsals or on stage.

    So - The LWA-1000 sounds great, open and responsive but its output level and bass dial on the EQ are worrying. The older, wooden sidepanels version of this amp sells for 449 euros at Thoman currently and is well worth it - IF the clipping led is being overly active while the amp is in fact not clipping yet.

    ---

    Which of these amps I prefer so far? The LWA because of its open and clear tone that will allow me to sculpt my sound using the pedalboard more easily. Eventhough it has its quirks, I think I will find ways around them.

    That said, the old tube amp still does sound superior to any of these three newer amps. That amp is a lot less convenient to drag along to gigs though. Food for thought.

    At home I use the Elf, the VT500 has its rack ears mounted and will serve in the pub of which our guitarist is the owner, with my SWR Goliath Jr.III cab. The LWA is for the rehearsal room, gigs and jamsessions and the Hexa Valve for bigger, non-festival gigs. Does a man need multiple amps? YES. This is a hobby afterall - nothing has to make any sense to other people then yourself.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019
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  2. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    Update about the LWA clipping led: It only occurs when playing a Warwick bass.
    With the active Jazz and Zon there is no problem.

    Does the Warwick Dolphin have too much loud transients going on?

    Gain led never got into the yellow zone, that's not it.
     
  3. Nightmaresandconclusions

    Nightmaresandconclusions

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    I'm sure the lwa1000 is measured 1000watts for a pico second at 1khz only. I sold mine shortly after getting it.

    I now have a quilter bass block which technically is lower power but smashs the lwa1000 for output and tone. That's the problem with amplifiers there is a million ways to measure power and no standards. Warwick say 1000 watts but give no clue to how this is measured. It will definitely be a peak rating and id say burst power. Even burst power can be measured differently to enlarge power ratings.
     
  4. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    LWA1000 is insanely powerful, BUT.... the gain setting is a bit strange, you need to crank it up to get to the right zone. Set it until it clips, then turn it down a bit until it clips only on really loud notes you play. Less than this is not effective. That means 11-12 for a tubepath, and even 3-4 o clock for LWA in my case.
    I used to own the 1000 W tubepath and xtreme, and LWA1000 has the same loudness, it makes your ears bleed at 12 o clock master with a large cabinet.
     
  5. Nightmaresandconclusions

    Nightmaresandconclusions

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    Yeah setting the input gain is the same as any other amp or mixing console. Get maximum input before clipping etc.

    I just did not like the tone and the output was less than other options with lower power. Like the quilter and markbass.
     
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  6. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    Of course, just for this particular amp you have to almost max out the gain to get there, I remember I thought it was broken when I first got it. Yeah, if you like Markbass, LWA is pretty different sounding :) How is quilter?
     
  7. Nightmaresandconclusions

    Nightmaresandconclusions

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    Quilter is very close to the markbass. Transparent but not sterile. I use a noble valve pre in the front end.
     
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  8. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    Day 3 with the LWA. It is perfect with the Henry the 8x8 cab downstairs, which is emphasising bottom end like all SWR cabs and even more so because it is standing on a wood floor with its back against a concrete wall, further fortifying the low end from room acoustics.

    No more clipping led going nuts.

    That said, it sounds very hi-fi. Detailed and snappy. The Hexa Valve still is king but this is good to have too.
     
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  9. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the input, Di Marco. YOu are awesome!
     
  10. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    And if you want a less clean tone with some more grip in the mix, dial in a fair bit of the onboard compressor. This amp is a great deal at 449 euro. The newer all black version sits at 599 I believe.
     
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  11. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    And it has 4 years of waranty, too.

    Anyway, I would like to hear more opinions on hybrid and/or tube amp users about those nifty little new lightweight amps now that they have matured some.
    On tuesday I will use the LWA in the band rehearsal room with the guys, last time I had the Elf in there and that definitely dropped some jaws (how can something that small sound so damn loud!)
     
  12. JPT

    JPT Warwick Endorser

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    thank you for sharing DiMarco. soon a review about two LWA1000's and four WCA 115 CE LW cabs

    P_20190206_232709.jpg
     
  13. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    That looks nice, Jeroen. I love LWA's sound! It's like 1000W Sans Amp with a decent compressor, 2 channels :)
     
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  14. jester

    jester ocdemon Moderator

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  15. Henrythe8

    Henrythe8 Dolphin Hoarder

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    About to pull the trigger on a LWA1000. 450€ at Thomann, ridiculously low priced... I'll pair it with my Ninja 2x12, should be fine. And if I save a little money, maybe I'll double the 2x12.
     
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