Originally Posted by KJung
+1 The GK stuff is a pretty darn good deal, and even though the Streamliner is quite different from both of them, you are right that the GK would be 'more different'.
I tried the MB500 here in London last week, and enjoyed it enough to make it worth driving out to LA Music in Brantford yesterday. I took my Genz Streamliner 900 and AudioKinesis Thunderchild TC112AF, and spent a few hours with the 200, 500 and 800.
The 200 and 500 both sounded good in a modern way, with even more of the same the grind and bite that I like in the Shuttle 9.0. Unfortunately, they also had the hard-to-dial-out edginess that drove me to the Streamliner in the first place.
I could smooth both G-K's out to some extent by backing off the treble and upper mids, but they still sounded a bit clanky. Darkening the tone any further, just put a blanket on it. This is where the Streamliner excels IMO- it can get so sweet and open in the treble, without ever getting clanky or annoying.
It must be partly in the power stage, because when I connected the MB200 line out to the Genz' effects return, the Streamliner power amp lent the G-K some of the Streamliner's "tubey" give. It wasn't a night-and-day difference, but I definitely liked the combination better than either the Genz or the G-K alone.
I personally can't see the point of the MB500 for anyone who has a Streamliner 900. Apart from having a mute switch, it doesn't offer anything useful over the MB200. The overdrive tones are transistorized and nasty, and if you really need the punch of a kilowatt-class amp, the limiter engages far too soon. OTOH,I could easily see using the MB200 to give the SL900 or SL600 an interesting second voice. The low end is wider than the Genz in a good way, it's cheap, smaller than some OD pedals, and can also stand on it's own as a backup amp for quieter gigs.
But the really big deal came when I plugged in the MB800. I guess the fuss G-K makes about having ditched the op amps for discrete FET's isn't just marketing hype. It's every bit as punchy as the Streamliner, and has a more open, detailed top end than the other MB's or either Genz, almost like switching from nickel rounds to stainless. I haven't heard them back-to-back, but the upper register had me thinking Mesa Walkabout...
Best of all, my B string suddenly picked up some extra growl with the 800. It actually made the mighty Streamliner sound a bit flabby in comparison.
When it comes to ease of use, the MB800's EQ setpoints are perfect. I didn't mind it with the tone controls at noon, and it only took few seconds of tweaking to find pretty much the same smoothness and heft that I enjoy in the Streamliner. That heft is something that I was unable to achieve with the Shuttle 9.0.
I love the Streamliner, and I like the Shuttle as well. I also like the Mesa Walkabout, but IMO, the controls on all those amps are a bit tricky to tweak, and there's not quite enough tonal overlap to make any of them my "desert island amp".
I think the MB800 just might be able to fill that slot, covering everything from modern to Motown. Like the other sold-state MB's, the 800 can't match the Streamliner when you want to put a little "hair" on the notes. But if you're a clean freak like me, the MB800 has a LOT going for it.
IMO, the only reason for buying a Shuttle 9.0 or 9.2 over the MB800, is Genz' superior build quality and customer service. The G-K seems a bit toylike in comparison. Soundwise, in under-$1,000 amps, the MB800 is my new favourite.