First off, this thing is small! I first read about this amp on the Double Bass side of TB and it peaked my interest. There doesn't seem to be anything else being manufactured in the same category. I think it could be the smallest lightest true Bass amplifier available right now. Approx 10 lbs.
I was a little skeptical about Phil Jones stuff in general because the old Briefcase models always sounded a little light in the bass frequencies to my ear. In this case I was fortunate enough to be able to try before I buy with my local dealer in Toronto. The guys at Moog Audio were really nice to deal with and just let me jam on whatever I wanted for as long as I wanted without any pressure.
They also had a PJ Bass Cub as well. With it's added features it made it look really appealing but the Bass Cub didn't come close to the sound that I wanted. It was a little too warm and lacked some real low end even with the bass EQ maxed out. My 5 string FBass BN5 did not sound like itself at all.
Enter the Double Four, wow! Really? Not only is it smaller than the Cub but it sounds soooo much bigger, deeper, and crisp to my ears. YMMV
The square radiator speaker in the back of the combo is really well executed IMO. The whole room filled up with a smooth bass tone. I was also able to hear the treble and articulation much more clearly over the Cub possibly due to the newer designed drivers in the Double Four.
I had the Fdeck HPF hooked up to see if it got me any more volume and to check the low frequency response of the Double Four. I was amazed that I started to hear the bottom dropping out at about 3:00 when I started turning the HPF up from 35 Hz. My 5 Strings can work well with that kind of response.
In addition to my Fbass BN5 I brought my SWR Headlite 110 combo equipped with a Deltalite II speaker and upgraded horn tweeter for a reference:
I'm rather familiar with this amps sound and used it to cross reference my A/B'ing. I didn't want to get caught up in getting a false impression and impulse buy so it was great to have there.
For such a small package, the Phil Jones Double Four not only had great tone but the achievable volume was surprising as well:
Twin 4" drivers!
It will easily handle jamming with a couple of acoustics, singers, and perhaps some percussion. The line out could be used to run to a P.A. if one was to do those 2 or 3 piece acoustic gigs as well. The real value of this combo is in it's size, weight, and tone IMO.
The features are minimal but effective:
The mute function is a welcomed feature as I use them a lot in between sets and instrument changes. The padded input isn't much use to me personally because I don't have any overly hot active basses but it does make the Double Four more versatile.
The frequency centers seemed to work well for me. I personally found the mid band width to be a bit narrow for my liking but all in all it is a very usable EQ. I was amazed that I didn't need to dial up the bass knob much at all to get my low B to slip out and sound nice.
The auxiliary input for an iPod / iPhone is also great as you can use all the handy new Apps to run your phone into the Double Four and really expand it's usefulness. For example, you could run your buddy's electric guitar into it using an iOS amp modeler then into the Double Four. Or perhaps a drum machine.
The headphone and line out will also be of great use in a small combo like this.
With the passive radiator this combo is sensitive to positioning. In the store I had it about 3 feet away from the wall at various heights and it always sounded full and articulate. It has plenty of feet on it to help orient it and place it to fit many situations. I tried placing it close to the wall and in a corner and noticed the added deep sound. I rolled back the Bass EQ a bit to compensate. I also tried turning it vertical to reduce the added floor coupling which worked well and gave the Double Four a little more projection. It's design makes it very capable of using the amp placement properly to get the sound you might want.
The handle is very comfortable. It's kind of ridiculously heavy duty for this ultra light weight application but that's part of the Double Fours charm.
The power supply is an external one. As you'll see below there is not enough space inside the small box for it. It's not too large but it should be noted for comparing actual portability to other units like the Cub or Markbass MiniMark which have an internal power supply.
The build quality is exceptional all around as well. Much like when I was a kid, I still feel the need to take my toys apart to see how they work!
Note the separate power wires to each speaker off the board. Phil Jones states that this combo is designed with two separate amps. One for each speaker.
This looks like the separate output power transistor pairs for each speaker:
The silicone under each capacitor is a sign of quality construction that should aid in reliability over the years of being moved and jarred around.
Here's the brains behind the sound of the Phil Jones Double Four:
Here's the internal view of the passive radiator:
If you closed your eyes, you would never guess these are 4" drivers:
So far I'm really quite impressed with this combo and for the price it seems to bring a decent value. Aside from a single 6" Markbass combo, I don't think there is much competition in this particular market. However, if a manufacturer was going to go there, they had better be prepared for a fight. The Phil Jones Double Four really is something to marvel at both performance and price. IMHO