Played a Bergantino IP310 today.
I was hanging out at BSD today and they had an IP310 on the floor, so I plugged it in with a Sadowsky outboard preamp up front and - man. I played a couple G&L basses through it, and the thing just kills. I noticed it seemed heavy in the low mids and bass without too much crisp top end. Then I realized the bass had the treble turned all the way down. After I put everything on the bass at noon I was blown away. It sounded real fat down low while maintaining very detailed highs up top.
So I got done messing around with it and I grabbed a handle to check the heft of it. Unfortunately they had glued it to the floor. Or so it seemed. After playing Jim's AE and CN cabs for the last year or two, I had gotten too weak to lift a non-neo cab. Anyway, a couple ideas came to mind.
I've been feeling guilty about putting that Flex Core preamp in my brand new UV70 (but not while playing it), and then I realized while playing that Sadowsky outboard through the IP310, I can just put the UV70/Pope in passive mode and run it to the outboard preamp to get that Sadowsky tone any time I want it.
Then I got another idea. Jim, I know you're reading this, so I'm sure you know what's coming next. How about a CN310IP? I figure you could get it down to maybe 55 pounds, which even codgers like me could lift. I'd buy one, even if I had to go back to work for a while. So how about it? I'd even let you off the hook for that CN322 you're building for me.
The IP310 and (for my taste) the IP112 were the two best bass amps/cabs I've ever heard, hands down. Originally Jim was working on a preamp to go with them. That never surfaced. People complained that finding the right match for the cabs preamp wise was challenging. I had heard a few different preamps, including a couple of stomp box types like you had tried. Everything sounded great through it. I understand that the concept was tricky to sell considering all of the small, lightweight digital amps that started to come out. If Jim were to come out with lightweight versions of the IP's I think they'd have a better chance. Again, with all of the new lightweight heads out there that sound great, I'm not sure that it's really something that would still catch on. But honestly, can you think of anything that would be better for gear heads than a Jules Monique or a Mellennia TD-1 through an IP?
The preamp really affects the flavor. I loved the Sadowsky through it. I also ran a Tech 21 VT Bass DI through it, and it changed the tonal character as you might expect. I was able to dial in everything from tube warmth to out-and-out distortion with the VT. Not my cup of tea, but I can see how others might like that combo a lot (e.g. Jimmy). I'll bet a Pope MP-1 would sound pretty decent through it. Maybe I'll take my Fodera 2010 preamp over there to try it out.
Much of what you are hearing with the IP310 (IMO and IME) are the original HT drivers, the HT tweeter (which is no longer available) and that bit of compression that the DSP applies. Loud as heck for sure. However, a small, battery powered preamp like the Sadowsky will not push the IP to full volume.
A 'CNIP310', with different drivers and tweeter, would sound more like the CN212 than the IP310 (which IMO is a good thing, but don't really see the point when you can get similar power in an all in one micro).
More negatives than positives IMO, which is probably why they were discontinued.
The attraction is the sound. I was coming out of GIIIs so there wasn't a weight issue. For what they deliver they are quite compact.
It's true that not driving them with enough voltage and appropriate impedance (not speaker impedance!) yields mediocre results. They were designed for actual bass pre amps.
They have mixed results with channel strips, DIs, floor pedal bass pres, acoustic guitar battery powered pres, computer interfaces, etc.
Again as in all things that are subjective if they don't sound like you like, look elsewhere. :)
The design, the power, packaging, and DSP combine to make a very loud full frequency bass reproduction system.
Our mileage can and does vary.:)
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