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Mesa 400/400+ vs D180 - Some Findings

Discussion in 'Amps [BG]' started by chaosMK, Dec 2, 2012.


  1. chaosMK

    chaosMK Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2005
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    Disclosures:
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    I have owned both of these heads at the same time for a good while. I have my 400 loaded with Tung Sol 6550s and a low gain/high volume tube in V1 (forget what, a JAN something). D180 with EQ has Mesa power tubes and a JJ in V1. I use about the same settings on each (Mid 8-10, Bass 2, Treble 2).

    400- Set more a less "flat" (using settings above) its kind of hard boxy midrange is the core voicing.

    D180- Same settings, a little "rounder" in the midrange.

    Overall I find the D180 to be a little bit more articulate when kept clean (to test this I ran my 400 Master about maxed, which is how I run the D180 for clean), with some of the finer dynamics of my playing cutting through more clearly on the same cab. Could be the 6550s being all beefy on the 400.

    The 400 appears to be a little bit spongier (even though I use the equivalent preamp channel on both), a dash less clear on finger style details, and a little more colored (which works great for me because when I play my metals aggressively, like 8-10 on an aggression scale, this slight "cushion" really forgives my playing while allowing the snarling mids I like to come through).

    For those who have ever wondered, here is a cheap video I made of how the distortion on the D180 sounds with guitar (drop B). The cab is a big part of it though, it sounds way more 80's on other cabs.

     
  2. Bunyo

    Bunyo

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Cool. Appreciate you left some samples on YT being first in history. Too bad bass film is very short. I love Mesa D-180, got one in my arsenal.
     
  3. chaosMK

    chaosMK Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2005
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    Disclosures:
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    I put up a few more D180 bass clips. They are with my BDDI in the FX loop and the amp not cranked to saturation how I like it (basically anything beyond a low volume blows my camera's mic). Eventually I'll do some legit recordings with this amp.

    (bass channel, neck pup, tapping)

    Update to D180 findings: Using the guitar channel on this is where it's at, extremely aggressive. It filters out a lot of low end (I have to max the bass control on my bass to get it to my normal leve of low end) but I can only imagine the ripping sounds you can get out of this at a stage volume.
     
  4. Bunyo

    Bunyo

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
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  6. chaosMK

    chaosMK Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2005
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    Disclosures:
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    I like it... sounds very D180 ;)
     
  7. Downunderwonder

    Downunderwonder

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    Location:
    New Zealand
    How would you go about getting a mild breakup, nicely compressed, when digging in, at extremely low stage volume? I've played about with mine at home on the guitar channel and got real fizzy to nasty fizzy but no bottom.

    Live on stage I've only used it clean for double bass (sweet!) but have rock gigs coming up in a tiny venue in a big L around the bar so would like to be in the PA so the grind carries everywhere. This would require me to be the quietest bassist in history, but this is the amp to do it.

    My master has minimal control, even on channel 2, leaving too little room between clean and full on breakup.. Iirc there are 12AT7 in the pre, would I get anywhere with 12AX7 instead?
     
  8. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2010
    Location:
    LA
  9. Downunderwonder

    Downunderwonder

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    Location:
    New Zealand
  10. Bunyo

    Bunyo

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    mpdd your link is not working...
     
  11. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2010
    Location:
    LA
    Weird it's not working on my iPhone today either
     
  12. chaosMK

    chaosMK Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2005
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    Disclosures:
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    I think a high gain 12AX7 would definitely help. I put a JJ in mine for that reason but had a low gain 5153 (or whatever they are in) in V1 for a while.
    Another route could be to put something to the effect of a boost pedal in the FX loop (with the blend maxed) and run it super low as an anti-boost... it should effectively reduce what's hitting the power section while keeping your original gain tone.

    I actually find the gain on this amp to be pretty unstable below a certain threshold. If I dont have the Master maxed, not much usable comes out on bass... some super low volume fizz with no sustain (on the other hand, when I use the guitar channel Ch1: 4, Ch2: 8 this thing has tons of high gain juice with the Master at 0 with volume increasing to massive levels once I push it to around 7+). Dunno if it's an issue with my particular amp... I find about 80% of the Master/Ch1/Ch2 settings to not really be useable, as opposed to a ton of smooth flavors.
     
  13. Downunderwonder

    Downunderwonder

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Genius, I don't know why I never thought of that. I can put my Trace GP7 eq pedal in there, input and output level controls, could give me a way more useful range on the master.
     
  14. NecroticImbecil

    NecroticImbecil

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2004
    Location:
    under your bed

    I find that I run around 9 for dirty, 10 for clean. The lower the Master gets below 9. the less useful for me. Took some time experimenting with the channel volumes to get the tones I wanted. I think it may be a "feature" of Mesa tube heads; My 400+ volume went from "can't hear it" to varying degrees of "too loud" somewhere around 2-3 on the Master.

    I owned all 3, kept the 180 because while it could approximate the tones of the others (bit less full sounding, but who would notice in a band situation?) they couldn't touch its distortion.
     
  15. Downunderwonder

    Downunderwonder

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Had a muck around this evening. I can use the EQ return level as an independent master volume control as predicted, sweet! There's a whole new box of tones as if there weren't enough already.

    I didn't find the compression I was hoping would come through, and yeah, tons of unusable tones, need to annoy the neighbours again soon!
     
  16. Bunyo

    Bunyo

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Here is D180 in video action wit da band.

     
  17. Sartori

    Sartori

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Location:
    San Francisco Bay Area, CA
    I generally run just through Channel 2, with Volume at 4-5, and the master at 7.5-9.5, depending on how loud I want it. I pretty much never run it at 10, as that makes it too clean.

    Preamp for me is generally mids at 10, bass at 3-4, and treble at 1-2. For my folk/rock stuff I leave the graphic EQ off. For my metal stuff, I have 250hz and 625hz close to maxed, with 100hz and 1500hz also boosted a bit. This has the effect of not only making the tone delightfully obnoxious, but of increasing the overdrive as well, somehow. I'm not sure why it does that, but I like it, so no complaints.

     
  18. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2010
    Location:
    LA
    used the L2k with the d180 at a museum, volume two 2.5 master 10 treble 9 mids 10 bass 9 wow, frowning eq with peak at 250, wow what a nice contrast to the sweet punk rock punchy bright sound of the sb-2, i was pretty surprised that a lot of the people said we were too loud and that the bass was thunderous, there were over 500 people and i was actually considering renting a higher watt ss state head to go though my two 115s at the show, anyway nice vid bunyo, i hope i can get such a cool tone with my similar setup
     
  19. Bunyo

    Bunyo

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Thats a bit strange. Because I play Master 10-9 and vol around 1 - max 1,5 and its too loud at this point. Also I have bass at aorund 6 and treble 3. With your eq my amp would be overloaded. Sorry for resurrecting :) I play L2000 81' which is hot, but still I think it would be too much with master 2,5 and eq on 10. Chinese Mesa power tubes, two 1x15 old Mesa Road Ready cabs on EV.
     
  20. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2008
    Location:
    Hollywood
    old but interesting chatter.
     

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