So after owning a Markbass Little mark iii for many years I came across an opportunity to swap the head for a nice new Tube 800 version. The person instigating the swap felt that upgrading to the tube 800 was a big mistake, he felt the 500 watt LMiii version was a lot warmer sounding.
Whatever. The difference between the two is definitely noticeable but I wouldn't say the Tube 800 wasn't capable of sweet warm sounds. On the contrary, I found this amp gave me a lot more control over my sound and with the use of the VPF and VLE knobs, I could warm it right up. Furthermore, the class D amp offers a tighter, punchier bottom end than the 500 (To my ears at least).
I gigged it at a venue in which to date, I've never liked the tone I would get. Some rooms seem to make it easy to get a great sound and others just suck the life out of your tone as if your tone was a voluptuous healthy virgin with a great body and a formidable chest and the room was a blood sucking vampire that hasn't drunk in decades. But with the LMTube 800 and a Markbass NY122 cab and using a Warmoth fretless P/J, I had tweaked myself into basstopia within the first tune of the first set.
Im not too technically proficient when it comes to amps etc but to me it felt as though the extra power meant not so much in extra volume but more in extra control. It felt like i was able to deepen the lows and really attack the highs... It certainly doesn't seem a lot louder than the old LMiii.
I personally have no use for two inputs but I do like how input 1 is a balanced input which offers phantom 48v power. If so desired I could add my Sansamp BDDI to the mix and not need a battery. Kinda cool but has no real baring in my world. Double bassists however would probably love it.
I was really looking forward to having the push/pull mute on the vol knob however I found myself not wanting to use it. Pushing it and then pulling it comes with inevitable volume adjustment even if just by a few percent and if you're like me, once you have everything just right, you'd probably be capable of rugby-tackling to the ground, anyone who goes near your rig just as a pre-emptive strike in case they had any idea of messing with your settings.
Lastly we come to the selling point of this amp, the ability to blend in some tube tone. Look it definitely does something but to be honest it just doesn't do anything anyone will notice in a live situation. When maxed out in the solid state position it sounds like a LMiii, when maxed out in the tube position it sounds like an LMiii with the eq changed and the filters tweaked. I use it at the 12 oclock position (50/50) because it seems to offer more punch right there.
Overall I think the extra features of the dual inputs, push/pull mute and 800 watt class D amp make this head a worthy upgrade and if I were cashed up and ready to buy i would definitely grab this over the LMiii. This would probably be a hotly contested issue in the bass world but everything creative is subjective so to my ears - even though the tube element is about as useful as an a-hole on your elbow, this thing is the ducks nuts...
I took some video of the gig so when I can tear myself away from my favorite but groove on the couch, I'll edit it all up and add it here
Markbass Little Mark Tube 800
Class D 800watt (4 ohm) lightweight head.