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AccuGroove review: The El Whappo

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by oddio, Feb 8, 2005.

  1. I've been anxious to write this review and offer my impressions of the AccuGroove El Whappo, especially as I know some of you have been waiting patiently (Bernie?). Being less articulate than some of TB's well-known review writers; Jokerjkny and Tombowlus come to mind, I'll just have to give it my best shot. Okay, so where to begin?

    Recently I started looking at AccuGroove cabinets for some extra efficiency. My Acmes truly sound wonderful, but unless I use a powerful solid state or hybrid setup I end up pushing the amp extremely hard. Owning several tube amps I was anxious to experiment, so that's where this journey and my interest in AccuGroove started.

    Various threads have mentioned that in general terms the Acme and AccuGroove cabinets sound similar. Being an Acme owner and lover this certainly appealed to me. My hope was that the added efficiency would compliment various tube amps nicely, but without sacrificing my personal sound preferences. Armed with my beech Wal (and a few other basses and amps) I was ready.

    El Whappo
    My initial concern had to do with the size and weight of the El Whappo. AccuGroove has managed to shave off a few pounds while still retaining the original drivers. This cabinet is not huge in size nor is it difficult for one person to manage, despite having a "cabinets within a cabinet" design featuring one 15" sub, one 12" mid-woofer, one 6" midrange and two soft-dome tweeters.

    In very general terms the AccuGroove El Whappo does sound similar to Acme. If you love one then the chances are extremely good that you will also love the other (caveat: at least IMHO). While both provide a clean and even response from Low B through to the highest note on the fretboard and have excellent low-end response, there are some obvious sonic differences. The El Whappo extends down to the nether regions where other cabinets fear to go, and does so in a seemingly effortless fashion. To my ear the top end response sounds a little flatter on the AccuGroove cabinets as Tombowlus has previously noted. Also the El Whappo's midrange is slightly more detailed, especially through the lower-mids which are thick and "chewy".

    While I expected to miss the punchiness of the tens it was not lacking. Another very obvious difference was the wonderful slap tone the El Whappo produces, with just the right amount of bite to it. No matter what I did, I was in fact hearing the true sound of my bass(es). All of the subtleties are apparent, and the El Whappo has indeed added a new dimension to my sound and enjoyment (thanks spiritbass!). The cabinet DOES have the clarity of a giant studio monitor.

    Two additional points worthy of mention. 1/. Few cabinets project as well as the El Whappo and the sound remains true well out from the stage. 2/. Note fundamentals are perfectly balanced as you get out far enough for those long waveforms to unfold. True sonic perfection!

    All of which brings us back to the purpose of this review. From what I can hear, AccuGroove's stated claims for the El Whappo are all supportable. I'm simply amazed by how precise and well-balanced this cabinet is. What's better? You couldn't hope to deal with a nicer bunch of folks!

    Features: 10 You just can't under-rate the AccuSwitch. Having the ability to run the cabinet at either 4 or 8 ohms is a godsend, especially with various tube amps. Also. although I haven't had a chance to test them out, the self-resetting protection on the tweeters and mid is also a nice piece of innovation with no more bulbs to replace. The cabinets-within-a-cabinet is a sensible design point. All in all, this is a very well thought out and brilliantly executed bass cabinet.

    Sound Quality: 9.8 I am not prepared to give any bass cabinet a perfect score, but the El Whappo earns the highest rating I have ever given and IMHO it is well-deserved. In a word: transparent.

    Reliability: Two weeks of ownership is too short a time to rate reliability. In lieu of this I am prepared to score Construction: 10 however. The cabinet I received is flawless... the perfect execution of an extremely innovative design.

    Customer Support: 10 If you've dealt with AccuGroove and Mark Wright in particular then you will understand why this high mark is so well-deserved. The same can also be said of Greg Holmes (GH Services, the Canadian Distributor). These folks moved heaven and earth to get my cabinet here on time. A perfect score!

    Overall Rating: 9.95. This score is the average of the scores above. This is as close to perfection as it gets, folks.

    Comments on Weight & Size I've been playing for a l-o-n-g time and have the sore back to prove it. Although I would not like to carry this cabinet from the car to the stage alone, it's an easy trip on a hand cart or a light load for two people. The dimensions are very managable. It fits easily into the small hatch of a RAV4 with the seats still up and fully back and can be managed by one person. I was also able to fit it into the trunk of my M5 with an extra pair of hands to assist.

    THE AMPS The transparency of the El Whappo really allowed me to hear a remarkable difference when used with my various bass amps. Here are some impressions.

    The Aguilar DB680 preamp and DB728 poweramp compliment one another perfectly. As I've mentioned in the past, the sum is much greater than all of the parts. With the El Whappo they sound exactly as they should - very close to a vintage SVT with lots of grunt. Overall the sound could be described as buttery, warm, smooth and deep with lots of authority and rich harmonic content. When pushed hard there is just the right amount of grit present and none of the wooliness that folks associate with some other Aguilar models. In a live setting it's truly amazing how well this setup cuts through. Although extremely heavy it really delivers the goods and is worth any effort required.

    Next up? The DB750 is a real credit to Dave Boonshoft, to Aguilar and to modern amp design. I was very surprised that a hybrid could retain so much of what is truly great about Aguilar's flagship tube design: the DB680 and DB728. All that wonderful warmth is right there. The DB750 also enjoys the benefit of extra headroom and pairs marvelously with the El Whappo. I would not hesitate to recommend the DB750 to anyone who is chasing the signature Aguilar sound. While still quite heavy compared to many other hybrids, it offers a big payoff in tone.

    EBS Fafner? Why not? This hybrid amp is small, conveniently sized, not too heavy and sounds much better than I ever expected. Currently I've got a Mullard 12AX7 in there and it sounds just wonderful! Fafner offers a wide variety of tones ranging from modern and hi-fi sounding right through to vintage with lots of grit. If sonic versatility is the key, you couldn't go wrong pairing a Fafner with the El Whappo.

    The biggest surprise of all for me was the Trace V8. When I bought this amp I thought it might serve as my "poor man's Aguilar". This is something that this amp most certainly is not. When paired with the El Whappo it has the thickest and fattest low end imaginable (likely due to the 8 x KT88s inside) that purrs (or roars) beautifully. The high end is glassy and smooth, but can be as aggressive as desired, even snarling if you want it. This amp is about as far away from the Aguilar sound as you could imagine... different, but truly amazing-sounding and awe-inspiring. Did I mention the unbelievable compressor?

    What's next? Something tells me that I will have to get my hands on a Thunderfunk and find out what all the fuss is about! Thanks for reading!


  2. haha :D

    Thanks for the great review, Andrew! The more I hear about this cab, the more it seems to be the one!
  3. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Gear Reviewer - Bass Musician Magazine

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    Thanks for the review!! I used to have a DB750 with my El Whappo, and that combo was phenomenal!! The El Whappo is really is the cabinet they say it is. Glad to hear you're liking it.
  4. spiritbass

    spiritbass Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2004
    Ashland, MO
    Woa, Oddio, nice amp stable! The T-Funk powered the first note I heard thru my Jr. - I can hear why Dave recommends the combo. Lately I've been having (expensive!) 'tube power thoughts', wondering how much sweeter it could get. It never ends, I guess :rolleyes:
  5. Folmeister

    Folmeister Knowledge is Good - Emile Faber Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Tomball, Texas
    Nice job! This is what I use:
  6. 57pbass

    57pbass Supporting Member

    I anxiously await the arrival of my Tri210L......
    might be another week or so.....
  7. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    awww, oddio, you got me blushin'... :smug: but dang, nice review! like i was looking over your shoulder.

    but yea, as a die hard Acme kid, the Accugroove's really appeal to me, too. btw, and on the down low, i'll have my own review of the Tri112 that i got in a few days ago. ;)

    and FolM,

    KILLER, FREAKIE RIG!!!!! :eek:
  8. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Nice review!

    I wrote a review to follow up Tombowlus' in the Gear Reviews section of TB when I first got my Jr. cab, but I yanked it because subsequent experience meant some edits - namely, the cab proved even better than my initial impressions warranted - and I've never re-written anything.

    Played my first gig recently with two Jr. cabs and let me tell you this... I don't play bass for the money (though gigs finance the GAS!)... I don't play bass because my muse won't let me sleep otherwise... I play bass so I can hear and feel tones like THIS fall against a drum kit.

    That gig was the perfect application, too... this band has a PA adequate for the drums, guitar, and vocal, but not enough to fill a medium-sized room with bass. Let's just say I got enough stage volume to go around... :D :hyper:
  9. inazone


    Apr 20, 2003
    Good info and great review! Thank you.
  10. DubDubs


    Aug 23, 2004
    Los Angeles
    NICE RIG! I too hope to have a 728 one day.
  11. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Excellent review! Very well written, and very informative. You really have me interested in hearing a V8, now! Or a Fafner, for that matter. I have heard the Aggies, and have great respect for them, so your comments were along the lines of what I would expect. But not having heard the Fafner or the V8, consider me intrigued!

    It is also reassuring to hear that someone else's impressions mirror my own with regard to Accugroove and ACME cabs. Sometimes I wonder if my more limited choice of basses is slanting my reviews one way or another, but my two primary basses right now (Thunderbird and modified DeArmond Pilot 5 Deluxe) sound so different, I figure that I am at least coming at things from both ends of the spectrum.

    But again, very nice review!

  12. davepack

    davepack Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2004
    Denver, CO
    I've been playing through an El Whappo for several months.
    I'm in a loud rock band, played small rooms, medium rooms, and theater-sized venues with it. Right now, I'm driving it with a Genz Benz GBE600. Sounds great, but sometimes the GBE600 doesn't have enough headroom.
    I just got a DB680, and my PLX2402 should be here within a week or two. I CAN'T WAIT to try this setup out!!
    I'm thinking about adding a tri210 to the mix. Then I can use the tri for small gigs, the El Whappo for mediums, and the full stack for large theaters or outdoors.
  13. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    oddio, fantastic review! Thanks for the info and congrats on your AccuGroove El Whappo.

  14. Thanks to everyone for the kind words! I'm going to have to live with the El Whappo a little while longer before I'll be really qualified to offer any more details, but it certainly is everything I hoped for plus a lot more.

    So, if I don't figger out this darn Nikon 8700 out soon I will go mental. Meanwhile, while I'm cursing it, here's a snapshot of the gear tested.

  15. dood


    Dec 9, 2004
    OMG Oddio...what a nice bundle of gear!!! :hyper:

    I'd love to hear all those together!!
    How do 4 B2's sound!??
  16. metron

    metron Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    I definitely did not need to see that picture! :eek: Nice rigs! :bassist:
  17. DubDubs


    Aug 23, 2004
    Los Angeles
    I now envy you more than any other person on this board. I don't even want to see your bass collection. That is some nice gear!
  18. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    holy... :eek:

    and oddio has officially derailed his own thread... ;)

    btw, here's my mini me version of oddio's. :p :D

  19. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    that is one big-azz rig of love..........
  20. Damn. I was trying so hard to hold it together! Sw-e-e-e-t rig!!!