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Acoustic Image, am I the only unhappy user?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by matthewhuman, Jul 21, 2007.

  1. matthewhuman

    matthewhuman Supporting Member

    Mar 17, 2007
    Denver Colorado
    I have a Acoustic Image Contra series II combo I bought in 2003. I have to say I am very unhappy with the over all tone, and always have been. I have a David Eden Travler that I use with the AI speaker, it has much better tone and presence, but I have been having problems with it latley, so I have been forced to use the Contra amp. The contra has a thin nasely tone, I ask myself was it worth the expensive price tag. The musicans I play agree, the Eden is way better. I have talked to a few players that echo my opinion, but everybody here on TB seems to love Acoustic Image. ???
  2. jlilley


    Aug 28, 2005
    Mill Creek, WA
    I wouldn't say I love their combos...
    But I've got a lot of miles on my Clarus and it still sounds great.
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Hi Matt. I've never cared for their combos, but their heads are first rate. Is there a way to hook up the head in your combo to another speaker cab to see if you like the tone any better? At any rate, we'll be able to experiment with these issues soon. :)
  4. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Matt...how're you using the EQ on the AI head? I've heard of some unusual uses of the EQ that might produce the sound you've described.

    Last night with my BugBass (passive BassMax pickup) at a small outdoor restaurant patio gig, the Clarus/Wizzy rig was flat on the bass control, with a touch of extra mids and a bit more highs. I had the cab tilted back on its bottom handle. That seemed pretty good, at least where I was sitting. Also, the highpass filter was on, with the frequency set all the way down.
  5. matthewhuman

    matthewhuman Supporting Member

    Mar 17, 2007
    Denver Colorado
    I disconnected the head from the cab, and lay the cab on its back so the wolfer is not facing the floor, I have done this for a while, that seems to help get rid of the nasal sound a bit. As far as eq and I cut the bass and mids and crank the highs, I get too much mud if I run it flat. I use the filter, but it seems to have a limited effect on the tone. I have tried the HP filter, but I always seem not to have enough highs. Like I said the Eden sounds great with the Acoustic Image cabinet, I run it basically flat, with the mids and highs added depending on the room. Only problem is the Eden is acting up, not working at all sometimes. I have two other cabs, an Eden 2/10 and a hartke 2/12, the sound with the contra is a little better, but the cabs are allot bigger. The contra just seems to be limited, and lacking. Maybe transparency is not for me?
  6. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    My experience with the Contra is limited to sitting in with a couple of players in town. One guy just told me he didn't like his either and based on the times I've sat in for him I didn't like it either. It can sound muddy, especially to the player.
    Ditto on the Eden. I'm using the little 260 with a small DIY cab and loving it. Whether it be big band or the outdoor trio gig last night I just set it flat and it pretty much sounds like my bass.
  7. I also have a series II contra and have been unhappy with the sound for the past 3 or 4 years. I agree with the comment about muddiness to the player, and i have always thought the tone to be less than great.

    however, tonight was my first night with my new rig and i love what i hear so far. i have paired my contra with a wizzy 12" m-line as an extension speaker, and it was great. outdoor gig, some soft, some loud playing and it performed great overall. i think the combo is great with some additional presence from the wizzy. it really added bottom and clarity to the sound.

  8. Bofee


    Aug 19, 2005
    Grass Valley, CA
    I, on the other hand have been happy with my Coda III for indoor gigs, with the matching extension cab if I have to get loud. Where I found it to fall down is outdoors. This weekend I had two outdoor gigs and set the Coda on top of an Acme
    2X10. Major improvement. I've been curious about the Wizzy M as a more efficient alternative.
  9. Reuben

    Reuben Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    I spent a lot of money on AI gear early on. Then I spent a lot on accessories to try and make the AI gear sound the way I wanted.
    Then I sold all of it.

    Then I spent a lot of money on a Walter Woods head. It's great, but I don't know if it's worth the price tag, either. I showed up to the gig last weekend and the bar had bought a house amp, an SWR LA-15. I plugged in and had a really good sound right away from this $300 amp. I'm like, why did I spend all this money on the Woods?
  10. I'm on my second AI combo. I bought my first Contra after hearing one being used at a major jazz festival. I used my old Series I for 6 or 7 years and then bought one of the first Series III Coda models to come off the line. For me, I've never played on anything I liked as well. However, I have played some of my customers basses thru it and I didn't care for the sound. The bass and the pickup used can make a huge differece. Many times, a different pickup or a minor soundpost adjustment can make a world or difference in what comes out of the speaker. The voice of the AI combos is definately different that that of most front firing speakers. It's not always true, but my personal observation has been that players who started playing electric bass first and later learned doublebass usually do not like the AI combos as well as those who started on doublebass first.

    I never even consider any other amp when I decided to replace my old, well used, AI Series I Contra. AI combos seem to be one of those things that players either love or hate. I've seldom met anyone who didn't have a definite opinion one way or the other. I'm one of those who happens to loves them.
  11. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    The various likes and dislikes of the AI combos aside, it is not surprising that using the AI cabinet this way does not produce satisfactory results. By laying the cabinet on its back, you are circumventing its intended design and function. It's sort of like saying that you didn't like the way your Hyundai was performing so you filled the tank with kerosene to see if that would help. ;)

    There are better ways to get rid of "nasal" sound which usually indicates a relative peak in the frequency response somewhere between about 700 and 2000 Hz. If the tone controls on the AI amp do not do the trick, there are other devices that likely will.
  12. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    All of the comments and suggestions above sound good to me.

    But just curious Matt, what kinda pickup are we talkin' 'bout? Have you experimented with the fit or placement of the pickup at all?

    One other thought - Does the Series II have the little button for switching between high impedance and low impedance input? My Series I did. The difference was not huge, but noticeable. I liked high impedance using a piezo p/u straight in, and low impedance if I added an external preamp to the chain.
  13. LowNote

    LowNote Supporting Member

    Jan 31, 2002
    Edinburgh, Scotland

    I have been a very happy owner of Series I, II and III contra models (my Series III is actually a Coda) and as others have noted, the pickup used and particular bass will have a big impact on the sound. I've found that certain basses and pickups do indeed sound very muddy through the AI gear, but that has been the genius of the addition of the HP filter in the later models for me--it takes out all of the mud. Based on your comment that you tried the HP filter but it took out all the highs, it seems to me like you may be using it incorrectly. Are you sure you don't have the button set to act as a notch filter and not the HP filter? The HP filter takes out lows as you turn the dial clockwise. With my current bass and pickup (LaScala Hybrid with Realist pickup and Spirocore Stark strings), I set the tone controls basically flat, and then adjust the HP filter to between Noon and 2:00 depending on the venue. In certain rooms, I also cut the bass control to about 9:00. This cuts the very bottom frequencies, and voila, the mud disappears.

    I use this amp on gigs ranging from duos to big bands and get lots of compliments from the other musicians. Adding an extension cabinet does in fact make the amp sound even better and adds a lot of presence. For extension cabinets, I have a second Contra EX extension speaker and a Schroeder Mini12+ with the front-firing sealed cabinet, and I select one or the other depending on how much additional volume I need. I would check to see that you're using the HP filter correctly first however since it seems to me the result you're getting is backwards. Hope this is helpful.

    Erik Hansen
  14. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    You should try to post a recording of both setups.

    I've never gotten a nasel tone from the contra but that doesn't that you aren't. :D
  15. larry


    Apr 11, 2004
    I use a couple of SWR heads - the Baby Blue and the SM900. I tried the Focus 2 one day and thought it was not as thick and meaty sounding. Too thin and clean and I did not care for the EQ. I can see where people would want that, but it was not for me.
  16. bass dan

    bass dan Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2007
    st. simons isl. GA
    i also have a contra II that im not totally thrilled with. i am going to try a extention speaker before i give up on it. it may not be the right amp for my purposes. the amp sounds really good to me at lower volumes, but when cranked up which unfortunatley for me has been on most of my gigs does not sound so good. i have a upton hybrid and rev solo pu, the bass acoustically sounds great but not cranked up thru the contra. thinking about a whizzy m as a extention and if that does not get it done maybe a lmII with the whizzy. anyone tried the whizzy m as a extention or with the LMII?
  17. Reuben

    Reuben Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    Yeah, one thing that has become clear to me about amps, pickups, mics, etc. is that everything sounds OK at low volumes. It's what hapens when you crank up that really makes a difference.
  18. I just got a new Coda series III and it works great every way I've used it so far. I used it with an Ampeg 212H cab as an extension for an outdoor gig and it was very loud with a very good sound with no feedback. I've used it all alone at a couple of small venues and it was plenty. I've kept the EQ pretty flat in all cases. As far as the tone goes, it is a little edgier to my ear than my Ampeg PB800, which sounds really smooth with the same DB pickup rig (K&K bassmax). But the Ampeg feeds back at much lower volume and I haven't had to use the notch or the high pass yet on the AI. Overall, I'm really pleased with the Coda. I like the extra presence it has for pizzacato even though it sounds a bit edgy arco. A touch of the on board reverb helps but I think it would sound excellent with a good condenser mic. One gig we used the 2nd channel for vocals and had the Ampeg extension cab on and it sounded really clean on the vocals. I think one problem with the Amp is that it really delivers exactly what your rig produces. It's almost too clean.
  19. I don't know guys. I've been using an AI Focus II with one or two EX extension speakers for 3 years now and I am absolutely in love with the sound. If I have to use an amp, and I usually do, I wouldn't even think about switching to something else. I've played loud (once in rock band although that was really pushing the system and I wouldn't do it again), soft and everywhere in between. I've played outside and inside. When I'm stuck up against a wall, I have far fewer problems with bass reflections with the downfiring speakers than I ever had with front firing ones. Plus the sound is much less electric sounding.

    I've used different pickups with varying degrees of success. My '33 and '28 Juzeks with Spirocore Mittels sound great with a BP-100. My '74 Juzek with guts sounds great with a Realist. I have two Kolstein Lafaro travel basses. One has a BP-100 and a Shadow and sounds good with either. The other has a Realist and an Underwood and both sound good. Both are strung with Spiros but I have some guts ordered for the one with the Realist on it. The basses with the BP-100s are run with the EQ flat and the HP filter set at about 8 to 9 o'clock (or barely on) primarily to protect the speakers from spikes (like when I drop a bomb on the low E). The basses with the Realists require a bit of EQ as the Realist really pushes the low frequencies. I usually roll the bass off to maybe 11 o'clock and bring the HP filter up to 10-11 o'clock and sometimes higher depending on the room. Any mud disappears.

    I get a nice fat (and loud when needed) sound out of any of the above combinations run through the Focus. I've never gotten a thin or nasally or muddy tone out the AI with any of the above combinations either.

  20. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC

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