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Acoustic Image, anyone?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, Oct 26, 2000.


  1. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Hello,

    I'm relatively new to this forum thing, but the net has already yielded terrific results for me: I learned about the K&K Bass Master Pro from "the word on the street" on the net,and decided to take a chance and order one. I got it two days ago, and I have to say, it blows my old pickup away (I was using a Realist). Wow! Funny thing was, I always try to keep up on the latest pickups and amps by checking out what everybody is using at the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops (I've been on the faculty for the last five years).I'm pretty sure that no one on the faculty there had ever heard of K&K - not even Rufus Reid, who has tried every pickup system ever invented, and continues to do so (his current love is a Barbera in combination with a mic). I can't wait to clue the bass guys in, since I seem to have a "scoop"!

    No one there ever mentioned the new Acoustic Image amp (I believe it's called a "Contra") either, but while eavesdropping on some net threads, all I hear is good stuff. I'm wondering, does anybody out there have any real-life info/gig performance stories to relate about this thing? What with the size and the weight, it sounds too good to be true! Is it?

    And if the stories are true and it is that good, where would a fella from Louisville have to go to try one out in person? $700.00 plus change is a lot to take a chance on sight unheard.... is there anybody out there?

    Thanks.
    Chris
     
  2. As far as I know, Hammond Ashley is the only distributor - (see http://www.bassviolins.com/ and look for accessories)

    - I got mine six-months ago. It sounds incredible for its size, is quite inconspicous, is very portable although I haven't used it much. The construction leaves a little to be desired - for instance the front-facing speaker grill is just pushed into the speaker recess, no fixing attachments, or glue, or anything - as I found out when mine fell out. I pushed it back in, and there it sits - held in by its reputation, and helped in no small way by Newton's First Law of Motion.

    The only other one I've seen was at a jam-session where the bass player used one (without the extension cab) and it (or should I say HE) sounded really great!

    - Wil

    [Edited by Wil Davis on 10-26-2000 at 01:02 PM]
     
  3. You don't have to go anywhere. They'll ship you one with a money-back guarantee. Look up http://www.acousticimg.com for specs, info, price. I don't have first hand experience, but I know that Michael Moore likes his. He switches back and forth between it and a Gallien-Krueger MB150. He has very specific tastes; I liked what I heard. There are a dozen distributors in the USA, but I intend to deal directly with A-I. Cost is the same, but you don't have to deal with a salesman/shop. You're more in control.

    [Edited by Don Higdon on 10-26-2000 at 12:38 PM]
     
  4. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    Delighted you are enjoying your K&K Bass Master Pro, Chris. I've sent a lot of them to bassists since I discovered K&K myself in 1997 and became a dealer.

    I also have had a Contra for nearly a year, and can report that it was a good investment. It is a bit different from the direct sound of a typical amp, but delivers a nice signal that sort of expands on your bass' sound rather than projects it. Of course, this is best in intimate settings, but in larger forums you'd probably be running through a PA as well. It's so nice a small and light, and unobtrusive. There are a few dealers, a couple online ones, and you can get one direct from Acoustic Image.
     

  5. I have a Clarus head, Basically the guts of the Contra, and It works great with any of my speaker setups, especially nice with the Bag Ends. But, from what I've heard the Contra is a great all-in-one package, excellent for low to medium volume siuations.They also make an extension speaker, which will make the amp run at 2 ohms (300 watts!
    unbelievable)And the fact that it (the head)fits in my Briefcase is all the more amazing.
    They are available from all of the aforementioned dealers, Plus: Lemur Music http://www.lemurmusic.com and http://www.bassnw.com
     
  6. AlexFeldman

    AlexFeldman

    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Cool, Chris. I was at Jamey Abersold (as a camper) ... were you there the first week? If you were, I was the guy with the really bad blisters. :)

    Somebody had a Contra there the first week, and it was the amp on the stage that I played on for the final combo performance. First impression was that it wasn't so hot - however, I didn't exactly have time to dial it in, and I was (actually, still do) using a Realist pick up.

    How does your K&K compare sonically with the Realist? The Realist, IMO, has the best lows/low mids I've ever heard but it's top end is pretty lame... how does the K&K's top end sound? And how's the arco?
     
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Wow, this forum gets replies really fast! I only posed the question a couple of hours ago. I hope I don't get drunk with power and start to abuse it....although, I'm sure that if I do, I'll be paid a visit by the guy (can't remember his name) who always begins by saying, "grab his legs, boys! How did this one get through?" (How would he know that I do in fact own an electric bass, even though I rarely play it? I didn't put that in my profile...)

    Bob and reedo - true to form, your reviews are pretty glowing about this product, which is encouraging since (as far as I know) neither of you are an AI dealer. But I'm curious: there is often a caveat about this product which goes something like "especially in intimate settings"... or "sounds really good with a drummerless trio" or something like that. Just how powerful is this thing?

    I guess I just don't understand this whole watt/ohm thing, being an intuitive person when it comes to anything other than music theory (I'm a cat person, and yes, I own a Mac). For instance, my present amp is an SWR Baby Blue II, rated at 160 watts. It gets as loud as I ever need an acoustic amp to get (if it's louder than that amp can comfortably get, I don't really call it a jazz gig anymore). Okay, fine... but at the AI website, the specs for the contra say that it delivers 200 watts at 4 ohms, and 300 watts at 2 ohms. That SHOULD mean that it's more powerful than the SWR with or without the extension cabinet, but that can't be right, can it? If it is, and it can deliver more clean volume than the SWR, then I am really, REALLY, getting interested in this little bugger because it's only half as big and heavy.I drool at the idea of being able to one-trip it into a gig: bass over the left shoulder and amp in the right hand. That would be way, way cool...

    Anybody have any suggestions on some good resource material on the whole watt/ohm issue? Or any idea how the Contra and the Baby Blue might compare in terms of clean, audible power? I'm all ears!

    Thanks,
    Chris
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher

    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    There are a number of posts regarding the admittedly complex relationships between power, resistance and loudness in the "amp" section of the bass guitar boards. Joris is the authority there on solid state electronics; PsychoBassGuy handles the tube amp arcana. If you're wondering if it's possible to compare the loudness of amps based solely on their power ratings, its usually apples and oranges. Ratings may be specified as average, RMS or peak values; different equipment may be used to measure these values; manufacturers are notorious for massaging their numbers to look good. Then there's the matter of speaker efficiency and sound pressure levels (SPL), which range from about 90 db to about 105 db for bass cabinets, and have a great influence on the perceived loudness of the rig.

    As an acoustic bassist, you shouldn't worry too much about upping your power. Purity of tone is more important than impressive specs. Keep in mind the logarithmic nature of the power/decibel relationship: doubling power results in only an increase of 3 db.
     

  9. Right on all counts, Christopher. You can find plenty of power discussion from the gearheads (and I mean that in a nice way..Really!) on the BG side.All I know is, the Clarus head with my Bag End Speaker gets a clean, clear sound that is plenty loud enough to compete with a screaming Jazz Band.
    BTW, I also use a K&K pro Pak on my Kolstein Bass. No complaints yet! :)
     
  10. Chris Fitz: If you put all your questions in an e-mail to Bob Gollihur, you will get a cogent, understandable reply (won't he, Bob ?). Bob performs a wonderful service to the bassist community, both as a clearing house of information and as a knowledgeable person himself. It's not a joke when Ed Fuqua says ALL HAIL BOB GOLLIHUR.

    [Edited by Don Higdon on 10-26-2000 at 09:44 PM]
     
  11. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    Yes, Chris, "intimate settings" is a way of suggesting that the amp doesn't project like *some* of the usual cabs with the usual forward facing speakers. I am somewhat of a midrange definition freak and like to get some bite in my signal most of the time, and the Contra isn't really a complete match for that kind of requirement if the room is large or deep -- in those cases I'll take an EA cabinet and more watts, or boost the highs and mids and take the DI output into a PA, which is usually a part of such a scene. It really does boil down to personal preferences, style of music, and more.

    As far as output volumes vs. watts, the efficiency of the speaker cabinet plays a part there. While the Contra is 200 watts into its 4 ohm cabinet, it is my opinion that the cabinet is probably not as efficient as your average two way 10" based speaker cabinet, so you may get as much, and probably more sound from your 160 SWR -- but that's a guess since I haven't A/B'd them. So it may not be a "have the cake and eat it, too" situation.

    That said, I still enjoy my Contra and have even used it with my five string fretless electric bass guitar at rehearsals and have been amazed at how potent that little box is.

    Hey Don, thanks so much for the kind words. I do my best to lend a hand, as so many have done and continue to do for me. The more we share, the more we all win. And you guys sure do your share of sharing here as well.
     
  12. HAIL BOB!! HAIL BOB!! (Hey,wasn't that a comet a few years Back?):)
     
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I'll try asking Bob about this, and if he can make it simple enough that even I can understand it, then I'll be the first to trumpet, "ALL HAIL BOB GOLLIHUR" all over the place. No problem!

    Christopher, you are absolutely right, and I agree. I am not at all concerned with upping my power, just curious to find out if the Contra had as much clean zip as my SWR, which has more than I really need.

    Alex, yes, I was at the Camp both weeks this summer, and sorry I missed that amp, it must have been in the south hall all week. I might have run into you outside of combos, but Jamey had me teaching piano masterclasses and a voicings class, so I wouldn't have seen you during the bass classes.(I'm in transition to the dark side, but that's a long story...) But he had me playing bass on the faculty concerts (remember us? Thursday night concert, a group with four - COUNT 'EM FOUR! - tenor players, who decided to play the world's longest-ever version of "Four Brothers": lasting roughly 5 hours and 20 minutes, counted off at about quarter=703,it featured all four tenors taking in excess of 60 choruses apiece before trading at least 72 choruses with the drums....Don't remember that one? I'm trying to forget it myself), and I can tell you, you weren't the only one with blisters by the end of the week! Hope you had fun. I always do.

    About those pickups,I like the realist when the gig is quiet, but I have to run it through both a graphic and parametric EQ to keep it from being too "Woofy" when the volume goes up, and when I turn it up loud, not matter how much bass and mids I pull out, my bass sounds like Ron Carter standing in a giant mud puddle in the pouring rain playing a bass with dirty, 17 year old gut strings. Or something like that....all the clarity goes out the window. With the K&K, I can dial in the clarity as the volume goes up, and dial out the mud. In other words, plenty of punch and defined tone that you can adjust to your playing situation. I haven't had it out on a really loud gig yet, but so far I'm very pleased. It's fun to play ballads again, which is nice. By the way you also have a safety net with the BMP, because you can always combine the bridge transducers (which provide the clarity) with your Realist through the 2 channel preamp if you want. I haven't done this yet, but it was nice knowing that I could when I ordered it. Special thanks for explaining the different configuration possibilities go to.......Oh, hell, I might as well just get with the program and say it:

    ALL HAIL BOB GOLLIHUR!

    When in Rome.......
    Bob, I see you replied before I had a chance to post this!You are indeed living up to your reputation. Thanks again.
     
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    P.S. - sorry to keep adding to this already long thread, but somebody, in one of the threads which I've read in the last week or so, mentioned that they had managed to mount their K&K preamp on their bass. Who was that, and where did you put it? Was it easy to mount? (This sounds like a good idea; I feel like a football coach with all those wires attached to my belt)
     
  15. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Chris, I also use the Baby Blue and have been interested in the Contra but have had no chance to A/B them yet. Don't get fooled by the higher wattage, yes the Contra puts out 200 watts but it's into a 10" woofer aimed at the floor instead of two 8" aimed into the room. Without putting them side by side there's no way to know which speaker system is more efficient and the difference in output from 160 to 200 watts into the SAME speaker is pretty darn small...less than 1 dB. A.I. claims maximum SPL is a mere 112 dB (compare that to a full blast SVT at 130 dB...ouch).


    I've got a lead on a local player who has one and am looking into visiting him and trying the amps side by side but my gut feel is it can't possibly be louder than the Baby Blue.
     
  16. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I do it one of two ways:

    1. On one bass, I hang it off the bow quiver

    2. The other bass has no quiver, so I mounted some tie wraps through the string mounting holes in the tailpiece and hang the unit there (I stuffed some foam underneath so it doesn't rattle on the tailpiece).
     
  17. AlexFeldman

    AlexFeldman

    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Ah, I remember those four tenor players now! Yes. Man, that thing did go on forever... :)

    Not to stray off topic, but the performances in the evenings (and the ones during lunch) were the most valuable things for me during the whole camp... the master classes were invaluable as well the theory and combo rehearsals, but I really got a whole lot out of everyone else's performance. It must be great to be able to see cats play every night of the week. I can't wait to move out of this little town. :)
     
  18. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Brian,

    Thanks for the tips. I might try the tailpiece idea... I was hoping to mount it on the side of the bass (by my right leg) where it would be less conspicuous, but that might be too much trouble. I keep thinking there must be an easy way to do that, but.....

    By the way, if you do eventually get to A/B the Baby Blue & Contra, please drop me a line! My wife would have a cow if I just ordered one without seeing or hearing it, but if I had done some "research", who knows? I might have some ammunition! Thanks in advance.

    Alex - a lot of folks say the same thing about the camps, and it's great for the faculty as well, except when the "my bop-fu is better than your bop-fu" ego monster rears its ugly head. Fortunately, that is getting rarer these days; folks are beginning to realize we're all in the same boat.
    As for where your living, I don't know exactly where that is, but remember, Louisville ain't exactly Jazz Central. The scene isn't bad (Thanks to Jamey, the University, and some really good old-timers), but I don't exactly get to see amazing playing every night, either.

    P.S. - I know this is off-topic, but how do you guys position the smiles in your messages wherever you want? Whenever I try do do that, it ends up at the top.....
     
  19. Fitz, Two things. I have my K&K attached to the back of my tail piece with velcro strips and it seems to work fine.
    Second, If you choose your smilies from the message Icon box they will appear at the top of your post. If you want to position them somewhere else you have to type in the code.Click on the smilies sign for a brief tutorial on how to do it. :)
     
  20. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    reedo,

    Do you mean by "the back of my tailpiece" that your preamp is on the underside of your tailpiece? That's an interesting idea... If that's how it is, can you reach it easily on the fly? :confused:

    About the smilies: thanks for the clue in. :cool:

    Gosh, I feel like a real TalkBass member now...