Aguilar AG500 SC vs. Mark Bass Little Mark II?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by choad42, Nov 18, 2005.

  1. Have any of you guys tried both heads? What were your overall conclusions? I need a new amp head that is both lightweight and powerful. I am using a Yorkville XS800 with a Yorkville 4 X 10 right now, it's a decent enough rig, but it doesn't have the hi fi sparkle that I crave or the deep bottom end that I miss from my old Eden rig. I have used Eden before and although I enjoyed using it, I eventually moved on. After trying many different heads both live and in showrooms I have narrowed my choices down to the Aguilar AG500 SC and the Mark Bass Little Mark II. I have tried the Little Mark II head, however I have not played through an AG500 as of yet. IMO the Little Mark II head was very light, inexpensive and had a very tight, deep, dynamic response, in short I loved it ( thx again Dave Freeman @ Club Bass ). My choice for all intensive purposes should be the Mark Bass Little Mark II as it costs about half of what the AG500 SC goes for, however I will spend the extra money if needed as Aguilar products are held in very high regard amongst bassists everywhere so I need to get the scoop on the AG500 SC from you guys. Aguilar products are a little harder to come by up here in Canada, however I think the retail chain Long & McQuades carries them up here. Anyways, I appreciate any and all comments on either head. Thanks!

  2. Hi, all I can say that I like the Markbass stuff a lot (in fact, I am going to buy a Little Mark II myself). Haven't heard them side by side neither. The Markbass is getting really popular on the European bass forums, because of its very attractive price point, low weight and good sound. They keep their value as well (that is, you can sell a used one for 70% of the newprice or so).


  3. Hey, I play through and ag500 (2 channel) and I love it, but if you're looking for hi fi sparkle it's probably not for you, IMHO. I've never played markbass, but hear great things about them.
  4. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician - Retired
    Though I haven't tried an Aguilar, I have plenty to say about the Mark Bass Little Mark II. I acquired mine just a few weeks ago and am very impressed with it.

    I used it live once and in full practice twice. In both cases I used it instead of my EA iAmp 800 because I felt that it would outperform the EA. And in my opinion it did.

    The Little Mark II is lightweight (under 6 pounds), rated at 500 watts into 4 Ohms (300-ish into 8 Ohms)

    The setup was this - NYC Sadowsky into the Little Mark II, out to 2 EA NL210 cabinets. The Sadowsky was set with about 25% bass boost, 20% treble boost, centre detent on the pickup selector. Markbass was set with bass set flat, low and high mids set rolled off a bit (11 o'clock), highs flat, VLE off and VPF set at about 8 o'clock.

    Before I go further, I better explain the VLE and VPF filters. VLE is "vintage speaker emulator" and it is a high frequency rolloff. When rotated fully counter-clockwise, the effect is off. The further clockwise you turn it the more high frequency is cut. If you really dislike modern cabs with tweeters, you might like this feature - I don't.

    VPF (I think that's "variable pre-shape filter" but don't quote me) provides a contour that is boosted in the low and high ends with a cut in the middle frequency. As with the VLE control, the effect is off when rotated fully counter-clockwise.

    I followed the suggestions of Mark Bass when it came to the settings for the input (gain) stage - that is I turned up the instrument to full volume and hit the notes as hard as I would ever hit them in playing. While I did that I turned up the amp's gain control until the clipping light just came on. Then I backed the gain control off a bit. The control was then in about the 1 o'clock position.

    The first impression of this little amp is that it is seriously loud. With the Master volume set just below the 9 o'clock position (less that 25% on) I was already as loud as I aver am in performance. To get the same volume on the iAMP 800 I have the input gain set at about the same position as the Little Mark, but the Master is set to about the 2 o'clock position.

    The next thing I noticed was the attack of the notes through the Little Mark. The best way I can describe it is that each note began with the letter "P", like "pa-pa-pa" - a really well-defined attack. When I dialed in more of the bridge pickup and added a bit more bass boost on the Sadowsky the output became more than punchy - it was really a whallop. Moving to the front pickup, the sound became really big, but still well-defined.

    The sound was warm and articulate throughout the range of the instrument, plenty of bite when I wanted it, but also able to deliver a big round sound. The 4 band EQ has really well chosen frequency centres, so each control is very useful, and with 16 db of boost and cut, there is plenty of control available.

    I have a hollow fretless that does a nice job of emulating a stand-up acoustic, so I gave it a try. Once again I was impressed with the definition of the notes. The attack of the note was very much like the initial thump you get on the note on a stand-up. If you play an upright, do yourself a favour and check out this amp.

    So after using the Little Mark II for a few sessions, I decided togo back to the iAMP 800 for comparison. And the first thing that struck me was the comparative lack of attack on the iAMP. After many back-and-forth between the 2 amps, I have come to the conclusion that both amps produce really nice sound, but the Little Mark II has better definition on that intial attack and an overall more "muscular" sound. The iAmp, on the other hand, has more elaborate tone controls. And that's all there is in my opinion to chose between the two.

    Initially I got the Little Mark to use as my at home practice amp. But I am so impressed, I will probably be selling the iAmp - I can't think of a good reason to keep it. And at half the price I paid for the iAMP, I can afford to get two Little Marks. If I carried both to a gig, I would still be hauling less weight than the iAMP.

    I understand there's no distributor in the USA yet. When these things start hitting the America marketplace expect some serious buzz about Mark Bass.
  5. I compared them yesterday, now that I have my own Markbass. I brought it to the shop.

    I prefer the Aguilar. But (at least here in Holland), the Aguilar is twice the price of the Markbass. And for the money, the Markbass is very good.

    But the Aguilar is tighter and has that special tone.

    In the tonedepartmetn, my Markbass beat the Yamaha digital amp easily, though. Also, it is much better than Hartkes. To my ears, the Markbass Little Mark is a good mid-market amp with a very good value for money (let's say a good Honda), whereas the AG500 is an entry level amp into the 'top leage' amps (let's say a stripped down Lexus)

    as always, IMHO, YMMV etc.