Ampeg Portaflex 500 vs Ashdown ABM 300 (evo IV)

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by RumbleMan3, Jul 4, 2020.

  1. RumbleMan3


    Apr 14, 2018
    So... two really great amps here, I know that much! I’ve heard demos of both on youtube but never heard either in person. From what I’ve heard in videos (and lets be honest, how much can you really tell from those videos anyway) they sound really good, but without a doubt I’d still have to try one out with my own bass for myself.

    Both are jam packed with great features, the Ashdown a little more so, and with a tube preamp over a solid state one in the Ampeg, so the Ashdown ends up being a few hundred dollars more.

    How are both amps tonally? I mean I know one is SS and one tube, but are they similar or vastly different. With YouTube videos, there’s different cabs, eq settings, rooms, mics, players, WAY too many variables to tell and the same amp will sound amazing in one video and s#!+ the next.

    Does the Ashdown get anywhere close to that sound of an SVT? I know an SVT all tube head is like the holy grail of bass tone, it literally works for all music.

    As far as specs, the Ashdown has 300watts. Ampeg has 50 more watts at 8ohms. At 4ohms, it has 500 watts. Not sure about the Ashdown, if it changes. It’s only listed as 300 on the website, doesn’t say anything about ohms. Either way, 300 watts just enough for me, 500 is plenty, maybe a bit too much for my needs.

    When it comes to weight, I’m guessing the Ashdown weighs a LOT more than the Ampeg, but I haven’t checked for myself.

    Looks: both amps look really cool. I love the nice blue face on the Ashdown, and the glowing input needle thingy that’s signature Ashdown. However, the portaflex just wins over for me, just a bit more my taste. But both have a cool vintage aesthetic.

    Reliability between the two? I know both the portaflex and ABM lines have had their fair share of “glitches” in the past, just wondering what they’re like today and if those kinks were rectified or if they still bear those burdens. I believe the portaflex are running smooth now, and have been for a while, and it was more the earlier ones that had the issues. Not sure about the ABM.

    Both feature mute buttons. Both have line outs. Both have 4 band eq (I don’t use the sliders like on the ABM, so I’ll only use the knobs) Both have a compressor. The Portaflex however, has an ultra hi and ultra lo, which tbh I really like the idea of that and would use that a lot with my passive p bass, to get more versatility from it at gigs or recording. The ABM on the other hand has a drive section, and an octave section, however I can see myself using the ultra buttons on the PF more.

    Besides the tube factor in the ABM, is there any reason why I would go for that over the portaflex? Does it really sound like a good tube amp, or is it a bit of a hit and miss like the Bugera tube amps? The portaflexes sound amazing and balanced, with great dynamics, even without tubes. Been eyeing off the PF for a while now, and now stumbled across the ABM on the web and looks very very impressive, wondering if it’s worth the extra few hundred?

    My basses are both passive: a 60s style p with flats (parts build) and a standard jazz bass with CS pickups and GHS rounds.

    I play pop, soul and RnB (including neo soul), blues, disco, electronic and indie rock. So quite a versatile palette, in need of a versatile rig.

    Thanks guys. I look forward to hear what you have to say!
    BrentSimons likes this.
  2. RumbleMan3


    Apr 14, 2018
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  3. RumbleMan3


    Apr 14, 2018
    Anyone at all?
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  4. RumbleMan3


    Apr 14, 2018



    jeff7bass and BrentSimons like this.
  5. RumbleMan3


    Apr 14, 2018
    Wow, really does no one have any experience with either of these amps or can no one be bothered?

    91 views so far and yet no replies, that kinda hurts.
    BrentSimons and S-Bigbottom like this.
  6. RumbleMan3


    Apr 14, 2018
    Come on... someone say SOMETHING! ANYTHING!

    I’m not asking for much. Just even a simple comment one what you thought about one of these amps. Really, no one has ANYTHING to say?

    I’m literally shocked, I’ve never seen a thread so dead, with 107 views...
    BrentSimons and S-Bigbottom like this.
  7. Blues Bass 2

    Blues Bass 2 Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2001
    Davenport Iowa
    Look , I have the PF800 , it's the same as the PF500 only with a little more power .

    All I can say is the PF really delivers in power and tone that I want . I play mostly older rock kind of like Stones or ZZ Top . It gives me good punchy tone with good note definition . I like bottom end but the mids are where it shines , I like some mids so I can hear myself better over the two guitar players . One uses an old 100 watt Marshall with an attenuator and a 112 cab and the other a Fender super reverb head with a 112 cab and a Hot Rod Deville 112 with an extension cab . The Marshall has a very mid focused tone and the Fenders have more low mids that sometimes just about take over the low end . The PF800 has enough tone controls to help the rig to cut through , I love it . I also just bought a used Genz Benz Shuttle 6.0 head . Either works great for me .

    I haven't played through an Ashdown head so that is why I have not commented , I didn't want to sound like a shill for Ampegs . I'm sure the PF 500 would be a good head though .
    RumbleMan3 likes this.
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    We don't get a whole lot of Ashdown in stores in central Florida, but I have done gigs with people who used their stuff and it sounded fine to me.
    RumbleMan3 likes this.
  9. RumbleMan3


    Apr 14, 2018
    Don’t worry mate,this is all I was after, just a discussion on either amps... if I can get any of the questions answered above is a bonus.

    Thanks for replying!
  10. RumbleMan3


    Apr 14, 2018
    Thanks for that Jimmy, nice to hear!
    JimmyM likes this.
  11. RumbleMan3


    Apr 14, 2018
    I am aware that the Ampeg is more popular and it seems to me more people have used them than the Ashdown.

    It is also interesting to note that I listened to a few more videos of these two amps, trying to discern some differences as best I could, and I would say the ABM is not very tube sounding, for a tube amp. It sounds like it’s trying to be more modern but using tubes.

    The Ampeg is the opposite. It’s solid state but the dynamics of it sound a lot more tube like to me, and that warmer, kinda compressed sound u get with tubes, but I’m not getting that much with the ashdown, but perhaps the videos I’m listening to aren’t good enough representations. As I said in my original post, I’m gonna have to listen to both these amps in person anyway.

    +1 for the Ampeg. It’s much closer to the “Ampeg sound” which is what you’d hope for from ampeg. And at that price it doesn’t nail it like it would with actual tubes, but it gets the gist of it, a lot closer than the ashdown does, and many other amps for that mater. So for me, that’s a winner.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2020
  12. Wood and Wire

    Wood and Wire

    Jul 15, 2017
    A couple of things :

    The Ashdown has a pre-shape button (push to defeat) that scoops out the mids, and boosts the lows around 50Hz & the highs around 5kHz.

    If you engage the Ultra-High & Ultra-Low buttons on the Ampeg, that's basically the same function.

    The Ashdown is a Solid State amp, but has a tube in the pre-amp.

    It's up to the user to decide how much of the tube you blend in, and how hard you drive it.

    They both sound different.

    The both have their pluses.

    The Ashdown is arguably more flexible.

    The Ampeg sounds like an Ampeg.

    The cabinet you partner them with can be of greater significance to the tone, ultimately.
    RumbleMan3 likes this.
  13. Ampslut


    May 15, 2017
    Barrackville WV
    I have a PF500 and it has that AMPEG tone and plenty of power. I've never used any Ashdown equipment so with it I got nothing.
    RumbleMan3 likes this.
  14. RumbleMan3


    Apr 14, 2018
    Thanks, that helps heaps! Great to know, thanks a lot.
    Wood and Wire likes this.
  15. WillyW

    WillyW l’art pour l’art, fonction de baise

    Dec 10, 2019
    I was looking at getting the pf-800, but ashdown wasn’t on the radar.

    I opted for the pf-50t and it should be here tomorrow.

    I have enough wattage with my ba210 (450w) or micro vr (200w) and an extension for now.

    JimmyM likes this.
  16. I have an Ampeg PF500 with two PF115HEs... It was my main setup for a good while, and it's good enough that I couldn't part with it when I updated my rig to a pair of Bergantino CN112s with a Shuttle 6.0. When we're not on IEMs, my Shuttle/Berg stack covers everything in my main gig (14-piece variety covers, everything from 60's motown to modern pop). But if I really want the Ampeg sound that can be a little dirty, I bring my Ampeg setup. Most of my gigs are IEMs now and I have the Bergs, but I still feel my Ampeg setup is too good to get rid of. I'm also quite tempted by the PF-50T that @WillyWonka mentioned.

    It's not the greatest recording quality (kind of a reverby room), but here's audio from a pickup concert I played a while back back if you care to listen... Fender MIA Jazz V into the PF500/PF115HE x 2 stack, no PA support. I've got a couple bass solos in there where you'll hear the stack soloed a little better... roughly 3:08 and 7:43


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  17. I gigged for several years with a Classic 300 SVT and an 8 10. That was the sound and power I had always dreamed of and I swore by it. Unfortunately , as geezerdom hit me full force , my back swore otherwise. First to go was the head to be replaced by a PF 500. I was still in heaven. Had to set the controls a bit differently from the SVT. A bit more boost on the lower end and the bass button pushed (which i didn't have to do with the tube head) but absolutely no disappointment with the sound. Ran that with the 8 10 for a while with my back still grumbling loudly at every gig. I finally gave in to the grumbling and picked up a 2 12 AV to go with the PF 500. My back is happy , my ears are happy and I can still get told "Turn that damn thing down" on a regular basis. I have no experience with Aguilar so I can't speak for them in any way , but I LOVE my PF 500 and 2 12 AV rig. :thumbsup: If you're looking for that "Ampeg Sound" The PF will deliver it in spades. Oh yeah , running it with a P with flats.
    JimmyM likes this.
  18. basspedaler


    Feb 18, 2013
    I had an ABM 300 original version, and wish I'd kept it. plenty of grunt, and thick meaty tone. If you rolled the grind all the way on it was pretty glassy, but even at noon it had a nice legit tone. I just prefer all SS to class D stuff at the end of the day.
  19. RumbleMan3


    Apr 14, 2018
    Yeah. The ashdown seems more versatile. I think I prefer the overall tone of the Ampeg, it’s just got THAT sound for me. But I can start to see why the Ashdown is priced much more. It’s not as much trying to replicate an older amp in a new way, but it’s very much it’s own thing. I’ve got some respect for ashdown, even though I’ve never properly used them. When I’ve heard them I’ve often thought to myself, it’s got a nice, old school ampeggy sound to it, but it’s really it’s own flavour.

    If you’re after that particular Ampeg sound, I think the portaflex puts that out, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’d youre after a nice vintage inspired tone, but something a bit different, with its own flavour, but still nice thick tones, with a lot of modern versatility, the ashdown wins out.
  20. You pretty much hit it on this post.
    Get your Ampeg.
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