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Best 500 Watt Bass Amp Head for Entry Level Bassist

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by cornbrains, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. cornbrains


    Feb 10, 2013
    I ordered the Ampeg PF-350 with the PF-210HE and was somewhat disappointed with it. Sound, rather, tone-wise I was impressed but I was disappointed by the volume level, it didn't seem that loud even when I was cranking it. The volume may be my false expectations as this is my first bass amp purchase. However, the PF-350 rattles horribly even at low volumes. I secured all screws but after taking the top off the amp head chassis, the rattle was the computer board. When I say low volumes, I mean I am sitting in my office playing bass and my kids are watching TV in the living room. When I unmounted the head, the rattle goes away but that defeats the purpose of the flip top. I returned the head to musicians friend in exchange for the PF-500 hoping the new head would not rattle and also remedying my fear of not having enough juice to power any future cabinet arrangement I may end up with. My short term plan is to add another 210HE to match my two 8 ohm cabinets to the 4 ohm head.

    So my question is preemptive, in case my PF-500 has the same rattle problem. What is the best amp head in the 500 watt range for a first rig? I would assume tube amps would be out of price range, let's say a $500 max. I am very attracted to the PF series because of the headphone jack and aux in so I can jam along with music from my computer, which is a feature I am loving as we speak while not disturbing my family. Other than that I don't really care for bells and whistles. Any suggestions?
  2. $500 bucks will get you in to an amp from just about any manufacture out there. Shop used, and it will get you some really neat stuff.I think your volume disappointment is the expectation of a single 210 cab. Wattage is great, but its cone size and sensitivity that gets you loud.

    Headphone jacks, and aux inputs aren't common together on amps in that wattage range. Using a head that size just for silent practice seems like overkill.
    I picked up an M-audio Fast track for $40 bucks. Has XLR and 1/4" inputs, and a head phone jack. Its great for practicing and recording, plugs into my laptop via USB and leaves the bigger and more expensive amps free from under utilized wear and tear.
  3. Boot Soul

    Boot Soul

    Feb 10, 2009
    Everyone has an opinion, but for starting out, you can get so much bang (power) for the $ with getting a used rack power amp and preamp. A used QSC, Stewart, Crown or Crest that will put out 1K or more Watts can be had for $300. If you're willing to give up having a micro-sized amp, you can get a lot of power cheaply. Used ART preamps go for as little as $100, and are pretty decent. Or just use a pedal preamp like the VT Bass straight to a power amp. $500 budget can buy all the power you will need.
  4. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008
    500 watts through a pair of 2x10s isn't going to be a heap louder than 350 watts through the same cabs, so either way you've got enough juice. So, there's plenty of options in that 'wattage range'. Have you tried Ashdown?
  5. newbold


    Sep 21, 2008
    +1 on the used power amp.

    If you can find a Yamaha BBT500, it's 500W at 2 ohms. I like mine.
  6. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    It's not the heads, it's the cab. A 210 is a perfect cab for light duty, but you can't expect too much. As far a rattles go, I wouldn't know what to expect from the pf series.
  7. Zoa


    Dec 28, 2009
    Yeah, I second that your loudness issue was the cab not the head.
  8. cornbrains


    Feb 10, 2013
    so, if my understanding is correct... PF-350 with 2x PF-210HE cabs will deliver 175 watts to each cabinet and PF-500 will deliver 250 to each cabinet but you guys are saying that the difference in watts will be very noticeable. So why would the cabs be rated for 450 watts if more watts is not going to make an impact.

    Also, I am looking into get a 5 string bass. Are 2x PF-210HE cabs going to sound alright with when I ring out a low B string? I have heard people talking about how low the hertz go but the common rebuttal being that is doesn't matter because you will only be hearing harmonics anyway. I don't know the physics, but I would like to know in a practical setting will a 5 string sound good in this setup.

    Thanks again for all the responses. This site has helped me greatly in educating myself with my first bass amp purchase.
  9. Einherjar


    Dec 1, 2012
    Lakewood, CO
    Well, it will make an impact. And if they're not rated for enough watts then you're gonna blow up your speakers. Also, there IS the PF800 now which will fit nicely in there somewhere.
  10. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008
    Watts do not generally equate with volume for the purposes of a straightforward, giggable rig. That's more to do with speaker surface area and how well the cab is designed. The general rule of thumb (and there are lots of them) is that if, for example, you had a 300 watt head and a 2x10 cab and you wanted to be louder, the initial solution would not be to get a higher wattage head, but instead get another cab to go with the one you already have.
  11. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    The rule of thumb is that you should always have 2 times the watts in cab that you have in head in order to keep your cones safe – bearing in mind that there are no absolutes here. More watts will definitely make an impact but the difference between 175 and 250 will be pretty minimal.

    In terms of decibel volume there probably wont be a huge amount of difference. The difference will be in headroom. In theory the 500 should provide you with more of it. Your low B might fare better with the 500 but many people do suggest that Class D amps have a mushier low end response, which is something I don't necessarily agree with.

    If a 500w amp with 2x210 cabs isn't loud enough for you then you might need to make your way over to the "Rigs of Doom" thread which is for those amongst us who want to deafen people 2 towns over.
    Thunderbird&Pbass73 likes this.
  12. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Greater volume is more a function of adequate cabs than power, provided that you have enough power to begin with.

    If you add a second, identical, cab you'll gain a theoretical 6dB, which is a perceptible, but not earth-shaking, difference. Keep in mind that cranking the bass EQ is expensive in terms of perceived volume; humans are far more sensitive to mid-range frequencies than bass frequencies, which require more power to achieve comparable volume. Mathematically, an amplifier capable of playing, "twice as loud," must be ten times more powerful.

    For my first 30 years, I never owned an amp with more than 150 Watts. But, I never played in LOUD bands; mostly big bands and jazz combos, with a few funk bands with horns thrown in for good measure. When I use an amplifier capable of 1,500 Watts, I have the theoretical potential to play twice as loud (10dB) IF the cabs can handle it.

    The Power/Wattage specs for the vast majority of bass loudspeakers have little to do with reality, should not be taken seriously, and have little to do with how loud they'll be, or how "good" they'll sound.
  13. My personal vote is for the Hartke LH 500 paired with a 4x10 4 ohm cab
  14. Einherjar


    Dec 1, 2012
    Lakewood, CO
    +1. When I started playing again last October I picked up a hartke lh500 new and a used peavey 410tvx. It gets ungodly loud.
  15. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    If it doesn't rattle when unmounted, that sounds more like a problem with the mounting screws and washers to me. I have a PF350 and it's very solid and doesn't rattle, but I never mounted it, so I can't speak to that so much, but it sits on top of my cabs and never rattles.

    And agreed that the cab is the limiting factor here. I've had the PF cabs up pretty slamming, but a single 210 might not be enough for some.
  16. cornbrains


    Feb 10, 2013
    when i say unmounted i mean i had it sitting on a carpeted floor away from the speaker to eliminate the head rattle.. even just sitting on the cab had a loud rattle. as long as the pf500 doesnt rattle it sounds like i am good to go with the one 210 and wait for the cash for his twin brother. then i will look to jump to a 5 string. thanks guys
  17. jorno


    Feb 13, 2013
    Houston, Tx
    I'm impressed with what people are saying about the Hartke LH500. Does anyone know where in Houston TX I could try one?
  18. Einherjar


    Dec 1, 2012
    Lakewood, CO
    GC carries them, see if any near you have them in stock.
  19. 73jbass

    73jbass Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2004
    I just got a used Hartke LH 500 yesterday for 200.00 with the intent of using it as a backup for my Thunderfunk. It may become my main gigging amp. It sounds that good!
  20. Cornbrains, do yourself a favour, scroll up and click on Forums, click on Bass Guitar Forums, then click on Amps and look for the 3rd Sticky: AMPS FAQ. A lot of good reading here. By reading through some of the threads you'll learn that 'watts' does not equal volume as much as we like to think it does. Other threads will let you know that, generally more speakers will get you the volume you search.
    Edit: also, you'll find ratings on speakers can be highly subjective which is good to know before you blow your drivers.

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