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Boogie WD-800 vs Walkabout

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by 4stringmf, Dec 15, 2018.


  1. 4stringmf

    4stringmf

    Mar 2, 2008
    San Francisco
    Well! Where do I start.......

    I had the chance to test drive a WD-800 @ my local Guitar Showcase in San Jose this afternoon. And all I can say is wow. I purposly tried it out intially with headphones on. Why? I don't know, but perhaps just because I could. And it was beautiful. I was tonally rich and colorful and sounded great with the phones on.....
    Then, I plugged in the the SW 1x15 & 2x10's. first thing I'm am going to say....... VERSITILE! You can dial a wide range of tones to work for your particular bass, for your particular sound. That being said, I can say it DID have the flavor and pedigree of my beloved M-Pulse 360. Why do I love my M-pulse so much? Well, to my ear it had that touch of HiFi that drew me away from SWR, mixed with a little rumble of an SVT, along the Mesa M-Pulse sound. Most of all, my M-pulse is VERSITILE, so friendly with anything you put in front of it.
    Did not take long to dial in the sound I liked. The learning curve was quick as it layed out similar to the MP. The Hi Pass filter is the $h!t. That right there, IMO will be 30-50% of the tone/sound you are looking for. I liked the HPF in fully counter clockwise range for my tastes.
    I saw something at the corner of my eye......... and the stars alligned, there was a Walkabout Scout sitting in the corner on consignment! A/B time!!!!!! I plugged in and did my best to adjust the same settings between the two, there is a frequency shift between them on the para eq dials.....and I got them pretty darn close. What can I say, Andy did one hell of a job making the WD sound so much like the original! IDK, 80-90% there? Well pretty darn close to make anyone who loves the WB sound to go out and the WD.
    The WD-800 was tonally, very round, rich, and colorful. The harmonics and overtones were like a rainbow that you can see, taste and feel. Very tubey, a step up from my already, very tubey MP. I loved the tube break up after 2 Oclock, infact I loved it more with the gain turned all the way up! Guys and gals, you should have little to no issues with clean headroom at high volumes with this one! I didn't go past 9:30 or so on the volume in the store.
    Volume? Well I wondered if 800W is simply too much for me to play through my PH 4x12, as my my MP 360 is plenty loud playing with two 100W half stack playing metal. Another reason as far as too much is that, how will it sound at bedroom volumes? Well, the volume is VERY linear compared to the MP line. That being said, you will be able to enjoy this head at home at very low volume. Just like my MP and the Walkabout, there is that very tiny thin line where the volume shoots up exponentially compared to the WD. I would bet they tested this head with the older Powerhouse cabs in mind, along with the SW series (Andy?)..... So I have no doubt that this will sound GLORIOUS through tyhe PH line.
    The only thing I don't have an opinion on is the dampening switch, I'm sure because I was in a store, in such a controlled enviroment, that i really couldn't let loose to give it a fair shake.
    I used my EB Stingray, Slo Special Stealth for todays demo. Andy? I don't know how much of it was my bass, but this amp really made me feel like I was plugged into my MP...... but it just had a little bit more color,tube gain, and fatness....... it was GLORIOUS! How much of the M-Pulse DNA is in the WD pre amp? I did notice there are mosfets in the power section of the WD.
    I hope my review is helpful to you guys and FYI, the SN # on this bad boy was #93. They are sold out at this store besides the floor model, and I was told that four more are coming in next week before Christmas in case anyone in the Bay Area wants one of these now. Will I sell my MP360? No! Will I get the WD-800...... Yes!, just not now. I'm a gear hoarder and I need to purge some of that first.
     
  2. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    What you experienced is pretty much what we intended, to get as close to the Walkabout without the negative artifacts that players struggled with. It's not going to be exactly the same since the feature set is intentionally different, but the basic flavors are there and hold as true to the Walkabout as possible. In many cases, the decisions we made were to improve from where the Walkabout left off rather than cripple this new platform with the same issues we were trying to improve upon.

    Well, there are MOSFETs in the power section, but they are a different type and are operated in a very different way.

    The damping feature is better heard/felt outside of a music store environment where you have the time to experiment, especially at higher volumes.
     
  3. 4stringmf

    4stringmf

    Mar 2, 2008
    San Francisco
    Thanks Andy.... It was really a treat and pleasure to test out this masterpiece:thumbsup:
     
  4. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    Glad you had a good time with it.
     
    Monterey Bay-ss and SactoBass like this.
  5. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    I tried the WD-800 with the PH212's and PH410 and it sounded as perfectly matched as you might imagine - as good or better than any other Mesa head. Between Chef and I we used the prototype with many other manufacturers' cabs as well and that versatility factor you mentioned in your excellent review allowed this head to adapt well to every cab we tried. The damping control can also provide an extra measure of fine tuning ability and is a subtle (and somewhat unique) feature of the WD-800 that really grows on you.
     
  6. 4stringmf

    4stringmf

    Mar 2, 2008
    San Francisco
    Thanks for your reply and input Al. I'm really happy that Mesa didn't lose touch with the Walkabout/M-pulse DNA. I liked the Carbine, but that DNA has a sound that I love and just resonates with me. Can't say anything about the D-800/+ though..... As I never tried them out.
     
    SactoBass likes this.
  7. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    They're little bit of Carbine (quickness/clarity), with just a touch of WA (harmonically richer than many SS heads, slightly darker/warmer than GK MB), with a generous helping of well-thought-out, seamless tone shaping features and a ton of horsepower. Given your descriptions of what you liked about the WD-800 (and other Mesa heads), I think the WD is clearly the winning choice for you out of the three current SW heads offered.
     
    Ewo and SactoBass like this.
  8. thumbs&fingers

    thumbs&fingers Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Illinois
    I just posted similar comments on a different thread and was careful how I worded it (in case of flame), I just read this post afterwards and it’s worded similarly (albeit better detailed). Now I feel even better about my statements. There is a hint of carbine in there.

    Excellent review
     
  9. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    To confirm, there is a hint of Carbine included. If you go back to some of the much earlier WA's, they too had some of this same character. Nobody remembers why the voicing changed or evolved but it may have been because of the EVM-12 & 15L drivers that were used early on could get awfully bright. The Subway cabinets (and many newer cabinets) have moved away from this tone.
     
    SactoBass, rodl2005 and Al Kraft like this.
  10. thumbs&fingers

    thumbs&fingers Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Illinois
    Now it makes sense, I always felt the carbine was way too brite for my taste. Agedhorse, I think it would be cool if Mesa did a timeline/family tree in the form of a guide or online of their bass heads. A visual display of evolution and revolution.
     
  11. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    I will think about doing this. You aren't the only player who as asked for this information. I will have to consult with some of the legacy product guys.
     
  12. 4stringmf

    4stringmf

    Mar 2, 2008
    San Francisco
    I think you are referring to what Al was talking about in regards to the , for lack of a better term...... The fast attack/speed of it's character? I looked at it as a very good thing, because I really did think the Carbine was a very nice amp when I tried it out.
     
    SactoBass likes this.
  13. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    I did hear a touch of that note articulation/distinctness in the WD-800, but with a nice smooth/round edge to the notes. To me there is a quite a bit more Carbine note quickness and distinctness in the D-800/800+.

    I like that the WD-800 has a smooth sound, but never feels slow to respond or like it's blurring notes in quick passages. I suspect Andy used the opportunity to play around with those "note attribute" characteristics as he zeroed-in on degree of damping for the variable damping control - high gets you a little more Carbine quick and tight, low gets you closer to WA/tube amp looseness, and medium is for those who want a touch of both or simply can't choose! However, the WD-800 always seemed more polite than the Carbine and never as loose as the WA to my ear.
     
    SactoBass and thumbs&fingers like this.
  14. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    One challenge players regularly reported was the inherent and difficult to control woolly, overly bloody, and loose nature of the WA. This contributed to a perceived lack of articulation, especially under higher drive conditions.

    The WD-800 addresses this specific set of complaints.
     
    punchdrunk, Burwabit, kobass and 4 others like this.
  15. thumbs&fingers

    thumbs&fingers Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Illinois
    Pure genius. And no one else has come up with solutions to this. Most impressive.
     
    Al Kraft, SactoBass and agedhorse like this.
  16. 4stringmf

    4stringmf

    Mar 2, 2008
    San Francisco
    I think those were the words I was looking for Al. @agedhorse ....Andy, will there be a headcase for this? And or will they use the same dimensions as the one for the original Walkabout?
     
    Al Kraft and SactoBass like this.
  17. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    The two WAs I've hung onto are both from that early run (redface, serial numbers from the first two dozen). That's just about a perfect amp for blues and classic R&B.

    Although with FOH support and a range of cabs to choose from a Walkabout covers those gigs for me, the new WD 800 definitely has my attention.
     
    oldrocker and SactoBass like this.
  18. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    We are discussing this, I don't have an answer.
     
    SactoBass likes this.
  19. Crabby

    Crabby

    Dec 22, 2004
    I just said goodby to my Mesa 400 head. I sold it on Craigslist this morning so I can pull the trigger on a WD800. I will miss the 400 but I was not going to be hefting it to gigs and now that Mesa is ruling the ultra light bass gear universe, there is no going back to the big monster Powerhouse cabs and full size heads for me.

    I still own two silver face Walkabouts and neither will be going anywhere. I have been using Scout extension cabs lately for gigs as they still sound great to me but are a little dark and woolly. My new Subway 115/112 setup is just blowing my mind tone wise with my Subway 800 head, so this new version of the Walkabout is kind of a “must have” for me. Order going in this afternoon!
     
    murphy, McFarlin, Al Kraft and 2 others like this.
  20. Crabby

    Crabby

    Dec 22, 2004
    Order placed with Long & Mquade (our Canadian music store chain)! Woo hoo!

    I do hope though that it doesn’t arrive just in time for an updated “Plus” version to be announced. I waited 4 months to get my Subway800 and the plus version was announced a few days after I brought it home.
     
    murphy, stonetazz, Livewire and 3 others like this.

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