Carvin B800 Review

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by craigb, Sep 19, 2006.


  1. craigb

    craigb G&L churnmeister Supporting Member

    Inspired by all the positive talk on the B1500 and looking for a reasonably lightweight, reasonably powerful and reasonably priced head I took the plunge on a "scratch&dent" B800 on ebay direct from Carvin. I think it must have been a 10-day return because there was no scratching or denting I could find on it at all.

    My two primary rigs over the last couple years were a BBE Bmax SS into a Carvin DCM-1000 power amp or a Yamaha BBT-500H head (occasionally with the DCM-1000 slaved from it). Cabs are 2 Avatar B112s (the 18x18x15 rear ported ones) and one Avatar SB-112. The cabs are 8 Ohm (although I had a period where they were 4 Ohm, the B112s with Neo drivers).

    Physical impressions: While it lists with a shipping weight of 22 lbs it feels significantly lighter than the 25lb DCM1K (but also noticeably heavier than the ~12lb BBT-500H). It is light enough that it's easy to carry and has fairly large, sturdy rubber circle feet on both the bottom and the side opposite the strap handle. It stands easily over the strap handle on the B112 cabs. The knobs feel sturdy and turn smoothly. Detents would be nice. The switches (for mute, active/passive, effects loop) are also solid but the labels are hidden from view by the top edge of the case if you are close and/or above the amp. Getting the footswitch took care of this problem ;)

    Sonic Impressions: The "base" sound with the drive down is very clean and quick. Reminiscent of the BBE Bmax which I like (but found "too clean" or maybe lacking/covering a touch of snap/sparkle/edge lately). The drive seems to add presence in the Sansamp BBDI/RBI sense of the world. It adds a nice edge to the sound for loud rock settings. I'm a "leave the EQ flat" kind of guy and this amp works for me that way. With my quieter acoustic group I leave the drive down for a cleaner sound and with my loud rock group I push the drive up for edge/bite to make my presence known.

    Misc Stuff:
    • Did a small festival gig with it in a small auditorium type of setting and it had plenty of oomph on its own with 2 12s
    • The soundman used the DI out (with separate level control) at that gig (not that it was needed) and got a good level and sound
    • My SB-2 (a very, very high output passive bass) could not get the input clip light to light up in passive mode so the input seems to have lots of headroom
    • I could get the output clip light to light up with both my SB-2 and Rumblefish PJ with the input in passive mode and moderate drive levels

    Conclusion: I'm really liking this head. It seems to have the right amount of power for my needs and is light enough that I don't mind carting it around. I like its sound a lot and it has pretty much all the features I could want. The only things I'd add are rackability (or some kind of protection for the knobs) and an effects blend or series/parallel option. So you folks who wanted me to keep you in mind for when I passed it on - you'll have to wait a while.

    I'll get some pics of it eventually but don't have any right now but it fits very nicely on my Avatar 12s where a standard rack would hang over the sides.
     
  2. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection. Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Cool. This is my next amp if I ever move on from my Eden 405. I tried Smash's B1900 and it was very nice.

    From your experience does this go *real loud* or just pretty loud?
     
  3. Nice review. Enjoy the amp. Aren't those nice, sturdy metal switches and knobs nice compared to many other amps? Very nice build quality on those things!
     
  4. spideyjg

    spideyjg

    Mar 19, 2006
    San Diego
    I still got dibs. :p

    Jim
     
  5. tjh

    tjh

    Mar 22, 2006
    Minnesota
    hmmm ... so you got the amp that I was waiting for them to reply to my emails/calls on ... good for you :) ... glad it went to somebody that is one of this group ... was a good price ... enjoy ... thanks for the review!! ...
     
  6. spideyjg

    spideyjg

    Mar 19, 2006
    San Diego
    I was in that line as well. I ain't waiting next time.

    Jim
     
  7. tjh

    tjh

    Mar 22, 2006
    Minnesota
    Actually Spidey ... it kind of soured me on Carvin public relations ... I have YET to hear back from them after several calls and emails that I wanted to buy an amp, I just needed a few questions answered first ... so I bought my second choice ... if it is this tough to GIVE them my money, I can only imagine what it would be like to get help if needed once they HAVE it ... I may still get a B800 down the road, but it will probably be used ... I have been a sales mgr for several years, so I know that things slip through cracks ... that may just be the case here ... but until I hear back from them ... I can only base my opinion on my experience with them ... looks like a good amp though ... but then there are a LOT of good amps out there ...
     
  8. craigb

    craigb G&L churnmeister Supporting Member

    I haven't had a chance to really crank it up yet. I've found that with a pair of these 12s (I've had them for a relatively long time) and a reasonable amount of wattage (Gibson GB-440, Thunderfunk TFB-420, bridged DCM-1000) can get louder than I'm willing to stand next to even with earplugs in. I'm not worried about doing the gigs I do with it. The only time I think it will possibly be challenged is if we play another "in the park" gig without bass-capable PA.

    But I don't mind wattage. If I could get the B1900 wattage in the same form factor and weight as the B800 I'd love it. Heck, if Carvin would put out the preamp section in a 1-space unit I'd be tempted to get it and pair it with a QSC PLX2 or Crown XTI.

    Jim, tjh - sorry guys. I got home from a disappointing stint with the Bmax rig and BINed the B800. Having tried it I'd say it's well worth the new price, but was easier to justify on a tryout basis with the one on ebay.

    Now I have to resist the lure of simplifying down to the combo version (you always have to have a speaker anyway, right?).
     
  9. craigb

    craigb G&L churnmeister Supporting Member

    tjh - I BINed the B800 and payed immediately via paypal. After a couple days with no email I asked when it was going to ship. I was told the next day and I'd get a tracking number. That was right before the Labor Day weekend. Later that week I hadn't got a tracking number and checked again. Ooops, it never shipped. I did get a tracking number the next day. But it did take a week between my instant payment and shipment - and only because I was following up to find out when it shipped. I wonder when it would have gone out if I wasn't checking up on it (via email).

    But when I picked up one of the footswitches to go with it (once I had checked it out and it seemed like a keeper) -- again via ebay/BIN/paypal -- that was shipped within a day or so by how quickly it got to me.

    So they do seem a bit inconsistent
     
  10. spideyjg

    spideyjg

    Mar 19, 2006
    San Diego
    Sure looks nice......:cool: :D I can take that nasty speakerless amp off your hands. What are friends for. :smug:
    [​IMG]
     
  11. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection. Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    47LBS 300w @8ohms / 800 @ 2ohms... That is kick a$$! I want one!
     
  12. tjh

    tjh

    Mar 22, 2006
    Minnesota
    if anyone reads this thread and is interested, but doesnt have the 425+,or doesnt need quite that much power, or wants somethng in a rack mount version ... carvin is selling off their stock of B500's for something like 325 ... just a FYI ...
     
  13. MakiSupaStar

    MakiSupaStar The Lowdown Diggler

    Apr 12, 2006
    Huntington Beach, CA
    Thanks for the review. I'm a big fan of Carvin heads. This just makes be a bigger fan.
     
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