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Carvin MB12 or Markbass mini CMD 121P?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by JimTMich, Jul 6, 2011.

  1. JimTMich


    May 31, 2011
    I'm buying my first decent amp for home practice and stage monitor (I have PA support).
    I would like to buy something that I won't be looking back in 6 months saying I should have spent the extra and gotten....

    So, I'm thinking Markbass mini CMD 121P or Carvin MB12. Both can take an external cabinet if plans change.

    Carvin: doesn't have effects loop

    Markbass: doesn't have built in compressor (may have to add a pedal) and it's twice the price

    Is the Carvin close?

    What else am I missing?

    Can anyone compare the thump and tone?

    I've played the Markbass several times at GC.

  2. MarkA

    MarkA *** Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    I can't comment on the Carvin combo since I have no experience with it. I own a CMD 121P, though, which I picked up used/almost new. I saved a couple hundred bucks by doing this -- even over the then-current "sale" price at Guitar Center -- but be advised that the Markbass warranty doesn't transfer if you don't have the original sales receipt (not sure if it does even then).

    For home practice needs, I think either amp (or any number of amps) would suffice. For stage monitor/small gig use, the little Markbass is a remarkable box in many ways. It's louder than you'd expect, can cop a warm but articulate tone that sits really well in a mix (something of a cliche around here used to describe the Markbass tone, but it's true). It's responsive (if you like to slap as I do). Very easily handles the E-string. Haven't tried it with a low B at louder than bedroom volume (which was fine).

    I've got two gripes with it, though:

    1) The piezo tweeter. Sounds fine in a lot of rooms (I have had a lot of compliments on the sound), but sounds clack-y in others. Some people here have remarked that there's a "hole" in the sound between the top of the woofer and where the tweeter picks up. I tend to believe that this is true, but I only notice it in certain rooms (the same ones that make the tweeter sound "clack-y"). There have also been reports of the little tweeter not being very durable. I have doubts about mine, at the moment, but I'm not sure if there's something wrong with it or not.

    2) The box is really small, especially when you look at how much room the head is taking up inside of it. The amount and quality of sound you get out of the thing given the extremely small internal volume is remarkable, but I have to think that it's still limiting the driver. Don't know how loud you got at GC, but you are not going to be able to take full advantage of the head -- not even at 8 ohms -- before pushing the speaker to "farting" in that small box.

    I still feel that this little combo stomped any of the similar offerings by Ampeg, Fender, Peavey, etc. I'd have liked to have seen how the Markbass stacked up against the Genz 6.0/12 combo, but didn't have access to one.

    If I were to pick up a little Markbass combo today -- especially if I were looking at getting one new -- I'd go for the CMD 121H instead of the little P. More internal volume (to let the woofer breathe), better tweeter: Markbass - CMD 121H (I think KJung mentioned this combo in a post I turned up in a search, but I don't remember where.)

    I'd look through the classifieds and see if you can find one cheap.

    Looking at the MB 12 on Carvin's website, I'm surprised to see it's a three way design, with the woofer angled down. Wow! I imagine the mid-driver would take care of that midrange hole I mentioned with the Markbass, but you still have a tiny little box with the head taking up a lot of room.

    The head on the MB 12 only has about half the juice of the Markbass -- something to consider if you ever run an extension cab.

    Have you looked at any of the GK combos? If you like the tone, they're loud and light.

    If you're willing to go with separates, there are tons of options for micro heads and small cabs that are at least as economical as the Markbass.

    If you're willing to go with separates and you're handy, you could even look at a Bill Fitzmaurice or fEarful build (I'm playing around with that idea now). Or have someone do it for you. Or not.

    I'd try tilting any of these back for monitor use.

    Apologies if this lengthy answer doesn't directly address your question. I've been wondering about my rig and your post got me thinking.
  3. Steve York

    Steve York

    Dec 11, 2003
    Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
    Fodera, Lakland artist.
    A little late to respond, but I just got a Carvin MB12 about 3 weeks ago. I also have Markbass CMD 121P and I´ve compared them.
    The Markbass wins hands down for punch, low end and volume! ( and thump!). However, adding a 12" ext cab to Carvin solves that problem. I've tried the Carvin with both a GK 12" Microbass cab and a Bergantino 12" and, to my surprise, it has plenty of power to drive either with plenty of low end and punch. It sounds good with the little GK and great with the Berg!
    The amps are similar in tone but the Markbass has more grit and warmth and sounds a little more tube like than the Carvin. The Carvin sounds much more hifi and pristine and I like the compressor and mute switch. I would definitely buy the Carvin head if it was available as a stand alone!
    I tried recording with the Markbass D/I and the sound sucks! They are now offering an upgrade. I think that they should be giving it to Markbass owners for free! Also the Markbass D/I is post preamp only, unless you have it modified, whereas the Carvin is switchable.I haven't used the Carvin D/I yet but I'll be surprised if it's not a lot better than the Markbass!
    I think the Markbass is worth the extra money if you are playing with a moderately loud band. I used the Carvin on a Latin Jazz trio gig and I had punch and headroom to spare. I use the Markbass with a medium volume blues band and it is loud enough for about a 200 person capacity room. The Carvin would not be enough for this without an ext cab.
    One other thing to consider. I live in Mexico where the power is unreliable, even with a voltage regulator. My Markbass blew from bad power.It was one year out of warranty and cost me $370 to repair. The Carvin amp runs at anything from 90 - 250 volts so I am hoping that it will be more bulletproof.
    To sum up, If you can afford it, I would get the Carvin and high quality 12" ext cab. If you don't want to buy or carry an extra cab, then you need the Markbass.
    Hope this helps!
  4. sratas


    Dec 15, 2007
    Parma, Italy
    I jump into this thread, maybe is an old one, but these days I'm taking into serious consideration the carvin microbass line as a acoustic, low volume gigs.
    I have owned markbass in the past and I never get comfortable with the harsh piezo tweeters. I wanted to, but no way.
    I also have a big gun rig for volume and outdoors, so "only" 200 watts is not a biggie for me.
    I have considered the Phil Jones Flightcase, the GK, and the carvin. The latter is the more convincing to me but I have no possibility to test these amps, I have to buy abroad unseen unheard, bad...
    Is there anyone who wnats to try to explain as much as he can how these amps sound and behave?
    For example, the 3-way MB 12 does work? The low end? That 6 midrange kicks but?
    Every other opinion is very welcome...
  5. Bass Mayhem

    Bass Mayhem

    Dec 27, 2007
    I had a 121P and used it either stand alone or with an Eden D112XLT for LOUD gigs. Always sounded great. The four most unnecessary things on the amp: the tone controls. You manage more than well with the two "character filters" for old school sound and slap tone; alone or in a mix.
  6. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Just for info, I'll say that the 121H combo does have a fuller sound than the 121P combo. But, the 12" can run out of excursion if you're too heavy-handed or at high volume with too much bottom dialed in. Be careful with the VPF filter.

    I'd go with the Jeff Berlin combo for better results. But, I went with a separate LMIII head and two 151P cabs. Awesome, and will cover anything I run up against.
  7. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    I also prefer the Carvin MB-12. I don't miss the fx loop. I rarely use fx in the bands I'm in, and I also double on DB, which the unaccentuated low end of the MB-12 gives a better tone to the DB.

    I agree: an inexpensive extension cab is the best way to go for versatility. When I have to carry the house, I set the MB-12 on top of a 1X15 cab with casters and it rocks. When it's through the house system, the XLR is the cleanest there is short of the bass going directly, no amp, through a DI.

    I don't worry about playing places that, well, let's just say where the power is not necessarily up to modern code.

    The only negative about the MB-12 is that the controls, especially the little switches for mute, active/passive, etc., can be damaged easily.
  8. MarkA

    MarkA *** Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    A little surprised to see this thread come up again, but maybe I shouldn't be. I still don't have any experience with the Carvin combo (or the aforementioned Phil Jones -- which I'd love to try -- for that matter), but I can add a little bit more info:

    I was in a situation where I had to drive a couple of big cabs in a VERY makeshift backline a few months back. One was a big, old Carvin 18" (PA?) cab, and I don't remember what the other one was (the cab I thought would be there wasn't). I disconnected the internal speaker and ran both cabs off the combo head (for all practical purposes an LMII). I know that these aren't the most powerful micros out there right now and they're supposed to hit the rails ungracefully, but I was impressed with how well that little head pushed those cabs.

    Either the tweeter or the crossover (or is it just a capacitor?) in my combo is blown. I have not bothered to fix/replace it yet, but I can tell you that, on axis, I don't really miss it. It sounds pretty sweet. Off-axis it doesn't sound bad, but it does sound different: you can hear the high end drop off significantly.

    If I were looking into one amp to do it all, I'd still get the 121H over the P, but I suppose it depends on what you want to do with it and how loud you want to go. I'm sure there are some other, capable, small combos not mentioned here, and a good micro head and a strap with a small cab can be almost as portable/quick to set up.
  9. tappingtrance

    tappingtrance Cooke Harvey Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2005
    I have used the 121p for years with and without the ext cabinet and it is amazing. here is one thing, it gets a lot of its biggness from being rear ported and coupling with a back wall, which is generally fine. Two places i play one with a heavy curtain the on stage sound never has worked for me. The second place it resonates on a low Bb and boy does that note explode so I use my aggies which are front ported (like the Carvin) and it is fine. Otherwise I have played fusion and roch/pop as well as it is my main upright bass amp and I use it weekly live. I also hacve the Alain Caron model which is like the "H" and I am not sol on it for upright, but for electric it is fine but no ext cabinet is possible.