Focus users

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Humabass, Mar 19, 2006.

  1. Humabass

    Humabass Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2002
    Northern Virginia
    Anyone using a Focus as their main amp for rock/pop/blues/r&b? One of the bands I play with mostly is a rather loud band playing the aforementioned music. I usually use a WT550 but also have a Clarus. I tried the Clarus last night with this group as an experiment and was pleasantly surprised. It actually produced a very tight, controlled, defined sound. It was a little underpowered and I switched back to the WT550 for the rest of the night. I was using my Lakland 4-94 and Epi 110UL/112UL stack. I'm VERY tempted to pull the trigger on a new Focus III 2R. 800 watts, 5lbs!
    Anyone's thoughts or experiences would be greatly appreciated.

  2. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    The Focus is a very flat sounding amp which means it may not be that suitable for rock. I had a 200w clarus and sold it because it wasnt beefy enough as well as I didnt care for the tone for my classic rock cover band. If you run a SABDDI thru the effects return it would sound better but then probably still isnt loud enough. Alot also depends on the cab used. Fellow TBer Larry K. uses a Focus series II (600 w) with schroeder cabs and he says it sounds great. I can see that because schroes are not neutral sounding cabs and the resulting tone of the two units combined would be pleasing.

    Myself I use a Focus SA poweramp with a Bass POdxt with a schroe 1210 and I am very happy.

    The Focus is a great amp. 5LBS and 800watts cant be beat. I guess ultimately tone is in the ear of the player.
  3. Humabass

    Humabass Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2002
    Northern Virginia
    It's funny but I guess I've never been bothered by a clean sounding amp for rock. I'm never trying to make my bass playing or tone sound just like the bass on an original rock recording. I'm always putting my own spin on it and I guess that includes my own tone. These clean "modern" amps can sound kind of sterile to me at home but seem to get smoothed out at a gig with everyone else playing.
  4. My experience is very similar to yours. With my Focus I Series II, it gets plenty loud and sounds nice, but somehow lacks the punch of a more traditionally designed amp like your WT550 or my Thunderfunk550. In a number of A/B situations with the same cabs and room and types of gigs, the Focus cuts the gig fine, but just doesn't have the authority of the larger head.

    I've also A/B'd the Series III with my Series II are really don't hear any difference... the preamp is voiced identically to the Series II, and it doesn't seem like the extra 200 watts makes a huge difference, although I didn't have the heads cranked on a gig when I A/B'd.

    All in all, a GREAT small, powerful head, and amazing for its size, weight and price. However, I greatly prefer the slightly larger more traditional heads for the style of music you are playing.
  5. Humabass

    Humabass Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2002
    Northern Virginia
    What accounts for the difference in punch production? I have to say that I didn't notice any difference in punch. Given the extremely versatile eq of the 4-94 I think that I can control the punch factor with eq. Granted, there is very minimal eq on the Focus but combining it with onboard eq would be sufficient I would think.
  6. I guess it's just a preference... I kind of like the low mids of a bass to really bet that sort of 'hit you in the chest' sort of thing. It just seems the Focus (and other AI amps aren't voiced that way). However, it's just personal taste. If you liked the sound of your Clarus, and just found that you needed more volume... you will LOVE the Focus!!!
  7. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    Well, I actually find the Focus more punchy than the 550. It is certainly quicker to respond than the 550 and is much more clear. The place where the Focus gets bested are LOWS, which are much bigger with the 550 than the Focus. For my style, this actually is a good thing...the Eden lows can get a little bit muddy and out of control in some situations.

    The 550 sounds a little sweeter to me in the practice room, but there's something about the Focus which delivers on the gig for me. The quicker response makes playing much easier, you don't have to turn UP to hear yourself (had to do that with the Eden), and of course, the load in is a little easier. I always found myself trying to get the Eden to sound like the Focus, it gets close but it lacks in response time.

    Edit- I agree with Ken that the Eden will "hit you in the chest", where the Focus won't. The Focus won't give you a big 3D low end like the 550. I loved that low end at lower volumes, but when the going got loud the Focus stays clearer and much more defined.

  8. +1 This is a good discussion. From our PM's, Wilbyman and I have different 'sounds in our head', with me being a little more 70's J Bass oriented (big bottom, sizzly high end, grindy upper mids) and playing mostly loud pop/funk dance gigs, and Wil being a little more drawn to a warm, mid punchy 60's sort of thing, and playing more jazz type gigs and also doubling.

    I have a feeling the AI 'flat, quick' sort of voicing works a little better with that sort of thing versus what I'm doing. That being said, even for loud pop gigs with aggressive playing, the Focus definitely doesn't fold at all...

    Again, if the thread originator likes the sound of the Clarus and just needs more ooomph, the new Focus will be awesome.

    Edit: Humabass....You might want to PM Mikebass... a very good player who just bought a Focus Series III and two EpifaniUL's and he REALLY likes that set-up. I too feel that my Focus sounds best with my EpiUL cab versus others I've paired it with.
  9. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    Ken knows what he's talking about all the way around. I didn't mean to dispute him, I just wanted to add my .02...but I should have qualified it by highlighting our different styles/tastes.
  10. babaseen

    babaseen Don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2001
    Boston, MA
    I typically play blues, 70s rock (Hendrix) and funk...using a Focus with a Low End True Voice preamp and two NL210s...this kicks serious butt (versus two guitars and drums)...many musicians (esp bass players) at my gigs have commented in a very postive way, typically saying, "how the heck are you getting that sound", often claiming it is one best bass rigs they have heard.
    Just offering my experience for those who are interested.:D
  11. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    i'm thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis close to pulling the trigger on a Focus 800. thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis close. how close? thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis close.

    if anything, the WT550's EQ section can be shaped for a gut ripped punch, or a sweet gentle womp of pillowy goodness. the focus can not. still, the notch and high pass filter does offer a nice way to cut the boom in bad rooms, and being able to go up or down a flight of stairs w/ an ultralite cab in one hand and the focus over my shoulder is a thing of beauty.
  12. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Lacey, WA
    Then heed the words under your username bro. :D

  13. I've also been a little harsh on the Focus previously because I hadn't tried it with my Epi410UL. Since that's a relatively large cab, I really never thought about saving a few extra pounds with the Focus with that cab, and primarily used the Focus with my smaller Schroeders and the BergHT210S. I was always relatively unimpressed with those match ups, given my sound requirements.

    However, after the rave reviews that Mikebass's Focus/Epifani combination recieved at the Bowlus GTG (I wasn't there the day that Mike was), I gave the Focus a good runthrough with the Epi410UL... and I was much more impressed than I had been before.... the low mids tightened up (the EpiUL's have quite a lot of mid articulation) and the upper mids came more alive for me... it was very nice. I stilll prefer the Thunderfunk, but I could see a Focus (Series II or III) and a small EpiUL stack (two 112UL's for example) being a totally killer small light rig for all but the loudest of gigs.

    Interestingly, I never really dug the Focus through my Epi310UL.... but that cab has a very different voicing (more lows, less mid punch) vs. the 410UL. I was actually surprised by how different those two cabs sound, especially with the Focus.
  14. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    :eek: ;) :D
  15. It's interesting that these smaller, non-traditional heads like the Walter Woods and Focus seem to sound very different from cab to cab, whereas more traditional designed amps like the Eden's and Thunderfunks seem to sound consistently good (IMO) through virtually anything that you play them through.

    I guess that's one of the trade-offs with these small, super light amps. However... if you match them up correctly, they really are something!
  16. Larry Kaye

    Larry Kaye Retailer: Schroeder Cabinets

    Mar 23, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    To hear my comments, Mr Controversy and all, right?

    I've said on talkbass many times that I'm addicted to my 31 band eq to "straighten out" my tone...I have it in the signal chain prior to going into my Focus along with a Sonic Maximizer (also before the input).

    I have used the Focus on several gigs before going back to my old bad graphic habit. I've also ordered a WT550 to "safely" be able to go to a 2 ohm load mostly in my efforts to demo two 4 ohm Schroeder cabinets when asked (see my Schroeder retailer status above left). that you're totally bored with this shpiel...the Focus with the 600 watts at 4 ohms, using my Mike Lull M5V with a new set of Duncan humbuckers and a Schroeder 410 regular, is a nice combination...there's plenty of lows, mids, and highs to go around...plenty of punch, but I feel that has much more to do with the Lull's 250 HZ mid boost cut setting that it does the Focus. The Focus's tone settings are subtle. I don't recommend it for every passive bass, but one of my friends with a 63 or 64 P bass sounded great but I had my EQ in between it and my cabinet?

    I play in two main bands is a classic rock 70's through early/mid 90's and the other is an event band mostly corporate and weddings...9 pieces, PA support, I still play fairly loud and in several of the rooms was not turned up in the PA at all...The amp has plenty of power and I would thunk the new one would have a little more + 2 ohm capability. Laklands have great versatility....I believe the orignal poster said that he doesn't use that versatility to mimic other basses but to use as a consistency tool ... using the flexibility of the bass to get a good singleish tone in different venues....I assume.

    I use the Focus strictly as the lightest of lightweight's tone controls are a tweak at best. I don't mind carrying around a 20-25 pound rack on wheels (including Focus, Maximizer, and eq) to assure I get the "basic tone" I hear and like and then use the Lull's EQ to add the fullness/bottom, extra low mids, and highs if I need 'em.

    The Focus works nicely in all venues, but I will say that the other reason I ordered the WT550 was that a 300 sounded better in my living room!!!! If I can eliminate the need for the EQ and/or Maximized with this head, I will consider selling the Focus in spite of it's much lighter weight....I wouldn't be carrying the two effects or a power conditioner, so the net weight would end up about the same.

    We'll see how it goes. I frankly don't "love" the way the Focus sounds without the graphic eq and maximizer. But. please please understand, I haven't liked the tone of much of anything without going through a 31 band graphic in the last 15 years of playing....Old habits are very hard to break. You don't have the habit, you may love the Focus's tone flat as a pancake...

    I in a few words agree with Kjung....if you like the Clarus tone with your rig. you will very very likely love the Focus's tone and extra power, especially the Focus III.

  17. Nightbass


    May 1, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I think you've said that before, but how can that be? The Epi 410 NYC has more lows than the 310 NYC, so how can it be the other way around with the ULs? What do you think is doing it - the cab volume, tuning, or maybe impedance?
  18. I am not familiar at all the the 410NYC, but I have a feeling it is a VERY different cab than the UL. While the 410UL puts out much more volume (all other things being equal) than the 310UL and more low end in the absolute sense, for some reason, the 410UL has a much stronger mid-range voicing than the 310UL (i.e., more mids relative to the low end, if that makes sense). I've A/B'd them quite a few times, and I think the guys who heard both cabs at Tom's GTG felt the same way (many thought the 310UL sounded 'better' in that small room, due IMO to its slightly more 'scooped' sound, which usually does sound better in smaller rooms at lower volumes). The porting is somewhat different, and it seems from looking at the 'box' port on the 310UL that it might be larger relative to the size of the cab than the 'slit' port on the 410UL... which maybe would change the tuning of the cab?

    I found the Focus/310UL to actually sound a little scooped and undefined. Actually, Jason (Vision) bought my 310UL, and when we were giving it a serious tryout in my basement prior to his purchasing, we both loved the TF through it, and both went 'Yuck' with my Focus SeriesII.

    However, something about the mids (upper and lower) of the 410UL really allow the Focus to punch a little more. I don't quite know why the 310 and 410 would sound that different, but they do. I think that's part of the reason why the 410UL is exponentially louder on a gig... it's the mid voicing that seems to make that cab punch through in the extreme. Of course, the 310UL is wonderful, and also puts out mucho volume... but not even close to the 410UL with the same amp (I guess there is the 4ohm vs. 5.3 ohm difference... but the volume increase I'm hearing is much more than the slight increase in wattage would make).

    Anyone else out there with direct 310UL/410UL experience.. especially with the Focus?
  19. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    all good, that's what we need more of in our lives. ;)

    moi aussi,

    once the EQ rubix has been unlocked, there's no turning back.


    for some odd reason, i wasnt even thinking about my Schroe 1210L, but dang, that's sounding like a killer little setup together! the relatively neutral yet warm Focus + the very voiced aggro-ness of my 1210L + the fat low end of my sadowsky onboard pre = :bassist:
  20. I was less than impressed with my 1210R/Focus/Sadowsky compared to the TF in the mix (not bad in any sense, just not as full and punchy as other heads IMO). I do hear from others that running another pre in front (like Larry does) helps a lot though... I have not tried that, and don't have much interest in carrying an extra piece around at this point. However, if the 1210L has a little more mid focus (pardon the pun) and a little more lower treble coming through the tweeter due to Jorg's new crossover, it might sound very, very nice with the Focus. I'll check out my Series II with the 21012 Light and post next week