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Genz Benz vs. Markbass vs. EA vs. AI

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by hensonbass, Apr 22, 2009.

  1. hensonbass


    Feb 25, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    I have an Acoustic Image Focus 1 head that has worked great for me for almost 5 years now. I'm considering getting a newer amp head to have more tonal options because the Focus is more of a neutral sounding amp. Lately when I need a more aggressive tone I use a VT bass pedal through the effect loop - and it sounds really good.

    Here's my question: Is there much tonal difference in the power amp sections of these new class d switching amps? Do some have more ohmph than others? I know there's a difference in tone when there's a transformer involved as with the class A or A/B amps. Or is the difference in the way the class d amps are voiced in their preamp sections?

    I'm wondering what to get next or if I should bother getting anything? For example, I like the features the GenzBenz shuttle max series has going for it, but will it sound that much better than what I get with my Focus/VT bass combination? Or in order to hear hear a bigger difference would I have to go with a class A or A/B amp or, what the heck, an all out tube head?

    I'm going to hang on to my Focus amp for backup either way. I just wonder if the class D amps have evolved enough to warrant owning a second class d amp?:confused:
  2. rpsands


    Jul 6, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    I think you'll hear a bigger difference between preamp sections these days.

    You're going to need to try it though. Some people do not care for the switch mode power supply amps, some don't like class D, some don't like Markbass or GB preamps, and so on. It's all a matter of taste.

    I have no idea what the AI focus sounds like so I can't give you anything concrete, but I see no reason not to go try a bunch :)
  3. buffordbass


    Nov 11, 2004
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amps, Lakland Basses
    You got the order right... start with Genz-Benz, say the Shuttle Max 12.... search will be over..... LOL... one mans humble opinion.
    You really need to test drive as many as you can with your bass, your hands, and listen with your ears to find that 'special sound'. Good luck with the search!!
  4. hensonbass


    Feb 25, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    I'm starting to consider a Mesa Boggie Walkabout amp. I can keep my Focus head for clean sounds and use the Walkabout for more aggressive/tubey tones.

    It seems these other amps (Markbass, Genz Benz) would just land me somewhere in the middle tone wise.
  5. johnnycat42


    Feb 27, 2007
    Denver, CO
    Those are all high quality amps. Not a bad choice in the bunch so only your ears will tell you what's right from here on. I know....that answer is annoying and bland.
  6. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    It sounds as though you've already found a winning combination, with the convenience of footswitching between a nice transparent sound and a good SVTish tone.

    Just sayin'.
  7. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    The Walkabout will certainly provide some sweet tubey grind, but I'm not sure how much better it would be over your AI/VT combo. Not that you shouldn't get a Walkabout, though, just wondering how much you'd gain.
  8. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    IMO, you should be happy with what you have. The AI power section is fantastic, and while the pre is a little limited, you've fixed that as many others have by adding another external preamp.

    While I prefer other integrated micro heads (especially the MB and TecAmp stuff) to the AI in general, because IMO they don't need any extra 'help' from an additional preamp or EQ, if you are planning on using the VT anyway, you would be wasting your money getting something else.
  9. RHFusillo

    RHFusillo Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Phoenix, AZ
    I like using external preamps, so the VT pedal through the Focus is what would do it for me. I bought a LMII and sold it quickly. It's a very good amp, but made me appreciate the Focus.
  10. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    +1 I dig the LMII way more than the Focus as a 'plug and play' amp for the type of EB tone I go for (i.e., needing no 'external help' from additiona preamps or pedals). However, the power section of the Focus is, IMO, the best in the business!
  11. Russel


    Dec 19, 2008
    Petal, MS
    I would suggest the genz benz for a couple good reasons:

    on the Shuttle 12, GBE750 and GBE1200, you've got 2 pre channels: one tube, one fet.

    the other is their good customer service reputation.
  12. hensonbass


    Feb 25, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    Thanks for the replies. I'm gonna have to go and do some testing at the store and try and hear the difference.
  13. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I've owned "or own" all the amps you're looking at.
    As Kjung said (he's always right) the Focus has the best
    power section of the amps listed. I usually use a Para Driver
    through the effects return as you do. For headroom, it kills
    the other amps listed. The LMII is more plug and play. The
    Genz has a certain sound that you either love or not. I really
    like having the flexibility of the Focus too. Great amp. jmho
  14. hensonbass


    Feb 25, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    I tried a Genz Benz Shuttle MAX 6.0 and a Mesa Boggie Titan through my Phil Jones neo 8B cab today. I also brought along my AI Focus head w/ VT bass pedal for a direct comparison.

    I like the Genz Benz tone and it's a very flexible amp when it comes to eq'ing too. I definitely can't get that with my Focus head, and in general the Genz Benz sounded fuller. I liked the tube channel the best because it fattened up the tone nicely. The GB also mates real well with my cab, and just for comparrison I also played the amp with a Bergantnio cab (HS 210 & HS 410) and, happily, I still I prefer my Phil Jones' sound.

    The Mesa Titan head was not my cup of tea. Too burly sounding for me. I hear why a lot of players like that sound though. If you want to rawk out all the time it would be the way to go.

    So I guess I'll go and try some Markbass stuff next. It will be interesting to see what I'll find. Hopefully my local guitar center will have the newer line in stock. To be honest I don't like to shop there much. :spit:
  15. hensonbass


    Feb 25, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    The next time I go to compare amps I'm going to bring my Summit TD-100 preamp w/ AI Focus as the starting point. I tried this combination yesterday with my Phil Jones cab and realized I've been overlooking a great sound with gear that I already own.

    I'm starting to think this is really all I need because my Focus head has two channels whereby I can run the Summit on one channel and my VT bass pedal on the other. I can run them separately or BLEND :eek: the two sounds together. It's kind of like a soundman running a DI on one channel and then blending a miked cab on another. Anyone ever try this on their rig?

    Back to the lab...:cool:
  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Dude, do yourself a favor and take that VT and run it in line. Loops do it no favors, I've come to discover. Always sounds a little stifled in my LMII's loop to me.
  17. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    The effects loop on the Focus and LMII are totally different.
    The loop on the Focus bypasses the eq section, allowing the
    preamp to go directly to the power section of the Focus.
    The LMII effects loop still goes through the eq section of the
    amp, so you never reall bypass the LMII eq.
  18. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Well if you run it in line, it's still going to go through the EQ. I just think it has more grunt when you run it in line. I don't know...personal choice at the end of the day, I suppose...but I never cared for amp effect loops. To my ears, either they make no difference at all, or they make a negative difference. Even used to run my rack compressor in line because I didn't think it worked as well in the loop.

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