Hartke Bass Amps - Buyer Beware

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by matante, Aug 21, 2017.

  1. matante


    Nov 3, 2003
    Hartke has a couple of amps called the LH-500 and LH-1000 that have good reviews and are considered good amps. However, I've noticed that nowhere does it actually say that these wattage ratings are RMS.

    If these are program watts, or peak watts, rather than watts RMS, they are inflated numbers. I know they use program watts when talking about PA systems, but when talking about bass amps, RMS is the only number that counts, and it's how we compare one amp's output to another.

    I haven't contacted Hartke to ask how they're measuring their watts but I just saw this:


    They're marketing that as a 500w amp when in fact it's 250w RMS/500w peak according to the specs.
  2. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. In Memoriam

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
  3. somebrains


    Feb 7, 2017
  4. tjh


    Mar 22, 2006
    ... power ratings are only a part of the equation ... ;)
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2017
    son_of_mogh likes this.
  5. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    Surely people have to know there's no way that single driver is going to take 500 actual watts. I'd say even 250 is a stretch.
    JimmyM and Kevnn4 like this.
  6. Yogi Bear

    Yogi Bear

    Aug 14, 2000
    Caveat emptor!

    I think, or at least hope, most people would do their research before spending any significant amount of money on any purchase. I don't think Hartke in any way is trying to bamboozle their customers. A quick search through the Hartke website yields the following which shows 500w Peak with 250w RMS. I purchased a KB15 knowing full well this is only 250w, despite the marketing hype.


    It's similar to HP vs. Brake Horsepower (BHP) ratings in a car. BHP is measured at the flywheel so once you figure in an alternator, water pump , or any other part of an engine that draws power from an engine the true HP ratings will drop. Then there's Wheel Horsepower (WHP) which is the output at the wheels, which is even less and what a dyno run can measure... As a very generic comparison.

    You never see car manufacturers disclose any of this information, they will only disclose HP.

    Sorry for the trip down auto-shop memory lane... :)
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2017
    Daddy-R and son_of_mogh like this.
  7. kringle77

    kringle77 Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2004
    Massena NY
    Have you actually spent your own money and tested one? I have. They are rated very honestly. Loud amps.
  8. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    Hmm…good reviews, good sound, plenty of happy players…

    And the old RMS thing comes up one …more…time…

    So what? Does it make any realworld difference? Nobody in their right mind is going to buy an amp purely off a marketing blurb - or even the published specs.
    Artman likes this.
  9. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    I've had my LH500 since they came out and its a workhorse... Don't really care what the wattage says as long as it can drive my 2x12s. And it does with lots of headroom.
  10. Kro


    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    Just talked to Samson support. LH500 and LH1000 power ratings are confirmed to be RMS, which I find unsurprising. I would have been surprised to find them to be rated something else frankly.

    Edit: I just checked that store page (as you had just a picture linked), and it pretty clearly has that Kickback listed as: "500W peak/250W RMS for good stage amplification". So does the manual. Seems pretty straightforward for me.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2017
    Daddy-R, Artman, tfer and 4 others like this.
  11. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Always trying to cloud the argument with facts and actual experience. Well some of us prefer to believe what we READ on the Internut over what we experience for ourselves, thank you very much! [/sarcasm]
  12. John Freeman

    John Freeman Supporting Member

    Jul 29, 2009
    Happy Valley, PA
    Anyone else confused as to what to beware of?
  13. matante


    Nov 3, 2003
    That's good to know.

    Since they use RMS to name and market the LH-500 and LH-100 amps, why switch to peak power when deciding what number to put on that combo amp?

    I know a lot of people on talkbass will say "do your research" and defend this practice in other ways, but the fact is that most people are not that technically minded, (to them, watts are watts) and most combo amp buyers are very young or inexperienced bass players. They put that "500W" on the amp to deliberately mislead. In bass player terminology, that's a 250W amp. Sure, they give you the RMS number in the owner's manual but c'mon, printing 500W on the face of the amp is sleazy.
  14. Wesley R

    Wesley R Gold Supporting Member

    I believe there are other combo manufacturers that present a 500 combo only to find it is only 500 watts when another cabinet is added to the formula. About 10 years ago i recommended a Hartke combo to a friend , it is still doing well.
    The Terror likes this.
  15. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    What you posted is _not_ an LH500/LH1000.
    The reviews of the LH- series I've seen indicate that those power ratings are in fact conservative.
    I have no information nor opinion of the KickBack series, other than to observe it's a completely different product.
    And that almost nobody rates MI amps RMS...
    Artman likes this.
  16. Yogi Bear

    Yogi Bear

    Aug 14, 2000

    I don't believe that Hartke is out to deliberately mislead anyone with their product offerings. The combo amp I just purchased is the KB15 - by your logic that would assume the amp is only 15 watts, which it surely isn't. Also, to be blunt, they are not saying 500w on the amp - they're labeled LH500 and LH1000
  17. GoLeafsGo

    GoLeafsGo Not Quite Right!

    Oct 25, 2013
    Ajax Ontario
    Not just them. I have an Ampeg PF500. It does do 500W. If you add a second cab.....otherwise it's 350W
  18. PullThePlug


    Jan 8, 2014
    I'd have to humbly disagree. I've gotten more juice out of an SWR SM900 (which are known to be "underpowered") than an LH1000. I understand it is my experience but... it is what it is.

    I wouldn't sport a Hartke anyways, just not my kind of sound. Much better options for the money in the used department.
  19. matante


    Nov 3, 2003
    The pic of the combo amp I posted says 500w in big red letters on its face.
  20. matante


    Nov 3, 2003
    A lot of people who buy combo amps are 16 year old kids who've never played or are very new to the instrument. They're not going to know what a "driver" is, let alone how much power it can take.