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Hartke KB12 - not usable past half volume?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by navijaz, Sep 30, 2017.

  1. navijaz

    navijaz Guest

    Sep 20, 2016
    Hey everyone,

    I just got a new Hartke KB12 and while I have to say that I like the general tone, it starts to fart out/distort from 5 (12 o'clock) on the volume. That is with a neutral EQ and the shape switch off.

    Seriously easing off on the bass will give a little more headroom but I would say 6 seems to be the limit.

    What are everyone else's experiences? Did I get a lemon?
  2. New?
    Return it for another and see how it plays.
    If still the same, that may not be the droid you're looking for.

    Knobs at Noon does not necessarily equate to flat frequency response.

    What bass? Five string? Pedals?
    What happens with the shape switch on?
    Have you backed off on the lows/boosted the highs?
  3. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Why do you think there should be less distortion?

    What are the distortion specs of the amp? Speaker specs?

    Turn the volume down 'til there's no distortion. It is what it is.
    packhowitzer, lomo and navijaz like this.
  4. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    I'd say the same thing. It's a single knob volume. Not pre and post.
  5. navijaz

    navijaz Guest

    Sep 20, 2016
    According to the manual, knobs at noon equates to neutral setting...

    Four string, EMG JVX, no pedals. shape switch adds more distortion.

    As mentioned in the OP, backing off on the bass gives a little more head room but not much.
  6. navijaz

    navijaz Guest

    Sep 20, 2016
    I get that. I was looking for experiences by other owners of this amp.
  7. Bodeeni

    Bodeeni Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2010
    That just sounds wrong. You should be able to turn your amp up past half way before it goes to crap. I would send it back.
    Aaron Mc and navijaz like this.
  8. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    I dint own KB12, but I have KB15. I can run volume till 3 o'clock without farting issue.

    I choose 15 because she sound better in Low tone at high volume .

    My advise is, return the KB12 and get KB15.
    Don't worry the MID punch perform on KB15, hydrive driver give you great enough Mid and Hi present even with 15 driver. The tone You could not get with others paper 15 driver.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
    bordinco90 and navijaz like this.
  9. brianmharrison


    Oct 11, 2007
    I think the 12 has the same 500 watt amp section as the 15. It is probably feeding too much power to a single 12.
  10. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    I own one. Great amp but have never pushed it but my guess is with a hard playing style it would be too many watts for one 12 in speaker.
  11. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    That combo has an amp section rated at 250 watts RMS, which is more than any "standard" 12" driver will musically handle. Most 12s will compress/fart before 200 watts, the exceptions being more expensive drivers (like Eminence LF series) that you won't see in a combo this price. The 15 has the same power with a larger driver. You can play around with the volume knob on your bass to find the sweetest ratio of input to output, but as was eloquently stated by Stumbo, it is what it is.
  12. Hand slap

    Hand slap

    Feb 14, 2016
    All the above, and how hard is your attack on the strings? Little combos can only do so much.
  13. navijaz

    navijaz Guest

    Sep 20, 2016
    Yeah, after playing around a bit, I am getting the feeling that this design simply has its limitations. I will see if I can try another unit next week. The shop got this one from the warehouse for me. Let's hope they have another one.

    The amp seems quite loud and I want to use it as nothing but a stage monitor and for rehearsals. It might be fine for that. It's still a bit unsettling that it starts to sound stressed so early on.

    Thanks to everyone who has replied so far!
  14. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    If the 15" version is not too heavy and/or pricey for your liking, it will most definitely get significantly louder and compress/distort later than the 12 incher.
    navijaz likes this.
  15. It just sounds like you are asking too much of this amp.
    IMHO, a single 12 just normally can't deal with that much power. 250 watts RMS = a lot more than that in terms of peak power.

    I have a Rumble 200 combo, 160 watts into a 15 in speaker rated for 300 watts. I can get it to fart out if I want to.
    You can't just go by speaker power ratings because those only address the thermal rating, the point at which the voice coil heating might cause problems. IT DOES NOT ADDRESS MECHANICAL LIMITS.

    My personal rule of thumb is twice the rated speaker power handing than what the amp is capable of producing.
    And be sure all power measurements are the same type. Amp RMS vs speaker RMS or amp continuous vs speaker continuous. No way a single 12 is going to handle 500 watts RMS.

    If your amp can accept a second external cab, that is what you need to do. Then you are not working each speaker nearly as hard. If it won't, find a combo that uses a pair of 10s or 12s instead of a single speaker or will take a second cab.
    Stumbo and navijaz like this.
  16. navijaz

    navijaz Guest

    Sep 20, 2016
    I know what you mean. My issue is not that the amp is not performing the way I want it to. I just found it strange that the second half of the volume knob seems to be useless. That's why I was wondering whether other owners have found the same. Apparently they haven't. So I will try to check out another unit and see how it performs.

    If it behaves the same, then I guess I could live with that. I got this amp precisely so that I wouldn't have to lug around more cabs. It's meant to serve mainly as my stage monitor when I'm DIing. It should be OK for that, I guess. I like that it's simple and small. Might have to get used to its limitations...
    lomo likes this.
  17. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    ...then if it gets loud enough for you to use as a monitor without distorting, there's no problem :)
    navijaz likes this.
  18. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    Have you tried a different bass?
    frenfrins likes this.
  19. navijaz

    navijaz Guest

    Sep 20, 2016
    Yes. I also tried it with my passive JB in the meantime, and I tried it with a Sadowsky preamp pedal. There are always combinations that allow a bit more headroom, but not significantly so. As others have said, it might just be what it is - and if it is then so be it...:D:D

    I will try to check out another unit next week and report back. Thanks again for all the replies! It is appreciated.
  20. mmbongo

    mmbongo Dilly Dilly! Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    This could also be by design.

    Let's say you test out two amps in the store. You try out amp A, turn it up halfway and it's LOUD...not knowing that's all she can do. Then you turn up amp B halfway and it's not nearly as loud. You then get the impression that amp A is much better because even at halfway it's waaay louder than amp B. But amp A is done. It can't do any more. Amp B might completely outperform it if you allow the volume control to work through it's whole range. But you buy amp A because you don't realize that. Cheap trickery, yes. But it happens.

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