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Hartke TX600 - review

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Thedaivisch, Oct 16, 2016.


  1. Thedaivisch

    Thedaivisch

    Sep 3, 2009
    A review of the new Hartke TX600 from across the pond in London...

    So...

    I've been running a Genz Benz Contour 500 head into 2x Hartke 112 Hydrive cabs.

    Lovely punchy cabs, great little head. I found myself wanting a more valvey tone and just a little more headroom...
    Cue me deciding to give the Hartke TX600 a go...

    First impressions:

    This is a nice, modern looking amp. The single handle is a good feature and the chunky dials with back lighting look good. On the flipside, it seems like Hartke have decided to change their visuals. Sitting on top of the Hydrives it looks like an amp from a different manufacturer. That said, no biggie and still a nice looking little unit that feels like it will stay together for a long time.

    Switching it on:

    This is a very quiet unit. It seems even quieter than the Genz, with very little hiss and the variable speed fan which only comes on when needed is a nice feature.

    Gain.

    Dialling up the gain reveals a tube preamp that takes a LOT to make it overdrive and even then it is very minor overdrive with the light flashing red and hardly any audible distortion. With a passive G&L JB-2 I wasn't able to make it overdrive even with it max'd out. With a high output G&L L2000 and some very aggressive playing, the backlight started to go red around the 3'o'clock mark and again was not very audible distortion. Not a tube preamp designed for tube overdrive tone, if that's what you're looking for. For clean valve preamp tone, it's great; which leads me on to...

    EQ.

    The EQ is not your bog standard active EQ affair. The EQ is apparently a "tone stack equilizer" which has no theoretical flat setting and I can confirm it doesn't appear to behave like other EQs I've used. Whatever it is, it is very easy to dial in some lovely musical velvety, growly aggressive, or smooth and warm tones. It certainly sounds different to a normal active eq, but it only takes a few seconds to dial in what you need and is difficult to dial in something that sounds bad. The treble is sweet and crisp with no harshness. The bass is powerful and very musical (notably set at a relatively high 80Hz). The shape control is a "scoop" setting rather than a mid boost type filter. Compared to the Genz it is smoother and more, well, valvey; exactly as expected.

    Compressor.

    I was very pleasantly surprised by the compressor, having never tried Hartke effects pedals and having owned some great stuff by TC, EBS etc. I found that this is a really really nice, musical sounding compressor that goes from subtle to rich, punchy and crunchy. Very nice and up there in tone with the famous EBS foot pedal, which I loved.

    Volume.

    Hmm. Volume. This is, unfortunately, what has lead me to decide to send the unit back and now consider getting the much heavier, less feature laden LH1000. I did a direct comparison with the Genz and Initially thought I had somehow managed to wire up the cabs wrong...or had missed a button, or misunderstood how the EQ worked. After consulting the manual and staring at the amp, A/Bing between the Genz and the Hartke into the same speakers multiple times, it dawned on me. This "600 watt" amp is significantly, noticably, frustratingly quieter than the 500 watt Genz Benz. It sounds like what I'd imagine an amp with 300 watts would sound like in terms of volume. To confound matters, the volume has a very annoying way of suddenly jumping up in volume beyond around 2'o'clock. Beyond that, when pushed, it started to sound boxy and compressed/stressed and still could not keep up with the Genz, whose volume increases in a far more linear fashion and without farting out through the range of the volume dial. On both the Hartke and Genz I pushed the preamp up to the point when it starts overdriving and then just backed off so it stayed clean to make it a fair test. I've owned Genz Shuttle 6.2s, 9.2s and GBE750s and these all were VASTLY louder. Disappointing... Very disappointing. It makes me wonder if Hartke are being a bit "creative" with their power ratings...someone with more amp related knowledge may be able to comment...

    I may report back on my experience with the LH1000.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2016
  2. This is at least the fourth or fifth review I've read, here and in some other places, and they all have the same complaint. I'm also hoping for some clarification.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2016
    andruca, Mvilmany, Aqualung60 and 2 others like this.
  3. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    It does seem odd that so many folks are finding weak (or weaker than anticipated/expected) output form these units. With so many powerful sounding, well-voiced options on the market already, it's very surprising that the Hartke folks didn't do something more positive to distinguish themselves.
     
  4. Is it possible it's as simple as user error? I've seen a few people that suggested you basically have to dime the Gain to just befor it starts flashing a red light and then adjust the Master accordingly. In another thread this method was attributed to Larry Hartke.
     
    Al Kraft likes this.
  5. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    First time I've heard that and it's good to know - thanks for the tip! Every piece of gear has its own little quirks and peculiarities. It doesn't make something good or bad, just makes it a lot more useful if you know the trick! :thumbsup:
     
  6. Thedaivisch

    Thedaivisch

    Sep 3, 2009
    I thought maybe it was user error on my part at first. As per my post, I checked and rechecked and consulted the manual multiple times and made sure I pushed the gain on both amps up to the point where it started to flash red under hard playing and then rotated back just a whisker - enough so that the flashing stopped.


     
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Is the point it flashes the point you can hear audible distortion? I don't know if it'll give you a lot more output in that amp, but I've found that many amps will give you more clean gain beyond the point the light flashes. And if it takes you cranking the gain really hard to hear audible distortion, then just back off to the point it's no longer audible regardless if the light flashes. And if it's not audible when it's up all the way, crank it up all the way. I always recommend ignoring lights completely when setting the gain for that reason. Some amps are really touchy and will give you audible distortion when the light comes on, and some have a lot of play room.
     
    Al Kraft and tfer like this.
  8. Thedaivisch

    Thedaivisch

    Sep 3, 2009
    I hear you. Unfortunately, in this case, given that there wasn't much more juice to squeeze out beyond where the pre was flashing anyway (around the 3-4 o'clock mark) with a loud active bass and was running it max'd out with a passive jazz bass, it's a moot point...

     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2016
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I hear ya. Well, sorry it didn't work out. Sounds like an amp that has a lot going for it otherwise.
     
  10. navijaz

    navijaz Guest

    Sep 20, 2016
    I have to say that I found exactly the same thing as you. At first, I thought it might be user error or just the wrong speaker or whatever.

    After putting the TX600 through its paces just now, I have to say that this seems more like a practice amp than anything else, albeit one with a rather noisy fan.

    I had it hooked up to a Hartke Hydrive 410 and while the sound was very nice, it only went so far without sounding stressed out. I'd say anything above high bedroom level quickly sounded meh.

    To make things worse, I A/Bed it against an HA5500 and it is shocking how much more clean headroom and punch this supposedly weaker amp easily produces. Whatever the taper of those pots... Basically having to dime a 600W should not be necessary.

    I am currently pondering whether I should return the amp. I bought it mainly for traveling and to have an amp for public transport occasions but now I am not so sure.
     
  11. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    An old Hartke fan here...disappointing to hear this same review over and over.

    Is it just me, or are these class D amps a bit of smoke and mirrors on the ratings. Maybe I'm getting old, but I can remember blowing the doors out of club with 350watt heads and a 410.....and that was without having to dime any knobs.

    The micro's I've had/have just don't seem to have the same balls at twice the wattage.
     
    jimmyb, daddycool69, kcolyar and 2 others like this.
  12. navijaz

    navijaz Guest

    Sep 20, 2016
    Yeah, same here. Just to be clear, it is indeed a very nice sounding amp. So no complaints there. Just not so sure about how useful it is.
     
    Al Kraft likes this.
  13. I don't think smoke and mirrors for ratings is exclusive to class D. Seems more like it's company specific. I have one class D that I have no doubt is rated properly, and probably conservatively, and one that seems a bit anemic.
     
    sevenyearsdown likes this.
  14. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    I sort of had the same problem except the amp kept shutting down on me .. I sent it back and they are sending me a new one... I was really counting on this amp to replace my LH500 because of its weight factor but the LH500 is louder and much more of a workhorse I think than the TX600... It's just looks pretty when and if it does light up.I don't trust this amp now to take on gigs. Do I have to carry my LH500 as backup? Not what I planned to do.
     
  15. Hounddog409

    Hounddog409

    Oct 27, 2015
    ohio
    Definitely not the case with the Mesa D-800. Running 2 15's, I've been asked to turn it down some during outdoor gigs.

    This amp has balls.
     
  16. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    +1. And because it can handle a 2 ohm load safely, I've run three 1-15 cabs on a number of occasions. That's a _lot_ of cone area to have pushing air. Made my pants flap, and I was nowhere near tapping out the D-800 to do it.
     
    Al Kraft likes this.
  17. H2okie

    H2okie

    Jan 30, 2014
    Jacksonville, FL
    I think there is some truth to this. I'm a huge GK fan and have moved to the micros for the convenience, portability and honestly I hoard my old 800rb and 400rb in a controlled practice space environment. When I A/B my RB with my gK MB series of similar power ratings, they do sound pretty similar ... really impressive actually. Even get similar total "volume." But for whatever reason there is punch lost in the mix. My micros are quieter at low volume. No hiss at all. But when cranked. The old big heavy rbs sound better to me and I'm told "cut through" the mix better.
     
  18. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    +2. My Mesa D-800 and GK MB's (500 and 800) seem to punch within and above their weight class with no problem. I like my TH500, but it feels a little less muscular for its 500 Watt rating, however, it does the jobs I ask of it quite nicely.

    In fairness, as much as I like these class D heads, none of them seem to be quite as solid/heavy/massive sounding as my Mesa Carbines...close enough to make me happy, but just a hair short of massive thump.
     
  19. Hounddog409

    Hounddog409

    Oct 27, 2015
    ohio
    yeah, I am looking for a third epifany ul2 1x15. If I cant locate one, I will be looking into the subway cabs.
     
  20. ric4682

    ric4682

    Jul 2, 2008
    I was really interested in this head right out of the gate, especially considering the price, but it's looking like it won't be an option sadly. It's a shame because Larry really seems to care about his products as well as his customers, so it's kind of surprising to see this fall so short of the mark.
     
    Al Kraft likes this.

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