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iamp800-Focus Review

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Jason Hollar, Jul 23, 2005.


  1. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    Many thanks to Bob Gollihur and his son Mark for the visit yesterday to Bass Mecca in Ocean View NJ. Nice to take a family vacation "down the shore" and get to go try some super nice gear at the same time!

    I've been looking for a new rig for a while and have enjoyed chatting with many of you about the pros and cons on several of the systems available. The chat becomes even more important because lots of this high-end gear is just not readily available at local music chains. It's just too specialized.

    I tried a potent combination of the Euphonic iamp800 head and a new VL 2x10 cabinet. I liked the speaker cabinet immediately because it's designed to stand vertically -- the way I nearly always prop my SWR 2x10 cab. The coating on the box is sturdy and I'm going to like the fact that it's good at repelling smoke and other "kling-ons". The cabinet is comparatively light too -- weighing in just under 45 pounds. Mark brought it in from the garage and hoisted it up on his shoulder for a proper demonstration!

    The sound was loud and clear. The EQ was not lacking in any way. I especially liked the tone presets, as one or two buttons gave me the full, deep and clear sound I normally want. The cabinet pushed lots of air and the headroom of the amp was apparent as it never seemed to "break up" or sound muddy. Even set "flat" the amp sounded quite natural. It was also very clean, I noticed no hiss or noise.

    I tried Bob's '41 gut-strung Kay bass with the Golden Trinity pickup/mic system. I liked the mic a lot and might consider adding one to my bass in the future. The upright sounded great through the amp and we could get it quite loud without any feedback. I also brought my Modulus Vintage Jazz (w/Rotosound flats) for reference. Again, I got a big fat sound without any hassle.

    I also was excited to try an Acoustic Image Focus head. I was really impressed by how much sound came out of that little box. For players who hate too many knobs -- this might just be the amp. In fact, I loved it...very simple and quite compact. However, I did notice a distinct difference between the two heads in that the iamp800 simply had more juice. Since I'm going to need this rig to pull double duty on quiet cocktail jazz gigs with upright -- and loud club concert gigs on electric -- ample power is a key factor.

    The Focus sounded great through the EA cabinet. I could certainly see having a Focus head and one of the smaller EA boxes as a killer compact jazz rig. However, I'm pretty sure at this point I'm going to buy the iamp and 2x10. I'm going to save up a bit then start adding cabinets...most likely a second 2x10 for my outdoor gigs where there's no big PA system to run through. In addition, I'm interested in the idea that EA is putting out a newer version of their 2x8 cabinet. I had an old SWR 4x8 Henry Jr. that sounded very good with upright. It was just so beat up, it crapped out if you pushed it too hard...

    My only suggestion at this point is for EA to make a cool little amp rack with the same coating material as their cabinets -- for a uniform look and for the obvious benefits of stability and protection.

    I'm still going to try out a few more rigs in my travels this summer -- but at this point, I'm fairly impressed with the EA gear. I'm also very interested in the fact that Acoustic Image is updating their heads with more power and better input options. In fact, I might have to wait another month or two just to see what they come up with. I'd love to hear opinions on all this and will reply when I make the decision to make a purchase. Cheers!
     
  2. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    I have tried everything from Bose 802's to Flite 208's ( they discontinued them years ago because the drivers were really expensive). The EA's
    got the sound of my bass. I think that you have made the right choice.
    We are all waiting to see if they produce a NM 208 that's similar to the NL 210. That would be very sweet indeed.
    Great vacation ideas for the bass player! :cool:
     
  3. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    It sounds like you had a blast visiting with the Gollihurs! I'm sure it was a great trip. The NL-210 is a really nice cab. If the NM-208 in on par, we are in for a treat!

    Enjoy, Tom.
     
  4. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    I regret not having all the time in the world to try all of the different cabinet configurations that EA offers -- plus, I didn't want to become an unwelcome guest at Bob's place!

    I'm looking forward to the development of the new 2x8 enclosure and think a short stack (pair) of those would be absolutley righteous on upright gigs. Glad to get two thumbs up for the EA products though.

    Yeah, the 2x10 was deep. I bet a pair of those would rock...ahem...swing, that is.

    Anybody running a pair of the new NL 2x10s with an iamp800?

    Come to think of it, maybe I'll sign up on the other list for one of the new 2x8s. Anybody run one of those with a 2x10?
     
  5. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    In the pics on Bob Gollihur's website the iAmp800 looks huge (and heavy). How big is it in real life? I have been thinking of the iAmp500 but it's probably about the same size as the 800.
     
  6. Kael

    Kael Supporting Member

    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    The iamp 800 is a 2-space racker, but it is shallow (around ten inches). It will fit one of the cheapo shallow cases (such as SKB) just fine. It really isn't heavy, I think it is under twenty pounds. Then again I'm used to toting about rather heavy stuff. After using a power/pre set up, this fella feels very light. The EQ section on that head is absolutely great. Very versatile, but then again I dislike not having that kind of control. I like to tweak knobs, it makes me feel like a big man. :eyebrow:

    I personally like using the NL-210 with a CXL-112. Gives more options as to which cab for which job.

    Disclaimer: The vast majority of the time I am on BG, and have only recently (read in the last 8 months) begun playing upright. My comments on the iamp may be skewed in relation to DB because of that. Of course lack of objectivity has never kept my mouth shut in the past. :bag: Still the iamp is an improvement on anything I've heard thus far.
     
  7. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    Yes, the iamp800 is around 20 pounds. Bob had it in a smaller rack (w/carpet). That's why I suggested perhaps EA should make a rack case with the same coating as their cabinets that fits the head exclusively. All told, it's still something you could pick up and move with one hand quite easily...

    To me though, I agree w/ Kael...the iamp is really nothing in comparison to a 2 space tube pre/3 space power amp/and rack case plus power conditioner -- which is what I've been using as well. Pretty darn heavy.

    The EA rig is basically a compact "medium" size system with full size features IMHO.

    I'm most likely going to try some of the newer SWR and Aguilar heads in the next few weeks -- because a buddy of mine owns a nice music store in Colorado and stocks these particular items. However, even though that gear is just fine for BG, I think the EA stuff has an edge for us acoustic players -- because of the flat, true reponse. That's worth a little bit of weight no?
     
  8. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Well back in the day I used to have a Sunn 2000S head. It was tubes and I swear it must have weighed 80 lbs. Now that was heavy.
     
  9. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    I've done this at a couple of gigs. Stupid light rig, with a huge, warm, yet clear sound. I agree with Kael, though, that the NL-210/CxL-112 offers a bit more tonal range and flexibility (you have two different cabs to choose from when you take just one cab). And the iAMP 800 drives these oh, so well. This is Mike Dimin's rig. That said, I actually prefer two Wizzy's to just about anything else with my iAMP 800.

    Well, the new 2x8 is not out yet, and while I have not run one of my NL-210's with one of my VL-208's, I have run a VL-210B with a VL-208. It makes for a pretty good rig, but it always seemed more well balanced to run the VL-208's with an equal number of VL-110's, or just more VL-208's. I haven't tried a VL-210 with a CxL-112, but that's kind of an intriguing idea. I really like the CxL-210 with the CxL-112, too.

    Tom.
     
  10. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    The 800 is 19 lbs. and 3.5"H x 15.75"W x 10"D (without the removable rack ears)
    The 500 is 13 lbs. and 3.5"H x 14"W x 9"D

    Maybe you saw the shot of my personal rig, with it mounted in the three space Grundorf with the power bar? They are actually pretty small... not like a Focus, though :)

    Good to meet you Jason, glad you had the opportunity to vist and check the stuff out. We get more visitors in the summertime, being on the Jersey Shore-- go fig!


     
  11. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    Again, thanks for the visit Bob -- and for the dimensions of the products. Glad you're having a new garage built to house all your products. Now you just need to set up a show room with every make and model of the products you sell for demo! I'll be "down the shore" next July and am looking forward to trying each and every EA and AI head, cabinet, and combo in existence. (Call Tom Bowlus...he may be able to loan you a few items)!!! ;)

    Looks like SKB makes a 4 space Roto Rack sold for $99 at Sweetwater. The depth is listed as 10.5 inches which seems like a good fit for the iamp800 plus extra room for a power conditioner, rack mounted tuner, etc., or extra cords.

    The only strange thing about those particular cases is the rear cover. I had one once for some pa system gear and recall not liking the rear "trap door" configuration at all.

    Anyone know of any other companies making a solid yet light-weight rack case that's small -- and not carpet covered???
     
  12. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Always willing to support the cause!

    I like the shallow Gator lightweight case. I have my iAMP 800 sitting in one with my XWire. Here is a shot of it (and another nice little head!) with some ACME cabs:

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    Sweet -- The GR-3S and GR-4S are only around $70-$75 and very much resemble the classic SKB case. Like I said -- I didn't like that newer SKB Roto Rack.

    I have a Furman AR-1215 rackmounted power conditioner that I'm considering mounting along with the iamp. Only drawback -- it's kind of heavy. Bonus is, it's saved my gear on several occasions (and probably many more times that I'm blissfully unaware of). I've played all kinds of awful venues -- including dozens of the dreaded 100-200 foot extension cord backyard parties where the voltage to the "stage" is way below desirable levels. The Furman indicates the actual input voltage and then compensates for it. Handy. If I'm going to spend big bucks on a new rig -- I might as well protect my investment properly.

    Looks like the usable depth on the Gator Shallow cases is 14.5 inches -- so that seems like plenty of room to keep cords. Thanks for the groovy picture Tom.
     
  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
    Yes, there is plenty of room in the rear of that rack with the iAMP 800 in place to store power, speaker, instrument cords, etc.

    Glad to help!

    Tom.