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Info on Acoustic Image Contra 310 BA?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by ctcruiser, Oct 2, 2005.

  1. ctcruiser


    Jan 16, 2005
    West Haven, CT
    I am a newbie and I may be buying a used AI Contra model 310 BA. Where can I find information about this older model?

    It says 250 watts on the back and has 6 dials: volume, bass, mid, treble, brite, master volume. It has two pairs on inputs for jacks with a pair of high/low input and a pair of send/return effect loop.

    It sounds great, but I was curious about how to tweak the sound with the various controls and inputs. I am using a Fishman full circle pickup without a pre-amp (I plan to buy a pre-amp in the future) on my Englehardt ES-1.

    What would be a fair price for this model that is in good condition?

    Any info would be appreciated.
  2. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    ctcruiser, I think you're asking about what a lot of people now refer to as a "Series I" Contra from Acoustic Image. I think this essentially means it was the first mass produced model of the Contra available from the manufacturer.

    The Series II models have been out for several years now I think. And there were two iterations of the Series II, if I'm not mistaken that is, with differences in the how the head attached to the cabinet. And now the AI website has information on it about their new Series III models, which will be available soon.

    You might be able to get information on the Series I gear directly from the folks at Acoustic Image, by emailing them (see email addresses listed on www.acousticimg.com) or by calling them at the number listed on their web site (919-598-3113).

    I bought my Series I Contra in 2000 for $700, direct from AI. I live nearby and just walked in. No middle man. Not sure what the "street price" was at that time, but I think it was virtually the same.

    And I still have the owner's manual, which reads "Contra Model 310 BA" right on the front. I could send you a copy of it if you are interested.
  3. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    +1 on what Bolo said...email AI directly. Their customer service is fantastic.
  4. ctcruiser


    Jan 16, 2005
    West Haven, CT
    I did send an e-mail to AI and this is what they said:

    "The specs for this unit are basically the same as those for our Series IIa models that are listed on the web site, so the specs given on the site for the Contra model will be the same for the 310 BA. Also, you can download a manual from the site that has a signal flow diagram that applies to the 310."

    I did send a request to Bolo asking for a copy of the original manual.

    Has anyone used this amp and can give me some advice on settings without and with a pre-amp?
  5. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Well, I've got one that I haven't used too much lately, but if memory serves, I basically always ran it pretty much flat, depending on which PU and/or mic I was using at the time. When I was using a Realist, I had to boost the highs quite a bit.
  6. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    ctcruiser, you asked about EQ settings on the Contra.

    FWIW, here’s what I recall.

    Started off with all the EQ knobs flat (12:00). This was using a K&K Bass Master Pro, and later on a K&K Bass Max w/ Golden Trinity mic.

    But sometimes, especially at higher volumes, the low notes would rumble out of control somewhat. So my next thing was cutting the bass knob back, anywhere from 11:00 to 9:00, depending on the venue, what instruments I was playing alongside, etc. In general, the louder the overall volume, the more bass I would cut.

    Sometimes even this wasn’t quite enough though, so I started boosting the Brite knob to 1:30 or 2:00 as well in some rooms. This especially helped the G string sing out a little more, and not sound quite so blurry.

    I should also point out that (a) I had the K&K pickups running into the K&K stereo preamps that you can clip to your belt or your music stand, and (b) I plugged the output of this preamp into the bottom input jack on the Contra, and used the low impedance switch setting. To my ears, the high impedance switch setting had more gain, but it just made a more “electric” sound vs. acoustic.

    Then, starting over a year or so ago, I switched pickups to the Revolution SOLO. With the Rev SOLO, my favorite EQ setting now is everything flat except for the the Mid control, which I boost to about 1:00 or 1:30. And I plug into the high impedance input now, since I’m running a piezo pickup without a preamp.

    Another way to “tweak” the sound is to change the relative settings of the Volume and Master Volume controls. For example, you might set one at 12:00 and the other at 3:00, and then try 3:00 and 12:00 instead. You may find that you can get the same overall volume, but the tone can change in a subtle or even dramatic way. I think you’re basically varying how much of the work is being handled by the preamp versus the main power amp when you do this.

    For example, with the Rev SOLO pickup, I did similar experiments, and to my ears, it sounds by far the best with the Volume cranked all the way up, and then I just use the Master Volume to control the overall output level.

    All this being said, I’m sure you know that any given type of pickup will sound different from one double bass to the next. And there are other important variables, like your technique, your ears, and what “ideal” sound you have in your head.

    I’ve seen a bass player who I really admire with really radical EQ settings on his Contra. And with his bass and his technique, he gets a nice sound, albeit somewhat more aggressive than what I lean toward.

    Probably more than you wanted to know (sorry).

    But I hope you have fun experimenting along these lines with your new rig!
  7. ctcruiser


    Jan 16, 2005
    West Haven, CT
    There is no such thing as too much information. As a newbie, I really appreciate all of the help I get from this website.

    Thanks for the info!
  8. ctcruiser


    Jan 16, 2005
    West Haven, CT
    Bolo - I just to say thanks for the copy of the manual for the model 310 BA. It was very nice of you to go out of your way to make the copy and send it.

    I really appreaciate the info and I am definitely going to buy the amp. The funny thing is that there are two units on eBay this week. One even comes with a cover ,manual, and the original box.

  9. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Oh, you want the original box for the Contra too? My box is the original model - it's called the 'Model 310 BA' box, also known as the 'Series I' box.

    I can fold it all up real neat, put it in a tiny, tiny envelope, and send it to you ...

    Just kidding. Glad you got the owner's manual in the mail. Enjoy.
  10. nuggetash


    Apr 19, 2011
    Hey I have this amp.. Needing to get it fixed.. Doing some crazy distortion.. Trying to track down the manual for the 310BA series 1.. You wouldn't still have that kicking around somewhere? I have sent an email to AI too.. Of course always short on time.

  11. HateyMcAmp


    Apr 13, 2006
    Just send AI an e-mail requesting it. They sent me a copy today...too large to post here, unfortunately!
  12. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    Most AI manuals are posted on their web site already.

    I have that "Series I" amp, too - great stuff, and I prefer it in my teaching studio because it turns on and off faster than my Ten2.