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just got a contra

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by c-ba55, Jun 19, 2005.

  1. I got a good deal on an old acoustic image contra BA310 combo yesterday, and also got to use it on a gig last night. I had been using a Genz-Benz Intro 50, which had a good sound, but at 40 lbs. was just a little heavy. This is 27 lbs, and sounds completely amazing. It felt like I was just playing a 20' high bass. I'm not sure about it's ability to project, but near the amp, the sound was my best ever. It was on a wood floor, shooting straight down, and the keyboard player on the other side of the drummer kept asking me to turn up.

    What are people's experience with subjective volume of this amp? Do you have to have it seem really loud if you're standing next to it, in order for it to fill the room?

    I played great though, being able to revel in my sound, and believe everyone was hearing everything I was doing.

    I have a K&K bass max pickup, running into the high gain input (high meaning "needs high gain," not "already has high gain") and I haven't decided on whether to put the switch in or out.

    Also, the feet keep falling off. The last owner had epoxied some rubber feet on, but the vibrations loosen them pretty quick. Anybody have solutions for attaching feet?
  2. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    1) I have found that the Contra sounds fabulous on a wood floor or other hard surface. On a carpet, it is not as wonderful but still very good.

    2) Lately I have been trying to keep the amp a little bit farther away from where I am standing. This is a good idea IMO no matter what kind you're using. It lets you hear your sound as others around you hear it, not from right next to the amp.

    The contra is a great combo in my experience. It just has to be in the right place in the room, etc. Once you find the sweet spot, you're in business.
  3. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Yeah, the feet keep falling off, you just have to keep reattaching them. One of mine actually fell inside the amp, through the little hole in the bottom. It's still in there, rattling around. I'll retrieve it when I remove the blown speaker. Also, the speaker cover falls off a lot on the early models. Duct tape should come standard with the Series I Contra.

    You can get more presence and a shade more volume by propping up the cabinet in the front, effectively decoupling it from the floor. Someone here recently suggested laying the Contra on its back, with the speaker facing forward. I guess at that point, you have a conventional bass combo amp, with an upfiring tweeter :meh:. I've done this a couple of times. It looks stupid as hell, but it actually works very well.
  4. oystein


    Sep 15, 2001
    Norway, Leikong
    IMHO the Contra sounds best at lower levels, at louder gigs the floor facing concept doesn't work that well. As mentioned before I have started to lay the Contra down with the bottom speaker facing the audience at such gigs. This clears up a lot. That said, at small gigs I have used the amp the way it is inteded to with good results.

  5. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    If your keyboard player (or anyone else including you I guess!) are pretty far off-axis from the front-facing driver(s) in the Contra, you may find the sound is not as "clear" to them.

    I work with a keyboard player who likes it best when the 5" driver in my Contra is pointing right straight at him.

    Of course I want to be able to hear it too!

    You may have seen this already, but if you haven't checked out the FAQ section on AI's web site, you can find it at http://www.acousticimg.com/faq.html

    It offers tips on getting "more volume," and other info about the Contra.
  6. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I think you should ask your keyboard player to spring for a Contra extension speaker for himself :D
  7. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    This seems to be a common complaint. I had the same issue - the amp sounded fine to me but my bandmates couldn't get enough gain, and this was in a jazz trio. I wrote about my Contra experiences compared to other gear elsewhere in this forum. Turning down the bass tone control helped me get more volume...adding the EX speaker helped a little bit, but eventually, I gave up. AI's speakers seem to work best at very low volumes. I eventually moved on to several of the superb small bass cabinets from companies like Acme, EA, and LDS. I've heard from several people who use the Contra by itself for low volume playing and add one of these non-AI cabinets when they need to be heard better. That said, I have to emphasize that Acoustic Image's amplifiers are ALL simply AMAZING, for both DB and bass guitar, and work great with these small cabinets.
  8. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Well the keyboard player I referred to is certainly a very kind and generous sort.

    “You gotta have a kind spirit to play jazz,” he says to me. Makes sense. It’s collaborative. It can be very unselfish, especially in our roles as bassists.

    Anyway, I actually bought the Contra extension cab some time ago myself.

    I originally planned to use them in a traditional stereo type setup with one on each side of the group, as part of the backline you might say. But when I use them now I typically place one far enough away from me for the sound to blossom and develop somewhat, with the 5” driver facing me. Then I put the other one out in front of me and the drum kit and such, so that it is more or less unobstructed, pointing straight out into the room.

    I guess I’m hoping the cab out front will push (some of) the same thing I’m hearing out to the audience somehow !?!
  9. I also use an AI Contra but I found even with the extension cab' when playing with a fairly loudish Chicago-style blues band ( my main band ) that although the Contra sounds great I do get drowned out. My extension cab' has been modified by the way to include a second power amp complete with buffer board that takes it's signal from the "main amps" pre-amp ( Acoustic Image now own the wiring diagrams that my tec' - a genius - drew for them and can offer this setup as a option ) this gives you twice the power but sometimes this still isn't enough !
    My solution then is to D.I from my Fishman Platinum Pro EQ directly to our P.A desk , luckily our soundman really does know what an upright bass is supposed to sound like ( not a large bass guitar ) and the result of the modified AI's , a good P.A and an exceptional soundman gives a great sound - very woody but with a nice , rounded fat bottom end . Thanks Andy (not me - Andy our soundman ! ).
    Andy. :D :D

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