Long term, amplifier investment

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by BassSmith, Jun 20, 2019.

  1. BassSmith


    Apr 3, 2008
    New Orleans
    Since I’ve been working as a bass player, I’ve watched the class d power trend develop with amplifier manufacturers. Yet, I’m still faced with a choice, as shop for a new amplifier. As I see it, my first choice, a model from a company with a reputation for durability and ease of service, if needed, but at a cost. The second choice, an imported, class d type amp, at nearly one third the cost, at the same power rating. I figure, if I purchase this second choice, at sale price and spend the extra on a store warranty, the retailer will just send me a new one, if the imported construction fails.

    I have little experience with warranties and service on gear from a company like Sweetwater or musicians-friend. I’ve read lots of wisdom on talkbass, and I’m hoping I’m overlooking something simple! Cheers!

  2. I'm using second hand TC BH250 for some 6 years now, with no service. (Dropped to floor last gig, nothing happened to it, didn't even stop playing.) Originally I bought it as a second cheap backup to my solid state EBS, but after some time TC became my main amp for the upright.

    Many great players use D class amps, see Dave Holland here.
    I'd say that D class amp is not going to die sooner than solid state. Maybe US made is better than overseas, I don't know; I guess they are made from the same parts and with the same technology though. The light weight is extremely practical in my opinion, not just for carrying, but also for easy and fast setting up on stage.

    This said, I need to add that what really matters is the sound. Firstly, buy the sound you like.
    Kickdrum, nbsipics and equill like this.
  3. BassSmith


    Apr 3, 2008
    New Orleans
    Wow, I wasn’t expecting a TC endorsement! I’ve dialed my needs in pretty tight: 300w @8ohms, clean preamp, and reliable service... if disaster strikes. The service/replacement part is important to me. I’ve had great success with acoustic image amps, their “honest” sound, and their warranties. I’m curious if any of the cheaper, competing models from the bigger brand amps aren’t reliable?
  4. I feel that TC BH250 is somehow 'preparing' the sound: there's probably hard set lo-cut, and the highs seem to me a bit too 'kind'. All this makes it likable with the sound techs, as it simplifies the 'publishing' of the sound to the audience. To be honest, I find it a bit limiting, I like the clear unforgiving highs of my other amp (EBS) more.
    But when I judge which amp I will take with me tonight, I mostly find the extra 25kilos of EBS much more important factor.

    If you can afford Acoustic Image, I'm sure you don't need to look elsewhere. Class D is not an issue.

    So much for my endorsement ;-)
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Class D is solid state :whistle:

    We'll really know about longevity in another 20 years...

    BTW I just saw an even cheaper amp from TC Electronics, like the BH250 without the tuner and "toneprint"...the BAM 200 for $150!!! Pretty soon we'll be getting class D amps for free :roflmao:
    Ric Vice likes this.
  6. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard Commercial User

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Black Dog Bass Works
    That little thing sounds great! Perfect for DB with the an Fdeck HPF when necessary. At $150, I see it as disposable.
    I have owned a variety of Acoustic Image heads over the years and have been very happy with Rick’s commitment to service them. He really goes above and beyond!

    The Clarus SL is one I would like to try at some point but am in no hurry. After several gigs, the little TC is getting it done.
  7. Michael Drost

    Michael Drost Supporting Member

    Oct 16, 2009
    Grand Haven, MI
    The BAM200 is great. I agree with Greg’s sentiment about this head.

    However, if you are looking for an unsurpassed warranty and great customer service, Rick Jones at AI, cannot be best.

    My “A” rig as of late is the powered MAS 18 and a Headway EDB-2. I love it.
    Ric Vice likes this.
  8. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Longevity and reliability come at a higher price tag. There are basically three things that help to keep an amplifier from having issues. Heat ablatment, dust removal and physical
    protection. So if it has a fan, you clean the insides periodically and protect it with a case, regardless of the make it will last longer. Beyond that Acoustic Image has the best customer service.
    longfinger likes this.
  9. bherman

    bherman Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    I just sold a Clarus because it was overkill for my needs, but definitely a great amp. I alternate between a Berg Forte (great amp, sounds great and sometimes I play electric gigs where I'm pushing more speakers and need higher wattage) and a TC BQ250 that I just purchased new from Sweetwater for under $160. Used it on a gig last weekend and it performed well. I had a TC BH250 and didnt care for it as much - had a baked in hifi sound and I didnt find the toneprint function useful.

    I know plenty of people that have used TCs reliably for years, if I were a touring pro I'd probably look elsewhere but for my purposes, the BQ is a great amp at a low price. I looked at the BAM also, but it doesn't have an aux in (which I use for practice), and speaker outs are 1/4" vs Speakon.
  10. I bought both my gigging combo amps used from individuals, at significantly reduced prices from the same items bought new.
    Dudaronamous likes this.
  11. D amps have been around for a while AI and EA may be the ones that popularized them in the bass amplification world. They are not digital in the sense that your signal is not converted to digital format . and then converted back to analog. That would be modeling pre-amps.

    Even the ghetto D amps used cars that push so much bass last a while and they are tortured by the car's vibration in a very hot environment, more abuse than you're average Joe playing blues .

    I won't worry about longevity even if they are not made in the USA
  12. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Euphonic Audio and Acoustic Image took advantage of the first off the shelf power amp modules built by Bang and Olufsen (Ice) and Powersoft (maybe). The advantage of these
    modules is that they can be replaced, should they fail, provided the design of the amplifier allows for this. So at this point, I'm not aware of any of these modules that
    are actually built in the U.S. Hypex are designed in the Netherlands, ICE powermodules were designed in Denmark. I have no idea where they are actually assembled.
    My Walter Woods Electroacoustic Ultra is one of the few amplifiers with a handbuilt SMPS and Class D Power Amp.
  13. Earlier AI heads can be had for as low as $300, I paid $350 for a Clarus 1 last year and it is an amazing amp. I'd like to get a newer, smaller version, but, I'd probably hang onto it as back up.
    james condino likes this.
  14. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    There are players that have an acoustic image and players that are going to get one. Get it over and be done with the amp game....
  15. Also, as far as investment, the head/speaker system is more economical than a high end combo. I paid $750 total for my current set up, but, I bought the head and used it through an old 15" cab I had, then bought the upshot several months later.
    Speakers and amps update at different rates, so you can just replace one or the other when a better option comes along.
    The Double Shot looks really amazing, but, the Upshot is getting the job done even in some pretty big halls for now.
  16. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    AI, from what I understand, is basically an "over the counter" version of a Walter Woods. I don't often use an amplifier these days, but I've had my Woods LoPower for almost 25 years now with ZERO issues. No repairs, no problems. I had GK, SWR, power amp/preamp/EQ combo in the past. I should have just saved my money and bought a Woods.
    Given the way of all flesh, if I ever have to replace the Woods, I'm likely to go for AI...
  17. LaFaro01


    Aug 27, 2018
    For this reason I prefer a (really good) separate preamp to combine with a poweramp/powered speaker. It's easier to complement or change. If you have found "your" preamp, it's much easier to handle different combinations of poweramp/speaker and to adapt it to changing requirements and sound conceptions...
    So I got an Grace Design Felix and I use it in the moment with an Eden Time Traveler and a Hevos Speaker, but it works also with QSC and Yamaha active speakers...and it works really fine. I never heard my bass more "natural", but amplified...(sorry for my poor English, but I hope, you'll get the sense of my posting...:p)
    Ric Vice likes this.
  18. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    You probably won't have to do that, Walter can still repair those amps, provided you're patient enough to get a hold of him. A little preventive maintainence will keep it running smoothely. Clean the jacks and pots with Deoxit 5 on a cotton swab and
    pop the lid and blow the dust of the circuit board with air spray. If you're hesitant about doing it yourself, you can have some one do it for you.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2019
    equill and longfinger like this.
  19. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Well, that's what I was getting at with "the way of all flesh"; at some point, the above won't be true. Because Walter won't be "above"...
    equill, Ric Vice and damonsmith like this.
  20. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Sweetwater was good with me with returns. I would call them (as well as Musicians's Friend) and speak to a rep, and and specifically how long they will take back a head before just handing you off to the company.

    FWIW, my experience with Class D heads:

    - Carvin - lasted 5+ years regular gigging with no issues. Now there is an impedance issue (without a pedal in the line, I get some buzzing - with a pedal, dead quiet). Now it sits in my practice room so I don't have to pull anything else out.
    - GK MB500 - has lasted through 3 years regular gigging, not a single issue, still going strong
    - Fender Rumble - bought it last year as a backup, have gigged it regularly, no issues.

    Buy from a good company - country of manufacture doesn't seem to matter.