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MarkBass

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by macmrkt, Dec 23, 2005.


  1. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    If you've read my posts over the months, you're probably wondering "why doesn't this guy just go to the beach like everyone else in Miami and stop trying bass gear!" Actually, I'm quite the 'whitey', so maybe that's good advice.

    I guess I can't resist trying lightweight rigs - especially those that have my favorite sounding drivers - B&C neo's. That means LDS, Epi and now MarkBass.

    The first MarkBass units I have are the Little Mark II head (LMII) and Traveler 102P cabinet. The head is somewhere around the size of a Focus and 6lbs. The cabinet is about 33lbs, pretty amazing for a 2x10. Besides the weight, what intrigued me was the price - this stuff is downright cheap for this type of bass gear. Figure about $600 and change for each brought in from Club Bass in Toronto. I just had to try it.

    I've done only brief sonic testing so far with double bass directly into the head. The results are VERY promising. In some ways it seems darker than my current fave Epi's, but in other ways the Epi's seem more revealing. Too close to say yet so I'll wait to comment after more testing.

    What impelled me to start a thread now is the quality of the stuff. I just can't believe how well made it is for the money. The head is solid as a rock and built (I think) with a full chassis and thick aluminum top plate as opposed to the typical wrap around flimsy cover. The knobs are incredibly solid as are the jacks. My standard of excellence is Epi for lightweight head construction and this is very close. The cabinet is equally impressive. The carpet is more like a fine felt, the l-pad is the nicest I've ever used on a cabinet, the grill is super strong but with big perfs and all the minor hardware from screws to handles to corners are as good or better than I've ever found on a bass cabinet. I don't get it. Also, there's not a glitch in the assembly - everything is right on the money - every bit as good as LDS handmade cabinets. Even the driver screws were tight - a first for me!

    Remember, this is built in Italy gear that's extremely well executed. But at least for now, it's priced below inferior products. More to come...
     
  2. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Martin,
    Well, that's a really nice price if they are up to snuff. Italy is also where the Schertler Pub B, David, and Side are made.
    So, It looks like the Italians are making a run for the small amplifier market. I did notice that the input impedance of the
    Little Mark is 500 k ohms. Has that presented any problems for you?

    Ric
     
  3. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    Ric,
    Too early to tell on the impedance. It has plenty of gain and very good sound. I have to fool around more. It sounds different than my WW's but I'm not sure which is better yet. I think rated input impedance is only a guideline spec - just like watts...you kind of have to try it to be sure. I had an Ashdown that was rated at 3.9M ohms and it seemed to work similar to both the Epifani and MarkBass which are rated at 500K ohms. Obviously, too low a rating and forget piezo pickups. But I'm finding that at 500K and up, there's a chance. Then again, I'm using a Full Circle pickup and I believe this more modern designed piezo is somewhat flexible.
     
  4. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Martin,
    That's my experience as well. The Realist seems "more forgiving" when you use with amplifiers that don't have 1 meg
    ohm inputs. My educated guess is that the "second generation" piezos are better matched across a larger group of amplifiers and input impediances. The Revolution Solo, Full Circle, and Realist don't seem to have the problems that the Underwood and especially the old Fishman BP-100 with input impediance.

    Cheers,
    Ric
     
  5. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    Did some testing primarily using a Schnitzer & de Sola DB with a Full Circle pickup and a bit of a Steinberger XQ25A BG. The comparisons were to see how the MarkBass LMII and Traveler 102P stacked up against an Epifani UL502 head with its UL110 and UL112 cabinets. The Traveler 102P was run vertically.

    First the easy result. The MarkBass LMII head works wonderfully with a Full Circle pickup straight in. You can not say the same for the Epifani UL502 head. There's a big difference - the MarkBass is rich, syrupy and full sounding while still retaining accuracy. The UL502 was thin, nasily and reduced the fine DB to a not so good quality sounding bass. Ironically, both heads are rated at 500K ohm input impedance.

    Next, the cabinets. Much of the sound of the head comparison was true too for the Traveler 102P vs. the UL112. The Traveler was rich, dark and true to the bass. The UL112 was thin and nasily with a bit of honkiness and a pronounced resonance just below the 1st harmonic on the 'G' string. I swapped out the heads and cabinets, using the MarkBass with the Epi UL112. This was better than with the Epi head, but still a bit thin and not dark and DB-like. Strangely, this combination had the strongest low note output. It wasn't much of a comparison to run the Epi head with the MarkBass cabinet - the Epi head can't push a piezo pickup.

    Now for the toughest to call - the MarkBass LMII head driving either the MarkBass Traveler 102P cabinet or the Epi UL110 cabinet. I need more time with this one, but it's kind of moot; the Epi weighs a lot less and is a single 10" where the MarkBass is a pair of 10's. It would make more sense to compare an Epi UL110 stack. However, the Traveler 102P was again, darker, and more DB like. Yet the Epi UL110 did come across as very accurate and dry, a pleasing combination. I need more time to evaluate this one.

    BG results: about the same as on the DB, but the Epi 110 was more pleasing on BG than DB - and the Epi UL110 was already good for DB. The MarkBass cab was darker and fuller - but I'm not sure which was more accurate.

    Final thoughts
    Speakers. The Epi UL110 is the easy-to-haul champ at 20lbs. The Traveler 102P is about 31lbs. It's the next step up for a single cab for me and is very versatile. It can play louder and deeper than the Epi, but it does weigh more. The Traveler 102P was a clear winner over the Epi UL112. Note: the Epi cabinets must be off the floor or all bets are off. The Traveler 102P is fine on the floor if you run it vertically, which is what I did. Saves you bringing an amp stand or hunting for a chair. One other thing that's important to me - the Traveler 102P is much better built than the Epi's. It's really wonderfully put together and feels luxurious in comparison.

    Heads - The Epi UL502 is beautifully made and functionally a gem. I can't really say it sounds better. I'd have to do more BG testing and probably with a band as well. The MarkBass, due to its ability to run DB, is definately more versatile. And it's half the cost and 1/3rd the weight. It too, is very well made. You can even get a 2 channel version that's just a bit more expensive and the same size and weight.

    Looks like a new kid on the block for DB and doublers, both in cabinets and heads - MarkBass. With the arrival of great lightweight gear from LDS, Epifani and MarkBass, the real winners are us players.

    More to come...
     
  6. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Martin,
    It's beginning to sound like all 500 k ohm inputs
    are not "created equal". I wonder what other things could
    influence that spec? Any thoughts folks? :confused:
     
  7. bolo

    bolo

    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Ric (and macmrkt), thanks again for all the informative posts.

    This concept of "second generation" piezo p/u's is intriguing (to me). I first remember this being brought up when Bob G. was offering background info on AI's decision to change the inputs on the Series III heads from 1 megohm / 10 megohm (switchable) to just 1 megohm. But maybe there were similar discussions that preceeded it that I missed.

    Anyway, thanks again so much! Interested in hearing more about the Markbass gear macmkrt as you continue to put it through its paces.
     
  8. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
     
  9. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    WW's latest are all 1Meg input impedance.
     
  10. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    More testing. The WW Super vs. the Mark Bass LMII. I did this test repeatedly to be absolutely sure since I'm going after sacred cows again (like I did with the EA VL208) I very carefully matched volumes. All controls were 'flat'. The only variable was the amplifier. I tested my DB (see above for model) direct into both using the MarkBass Traveler 102P cabinet playing by myself.

    I'm happy to report that there is an alternative to WW (and Acoustic Image) - and this is it. The WW and the MarkBass sound very similar. Both are superior products. The difference is that the WW adds a fatness to the sound. Kind of like if I gained a layer of soft skin to my plucking fingers. It's not quite the same as adding 'tube' warmth, but similar. The MarkBass simply doesn't have this fattening. The fattening also adds a bit of sustain, I think. It's not a bad coloration, but it is a coloration.

    Which sounds better? It's up to you - if you want a fatter sound, the WW. If you want the most accurate sound, the MarkBass LMII. I suppose if you like the sound of your bass, the MarkBass would be the better choice.

    Notes: The MarkBass LMII is available in a 2 channel version. It's about the same size and weight of the WW. It should price out to be about $800 in the US I'm guessing. Could be a bit more? In any case, it's less than half the price of the WW and readily available. There are those that swear by the WW's long-term reliability so that may justify the extra cost. However, on the surface, the MarkBass seems better made. Time will tell.
     
  11. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    I've just gotten the Traveler 121H and 151P. The lineup is what I hoped for - they are all gems. Really a beautiful sound. In fact, I can honestly say that with these cabinets, it's hard to know where the acoustic sound of the bass stops and the amp starts - they are that neutral. That includes the 15"! How's that for changing your preconceptions!

    Differences? The 102P 2x10 cuts through a bit more. The 121H is even dryer and maybe more balanced. That's because it delivers the lowest 3 or 4 notes with complete openness. The 102P seems to compress a bit of the attack on these bottom notes in comparison. But just barely. The 121H is also a bit 'warmer' but not to say it's any less accurate - in fact it may be more accurate. Yet, there's some magical darkness to the 102P that seems very right for DB. Overall, it's a toss up on these two cabinets.

    The surprise is the 15". It's very close in sound to the others! Really close. Again, there's no apparent coloration in 99% of the range. But it clearly whomps out the lows more than the others and has a bit of brightness that the others don't - not shrill, just not as 'dark'. The added deep bass comes without coloring the lowest notes - not at all. It just moves more air. Amazing, actually. There is only one spot that seemed to be a bit hot - and that was around the first 'C' on the 'G' string. It jumped out a bit more in volume than on the other cabinets. Not unpleasing, however. Another impression is that the 15" was 'helping' the notes a bit, meaning that it seemed to push the air so easily that if felt as if there was less effort needed on my part. Kind of hard to describe really and I noticed this only in comparison to the other cabinets. I suppose you could say it's kind of like 'tube assisted playing'. I can only imagine how awesome this cabinet must be for BG. Just when you think all the 'big' drivers have been taken out to pasture...

    I've been clearing out all my other amps and cabs as I'm a full Markbass convert. I believe for my purposes, this is it.
     
  12. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    A note on dealers in Canada while we're waiting for US distribution. In addition to Dave Freeman at Club Bass in Toronto, there's Italmelodie in Montreal (514) 273-3224. Ask for Leon. They seem to have a bigger stock, sell at the same or a bit lower and take credit cards.
     
  13. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Just what I needed. More GAS!!! :help: :D
     
  14. bolo

    bolo

    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Wow ...

    Are you saying in general that you prefer the Markbass cabs vs. your LDS line up? Sorry if you made that point or comparison or shootout earlier and I missed it.
     
  15. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    Crazy as it may be, I really am trying to settle down with a line of amp/cabs and mostly stay 'off the market'. I am settled with my DB's and on the way to do so with my BG's. I guess I was still looking for just a bit more than the LDS series, as great as they are. Part of the reason was their weight. The Epifani took care of that and quite unexpectedly, the Markbass one-upped the Epi's. What's nice about the Markbass is they are built better than the Epi's at least from what I can see - with a build quality at least the equal of LDS. A few pounds heavier than Epi, but lighter than LDS. The other appeal to Markbass is the low prices and their very wide range of rigs - by the time the new models come out at NAMM, the range will be almost as big as Ampeg's. When you consider that most of it will be superb for working DB'ers and doublers, that's reason to celebrate.
     
  16. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Do any of these Canadian distributors have websites?

    I was looking at the MarkBass website and the Mini 12 combo looks sweet.
     
  17. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    The best of the websites is www.clubbass.ca. They have the prices listed too in Canadian dollars. And I believe the Club Bass specs are the same as or more accurate in some cases than even the factory site. I have a Mini 12 combo on order, but if I wasn't so weight restrictive, I'd get the regular 121H combo (but then again, with the 121H cabinet and the LMII head, I kind of have it).
     
  18. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Have you been able to check out the Little Mark next to
    the Focus. It seems like these might be very similar amps.
     
  19. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    No, but I gave up my Acoustic Image gear for Walter Woods because the Woods was a tad bit more accurate and was more resonsive to my touch. The Markbass did the same thing over the Woods...but this time its so close to the actual sound of the bass, playing solo, I don't know when the sound of the bass itself stops and the amplifier starts. It's uncanny (Markbass LMII and Traveler 102P test).
     
  20. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Y'know... I had the same thing happen with my Focus and
    Full Circle pickup. I was using a Berg 112HT. The volume
    was seemless from the sound of the bass to the amplified
    sound. Then I went to the next gig. The sound was very
    different. Go figure. So are you saying the Markbass was
    similar to the Walter Woods for upright? I agree with you
    that the Woods is more responsive to the touch. I'd love
    to get that response without selling my house to get a Woods.