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MESA/Boogie Powerhouse 4x12 -vs- Mark Bass Classic CL 108

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Paroxyst, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. Howdy folks,

    I'm long overdue for a few gear upgrades and I'm torn between two products and I'd like to hear your thoughts.

    For a few years now I've been getting around playing rock, metal & dance through a SWR WorkingMan's (now WorkingPro series) 4x10T. 400WRMS with a tweeter - pretty standard stuff. I love it's meaty bottom end and while the tweeter is a can be a bit harsh at certain frequencies it gives me the clarity I need live and adds enough sparkle to smaller stages to keep things from getting muddy.

    Oh yeah, and it's heavy for it's size. About 45kgs.

    After playing through a few 8x10" cabinets at gigs where backline has been provided I would really love to upgrade to a big 'fridge' style cabinet - not just for extra watts, but for better on-axis monitoring more than anything else.

    Enter the gladiators:


    MESA/Boogie Vintage Powerhouse 4x12


    Mark Bass Classic CL 108

    Obviously, I'd just make the call on sound alone, but I don't have the opportunity to hear the Mark Bass cab anywhere in Canberra. I *did* have an opportunity to listen to a Powerhouse 4x12" on Saturday and ****-me it sounded gorgeous. Still seemed to have plenty of attack despite the bigger drivers and the highs were smooth and crisp where my current SWR tweeter does add clarity but in a pretty crude and harsh fashion.

    The money difference doesn't bother me, it's the weight and design issues that are messing with my head.

    The new Mark Bass box would actually weigh 5kg less than my current box half the size and that's a big incentive, where I'd gain another 15kgs to haul around with the MESA/Boogie. (however, some suggest that an 8x10" is easier to lug in some aspects because they always have recessed castors to tilt and roll where you actually have to lift 4x10"s off the ground to get them around. That all sounds fine and good until you actually have to get it in and out of the car though, hey?)

    The other thing that ****s with my head is that the Mark Bass 8x10" is a more traditional form factor, however it's not a ported box, while MESA has opted for the kinda new and original 4x12" high powered driver configuration in a ported box.

    Has anyone here heard both per chance and able to shed a bit of light on the matter?

    My playing style is typically very guttural and aggressive. My signature sound is typically a fairly distorted one ala Nine Inch Nails & Muse, but I don't want to set myself up with a rig that mires my ability to play soft and sweet when the time comes. Lastly, I like the idea of a fairly transparent cabinet sound to give me a good indication of what's heading out of my rack to FOH, though that doesn't have to mean no exaggerated low voicing because let's face it, most big FOH systems out there are bottom-heavy.

    Thanks in advance for your advice, peoples!
  2. Visirale


    Mar 23, 2003
    Both of those cabs are fairly colored. You really need to play both, but like you said, that isn't quite an option.

    What you said about bigger form factors being easier to move is definitely true. Either of these is going to be easier to move than your current setup.

    I've seen but haven't played through the Mark Bass CL108. If it's a sealed cab, it's going to have a more vintage tone... But it does have a tweeter, so depending on how you set that will have the final say in your tone.

    The Mesa is a balls out rock cab. I love them. If you tried it and liked it, go for it. I left the Mesa 12s for mesa 10s though. The 12s sound great, but they don't quite have enough punch for my tastes to fight through the mix and let me feel them over everything else. They sound fantastic and take distortion very well. Depending on the bass you use, your experiences might be different.

    I eventually opted for a mesa 810... but that's almost 180 lbs, so I doubt that's what you're looking for!

    Sorry if I wasn't much help, best of luck!
  3. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Buy the one you tried and like for sure. There is so much value in trying before you buy I don't think you should consider the MB. The PH412 is an amazing cab.
  4. I have not heard the Mesa cab, but the Markbass 8x10 is incredibly underwhelming, not that loud for an 8x10, and "blah" sounding- little low end and not much midrange character. I think MB tried to apply their 'lightweight' philosophy to a large format cab and ended up with a lightweight cab that sounds like a lightweight.
  5. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    There you go. I've been gassing for a Mesa 412, so that's what I'd do.
  6. Cool... Thanks a bunch for the advice, peoples! I appreciate the honesty in admitting to not having heard both but being happy to deliver an opinion on the contender you have heard.

    I have read some great reviews on the CL 108 but you know how it is, you can never trust anything in the press. More and more views I read seem to hint at Mark Bass being the go for the smooth vintage tones rather than the modern, clippy, scooped ones I'm after.

    And for all the romantic thoughts I had of a 8x10" that weighed a mere 40kgs/80lbs... something just doesn't add up there. *lol* I'll state again for the record that my current 4x10" weighs 45kgs/90lbs.

    Any other views on these new 12" bass guitar speakers getting around in general? I've seem a variety of 2x12", 3x12" and large 4x12" boxes appearing in recent years... wonder what started the fad?

    I used to get around with this existing SWR 4x10" and a McGregor 1x15" extension cabinet but always found it a disappointing combination. I think I was expecting the larger driver to really enhance the frequencies below 80Hz but it really didn't go a great deal better than the 4x10". Having said that it was a pretty low-powered 1x15" and I couldn't really drive it as hard as I would have preferred...
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I'm a little more charitable about it than you, but I kind of got the same impression. Markbass cabs all have a signature sound that if you've heard one, you will be able to identify that Markbass tonality in all their cabs. I think it's a decent sounding cab, but it is definitely light on the bass response.

    But here's the thing...you really can't judge a Markbass cab solely in the store. They don't shine in the store. They sound a little blah in the store. They shine on a gig, though. It really is amazing how plain they can sound on their own but how pretty they sound in a band context. So even though the CL108 didn't knock me out in the store, I think there's a good chance it would sound amazing with a band.

    I will say this, though...an SVT cab it's not. It's a lot smaller than an SVT cab and you do have a trade-off in low end and overall bigness of tone. And with cabs, size matters until someone defeats the laws of physics. The CL108 is going to be a cab that completely polarizes people, just like all their cabs. People are either going to love it or hate it.
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    12"s have always been around for bass but not commonly because the SVT made 10"s the go-to speaker. They're good speakers. Very much the best aspects of 10"s and 15"s in one.

    Markbass cabs are pretty versatile, actually. A lot of modern guys like them, a lot of vintage guys like me like them (as long as you roll off the tweeter freqs). But they are an acquired taste.
  9. Bass Collector

    Bass Collector

    Aug 14, 2008
    There's a Powerhouse 412 and a Markbass 106 at Better Music in Canberra. I know it's not the 108 but if you A/B'd those it would give you an idea of what the sound will be like.
  10. edpal

    edpal Banned

    Oct 3, 2007
    My vote is for the Mesa POwerhouse 1200. 4X10 +1X15 in one cab. Yes they are big but fantastic sound. Yes they fly in the face of conventional cabinet design/thought regarding off-axis speakers and all that. I rock 2 of those each with an SVT7 head.
  11. 1.) zombies...

    2.) The powerhouse 1000/1200 is the worst sounding cab Mesa makes

    3.) How do you run two 4 Ohm cabs with the SVT 7 pro?
  12. rogersjoe

    rogersjoe Sakara Bassist

    Aug 5, 2013
    West Springfield, MA
    Do NOT get the Mesa 4x12. I recently picked one up due to my worship of Justin Chancellor. Before making the purchase I had a Kustom 8x10. Not the Vinyl ones but a modern day one. I played one show with the cab and something just seemed thing. I figured I needed to dial in my amp better.....one week later we entered the studio to record our debut album. Johnny April (bassist of Staind) is producing the album. First day of bass tracking we mic'd up my cab. No matter what amp/microphone combo we used nothing sounded good. We grabbed one of those Ampeg SVT 2x10 cabs just to try and that thing BLEW the mesa 4x12 out of the water. Not volume wise.....but just quality of sound. I have tried many cabs since then. But I keep going back to the old Kustom 8x10. I have NO experience with any mark bass gear. But I can say without a doubt. DO NOT GET THE MESA.
  13. KwinS

    KwinS Supporting Member

    Oct 30, 2006
    Dallas/Ft. Worth
    I have 2 of the 8 ohm Mesa PH4x12's. More often than not, I only run one of them. They are fantastic! I can only imagine that there was something wrong with your Mesa 4x12.
  14. rogersjoe

    rogersjoe Sakara Bassist

    Aug 5, 2013
    West Springfield, MA
    I can't guarantee there wasn't something wrong. I never really looked into it. But it was brand new. So if there was something wrong, that's another reason not to get one.
  15. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Zombie thread for certain, but must add, rogersjoe's experience with the Powerhouse 412 is the ONLY negative one I've ever heard. My, and most all other users/owners have had quite the opposite experience. Fantastic, loud, great sounding cabs. And +1 to the Powerhouse 1000/1200 being the WORST of all Mesa's cabs. Engineering by looks at it's worst.
    villegastx likes this.

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