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Most meaningful upgrade to my rig: get a power amp or upgrade cab?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Junta, May 5, 2018.

  1. Junta


    Aug 11, 2016
    Hi folks

    I would appreciate your suggestions - please help me improve my tone and versatility with the most meaningful upgrade in my rig. Advanced beginner electric player, and not so advanced bass beginner in late 40s here. Love recording my own heavy genre instrumental songs (I play guitar and bass, and get drums from computer), never gig, never jam with humans...

    Proud owner of a new Fender US Geddy Lee! And, I love my NG-2!


    Just got the Tech 21 GED-2112. Here, tucked under my favorite Marshall:


    and here is my amp (Ampeg PF-20T 20watt tube amp) and cab (Traynor TC 210 with Eminence drivers)


    My current set up is:
    • Bass->
    • fuzz-> empress comp-> Darkglass A/O-> Moogerfooger 101 LPF-> more fuzz/distortion (lots!)->
    • front input of GED-2112->
    • (in the effects loop) time based effects and modulation pedals (lots!)->
    • Empress Stereo Plus (Router) ->2112 Return
    • 2112 1/4 combined output-> Ampeg PF-20T (not too happy about going into yet another pre-amp)->
    • Traynor TC210 cab.
    Get a power amp? Get a Class D amp and use effects return? or upgrade cab?

    Yes, I know, the answer is: practice, and invest in bass lessons... I am doing my best!

    Thanks so much!

    Last edited: May 5, 2018
    shupe13, Pbassmanca and mikewalker like this.
  2. Since the mic didn't rate a mentiom in that GAS attack I'm going with ''you need a flash new microphone''.
    Haroldo and Microbass like this.
  3. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Okay, read through your post twice (I rarely use effects, so it was a lot for me to follow, but I think I've got it!).

    Here's what I've taken from it so far:
    • Playing at home. Recording heavy songs.
    • Lots of effects.
    • Not playing with others/playing out (at least for now).
    • Guessing you like Geddy Lee.
    • I think I see a mic on the cab (in addition to recording direct?)
    • Concerned about the possible effects of running through too many preamps.
    If you're playing at home, I'm guessing volume is not an issue -- either with the cab or the PF20T. Is there some way that you find the performance (tone/feel/dynamics) of the current setup lacking? Do you feel that running into the front end of the Ampeg, after all the pedals and the Geddy pre, is muddying up the sound? Have you tried recording direct from either the Sansamp or the PF20-T without the other piece in the chain? Do you like it more than what you hear through the amp or through a D.I.ed recording with everything in the chain?

    Re. the cab, again, I doubt that volume is an issue -- I'd imagine that you're running well within its capabilities at home -- but perhaps the tonal profile or some other aspect of its performance is leaving you wanting.

    If you can expand on what you're hearing/not hearing/want to hear from your current rig, it will help people make more meaningful suggestions for improvement (though practice is always good).

    If you're looking for more of a "blank canvas" for the Geddy pre+pedals, there are other amps and cabs that might get you closer (an effects loop would be good for that, but I didn't see one in my quick, online look at the pf20t or pf50t).
    monsterthompson likes this.
  4. Tone and versatility are subjective.

    In objective terms, what is wrong with your current setup?
  5. Junta


    Aug 11, 2016
    Thanks folks, sure I will try to explain:

    I have the option of using my Darkglass Alpha/Omega as preamp (into GED-2112 in bypass) or use my GED-2112 as preamp (which I think is brilliant, with the exception of missing a foot-switch). The Ampeg does not have an effects loop, so the whole signal chain then goes into its preamp.

    The Ampeg is a 2 x 12AX7 and 2 x 6V6 based tube amp. I leave the gain on 9-11 o'clock territory (the GED at minus 20db), and I can never go loud enough to make the power tubes clip; so it colors the sound probably not all that much. But I really do not like having all kinds of EQ, gain, volume and more EQ and volume knobs cascading into each other. I think the GED provides more than enough pre-amp control. I just want to amplify it. Power amplification, and nothing else.

    I thought of getting the the Seymour Duncan Power stage 170:
    (Copyright Seymour Duncan 2018)

    But, that too has volume and EQ controls (more cascading...), so I ruled it out.

    I even looked it this old Bose power amp: Bose PackLite A1 Power Amplifier (Copyright Bose 2005)



    Although this thing is meant to be an add on to some kind of Bose PA system, I think it operates independently too, and the power rating (I am guessing 2/3 of 250 Watts into 8 ohms) should be perfect for my home playing needs. Anyway, just a thought - it is not expensive.

    Ideally of course, I would find a rack mount low powered power amp which would accommodate GED 2112's output, with no controls other than turn on/off!

    Now the cab - the Traynor cab could probably withstand a nuclear blast... (Copyright Traynor 2018)


    But it is not exactly the most high-end cab... Actually, it was the cheapest 2x10 available when I bought it two years ago. It has Eminence drivers, rated at 400 watts into 8 ohms, with a Frequency Response (Hz +/-3dB) of 45Hz - 18khz.

    Its horn is its weak point I think. I recently played through some Markbass cabs with electric guitar/electric amp, and they sounded amazing. When I do the same with the Traynor, not good. I am by no means an expert, but I am guessing some major improvement to my sound could be through a cab upgrade. What do you think?

    And finally, by versatility, I mean: I record heavy as sh#t stuff, yes, but then I am trying to learn the bass by trying all kinds of genres - funk, pop, Reggae, rock, etc.

    So I do not think the answer to my quest is a specialist cab or specialist amp.

    Last edited: May 5, 2018
    Pbassmanca and mikewalker like this.
  6. Junta


    Aug 11, 2016
    You are right sir, I should have mentioned my mic solution. Some where between the center and the edge of my 10 inch driver, I am using an Audio-Technica AE2500 Dual-element Cardioid Instrument Microphone (Dynamic + Condenser perfectly phase-aligned). Copyright Audio-Technica 2018


    It does not sound better with the Traynor cab than impulse response solutions. I use both mics inside. My guess is the cab is the weak link in my set up, not this medium/high end mic.
  7. Junta


    Aug 11, 2016
    Your suggestions for low power, no frills power amps AND better higher end cabs (2x10 or 1x12) would be appreciated!
  8. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Unless your intent is to keep the volume down, it sounds like you just need to change your gain staging so you get a suitable level from your PF20. I don't think you should consider another amp until you get your gain issue figured out...it should be very easy to push the PF20 to clipping.

    Regarding the Traynor TC210...try turning the horn down till it integrates better with the 10s. In order to set the level, play full range music through the cab and set for flat response or slightly rolled off highs...or simply turn the horn all the way off.
    murphy and Junta like this.
  9. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    I like the Crown XLS amps. The lowest-powered one (and cheapest) is the 1002, which does 215w/channel at 8 ohms, 350w/channel at 4 ohms (and is 2 ohm capable).

    But I’m still trying to figure out why, if you’re just recording at home and not gigging, you’re even fooling with amps and cabinets at all. Just run your preamp straight into your DAW.
    HolmeBass, oldskoolskatedad and Junta like this.
  10. Well, I think your amps are pretty much on the top tier of the spectrum. You could get something bigger and more powerful, but if you just do the home studio thing, I can't see it making too much of a difference how much power you've got. You say you want the best high end cabnets? Well, search Barefaced, Bagend, Mesa, Bergantino, and you should find what you need. Also look at a good recording interface for direct injection, and a sound chamber to isolate your cabs for recording. If you're not liking how your cabs sound, it's probably just the space you're in. Because, those basses, with those amps should sound amazing coming out of basically anything. At low volumes and closely mic'd especially.
  11. That Bose amp is pretty cool dude. I wouldn't mind picking one up myself. At all.
    ialma likes this.
  12. Junta


    Aug 11, 2016
    Because, the 'heavy stuff' (think Darkglass Alpha Omega at almost max gain, blending in only 1/4 of dry tone) - even with the cab about which I am complaining... MICing sounds sooooo much better than impulse responses, never mind direct recording.

    I am using a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4i, Torpedo Wall of Sound (for bass mic and cab impulses) by the way. In my experience, micing cabs is still the way to go with overdriven/distorted bass.
    ctmullins likes this.
  13. Junta


    Aug 11, 2016
    I know! I will get the last remaining one on sale before you do! :smug:

    Seriously though - beware! We are talking early 2000s tech here... I think Class D 'miniature' amplification might have improved significantly since then.
  14. Junta


    Aug 11, 2016
    They seem to have this on their website (Copyright Crown Audio 2018):


    XLS DriveCore 2 Series - very promising! It does have volume knobs - but hey... I could always hardglue them... :smug:

    Thanks for the suggestion - the price is right too!
    ctmullins likes this.
  15. Ehhhh, yeah. If you want tech, peavey mini mega bro. Check it out. It is a little nuts. But, they need to make a pedal version, cause 1000w is way too much for anything but beast mode. Class D is good. Small, light weight, efficiency, but you'll lose your warmth and grind that you get with that Ampeg. That little sucker is nice. It's just way too small for me. But in turn, perfect you. The really great advantage to the new D amps, is the power and price. You can run any sort of pre set ups in them, bypass the amp, and go straight to the raw cheap power. But, not much is going to legitimately sound close to that tube Peg of yours. But for real, look into acoustic devices. IE sound proofing. That will give you so much more than you think you'll get with newer gear. The most expensive set up in existence, will still sound like garbage in the wrong room. Same note, a good producer, in his element, can make almost anything sound like gold. That's why people still pay for studio time.
    murphy, lundborg and Junta like this.
  16. Junta


    Aug 11, 2016
    Amen! That is why when it is too late to play, I do my Recording software/techniques tutorials online...

    There is just no end to what you need to learn! But hey, I am enjoying it big time, so... :thumbsup:
    gjohnson441496, murphy and Jewce like this.
  17. Junta


    Aug 11, 2016
    @ctmullins, my store seems to have (online listing) this as the entry level Crown Audio Amp:

    XLi 800 300W Power Amplifier

    And not the XLS series. Is the XLi suitable for the task? Cheers!
  18. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Sure, lots of pro-sound amps will work for you. That one isn’t 2 ohm capable, which probably won’t matter for your use, and it’s a lot heavier, which probably won’t matter for your use. Just clean no-frills power!
    Junta likes this.
  19. Chrisk-K


    Jan 20, 2010
    Maryland, USA
    Since you are not gigging, you don’t need another amp or cab because for recording purposes software works as well as, if not better than, hardware.

    I suggest you buy a 4003.
    ctmullins likes this.
  20. Junta


    Aug 11, 2016
    A-ha! Touché Sir!

    A Rickenbacker? Love Lemmy, not-love the Rickenbacker... :rollno: Too much bass for me I think!
    Pbassmanca likes this.

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