My shortest experience was with Hartke

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by JayAmel, Aug 24, 2005.

  1. JayAmel

    JayAmel Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Aurillac, France
    Hi folks,

    No mean to bash Hartke, but I received a 5500 head and a 410XL cab, and after a few hours playing and tweaking on them I decided they are going to go back to the shop.

    I had been interested with the tube drive knob : nothing hearable came to my ears to make a significant difference with the solid state knob. The only hearable difference is the noisy fan.

    The 10-band EQ looks nice, especially when lit on activation, but whatever I do I all ways have a full truck of hi-mids and highs. The 410XL cab, rated at 30HZ, produces mass mashed potatoes lows.

    And finally, the global volume I get out of this amp (with same entry and out levels), is just a tiny step above that of my Ashdown MAG-300R with its 8ohm MAG-210T cab (delivering approx. 200W on this config).

    Lesson #1 : never try to quit a brand when you love the tone (Ashdown). If you lack power, find a solution to improve it (and hey, that's pretty easy).

    Lesson #2 : even when you see players on TV getting nice lo-mid growls with an amp, better beieve the guys we read here or on GC review database, especially when they say "that's not a warm sounding amp at all".

    Next step for me (2 possibilities) :
    Adding a second MAG210T cab to my current rig (cost = 290 EUR),
    Or upgrading to MAG600R head + MAG410T cab (cost = 930 EUR, even if I keep the current rig).

    And in parallel, just in case I need use of any effects or mimic the temper of any other amp, I already ordered a Line 6 Bass Pod XT Live.

    Comments welcome, thanks.
  2. JoelEoM


    Mar 11, 2002
    Lancaster, PA
    my first amp was an HA2000/2.5XL. to me, the tube gain added an otherwise lacking presence. it was rather difficult to overdrive it with satisfactory results though. also, with the XL series, youre not going to have the warmth of paper cones, for obvious reasons(theyre not paper.) this accounts somewhat for having a ton of high-mids/highs. as for the "mashed potato lows", i assume that to mean your low end was muddy, which is something i never experienced with hartke cabs, and i played a lot of them before and after i bought that amp. IMO, for the money, theyre good amps/cabinets if you like that hartke sound . you either like it or you dont. i did at the time, but after to switching to a BE cab, i cant stand it anymore. theyre entirely too brittle sounding all around. as far as build quality goes, i never had any problems beyond normal wear and tear.
  3. Kael

    Kael Supporting Member

    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    Your EQ issue might have been more cabinet related. I used to use a 410xl with an old 3500 mosfet, and it was VERY mid oriented. Punchy as all get out, but almost all mids. The rating of 30Hz is complete BS. No way it gets that low with anything other than maybe a 10 db roll off. I pretty much ran mine with the classic "smiley face EQ", not in order to scoop the mids, but in order to flatten out the cabinet. If you get a chance to hear a 4.5xl, they do have better lows/highs.

    Hartke's tube knob will absolutely not give you any grind like say a Mesa Boggie would, but there is a definite difference between the SS and tube pre's. I always had an issue with the high end being a little "hissy" on my hartke. I solved that by cutting the highest fader till the offending hiss disappeared. I'm surprised that the EQ didn't do much to alter your sound. For a lower $ head, I found it to be fairly flexible even with the 410xl mid monster. Probably a stupid question, but did you have the graphic EQ on button depressed? I could get all sorts of low mid growl out of my 3500.

    I learned a long time ago to only change one thing in my signal chain at a time. Changing everything at once did not let me know what each peice really sounded like. Just my opinion.
  4. bugbass


    Apr 8, 2004
    If you can`t hear any difference when you turn the tube drive knob, there must be something wrong with either the amp or your ears
  5. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    More likely the cabinet. My 3500 with the same preamp works very well, but my speakers are totally revealing of whatever is sent to them.
  6. rayzak


    Jan 13, 2001
    Louisville, KY
    My buddy uses the HA5500 through an XL810 and he loves it. He plays out once or twice a week and it sounds great, to my ears. Been using it for about 8 months now at gigs and rehearsals and it's been bullet-proof.
    Sorry you're experience wasn't the same. I agree with your lesson #1 though, once you enjoy the 'flavor' of a certain brand/sound, nothing else seems to sound quite as good.
  7. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    My Hartke rig (a 3500 head and a 4x10 XL cab) is definitely a punchy mid machine. That rig, plus my Rickenbacker, and I never have trouble being heard. ;) How it compares to other rigs in regards to the low lows, I don't know because I've had this thing for so long without really playing through another rig (the head is an old MOSFET model, btw). It seems to shake things just fine though. ;) Who knows what's been changed or tweaked in these units in the years since I got mine though (until recently I had no idea that they apparently stopped doing the MOSFET thing in the heads.)

    The tube channel does sound different in my amp head, it seems to have a clearer high end when compared to the solid state channel. BUT... looking at the schematic in the manual reveals that the tube channel has a preset EQ curve that's not adjustable nor can be bypassed (it sounds like a slight smiley-face EQ.) EQ curve regardless, the tube side sounds a little more "buttery" and dynamic to my ears. I tend to use just it and keep the solid state channel turned down to 0.

    Oh, and the built-in compressor is a huge tone sucker. I never use it.
  8. Marley's Ghost

    Marley's Ghost Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2002
    Tampa, FL
    I am running a HA5000 Bi Amped with a 4ohm Avatar B210 and Sb112 and I get rave reviews on the the tone and punch. :cool: And my SansAmp BDDI adds a little extra tube goodness. :smug: It had been rock solid reliable for the past 3 years.
  9. I had the opposite type of experience with Hartke. I had a Hartke rig, swapped it for an Eden, then went back to Hartke because I liked the sound. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.