NAD - Blackstar Unity ACT250 and Darkglass B7K

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Artorias, Apr 12, 2024.

  1. Artorias

    Artorias

    Mar 9, 2017
    I posted a little while ago asking for any user experiences with this powered cabinet running a preamp pedal into it, and I guess no one on here has used one for this, so here’s a little review for any interested:

    Background info: I was running heads into cabs, combos, and recently tried a PA speaker setup. My goal was to be able to run a couple preamp pedals while monitoring myself for practice in my room, but using the same rig to play with my daughter (high school jazz drummer). I didn’t like a head and cab as it wasn’t very portable. Didn’t like combos because while being portable, I wasn’t really using the preamp section and felt too many were boomy sounding in my practice space. PA Speaker sounded great, but couldn’t do the high frequency hissing self-generated noise from the power amp section.

    So, I decided to take the plunge on the Blackstar Unity 250ACT powered cabinet. As far as I can tell, this is really the only powered bass cab out there now at a reasonable price. I know GK was doing this for a bit, but seems they’re no longer in production.

    I was a bit hesitant due to the only speaker available in this is an Eminence 15” and no compression driver/horn/tweeter. I’ve only ever played through 10” and 12” speakers and had issues with 112 setups being boomy.

    First, this thing is kind of heavy. Not overly heavy, but not light. The size is nice; fairly decent size cabinet with 2 ports at the bottom of the front baffle.

    The “controls” are all on the rear panel. There’s ventilation near the top of the panel, but I have yet to hear any fan noise at all, even when very close to the cab. There is a ground lift button, XLR out (comes with a XLR cable) and a 1/4” input. From reading the manual, since these are powered at 250w, you can daisy chain these together infinitely. There is also a very small volume “knob” on the back… this thing gets really loud and moves a ton of air.

    I’m not sure about how the signal is processed or whatever, but plugging my basses (MIM Precision w/ flats and a Spector NS Pulse II) directly into the 1/4” input sounds fantastic. No EQ control of course, but it’s definitely a usable tone and I’d be perfectly happy running straight in.

    I also purchased a Darkglass B7K V2 preamp pedal. This is a very, very transparent preamp. Lots of awesome and well thought out EQ options (selectable low mid and high mid frequencies, toggles for treble and bass shaping). When the blend is set all the way towards the clean side, I hear almost no difference to the inherent tone of the Blackstar Unity 250ACT aside from some more top end emphasis. This is a very good thing to my ears because the tone from the cab already sounds really great, flat, and clear. The EQ adjustments allow me to shape this already great base tone into whatever I can think of. The drive on the pedal is also really great sounding. It’s hard to describe and really sounds nothing like what I hear in most of the demos. With moderate EQ settings, it’s very usable all the way through the sweep. It never becomes “too much”, but skirts the edge when maxed. It’s a very organic, grinding distortion sound that feels really responsive to playing dynamics. I owned an Alpha-Omega a while ago and while that distortion circuit is glorious sounding, it really kind of covered up dynamics. Everything just sounded the same. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, just might not be applicable for everyone’s needs. The B7K is more of a tube-ish grind, though very hi-fi sounding in a way. Very high quality tones and I have yet to find a bad setting.

    So, overall, I think this is a great way to run a preamp pedal or simply go direct into the cab, and if anyone hasn’t tried a B7K yet… you’re missing out.
     
  2. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    I find your "story" hard to believe w/o photographic evidence.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2024
  3. Artorias

    Artorias

    Mar 9, 2017
  4. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    Now I belive every word!
     
  5. Alivefor5

    Alivefor5 Supporting Member

    Jul 17, 2006
    Indiana
    Interesting cabinet without mid driver or tweeter. Is this marketed as a powered sub?
    What's the weight?
     
  6. hooky_marr

    hooky_marr Supporting Member

    Jul 26, 2005
    Chicago, Illinois
    It’s marketed as a powered extension to the Blackstar Unity 500w 2x10 combo, mostly.
     
    Alivefor5 likes this.
  7. Artorias

    Artorias

    Mar 9, 2017
    It’s probably 35-40lbs. It’s supposed to be an extension speaker for their bigger Unity combos, but they market it as being a good platform for running preamp pedals into, so that’s what piqued my interest.

    Edit: no, it doesn’t have a tweeter or anything, but I honestly can’t tell the difference. Not sure if that’s indicative of a wide frequency response from the speaker and cab or of my lack of an ear for nuance
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2024
    Alivefor5 likes this.
  8. Alivefor5

    Alivefor5 Supporting Member

    Jul 17, 2006
    Indiana
    Good info, thank you.