NAD: Hartke TX300 (compared vs. HA3500)

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by DoctorZee, Jan 30, 2019.


  1. DoctorZee

    DoctorZee Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2018
    New York / New Jersey
    I was skeptical about the TX series after some negative reviews of the TX600, but the 300 seems to have corrected the confusing volume issues, and it added overdrive which was intriguing to me. I thought I'd give it a shot and, if all goes well, maybe send the old HA3500 into retirement. I'm comparing the two heads through Hartke 210XL cabinets with a Fender P.

    My kid is napping, so I've only been able to test this out at low volumes so far. Later, I'll crank it up and share what I find.

    Size and Form
    The TX is 6.25" x 14.25" x 10.75", and 5 lbs. It feels well-built and durable, including the knobs. It can fit in my gig bag, but I'll probably look at a laptop case or small backpack for it. Hartke does not offer any bags for it (why?). The HA3500, by comparison, is a 2U slab that probably weighs around 25 lbs or more.

    Tone (Flat Settings)
    The tone immediately struck me as being much more even, mellow, and flat than the HA3500. Super clean, of course. The midrange sounds really nice to my ears, and doesn't have those nasal mids that the HA3500 does. The TX misses a little bit of oomph in the lows, but nudging the bass EQ up to 1:00 pretty much fixed that. If I had to use this with everything at 12:00 I think I'd be totally fine, whereas I am constantly fiddling with the HA.

    Tone (EQ Controls)
    The controls themselves are kind of apples-to-oranges. The old HA has the graphic EQ plus the "low/high pass" controls +/- 18 dB at 100 Hz and 10 kHz. Those bug the crap out of me, because they're not actually low/high passing, but that's another story.

    Meanwhile, the TX has a 3-band EQ +/- 16 dB at 30 Hz (shelf), 700 Hz (peak), and 6.5 kHz (shelf). Personally I find 700 Hz kind of useless, so I wish this was 4-band or had sweepable mids, but that's where the "Shape" control comes in.

    The Shape knob provides a preset filter that you can sweep along from 185-860 Hz. There's some very nice slap tones between 9:00-12:00, and at around 3:00 you get a pretty warm, fat tone. With the Shape and 3-band combined, this is a totally workable EQ.

    Drive & Compression
    I was wishing against my better judgement that the Drive might give me enough fur at low levels to dump my Sansamp. I'm not sold on that. It's a pretty sterile, solid-state-sounding drive, but it's not at all harsh. I would use it in a pinch, but I don't think it's going to be anyone's favorite sound. At low gain settings, it was pretty undetectable until 10:00. The closest I got to a vintage tube impression was running the drive at 10:00, shape at 3:00, and bass and treble at 1:00. I need to revisit the drive situation later at higher volumes.

    The compression is... fine? Basically just like the HA's compressor. I'm not very sophisticated about compression. It does what it's supposed to do, but of course it's just a simple on-board threshold dial.

    First Impressions & Next Steps
    I'm pleased so far. It does exactly what I hoped---gives me a super clean sound with enough EQ flexibility to use it on stage, in a small package. My biggest question now is just about volume and headroom; I just need it to be the same or better than the HA3500. Tomorrow I may take it to rehearsal and crank it through the practice space's Eden 410s to check out the headroom. Next gig is February 16 at a 200-seat theater that the HA has filled without a problem, so that would be the final test.

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    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
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  2. DoctorZee

    DoctorZee Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2018
    New York / New Jersey
    A nice little bonus: This was my first time ordering from sweetwater. I didn't know they send you a little bag of candy! I like candy.
     
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  3. DoctorZee

    DoctorZee Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2018
    New York / New Jersey
    [Continued]...

    Volume & Headroom
    Got to crank the TX300 up this weekend and compare it against the HA3500. Ran them into the pair of cabinets to get the full 300 (TX) and 350 (HA) watts out of each. I think I do notice a little more headroom in the HA3500 as you get past 12:00 on the master, but honestly, it's pretty negligible. The TX300 stays very clean and musical all the way up.

    I know 300 watts doesn't cut it for a lot of guys on here, but for my purposes this is going to be just fine. If I can't make enough sound with 300w at 4 ohms into 4x10, well, that's what PAs are for.

    Conclusion
    Still need to try this out with the band, but I think it's going to be a keeper. $300 for 300 watts of clean strong power in a durable unit with flexible EQ settings is fine by me. Carrying the HA3500 in its 2U rack case was not that big of a hardship, but all things being equal, I'm happy to not have to do that anymore.
     
  4. Artman

    Artman a.k.a. Eddy Garcia Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2017
    Georgetown, TX
    That's a nice review. I was curious about that amp. I personally, really like the sound of the 3500. I have an HA3500 with the square transformer inside that sounds really good. I used to own one of the MOSFET Transient Attack 3500 s back in the early 1990's. I wish that I had never sold that amp. It was everything the HA3500 is, but smoother and punchier. What I would love to find is a five pound Class D head that sounds exactly like the original Mosfet 3500. That would be the ticket for this guy.
     
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  5. DoctorZee

    DoctorZee Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2018
    New York / New Jersey
    You might try the TX series out. I don't know about the MOSFET, but you can dial in an HA3500 EQ curve pretty easily.
     
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  6. Artman

    Artman a.k.a. Eddy Garcia Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2017
    Georgetown, TX
    It’s not just the eq settings that I’m after. There is a very purcussive and immediate attack to every note played through those old mosfet 3500 TA heads. That’s what I would like to get from a class d amp.
     
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