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NAD: New Acoustic 320 Day

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by middy, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. middy


    Mar 14, 2007
    In my dream amp thread, I mentioned that the local pawnshop had an Acoustic 320 head for $199. A couple posters said I'd be a fool not to buy it, so Friday, with visions of Jaco and JPJ in my head, I headed over to test it out.

    I plugged it into their Ampeg 410LF and turned it on. *thump* it powers up and I start to play. Sweet, chewy, growly midrange, loud as balls by 9 o'clock on the volume knob, *crackle crackle* the volume pot needs cleaning, but it works fine. All the tone controls and eq sliders work as they should. Both channels work as they should. Switched input, a&b blend as they should. Power boost works fine, but yuck, that's staying off. This baby is coming home with me. $200 out the door.

    I've tried a lot of amps and I prefer those with character. My Ampeg pf500 is very nice. The more flat and accurate amps I find boring and lifeless. Maybe because I play a Fender P... Why would I want to accurately reproduce the sound of a solid chunk of wood with a magnetic pickup screwed to it? If I was playing an upright, sure I might want it as accurate as possible, but with a Fender? Give me character!

    I researched a bit and found bottomend!'s posts enlightening, with his frequency analysis graphs. But I totally disagree with him that an Ampeg cabinet does not sound good with an Acoustic head. Maybe it's just that a different eq strategy is required. My 810e sounds great with the 320!

    Also, contrary to certain peoples' claims, this amp is not all mids and muffled. It's actually quite strident in the highs, and produces more than enough lows for the 810e (which isn't much of course, but I hate a lot of low lows and subs).

    Messing around with it today, I've come up with a nice eq strategy for the 810. First, I get the midrange how I want it on channel A, treble at 9:00, midrange at 1:00, bass at noon. Eq set to channel A with a 2 db bump at 125 and -10 db at 2k to take out the loud fret noise ( I think this amp will work well for guitar too). This channel is now mostly midrange. I turn it up to the desired volume. Plugging into the switched input with the switch set to A&B, now I can blend in some highs and lows from channel B. Treble at noon, midrange at 9:00, bass [DEL]cranked all the way up[/DEL] at 4:00. I blend in channel B until the low end is as thick as I like, then tweak the treble until it's just enough. Bright switches and power boost stay off, not my cup of tea.

    This thing has character, and loads of it. It's no modern amp. The huge caps and big iron transformer make it play almost like a tube amp, but quicker and not as smooth and compressed. It's super punchy with all that juice loaded up and ready to jump out of the speakers. I love the midrange grind at high volume. Hit it with a pick and it snarls, pluck it with your fingers and it purrs. There's more than enough volume through a 4 ohm 810 for any venue that doesn't require pa support anyway, as long as you don't mind the grind... Which is the whole point of this amp for me. I wouldn't want it any more powerful or I wouldn't be working the power section enough.

    I have rehearsal tomorrow night with drummer and acoustic guitar/ vocals, and with the full band (adding a strat with Mesa half stack) on Friday. Will give a band mix report later. Until then... pix!

    Edit: I've experimented a bit and my eq strategy works better with the bass on channel B turned up to 4:00 rather than all the way.
  2. middy


    Mar 14, 2007
  3. Gaolee

    Gaolee Outta my way! I'm caffeinated! Supporting Member

    Congratulations! A 320 approaches 360 sweetness with the added versatility you have discovered. $200 is a great price for what looks like a reasonably clean amp.
  4. Now , all you need is to you need to find a 408 cab....
  5. middy


    Mar 14, 2007
    Has anyone tried running an aby switch into the discrete channel inputs with one of these? Does it work?

    I figure a fuzz box through my midrangey A channel would be awesome blended with the clean lows and highs of the B channel.... And then a synth on the B channel... Lol. This is gonna be fun!

    I would use the effects loops, but I don't think any of my pedals work well at line level.
  6. Gaolee

    Gaolee Outta my way! I'm caffeinated! Supporting Member

    I have thought about doing it with the Ric to see what would happen. Run fuzz on the bridge circuit and clean on the neck circuit and it might sound pretty good. It will amplify and eq whatever signal you put into it, so if you are using both channels, you can turn the channels up and down as you see fit, then whatever goes in comes out in the proportion you mix it with channel volume. I'm sure there's a more technical way to say that. I believe you can only eq one circuit or the other if you are running both, but I'm not 100% certain.
  7. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    Congrats on finding a powerhouse of an amp beautiful and powerful I love it she's ready to rock.
  8. 10cc


    Oct 28, 2013
    I fell in love with these a few years back and since then purchased two 320's and one 370. I love them all! I send two signals from my boss tuner one into channel one with my smooth tone ( low and smooth) and the other into channel two where I've boosted some mids and got a great growl going. Now with both channels having they're own volume I can blend it into a great big tone through my Ampeg 810.

    Great score rip it!
  9. middy


    Mar 14, 2007
    I tried it and it works fine with a aby box. Sounds great with a double muff through the midrange channel blended with the clean bottom/top channel. Even better with an old Tech21 XXL! Time to join a doom metal band! Haha

    But actually, when I turn the dirt box off, the natural grind is almost "heavier" (not dirtier) using a pick... I've never bonded with any effects for bass.
  10. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    $200? Score! I'd be all over that.
  11. middy


    Mar 14, 2007
    The only thing I don't like on this amp is the ridiculous taper on the volume pots. It's silent at 8:00, loud as hell at 9:00, and at the limits of its headroom at 10:00. Beyond that it just gets more and more distorted, but not really in a usable way, at least not through the 810... I don't like the sound past 11:00.

    That being said, it's giggable at 9:00... louder than I normally play at rehearsal. It's just so touchy and my bass has no volume control. I guess I'll pick up one of those cables with the built in volume pot.

    Also, I tried a guitar through it and it's pretty meh. But I have a nice 20 watt tube head for guitar so whatever. I bought this for bass and it shines!
  12. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Well, if yer in the Austin area and you decide you don't want to keep it please let me know :)
  13. Oren Hudson

    Oren Hudson

    Dec 25, 2007
    Gastonia, NC
    We told you! :cool:
  14. I use a 470 which is similar to yours, but it's a guitar/bass head with a voicing switch. I actually prefer it in guitar mode personally since it cuts the really low frequencies, and give it a bump at 100 and 240 on the graphic eq. Whump city.
  15. middy


    Mar 14, 2007
    My 810 cuts the lows all by itself. ;)

    Seriously though, part of my eq strategy was the fact that the graphic eq on the 320 cuts a lot of low lows and subs from the channel it is assigned to. Assigning it to the midrange channel keeps it really tight. Then I blend in enough of the other channel with the bass boosted a bit to thicken up the bottom end just right. Adding the treble to the bass channel keeps the mid channel perfect for dirt pedals so they don't get too fizzy. I don't know if I'll ever use the dirt though, I love it so much just on its own.
  16. bottomend!


    Oct 23, 2007
    Thanks for the shout out and congrads on a steal of a deal! I dont recall exactly what I said in regards to the Ampeg 8-10 and the 320 but I can tell you that running the head through a 2 ohm cab (like the 408 that it was designed for) will get you more head room ect. Maybe a notch or two higher on the volume knob before Captain Crunch sits down with you for breakfast....

    I remember being at a rehearsal studio once with it plugged into a GK 2-10 (tilt back cab) and I couldn't get anything out of it. No volume, tone, guts ... nothing. By contrast I had my 450 plugged into a 4-10 Ampeg once and it was glorious (surprisingly in a modern vibe sorta way of course).

    These days on an almost weekly basis (basses?) I get to hear a 150 head plugged into a Ampeg 8-10 in a small local venue and it sounds really really good to me. Full fat bottom, clear mids and zingy top ( vintage zing ... not slap worthy) so hopefully my previously spewed Ampeg comments dont come back to nail my coffin shut.

    I love the fact that you figured out how to combine the two channels with grit and clean ect and lows and highs. To me, that it one of the magical aspects of this head that probably never gets utilized.

    As far as it not working for guitar, have you tried it with distortion pedals ect? the 320's sister - the mighty Aphrodite 330 absolutely KILLS with guitar but alas, it was designed for such work and came with a master volume to allow for overdrive... come to think of it I dont think I've ever plugged in a guitar into my 320 so I cant give you any personal impression. Try it and post the results. An Ampeg 8-10 is gonna suck though so you'll need a proper guitar cab to see if it really works or not.

    I'm glad you're on your way. Next up will be two more heads and two more cabs to FULLY take advantage of what this thing will REALLY do. Good start non the less...
  17. billgoodwin


    Mar 28, 2011
    nice find, congrats. Acoustic - The Mother of All Amps.
  18. I run mine through a pair of Avatar TB153, which are a really hi fi cabinet, so I've got to fake it til I make it in terms of eq cutoff. I'm actually trying to sell them right now to get a set of regular 112s since I'm wanting a smaller rig, and to get an EQ cutoff instead of my cab belting lows. Not that it's a bad thing that my cab reproduces too many frequencies, just have to be real mindful with the bass knob.

    I really don't even eq mine too heavily now that I think about it. The EQs are great, but it really seems like they voiced those amps to fit into a band from the start with the baked in eq. I even like playing it with a pick to get that raunchy midrange crunch when you turn an acoustic up, only when I'm feeling particularly anti-establishment though.
  19. middy


    Mar 14, 2007
    bottomend! Thanks for the great comment.

    Don't get me wrong, it was adequate for guitar, and it would probably be fine with dirt and echo through some Greenbacks, but I'm a tube snob when it comes to guitar amps, and I have to have that glassy clean tone.

    Anyone who loves dirt boxes really needs to try my method of running them through a midrange channel blended with a clean high/low channel. You get the full bottom end and you can roll off as much fizz as you want while keeping some clean top end. It is doooooom huge sounding!
  20. wideload


    Apr 15, 2004
    OP- You have given a perfect description of my 320 head that was stolen in '98 in California. It must be mine. Please send it to me. Just kidding - great score! :)