NAD: PJB NanoBass X4 Tiny Practice Combo (pseudo-review w/vids)

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Queue, Apr 6, 2022.

  1. Queue

    Queue

    Jul 5, 2013
    DC Suburbs, USA
    TL;DR - This is an awesome tiny combo with a full sound that's probably not good for much beyond being an amp for solo practice.

    So, the long story is that in March, I returned to working in my office. I'm full-time IT, basically management-level at this point. During COVID, I really enjoyed having my basses within easy reach for impromptu noodling when a song came on my stream that I wanted to learn and/or jam along to.

    My company negotiated with everyone, and my agreement bought me 3 days in, 2 at home, so now T, W, Th I'm in the office. I've accumulated a few basses over the last 2 years, so I decided it would be nice to bring one in for office noodling. I have my own office, with a door, so that is possible, but at lower levels. At first, I bought a VOX headphone amp, but between the headphone wire, and the Aux cord for my phone, things were a little cumbersome, plus if someone knocked at my door, I wouldn't hear them!

    So, I decided to look for a tiny, but good-sounding combo. My requirements were:
    1. Small
    2. Good sounding bass
    3. Aux input
    I actually already own the Roland Micro Cube Bass Rx, which is a nice little amp, but I use that 2x a month doing little acoustic jams with family. I wanted something I could keep in my office solely for the purpose of office play, that would NOT be too loud. My "main" rig for band play is a GK MB212ii, and that thing is stupid loud. I also have a GK MB112ii that was my first "real" amp purchase. That also suffers from stupid loud, which can be a great thing, if you're not in an office...

    Being a GK fanboy, I decided to look for a used MB108ii, and was patiently waiting for one to come up in the usual places.

    ...and then I was blindsided with an IMMEDIATE and SEVERE case of GAS by this post:

    Phil Jones Bass Announces the X4 Nanobass Compact Combo Amplifier

    I pulled the trigger on Tuesday night at 7PM on a Reverb listing from Alto Music in NY. Today at noon, I got the email that my package had arrived in the mailroom for pickup!!! (I think that's a new record for me on music purchases.) I picked Alto Music, as they weren't far from me (NY to DC), but I'd never imagined that 31 hour delivery was possible!

    Here's what you get:
    Co 20220406_114342.jpg

    The "accessories" are the 6' AC Power Cord, and a 5' Aux cable.

    Here's a few videos, recorded using my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 phone mic/camera. Sorry, I was by myself, so kinda hard to record and play simultaneously.

    People always wonder what a low B will sound like... I did my best by downtuning my little Epi EB-0 E string to B for you. It sounds surprisingly good!


    And this is a quick demo showing the Aux in feature, mixing with my Bass. Sorry for the awkward playing, I was one-handing this, basically banging on the E string with my right hand while holding the camera in my other hand. Also sorry if you get hit by an Ad, but you gotta give Chris Isaak some $ for his contribution to my video...


    So, I didn't get a good chance to see how much louder it would get, as there were still people in my building when I did these videos. I suspect this little amp would get lost quickly if you tried to play with someone else, maybe even a few acoustic guitars. It PERFECTLY suits my needs of a great sounding (even at low volume) tiny combo that could live on top of my desk at my office, and allow me to jam out on occasion without disrupting my neighbors.

    Pros:
    • Tiny size (6.3 x 7.9 x 7.8 inches)/weight (5.3 pounds)
    • Big sounding bass
    • Aux or Bluetooth in, with separate volume control
    • Headphone jack
    • 2 year warranty
    • PJB reputation
    • Solid construction
    Cons:
    • Price ($359USD)
    • AC Only (no DC in like on the PJB Dual 4)
    • Probably not loud enough to use for anything other than solo practice
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2022
  2. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    Montreal
    Many thanks for the review. It looks like the optimal desktop/ portable practice unit. In order for me to buy one at the current price, it'd have to get loud enough to play with at least one enthusiastically played acoustic guitar.
     
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  3. Queue

    Queue

    Jul 5, 2013
    DC Suburbs, USA
    It was a quick test drive, so the jury is still out on that. It is hard to test that without actually finding an enthusiastic acoustic guitar player! ;) I'll let you know if the opportunity arises in the next few weeks.
     
    nixdad likes this.
  4. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    Montreal
    If you could simply report back on its' max volume potential before rattling/farting, not necessarily with low B but perhaps with low D & E on the B string, that'd be helpful. When I travel, enough volume for living room/ fire side with 1 guitar (no percussion) is fine, and the incremental decrease in size/weight with respect to my double 4 might be worth it for me. Thanks.
     
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  5. Queue

    Queue

    Jul 5, 2013
    DC Suburbs, USA
    Excuse my mediocrity... (and the mess in my loft)
    So here's a new video, from home, so I could crank it up some more. I dialed the gain up to the point of clipping, and then backed it down a hair. The volume was maxxed, bass at 11:00, mid and treble straight up.

    I can't really get you a low D, as it is a Squier Jaguar short scale 4 string, that would probably sound awful tuned to BEAD. At first, I was playing without Neil, and digging in way too hard to try and get it to rattle or fart. It didn't really do either, but it definitely was breaking up/compressing a bit when I was hitting the A hard on the E string, but this bass is a little quirky there anyhow. (Sorry about my strings buzzing because of the digging.)

    Later, you hear me with Neil coming through my monitors, with the phone about 8.5 feet from the amp, and 9-10 feet from the monitors.

    Still not quite the same as with a real instrument, but I guess the Nano would cut it, depending on how enthusiastic your acoustic guitar player is! ;)

    Side note: my J pickup is much quieter (maybe too quiet). Yesterday's videos were using my Epiphone EB0, also dimed.

     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2022
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  6. nixdad

    nixdad

    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Yep, I picked one up through CME a few weeks ago with the intent of using it for a new acoustic-driven venture with one of my bandmates. Rehearsals for that project will not be at my house, so portability is tantamount. No reports on performance yet as we still have not rehearsed, but I like the features, tone and portability so far.
    IMG_1468.jpg

    I just need to find a gigbag for it which makes sense. I've seen one on the international videos posted on YouTube, but according to the Phil Jones people it will be summertime or later before they are available in the U.S. I think Chauvet lighting may have a padded bag which will suffice (and looks better padded than what Phil Jones offers,) so I need to take a few minutes to measure and see what works.
     
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  7. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    Montreal
    PLeeeease do repost after playing along with acoustic guitars!!
     
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  8. Queue

    Queue

    Jul 5, 2013
    DC Suburbs, USA
    @nixdad (and anyone else...) I found an Arriba Cases AC-115 at one of my favorite stores. According to their computer, there's 2 more in stock...

    Arriba AC115 Padded Lighting Bag
    Inside Case Dimensions: 9.5” x 9.5” x 13” / 241mm x 241mm x 330mm

    It fits quite nicely:
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2022
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  9. Queue

    Queue

    Jul 5, 2013
    DC Suburbs, USA
    AC126 might work too...
    AC126

    • Inside case dimensions: 14” x 8.25” x 8” / 355x205x200mm
     
    nixdad likes this.
  10. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I know I LOVE the Double Four and isn’t it really a single of that speaker? Would be plenty loud to practice. I’ve played elec guitar through that and it’s quite loud. I wouldn’t hesitate to try one. Those folks are crazy smart.
     
    Queue likes this.
  11. Queue

    Queue

    Jul 5, 2013
    DC Suburbs, USA
    @lomo coming tomorrow: NanobassX4 vs Enthusiastic Acoustic Guitar!
     
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  12. nixdad

    nixdad

    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Thanks, @Queue. I just ordered a camera bag with similar dimensions. I'll see how it works out.

    I'm looking forward to the results of your experience in playing with an acoustic guitarist.
     
  13. Queue

    Queue

    Jul 5, 2013
    DC Suburbs, USA
    Ok @lomo and @nixdad (and anyone else who's interested)

    (TL;DR: it's fine, but not much headroom)

    I managed to wrestle a bit of my son's time away to bang out this video for you. So here it is, clams and all, and no warmup/rehearsal and me forgetting the words here and there. The first two snippets, the NanoBass was pointing at my phone, probably 6' away. My son was on the bed, with his guitar pointing away from the phone. (I was afraid this setup was favoring the bass too much.) So, to be more realistic, we rearranged things for the last bit, having us both directed towards the camera.

    So, for me, I feel the NanoBass was fitting right in there, but I was pretty maxxed out on the settings (no extra headroom). Another guitar or two might have been an issue, but listening to the recordings, it's just fine. I just don't get the "holy $#!+ this thing is loud" feeling.... (My GK rig has spoiled me.)

    If I can wrangle some more time (I'm feeling like Harry Chapin here...), maybe we could A/B it with my Roland MicroCube Bass Rx.

     
  14. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    Montreal
    Thanks for the vid; it speaks 10k words :) It sounds like 1 guitar and a 4 string is its' limit, which is pretty much what the Canadian distributor told me when we spoke yesterday. Now I'll have to decide whether it's juice is worth the squeeze for me. The last time I jammed with my D4 it was with a low level amped electric guitar (10 watt Fender mini combo with the volume fairly low) and a harmonica.......I suspect the Nano would have been disappointing......
     
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  15. nixdad

    nixdad

    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Thanks for posting, @Queue. It performs as I expected. I have 50 & 100 watt amps I gig with, so my #1 reason for purchasing was portability.

    I’ll let you know my results when possible.:)
     
    Queue likes this.
  16. Queue

    Queue

    Jul 5, 2013
    DC Suburbs, USA
    @nixdad Let us know how your bag works out. I'll probably stick with the AC-115, but I suspect there's a supply line issue with those, so others may need an alternative.
     
  17. nixdad

    nixdad

    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    OK , so the bag I ordered from Amazon arrived today:
    Amazon Basics Large DSLR Gadget Bag (Orange interior)
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CF5OHZ2/ref=cm_sw_r_awdo_D3Y2F5F0G7GGQ5CX7G94?psc=1

    It’s definitely smaller than the Arriba bag you ordered, but it’s about the same price. The amp just does fit (with the inserts removed) and the bag zips & clips shut just fine, but I need to see how the AC & accessory cords fit with everything loaded.

    At first blush I’d say the Arriba bag is a better choice as there is no doubt it has enough room for everything.:thumbsup:
     
  18. Queue

    Queue

    Jul 5, 2013
    DC Suburbs, USA
    Yeah, that was one of my front runners, but I opted for the Arriba, as I already own another one that I keep a TC Helicon VoiceSolo in, so I'm familiar with the quality of their bags, and I figured the AMZ bag would be tight.
     
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  19. nixdad

    nixdad

    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    OK, so I used the Nanobass X4 at a rehearsal last last night with 2 other musicians - one was a very enthusiastic guitarist using a classical guitar, the other switched off between steel string acoustic, ukulele, harmonica, cajon & shaker. Both guys are talented vocalists, and one was even run through a small P.A. at low volume. We played a variety of mellow classic rock tunes (America, The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, Carole King, Neil Young, etc.)

    Well, the Nanobass was pretty much dimed on both the input and volume control to keep up but it did work. I was playing a Jazz Bass strung with La Bella white nylon flats (nothing lower than standard 4-string tuning.) We rehearsed in a small converted bedroom. The amp provided plenty of bottom end. The amp never farted out, however, there were a few brief moments I could tell it was at it's limit (I adjusted and it was fine.) Playing with a single guitarist would have been perfect.

    I'll never gig with this amp, but it beautifully serves the purpose for which I bought it - home practice amp and a portable tool for small, acoustic rehearsals. It's well built and oozes of quality & class. I did end up buying the Arriba AC115 bag as suggested by @Queue, and this worked out perfectly (I gave the DSLR bag I'd previously purchased to my wife.) It's padded well enough for light transport with plenty of room for the amp, cable and a bit more.

    All good, happy customer all the way around.:)
     
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  20. Queue

    Queue

    Jul 5, 2013
    DC Suburbs, USA
    20220428_114326.jpg
    I feel exactly the same. It is fairly permanently ensconced in my office, and I've had a few little sessions without fanfare (albeit usually late in the workday). Glad you liked the Arriba bag, too!
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2022
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