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NAD: TecAmp Puma 500 1u

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Scott McArron, Jan 8, 2012.

  1. FedEx came a day early so I got the chance to take this to my Top 40's gig last night leaving the Mesa M9 sitting lonely in the corner. Now, I LOVE my M9, I can't say enough good things about that incredible amp, but I'm in love with this TecAmp even more! Still honeymooning, but gotta say that I can already tell this one is not going anywhere for a hell of long time.

    I'm a huge fan of efficiency and well thought out designs. This amp is IT. Not a thing about it I would change or could imagine could be designed better. Everything I need is there and nothing I don't (like my 06 Mustang!). Phenomenal. It has a Taste knob that takes the sound from "Dry" to "Rich", Lo knob is set at 30 Hz so it great at controlling boomy rooms (not that it needs it because that round fat low end is still tight and controlled), the LoMid knob adds body and punch-you-in-the-gut girth to the notes, the HiMid knob, dial it out and it's slap heaven!, and the Hi is great as a low pass filter control or adding sparkle to the top end. Amazing!

    A Mute switch, no more pulling the Master Volume on my very touchy M9 volume knob. Great for those gigs where I don't bring the pedal tuner. Post switch right next to the front mounted DI which the soundguy said sounded "super clean...loved it."

    Aux in for playing my iPod through it and headphone jack for practicing. Very handy for me. With roommates, it's tough finding time to practice without this feature. Super bonus!

    Back to that Taste knob. This thing is the most useful tone filter knob I have ever used, including my Markbass LMII and F1 I used to own. First off, the amp set flat has a round, fat, warm and controlled low end, great punch in the lo mids, a little relaxed in the upper mids, and over all very smooth, with a sweet tube high end, really makes me think there's some tube love going on here. Now, I love the tone set flat, but coming from my incredibly bright and high middy M9, I've grown used to that brighter upper mid grindy sound for my jazz bass tone. Turn that Taste knob counterclockwise and there it is, more of that mid growl and bite with a slightly attenuated low end. Makes me think jazz bass.

    Being in a cover band, I often need to switch to the good ol' P sound, which sometimes you just gotta have! Turn the Taste knob to the right and the tone gets fatter and richer. When I had to switch from a J sound to a P sound in under 4 seconds going from one song to the next it was soooo easy with my 55-02. Rolled my pickup selector to the neck pickup and turned the Taste knob just a touch to the Rich side and OMG, super fat, rich, warm P bass sound!! Just like that. So easy. For me, the Taste knob should read "Jazz" and "P" rather than "Dry" and "Rich." It's the bass selector knob. :cool:

    I struggled so much with my M9 getting a P sound I liked out of that thing. It has much more control, but you really had to control it; it was a beast that needed tamed. Had to have the graphic EQ and the Compressor to control that low end (which I still love!), but would often still get into some troubling rooms. Last night's was one of them. Hooked up the M9 for a bit and it sounded great but the low end was just a bit too wide and I was going to some extremes dropping the 30Hz down all the way and dialing in a bit more compression. Started not sounding quite right. Plugged in the Puma and it was right there... fat, but controlled low end with no excessive wide rumbling that can get you lost on stage.

    Drummer said he couldn't believe how good I sounded last night. He couldn't remember my tone sounding that good in that troublesome room before. 2 great comments in 1 night! Doesn't happen very often.

    This is the tone I wanted from the Streamliner. Similar characteristics in some ways, but without that exaggerated low end that most people seem to dial down, and it has more mid character and MUCH more EQ flexibility to control it. Plus the Taste knob, OMG...really? This seems too good! After the Streamliner I went the opposite route and got the M9, the big guns. My second favorite amp! The one thing it has on the Puma is that massive power section behind it. It sounds like it has that lead sled muscle to the note that the ice power modules in many of these lightweight heads don't have, but if I wasn't A/Bing these two amps, I'd never know the difference. The Puma has that big sound (for a class D) like the Streamliner kinda did. Not quite a DB750 here in terms of brute muscle, but dang close.... and under 4 lbs.

    Another thing about the M9. When I A/Bed these amps, I did it with everything flat (into my Berg HS210). When I finally tried the M9 with the settings I play with, it started sounding very similar to the tonal profile of the Puma. I guess I know what I like when I hear it. :smug: Basically, the Puma is the tone I've been looking for that I didn't quite get with the STL and that I had to dial 5 knobs, a graphic EQ, and a compressor for on my M9. And it weighs less than 4 lbs...

    It's rocking my world right now. I'm a very happy person, despite having to sell my M9 and an HS210 to get it (these aren't cheap!! 1050 + sh + carry bag, same price as overseas, btw). But I'm very happy and satisfied that I did. German engineering, baby!

    And just as a disclaimer, this was no scientific comparison. Just 1 gig playing easy dance music and some bedroom jamming, and it is still the honeymoon period, so take it all with a grain of salt! ;) Time for some crappy cell phone pic porn! :D


    You can REALLY see the size difference here. Smaller than a text book, and lighter too!!
    Jeff O'Connor likes this.
  2. and thanks to Glenn at Austin Bass Traders for this little guy!! Highly recommend him. Also the best TecAmp prices I've seen this side of the pond. ;)
  3. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Nice! The tone modification, power module modification and the drop in price of these heads, plut the small form factor are all very nice. I found much in common with the Puma500 prototype that I had for a while and my Markbass F1.

    The new Puma's don't have that huge creamy tone any more, but IMO the tighter low end and the touch of increase in the mid voicing sounds very nice on the gig, and again is more similar to the Markbass F1/F500 than different.

    Great heads, and Glenn is the cat! Great service and support on these heads.

    Congrats. I think they have a winner with that head. The 900, in the same casing with no fan, worries me just a smidge regarding heat, etc., but I assume they did plenty of testing. The 500 seems like a very good entry in the micro amp sort of thing.

    While I found the taste knob a bit too extreme for my use, it is very cool, and those who have played with the Thunderfunk 'timbre' control (I think that is what it is called) would feel very at home with that filter.

  4. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Springfield, VA
    Scott, do you think you could provide any comparison between the Puma and your old F1? I've read a lot of Ken's comments about how the new Puma design (specifically, the change in power amp) puts the Puma tone further from the original design (which I loved) and closer to the F1/F500, which I liked, but ultimately found a little thin.

    I love the idea of that Puma tone in a tiny package with 900W, but like Ken said, when the chassis is the heat sink, it doesn't take a lot of creativity to see that going wrong, particularly in the event of an outdoor gig.
  5. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    My two cents, I found the 'flat' tone of the new Puma to be somewhat similar to the F1 set 'flat', but with the VPF engaged at about 9 o'clock. The low mid control of the Puma continues to be a thing of absolute beauty... the 'punch' knob! I also find the bass control to be more usable than either the F1/F500 or the original Puma... really adds the beef if you want it, but less of a need to cut a bit like the original deeply voiced models. The upper mid control works similarly to the F1, nicely adding grind or cutting upper mid gank.

    This assumes the final new 500 kept the same voicing as the prototype, but Glenn told me they were quite close.

    So, a bit less 'creamy fatness', a bit more brighter punch. All in all, still a bit more hi fi and smooth than the F1/F500, but again, with a little VPF, you can get quite close IMO.

    I have no idea of maximum volume comparison though, and would not be surprised if the limiting circuit is a bit more advanced on the Puma, resulting in it compressing less when really cranked, which is a good thing!

    Nice review by the OP by the way!
    Lovep likes this.
  6. AMp'D.2play

    AMp'D.2play Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Nice review, Scott!

    I used to own the previous version of the Puma 500, and am considering getting one of the newer 1u 500s to hook up to my Berg HD112 (single now, soon to be 2x).

    All those knobs on the GB Shuttle/MAX iterations (current & post-NAMM) intimidate me, so I think I'd be happier with something with a simpler EQ.

    I think the reason I haven't pulled the trigger on either a MB F500 or an Ag TH500 is that I still long for a Puma. Just need to puff up my wallet a little more!
  7. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    The new Puma line is significantly lower priced than the original models.

    I would think the Puma900 would be awesome with the fEARful type cabs, putting out a good honest 500 watts at 8ohms, and voiced very nicely for those cabs!
  8. 4-string


    Jul 23, 2006
    I am considering the Puma900 for my Barefaced Big Twin T, but the Black Jag 900 looks interesting as well. The drive function of that head isn't really of any interest to me, so we're left with the somewhat more powerful EQ. Does anyone know if the power section between the two is the same?

    With the Jag being standard size (but light!) the Puma is looking more and more interesting...I hope I don't sell my Ashdown until I have decided. ;)
  9. The tighter low end and slight increase in mids is what turned me on to this over that first gen model. I can see how it would pair really nicely with neo cabs having those relaxed upper mids. Puma and Berg AE? or Tecamp of course! That would be some tonal bliss there, I'm sure! It's been a while since I've tried out the F1 and that was with various AE cabs. I don't remember the F1 sounding like this, but that's probably the cab situation.
  10. I can't speak to the F1 voicing with my HS210 cabs. From my distant recollection, I remember the F1 being more dry and, well, thin as you say when set flat. This amp is neither of those. In fact, it sounds pretty fat to me. But like I just mentioned above, I was using Berg AE cabs then. I prefer the tonal profile of the HS cabs with there slight boost in the low mids and relaxed upper mids that smooth out the tone (and probably the HD, too, though I haven't had my hands on one yet).

    The Puma has a more tube-like bottom end that's buttery, smooth, round, and warm, I'd personally say more like the LMII than F1, but I haven't played through either in a couple years (however, I just played a Walkabout for about a minute next to my Puma, both seriously awesome small heads!). My recollection tells me the F1 had more of a wide lower end with the VPF engaged a bit. At the time, I was really looking for that round low end and wasn't getting it with the F1/AE combo. Also, you get more of that "hear the windings on the B string" type tone that I'm not hearing so much with the Puma. I'd say the Puma sounds more like a modern vintage tone, vintage tube-like lows that stay tight with more of a modern slightly relaxed upper mids and somewhat extended high end. The F1 had some goosed upper mids, IME, when playing with the AE cabs I had at the time. I'm sure my experience with it through the HS cabs would change my view.

    My experience with the F1 and Puma500 really need to be taken with a grain of salt here for the above stated reasons. I do intend to hit up GC here soon to A/B the two. However, even if they sounded exactly the same, I'd still take the Puma for several reasons, it's beautiful rather than ugly, it has aux in and headphone jack which are huge in my living situations, the Taste knob works wonderfully when used moderately, the EQ section is so simple and so useful for real world environments, the push button Mute, and furthermore, the voltage switch for international use, which I will certainly be using soon.
  11. Spencer!


    Jun 25, 2006
    Owner, Pike Amplification & 3Leaf Audio
    I loved the old Puma 500 (although it was way too expensive), and the comment about the new one sounding more like an F1/F500 makes me nervous. I like the power sections in Markbass amps but the EQ wasn't voiced well. How do you like the EQ on the Puma?

    Like you, I've been using a Mesa into Berg HS cabs.
  12. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Springfield, VA
    If the new Puma is like the old Puma, then the EQ points for the lows and low-mids (the two I used the most) have a better voicing in the Puma than in the LMII. In particular, the low-mid knob has a lower voicing in the Puma, which enables you to dial in some real punch.
  13. Love the EQ. The lows are voiced low to control boomy stages, though I didn't need it on my last troublesome stage. The low mids are voiced just where I like it, the mid 250s to add that low meat and gut punching tone. I can say more, but I've already said it above. I'm really digging it. Much more useful than the MB stuff I've used in the past.
  14. I was looking into the PUMA series but the wbsite didn't list a US distribtr. Hmmm

    I just checked Austin Bass Traders...they do have them.
  15. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Springfield, VA
    Yeah, and Glenn there is a great, great guy. Highly recommended.
  16. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Glenn has also set up a US service center sort of thing. If you are considering buying TecAmp in the US, Austin Bass Traders is the place to go.
  17. LeonD

    LeonD Supporting Member

    I'm looking to try some new amps in 2012 and you guys are making this very difficult. :confused:

    My current amp of choice is the Mesa Walkabout (which I love) and I've been playing Genz Benz amps for the last year (I prefer the SS over the tube preamps). I also played the M series Mesa's for a while which I liked (other than their size).

    I tried a MB F500 for the last few months and absolutely hated it.

    So I was interested in the Puma until I read about how it was similar to the F500. :eek:

    What to do, what to do? :confused:
  18. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    I recently put up a clip of the F500 compared to the Genz Shuttle Max 9.2 FET channel, and found them in the same tone universe.

    So, not sure how you could really dig one and not the other.

    The Walkabout is for sure a different thing, and closer to the Max tube channel, although fatter with more harmonic (i.e., tube content).

    The current Puma's have their own sound and take on solid state sound, but to my ear, are somewhat similar to both the Genz Max FET channel and F500, and each can get pretty close to one another with a little EQ tweaking.

    If you dug the M6/M9 and are looking for a micro amp, the GK MBFusion would be a good choice, since it has a bit of that 'deep low and sizzly top end and aggressiv upper mids response' of the Carbines.
  19. LeonD

    LeonD Supporting Member

    I agree that after really liking the Shuttles (both 3.0 and 9.0), I thought the F500 would be a no brainer. I'm not really sure why but I couldn't find a sound I liked in the F500.

    IMHO, the Walkabout combines the warmth of tubes with the articulation of solid state.

    I was going to try a MB800 but I was a little soured about GK after talking to them about their warratny.

    I think I'll give Glenn a call about the new Puma amps. You put it somewhere near the F500 and Genz. Maybe it'll fall closer to the Genz for me.
  20. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    The Puma stuff is very nice!

    FYI, I found that I could get the Genz 9.2 FET to sound pretty close to my F500 set flat but expanding the low end with the low end voicing filter engaged at about the 50% level, and then cutting the upper mids at around 1K or so significantly.

    I found I could get the F500 to sound pretty close to the revised Puma500 'flat' tone but engaging the VPF at around 9 o'clock, adding that slightly bigger low end, slightly less aggressive mids and sweeter, more extended upper treble that the Puma has to the F500.

    IMO, the Puma's lower mid control is where the big difference comes in for me... fat, wide Q, beafy and burpy when you dial that up a bit,and perfectly centered to punch up a widely voiced, smooth cab like the Epi UL line, for example. Really nice! And, the low end is a bit bigger in general.

    All nice stuff, and I could pretty much use the F500, Genz 9.2 FET and the new Puma interchangeably with some EQ. Of course, they all have their inherent tone which will result in most users to prefer one or the other.

    Let us know if you take the plunge on the Puma!

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