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NAD - WD-800

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by DrThumpenstein, Dec 16, 2018.

  1. DrThumpenstein

    DrThumpenstein Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2015
    St Louis, MO
    Little something from Petaluma came into my hands:
    I got #135. I've had a few hours with it now. Wow! @agedhorse, you guys knocked it out of the park!

    It's got that sweet, warm fat bottom end that I have been gassing for since the first time I played through the Walkabout. I thought the Walkabout could get a little out of hand, but this one won't go there. With the WD-800 you can get a lot or a little of that round tubey goodness. Or none. You can give it a little more or less of that bottom end fullness with the Damping control. I can see how that could help tame both cabs and rooms.

    This amp is solidly and handsomely put together. The EQ section is a tone-scuplting powerhouse. HUGE range of adjustments and very easy to dial in. There were some suggested tone settings in the manual and these were great starting points. I've enjoyed branching out from those settings and exploring the interactions between those settings and my pups. I used one of the EQ adjustments to dial out a dead spot and my Aerodyne has NEVER sounded so even up and down the neck. The highs are creamy with my Labella Deep Talking Bass flats. I just love the way this amp delivers such great, warm tones!

    I even plugged in my Les Paul, adjusted the EQ, and got some nice crunchy OD that had me thinking I might have to get a guitar cab to play with this amp. (I'm selling my Fender Mustang 212 combo to help fund the WD.) I plugged in some pedals and I'm thinking I won't be the only one using this amp for guitar.

    I've been very happy with the range of tones I was able to get out of my Markbass Big Bang, although it lacked the tubey warm fat goodness that the WD-800 delivers. The WD-800 gives me everything the Big Bang ever did, but when played loudly, it sounds more musical and controllable. The highs in the Big Bang are a bit harsher. The Big Bang is LOUD, but sledgehammer loud compared to the musical loudness of the WD-800. With the gain down, I was able to get clean and LOUD! I'm not cranking it, I'm playing through a 600 W cab. But it's an efficient cab, so it doesn't really need to be pushed hard to be loud. The WD's volume control is much easier to dial in. And the sweepable EQ blows away the tone adjustments available on the Big Bang. Never could quite EQ out my dead spot with that one.

    But I didn't get this amp to play it clean! I can now dial in my very favorite bass guitar tones at any time I want! My search for tone nirvana is at its end!

    Although that noisy J pup probably needs to go...
  2. murphy


    May 5, 2004
    Toronto, Canada
    DrThumpenstein likes this.
  3. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Pretty darn awesome.!!
    DrThumpenstein likes this.
  4. DrThumpenstein

    DrThumpenstein Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2015
    St Louis, MO
    Thanks. Ya that's one of the hottest pages on TB for a couple of weeks now. I posted a link earlier with briefer comments.
    murphy likes this.
  5. Texan

    Texan 667 Neighbor of the Beast. Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2004
    Houston, TX
    This the first amp that's peaked my interest since I got my Genzler MG800.

    I can wait to try one.
  6. dannylectro


    Aug 2, 2010
    Atlanta, GA
    I just got #000023... every word in the OP’s review is true.
    I believe this may be the best amp I’ve ever owned.
  7. pigpen1

    pigpen1 Supporting Member

    Aug 2, 2017
    How many tubes in the pre-section of this amp?
  8. husky123

    husky123 Supporting Member

    Jul 6, 2006
    Leesburg, VA
    Endorsing Artist: Bergantino Audio Systems
  9. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    Actually, it doesn't really matter... it's all about how the tubes are used and exactly what the designer (that would be me in this case) is trying to achieve. In this case, one 12AT7 tube provided exactly the characteristics I was looking for and best matched the transfer function of the original Walkabout. Using more tubes got us away from the design target, therefore was worse than using the single tube.

    I have designed preamps using anywhere from 1 - 5 tubes, depending specifically what I was looking for in circuit performance.
  10. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    lost angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    As they say, it ain't the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.

    How does this relate? Well, cabs have woofers.

    I'll see myself out...
    petch, pie_man_25, kesslari and 7 others like this.
  11. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    agedhorse likes this.
  12. pigpen1

    pigpen1 Supporting Member

    Aug 2, 2017
    Cool. I was just curious. I pass no judgement on the number of tubes.
    agedhorse likes this.
  13. DrThumpenstein

    DrThumpenstein Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2015
    St Louis, MO
    You got Michael Jordan?!? That's awesome.

    I'm with you, best amp I've ever owned. I'd say it's the best amp I've ever played through. I'm having a blast getting a great range of tones for a wide variety of different types of music.
    dannylectro and agedhorse like this.
  14. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Have you had a chance to play one of the previous Subway amps? I have a D-800 and am pretty happy with it. I'm not against upgrading if it is truly an upgrade. Some people say that hybrid amps like these are a gimmick and you don't really "hear" the tube pre.
    If you have tried the D800 or D800+, how does the WD800 compare?
  15. DrThumpenstein

    DrThumpenstein Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2015
    St Louis, MO
    I tried the D-800 and the D-800+ in the store with Mesa 112 + 115. I liked them both, but I was looking for a more tubey sound and neither of them got me any closer than my Big Bang. No question, this is a different sounding amp compared to the non-tube preamp models. The WD has great tubey warmth, not quite Walkabout tone but close, and better/more controllable breakup at higher volumes. You can dial in or out tube breakup depending on gain/master levels, HPF and power damping. It sounds great clean too, although I prefer more of the tubey warmth I get by dialing the gain past noon. I could never get that tube sound I was looking for out of the prior 800 series, but it's there with the WD.
  16. DrThumpenstein

    DrThumpenstein Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2015
    St Louis, MO
    I'm posting this again, pasting from another thread:

    Finally had a chance to try out the WD-800 at an audition last night. What a blast! Blues, rock, and country, 2 guitars, keys, drums; vocals only through PA in a studio. Nobody too crazy with volume, but it was plenty loud.

    Lately I've been gravitating back towards mostly flat on the parametric section, gain dimed, master adjusted to volume. I can get the range of tones I need with my pups and tone on my bass. I dialed in bass, passive mids, and treble where I wanted on the WD (bass and treble @ 10:00, mids @ noon. 4 ohm GK 2 X 12 neo ported cab, damping low ;))

    Initially, there was a bit of room boom, instantly resolved by dialing up the HPF to 10:00. Still retained sweet fat bottom end.

    About 1 verse in, keys asks me to turn up a bit. (Just as I had hoped :D ) I bumped the master, ending up @ 10:30. I was happy with the E string but wasn't getting into the mix higher up, so I bumped the mids to 2:00 (not 10:00 as I originally posted, thanks @oldrocker) and there it was. Perfection! I sat perfectly in the mix all night. Halfway through the first song and I didn't have to touch it again for the rest of the night. I just played some hard-driving Blues with the best musicians I've played with for 30 years, like we had been doing it for a while. It sounded awesome, the whole mix! The guitarists were two brothers who had played together for most of their lives also playing Mesa, one of them through a combo and the other through two 2 x 10s. Home of Tone, Baby!

    The keyboardist is the previous bassist and had made several offers for me to use his perfectly good in-house bass amp, but I explained that I was auditioning my amp while they were auditioning me. (Me auditioning the WD is a bit of a stretch. I don't think you can really call it an audition if you're already in the band, and this thing is not going back!) I was afraid I sort of hurt his feelings turning down his amp, but he complimented my tone several times. Three times, in fact, and we only played 4 songs! Both of the guitarists commented on how good it sounded.

    It was one of my most satisfying musical experiences ever, because it has been a long time since I played with a real band, and you're never too sure about your chops until you get a chance to play with someone good. I could just focus on the music and my playing and every note came through with punch, clarity, and heft, without ever overpowering the mix. The responsiveness to playing dynamics is one of the best features of this amp, and I just listed a bunch of efficient and useful features!

    Thank you, @agedhorse, for designing such an incredibly useful tool! The debate is solved. Better equipment CAN make you a better musician.;)
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
    petch, Lovep, BrentSimons and 2 others like this.

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