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New Ashdown Labs head versus WW

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by macmrkt, Aug 22, 2005.


  1. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    I wanted to try the new Ashdown Labs stuff after reading about their design philosophy and noting that the input could match a piezo pickup. I take it that the Ashdown Labs range is their high-end stuff - the other Ashdown series are not. There are only 2 ‘heads’ in the AL line, the 500 and the just shipping 600 - which seems very similar to the 500.

    I ran my Clarus SL (as a control), a new WW Super and an Ashdown Labs Mark King (AL-MK500) with my AES DB/Fishman Full Circle and LDS cabs (both the 2x8 and 1x8 3 ways). I ran the Full Circle straight in. I only did a few hours of comparisons (three separate times through the test) and I was playing solo, but I can tell you at least what I got so far.

    Both the WW and AL were much more accurate sounding than the Clarus SL which came across as overly warm and thick (but how can you fault a 40oz amp, now really!) What you notice right away is that the AL doesn’t have that slight drop off on the 'E' string as the WW does. You also notice that it's VERY close to the WW sound, with the WW being a bit thicker (!) or warmer sounding, and the AL, dare I say, seemed more accurate (!!!), cleaner and dryer, without getting sterile. I almost got the sense that the WW is like an electric car trying, almost successfully, to run with a very evolved conventional engine. The WW felt a bit ‘transistory’ at times like it was adding an ‘er-er’ sound to the midrange. I wouldn't say the AL is better sounding yet, but I wouldn't be surprised that I'll feel that the more I use it. I guess I can conclude so far that it's more even throughout the whole range of the bass, just as accurate as the WW and it seems more powerful.

    A few other mentions...the AL’s fans are quiet and residual noise is nil. I used the input level control at full or near full. It worked fine and there was no added noise. The build quality and controls are as good as anything I’ve seen or used. I really enjoy the automatic muting for turn-on and turn-off – no thumps or crackles out of the speaker...funny how this little detail makes one feel more secure about a product.

    Of course, the AL is not as portable as the WW. It weighs 20lbs, which is not a disaster, and is wider than the WW. It's also just a single channel. But offsetting this is the fact that it’s half the price of a WW and you can order actually buy it without months of waiting.

    Notes: I’m very partial to accuracy – reproducing only the sound of the DB without color. That’s my goal and if it’s not yours, then these results won’t matter. I haven’t run this with a band yet, and these impressions are very preliminary...but the results were so unexpected that I figured I’d stick my neck out and post it. I hope someone out there tries one of the Ashdown Labs heads and reports what they think.
     
  2. basmansam

    basmansam Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    Vermont
    I have owned both, I still have the WW ultra. I wanted to elaborate on my personal experience w/ an abm500 and an abm300 x 10" combo. The abm300 sounded good at low volumes, I added a bag end 15, then altered it w 2 x 1-12 bag end cabinets. I just could not get a good upright sound with it. The abm 500 was used w 2x 1-12 bag ends. It seemed to ok until I got the WW ultra. I think the ashdowns preamp is shaped for bass guitar not upright. Sam
     
  3. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Oh no. I really didn't need to read this thread... :help:
     
  4. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    With macmarkt's look at the Ashdown Labs, I'm reminded of a discussion of speaker cabinets on a earlier thread. If seems like
    that when buying a DB amp you can choose three of the following
    four parameters (things).

    1. Small size (i.e. Walter Woods, AI, GK et. all)

    2. Accurate preamp ( i.e Walter Woods, AI, Ashdown, Euphonic Arts

    3. Low Distortion (i.e Ashdown and AI (I think), Euphonic Arts

    4. High Power ( i.e Walter Woods Ultra , AI Focus, Ashdown.

    Any one is invited to chime in here with ammendments to the
    list. I'm certainly not an expert like tombolus, mackmarkt, or
    others.

    My laymans observation is that if you wan't very low distortion with lots of power, it usually reguires that the amp weigh in from 15-20 lbs.

    Ric
     
  5. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    I, being merely a janitor at the Museum of Bass, (curator T. Bowlus), always wondered why at the top of the museum's bass amp list, there are two - a WW Ultra and a conventional Preamp (Navigator?) and a big amp (Stewart?). I guess what Rick says is right - maybe you can only have 3 of 4. Switch mode amps may get as close as you can to having all 4, but if you want that last degree of sound quality, maybe you have to give up something. Again, I'm not sure about this new fangled old-tech AL. I'm actually hoping I get some corroboration (TOM!):hyper:
     
  6. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    The IC's that drive switching power amps show specs for audio quality that should rival Class-AB designs. I will find out soon, as I just wired up an evaluation board for the Tripath TA2022 chip. It will be part of what I hope will be a totally DIY hi-fi system. I won't be able to refute Ric's rule, because my amp won't be high power, but that is purely a function of my choice of power supply voltage.

    Of course there may be older switching designs in some amps on the market, but I know that at least one amp maker uses the Tripath technology.

    My cynical theory is that the touted superior quality of Class-AB represents the last dying gasp of an obsolete technology. At least I hope so. But I think that I am taking the steps necessary to prove myself right or wrong.
     
  7. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Good Luck On Your Design,
    Hey Folks, I do not claim to have even a fraction knowledge about
    digital power supplies that you guys do. All I can do is listen to folks wiser
    than myself, read spec sheets (which for bass amps are pretty useless based on I've been learning from this thread) and use my ears.
    I do have an lay mans observation however. In days past (analog times)
    I remember reading spec sheets for stereo amplifiers and bass speakers to check the THD (thermal harmonic distortion?) because someone told me it was an important measurement, (as well as flutter and wow on cassette decks). However, once I found a good product, in my case it was NAD, I stuck with it. Then dawned the digital age and we (I) became pretty compliant because signal to noise ratios dropped so low that it was kind of like comparing the times of two track stars at the summer olympics. (Sorry, I'm wandering here. I do that sometimes). Naturally, I assumed that the same thing had happened with Bass Amplifiers, but I never actually checked it out. Once I got a Walter Woods MI 400 I quit looking!
    So now we have ultra lightweight heads and cabinets to match,
    that's great. I'll leave it to you to design the next generation of amplifiers.
    I used to say I'd be perfectly happy with a bass amp that was the size of
    a transistor radio. I never realized that someone ( an engineer) took me seriously, but I'll be one of the first in line to buy one.

    Ric
     
  8. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    Tom...it's been a few days now. I was expecting to read your Ashdown ALMK500 review by now! :smug:
     
  9. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    LOL! :p
     
  10. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    While not "flywieght" like the WW or AI stuff, the Thunderfunk TFB420 does a rela nice job with DB for me. It's certainly muuuch lighter than my other previously mentioned fav, Eden Navigator racked in my case with a qsc/plx 1602.

    Tom, used the TFB420 with your LDS 5x8 last night-I really like that cab a lot for DB-thanks!
     
  11. This is the one I'm dying to try - 500 watts, 6 lbs.! Unfortunately, they just terminated their US distributor and are looking for a new one, so you have to go outside the country to get one.

    Mark Bass Little Mark II
     
  12. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    I could see that being a great match. Glad you like it! :)
     
  13. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    There's been some Markbass chat "over on the other side" you might want to go read...
     
  14. Haven't been "over there" in a while - kind of like going from a cigar bar to a frat house, eh? :eyebrow: I'll check it out...
     
  15. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    "I go both ways"



    ;)
     
  16. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    Chef...do you run a piezo pickup direct to your Thunderfunk? Dave says the input impedence is 330K. The MarkBass is about 470K. Before I can consider either of them, I'd have to know I could use them with a DB/piezo direcct. Thanks!
     
  17. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    I'm using a K&K bassmaster with their pre-amp...I can try running direct and get back to you, but it'll be a day or two...
     
  18. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    Thanks...if you try to run a Bassmaster direct I guess you'll have to use an adapter to go direct or I think you'll only be hearing the BDT side in a mono input...
     
  19. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    "or I think you'll only be hearing the BDT side in a mono input.."

    What does that mean? All my amps are mono inputs, and the bassmaster I have is just one element (not like the rockabilly or other twin transducer models).

    confusedly-chef
     
  20. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    I thought you had the Bassmaster Pro - with a Big Double Twin 4 element piezo on the bridge and a BassMax in the wing which is a dual mono hookup. If you have a mono output from your pickup, you should be able to go straight in without any adapters.