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Portaflex Time, Comparing PF-350/PF-500/PF-800 with Cabs

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by MonsterRain, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. MonsterRain


    May 26, 2017
    Greetings all.

    Yes, I use the search function and search endlessly reading back posts nearly a decade ago so I am not starting a thread out of laziness. I put this disclaimer here because I will own everything about myself honestly but I will be damned if someone will smack at me or chide me as if I am not trying to do my own homework by creating a thread. (Not saying you will but it's the net and people are and can be jerks)

    Anyhow on to the point.

    Talking Portaflex and well, initially I was going to go PF-350 with two PF115 cabs but then I started thinking and well, hitting up JimmyM endlessly (creating a thread so as to not bother the damn man yet again with more Ampeg questions though he is more than welcomed to chime in should he wish to) I then decided to go with the PF-500 and a single 115 for the moment with plans for a second later on.

    Then I played a MarkBass CMD102P and while I hate the looks of their gear and have always been put off by the price tag it just blew me away with what it can do at such a light weight in one package and then to be able to add a 210 to it or the 115 and really have one easy to carry rig that can cut through.

    Yet, Ampeg just calls me back because MarkBass simply does not have the sound for me.

    So, after pricing the CMD102P, I decided to look at the PF-800 and I can get a PF-800 with a PF410HLF for less money than that damned MarkBass 2x10 combo.

    So, while I understand it is a matter of need and budget as far as how Jimmy is set with his PF-350 while others may need the 500 and desire the headroom but I would have to imagine the PF-800 would have so much headroom you'd damned near be set unless you got the hot call to launch a stadium tour.

    So, I am wondering if you could choose between the PF-500 and a 115 or the PF-800 and a 410, which would you choose and why?

    Do you feel a PF-800 and two of the PF115 cabs would be just as amazing as I believe it could be or would two 410HLF cabs be just that much more of unnecessary Ampeg awesomeness?

    Would the PF-800 with the 410 be as good as going PF-500 with two 115 cabs?

    From my research and my ears, the PF cabs don't necessarily lose any highs but the 115s do seem to get lower to me so then I go back to my plans for two 115 cabs only I am tossed between the 500 and the 800.

    Would going PF-800 with two 115s just be ridiculous and pointless and could a PF-800 with one 115 cab be just perfection with plenty of headroom as it would be pumping 400 watts at 8ohms? Or would you just go for it and add the second 115 cab so as to really get the massive amount of headroom since we are only talking about a 100 watt difference when running the PF-800 with a 115 vs doing so with a PF-500.

    After all of this, are you still reading? You get a pie for Christmas.

    Anyhow, offer your take on everything and anything related to Portaflex or if you have a hot take on the capabilities of that MarkBass combo with an additional cab sell me on that as the extreme light weight of that still is pretty damned cool and a pedal could drastically alter the tone to satisfactory levels. (Though given the pricing it would cost to go with that combo and add a cab, it would make the Portaflex series seem downright BA series combo in terms of budget.

    With all that said, what really turned me on WAS the BA210v2 combo. One of those light shining down on me moments when it outdid everything the Rumble 500 could do in terms of my personal tastes as far as sound. My initial plan was to buy the BA210v2 combo and add a PF115 or PF210 cabinet to it and have a nice 450 watt rig on a budget.

    Then I took a look at Portaflex and I have to imagine going anything Portaflex makes my previous BA210v2 plans seem like choosing a toy over a tool.

    Alright, what kind of pie do you want and do you agree that Fieldy is the greatest bass player of his generation like so many others?

    Hey, seeing if you are still reading as I have written a book but figure to flesh it all out, toss it against the wall and see what the crowd thinks of my options and then offer me their advice based on what they've played or owned and what they would choose given what I am debating between.

  2. blubass


    Aug 3, 2007
    Modesto Ca
    Current: Blackstar, DR strings, Nady. Previous endorsements with: GK, Rotosound, Ernie Ball, Cleartone, EMG, Dean, Dava Picks, Rebel Straps, Dickies
    The frequencies affected by the Eq sections on the pf-350 vs the of 500/800 are slightly different, even aside from the midrange selector. Go to their website and compare the manual, which contains the specs for all of the amps. Maybe the frequency range of one will suit your cab choice better than the other.

    MonsterRain likes this.
  3. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    Two Vertically stacked 2x10s or 1x15s gets you Better dispersion FOH, easier to hear on stage, modular for easier transport.

    You move more air with more speakers.

    450w into stacked 2x1s0 should work fine for most gigs. What type of venues do you play?
    12BitSlab and MonsterRain like this.
  4. I own a PF500, and a PF210HE, (and a lot of other Ampeg amps), and I would go with the PF800 for the extra headroom. I also have a PF115LF. I don't use the two cabinets together.

    I don't think there is very much difference between the PF115HE, and the PF210HE.

    I have never owned a 410 bass cabinet, and don't plan to ever buy one. I have never heard the PF410HLF, so I can't say anything good or bad about it, except 410s in general don't appeal to me.

    I think two (of the same) of any of the PF cabinets paired with the PF800 would be a scaleable, great sounding, (and good looking) rig that would cover just about any gig.

    I have a PF50T, and a PF112HLF, and if I was gigging, I would buy another PF112HLF. A rig like this would not work for a lot of people, but for any gig that I would do it would be perfect. If it was not enough on its own, I would bring my own, or have pa provided, and it would only need to be a stage monitor.

    The style of music, and the type of gigs you play determines how much power, and speaker capability you need. Do you play metal with no pa support? If so, none of the PF gear would be right for that use.

    I know you did not ask about any other amps, but if I was gigging on a regular basis and money was no object, I would give the Mesa Boogie Subway D800+ and matching cabinets some serious consideration. (This is coming from a guy who owns a lot of Ampeg equipment).

    Bottom line for me to recommend a PF series amp to someone without knowing anything about the style of music, gigs situations, pa support, etc. I say go with 800 watts, and more speaker area than you think you need because you can always turn it down, so the PF800, and two of either of the HE cabs would be my speaker cabinet recommendation.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
    MonsterRain likes this.
  5. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    I have the PF500 and PF115 setup. Been gigging these for years and have not been disappointed. Plenty loud for what we do (new and classic country). This setup and a couple of passsive four string Fenders is all I need for what I do. Also works for the hard rock band I play with on occasion. On big stages I use the DI to FOH.
    MonsterRain and kpc like this.
  6. kpc


    Apr 6, 2011
    I have a PF800 and a single PF115lf and it's amazing. Never had a single problem with it. It's got that Ampeg vibe sound as well.
  7. MonsterRain


    May 26, 2017
    Blubass, I am pleased to say I was ahead of you as I have the PDF of the Ampeg manual up on my screen and have had it there for a couple of days. Now, I will say I am still learning so much so I will not dare say I fully know everything but each day I learn more about what does what and why it does and what can work best.

    Stumbo that makes a lot of sense. So far the biggest place is medium sized. Well, medium to me as we are talking capacity of 900. Though the biggest crowd I have been a part of there was probably around 500 or nearly half of that.

    Plenty of smaller venues where tone reigns far more supreme than sheer volume though tone reigns supreme in most of my choices anyway. Which I think is probably true for all of us as I have never set out to be stupid loud just to be stupid loud along with protecting my ears as well as the fact stupid loud doesn't work as most venues don't want that at all.

    Hoochie Coochie, thank you for the knowledge and turning me on to the Mesa Boogie amp as I have not given their stuff a look. Price wise that one really isn't insanity BUT start adding proper cabs and it gets there so maybe that is a someday.

    For what I play, I am a rock guy as far as my passion mainly blues based so classic rock to AC/DC and so forth. I say I love metal and like to play it BUT have learned that what was once called metal is no longer so really I am talking hard rock for the most part. No technical death metal or anything like that. Though I do love stoner metal, I have not played that and while I would like a doom rig it wouldn't serve me well otherwise.

    Past that, country music, classic R&B and stuff like Herbie Hancock, Booker T and the MGs and The Meters.

    Thank you DirtDog and KPC as well. DirtDog, I too play country music myself so again I seek a flexible rig that while maybe won't be the most perfect for any one genre since I love and play many; one that can serve me well no matter what I play and like you KPC, I love the Ampeg sound.

    Hard rock with no PA support has happened so far and I was able to use someone else's blue line SVT with a fridge to take care of things but something like that will be very few and far between and I am still VERY much a novice bassist who seeks to improve every day and be the best player I can be and have fun. I am not trying to compete with anyone or setting an A to B so far as where I should be so constant growth, having fun and expressing myself is where I want to be and anyplace I can play is a place I want to play at this stage of my life.

    I love the looks of the PF series for sure and my mindset is that if I can more than get by with something like the PF-500 or PF-800 and one 115 cab, that would be great with the option to add a second cab always in the back pocket for larger gigs if necessary and so forth.

    I just picked up an Ampeg SCR-DI and really do love this thing as a headphones amp but also figure it could come in pretty handy and then I don't need much more than a monitor for stage volume and so forth.

    As much as I loved the BA210v2 and figured it could be nice with another cab, being a newbie as I am I figured this would be more of an overpowered bedroom kind of kit with that and ought to go with proper heads and cabs since with combos something has to give in order to make the things cheaper.

    I would think I could get by just fine with the 500 and a 115 with having a second cab on hand but for the extra headroom and honestly not the craziest price difference, maybe the 800 makes more sense.

    What is it? Buy once, cry once? It will never again be as cheap to "upgrade" from 500 watts to 800 watts than my initial purchase where I figure if I buy the 500 and decide I want more than I will take a bath selling it and still have to be out the difference.

    Based on all I have described as far as what I play and like to play, is the Portaflex line something which makes sense or is there something else I ought to be looking into?

    Thank you to all.
  8. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    I see what you're saying. Yeah, get the most watts you can and the cabs that do the job.
  9. I use a PF 800 with a PF115HE for small, rather intimate venues of less than 300 seats.
    I also have the PF115LF for outdoor shows, and occasionally use both cabs to tap more of the PF 800's power.
    However, using both cabs is rare indeed.
    The PF 800 is as low, or high volume as you like/require. Speaker cab IAW your taste and willingness to schlep.
    I'm on the hunt for an 8x10. Probably the easiest to move as there's no lifting involved. Just roll, tip and slide.

    I missed a Bergantino HD212 locally because I was too slow to jump on it.
  10. BadExample


    Jan 21, 2016
    The 15's are just a bit less sensitive than the 4 x 10, a few 1.5 db, but two 15's will yield equal or more sensitivity. Close either way, and wattage rating for one 4 x 10 or two 15's is equal, but two 15's will be 4 ohms, so they will have up to the full amp wattage rating available to them. Using the same head, the 15's will be louder. The difference in frequency response, I'd call insignificant on paper, but we don't know what the tonal difference is between the cabs, how flat they are and where the are more or less sensitive. Best bet is to try before you buy. The one that sounds best to you is best for you.

    Notice the THD rating in the manual's output power spec. Ampeg being reputable leads me to believe if you want some grind, like a bit of overdriven tone, ignore this. 3 to 5% (even 10%) is not bad if it's musical. However if you want a strictly clean tone, you want a bit more overhead in the amp. Maybe the 800 for clean and 800 watts worth of speakers, just done crank it. The 500 would be fine for a little grind, 350 probably most grindy. @JimmyM can probably tell you how accurate my guestimations are, and more on the tonal differences between the cabs.

    And speaking of Sir Jimmy, isn't
    awesome at explaining the ampeg stuff, tirelessly without getting annoyed by us? Great fella. At least on forum :D
    MonsterRain and JimmyM like this.
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Oh, I'm tired of it.

    Not really :D

    Anyway, that's obviously accurate about the more power you have, the cleaner at high volumes they will be. But the lower power amps are still quite clean to my ears, and IMHO will still get pretty loud, as the THD figure is measured at whatever the top RMS wattage is, and onset of distortion is by no means linear.
    MonsterRain likes this.
  12. BadExample


    Jan 21, 2016
    I like a bit of grind myself. You da damned man Jimmy :D
    JimmyM likes this.
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    So let me just add onto my previous answer that I have both the PF350 and PF800, and there's no doubt that the PF800 is a better head. But I have zero complaints about the PF350.
    b-b-b-bass and MonsterRain like this.
  14. Have you tried yr SCR--DI before yr current Mark Bass amp?? Just tossing the idea round as I used a LMII with a Tech 21 VTBass pedal for great results
  15. High Camp

    High Camp

    Oct 3, 2013
    In my experience, I would go for, well, my avatar, actually.
    You see the PF-800 with a PF210HE and a PF115HE cab.
    This set-up will serve you from small bars to big stages, with or without p.a.
    (perhaps you'll need p.a. support at Madison Square Garden)
    So, the PF-800 would be the best option: most features, power and headroom.

    Regarding the cabs, I have no experience with the PF410HLF, but I guess two of those would be overkill, crazy crazy loud.
    No experience with the PF115LF either, but I hear they are great.
    I do have lots of experience with the PF115HE and PF210HE cabs, and IMHO, any combination (two 115's, two 210's or one 115 and one 210) will sound great. The 115HE is voiced (sounds) a bit lower than the 210HE.

    BOOG and MonsterRain like this.
  16. Who can give me some examples of what I could/would use in the effects loop of my PF800? What are you having success with? Any modulation pedals? Is anyone using some type of compression/limiter in the loop (is that possible)?
  17. The only thing I run in the FX loop is an old Boss GE-10 as it takes it well. My PF-800 doesn't generally seem to like anything else in the FX loop.

    Everything else is between my bass and the amp's input. I sometimes run a VT Bass DI, Boss CS-3, Boss CH-1, and a Boss TU-3. Nothing fancy to be sure. Some are obviously transplants from my guitar days.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  18. MonsterRain


    May 26, 2017
    Thank you for this take as it always is good to hear from those who have the gear and have tried different combinations of cabs, etc.

    Just like how Jimmy talks of rating the PF-800 higher but is not dogging the 350 and has talked of his needs being well served by the 350.

    I was inches away from a steal on a PF-500 head with a 115 because he was going to be playing guitar instead but things changed and he is not selling so since then I have been on a mission. First, I hit up Jimmy to see if the price was good and get his take on the setup and then after that and reading so many good things of the PF series I have just been on to see about making this my own.

    The BA210v2 was just amazing and I loved it and had plans to add a PF210 cab to it but it is still a budget combo (well budget for Ampeg as all things are relative and in a combo amp something has to give quality wise in order to deliver the goods at a competitive price which is why in most cases head/cab combinations are the more serious level stuff from what I am learning)

    I am thinking buy once, cry once and if I am considering the 500 I may as well go for the 800. Not sure which cab to get first as I am only buying one cab initially but I am leaning toward 115 but who knows.

    If you had to take one cab with you, do you tend to go with the 210 or would you?

    With that being said, my initial plans were two 115s but maybe it could be fantastic to go 115 with a 210 and that picture just looks so damned cool anyhow.

    Thank you.
  19. High Camp

    High Camp

    Oct 3, 2013
    If I had to take one cab, it would be the PF115HE, but the PF210HE would please me too.
    GoLeafsGo and MonsterRain like this.
  20. I'm currently running a PF500 through an 8 10e. I play in a band that gets pretty loud at some gigs. Sometimes they mic the guitars. I don't bother miking my stuff 'cause I don't need to. If I want to , (hehehe) I can still bury them even when the guitars are miked. A PF800 through a 4 10 will pretty much do the same thing. Go with the 800 and the 4 10. You won't be disappointed. If for some strange reason (deafness?) that's not loud enough ,grab a second 4 10 and bury the world.:thumbsup:
    Jesusfreakmn and MonsterRain like this.

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