Quilter Labs Bass Block 800 vs Mesa/Boogie Subway D-800

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Digits Molloy, Jun 22, 2019.

  1. Digits Molloy

    Digits Molloy

    Aug 15, 2018
    I'm interested in both these amps. How do they match up? Does the Bass Block 800 have good tone?

    I've always heard great things about Mesa/Boogie's D-800.

    Let me know what you think. I thinking of buying either one of these. I can hear the Mesa at a local store but I cannot get to a store that stocks the Quilter. Any insight is welcome. Thanks.
  2. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    I have both. They are both great amps. However as good as the Quilter is, the only real 'advantages' is has over the Mesa is the slightly smaller size and cheaper price. Otherwise, I like the Mesa better because it has better tone shaping, it's 2 ohm stable, and it has world class DI built in (the Quilter does not have a DI).

    The Mesa is such a good sounding setup, that when I use my Quilter I run a Mesa DI pedal into it. You could do that and have the best of both worlds, but really by the time you spend the extra money for the Mesa pedal you might as well buy the Mesa amp.

    But the Quilter pretty much destroys any other amp in its price range.
  3. Digits Molloy

    Digits Molloy

    Aug 15, 2018
    Thanks! I forgot all about the Mesa's 2ohm capability which will work out perfect for my 4ohm cabs. It seems that Mesa just offers a better and more versatile amp for not too much more money.
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  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Quilter all day long for me. I use a small single 4 ohm cab for everything, everywhere. I have basses that already sound great. In several A/Bs with my friends' D800 and D800+ I got the exact sound I wanted with my basses with the Quilter without needing to tweak. I'd rather not "have to" tweak. I haven't heard an amp hit any harder with as much control as my BB800. It's a revolutionary bass amp IMO. It sounds tighter while hitting at least as hard if not harder than amps I've tried (damn near all of them, my friends buy everything ;) ). Some folks may not need an amp that fast and percussive... I do. I want my rig to be quicker than me.

    Lately I've been gigging alot with flats on a five and that gives me a ridiculously powerful output along with a high end I didn't expect. The Quilter let's it sound like it sounds.

    The Quilter tone controls seem to confuse some folks despite being relatively simple. You do have to understand how they work... to understand how they work ;) Never had a problem dialing anything in, I prefer subtractive EQ vs. traditional cut/boost.

    If you need 2 ohms capability or lots of standard tone controls the Mesas fit that bill very well. I have a tiny, light, loud single cab "big rig" and my Quilter has been flawless, killing it on gigs consistently for going on three years now. Got a ton of compliments from guests and musicians on last night's outdoors show. Hard to be humble with a rig that kicks butt like this.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
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  5. Digits Molloy

    Digits Molloy

    Aug 15, 2018
    I hear ya and thanks for the info. I really should find a way to play my bass(s) through a Quilter. I know the tone I'm looking for and with the right amp I can tune that in rather quickly to any size room (99% of the time, anyway). And, at this point in my life, the lighter the weight of all my gear that I have to carry around the better. I might have to go and listen to the Mesa (again in person) and then order a Quilter online (probably from sweetwater) and if I really don't like the Quilter I can return it. I think it only will cost me return shipping charges. However, I do live in SoCal so I could take one long drive to Quilter's manufacturing location (I think they do business out of Costa Mesa, California). I wish I could afford both amps. These amps seem to be well thought out.
  6. Coot


    Nov 14, 2018
    I've had them both and both were great amps. The king of the hill ( for me)is my Mesa WD-800 though.It's a great amp.You can't really go wrong with either choice tone -wise but the Mesa does have important options that the BB doesn't. Good luck!
  7. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Cool. I think the weight on both amps is a toss-up... if I preferred the Mesa the weight wouldn't negatively effect it.

    I have several pretty versatile basses that I know exactly how to get what I want out of. Coupled with what I can do technique-wise, the final piece of the puzzle is a robust platform that doesn't need to change any of that. From the moment I first plugged mine in at a store through a cab that I previously owned and wasn't overly impressed with, I knew I had struck gold. Good luck with the search, not a bad choice between the two.
  8. Digits Molloy

    Digits Molloy

    Aug 15, 2018
    Thanks for the info
  9. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    I'm such a dinosaur.
    The Quilter EQ has put me off from even trying one.
    I've got to get out of my cave and try one.
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  10. LeonD

    LeonD Supporting Member

    Regarding the Quilter eq, if you think "I need to boost 759Hz by 4.2 db", you'll get frustrated. If you can grasp the little pics on the amp and use your ears, you can get a very good sound. And if you do need to get specific with eq, an external eq works wonders.

    For me, there's enough positives with the amp that when I need it, I'll put a Tech 21 Q/Strip in front of it.
  11. Digits Molloy

    Digits Molloy

    Aug 15, 2018
    I'm an Ampeg aficionado (of days gone by). I grew up with SVTs & 8x10 cabs. I prefer 300 watts of all tube tone and volume more than anything else. But (nowadays) it hurts my back to no end to lift that kind of bass amp & cab around.

    How do the amps I mentioned above come close to a warm tube tone or a powerful sled w/ mosfet power and a tube preamp section? Maybe I'm expecting too much from a class D amp. What do you think?

    Please don't get offended by my thoughts below. These thoughts are also why I lean towards a Mesa or Quilter:

    American cars (in the not so olden days) were built so so --- until modern times. Really, in my time they were unreliable, but some were cool looking. In my time, foreign cars were built much better than American cars.

    Unlike USA made cars of yesteryear, USA made and European made musical instruments (bass amps, guitar amps, electric guitars, electric basses, and all of the classical musical instruments) were/are, as always, made far more superior than anything else --- especially what China makes today. Sorry it's just my experience.

    I'm told it all comes down to QC with regard to "Made in China." They can make good products but you have to have a diligent QC department. Ampeg, today, lacks a good/diligent QC department. I am done with Ampeg (nothing but problems with their bass amps of today).

    So, Quilter and Mesa (USA made) make me feel that their QC might be better. What do you think?

    Ashdown amps use to be made in England (love those amps) but now it seems they're not - bummer.

    Am I correct? Or do I just have these "anti-china" sunglasses on and I'm not being fair.

    Again, please don't be offended by my bias with regard to "Made in China."

    Your input and criticism is welcome.
  12. scottm

    scottm Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2005
    I have the Quilter and the Mesa WD800. Both are fantastic heads. I love the Quilter because it has a very natural flat sound if needed where I can really hear exactly how each of my basses really sound. It also takes pedals really well.

    The WD800 has the Mesa tone, it’s always there.... but with that said it sounds amazing. It’s probably one of the nicest heads I have ever owned.
    Both are of such great quality that not many other brands can compare.

    You can’t go wrong with the other Mesa head you are looking at or the Quilter. The controls are very different on both amps you are thinking of, maybe that can help you decide.

  13. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    I find the Quilter a really rough ride in a boomy room.

    In a good room it’s amazing, but if not you could be in for a long night.

    Have not tried the Mesa so no opinion.
  14. pisces_bass


    Jun 8, 2019
    Central WA

    I’m a new Quilter BB800 owner and really enjoying this new world of tiny amps. The Quilter replaced a Trace Elliot AH600SMX. Is it a similar sound? No, not really. But the Trace weighs 60 lbs and has a very complex EQ section. At my age/stage, give me simple, reliable, and high quality. The BB800 makes it easy to find a good sound with my basses and fit into the mix with minimal fuss. Pretty intuitive once you understand the interplay of the few controls.

    Eventually I will experiment with pedal D.I. preamps to get the signature sounds like Trace Elliot or Mesa and use the Quilter as a stand alone power amp. But until then I’ll enjoy what the BB800 has to offer.
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  15. Wild Rice Chris

    Wild Rice Chris

    May 7, 2005
    Palatine, IL
    Rice Custom Guitars (retired)
    Quilter has been moving production to China. I know the BlockDock guitar cabs and TB202, 101, 101R, MB45, and IB45 guitar amps are all made in China. I don't know if the BB800 has moved production yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if it has or will.
    Mushroo likes this.
  16. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Interesting. I've found that that would be one of the easier things to deal with with a Quilter... you can use the Depth control to pretty much eliminate low end and the mid cut is effective too. Nothing left to boom after that.

    Some rooms are next to hopeless and I find that the first thing I do is bring my volume down. Of course it helps if the other folks I'm playing with understand how to deal with a boomy room.
  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings

    I hesitate to talk about warmth because honestly I don't know what some folks are talking about sometimes. My BB800 sounds natural to me, not harsh, clanky, whatever.

    As far as the anti-China thing, considering most products seem to be made there, it doesn't really make much sense. Do you have any products that you really like, like a phone, TV, etc.? Where were they made?

    I used to have fun with this mindset with the main custom basses I still use. A common knock against them was that they were heavy. I agreed, they were heavy... except for the light ones.

    So I'd feel silly muttering about cheap Chinese crap while watching an amazing picture on my $300 55" 4K TV. The country of origin has no automatic bearing on quality. I'm old enough to remember the same sentiment about Japanese products and watched Honda quality obliterate the competition. Then Korea. Now China.

    I like the fact that the Quilter BB800 is made in the US, is an amazingly intuitive design when other companies travel the usual road yet cost less than a Markbass Little Mark III (which is a little more than half the wattage) when I got it.

    As long as Pat Quilter is running things I wouldn't have a problem with production moving offshore if that's what it takes to remain competitive.

    I think many if not most people understand that customer service is a true benchmark of a company. In this case both companies have stellar customer support.
  18. LeonD

    LeonD Supporting Member

    And sometime, "normal" eq alone can't handle a boomy rooms. That's when it's time to bring out the isolation pads for the cabs and high pass filters (hpf) for the amps.

    Not unique to the BB800. I've had to do this with everyone of my amps.
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  19. Cave Puppy

    Cave Puppy "Humph Bo, he's wond!" - John Lennon

    Jan 13, 2015
    I have both. The BB800 DOES have a DI but it is master dependent, that is, it's post pre-amp and post master. I haven't played the BB800 for a bit as my son has it. I favor the Mesa, but will not cry over using the BB800.
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    This was my only misgiving with the BB800 early on. I prefer having my stage volume adjustment independent of what I send to the house. And over the course of almost three years of steady gigging it has been a complete non-issue. The pre-post DI was always a non-issue for me.