Review of Acoustic B300HD (Guitar Center Acoustic) Head

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Analogeezer, Jul 31, 2021.

  1. Analogeezer


    Jul 29, 2021
    I bought one of these a while back; figured I would post a review. The big caveat is I have not used this in a band setting and certainly not at a gig. Just impressions from using and comparing it with other heads/cabinets in my collection in my basement.

    So the background is the last live band I played in broke up (as usual we got "Yoko'd" :smug:
    right around the time the Class D stuff was starting to become available.

    After that I would go to gigs of friend's bands and see these bass players using these tiny little amps that seemed to really pack the power. I need another head like a hole in my head but I figured why not check them out and dip my toes into the waters of the Class D thing.

    I wanted to keep my investment low, so I opted for the GC brand Acoustic B300HD. This is a 300 watts into four ohms head, they don't state the power at 8 ohms but I figure it is probably around 200 watts. I bought it on sale from MF for $199 so my total investment with tax is like $208.

    For checking this thing out I mainly used my Classic Vibe P-Bass which is modified with a Hipshot bridge and a Duncan Quarter pounder pickup. I wanted to keep it simple so to speak and a P-bass is about as simple as it gets. I did also run a Jazz bass and a Rick 4003 (with flatwounds) through the amp but not extensively.

    Cabinets I used (all are four ohms):

    Homemade 2 x 10" with Emminence BP102's (no horn)

    Ampeg SVT-806HE (this is a "mini SVT" cab but has two sealed chambers instead of four and uses eight 6.5" polypropylene drivers and a small piezo tweeter - for my style this is my best sounding cabinet)

    Carvin Redline 2 x 10" (this is the cab I use for smaller gigs)

    I did run the amp through one of my single 15" Carvin cabinets (they do not have horns) just to see what it sounded like but not extensively.

    Amp Heads I compared it to:

    1978 Acoustic 220 (rated at 125 watts at 4 ohms at 5% TH distortion :woot: )

    Ampeg B2-R (rated at 350 watts at 4 ohms)

    Bugera BVP-5500 (this is their take on the SVT-3 Pro, rated at 550 watts at 4 ohms but being Behringer watts it's really more like 450 watts).

    All the cabinets were on the floor except for the homemade one which is on an amp stand. I did test that cabinet in a vertical configuration on the floor though.

    So not an exhaustive test and not used with a band or in a gig situation but the other amps I know well in gig situations so you do have that.

    Note the B300HD looks like the more powerful amps but has a rotary 5 band EQ, the 600 and 1000 watt versions have two bands of rotary EQ and then a graphic.

    So what were the impressions?

    Well not bad, not bad at all.....for $200 it's great in fact.

    It is very clean and very silent (well except the fan, more on that in a moment) and seems powerful at 4 ohms. They do the common trick where most of the gain is in the first 30% of the travel. So it gets loud right away at a quarter volume but the volume does not get a lot louder past say half.

    Compared to the ACC Acoustic 220 I gotta say the old girl holds her own. The B300HD does get louder but not a LOT louder. This kind of makes sense as the 220 puts out 125 watts, going to 250 watts would only be 3 dB louder, so the actual output of the B300HD is like maybe 4 dB louder. But it does get louder and is quite clean at high volumes.

    Tonally the old amp DOES sound better, just a tad, I guess the distortion adds some character and the EQ seems better voiced overall.

    Compared to the Ampeg B2-R (through the Ampeg cabinet) - the Ampeg just crushes the B300HD tonally. They both get to about the same volume but I did a lot of knob twisting with the B300HD to get it to sound as good and it just does not. Ampeg really knows how to voice a bass amp, especially the EQ. The B300HD is NOT BAD mind you, just not as good.

    Compared to the Bugera BVP-5500 - Since this amp basically sounds like an Ampeg SVT-3 Pro and has a tube preamp section the results were pretty much the same as with the B2-R. The Bugera got noticeably louder but again not more than say 2 to 3 dB louder.

    Unless you are playing on a large stage the B300HD has plenty of power at 4 ohms, and if you are playing on a large stage and want a lot of rumble in your back line, you are not going to be using a 300 watt amp anyway unless it's an SVT.

    Other things I noticed:

    The Fan - ok this is the elephant in the room, the fan gets freaking very loud, it's mounted on the top of the case and sucks air in and then out the sides. Here is the crazy thing; the fan cuts on and stays on even if you just cut the amp on and let it sit there. That's really weird. In comparison the Ampeg B2-R and the Bugera BVP-5500 have fans but rarely cut on at all.

    If you mainly wanted to use this head to do recording I gotta say the fan is going to be a buzzkill, you might want to look elsewhere. On a stage or at practice it's not a big deal I just find it odd the fan runs even if you are not using the amp

    The compressor - Probably the best built in comp I have used although I have not used a lot of amps with built in comps (never used an Eden extensively for example). The limiter on the B2-R makes the amp essentially worthless so I never used it.

    With the B300HD they seem to have set the threshold fairly high, the compressor has a lot of "grab" when it does kick in but the release is pretty fast. It doesn't pump and it doesn't really stomp on your sound like most built in comps I have used.

    Notch Filter - Works great and really improves the sound. In fact I would say with the filter not engaged it's nearly impossible to get a good sound out of the thing unless you like a lot of mids. Even turning the mids EQ controls down the amp still is mids heavy. What is very nice is while the notch cut level is fixed, there is a knob that allows you to change the frequency point to what sounds good with your bass and your cabinet.

    Boost buttons - Like an Ampeg and many others it has Super Low and Super High switches. For my purposes they really add to the overall sound of the amp but if you switch them off it's not bad sounding. Unlike the Notch filter it is not essential to use these.

    Distortion - I'll be blunt, it sounds like ass and not in a good way :drool:. You do get a knob that allows you to blend the distortion with the clean sound but only at very low settings does it sound ok. Past half or higher it just sucks. I'll admit to not using distortion a lot and I don't like the circuits in any amp I have ever heard.

    When I do want distortion I use a Fulltone Bass Drive which is kind of the gold standard of bass distortion pedals so my view is somewhat colored by that box I guess.

    LED Indicators - They are going for a total "Acoustic Blue" thing here all the LED's are blue. Even the clip light blinks blue to tell you to engage the pad or reduce the gain. While it makes the amp look aesthetically consistent it also is confusing at a distance to determine which buttons you have pushed.

    The other thing is like most LED's they are very directional but also very bright. At certain distances when I had the thing set up vertically on the 2 x 10" looking at the head was like being assaulted by laser beams. Will probably not bother your audience but the things are bright at certain angles.

    Around back - This model (not sure about the 600 and 1000 watt versions) offers two speaker outs, one is on a 1/4 jack, the other on a Speakon. That's a nice touch as not everybody owns a speakon cable or a cabinet with Speakons, so no matter what your setup is you are mostly covered. I believe the speakon connector is a combo jack (speakon or 1/4")

    The amp has the usual plethora of stuff back there, Effects loop insert (two jacks) for effects, a DI (which I did not test) a quarter inch preamp out as well. The one thing I wish is the tuner out was better marked, maybe make that jack a different color or something because you kind of have to peer around the back with a flashlight to see which jack is the tuner out jack.

    There is also a footswitch jack (takes a two button switch) that controls the mute and the F/X loop on or off; I think the switch is a latching type, not sure but I tried an unlatched dual switch and it did not work.

    Miscellaneous stuff - The head has two long rubber "feet" that grip very well. The problem is these things are only about an 1/8" tall so if you plan on using it on top of a cabinet with a handle on top, the rubber feet will likely not clear the surface of the handle.

    Takes an IEC power receptacle of course, which seems to move around rather disconcertingly when you plug or unplug it. I'm not sure if they all are like this or not.

    Form Factor - Be aware this thing is wider and deeper than the typical Class D head. If you wanted to use it with say a TC 208 or a Trace Elliot Elf 2 x 8" cabinet it is going to hang off the sides a bit (it is 11.25 inches wide and 9.5 inches deep).

    Quoted weight is 6.6 pounds and it feels like it, very solid case on the thing. But if you are quibbling over the fact it weighs say 3 or 4 pounds more than the other guys, good gawd just get a roadie already :smug:

    Styling - this probably means little to most people but I think they nailed it here with the industrial design. Most Class D bass heads look like glorified half rack headphone amps. I realize the format is hard to make something that small look cool but GC Acoustic did a really good job here, they must have hired somebody. The fact it is slightly larger than the other guys also helps. It looks like an actual piece of bass gear, not a headphone amp.

    Ampeg has done a good job as well, in fact they share a lot of the design (the sloped front panel, the chunky knobs, etc.) so who knows, maybe GC cribbed a lot from Ampeg.

    The Acoustic Logo lights up, the front panel has a nice backward slope to it, the knobs are large but not too large, and the front part of the panel has a rubbery surround that looks good, prevents the edges of the front from getting nicked up.

    The knobs and switches all have a great feel, the knobs feel panel mounted, not mounted to the circuit board with holes in the front panel like a lot of cheap gear.

    So the final verdict?

    I would have to use this thing in a band/gig context to really have a complete opinion.

    The regular price is $279, it's a good value at that, it was a screaming deal at $200. Once you get to around $350 and up the other stuff available is probably a better bet. So unless you just dig a lot about these amps and their design, I'd probably not buy the more expensive 600 or 1000 watt versions, as they are a lot more money.

    The question for me is my Ampeg B2-R in a two space rack case weighs about 19 pounds, so is it really worth it to save 12 pounds or so of load in weight for a head that does not sound as good?

    What I would say about this B300HD is it would make a great backup amp if you have an existing rig and wanted a cheap, small, Class D head to fill that backup role, or as an amp to leave at the band practice space, etc.

    Just an FYI on the Acoustic Brand BTW

    Note this is just my opinion, a feeling I get. If a rep from GC or GC Acoustic wants to counter this I welcome their input. Again this is my opinion, not based on hard facts or anything....but I think the GC Acoustic Brand is going away.

    I wrote to their tech support about the availability of their cabinets and was told all the Neo cabs have been discontinued with no plans to replace them. The B15C (a single 15"/horn cabinet with a ceramic speaker) has been discontinued, all they have in stock now is the 410 ceramic cabinet.

    The 1000 watt version of the Class D heads seems to be gone now, just the B300HD and the B600HD.

    If you go on the GC Website and look for new Acoustic Brand gear you get 21 hits, most are small acoustic guitar amps, only 9 products for bass. Most of these products seem to be the small bass combos and some older combo stuff (the non-neo/non Class D stuff). They have one Class D/Neo combo.

    Again just a feeling I get but GC just came out of bankruptcy protection back in December of 2020; I suspect one cost cutting move they made was to start closing out the Acoustic house brand, they are just drawing down product that is left in the warehouses.

    So.....if you buy one, be aware they might soon be an orphan product. Their warranty is quite good (5 years) but as I understand it there is no actual factory service and they don't sell parts to indy shops.

    None of this was of real concern to me with a $200 amp, but just be aware of the possibilities of an orphaned product if the brand goes away.


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  2. Thanks for sharing about your experience with this amp! I think many of us have been curious about them but not brave enough to buy one, lol!
  3. Analogeezer


    Jul 29, 2021

    At $208 I was not exactly that brave LOL.

    I figure as a backup, a basis for a cheap rig, or a rig you use for band practice and leave it in that space it's worth a shot.

    I'd wait for some kinda blowout pricing on the B600HD before I'd take a chance on that one.

    Right now those are $400 but I bet they wind up blowing the out for $300.

    The 1000 watt version (B1000HD) seems to no longer be available but some might show up on Reverb/Ebay/Facebook Marketplace, etc.

  4. Gustopher


    Jul 30, 2018
    I just grabbed one of these from my local music store used for a very very good price. I really enjoyed the sounds I got out of it and for the price it is well worth it, looking to put it to use at a gig tonight so I hope to have good things to report back about later!
    DeliriumTremens likes this.
  5. Gustopher


    Jul 30, 2018
    Nothing but good to report back after tonight’s gig. The amp sounded great with my 1x15 (4ohms) and the DI worked great as well. I dialed in a small amount of overdrive and that worked really well on a lot of the songs we played. It ran quiet and cool and had power to spare. I am very pleased with it and will try and find another for a backup, I really liked it that much.
    DeliriumTremens likes this.
  6. Analogeezer


    Jul 29, 2021

    Glad it worked out for you. Can you provide some details like what kind of band, what kind of venue, how loud is your band? Also what kind of 1 x 15" cabinet and what kind of bass?


  7. Gustopher


    Jul 30, 2018
    Sure, we are a standard classic rock cover band. 2 guitars, bass, drums. We have a pa, so I use my amp and cab for stage monitor. I played my MIM pbass and my 1x15 is an older hartke combo 1400 that I took the amp out of. I don’t know what magic is in this old cab, but it sounds fantastic. The acoustic paired really well with it, much better than the Carvin Bx500 I had before. I also have a Warwick Gnome that I use with it, but it’s only 200w and I have to run it a little too hot to get the same volume and punch.
  8. I really liked the look of these, especially as a backup, and bought one about a year ago. Worked great and sounded great, but the volume began to gradually fall into silence during the second song in our set. I had PA support and it was not being pushed. I dimed the volume, but the sound was gone. I returned it to GC and bought another a few months later for $179. Same problem after two gigs of working perfectly. Returned it for a used Hartke TX300 which has so far surpassed all expectations
  9. Raf Seibert

    Raf Seibert

    Dec 16, 2013
    Thank you. That was very complete and comprehensive.