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Seeking your real world class D amp head comparison and experience

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by IvanMike, Feb 26, 2021.

  1. IvanMike

    IvanMike TTRPG enthusiast, Happy, Joyous, & Free. Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    I’m laughing as I write this because I used to be the co-moderator of this forum years ago and I may be breaking several of my rules for posting.

    I haven’t followed recent events with the new ultra small ultralight ultra portable class D amplifier heads that have become quite popular lately. I’ve only been peripherally aware of them. However, I am interested in getting one for practices and smaller gigs. I’ve got no intention of replacing my main rig and I’m quite aware that it’s unfair to compare them directly against one another.

    The portable head that it has to beat is an old SWR electric blue had which is 14” x 14” x 5” and tips the scale at 14 pounds. The rated wattage of that unit is 150 into four and 120 into eight.

    A disclaimer about wattage: I’ve been around long enough and done enough A/B comparisons to know that there is the wattage that the manufacturer claims for their amplifier, and then there is what you actually experience. I’m less interested in what the amplifier says on the package, I’m a lot more interested in what you have actually experienced. Especially if you have put two or three or more of these little heads up against one another and found out which ones are actually louder than the others. I won’t bore you with the war stories but I have certainly seen “standard” amplifiers blow other “standard” amplifiers out of the water that were rated at four times the wattage. (I’m not going to mention that these might have been the old Trace Elliot amplifiers and the Aguilar DB 750). If one amp is significantly louder than another, let me know.

    Tone itself is of course subjective. However I would be interested in your thoughts here as well, especially if you have had the opportunity to do direct comparisons.

    otherwise, portability is certainly a factor, otherwise I would not be writing this. It seems like they are all the same ballpark in terms of weight being somewhere around 3 to 5 pounds give or take. I’m a little more interested in actual outside dimensions and if they fit in something like a gig bag. Being able to carry a gig bag and a small cabinet and be done with it is kind of a holy Grail.

    in the future I might inquire about how the small and light cabinet scene is these days. I’m not about to give up my bag and cabinets, and anybody who has been around a long time those that I was quite a champion for them. However, despite being compact they are on the heavy side. I do miss my GS 112 but I know that there are quite a few cabinets that have popped up in the last 10 years or so.

    Anyhow, let me know your experiences. How they stacked up to one another in terms of volume and tone. How well you’re able to fit it in a gig bag or something like that. If you experienced problems, what were they? If you picked one over the others after doing comparisons, why?

    Just to be clear, if you have opinions without experience I’m really not interested in that. And comments that little class the amplifiers are no good or will never be as good as regular class A or class B amplifiers are exactly helpful either. Remember, I’m not looking to replace anything, just for another option. Edit: “class D amps are great” without letting me know which one you like and why isn’t super helpful either.

    thanks a lot in advance ~ Ivan
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
    Avezzano, Gizmot, BOOG and 2 others like this.
  2. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    GK MB 500 4lbs approx. Back up amp.
    Small, size of a book and loud 350 W @ 8 ohms. 500W @ 4 ohms.

    TC RH 450, 9 lbs approx. I like it for the features, built in tuner, compressor,
    mute, 4 band EQ, tube emulation, 3 memory banks and footswitch to
    control it. My main amp.
    I carry my amp in a large laptop bag that also holds
    all cables, charts and accessories needed for a gig.
  3. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    I've used nothing but class D amps at gigs for the last dozen years or so. They're a proven technology that works.

    Every manufacturer makes them a little different in terms of tone, size and how much they lie about watts. Just like every other type of amp.
  4. IvanMike

    IvanMike TTRPG enthusiast, Happy, Joyous, & Free. Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    So which ones did you choose and why? Were there ones that you did not like that you decided not to go with and why?
    GreyEagle and DJ Bebop like this.
  5. velalv

    velalv Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2010
    Woodbridge, VA
    So I have had 3 class D amps--- the GK MB 500, the Aguilar Tonehammer 350 and 500, and the Bergantino Forte...all running through a Bergantino CN 112. I play then with my Musicman Bongo and Martin Acoustic Bass. Of those three, the Bergantino had unreal amounts of power. I have never had to turn that thing past noon to play in a 400 person church with no sound support from the PA. The Aguilar 350 was not enough power at all in the same setting. The TH 500 got closer. However, for an all in one class d head, I could not go wrong with the Forte. Hope that helps...happy to get more granular if you want.
    GreyEagle, Ralph69, Gizmot and 3 others like this.
  6. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    I've used class D heads made by GK, Trace Elliot, Carvin, Hotone and TC. The only one that I had any issue with was the Carvin, which died twice due to problems unrelated to the power amp section. I threw that one in the trash rather than try to get it repaired a second time.

    My main gigging amp is a GK because I like their EQ stack. My practice amp at home is the Hotone, which I also use for drive sounds when recording.
    BBassBassington, BOOG and Al Kraft like this.
  7. IvanMike

    IvanMike TTRPG enthusiast, Happy, Joyous, & Free. Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    Yeah sure let me know what your other thoughts or experiences have been. The more detail I get the better.
  8. Eddie LeBlanc

    Eddie LeBlanc

    Oct 26, 2014
    Beaumont, Texas
    Don't create no problem, won't be no problem.
    Used class D heads for a while.
    Genz Shuttle 3 then a Genz Shuttle 6 for rehearsal amp.
    Then a GK MB 500 for a 2nd rehearsal amp.

    Genzler Magellan 800 as a gig amp that replaced a Demeter HBP1 preamp with a Crown XLS 1500 power (the Crown was class D also). Just lightened the load by moving to the Genzler.

    Now I have a Bergantino B|Amp as the gig rig. And the Genzler Magellan is in the rehearsal studio.

    So far I think they do what I need and are reliable.
    All the class D folks have differing wattage ratings, what Berg calls 700 watts, Genzler calls 800 watts. But it is all the same.

    But so far, I have seen nothing but improvements. But for the money, Berg is one of the best.
  9. velalv

    velalv Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2010
    Woodbridge, VA
    Happy to...but just want a bit more direction. What specifically do you want me to go into?
  10. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    My first class D was a GK MB500 to use as a small, light, easy to carry along backup for my Mesa Carbines (I own the M3, 6 and 9). The voicing is actually quite similar. After fooling around with the little GK I thought I would try the 200 and 800 versions as well (I own all three models).

    My first thought was that they were surprisingly powerful and great sounding for their size and weight. Then as an engineer it became obvious that size and weight has nothing to do with tone or volume, it's about voicing. IMO some of the early class D bass amp designs were executed by folks who were not as familiar with that technology and/or its application to bass guitar amplification. FWIW, it's equally easy to goon up a class A/B tube or SS/hybrid bass amp design as well if you're not an expert in using that technology.

    I decided to try an Aguilar TH500 and it shocked me that it sounded and felt (in playing it) very much like a tube amp - yet it was all solid state and class D to boot. Then I thought about my GK MBs which in a busy mix could easily be mistaken for a GK RB series head. This simply reinforced for me that "class D in and of itself" doesn't dictate a single tone or voicing outcome.

    I then acquired a Mesa D-800, WD-800 and TT-800. All three have unique tonal and voicing characteristics as well as a unique playing feel that should convince anyone that class D isn't a sound/voicing/tone, it's just a technology. My heavy gear stays home almost all the time these days and the class D gear is what I take to gigs.

    It's not a compromise or trade-off. If my class D heads were in a bigger box with lead weight (to physically mimic say my Carbines) they would still impress me. The key here is that they are good designs by engineers who have mastered the application of this technology to bass guitar amplification.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
  11. velalv

    velalv Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2010
    Woodbridge, VA
    I'll say this about tone. The Berg is the most "transparent". I almost never touch the EQ buttons. What I put into my Bongo is what I get out of the Berg. The tweaks I make onboard the Bongo and Martin are faithfully reflected. The GK was the most aggressive tonally. I had to dial the EQ on that a lot. The Tonehammer has a very baked in tone, kind of like a modern take on Ampeg. If that is your jam, then it is great. That did not jam well with my Bongo, but was great with my old Jazz bass.
  12. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    I agree completely with your assessment on those heads. While I do not own a Berg head I have played them and they provide an honest representation of what you feed them with some very nice, bordering on surgical precision tone shaping ability. I think the reason I found the GK and Carbine quite similar is that both are voiced in a "rock aggressive" kind of way to my ear. The TH is very old school and works best when you want that old Ampeg rig kind of tone/voicing in a light package.
  13. Eddie LeBlanc

    Eddie LeBlanc

    Oct 26, 2014
    Beaumont, Texas
    Don't create no problem, won't be no problem.

    I can agree the Berg is transparent. So far I'm crazy about my B|Amp. And it is a cut above all of the other class D amps I own, Genz, Genzler, GK, and even the Crown and Demeter preamp.
  14. gorneyg

    gorneyg Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2012
    New Jersey
    Started with the Markbass Little Mark 800 with a 2x10 and 1x15 traveler cabs. I also have the 102p combo. Like them all and sold the rig to 'upgrade'. I have a Bergantino B|Amp and two 1x12 cabs.
    IMO I can get any sound (read: my sound) from the Class D amps I need or want. I do think the Bergantino setup is one of the best I've ever owned, Class D or otherwise.
    Sound is subjective. I have an array of active basses and that certainly contributes to my sound.
  15. gigslut


    Dec 13, 2011
    St Louis, Mo
    I have a Markbass Little Mark 3, and a TC Electronics bam200. So I have a $700 amp and $150 amp. Both sound great. I bought the TC Electronics as a backup and a practice/rehearsal rig that I might use on small gigs. The TC Electronics seems to deliver as advertised in terms of power. It sounds great and I have wound up using it on the majority of my gigs. It fits in a pouch on my gig bag. I still love my Mark Bass, and have no regrets, but the TC Electronics has proven to be much more useful than I expected.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
    BBassBassington, Avezzano and timinit like this.
  16. IvanMike

    IvanMike TTRPG enthusiast, Happy, Joyous, & Free. Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    Really just your total experience: volume, tone, durability, etc.
  17. IvanMike

    IvanMike TTRPG enthusiast, Happy, Joyous, & Free. Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    How does the Bergantino compare to the Demeter in terms of tone? ~ I use a Demeter and an Avalon U5 as my main preamps
  18. Lammchop93

    Lammchop93 Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2007
    Louisville, KY
    If I had to pick my top 2 class D amps, it would be the Genzler Magellan 800 and the Peavey Minimega.

    I have owned a variety of SS amps, mainly GK amps. I have owned multiple all tube amps like an Ampeg V4B, PF50T, and an Ashdown Little Bastard. I have owned some hybrid amps such as the Orange Terror amps.

    The Genzler and Peavey both are louder than I could ever see myself needing. They are different price points, so if you are just going for a practice amp, the Peavey is tough to beat. It sounds absolutely amazing and hits harder than most amps I have heard. I think the only complaint about this amp is the fans are on top, so you cant have anything over it blocking airflow.

    The genzler had a better drive tone if that's your thing, but clean vs clean, the Peavey maybe had a little more heft to it. The Genzler contour function though was pretty amazing, and gives you both a vintage tone and a modern scooped tone in the same amp. You can't go wrong with either.
    pachoate, Bass Jones, noahw1 and 2 others like this.
  19. Phaidrus


    Oct 25, 2009
    Markbass Little Mark III
    Markbass Little Mark Vintage (with tube preamp).

    Both amps 500 W at 4 ohms / 300 W at 8 ohms at about 2.5 kg.
    SJan3 likes this.
  20. 57pbass

    57pbass Supporting Member

    Aug 1, 2004
    Bayside, New York
    I've gone through a few 800 watt Class D heads and they just simply lack (IMHO of course) the chest thumping thickness that my older heads seem to have had in spades. They sound fine and the features work as described but there's just something missing.
    I have the MESA WD800 and it pairs really well with the SUBWAY 2x12. As I continue to experiment I recently
    (just prior to COVID - 19) acquired a BERGANTINO HP Forte which is 1200 watts. I have not been able to road test this since there are no shows.
    I'm still on the fence with Class D..maybe the additional power with the Forte HP will get me what I'm looking for.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

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