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Series III Focus 2 owners: Howzyeramp?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, Jan 30, 2006.

  1. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I'm interested in upgrading because of the new design and extra HP filter on the mic channel. How many people already have 'em, and how are they doing for you so far? Any kudos or complaints?
  2. bribass


    Jan 25, 2006
    Northern NJ
    Endorsing Artist; Arnold Schnitzer/ Wil DeSola New Standard RN DB
    I just bought one right before the new year (tax deductable for '05 that way). There can't be too many out there yet 'cause mine has serial #0008. I'm liking it alot. First of all the added head room is great to have on louder gigs as I do a lot of doubling on the slab. When not using small combos I'm used to an old (c. mid -eighties) green light , 2 channel Walter Woods which is probably only pushing 225waits at best at 4ohms and a bunch less at 8ohms, so the 450 and 800-900watts of the Focus 2R III is very clean sounding and packs a punch. Clean is the operative word. Very flat uncolored response like they promise. All in a less than 5lbs. package.

    I haven't messed that much w/ the HP and notch filters yet. I haven't really had to. I'm sure I'll love those for using a mic or problem rooms. Both channels BTW have the filters and both have 1/4" / XLR inputs. The mute button is very useful for tuning on louder stages.
    So far I've tried it w/ my Prescott DB w/ Realist pu and Aguilar 112" w/horn, great! brings out it's complex mids that other amps miss. The MM Sterling BG and Eminence EUB sound great w/ the Flite cab loaded w/ 15" EV Proline. These axes need the warmer 15" and I do have to push the bass on the eq a bit, but when ya do, fabulous tone. When using two cabs together?, a 4ohm wall of tone w/ all the wattage! The chorus effect is usful too. Perhaps on outdoor gigs the reverbs may be handy esp. w/ a mic on the DB or some flange on funk lines. You could use this thing as a PA.

    Complaints? Not many. EQ could be a bit more responsive. Ya have kinda crank them to get a big difference. Same goes for the level control on the FX. The controls also could be more differentiated. It's easy to hit the wrong little white button in the heat of battle. I wish the Focus had a WW style channel switcher; ch1, ch2 or both. Not just on/off for ch2.
    Not quite as warm as the ol' WW, but this is better w/ a 15" or warmer cabs than my Aguilar and w/ all the headroom clarity in an incredibly small/light box, ya can't complain too much... hey, maybe a small tube pre in the chain ...oooh.


  3. +1 on this review. The filter is really cool, but, but like B-Bass said, it might have been better if the buttons were different colors, it's easy to confuse them. Also, IMHO the effects are kind of uneccesary,with the effects send and recieve inputs already there, but that's just me.
  4. Chris;
    I also have a Focus 2R lll (Hey BriBass, mine's #0005) and I am very happy with it. Except for sitting in with some AI combos it is really my first experience with an Acoustic Image product's EQ. I had originally intended to post a shoot-out here with an iAMP800 but that led to other things (see "my bass sucks" in miscellaneous) The focus replaced the solstice/focus SA I was using and IMHO the AI's EQ works better for the pickups I have (realist and RS) which I blend with the two channels. But I am uncomfortable using extreme EQ settings and luckily I can keep it pretty flat with this. So far I find that I am using the high pass filter the most on the RS (when it gets loud) and the realist is flat with some cut on the mids. I am also surprised that I actually like a hint of reverb in dead rooms as it is something I thought I'd never use. It sounds 'natural' or at least 'kinda-like a record' if used sparingly. I also was afraid that I would miss the phase invert on the solstice but so far the HP filter works fine when I have to deal with unnatural volume because of loud guitar players. I did two gigs recently with BIG PA support, one with a jazz quartet in a huge ballroom and the other with a loud blues band in a big club. I gave the sound guys a pre-EQ line from the balanced out and it went much better that similar experiences with the solstice.

    As I remember Chris, you have a FC and AMT.
    I have a golden bullet but I have not used it through the focus yet. But I think since you are familiar with AI's EQ flavor you would be pleased, having the input accept either balanced or quarter inch seems perfect for your application, and having HP filter on both channels is great, and I now can't imagine not having both.
  5. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2001
    Focus 1 #0001 here. I agree with what's been said so far. I used mine on a EB gig Last night. The sound on stage was a bit difficult. We did a soundcheck earlier in the day and I used the house's GK 700RB. It was a bit muddy and when I boosted the mids it cut better but lost a lot of warmth. I brought the Focus to the gig instead (sound man wasn't too happy but he dealt with it) and it was much clearer while retaining warmth - much better. I've used it a bunch with upright (full circle p/u) and it sounds very true to the pickup. I mean that in a good way.
  6. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    I've A/B'd the series III Focus to the Series II a number of times now with EB. I notice very little difference.. both sound nice. I would not bother upgrading unless you really need the features of the new amp... the extra power is not noticable IMO. The EQ is still virtually useless on these amps... but luckily they sound good 'flat'.
  7. flatback

    flatback Supporting Member

    May 6, 2004
    I'll be selling a bunch of stuff soon. I think this new amp has everything I'm going to need for a long while. I love the bionic box that will do everything thrown at it and sound clean too.
  8. That's exactly what I'm doing now. I had a Major GAS attack over the holidays, ( I think I was (all Hail!) Bob G.'s
    No.1 customer!:) ) But now I have everything I want.
    Almost. ;)
  9. Joe Smithberger

    Joe Smithberger Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Canton, Ohio, USA
    I just turned over a bunch of stuff also. Now I'm running the Focus 2R with a Bergantino EX112 or portabass 110. So far I've only had it out in public once with the big girl but several times with EB and my Rob Allen Mouse. I think the HP filter is very useful even set at 30hz. It seems to compress the signal just a bit as well as cut the lowest frequencies. So far so good but I'm having to rethink all my EQ settings with EB.
  10. flatback

    flatback Supporting Member

    May 6, 2004
    I borrowed a Focus 2 this weekend before ordering the new focus 3 (a big huge thank you to TB'er Geoff Brennan, who is an exceptional bassist and a great cat, for offering the focus for the weekend)
    There are some weird things about this amp.. The EQ seems like it is voiced for something way different then acoustic bass. I rolled off the brite knob all the way and the treble all the way and still it makes the FC sound way too trebbly(and I have a dark sounding instrument). Particularly annoying is the finger noise. I fared better with the Vektor which sounds great but needs the Gigpro for phantom. I ended up using a combo of the high pass filter on each to get a sound. The Vektor sounds pretty damn good thru this amp.
    The FC thing bugs me though. I ran a mic too and that sounds great, but VERY BRITE. Is there anything I'm missing about how to get a nice warm sound without too briteness?
    I realize that all this briteness is accuracy (to a degree)...
    I still really dig the overall package and will probably buy it but, I'd love to just have a really good useful EQ that you can plug into straight and just get your sound without and outboard EQs or boxes.
    I tried it with the Demeter Tube Direct and that sounded a lot better but still voiced too brite.
  11. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    This is so different from my experience with the AI stuff...I can't imagine dialing the brite all the way down and still getting the sound you describe. What cab were you using?

  12. Flathead, are you using the filters on the EQ? They might help you dial out some of that brightness.
  13. flatback

    flatback Supporting Member

    May 6, 2004
    yea dude, and my head ain't that flat.
    there are just so many knobs on the box and I tried them all...
    Wilbyman -
    LDS 1x8 admittedly a brite cab (but I have the tweeter rolled off too)
    you dont get a lot of scratchy finger noise?
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    That's just the Full Circle talking, but I agree that the "Brite" control is worthless for DB - probably one of the reasons they did away with it for the series III. When I use the FC, I roll the treble and bright off completely and dial in the finger/string noise that I want using the mid control (this through EA VL 208 cabs). Once I got used to doing this, I found I could get a nice warm sound and even a dark one if I wanted.

    I'm too lazy to carry it, but I also had good luck with the Presonus EQ3B run through the effects loop when I was experimenting with EQ. They're small and inexpensive, so if you're really jonesing for more EQ, this might be an option.
  15. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL

    The FC is bright-ish, but the LDS 1x8 won't help.
  16. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV

    Hmm...I haven't had that LDS cab. I had an LDS longthrow 2x8, but that was a very different cab than what you've got. BUT, the 1x8 sounds like it is similar to the Epi UL110. I find that the really airy/shimmery Epifani tweeter accentuates DB finger noise I don't want, so I'll bet that's the culprit. The Epi stuff it great for slab though.

    I haven't used the VL208, but I think alot of people are finding the AI stuff mates up very, very, very well with the Bergantino HT112. I've been running that setup for 2 years and it gives up a nice, rich, punchy sound without harsh finger noise.

    The only thing I'd add is that, contrary to CURSE AT THE WORLD, I can hear the brite knob on my Clarus doing SOMETHING...but I'll admit that it's probably not real audible on the bandstand.

  17. flatback

    flatback Supporting Member

    May 6, 2004
    Hey thanks all.
    I've been messing with this thing all morning, I gotta admit i'm sure digging a lot of aspects of this amp. The head room, gives clarity and dimension without that pushing sound (the sound of the amp working too hard. When I cranked it, way louder then I'll use (for now) it handled it fine. With the Vektor contact mic in one channel and an underwood on the other (I dont have the FC on the same bridge as the Vektor) it actually sounded the best.
    The Underwood suffers from the same too much high end.
    When Geoff dropped the amp off to me I was accompanying a dance class and I just swapped out the Woods and kept on playing. It sounded great in context. I'll hear tonight if all this high end is too much on the gig.
  18. Aleph5


    Feb 24, 2004
    Just to help confuse the issue, I just bought and received the used Clarus 1R II from fellow TB'er lin fung (Thanks, lin!--I'm trying to leave you feedback but it didn't work). I'm just testing my NS Cleveland w/ FC into the amp driving my LDS 1x8. One of my impressions has been that the brightness that was starting to bug me with this cabinet was NOT very noticeable in this setup. Even when I backed off on the tweeter attenuation knob which I usually keep maxed out (eg, for min. tweeter output). It sounded pretty awesome, at least here at home (which obviously is not gigging!). FWIW too, I so far have left all the tone knobs straight up-flat, though I messed with the notch filter a little bit and was impressed by its potential.

    I wonder if there's something else weird going on. Did you verify the FC is still fine w/ your old rig, flatback?
  19. Aleph5


    Feb 24, 2004
    OK, I hadn't seen your new post. Guess the FC's still good w/ the WW. Hmmm.
  20. LowNote

    LowNote Supporting Member

    Jan 31, 2002
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Flatback--just to be slightly contrarian, I'm having a very different experience from you. My main gigging bass is an Eastman hybrid with Full Circle that I run through a Focus Series II-1R into either one or two Contra EX's or a Contra EX and a Schroeder Mini 12+ or the Schroeder Mini12+ alone. In order to get a good sound that is as natural as possible but will cut through loud big bands and fill pretty good sized rooms with smaller bands, I keep the Brite and Treble knobs set flat, turn the bass all the way off, and the Mid most of the way off, and then I dial in the High Pass to take out any flabby bottom. I find the FC on my bass to be quite boomy. Sometimes I run the cab's with the tweeters turned off or way down in the case of the Schroeder. I don't have any troubles with brightness--my challenges are keeping it from being flabby/boomy.

    I also have a very good carved bass with a Schertler Stat-B. This axe requires less Hi Pass cut because the little preamp/phantom power source box that comes with the Schertler has a Hi Pass filter built into it, but again, there is no super bright treble to deal with. I guess your speaker may have something to do with it, and maybe it just goes to show how unique each person's equipment combination and personal approach to attacking the instrument is.

    Erik Hansen
    Los Angeles