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Streamliner and GK MB800

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Jared Lash, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California
    My Gallien Krueger MB800 showed up this afternoon and after a ten minute "shootout" with my Genz Benz Streamliner 900 (both through my LDS 15/6) I came to the not so surprising conclusion that they are voiced differently enough to warrant keeping both.

    More thoughts to come on how the two amps compare and contrast but the thing that really struck me is that I have a 45 lb cab that pumps out clear lows like nothing I've ever owned and two totally different sounding amps that put 500 W into 8 ohms that weigh less than 12 lbs combined.

    Now, I still love the sound of a big, heavy, 300 W tube amp and traditional cab, but it's amazing how far bass amplification technology has come.

  2. It is astonishing how tubey the Streamliner can get in that little package! No experience with the MB800, but I quited liked the MB200 I played.

    BTW, I LOVE the look you went for on that cab. The tweed and everything, classy ;)
  3. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Wow. Ive got rig envy. That's hot.
  4. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California
    Yeah, I'm really digging both heads. My wife was listening as I A/B's them and she picked up on the difference in tone immediately. Neither can really sound like the other though with major tweaking the GB gets in the ballpark of the MB800 whereas the GK can't do the Streamliner thing at all. Both work great with the 15/6.

    And thanks for the kind words. I thought the cab came out great

  5. DanRJBrasil


    Jun 10, 2007
    hey dude , give us a more complete review, I am drooling here
  6. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Nice, and yes, two different things. Similar to you, I have the Streamliner for 'that thing' and the Shuttle Max 9.2 'for that other thing':D

    That is a beautiful cab!
  7. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    I have the same LDS take on the 15-6, without tweet, crossed at 800Hz with Ralph's xover. Amazing box, and plays sooooo well with the MB800 IME. The tone and volume are jaw-dropping. I didn't like it much with the Streamliner though, different strokes and all that.

    BTW Jared I dig your quote. The T. Heads have been one of my favorite bands since they splashed in the 70s. Psycho Killer is one of our cover bands favorite tunes, and as I struggle with learning to sing while I play, P. Killer and Take Me To The River (gloriously covered by them) are 2 songs I can now muddle through.
  8. foderaman

    foderaman Supporting Member

    Jun 14, 2005
    Nice cab!Is that Mojo tone Fender Brown Tolex and Marshall Tweed Grill Cloth? Don built me a Cab that Looks exactly the same !!
  9. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California
    I'm still learning about the MB800 so a full review/comparison will have to wait. But the expected difference of the GB being big and fat and the GK being tight and aggressive is there. To get the Streamliner to a roughly "flat" setting I cut the bass to around 10 o'clock, boost the mids to around 1:30-2 on the 2500 Hz setting and leave the treble flat. To mimic the GK with it's knobs all at noon I take that setting and cut the bass to 9:30, boost the mids further (to 3:30 or so) and boost the treble slightly.

    Again, not a spot on match but it gives a pretty clear picture of the difference in the basic voicing of the two amps.

    Yeah, it's impressive how much tonal ground these two micros cover between them.

    The Streamliner is definitely a more polarizing head and I can see why. It has a very distinct voicing and it isn't one that "cuts" through a mix with very present midrange. It's MUCH more pillowy than the GK. For my admittedly esoteric application (my main band is very electronica and dub based) it is ideal, especially with the 15/6. I think the MB800 has a voicing and EQ that I think has more widespread appeal.

    And I am a huge Talking Heads fan and Remain in Light is one of my all-time favorite albums.

    It is indeed. I think it's a good look and Don builds great cabs. What kind of cab did he build you?
  10. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California
    I've had a chance to use each amp in a full mix so here are a few more notes.

    The GB is definitely the quieter of the two. At gig volume and at some settings the GK has a bit of hiss through my 15/6. At practice volume it's unnoticeable and at gig volume it wouldn't be noticeable under normal conditions and ambient noise but it's there. Then again, I gigged a Walkabout with an unmodded fan and that was a bit louder though again not noticed at the gig.

    I dig the EQ points of both though the GB gives usable (depending on the circumstance) tones through almost the entire range of any knob. The GK doesn't have super exaggerated cut/boost either but can (like pretty much all amps) be tweeked to sound awful.

    On the other hand, I think the GK is actually more versatile. As I noted previously with the Streamliner I can tweak it heavily to get a relatively "flat" setting or tweak it further to approximate the GK's flat tone, for the most part it has that big, gooey, round tone. The GK absolutely has a "baked in" EQ as well, but as I started thinking about different things I've done over the years (rock, a bit of metal, funk, reggae, jazz/pop, modern covers, Motown/Stax like stuff, singer songwriter with acoustic guitar and fretless bass etc) I think I'd reach for the GK more often. But the Streamliner does "it's" thing really well.

    As for volume, I think the GK definitely the louder of the two though it is hard to say for sure because the GK has so much of it's volume range in the first bit of the knobs travel and the GB has a much smoother increase in volume as you turn the knob. Also, the natural voicing of the two (with the MB800 having much more midrange when set flat and the Streamliner being so big down low) will make the GK sound louder even at the same volume. But even taking all that into account I think the MB800 has more real output. Not that it matters much to me. I'm running a single 8 ohm cab and both heads give met more than I need. I can't imagine the volume at 4 ohms with a pair of high sensitivity cabs that can take the wattage.

    I'm definitely keeping both of them so if there is any area of comparison that I didn't cover that someone wants to know about just let me know.
  11. jnewmark

    jnewmark Just wanna play the groove. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Stax 1966
    Third St. Cigar Records staff musician.
    So setting aside the GB for a moment, does the GK have the typical " GK " tone, or can it be more versatile ? I have played a few GK amps and , despite the eq, I always knew I was playing a GK head.
  12. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Nice review! We hear things similarly. I have only spent time with the GK MB500. Impressive head for what it is... that GK aggressive tone. As you noticed, the hiss and noise (I assume due to the treble and upper mid spike voiced into those heads) was a deal breaker for me. Probably not too bad with the mid driver, but with a tweeter, way too much noise for the type of gigs I do. I would assume not much of an issue for the rockers, etc.

    +1 also, that just like the Genz Max 9.2., which is much tighter and brighter than the Streamliner, it seems 'louder' due to the way the human ear is built... midrange sounds louder!

    Also, +1 that there would be few players who would need more volume than any of these heads would provide.
  13. afroman

    afroman Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2000
    Austin, TX
    I remember playing a MB500 about a year ago with an SVT810 and almost blowing my head off. It was so damn loud I couldn't believe it. I did find it hissy and the volume came up drastically with no subtle increase as I turned the knob.

    It was the first micro amp I tried and I was a bit impressed with the tone and volume for such a lightweight amp. IMO it still had that extreme GK brightness that I always have had to EQ out. Cutting the high-mids and treble knobs enabled me to warm up the sound to my taste.

    I can't imagine hoy loud that MB800 is.:eek:
  14. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California
    It absolutely has the typical GK tone. I parted ways with my 1001RB-II quite a while ago so I can't A/B them to see exactly how close they are, but tonally they are close. As with most GK amps, if you want to dial out that inherent voicing you'll need to dial back the high mid knob considerably and dip the treble control as well. I sometimes boost the low mids and turn the contour up significantly as well.

    Yeah, I'm not at all a tweeter guy. I buy cabs without them, turn them down when in a position to use cabs with defeatable ones and grit my teeth when forced to use a cab that has one that can't be turned off. But for people that do use tweetered cabs the noise would like be much more noticeable.

    It's a good head for rock stuff but I actually like it more for clean chordal work and 70's ash/maple jazz type funk tones.

    Yeah, it's the mids that get you heard in a mix for sure (and help determine how loud the bass seems), but sometimes that big, wooly, pillowy punch of the Streamliner is perfect too. Sometimes I think bassists get too focused on "cutting through" when the situation might call for a smoother tone.

    As a side note, my wife was listening to the two amps as I was A/Bing them and described them as "pear shaped" (GB) and "lean and muscular" (GK) I think that's a pretty simple way to compare them.

    For the record, I'm a fan of the GK sound, but the MB500 and 800 definitely have that tone in spades. It can be dialed out (pretty easily IMO) but it's there when everything is set flat.

    And yes, this sucker is LOUD. Every time I pick it up and realize it's under 5 lbs I'm blown away all over again that it cranks out as much sound as it does.
  15. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California
    Talking about how light the Streamliner and MB800 are reminded me of a story with another micro.

    I've played on and off with a pianist singer/songwriter playing her jazz/pop stuff.

    The bassist I replaced was a friend of her dad's that used a 66 Pbass and SVT + fridge. I originally thought (because he was a successful lawyer) that he spent a pretty penny to buy such great vintage gear but in reality he'd had it since his own playing days in the early 70's.

    Anyway, when I took over he generously offered to let me use his rig since "that bass tone is important to her". So I lugged that SVT and 810 around for gigs until one time when we were playing a second floor bar I asked if she'd be okay with me using my Puma 1000 and 15/6 that I played at practice for the gig.

    She looked at me puzzled and said, "I actually like that one better, I'm not sure why you keep bringing the other one". :eek:

    Personally I loved the sound of that Ampeg setup, but my back wished I'd asked a heck of a lot sooner about using the mini rig!
  16. Jerry Ziarko

    Jerry Ziarko Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Maybe I'm deaf, but I own a MB500 and a Fusion, and hear no hiss. None, NADA, and that is with a tweeter. Ken from seeing your demo we do some of the same type of gigs. Belive me, if that amp was noisy, it wouldn't get used. Either yours was bad, or mine's special. :smug:

    One thing I would be interested in though, is trying a Streamliner with a Sadowsky M5-24. That pillowy bottom and soft top end might just be a match made in heaven.
  17. Crabby


    Dec 22, 2004
    My mb500 was dead quiet. I sold it though and replaced it with a Walkabout. Some strange manic in these little Mesa's!
  18. Ditto on the quietness....my MB500 has never "hissed" ?
    Through either GK 212Neo or GK 212 MBE.....yes, tweeters on/@ middle on att level.
  19. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California
    I don't know if what I'm hearing would qualify as "hiss" per se, but it is similar to what I always heard with my GK 1001RB-II through the Neo 212 when the volume was up high enough. Just a bit of ambient noise that is on par with most amp's fan noise.

    Certainly nothing that bothers me as in a gig setting everything would have to be dead quiet for people 10 feet away to even hear it.
  20. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    It does seem that is quite a bit of 'production variance' in the GK stuff, as seen by the many posts of 'hissy and noise' and the many posts of 'very quiet'.

    I've only spent time with two MB500's, and they both had quite a bit of upper frequency noise, much more than most other amps. Again, if you don't have a tweeter, it wouldn't be much of an issue anyway... not horrible by any means, but beyond my tolerance level personally.

    It would not surprise me if the noise output varies across units.

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