TB Mini Jam @ the Epifani Shop!!

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by jokerjkny, May 12, 2003.

  1. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    Part 1: Cabs



    just got back a little while ago from the Epifani shop, where i met with fellow TB'er, Devilman, to jam thru a few of Nick's righteous cabs. While talking with Nick and Brett just shootin' the breeze, Mike, another Epi floor guy, and Dev showing us some very cool chops, and Dave Beasley from Fodera stopping by, it was quite the day to try out some choice Epi gear.

    unfortunately, i was running really really really late, cause i had to pick up my Demeter pre that my bud had borrowed the night before. but Dev was cool about it. considering he had about 15 Epi cabs around him, i doubt he was bored. ;)

    anywho, Dev brought his SUPER sweet MTD 635. i just couldnt put that thing down! the top had a gorgeous burled / quilted look, and nothing like i've ever seen. quite possibly one of the cooler MTD's i've come across. had a growl like no other.

    i brought trusty Betsy, along with my Kern IP777, Demeter VTBP201s, and Stewart World 1.2. i wasnt planning on bringing the Stew, but it was in the two spacer my friend borrowed.

    now, for the fun stuff! where to start, where to start... hmm...

    as soon as i walked thru the shop door, Dev was slammin' out some proggy lines with his MTD blaring thru one of Nick's all tube preamp prototypes connected to Nick's bodacious 6x10 cab. crystallin' highs, complex mids, huge booty shakin' low end. what more could you ask for? please dont ask me which is better, the Berg 6x10 or the Epi, that's near impossible... :p

    i asked Nick about his ultralite cabs, and he hipped us to the fact that his ultralite cabs are built with his design of "ultralite" speakers, and "ultralite" wood, which make for a very noticibly lighter cab. i could easily lift a 2x10 with one arm, (tho Dev could prolly easily pick up a 3x10 with his pinky :eek: ) while the regular 2x10 nearly pulled my back.

    btw, his ultralite speakers were first made by Emimence following his own design, but their final product didnt cut the mustard. so now, they're being built by a small european company who's name i forget.

    well, looking around, we had MORE than enough cabs to try. first thing i tried was the 3x10 ultralite. about as light as my Acme 2x10, no joke. very little effort needed. the sound of course was clear, yet very meaty. you can really feel the string windings and the pickups. trademark of the sweet Epifani sound.

    next, what i thought i was playing thru was a 2x10 ultralite was actually a 2x10 ultralite cab loaded with the older prototype Eminence ultralite speakers. Brett then went and built for me right next door in the other shop, a "real" ultralite with the right speakers! that's SERVICE!

    while Dev was upstairs at the Fodera shop getting some new strings for his MTD, and Brett was making the 2x10 ultralite, Nick had me try out a pairing of his ultralite 1x10's, with my Kern IP777.


    what an immense sound! right then and there, i knew this was my new small rig!!! really. it was big, bold, complex, rich. nothing harsh about it, and oh so, full and satisfying. you couldnt slap the grin off of my face. i was already daydreaming about being able to hop onto the M3 bus to my next gig with these two babies in tow. doesnt hurt that holding up one literally felt as light as a briefcase!

    as awesome as the little rig was, i still wanted to try the 2x10, and Brett, Nick's right hand man, brought out the real Ultralite. compared to the Eminence loaded ultralite, the Epi Ultra had a nicer upper range extension, a more inyourface midrange attack. the Eminence, on the other hand, sounded "slower". hard to explain, but just not quite as responsive or as open.

    Nick then had me A/B/C'ed thru all three cabs to show the differences between the cabs.

    the regular Epi 2x10 was the smoothest, and prettiest. smoother trebles. had a nicely round "in your gut", low mid punch.

    the Eminence Ultralite speakers were a bit more forward feeling in the mids, while the upper end was a little harsh. didnt quite have the low mid punch.

    the Epifani Ultralite speakers were just inyourface! the mids seemed to jump out at you, while there seemed to be again that extension of the upper range that was nicer and more articulate. and yes, made my slap tone ROCKIN'!

    in the Epi ultralites, that rounded low mid punch of the regular Epi seems to have been moved up juuuuust a few notches near the middle of the frequency range. some guys may not like it as much, preferring the older, regular Epifani sound. like another good friend of mine who recently visited the shop, he said it just sounded weird to him coming from an Epifani. but i love it! has a chewy Jaco like quality to it, but with a detail that's still unrivaled.

    now, here i was at a loss. the pair of 1x10's was so farkin' nice, and easy to carry around. but the 2x10 ultralite could easily rock the house as well with its more focused low end.

    to help me choose, while i was a/b'ing the two, Mike, one of the floor guys, came by with his sweeeeeeet Fodera Matt G. model. and tho he's fully self taught, the dood can play! had him play everything from a few of his Jaco-esque lines to his best Wooten impersonation. then again, he made it even harder, distracted by his incredible playing!

    i ended up ordering a pair of the 1x10's only cause, they'd fit better for my smaller gigs, and i thought that if i needed something bigger, a 3x10 ultralite would definitely be in my future!
  2. arose11


    Sep 30, 2002
    Kalamazoo, MI
    wow cool, i saw those epifani ultralites in BP magazine a little while ago, i would like to try one out, but i can't even dream of that stuff w/ how much money i have:D.
  3. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    Part 2: Preamps & Heads


    yes, no trip to Epifani would be complete without a good testing of Nick's new preamps. Dev and I got a chance to try out Nick's preamps pretty extensively, and here's what we found.

    Nick had both a finished production model and working prototype of his Quest all tube version preamp running thru a Crest power amp. and tho, Nick's been having some delays, FOLKS, THE PREAMP IS FARKIN' NICE.

    the all tube prototype literally dwarfed my Kern, and made my Demeter sound harsh and trebly. no joke, the prototype just had soooo much more going on in the mids, and the upper range had a airier lighter feel, while the Kern's just sounded hissy to get that same articulated setting. it was complex, chewy, with that detailed upper end, that was neither harsh nor wimpy.

    overall, you can tell it was based in part on that Bassman sound. depsite the gain knob, there's no overdrive to speak of. but, it was just FATTER that any other preamp i've ever owned. FAT FAT FAT. no question. and yet, it was clearer than big sky country. how the heck do they do that?!?!?

    the noise gate was a nice touch, tho a bit a on the slow side, and the limiter did its job, tho i'm not one to use it, but the 7 position midrange switch is a nice change of pace from the boring midrange knob.

    it's tuned nicely for bass. each position yields a different feel from a cutting, coarse slap tone, to a smooth, rounded fingerstyle sound. all were more than usable and musical. personally, i really like this setup. sure, a parametric is WAY more versatile, but honestly, i find being to able to click and play much more appealing than futsing and tuning endless, looking for that "perfect" sound. IMHO, the Epifani sound is my perfect sound. ;)

    another cool feature is the 3 button footswich he's working on as well. besides the mute switch, there's also another switch for the limiter, in case you start getting heavy and manical for all you metal heads, and a very cool "channel" switcher.

    now, before you get off thinking the preamp is two channel, not quite. it does have separate settings for volume, but they share the EQ section. but switching between them, the first channel is nice and sweeter, while the second channel is bolder and bigger. very interesting..

    but admittedly, the prototype sounded fatter to my ears than the finished working production model he had. When Dev was blasting thru with his MTD, the growl and punch was so much more there. honestly, i think Nick's trying to work out the kinks, but if he can harness that prototype's mojo for the mass production model, he'd have a huge hit on his hands. just for kicks, when i got back home, i fired up my Aguilar DB680, and it was no contest. the Epi had me longing.

    now, for some real news.

    Nick's also been working on a small head that'll power 900 watts @ 4 ohms! it'll be christened the Ultra Light 900. by the looks of the working sketches from his AutoCAD models, it looks to be about the same width as the usual suspects, the Eden WT400 and EA iAMP350, but with a shallower depth that's about 9-10 inches.

    it'll also be dual channeled like the preamp, and might have a footswitch to be able to go from one to the next. no limiter nor noise gate, but this guy's for the barebones gents who just want great tone in a 15 lbs. box. YES, you heard right. you'll have 900 watts of lovin' in a box that weighs 15 lbs.! unfortunately, i didnt get to ask him if it had a tube, but knowing Nick, he'll prolly make two versions.

    he's nearing the end of its design, and said that the drawings i saw are finalizing the cosmetic touches. stay tuned for Winter NAMM 04 for more on these beauts! always wondered why on his webpage, it says "Amps" for his section with the preamps. ;)

    all in all, it was an exciting day at Epifani. and it was especially great to be able to meet a fellow TB'er, Devilman! again, gotta give him mad ups for being sooooooo patient, and letting me try out that sweet MTD. when i get the jones for a 6 string, thx to you Dev-man, i know exactly which one to get. :cool:

    hope this clears up the ultralite issue for most of you, and that the GAS from his preamp or head doesnt paralyze you as badly as its done me. if anything, thx to Dev and Nick, i've now become a diehard Epifani fan. it's now become nothing short of a dream to have an all Epi rig!

    anywho, thus concludes "War & Peace". there'll be a test on Thursday! :D
  4. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    ack! a 900 watt 15 pound head! too bad at nick's rate, they wont be out until 2005 or 2006. my epi cabs will have to do:D
  5. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Can anyone tell me the name of the company that makes the speakers? I'm curious.
  6. Guys

    Thanks for the detailed replies. The review of the Ultalights is just what I [and others] have been looking for.

    If they are as good as everybody seems to say, I think that Epifani have a winning line on their hands.
    I can't wait to try them out myself!!

    Any more reviews, thoughts or impressions out there?

  7. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    Maybe I missed this, but it looks like Epifani have recently updated their site with the ultralight specs:


    39lbs for a 2*10? 49lbs for a 3 * 10? 59 lbs for a 2 * 12? Wow!

    Joker, thanks for the writeup and this sounds like yet another reason I have to check your rehearsal space out. When will you be getting your 1*10?
  8. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Just wanted to add my praise for the Epi ultra light 1x10. I was looking to setup a mini rig, and I had thought that two 1x12's, or maybe a 2x12 would be the way to go. Then I got a chance to hear the incredible punch and clarity of the T-110UL. To be able to carry that much sound around in a 23 lb box is a real joy! However, I did think that on it's own, a single T-110UL really didn't handle a B string all that well. The store that I was at only had one T-110UL (though they also had a T-210UL, which is also nice, but not as punchy as the T-110UL), but when I paired it up with a T-112, I knew I had found my match. This combination had an almost Accugroove-like clarity and even frequency response (and indeed I had a hard time choosing between the two Epi cabs and a Mini Whappo), but with that Epifani sound ("coloration"). There was a certain tightness and cohesion to the tone that was not present in either cab individually.

    It would have been nice to have an ultra light version of the T-112, as the weight difference between these two cabs is substantial, but my new Mini Rig definitely rocks. Here are my new cabs with my Mesa Boogie Walkabout (I know I'm getting some use out of this pic, but I'm like a proud Pappa!):



    Nov 24, 2001
    New York,NY

    It was a total pleasure to have your company yesterday (regardless of how late you thought you were) to brutalize Epifani's lair. When I got home I was psyched up & burnt out, imagine!

    I just want it to be known on this site that Joker can "rip it up" on his Elrick, he's got some solid chops & can hang with the best of 'em, great player!

    J, this review you gave the folks here is so clear a picture that you should be the new editor of Bass Player mag, unbelievable memory & details!

    Everyone, the new tube Epi pre is everything Joker says, I wouldn't have believed it myself if I wasn't there to hear it against some other top end pre's. Now all I have to do is keep bugging Nick to get one to me!

    Nick's staff are top notch & well up to date on what's going on in the scene (everyone is a playing bassist) & they also possess phenomenal chops.

    During my visit I went upstairs to say HI to Vinny & Joe + pick up some spares (strings) & just can't believe all the gourgeous work they consistently put out, amazing people.

    Hung out & shot the s**t with Mr Beasley for a while, very sharp guy, cool as ice.

    Anyway, I had a great day hanging with Joker & almost lost my mind with all the "audio euphoria" that was in my prescence + Nick's humor is a pleasure all in itself once you get him going. Who knows, if Epifani gets his new gear into production, Joker & myself are gonna have to make another trip up there to have an all out "Epi on Epi" shoot out!


    PS: Joker, thanks for the compliments, you're first class my man!
  10. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass

    Great to hear guys! I have to admit Ive been thinking "rock star rig" lately and the pre has had me thinking.

    the site it implies that the secound channel is a different bass setting but from you discription it has more goin on.MMMNNN.....

  11. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA

    again, was rockin just hangin out with you. oh and good luck on Memorial Day! hope that gig rocks!

    again, thx for the kind words guys. you write enough papers in college, your fingers build stamina for all that typing. of course, you'd think my bass playing would benefit, too... :meh:
  12. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    I just wanted to take a quick opportunity to:

    A.) Thank Joker for helping me to post a smaller, less download-intensive version of my mini rig pic; and

    B.) Apologize to everybody who has had to download the monstrosity of a file that I was using before.

    Sorry about that folks. I am a digital camera newbie, but Joker has set me on the path of the (more) considerate photo poster.

    Thanks again, Joker!

  13. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA

    np, Tom! like i said, i just have waaaay too much time on my hands... ;)
  14. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    Thanks to Joker & Devilman for the sacrifice of playing through all that very cool gear;) Great reviews too.........I love this place:bassist:
  15. bben


    Feb 28, 2002
    Santa Fe, NM
    Hey, thanks much, I am very curious about the ultralight speakers and the preamp, both.

    Joker, could you, perhaps, tell me a little more about why you like a pair of 1x10s better than the 2x10?

    The sound, I mean, not the portability. Personally I've already got my 1x12s for portability.
  16. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA

    well, the portability factor was the main thing for me. either one sounded killer. the 2x10 was as expected, tighter and focused, while the two 1x10's had a dispersion to the sound that i really liked. that coveted Epifani punch is still there, but I'm thinking that the dispersion of 1x10's would go a long way for me on the lower volume gigs.
  17. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    That's strange. When I A/B'd the T-110UL and the T-210UL, I found the T-110UL to have more focus, punch, and snap to the upper mids, and overall seemed more articulate than the T-210UL. The T-210UL probably wins on low-mids, though. But since I was planning on pairing up with the T-112, which has lots of punch and clarity in the lows, the upper-mid definition of the T-110UL worked well for me.

    Just goes to show that YMMV...

  18. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    oh, dont get me wrong!

    the extra tweeter in the other 1x10 can give you that high end articulation, with the pair of 1x10's i tried.

    but remember we're talking *two* 1x10's and not just one. a single 1x10 wont have the depth or low end that a pair of 1x10's or a single 2x10 will have. nor will a single 1x10 sound as authoritative in a louder context.

    with a 2x10, you just have more of that 10" speaker coolness that's focused and more direct.
  19. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Gotcha. It's just that when played on its own (or with the T-112), the T-110UL - to my ears at least - had significantly more uppper mid definition and focus than the T-210UL, T-112 (on its own), or T-310. You are very right, though, about the fact that a single T-110UL isn't going to get you much low end impact in a louder setting.

  20. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    that might have been due the fact there wasnt nearly as much low end shooting out of the little 1x10 as there would be, shooting out of a properly ported 2x10. thusly, the 1x10 by itself, is almost half a bass cab, and needs something to add in the low end to balance out the sound.

    EDIT: shameless bump... :p