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Test Drove an EA i500 Last Night

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Altitude, Apr 16, 2006.

  1. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    My normal amp (an Ashdown MK500) is in the shop, so I borrowed an i500 for my gig last night. Some impressions:

    - It's unbelievably portable. It's small and light, fits in a nice little bag. It would be a perfect amp for anyone who has to walk a distance to a gig.

    - The tone was more fat and warm that I thought it would be. My MK500 is possibly the most zingy modern amp out there, so anything else might sound fat and warm to me, but I was surprised at how cozy this guy sounded for such a small SS amp.

    - The controls are, perhaps, a bit busy. But, then again, it was new to me and I hadn't had much chance to fiddle with it before the downbeat.

    - It has no 1/4" speaker output, so you are forced to use Speakons. Probably a better choice, but it would be nice to be able to go either way.

    - It had a little less balls than its power rating suggested. We played a mid-size club, and I had both the pre- and post- gains up to about 7, which gave me a little less stage volume than I'm used to. Not a big deal at all though.

    In total, I really liked the amp, although it was a different animal from what I'm used to. If I were the kind of guy to have three or four amps around to choose from, it would definitely be a contender.
  2. Great points.

    The size is a big bonus.

    There are a ton of knobs and buttons, but Ive had to do minimal tweaking with my iAmp so far, so I havent been intimidated, yet.

    That said, I too was surprised by the thickness the iAmp can deliver. Stays uncolored, and clean, but still thick.

    I would agree that its not crazy powerful for a 500 watt amp, but paired with my Berg HT210S, I still feel like I get plenty of juice from it.

    Again, thanks for the thoughts on this great amp.

    My rig, as stated, just for kicks:

  3. I like my iAmp 500 too. However, I find that I often have to crank the input gain a little higher than I would on most amps. I dunno if EA has a peculiar input sensitivity thing going on or what. I haven't measured this or anything; it's just my impression.
  4. rhythm


    Dec 4, 2005
    Hey, I like the look (and sound) of EA stuff, I'm particularly interested in the iAmp 800 and 4 x 10 cabs.

    Just out of interest, ebmuscmanlvr83, I noticed on your case it says 'bass rig', do you have seperate compartments inside the case for your amp head and cab etc? Just interested as when I upgrade (soon I hope!), I'm thinking about getting a flight case.

  5. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Great review. I agree with all of it. Many people consider the EA hi-fi sounding but I find it is a very warm sounding amp. Nowhere near as hi-fi as say a GK.

    I quite often run with the level (pre-gain) at 9. EA will do a gain mod if you want more input gain but I have not bothered.

    Also, I always carry a speakon to 1/4" adapter "just in case".
  6. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    The gain on EAs is linear the more you turn up the more you get. Other amps give you a huge jump between 2 and 4 then maybe not much more up to 8. If you are buying get the 800.
  7. GeorgeG

    GeorgeG Commercial User

    Jun 15, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner of Bass Gear Direct
    The great thing with the iAMPs design is that you can drive them with their input gains and master volume full (although this is probably a little extreme) and it stays clean and together as well as loud IMHO. There aren't many heads around where you can crank the input and output and still have clarity and definition.
    Of course this may look or sound unusual compared to most amps, but when most amps input gains are set to about 1-2 o'clock they start to break-up and clip. This also applies to the power amp section of a lot heads out there.
    As far as volume is concerned I have A/B 'ed the iAMP500 with an Eden WT550 and there was no difference using the same bass and speaker cab to compare the heads. The only difference was that the Eden's input started to clip at about 12-1 o'clock whereas the iAMP500 I was able to turn up to 2-3 o'clock before it even looked like it was going to clip. Don't be scared to crank these things as their design allows this, without any problems.
    I have found EA to be one of the most accurate when it comes to specifications on their gear. If anything, I think they are more conservative in their ratings compared to most.
  8. jmain

    jmain Oo, Uhn't uh, Yes! Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2005
    Alexandria, VA
    I love my iAmp 800! Good at low volumes and at extreme. Great preamp and tone shaping if needed. I too was suprised at how warm the tone is.
  9. edwinhurwitz

    edwinhurwitz Supporting Member

    May 13, 2003
    Boulder, CO
    Endorsing Artist: DR Strings, SMS
    Glad you enjoyed it! I didn't think there would be a review so quickly!
    who owns the iAmp in question and was using an Alembic/QSC rig that night.
  10. spiritbass

    spiritbass Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2004
    Ashland, MO
    Do not be afraid to crank those gains as needed. As previously stated, they don't offer the 'quick response' as most.

    Rhythm - I used to run an iAMP 800 into an Acme B-4. Excellent rig, especially if you need response down to B...

  11. I house the iAmp in the EA bag, but there are indeed seperate compartments for the amp and cab.
  12. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL

    that's my rig of choice when i need to push some MASSIVE air. :cool:
  13. 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 agree that you need to run the initial gain stage pretty high on the iAMPs. I had my 800 modified by Gary (I think he went less aggressive on the input overload protection), and it gained me (excuse the pun) a good deal of headroom. I haven't tried this with my 500, but after playing my 500 through two Wizzy's, I am pretty darn happy with its volume potential! :bassist:


    I also own an MK-500, and to my ears, with the Harmonic Emphasis turned off, it's actually a fairly thick sounding amp, and not zingy at all. Of course, the HE is where the Mark King mojo happens (though I play/sound nothing like him), and I really like that feature.
  14. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    Thanks again, Edwin!
  15. Lia_G


    Oct 27, 2005
    I borrowed an iAmp 500 head a few weeks ago from a TB'er, and really liked it. I like how well it works with my Wizzy cabs for doubling, since I also play upright. It took me a while to figure out the EQ, and I still only get the basics, but I can see where it would come in handy for dialing in rooms, or dealing with feedback or uneven response on my upright bass transducer. For bass guitar, it sounds great flat or with one of the contours (contour 1, I think?) selected.

    I'm leaning very heavily toward gettin' me one ... ;)


    And here's a photoshopped 'special effects' version ... ;)

  16. Steve Clark

    Steve Clark

    Jan 9, 2004
    London ON
    I'm feeling that EA love:D

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