The HandBox Amplification Thread

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by wateroftyne, Apr 17, 2016.


  1. Hi all

    Even though I'm in the UK, I like investigating gear that's not too well known over here.

    I've had the amp itch for a little while - I'm a long-time Mesa Walkabout user, but you know how GAS is.

    While hunting for information on something else, I stumbled across a Polish audio company called HandBox. They do loads of stuff, including a line of amps: one of which - the R-400 - caught my eye. It's 400w, Class A/B (I'm not a fan of the current range of Class D heads out there), fairly small & light, with a three-tube full-voltage input stage and simple controls. They're hand-built and a range of styles are available.

    I exchanged a few emails with Leszek, the owner, who really seems to know his stuff. To cut a long story short, this one landed on my doorstep last week.

    First impressions:
    • It was very well packed. Even thought the amp itself is in a flightcase-style box, it still has a fitted case with pockets.
    • I'm not sure what the flightcase finish is - it's cool looking with subtle distressed look (other styles are available), and a tactile feel.
    • The build quality is fantastic.
    • The amp's knobs are solid, with a little bit of a 'clicky' feel as you turn them (I'm not sure what the technical term is!).
    • It weighs a very manageable 8kgs.
    So far I've done a gig with it, and an 8-hour rehearsal... and I absolutely love it. It's so clear, sensitive and rich. I got my sound in seconds - a very woody, organic tone that responds with a growl when you dig in.

    The EQ is a basic James / Baxendall stack, and there's a drive switch, a bright switch that activates +3dB @ 100Hz / -3dB @ 750Hz / +2dB @ 10 kHz, and a contour knob thad dials in up to -12dB @ 1kHz.

    I think it's a keeper...


    hb1.jpg

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    hb3.jpg

    hb4.jpg

    hb5.jpg

    hb6.jpg

    hb7.jpg

    hb8.jpg

    hb9.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2016
  2. Here's a couple of videos from over the weekend:



     
    xaxxat, jeff7bass, Badwater and 21 others like this.
  3. Jerry Ziarko

    Jerry Ziarko Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    What a fabulous recorded tone! Are you running post eq?
     
  4. Ninevolt

    Ninevolt

    Nov 26, 2015
    That sounds awesome! I like that it comes in the metal box with the popoff front. It not only looks roadworthy, but looks like it was built to withstand WW3.

    There is STILL good stuff coming out of Europe/UK and all over the world for that matter not just North America.
     
    Rattman likes this.
  5. Cheers, everyone!

    The clip is recorded POST EQ. The EQ is flat (and on this amp, that actually means almost exactly flat), with the drive switch engaged (+6dB, I think).
     
  6. I'm still having great fun with this head. I've done a few gigs with it now, and it's usurped my beloved Walkabout...

    Here's another clip I made, this time with rounds:

     
  7. TC.65

    TC.65

    Dec 20, 2008
    Carbondale IL
    That sir is one amazing sounding head. Awesome tone!!!
     
    jeff7bass likes this.
  8. deathness

    deathness

    Jan 19, 2015
    BKLYN
    I dig the rack-case style for practicality (and a bit of rugged good looks) but am a little puzzled why the back panel isn't protected by a remove-able cover too like the front panel? It seems like that's should be the way to go then it would make the gig bag redundant. Agree though it's a nice tone. (And some nice playin!)
     
  9. B-string

    B-string Supporting Member

    Awesome to see a new quality offering. Hope they do well and maybe make it across the pond.
     
  10. Cheers, all!

    This design suits me, as the finish is quite funky, and the bag stops is getting scratched.

    There is a full 'proper' rack-case version available for a small upcharge.
     
  11. Cuzzie

    Cuzzie Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2016
    Looks good

    I'll hav a proper listen when I have time, but I am not sure about u living in the UK, I live in the UK and it's not as sunny as in the pics you took!
     
  12. You must be living in the wrong part. It's glorious up here in the North East :)
     
    Kickass likes this.
  13. Cuzzie

    Cuzzie Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2016
    Grew up in Manchester mate, P*** wet!
     
  14. Just a quick update on this...

    I've had it for a couple of months now, and in that time my beloved Mesa Walkabout hasn't been taken out of its case.

    It's got everything I love about the WA - the richness, the dynamic, but it just has a lot more clarity at volume, without ever being harsh or brittle. It's full of natural detail... the woody growl of my P with flats really shines, and with rounds the 'chime' is there, beautifully clear. It really responds when you dig in. And it has that 'backbone of steel' that I just can't (IME) get with the current crop of micro heads... hence my long-term affair with the Walkabout!

    The controls are simple, but not restrictive. I don't feel the need to tweak much. The passive tone knob on my bass really speaks. The DI is fantastic - clean and lively, both into the desk, and recorded.

    I honestly can't fault it.
     
    instrumentalist, murphy and Hnz like this.
  15. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Cool looking little amp -- and you touched on the two things I was going to ask about: volume (especially retaining dynamics at volume) relative to the Walkabout and the EQ -- I do worry that it might be a bit restrictive (the Walkabout, as you know, has a very flexible EQ section).

    Have you tried the amp with a low B-string? Do you find that it can get a more modern tone? Handle dynamics with slapping and other percussive techniques without squishing the sound?

    400 Watts at 4 Ohms -- figure 200-250 Watts at 8 Ohms... Hmm. With the Walkabout, even through an efficient, 4 Ohm 2x12", I felt that I ran out of room on louder gigs. The Walkabout purportedly shines with 3x12", but I never ran such a setup with it. This amp, with a 4 Ohm minimum load (if I'm reading the back panel right) won't do 3x12", but I wonder if it's got enough juice to get over the hump with a 2x12" (or similarly efficient setup).

    Would have to see about running on our puny 110-120 Volts wall power on this side of the Atlantic, too.

    I'm rambling. Lots of cool stuff happening with class D bass amps, but there's still something about the feel of an "iron" amp that the ones I've played haven't quite managed to capture. Cool to see that someone's making a viable new amp with the technology.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2016
    instrumentalist and murphy like this.
  16. Hi Mark

    There's a point where - IME - the Walkabout stops getting louder, but just gets hairier. The R-400 holds it together better at the higher volumes. You can overdrive it very easily if you want to by pushing the gain or the drive button (obviously!), but there just seems to be a lot more usable clean, solid volume. FWIW, I use a 4ohm 2x12 for the bigger gigs.

    I was worried about the simple EQ at first, in particular the lack of any mid control (I love mids!) but I needn't have worried. It just speaks so clearly, and the shape knob lets you pull the mids out if that's your taste.

    And yes, I agree with you about iron amps 100%. :)
     
  17. Can i ask how you bought it? Did you get in touch with them straight away? or is there a UK seller?
    I would love to try their tube amp...
     
  18. I just emailed them directly - Leszek, the owner, can speak English.
     
    KUETSUM and Rattman like this.
  19. Tanner5382

    Tanner5382

    Sep 26, 2010
    Canton, GA
    I really like the way it looks. Sounds great too.
     
  20. Love the tone in those recordings - well done. I do wonder how it sounds driving a cab - surely a little different than from the DI. I am a little concerned about the lack of any mids control. I find that I use mid EQ far more than bass and treble. What arrangement is there for service, if needed?
     
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Sep 18, 2021

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