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Thoughts on Markbass 121 Lite (Alain Caron) combo amp?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by TimBosby, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. TimBosby

    TimBosby Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Omaha, NE, USA
    Hello peeps,

    Like many, I'm in the market for a new high-powered, lightweight combo. I sent my GK MB212 back to Musician's Friend because of constant hiss (even with all knobs turned down and nothing plugged in.) The good folks at Musician's Friend were kind enough to honor my request that they pay return shipping.

    I've been researching Markbass, and the good people at MF have also offered me some fabulous deals on various Markbass combos. I won't disclose the prices they gave me here, but suffice to say they've made Markbass an affordable option for me, which I didn't initially think it would be.

    I was all set to order the Markbass CMD 102P since it has a tilt back. But then I started reading that the CMD 102P has a lot of annoying tweeter hiss which I hate hate hate hate hate.

    I then began looking at the Alain Caron combo (121 Lite) because it has more wattage and is 6 lbs lighter than the CMD102P. I'd like to get some opinions on it but there is very limited info on the internet. I cannot find very good videos of them being played. Most of the Alain Caron demos are him talking the whole time, with just a little playing interspersed.

    So I'm wondering a few things:

    1. Does the Alain Caron Markbass combo have any annoying (or any) tweeter hiss?

    2. It is supposed to be a very hi-fi modern-sounding amp, but can it go old school? I generally prefer fat, warm and round over clacky and hi-fi. I almost never slap. Alain Caron is an amazing bass player but does not really play bass the way I like. He does a lot of slapping whereas I do pretty much all fingerstyle and I like more vintage old-school warmth.

    3. Do those little Markbass tilt back stands actually work or should I just stick with my AmpWedge? (http://www.ampwedge.com)

    My MAIN concern is how it sounds in a band setting. Even though I'm not a fan of "modern and hi-fi," I HAVE played hi-fi modern sounding amps that sound nice and warm and fat in a live mix.

    I mostly play active J basses but I have some P and P/J and dual humbucker basses too...

  2. TimBosby

    TimBosby Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Omaha, NE, USA
    The thought occurred to me that maybe (hopefully) since the Alain Caron 121 Lite has a compression driver tweeter (driven by a 100 watt analog power amp?) ... maybe it's not as noisy as a piezo tweeter....?
  3. I love my Jeff Berlin combo. No tweeter to worry about. GC has these with rebate til end of month 849. Had mine over 4 years of flawless operation and zero regret.

    Just bought a NY152 cab (turned tweeter off ) and am totally happy with this rig for mostly old school tones. All my basses sound good through it.
    Jnagol likes this.
  4. Make that a NY151 cab.
  5. TimBosby

    TimBosby Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Omaha, NE, USA
    Thought about the Jeff Berlin but I can't resist more power (Alain Caron is something like 500-600w) and about 6 lbs lighter.
  6. RoeyHaviv


    Apr 1, 2011
    Charlotte NC
    Endorsing Artist: Vigier guitars, Pigtronix Effects
    I have the 121 lite. It has some hiss and there is no control for the twitter.

    I like it anyway, but would recommend YOU to go with the Jeff Berlin model.
  7. TimBosby

    TimBosby Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Omaha, NE, USA
    Thanks Roey. I watched your video, too. I'm still considering both.
  8. With the extension cab and internal speaker the load is 4 ohms, the LM head is rated to deliver 500 watts. It kicks serious booty. I was pleased before, but ecstatic now.
  9. TimBosby

    TimBosby Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Omaha, NE, USA
    I'm trying to avoid extension cabs. I just want one high powered combo for medium sized gigs. I want to just carry one thing :D
  10. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    Wow. 9 posts and no one has chimed in with "don't buy a combo, buy a cab and a microhead". The fashion police must be out gigging tonight. :p
  11. christw

    christw Get low!

    May 11, 2008
    Dayton OH
    I'd go for the Jeff Berlin. More speaker area > more power IMO/IME.
    Jnagol likes this.
  12. TimBosby

    TimBosby Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Omaha, NE, USA
    I already have a Streamliner and a Schroeder 1210. It sounds amazing but I'm looking for a combo as a backup rig :)

  13. The Markbass 121 Lite (Alain Caron) combo has an aux input and headphone jack. Only a couple of MB units have these features. If thats important to you.
    Doner Designs likes this.
  14. The Alain Caron combo is a great little combo amp, sounds incredible to my ears and using the VLE allows for a nice oldschool tone. My only issue with it is that it cannot take an external cab like most of its brothers in the range but instead it gives you the full 5oowatts to the bilt in speaker. this can be a good or a bad thing depending on your preferences...

    it does have a mute switch which for me is a wonderful additio
    Nomogram likes this.
  15. I gigged a Mark Bass 121p / NY 121 rig on Sat night doing all 70's rock and pop. Amazing!!! My precision w/ flatwounds sounded great on that old school music. This rig is extremely portable and had no problem keeping up with a drummer, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, and 3 singers!
  16. 4-string


    Jul 23, 2006
    I gigged that same rig last Saturday, and I agree that it held up just fine. Great output for the size and weight.

    I like tweeters and want those high frequencies in my tone, and boy do those piezo tweeters suck. Absolutely useless IMO.

    Great setup if you turn down or off the tweeters anyway. :)
  17. TimBosby

    TimBosby Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Omaha, NE, USA
    Nice. Yeah I wish these had a tweeter on/off function.
    Then again, the GK MBs do have a tweeter on/off and mine still hissed like a waterfall with every knob and button turned all the way off.

    Online reading seems to suggest that compression driver tweeters are better than piezo tweeters. Most people seem to hate piezo tweeters. The only two Markbass combos that have compression driver tweeters are the CMD 121H and the the 121 Lite (Alain Caron.) For a small difference in price, I can get the added power and features, and lighter weight, of the Lite.

  18. 4-string


    Jul 23, 2006
    Yup, that Caron model looks cool. Almost gives me GAS. :) I wonder what speaker is in it, that's a lot of power for a single 12.

    For those who don't like or use tweeters anyway, the Jeff Berlin must kick.
  19. TheBass


    Jul 2, 2004
    A 2nd cab gives you much more low end "beef" than a higher amp wattage. If you like the sound of the 121lite, then also try the 121H. Despite the 121lite the 121H allows you to add another 8Ohm cab.

    Besides from that I am playing the smaller 121p for 3 years now. Although I also have another 15"/6" cab as a support, there was never any gig / rehearsal situation in which the 121p wasn't loud enough. If my 121p breaks I would immedeately buy it again.
  20. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Sorry I'm late to this thread. Been on the road.

    Go with the 121H combo instead of the Alain Caorn model if you wann stick with a 112, IMO. It has a DI level control which, personally, I can't do without. I can skip the headphone and aux. out. My opinion, of course. Anyway, I have the 121H, although mine's a 2008 model without the DI control, but I also have a LMIII head with two Traveler 151P cabs, so that's how I have become familiar with using it. Either that or the Jeff Berlin combo, as said above.

    My 121H combo does a great job onstage, but it's limited to how much volume it can put out for a rock gig, unless we play very softly. I mean, I've done it, but it puts the speaker at its excursion limit. With a 121H extension cab I'm sure it would be fine. I tried my 151P cab as an extension, but the 12" would lag behind since the 15" is more resilient to low spikes at higher volume. A mistake I made from the get-go was to use too much VPF filter which boosts lows and highs and cuts mids. Well, when my hand got too floppy on the strings I heard a loud click. It was the speaker running out of excursion. My fault, not the amp's. The 151P cab with my LMIII head doesn't do it. The 15 just handles it better. With that said, if the Alain Caron is at 4 ohms and 500w I wonder how they do it unless it has a different speaker. I didn't realize it was stuck at 500w with no extension speaker jack. I'd sure want to try one out before I bought one to see what it can do. But, I still like the 121H combo better.

    I think in your case you would like the Jeff Berlin combo since you're not going for the modern sound. I do well with my LMIII head + Traveler 151P cab (or two when needed). The 151P handles a rock gig in up to medium-sized venues by itself. Awesome with two of them. My 121H combo works well for rehearsals and small gig as long as I don't do anything to boost lows or let my hand get too heavy. It can get really loud if I'm careful about that.

    Whatever you get, Markbass is some tough stuff with a good track record for reliability. Try leaving the eq flat with the filters off and see how it sounds. I find that that is the best setting in a band mix , then use the knobs to just twaek a bit for the room. Usually, it sound best with the low knob rolled back to about 10:30-11:00 (it's center is at 40Hz, pretty low). Then I might turn the VLE, which only rolls off highs, up some to tame some of my fingernail clack. I'm playing a Jazz with flats and a Jazz Bass Special with flats, and I do well for an old school sound. Can't get it all the way for some sounds, but hey, it's a modern solid state amp. But, basically I do fine. But, the LM series heads do have a nice warm tone anyway. I must say the 121H combo and its box do have a nice tone, but for me personally I need more oomph than it can do for my gigs (unless the Alain Caron has a different speaker). I would think that in order to do 500w through a 112 you'd have to buy a boutique speaker, like Barefaced or fEARful. or the like, in order to get something that wouldn't bottom out. But, maybe there's something I don't know about the Alain Caron model. Also, I haven't see a pic of the rear panel, have you?

    Hope that helps.
    Nomogram likes this.

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