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Tiny power amp, just power, no pre

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by spigmu, Apr 21, 2009.

  1. spigmu


    Mar 25, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I've been looking into all the gig baggable loud micro heads and I have this nagging feeling into back of my head, that if I could just find a cheap 300W brick of power (no tone, no nothin') I could drive it easily with any of a number of pedals I have with preamps. Obviously not for everything, and sort of just to see what the result would be. About three decades ago a band (I played guitar in) had a Fender 2 x 15 driven by an inside out power amp of no repute and as long as you put something between the bassist and the amp (it was usually a $50 disco EQ) you had your bass.

    But I don't see anything like that out there. Not a rack, just a little box. Like a Genz Benz without the Genz, but cheesier. I'll supply the Genz, probably the BDDI.

    So school me. : ) Is there a $150 baggable power amp, for little BYOPA fun? Like I say, I'm half serious/half curious, and I guess I'm attracted to goofball stuff, as long as you can play through the shocks. Besides, if it's tiny power, tiny pre and I use the Ashbory I can carry a bigger cab!

  2. Soverntear


    Mar 17, 2008
    thats the coolest little bass ive ever seen, custom?
  3. 7flat5


    Nov 28, 2003
    Upstate NY
    Hardly. Let's start here.
  4. spigmu


    Mar 25, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Nah. An Ashbory. But since I'm lefty and the G won't reach the far peg enough flipped over I've just left it a 3 string. I also left the price tag hanging off the neck, a la Minnie Pearl, for a few years, but now it's under the riser at Otto's Shrunken Head.

    I love it, it's my main bass. But it needs more headroom than a regular bass to sound good, and especially to hold up to a drummer. The nice micro heads are great but if I can throw $150 at this and it holds me through the summer I'll happy. Anything more will have to wait.
  5. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    There really isn't a solid contender for micro power amps on the market in the US right now. Here are the options I know of:

    -Bose A1 Packlite. Not very powerful, and overpriced when new, but a good bargain when used, at about half retail.

    -AI Focus SA. Very powerful and a lot more watts per both ounce and dollar, but discontinued.

    -Modular units from Europe, like D-Tech or ICE. Not easily available to individual consumers in the US, and not plug'n'play, mostly sold as OEM components to amp manufacturers.

    -A micro amp head (including preamp) where you just bypass the preamp section using the fx loop return jack or power section in jack.

    Believe it or not, as things stand here today, that last is your best option in terms of watts per ounce per dollar and taking into account warranty service/support. Sure it seems silly to carry a head just to use the power section, but they're so small and light it hardly matters.

    I hear rumors that Markbass and a couple of other brands are going to market a micro power-only amp, but it's vaporware for now.
  6. spigmu


    Mar 25, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    bongomania, thanks for the knowledgeable reply. Yeah, if I were to go for any of the micro amp heads I wouldn't bring anything else as a pre. The A1 is the idea, but my basic conundrum is that I don't want hi fi, just fi. Even when I don't use the Ashbory I'm very much the P into a 15". Detail and transparency are far secondary to having enough on the other end for me to channel Duck Dunn. So it's not that I want a piece of junk, just that whatever makes an A1 worth $700 isn't what I'm looking for.

    Just for my understanding, what is it about $125 Class D car power amps that make them unsuitable for this?
  7. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    The form factor is the only reason I know for sure. I suspect their performance is exaggerated and their quality is poor, but that's just because it seems like that's what you get with car audio. I don't know "for a fact".
  8. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    For what you are looking for you might consider the crate powerblock. Not much power though 75w at 4 ohms per side or 150w at 8 ohms bridged. You can often find them for about $100+

    Its a guitar amp, but you can by-pass the pre, I believe.
  9. spigmu


    Mar 25, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Thanks both. Yep, I've been thinking of a Powerblock for this exact purpose. Only problem with them is they have such a high failure rate I dunno if I want to go there. They were introduced, abandoned and blown out. There was supposed to be a bass version but I'm told it got lost in the negativity of the guitar version.

    The form factor of the car amps looked perfect from the images, like little alien phone books, but maybe that's deceiving and they were four feet across : ) I asked a guy at a car audio place I passed by, and he seemed to think it had to do with power draw and grounding. But he was kinda twitchy, and I know zilch about cars, so...
  10. Passinwind

    Passinwind I am Passinwind and some of you are not. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Don't forget to factor in the AC/DC power supply it's going to take to run a powerful car amp from your wall socket.:eyebrow:
  11. flight120


    Mar 10, 2008
    Denver, CO
    If you use a car amp, you will need either a fairly large battery or a pretty expensive 12 volt power supply. If you just hook it up to a cheap battery charger or something, you will normally have a really mean 60 hz hum (not to mention that it will be hard on both the charger and amp's power supplies). When you go to a car audio shop and they have that huge display of equipment to demo for you, there's usually a battery or two in addition to a huge expensive power supply made for just that situation. Now, if you can install the amp in your car or run a nice long power cable from your car battery to where you're playing it might just work. You might have to run the car for a few minutes every hour to keep your battery from going dead though.

  12. spigmu


    Mar 25, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    OK, gotcha : ) Car amps too different an animal.

    Thanks for the reasons why.

    Any options for a cheap non-boutique 300W mono or 600W stereo vanilla amp in some other cranny?
  13. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Crate sure had a missed opportunity not every producing a bass version of the power block, and discontinuing the guitar version. I actually see them going for much more than $100 now.

    To the OP, you're an adventurous person. You might want to consider some hi-fi receivers. If they have EIA, IEAJ, or FTC ratings you can believe their wattage. Although they're not rated with all channels driven. Still for a couple of hundred you can get quite a powerful and lightweight unit, but not made for road use.

    Some car amps will work if they're full range. Look for Class-d, but they're hard to find in your price range. You'll need a power supply, this will work for max of about 300w full-range class-d car amp:
  14. Sindri907


    Feb 24, 2009
    Couple of ideas for you...

    If you look hard, you might be able to to find a Hartke 3500 in pretty good shape for around $200. Its probably more features than you need (has 7 band EQ, compressor, contour controls) but its 350w into 4 ohms or 240w into 8. Its also got a solid state and tube pre-amp which you can blend, so maybe you can get some old school vibe out of that.

    Another thing you could do if you are feeling particularly adventurous is to build your own. Im actually in a similar boat as you. I want something small and portable, but with more volume than my 20w pratice. In reality, Id like to keep up with my best friends Marshall 100w and Mesa half stack guitar rig. For my build, Im planning to use a Real McTube II for a pre-amp, but I'm still researching an EQ stage and a power amp. I think I might drive a fEarfuil 12/6 box with it. Heck, I also have a full set of schematics for a Hartke so I might just build it myself for fun, or chop out what I dont need.

    Anyways, best of luck in your search. And if you decide to go the DIY route, I can let you know what power stage I choose, maybe it will be something you can use.
  15. gerryjazzman


    Dec 31, 2006
    New Jersey
    Might have more luck with a 1U power amp. Not sure if you consider this small enough, it doesn't look particularly light, but otherwise is about in the price range and power that you indicated:


    Don't know anything about it, might be a POS but then again might be reasonable. Then again, for the $150 price range ya can't expect QSC or Crown quality (well maybe something used that's really old, lower power, and a boat anchor).

    If you want small AND really light you'll need to go class-D as in the latest micro heads. For that you'll have to build something yourself using a module that is pre-built (similar to what Carvin uses in their BX500). It won't be very inexpensive to do this without buying OEM quantities.
  16. honestjohnny


    Nov 24, 2006
    Have you considered a powered PA cabinet? If you do a search you'll find a list of bass appropriate cabs that I compiled. The Ashbory definitely has enough output to drive a power amp. You will probably want a subwoofer, since the Ash puts out more low end than most other basses. I had good experience with a Roland KCW-1 10" 200 watt sub, but it needed a better mid/high cab than the Roland keyboard amps.
  17. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
  18. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    :eyebrow: I very much doubt that. I mean sure you'll get a signal, it will be audible, but to drive a power amp well typically requires between .7V and 1.4V depending on the amp, and I'd be surprised if the Ashbory puts out more than .2V.
  19. I do something similar using an amp made by a British company called BK Electronics.I don't know if they still make it, and it's a bit more expensive than you're wanting I think, but it can be driven buy a guitar output- although it works better with a preamp. This is my rig...

    (edit- the box on the right on top of the 1x15" is the power amp)
  20. Bofee


    Aug 19, 2005
    Grass Valley, CA

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