what is the problem with carvin?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by WillySanchez, Feb 20, 2002.

  1. I am looking at carvin redline bass cabs, i am getting more and more interested in them. I read alot of bad things about them....but what is so wrong with them? is the construction? the tone? what is it??
  2. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    You'll probably get a lot of better framed responses than this one, but IMO the weak link lies with the speakers... The cabs are built tough and can certainly stand up to a regular diet of gigging. The speakers, OTOH, lean kind of towards the low end of the quality scale. They're still a great value for the price, but sometimes, you get what you pay for. I recently replaced the Carvin speakers in my RC210 cabinet with Eminence Kappas, and the difference is pretty evident... [​IMG]

    The Kappa is on the left, a Carvin on the right... This same amp has taken on a different character, with a beefier low-end and more bite overall. At one point I had considered ditching the cabinet and keeping the head only... swapping in the Kappas was going to be my last attempt on the cab. It worked... Now this amp sounds like I had always wished it would.

    The one big thing in favor of the Carvins is the cost. You'll be hard pressed to find any new cabinets that can compare dollar for dollar. Of course, others will have different experiences to relate, this has just been mine...

  3. rayengle


    Mar 10, 2001
    Santa Rosa, CA
    I've been using a RC210 (tilt-back combo) with a RL118 extension cab for the last year and I've been very happy with both sound & construction. I've heard many more positive reactions than negative ones of Carvin gear. YMMV.

    - Ray
  4. FalsehoodBass


    Jul 22, 2001
    Denver, CO
    carvin speakers aren't the greatest.. I had an R1000 with the RL410 and the 15... that's 1200 watts of power handling in the speakers, and only 700 watts of power coming from the amp. (with ohms etc.) Without even being turned up halfway, the speakers would distort and bottom out with every open E or almost any note on the B string....
    I have since bought a better set of speakers. the carvin amp was fine, but the cabs were less than acceptable for me.
  5. chucko58


    Jan 17, 2002
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    I paid for all my gear myself. Well, me and MasterCard.
    I think Carvin's stuff offers good value for the price. What bugs me is that they claim their amps are "pro quality" gear, and they really aren't. It's not bad gear, certainly not as bad as some of the imported garbage out there. The equipent I've bought from them is decently designed and built, it's mostly just compromised by production cost cutting - cheap components in critical locations, poorly supported circuit boards, etc. But you can say that about a lot of mid-priced name brand gear.

    (Understand that the above comments apply to Carvin's US-made amps and cabs. The guitars and basses are as well built as anything in their price range, if not better. Their TCS "pro sound" speaker cabs use Eminence Kilomax drivers, which are definitely pro grade. Carvin also sells a number of "private label" imported items such as mics, wireless rigs, etc.)

    The other downside to Carvin equipment is that you can only get warranty service from the factory. Other manufacturers have authorized service centers all over the world.

    I have a lot of respect for Carvin's customer service staff. They have always been very helpful to me. I have owned a fair bit of their stuff over the past decade, and I have never had a major problem with any of it. The few minor problems have been taken care of swiftly.

    The bottom line for me is that Carvin builds decent gear in the US at a decent price, and they support it reasonably well if you can live with returning the stuff to the factory when it breaks. And you can find some real bargains on used Carvin equipment.

    But if Carvin really wants the respect they claim to deserve, they're going to have to offer a better grade of product with fewer compromises, and more warranty service options.
  6. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    IMO Carvin amps have some of the best construction out there compared to amps that cost up to twice as much.
  7. chucko58


    Jan 17, 2002
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    I paid for all my gear myself. Well, me and MasterCard.
    Have you opened one up lately? I've been modifying a Pro Bass 15 preamp, made in 1993 or so. There were definitely some shortcuts in the construction and parts. In fact, that's the main reason I'm modifying it.
  8. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    chucko, I definitely believe you on that. I had a ProBass 500 from about 1994 (same preamp). I had cause to open it up once, and even though I'm no tech, even I could see there were things that could have been done better.

    But in their defense--and I've had my share of problems with them too, as you know, so I'm by no means a knee-jerk supporter--they do seem to be trying to bump up their amp quality since the early '90s. For example, I do know a bit about bass amps, and IMO the Redline is a significant improvement over the ProBass 500.

    Have you ever opened up one of the newest DCMs to compare it to the workmanship level you see in your preamp? I freely admit I haven't, so I don't presume to say what's what, but I have run across a number of people who have looked inside one and say it's pretty good work.
  9. I'm looking at buying one of these, but it will be sight unseen. I'll probably be using it with a good cab, like an Eden 4x10XLT. Should I not buy the amp?

  10. chucko58


    Jan 17, 2002
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    I paid for all my gear myself. Well, me and MasterCard.
    Yes, I know where you stand, and I've even taken your name in vain in a couple of recent threads. :oops:

    I think I see the same trend. Yes, they're definitely getting better - but so is the rest of the industry. We've come a long way from the original Fender Bassman!

    No, I haven't had the opportunity. The competition is stiff in the pro power amp market, so the DCM had better be a good piece if Carvin wants to be a player.

    Understand that I don't have a problem with the workmanship in my PB15; the circuit board is well built, the circuit itself is well executed though hardly ground-breaking. It's the little stuff that's missing.

    OK, so they save a nickel on parts and maybe half a buck on labor by not supporting the back of the preamp PCB, and hobby players like me can do fine without it. Add enough of those nickels and dimes and you come in $50 below the competition. Fair enough. But it's exactly that kind of detail that makes or breaks reputations at the pro level.

    To the gent who is looking at a used PB500: Don't let me stop you. There's a lot of value for the money there, and it's a very versatile head. Just don't expect it to put up with the abuse that a touring pro would put it through.
  11. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    No, don't be scared off. It's a good amp--I used mine for years, it sounded good, and it never gave me an instant of trouble. Granted, I never put it through the rigors of a full-blown national tour, but it was gigged a lot. And you can probably pick one up for not much money. As chucko58 says, there's a lot of value for money there. When I sold mine a year or two ago, I got $175 for it. I almost certainly could have gotten somewhat more if I'd held out, but I was impatient. What does the seller want for it?

    It's not that I think the ProBass is bad, it's that I think the Redlines are better.
  12. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I used a PB300 for years with no problems (same amp, but with only one power amp, so no biamping). Their new amps are better, but the PB500s are good reliable amps, although a little sterile sounding.

    And getting back to the original subject, Carvin speaker cabinets, I've been using a 2x10 and a 1x15 cabinet since 1995 and they are good cabinets. I used a Ampeg 4x10 part of the that time, and while it was better quality (and twice the weight), it didn't sound any better. Not better or worse, just different. The Carvin speakers don't color the sound as much as the Ampeg, which has a fairly distinctive sound. I recently sold the Ampeg, and I'm back to using the Carvin. I'm getting too old to carry a 100 lb. cabinet up and down the steps from my townhouse, and the Carvins sound great and are very reliable.

    I've used a lot of Carvin gear since 1995 (my PA is also Carvin) and have never had a single failure.

    Carvin gear I own:

    PB300 bass amp
    PB15 preamp
    2x10 cabinet
    1x15 cabinet
    FET1000 power amp
    PA620 6 channel PA head
    PA800 8 channel PA head
    2 - 822 12" PA speakers

    All this gear, with many years of heavy use, and not one single failure. Pretty reliable as far as I'm concerned.
  13. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    Sorry I should have been more specific. My R600 series II head seems to be built pretty well. I don't have any experience with the PB15.
  14. 98dvl


    Jan 31, 2002
    I hope there's no problem with the Carvin gear.

    I just purchased an RL1015 stack.

    I think for the money, it's an awesome deal. Most everything I've read on the Carvin stuff seems to be positive. The only really negative thing I've read is that the cabs could be better.

    There was just a thread not too long ago where someone replaced the speakers in their Carvin cabs and was very happy with the new sound.

    I suppose, someday, if I've got some extra cash laying around, I might do that if I'm not happy with the way the rig sounds. But, for now I'm planning on just living with the rig as it is. But, I'm just starting in a band, and I'm sure this rig will sound much better than the 80W Fender guitar (yeah, tell me about it) amp that I've been playing through until now.

    The bad thing I see about Carvin is that they only sell directly from the factory. That just seems like a bad business move to me. I'm sure there are plenty of people that'd like to try out their equipment before buying it. But, I went on a recommendation that came from this board. I did some research, and I'm going completely by what I've heard about the Carvin equipment. I'm sure I'm in the minority though. It'd seem to me, they'd drum up a bit more business if they sold to third party retailers as well. I like the fact that I'm getting quite a set-up for a great price. I really don't think I could have found a better deal on some used gear. and, I like the fact that I have a warranty as well as I know that this equipment hasn't been used and abused.

    Anyway, I can't wait until next week comes!!! It should all be here by then.
  15. I've had an idea for some time now that Carvin should at least take a couple of tractor-trailers full of gear cross country and set up demos and hit every major city for a couple days each, advertise in the local free-weeklies and such. I'm sure they'd sell a TON of gear and probably take orders if they can't keep enough with them. It boils down to the fact that people need to demo their gear first, and they don't make that easy.
  16. chucko58


    Jan 17, 2002
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    I paid for all my gear myself. Well, me and MasterCard.
    The big advantage to the buyer is that they've cut out the middleman, and so the selling price can be lower.

    The big advantage to Carvin is that they've cut out the middleman, so their margins can be higher. Don't forget that the big makers have to spend money on advertising in places you might not expect - you think Guitar Satan puts brand name gear in their flyers for free?? That expense ultimately comes from the customer.

    Carvin also completely controls the buying experience. This is not a small advantage either.

    Yes, if you live outside of Southern California, it's hard to try one before you buy. But a lot of people are willing to take that chance.