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WW Ultra or AI Focus 2R?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by douglas81, Sep 20, 2008.

  1. douglas81


    Sep 24, 2006
    I'm about to upgrade my rig.

    To give you a bit of background, my main rig used to be an Accugroove Tri-112, Bryston power amp and Millennia TD-1 preamp. While this was an incredible setup, it was a total pain in the ass to transport to gigs. I have since sold all those items (financial and practical reasons) and am currently left with my lowly (but really rather nice) PJB Briefcase.

    Anyway, I'm going to sell off some other gear and upgrade my rig. I'm interested in quality and portability. This new rig will need to cover everything from background gigs to large concerts and everything in-between. I will be using an AMT mic and probably Schertler Dyn-B, so I need an amp that can take these two outputs and deal with them in a convincing manner. As I said, I'm stricing for portability and convenience, so I'm not interested in any more equipment than a one box amplifier and a cab.

    I've narrowed down my search to either a Walter Woods Ultra or an AI Focus 2R. I know both would get the job done, but I would like people's opinion on what the differences are between the two.

    The WW would cost me around $3200, the AI would cost me around $1900, so there's a $1300 price difference. Let's assume I can afford both of them. Would I be paying the extra for something better, or just different?

    I owned an AI Clarus for a while (which I used with an EA Wizzy 112). What differences could I expect from the WW?

    Also, any suggestions for cabs? I'm thinking a Bergantino 112 is the way to go. I'll keep the PJB Briefcase, so that will be my mini, ultra convenient rig, when needed.

    With regards to my sound and bass - I have a large Bryant Gofriller copy. Really massive, bassy sound, and I'm a loud player. Wherever possible, I won't be playing at earsplitting levels, but I definitely need something loud and clear to rise above occasionally overzealous drummers - he he.

    I appear to have rambled on a bit, as usual.

    Looking forward to your responses...

  2. DonBox


    Aug 30, 2006
    Seattle WA
    I have both heads (WWU and Series III Focus 2).

    I also have an old WW MI 100-8 from the early 1980's.

    I've played them through three different cabs (Berg HT112, Wizzy 10, and an Epi UL110 series 2).

    Each combination of head/cab sounds different, and all are quite usable IMO with two exceptions:

    1. The WWU paired with the Epi is tends to be too "sterile" for my taste.

    2. The Focus paired with the Wizzy 10 is too mid-present for me. That stated, there are tons of folks on this forum who love this combo, so YMMV.

    For upright, I tend to gravitate towards the Focus+Epi or the Woods (either one) with the Wizzy 10.

    The WWU + HT112 is my preferred doubling/slab rig. Honestly, the HT112 sounds great with either head.

  3. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    I have both. The Woods usually stays at home on a shelf. I'm not gonna sell it but from a practicality point of view the Focus preamp, mic/pickup mixing, high pass filter and DI out are all in that box. With the Woods I have to carry a DI box, a preamp with phase and high pass filter and a mic to 1/4" adapter.

    If Walter would mod his preamp a bit and keep up with the times I'd use that over the Focus. I think I like the tone and EQ better but given all that and you can buy two focus for the price of one Woods it's a no brainer to me.
  4. LowBSix

    LowBSix Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 25, 2008
    818 ~ 805 ~ L.A.
    Endorsing Artist: GHS Strings
  5. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    So you use that with your double bass and condenser mike?

    I prefer the Woods on my Fender Basses but not on my DB.
  6. svenbass

    svenbass Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2002
    I can't speak for the AI Focus specifically, but I use my WW Super with one or two Acme 2X10's for loud gigs, and an AI Contra for smaller stuff. I love both rigs but they do sound quite different. The WW / Acme is fantastic when I need to crank - I find it's EQ suits my needs fine, though I do agree with Uncletoad on the need for Walter to bring his amps up to date.

    The AI does a better job at 'my bass only louder' but only to a certain volume, after that it gets funky in the bad way. The speaker kind of barks. This barking is the same reason I do not like Bergantino cabs - so it could just be a voicing that disagrees with my ears. I love the hi pass/notch filter on the AI.

    Either way, my setup is relatively simple, light and modular.
    If I am doing any doubling, I use the WW, which does the job for EB.

    It seems to me that the AI would be fine. I'm really splitting hairs in my comparison - I do bass for a living so I can theoretically justify my GAS:) - but both products are top shelf IMO so any way you go will be rewarding. Hope this helps!
  7. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    A friend of mine was here in Japan when something went wrong with his AI Clarus. The local distributor in Tokyo repaired the amp for him in a few days *under warranty* and even offered to change the voltage over to Japanese (100v, 50-60hz) for free as well. Try that with a WW.
  8. douglas81


    Sep 24, 2006
    Thanks very much for your replies - exactly the sort of information I was looking for.

    So, it seems that for convenience and routing, the AI wins. And, with regards to sound, it seems that a bit of experimentation with various cabs will get me the sound I want.

    I suppose it's just that the Walter Woods has that extreme desirability factor, what with it being so scarce - it's almost becoming legendary! But, it sounds like the sensible option is the Acoustic Image amp.


  9. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Or by both.

    Nice to have options. Mine looks pretty cool sitting on top of my two extra VL208 in the practice room.:D
  10. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Just to be clear... I really love the Walter Woods amp. It's amazing. The sound is fantastic.
  11. LowNote

    LowNote Supporting Member

    Jan 31, 2002
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    I've also owned both, and while the WW Ultra is an outstanding amp, I too believe that it is a no-brainer decision to select AI gear as your main amplification. The combo input jacks, DI and excellent HiPass filter alone are enough reason to use the Focus as your workhorse amp. The quality of the AI gear and the fact that Rick Jones is an incredibly stand-up guy who stands behind his equipment is the icing on the cake. I've also sent you a private message.

    Erik Hansen
  12. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri

    Listen to Uncle Toad. As much as I dearly love my Walter Woods. If you are going to use a mic then you'll have to tote around a blender and there isn't one on the market that has low cut filters and notch filters, with mic inputs like the Focus.

  13. douglas81


    Sep 24, 2006
    I'm swaying more and more towards the AI Focus. The only thing that makes me still want the WW is the possibility that it sounds significantly better, but that hasn't been suggested once.

    Once more possible spanner in the works - has anyone tried out the AER BassCube 2? I know it's a combo, but it seems to offer all the routing flexibility of the AI (maybe even more) and, by all accounts, is a very high quality piece of kit.
  14. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    I use Euphonic Audio stuff with either amp. I really like their cabs.

    I've done some side by side comparative stuff much is documented on this website if you have the patience to search the archives. One thing to look for is the "belchfest" a couple years back.

    That Berg 12 was a great box. There was a Glockenklang 12 that was very impressive.

    I just recently did a side by side comparison of the Wizzy 10, the VL208 and a prototype of the new 2x8 Mline EA box. They all work great with the AI head.

    I've also done gigs with the Wizzy 12 M line. Fantastic box.

    Can't go wrong with any of those. I don't know anything about the AER stuff.
  15. robgrow

    robgrow Supporting Member

    May 1, 2004
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Although I'm a big fan of Walter Woods amps, considering that you're using an AMT mic and a Schertler Dyn-B, I think the AI Focus 2 is clearly the best choice.

    +1 for the EA cabs.
  16. flatback


    May 6, 2004
    sorry for the derail but....dude....whats up with the shootout? do we get more then that? just a little sideline...
    i am really interested in how that mline 2x8 sounds especially against 2 w10's....i played a mline 12 once thru another guys rig (cant really tell **** about it from that) but it sounded really wide and fat Maybe a little too for me) b ut i've always really been into two 8's...never got to own a EA2x8. the weight and portability and sound of the w10's are hard to beat....although there is room...
  17. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Well, that was an informal "Tom Bowlus coming to my shop to pick up some stuff, hey check out what's in my car" thing. We'll do some kind of cab shootout for DB in Bass Gear Mag before to long.

    The proto of the 2x8 was great sounding. Didn't trump the VL208 for me though. Might give the Mline Wizzy 12 a run for it's money though. The Wizz 10 stands on it's own as the best sounding stupidly small and light DB cab I've seen yet. Can't get to loud with it or get much room shake but for polite society gigs it's the shizz.
  18. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Backing up Walter Woods.

    Just to be clear about service, Walter is very accessible (at least once you are a customer). When I bought my woods, I called him with a couple questions and he talked me through the settings on the amp.

    I have also heard anecdotally that he replaced some parts on one of my friends amps, out of warranty, and charged the difference in parts to my friend.

    I gave up using a mic, but if I was doing that stuff, I might consider something else.

    Neat guy.
  19. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    I've had service on two WW heads at 2 different times. From the point where I started to call him and then got my amp back it was 6 weeks in the first instance and 10+ in the second.

    When I had service done on my Focus head I made the call Monday morning and had my amp for my Thursday gig.

    I paid for all the service on the Woods and shipping and insurance both ways. I was the original purchaser of the amp. The Focus service was free, I payed shipping to them, they ate the return shipping and I was not the original purchaser.

    You'll see me defend Walter and his amps in many places on this forum but in this narrow context he's getting his ass kicked.
  20. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    This mirrors my experience, except they always seem to send my amps back in a new bag...

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