Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Ashdown "Electric Blue" 180W Combo Amp
The Crate BX-80 is my "practice-at-home" amp. This one is my "practice-with-the-band-in-my-friend's-basement" amp. It lives there because as I stated before, I am tragically lazy. I'm not really sure where Ashdown fits into the hierarchy of desirable bass amps, but I have no complaints with this one. I picked it up off of Craigslist about two years ago for $200. At 180 watts it is plenty loud enough to keep up with two half-stack wielding guitarists and a set of acoustic drums, at least in a practice setting.
It's controls and features are similar to the BX-80. You can check out the manual here. It has two inputs for passive/active instruments and a gain control. The little meter would probably be more important to me if I was ever really taxing this amp's output. Next to that are three selector buttons that modify the EQ, basically a bass booster (deep), a mid booster (bright) and a EQ switch. Apparently that last one can be controlled with a foot switch to enable or disable the 5-band EQ, but I don't have a foot switch for this amp. I don't use any of these controls. The EQ on the this amp works fine, but I wish it was done with sliders instead of knobs. But maybe I'm just a visual person. The sub harmonic feature has its own level control and acts like a built in octaver, but I haven't really found it that compelling of an feature. The amp also has an XLR out for DI, an FX loop and a tuner/line out. The literature claims it has a built in compressor, but it is not anything you can control. And of course, the output volume control.
It is a pretty meat and potatoes kind of amp. Good solid sound and plenty of balls in a manageable case. Personally, I am a fan of smaller speakers for bass. The BX80 is a single 15-inch speaker. The Ashdown is a single 12-inch. As the speakers get smaller, I think they tend to emphasize the mid-range punch that I like. My third and final amp tests that theory with three 10-inch speakers. Yes, it's the combo amp that thinks it's cabinet, the Kustom Groove Bass 310. I'll hit that next, and then I'm all out of amps.