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.

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