What do you need to know before buying a bass amp?
Bass Amplifiers - Questions and Answers.
Choosing an amp is the second most important - just after choosing the bass - a decision that must be choosing sooner or later by every bass player. The amplifier is not just a stage monitor, but it often plays this role. An appropriately selected amplifier will bring out the desired sound, exposure the character of the instrument, hear on stage and on trial, record a great album .... . Some amplifiers simply need to be treated as an indispensable, but interchangeable part of the instrument. Below you will find the answers to the three basic dilemmas that harass the bass player looking for own sound.
Combo or stack?
Both solutions have their advantages and disadvantages. Combo seems to be a more handy and cheaper solution. While in the case of price is usually true, convenience sometimes comes under question. Yes - it is more convenient to take the entire sound system with one "approach," but many of the references to this argument forget that by moving the combo we simultaneously carry the amplifier and the column in one cover . Limits of weight and size forced on manufacturers of this type of amplifier usually mean lower power and less speakers, and rigid price frames often prevent the expansion of the structure by adding an extra column. That's why manufacturers are racing to find ways to improve the sound of the small amplifier on the stage - from the somewhat archaic "rear" support that tilts the amplifier and points to the speakers ears through the kickback chassis used in the Joyo JBA- 35 amplifiers from Markbass, Hartke and first generation Ampegach series BA. The last of the bass potentate ,during refreshing the BA series reached for a solution used in the eighties by the English brand Trace-Elliot. The shape of the new Ampeg BA115, 112, 110 and 108 resembles typical stage listening - and in this configuration (except the classic with a loudspeaker pointed parallel to the floor) they can work. The solution is commendable due to its portability and greater stability than the kickback case.
Bass "stack" seems to be a solution reserved for more professional and demanding musicians. Those who are not afraid to wear multi-piece sound system and thinking over logistics - the dilemmas of "how to reach a concert with a small space of luggage" are not uncommon in this industry. On the other hand, the choice of equipment - from affordable to really expensive and professional - is huge in this case. We do not have to confine to one manufacturer! In addition, the great advantage of such a solution is that having the appropriate finance, we can purchase a small, mobile home and trial set, and a powerful "stationary" column that can be left in the rehearsal room or load to the bus going for concert.
Choosing a concert set consisting of a head and two "parcels", it is worth - unlike what many advertising materials suggest - choose two identical columns.
In the case of amplifiers without bi-amp (almost all), each speaker gets exactly the same signal, so unlike typical broadcasts, the "bottom" and "bass" in the bass are not present. The vast majority of loudspeaker with full 15-inch speakers play with full frequences , as well as loudspeakers with 10-inch speakers. The fact is that the characteristics of these speakers and packages are different, but the fact that you add a 1x15 to 4x10 column to get a sense of the bottom of the bandwidth is a complete myth! Such mixtures can play superbly, but they can cause unpleasant phase shifts and rumbles on stage or in some parts of the concert hall. The case is ambiguous, so if you are not able to test your hardware thoroughly before purchase, you should opt for two identical columns. Choosing the size of the speakers depends on the preference of the music, but do not assume that the 4x10 column will be have less bottom than 1x15. Often it is quite the opposite!
Power and impedance
The problem of power necessary to ensure comfortable listening or even sound of the bass at the club concert is impossible to solve ,,in advance
". It's worth sticking to the principle that better is to have reserve than the scarcity. Knowing your needs and band capabilities can roughly determine how much power we need. The situation is so complicated that the power of the amplifier or the loudspeaker does not really tell us about its loudness.
For loudspeakers, the efficiency counts as the power only describes the thermal resistance of the coil - it does not say anything about the mechanical strength of the deflection or the efficiency corresponding to the amount of decibels generated from each watt of the given power.
In the case of amplifiers, thefrequences on which we like to play (or which characterize the given amplifier). The brighter sound is easier to hear, soft and deep tones require a lot of power. Do not believe in the universally circulating myth that you need high power amplifier to "warm" a strong column. It is also forbidden to use an amplifier that is stronger than a loudspeaker - but be careful to listen carefully to speakers that are not overloaded during play!
When choosing a column for an amplifier, remember on its impedance. Connecting a loudspeaker with a high impedance is a power limitation, and in the case of tube amplifiers, it is often prone to damage, impedance too low often leading to a high risk of overheating and burning of the amplifier. Most manufacturers offer 8 and 4 ohm speakers. The vast majority of amplifiers are designed to work with 4 ohm loads. Exceptions are amplifiers offering the ability to work under 2ohm or not less than 8ohm. Remember that connecting two 8-ohm columns essentially means a 4 ohm load for the amplifier.
Transistors, lamps, hybrids, amplifiers "micro"
Another serious dilemma for a bass player looking for a sound system is choosing the design of the amplifier itself. Transistor structures are lighter, maintenance-free and more reliable. Basically, the Markbass STD106 has a dynamic, "near" and "faster" sound, high dynamics and "work culture". They are relatively light, do not heat up too much and usually their price is not high.
Tube designs are often criticized for their heavy weight, and equally high priceThey pay for it beautiful, full of sound, saturated and rich in harmonic. Their power is often measured at the point where the sound is pure, which in practice means that the distorted "lamp" will play much louder than you would expect from technical data.
Hybrid amplifiers most often combine the advantages of the saturated sound of a lamped preamplifier with low-power transistor . Unlike the guitarist that are fascinated of full-lamp amp , the bassists appreciate the hybrids.
Among the legendary bass sounds we will find both tube-like designs such as Ampeg SVT or Orange CRUSH, transistor and hybrid - the legendary Edena or Ampeg PRO series.
Modern technology has made it possible to further reduce the weight and price of amplifiers, while preserving the sense of power and sound, often the tube preamp. Amplifiers with impulse power supply in class D, are incorrectly called "digital". This is fully analog (unless the manufacturer has used a digitally-powered preamp - which is not uncommon) constructions in which the power amp has a switching power supply instead of a heavy transformer. This solution has significantly reduced costs and mass, without losing much of its dynamics, bandwidth or tone. The purists obviously complain about "not such a sound", but for the sake of peace can be taken the principle of compromise - an amplifier with a mass not exceeding 5 kilograms recompense its lack of sound thanks to its convenience