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This article was originally published in issue #43
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Though on the face of it it might seem a bit superfluous to requirements to offer these two new Peavey micro bass heads, and while it's the case that they share features, to my mind they offer, along with the Headliner 1000 I reviewed in GI 42, different options for different requirements. It’s clear that the Headliner is a rack ready tour machine, while the Mini range is designed for those traveling light. Of the Minis themselves, I feel that the Max is a real ‘plug and play’ unit for those who are gigging via public transport, or who are not looking for all the bells and whistles of the feature rich MiniMEGA. If you are shopping for a new amplifier and considering either of these two, hopefully I can guide you to making an informed choice.
Let's start with 1,000 Watt MiniMEGA. It's a dark machine that I think has managed to shoe-horn just about every feature idea into a single small box! To the right of the input and master gain control we have an optical compressor, crunch function for extra bite and dirt and then a full complement of EQ controls that I have to say I prefer to a massive graphic equaliser. It’s actually a semi-parametric equaliser, with two adjustable bands of mid range, allowing you to pinpoint the frequencies you want to cut or boost specifically at the twist of a dial, rather than having to rely on set bands from a graphic EQ. Underneath the knobs to the left and right are further boosts, one marked 'punch' for the low end and another, 'bright', for top end sparkle. The two buttons in the middle allow you to change the width of frequencies that each of the mid knobs govern: narrow being more focused in an area of the frequency spectrum, great for notching out troublesome room frequencies as an example of use.
Peavey’s KOSMOS processor has been included here too. It certainly does the job it describes, but I would be careful when choosing which speaker cabinets you are driving this head in to as this ‘low end processor’ function will deliver substantial low end to your cones. If the cabinet can’t handle it, they will flap around and not produce and useful sound, rather just waste energy!
For the review, I used a bass cabinet that is well known for its ability to deliver low end with control and clarity. When I pushed the KOSMOS functions in the studio before rolling, nearly everything in the room shook in sympathy. If you want your bass sound to ‘do subs’ then this will help you on your way but too much will probably upset your bandmates. Advice? A little goes a long way!
Round the back, the amplifier allows for power switching depending on your worldly location and there’s a pair of Speakon output sockets, DI output to PA, effects loop, tuner output socket and a foot switch socket for Peavey’s own MIDI controller that will gain you access to the many front panel functions whilst at the front of the stage. The controller wasn’t supplied for the review.
There’s an auxiliary in for your music player and a headphone socket on the front panel.
There’s no doubt that with its 1,000 Watt output and myriad of functions that it is a very flexible piece of kit - oh and did I tell you that you can even change the colour of the front panel lights and you get a Peavey carry bag included in the box too? It's really quite something!
Peavey’s micro offering here is just that and it’s got everything you need for a ‘travelling-light’ system. Of course given its diminutive stature, something has to give on the functionality front - there’s just less space to include controls (without going for tiny knobs and unreadable legends), but it still manages to be surprisingly comprehensive.
The 500 Watt MiniMAX opts for separate inputs for ‘passive’ or ‘active’ instruments which I felt was an unusual choice considering the MiniMEGA uses a single input jack. Right next to that is the pre-amplifier gain control, which incidentally works in conjunction with the TTBoost function when enabled, to add dirt and drive to your bass signal. Across the front panel there's a three band equaliser with a 'punch' selector for additional low end boost, a bright switch for top end boost and the mid shift button, which does just that - it shifts the frequency that the mid range boost/cut knob acts on from 600hz to 240hz when pushed in.
Under the master volume is a much simplified version of Peavey's KOSMOS. Enabling this function adds processed low end harmonics to your sound, fattening up the tone and adding depth. Being at a set level, you are less likely to over-cook the levels verses the MiniMEGA and in use I think that the preset level is ‘about right’ for my tastes.
I am very pleased to see a built in tuner and yes it does track the Low B of my Dingwall bass! There’s a mute switch for silent tuning, too, so there's no need to remember to pack that tuner now. There is also an auxiliary input for your MP3 player and a headphone socket also on the front for easy access when used for practicing.
Finally, like the MiniMEGA, this one can handle a trip overseas, being switchable from 120V-220/240V. A pair of speaker sockets, an effects loop and finally a DI output completes the compliment of connections.
A capable little amplifier which again slips away in its own Peavey gig bag. No nonsense and dead easy to use, a great piece of kit. I’m not sure if I am convinced by the chicken-head knobs though - what do you think?
In terms of tone, both the MiniMAX and MiniMAX are loud and have lots of bass boost on tap. I felt that the Headliner 1000 appeared to deliver more heft on the day - maybe that’s something to do with the internal design of either the power amplifier or power supplies in each, I don’t know. I do know that weighing in at under 3.5Kg each, and delivering over 500W (1000W in the case of the MiniMEGA) that’s two shopping criteria you can put a tick next to. I spent more time dialling in a sound with both of these heads to find that ‘sweet spot’ than I did with the Headliner, so there’s definitely something in the character I can’t put my finger on. A bit more aggressive in the 2 - 8khz sort of region? Possibly they would pair with Peavey’s own cabinets better, so that's something to try when you go shopping. And shopping you should go as these are both 'must audition' machines!