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Review

MARKBASS Little Marcus 800 Head and Marcus Miller 104 Cab

Issue #58

Speaking of manage, there’s a couple of big handles that have been fitted in an absolutely ideal position. Nice.
Dan Veall

PROS:

Loads of power output options for a wide range of gigs.

Monitor style wedge cabinets

Great onboard EQ

Footswitch options

CONS:

Buy covers if you have a pet that likes carpet covered cabinets!

Footswitch and Carry Bag are optional extras rather than included.

Guitar Interactive star rating: 4 stars

MARKBASS Little Marcus 800 Head and Marcus Miller 104 Cab

MSRP £619 (Head)  £819 (CAB)


 MARKBASS Little Marcus 800 Head and Marcus Miller 104 Cab

What happens when a massive name in bass gear manufacturing meets a colossal name in bass guitar? The MARKBASS Little Marcus 800 Head and Marcus Miller 104 Cab, that's what. Here's Dan Veall to tell us more.

Announced at NAMM 2017, producer and Bass ace Marcus Miller joined forces with Marco De Virgillis of well-known manufacturer of bass gear Markbass.

The resulting union hasn’t just spawned one amplifier offering that often you see in other brands, but a whole range of ‘Miller Inspired’ bass gear.

Yes, that’s right. Four amplifiers using the same preamplifier topology with a range of outputs to suit every need. 250W, 500W, 800W and 1000W for the BIG gigs! Today we are featuring the 800W model and we are pairing that with one of two speaker cabinets in the Miller camp. The 104 is a 4x10” configuration wedge-shaped cabinet with a 1” ‘Super Tweeter’ slap bang in the middle. It’s sibling is a 2x10” configuration cabinet, model name 102. Again the same 1” tweeter on board and similarly wedge shaped like the 104. We’ll come back to the cabinet later.

Let us start at the top of the rig, the Little Marcus 800.

On the face of it, quite literally where we are starting as it happens, the Little Marcus doesn’t appear to be much different to that of other MarkBass offerings. Alas you’d be mistaken! First of all, a very cool feature. There’s a mute button to silence the input of the amplifier and when engaged a coloured halo around the input jack changes from solid colour to flashing.

Little Marcus also has an extra band of equalisation. One of my bug bears with equalisers on bass amplifiers is that on a some models, you’ll have a bass control centred all the way down at 40hz (shelving) and literally nothing to offer adjustment until the next band centred at say 400Hz. A lot of our bass tone rocks out at the second harmonic of the fundamental note frequency. In short, I want a bit of control between 60hz and 200hz before I get to that 400hz dial. Enter the Little Marcus with the ultra-low centred at 65hz and the low mid..yes there is it! 180hz! Just above that kick drum punch. Pretty spot on.

This five-band equaliser section is known as EQ1 on the front panel and in my video I run through each control so you can hear the effect they have on the connected cabinet, but if you watch the whole review you’ll also get to hear a DI output reference too! So, if that’s EQ1, then that means.. you guessed it. Equaliser 2 which is also accessible via an optional foot switch offers access to a couple of neat features.The first knob labelled “Old School” on the top left hand side is similar to the Vintage Loudspeaker Emulation (VLE) found on other Markbass heads. Advancing the control progressively rolls top end off the frequency range. A very simple way to soften your tone for a more vintage vibe. Again, watch the video to hear that happen with my natural bright sounding bass. To the right of Old School we are heading in the opposite direction with the ‘Millerizer’!! I must apologise as I called this function a high pass filter in the video. Silly me, it’s actually a band pass filter that allows for a selective boost of frequencies and in this case the 5-12khz range. It’s like a wide band adjustable bright control!  My review bass features EMG active pickups and are pretty bright to start with so a small amount of adjustment went a long way. I suspect if you have a more subtle sounding bass, you’ll be able to push this further. It’s a nice touch.

Finishing up the front panel, a clip LED to let you know when your input gain is getting a bit out of hand. There’s also a line out control knob for adjusting the level going to the DI on the back.  Finally, a master volume, power switch and power LED.

Around the back starting from the left, the power input and exhaust fan and a single Speakon speaker socket. Hopefully not to confusing, the foot switch socket is right underneath the speaker output within a yellow pinstriped area. Beware! Always read the labels! Moving on, there’s a tuner output socket, an effects loop and DI output for connecting to PA or recording devices.

The amplifier I feel has a great clean sound with lots of volume on tap. I did mention in my video a wee bit of extra hiss was generated when cranking up the treble controls.

104 Cabinet:

The 104 bass cabinet wrapped in a carpet style covering features four neodymium Markbass speakers with those eye-catching yellow cones that are easily part of the Markbass identity. 104 weighs in at an almost silly 22Kg. Very pleasing for a player like me who has done over 25 years of gigging. That’s a lot of gear taking its toll on my back! 104 handles 800W RMS and is an 8 Ohm cabinet, meaning you can drop another 104 on top and still run your 800W head with no problems within its 4-ohm minimum output impedance.

The 104 cabinet offers a characteristic sound. The super tweeter is lovely actually. The mix of neodymium speakers in an essentially smaller cabinet offers up a low mid-range punch more so than deep low end subs. But, listening to Marcus Miller, I feel that’s on stage subs are not what he’s about. It was immediately obvious that the 104 cabinets have a particular voicing to them accentuating certain tonal areas. I’d expect being a monitor style cabinet it will be useful in cutting through a mix with upper and lower mids. I was unable to at the time of recording but I am looking forward to hearing the difference between the sound at the microphone and the DI output which appears in this video.

A wedge between? So a major selling point for me is the design of the cabinet (if I put aside the other specifications for a moment) is that this cabinet can not only stand upright but flip it on its side and the cabinet will drop into ‘kickback’ or ‘monitor’ position. If you are gigging, you already know about playing small stages and the problems with hearing yourself. It’s impossible to hear yourself clearly if you are stood so close to your amp you are essentially entertaining your calves and backs of knees. We need to get the cabinet facing our ears. We either do that by hoisting the cabinets up higher or, oh look! Flip them back so they are pointing upward instead. Let's face it, stage monitors have been doing this option for years!  Guitarists, your cabinet manufacturers need to be following this design too, but that’s a discussion for another day!

This wedge design will mean that we will get a great on-axis response with the speakers facing our ears, take up less room and have a slightly easier cabinet to manage owing to the shape.

Speaking of manage, there’s a couple of big handles that have been fitted in an absolutely ideal position. Nice.

As usual, I have a limited space to squeeze everything in so I apologise if there’s anything in the video I have missed here, but as is always the case: The best thing you can do is get out there and try this rig for yourself.

SPECS

For detailed specifications, please visit:

http://www.markbass.it/product-detail/little-marcus-800/

http://www.markbass.it/product-detail/marcus-miller-104-cab/

For more information, please visit:

markbass.it

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