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This article was originally published in issue #63
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Winning a huge plus point for me is that the low mids go below 200hz and reach up well into the high-frequency selection. That’s just superb.
Big clear sounds
Not a back breaker
Would prefer dark-stage friendly control labels
Effects loop, DI and Speaker outputs hidden out the way.
Dimensions: 43 H x 40 W x 35 D cm
Weight: 14 Kg
Hailing from Monopoli, Italy, GR Bass are new to the Bassment, however, they have certainly been on Dan Veall's radar for a little while with fellow UK bassist Becky Baldwin has been rocking her GR Bass One amplifier with a customised top on tour for a while now and with highly positive results. Dan takes a closer look at GR Bass' latest release, the Cube 800.
I certainly congratulate GR (whose company owner is a one Gianfranco Rizzi) on a really thoughtful feature set. First up: Not unusual, there’s a gain control sat next to the 1/4” input socket and then we are straight into the flexible equaliser. Buttons for both “Deep” and “Bright” work an absolute treat with my vintage Fender. In my review, it felt a bit like nudging the knobs on an onboard preamp. Just the right amount of boost there to lift my instrument sound.
The four band equaliser has a pair of controls for bass and treble boost and cut. Mid-range frequencies are divided across two knobs. One for the low-mid range and the other for the upper midrange frequencies. But, they aren’t just stuck at specific centre frequencies: Oh no, we have a three-way slider switch under each knob. This is absolutely superb as I am really fussy about the region that the mid controls affect on my own equipment. Winning a huge plus point for me is that the low mids go below 200hz and reach up well into the high-frequency selection. That’s just superb. Furthermore, once you are done fiddling with the equaliser, slap bang in the middle of the panel is the “Puresound” switch, that when engaged will bypass all of the filter options in the signal path. Very handy if you are already running lots of tone shaping elsewhere and you want to “run flat” through the amplifier.
Across the front panel, the GR amplifier section has three output knobs, the far right is the master volume for the sound to the speaker. In between that and the EQ is a level to control the signal going to the XLR socket for the DI out (with its related configuration buttons on the back of the amplifier) and also a separate level for the headphone amplifier too.
Sitting next to the volume knob is a master mute button. This should be included in every amplifier! One quick push of this button without adjusting controls will mute the outputs to save from bangs and crackles as you connect your guitar!
Saving the fun bit until last, well, nearly… Yes, there’s no way you can miss the bright dancing LEDs across the top of the control panel. Accessing the LED mode button, the LEDs run a VU level meter style display in 4 different modes (as well as a setting for ‘all off’ if they are distracting), however, I would say that most useful is that the display also is a tuner that can handle 6 string bass! (Standard tuning B E A D G and C)
One final function on the LED button (which I should have probably used in my review) is that the onboard fan that helps to keep the powerful amplifier cool can be switched from a live performance mode to a studio ‘silent’ configuration that will keep the fans off for a longer period of time when needing to keep ambient noise to a minimum. Having made the combo work a little hard in the studio here I did manage to get the fans to kick in whilst in live mode. The noise of the fan isn’t distracting for me but could be picked up in close proximity to acoustic instruments being recorded.
Round the back, GR Bass Cube 800 features a couple of combo sockets that allow for connection of either 1/4” leads or speakon style plugs. An effects loop and the afore mentioned DI out is also hidden away here. You will need to tip the amplifier forward to see what’s going on.
A massive, massive thumbs up for the inclusion of a ‘pedal power’ output!! 9v offering a consumption of up to 300mA total (plenty for the average pedal or few, but you’ll want to make sure that you aren’t drawing too much current, always read the manual etc, etc). So, this is great to see and worthy of an extra review star!
Cube 800 features both a 450W RMS 12” bass driver (which I am assuming is an 8 ohm load) and also a high frequency tweeter unit. The tweeter also features a three way attenuation switch for adjusting it’s level separately.
As usual, describing tonal output is a difficult thing, especially as the review combo I feel hasn’t had any time for the speaker to truly break in and give us it’s full frequency performance. That said, there’s plenty of clear audio coming from this small 14Kg package. It’s “voicing” if you want to call it that is reminiscent of a quality active PA cabinet and there’s plenty of volume on tap to keep up with a number of group or ensemble musical activities. Now, considering there’s an 800W amplifier onboard, daisy chaining the combo to a much larger cabinet (more cones = more opportunity to move air) means that I feel that you won’t have too many problems being heard, essentially expanding your rig without buying more amplifiers. GR Bass offer everything from the little cabinet with 8” drivers up to 4x10” and 2x12” ‘rig’ cabinets.
I am also interested in the range of stand-alone amplifiers too, starting with a mini 350W head all the way up to a dual 700W offering, the ONE 1400. Elsewhere in the range are a set of rather cool power amplifier style heads with no EQ onboard at all. These would be brilliant for those of us running FRFR rigs where all of our tone settings come from outboard processors.
Running short of review space I must wrap up, but there’s still plenty to be discovered within the Cube range, therefore I must forward you to the GR Bass website for more details.
On the basis of the feature set this combo is a real winner, tipping the balance with an onboard tuner, effect pedal power supply and inclusion of a more flexible equaliser section than other offerings on the market. The only thing that I found difficult in my review was that under the bright studio lights I actually found it a little difficult to see what each control label read as I sat off at a slight angle. Maybe those connections down underneath the amplifier body could frustrate on dark stages too?
I’ll leave the round up to Becky who loves the portability of the amplifier as a busy musician having to get gear to gigs. Becky continues, “I love that I can trust the consistent, pure tone of the head. I know that what I put into it from my bass and pedals is exactly what I'm going to get out of it. I had previously found other amps had been unpredictable when changing tones with my pedals.”