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This article was originally published in issue #67
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30th Anniversary edition.
Only 50 of these anniversary heads are being made!
Dimensions (W x D x H) 19" x 13" x 2U (48cm x 33cm x 8.9cm)
Weight 9 kg / 20 lbs
Dimensions: 39cm x 58cm x 44cm
Weight 19 kg / 42 lbs
Since 1988, EBS Sweden AB has been designing quality equipment for bass players on the market. With that in mind, Dan Veall has some big expectations when it comes to the HD360 Anniversary Head and Neoline 210 Cabinet. Here he is with the full breakdown.
Contained in the sealed box along with the EBS HD360 Amplifier we have in for review today is a hardback book commemorating the 30th anniversary of EBS, one of our “big names” in bass electronics. The book and amplifier make up a super package featuring this limited edition HD360. I will tell you right away that only 50 of these amplifiers will be made, so we are very lucky to have one in for review!
The model is a modern version of the best selling HD350. The same voicing, tone and controls but just the right tweaks to make it a bit special
I couldn’t resist carefully flicking through the book; I was reminded of the earliest EBS bass preamplifiers, amplifiers and cabinets right through to the present-day incarnations. Indeed, I very nearly owned an EBS Classic Preamplifier myself years ago having been blown away with the sound at a “Bass Bash” get together somewhere in the midst of England.
I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for I guess what people call “The EBS sound”. To my ears, this punchy bass tone with a top-end that has an airy zing to it.
Looking through the anniversary book, of course I spot the HD350 that this particular example is modelled upon. The HD360 and TD660 models replaced the HD350 and TD350 respectively, but the HD350 has always been a well-regarded amplifier certainly on the bass forums I frequent.
I have to say that on plugging in, there was something instantly familiar about the HD360 30th. I know what I was hoping for and there it was, the HD350. It is a different beast if you’re to compare it with the Reidmar models and say the MicroBass III. (Both of which we are also reviewing!)
The main differences are in the preamplifier voicing; the latter models have been given more headroom and a frequency response with more breadth. That isn’t to say that there is anything wrong with the ‘350. Its sound is focussed and totally about controlled punch. No “woofy” bloated sub frequencies and no harshness in the top end. You may be forgiven in thinking this amplifier sounds polite at low ‘shop’ volumes.
So, I have done what every good review should! I have also recorded a video review for the Reidmar 502 with the same EBS NeoLine 210 cabinet with my trusty and well loved Fender Power Jazz Bass Special. Hopefully if you play the videos back to back, the inherent qualities of each will be apparent!
No, the HD360 30th isn’t just a Reidmar with a different power amplifier section. Therefore it is totally worth trying out each head to see which suits you. Which, whilst on the subject leads me to remind you that I have previously also reviewed other models from the EBS catalogue. I’ll leave you with where to find those reviews at the end of the write up here.
The layout for current EBS models is very similar across the board and thus switching from one to another is a breeze. The differences, when you dig in to the details are inside and more to do with individual parameter specifications. Thus, the inherent tone of each model is subtly different.
The video demonstrates each control and some example sound settings.
Underneath the HD Anniversary head, we have been provided with a super little cabinet from the NeoLine range - these are EBS’ lightweight offerings featuring neodymium speakers. The cabinet handles 500W RMS and showed no signs of even remotely giving in as I wound the volume up on the head. Actually a rather surprising amount of volume off this one even fresh out of the box I.e. no time for speakers to ‘break in’ and show off their true depth. Nothing wrong with what I have been hearing up front so far though!
The cabinet shell underneath the carpeted exterior is spruce wood - which is strong as well as being in this case, light. EBS have gone for 13 ply Birch wood for the speaker baffle at the front. I know that this is a good choice where extra stiffness is required. In listening over the Reidmar 502 and the HD360 reviews, I didn’t feel that the cabinet resonated too much if at all noticeably - leading to a taught and punching sound with less colouration than some. I actually really loved the JBL branded tweeter on board; a 2” unit that does add a certain ping to the sound in tandem with the 350’s voicing. In “jazz bass mode”, I am definitely hearing Marcus Miller tones and even Tal Wilkenfeld flavours (Jeff Beck Ronnie Scotts show as an example).
I have no reservation in recommending this combination for a great clean ‘carte blanche’ that on its own does a great job of conveying your actual bass sound, but a great place to start when adding your own pedals to colour the sound.