EBS excellence in solid-state technology is well known and runs through the veins back to when the company started in 1988. The World's stage spotlight landed on EBS when the company introduced their first solid-state hybrid amps in the late 90s'. Fast forward to 2020 and the new EBS 802 is set to be the new reference amp to define the 'EBS sound'. Dan Veall reviews.
I was very pleased indeed to be able to receive one of the very first 802 amplifiers ahead of the rest of the World for a comprehensive overview. The 802 I feel is a little bit special. I don't mind admitting that the EBS TD650 is an amplifier that has been in my top 5 amplifiers for many years. I've been incredibly lucky in this job to have reviewed over 350 items and amongst those the very best in amplification. It's all good, it difficult to find a bad amplifier these days, but sometimes we do receive something a little bit special - and that gets echoed in my review comments each month.
What's interesting is all the things that I wanted to see on the original TD650 (some of those ideas from the EBS Classic preamplifier for example) have finally been included in a major flagship release.
EBS in their own words describes the new 802 as "Engineered to be the new reference amp to define the 'EBS Sound'." Indeed they continue, the cornerstone of the EBS amplifications program.
As with any review, there's always an element as to why a brand has decided on a particular feature set. EBS bill this model as a 'High Dynamics Linear Amplifier' using all solid-state technology. The 802 designer's intention is to deliver that experience the old amps of yesteryear brought to the table. Call it punch, call it heft, whatever - but when you know, you know.
The amplifier may look busy across the front but genuinely, if you take each section and treat them separately it is amazing how quickly you can dial in a wide range of tones, from old school thump to rattle rock, to jazz bass articulate slap.
EBS has split the usual character "pre-shape" into two. Now you can shape the low end or high end (or both at the same time) at the push of one of two switches situated next to the input - which interestingly is a particularly high input impedance entry. Great if you are using passive pickups or even piezo examples.
There's plenty of gain in the preamplifier input too with very little noise to speak of. Great! The whole amplifier is designed and made in Sweden and is manufactured for high performance throughout.
A 'one-knob' compressor deals up everything from a slight limiting to some squishy compressed sounds should you like that sort of flavour. Throughout my review with my bass (that features active pickups), I chose to ride the compressor to give me a balance of volume as I switched between techniques. Pretty useful for the medium we use for recording here at Guitar Interactive.
Now on to my favourite of rants! Amplifier equalisers! For those who have watched my reviews previously will know that I use a lot of different basses and, depending on the review, mix and match cabinets to create a sound that best highlights at least some of the great sounds a piece of kit is capable of dealing up.
It's not a perfect situation though and sometimes we want to shape the sound because a bass 'colour' may be at odds with the sonic spectrum of a speaker cabinet. Enter the EBS 802 equaliser.
It is of the semi-parametric type, which I adore and all of my favourite amplifiers have something similar if you, like me, need flexibility. (Think function gigs as an example).
Both the Bass and Treble controls have switchable EQ centres. The bass control specifically can dial in the centres from several different EBS models which is great - or maybe you want some slap low-end punch but not drown the stage with too much low-end 'subs' - yup, easily done.
In between those controls is not just one semi-parametric mid-range but two! Yes! Finally! There's an overlap between both their operation, yet they deal with the low mid spectrum and the high-mid spectrum seperately. There are times a bass has been missing some of that woody 300-400hz tone but too much going on at 1Khz. One semi-parametric just can't deal with both of those issues at the same time and thus compromise is required. With two? Done deal.
For extra sheen in the sound, the bright control is a high-pass filter that is off in the zero position but progressively adds top-end zing as it is advanced. A bit like an adjustable bright switch. It's just too handy!
The 802, like the Reidmar 750 is a powerful head. I understand, correct me if I am wrong here, that the 750 was so loud (I reviewed the 750 with an EBS 410CL cabinet and we had the staff above the sound-proofed studio come down to inspect what we were up to) that it was too loud before the amplifier started creating any sort of lovely drive. So, the drive circuit was added in to get that "loud grit" at more manageable levels. Watch my video as I can't resist dialling in a sweet spot for my bass, off bat. There's also an example sound on the EBS website with a passive Precision bass.
Round the back as described in my video area whole host of really industry-useful connections including access to controlling onboard functions via footswitch - a pair of DI outputs to cover all recording and performing eventualities - and even a Speaker Emulation function. You can record silently with the 802 or, use the emulation in conjunction with a clean, dry DI and a mic'd up cabinet!
An effects loop of course, but this one I read can take instrument-level pedals as well as line level.
Finally, two locking speaker connectors wired in parallel for hooking up to your cabinets. This beast of an amplifier can deliver 750W RMS into a 2 Ohm load, that's around 450W RMS when connecting a 4 Ohm load. But, please do not be bogged down with the numbers. There is more than enough volume from this amplifier and will happily drive pairs of big cabinets to guitarist-annoying levels 🙂 (Sorry guitarists I love you really!)
The amplifier is a modern high spec design that is incredibly versatile. Yes, it is also a high-end purchase but I feel that it is well suited to the stadium when you need girth in your sound, but whisper-quiet noise floor for the professional studio. It's capable of some gritty edge rock, hi-fi tapping tones and even a low-end old-school rumble, so it will be loved by fans in all quarters.
For more information, please visit: