Whether your bass tastes run to modern or vintage, the Evo II versions of Ashdowns UK-designed MAG and Electric Blue amps can provide the goods. Review: Gareth Morgan
Ashdown Engineering has been flying the flag of the low frequencies for Britain for more than 12 years. While the company’s products now include bass pedals and even a range of guitar amps, the focus is still firmly on bass amplification. This month we’re happy to be running the rule over a pair of newly upgraded bass combos from two of their more affordable ranges.
Ashdown tells us that the MAG range is designed for ‘the busy semi-pro player who wants classic [top of the Ashdown range] ABM tone without the more sophisticated facilities and connectivity.’
The Chinese-made C210T-300 is 581mm high, 610mm wide and 335mm deep and weighs a robust 35kg/77lbs. The cab is constructed from 20mm MDF, newly clothed in ultra hard-wearing black vinyl and kitted out with metal corner protectors, rubber feet and side-mounted recessed steel handles.
There are two portholes on the back for extra boom, and the cloth grille hides a pair of 10" BlackLine drivers and a tweeter, although there’s no sign of an HF level control. The drivers are newly upgraded to the same specs and standard as Ashdown‘s top-specification ABM range.
The appealing silver-grey control panel is awash with dials and switches, with Ashdown‘s trademark VU Meter Input Level indicator very much part of the melee. As well as Input (gain) and Output controls, there’s a switchable five-band EQ section with 12dB of cut/boost available from Bass (100Hz), Lo Mid (labelled and set at 340Hz), Middle (660Hz), Hi Mid (labelled and set at 1.6kHz and Treble (shelved at 7kHz).You can also boost the extremities of frequency via Deep and Bright switches, the former offering a boost of 8dB at 50Hz and the latter a 10dB hike at 10kHz.
There’s a new Compressor with a level control that’ll fatten and squash your sound, plus Ashdown‘s trademark Sub-Harmonics octaver. As well as Passive and Active input sockets, there’s an FX loop, Tuner/Line Out, spare Speaker Out jack socket and an XLR DI Out.
Leaving the EQ out of the equation produces a clean, slightly bright sound. This means plenty of width and growl at the bottom end, a clean, even midrange and snappy highs that, with horn switched in, err on the side of hi-fi but stop short of sounding too synthetic.
Fiddling with the EQ unearths a pretty potent weapon, with earth-shaking boom available from boosting Bass or depressing the Deep switch. Taking similar action at 340Hz adds punch and impact and softens the notes’ edges; it’s broody and moody, but not too dark.
Add more bass EQ, and fixtures and fittings rapidly start to shake. Boosting Middle will bring your bass further forwards in the mix – good for helping cut through the guitars. Turn to the 1.6kHz dial for more brightness; it’s honk-free, but while some extra top-end adds sparkle, too much via control or button makes the horn too enthusiastic, resulting in a lot of unwanted extraneous noise.
You can remove the horn by cutting Treble and compensate for some of the lost top by boosting the 1.6kHz dial.
Compression works smoothly, only inducing choking at the knob’s extremes. The Sub-Harmonics effect adds a warm octaver rumble, but doesn’t really track below C on the A string.
These are well-built combos which will do a solid, reliable job on a variety of gigs. The MAG is good for a full-range, contemporary sound where plenty of power is required. The price is very appealing, and you get a lot of features for your money. This is worth definitely a try.