Tall, simple and conservatively-dressed, TecAmp combos offer an efficient German take on the perfect bass sound, at a price. Review by Gareth Morgan
TecAmp has been designing and building professional bass equipment for over 20 years. This unheralded German company was the first to use neodymium speaker technology in bass cabs and combos and, as such, deserve the respect of any working bassist whose health has benefited from having lightweight gear.
The 500W, Class D-powered Puma Combo 212 adheres to this no-strain philosophy. Though the unit stands 750mm high, 440mm wide and 410mm deep, a poplar plywood shell combined with the neodymium speaker load of two 12" TecAmp LE12-65 and one NTM-1 HF driver keeps the weight down to a sensational 21.5kg/47lbs. As well as side and top-mounted handles, two wheels are fitted on the underside back edge for easy transportation, and the vinyl and steel corners afford decent protection.
There are no bells and whistles on a top-mounted control panel that’s split into one black and two silver sections. On the silver sections you’ll find Gain (with Clip LED), Master Volume (with a mute switch) and TecAmp‘s Taste control, which when turned clockwise induces a warm, punchy, vintage-like tone, while anti-clockwise increases attack and midrange growl. The central position is effectively ‘off’. A four-band EQ sits in the central black panel with Lo offering +/- 15dB at 70Hz, Lo Mid, Hi Mid (both +/- 12dB at 250Hz and 800Hz respectively) and Hi (+/-12dB at 5kHz). There’s also an XLR DI Out (with Post switch) on this panel with Tuner and Line Out and FX loop jack sockets on the back alongside a handy External Speaker Out Speakon socket.
Even though the flat EQ’d Puma reproduces the acoustic tone of your bass, it adds a little silk in the process. This – probably to do with the larger cabinet size – is no bad thing, but if this blunts your sound a bit too much, turn Taste anticlockwise. This rapidly restates the edges of the notes, replete with aggressive grunt, inducing a clean, clear full-range sound without unwanted spikes that’s perfect for countless styles and genres. Adding Lo increases power and stature without loss of cut and small increases in Hi add a pleasing sheen, although radical boosts get the frets far too involved. The clockwise side of Taste is smoother, fatter and more about filling space: this will suit old-school rockers and may help on a gig where it’s all stone floors and glass, although boosting Hi Mid re-focuses the thuddiness, expanding retro versatility into the realms of soul.
Without a Taste-biased starting point, Lo and Lo Mid offer room-shaking width and a brooding sound with bags of hard-hitting attack while boosting Hi Mid helps reinstate the full-range sound. There’s plenty of slicing cut on tap but don’t over-boost the Hi knob as the HF driver has no level control, and fat and smooth rapidly becomes brittle and clanky.
The Puma is sturdily built and scores well on portability and volume. There could be a few more tone-shaping options but the sounds on offer are solid, if lacking in a little variation, and pretty easy to find. However, it's markedly more expensive than some esteemed competition and this could prove a major factor in how many people take the plunge.