The much antic­i­pated Hartke Kilo 1000 watt bass ampli­fier has finally arrived, and upon first glance, it doesn’t dis­ap­point. Hartke have been key play­ers in bass ampli­fi­ca­tion for many years now, enough time for any less than sat­is­fac­tory prod­ucts to tar­nish their name, but no such atroc­ity has occurred, these guys know what they’re doing. The Kilo is solidly con­structed into a three rack-space chas­sis leav­ing plenty of breath­ing room for the com­po­nents, and there’s a hefty pair of han­dles on the front to make lift­ing easy, which is a good thing, because unfor­tu­nately ‘Kilo’ is just a name and is in no way rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the weight. All the con­trols feel solid and install con­fi­dence that this unit was made for life on the road. So let us take the jour­ney of a del­i­cately fin­gered bass riff and see what the Kilo has to offer.

The first thing of note our riff will hit upon enter­ing the Kilo is a fully Class-A tube pre­amp uti­liz­ing three 12AXL tubes. A Class-A pre­am­pli­fier is an advan­tage because it doesn’t chop up the sig­nal, instead it treats it with a sin­gle ampli­fi­ca­tion stage at any one time, mean­ing crossover dis­tor­tion is com­pletely elim­i­nated, and pro­vid­ing the clean­est pos­si­ble sig­nal path. Unfor­tu­nately the power-amp stage is not Class-A, but this is not a bad thing, if it was, the ampli­fier would be ten times the size, chew through more power than Times Square on New Years Eve, and most likely melt through to the Earths core after ten min­utes of use. Next down the line is a tube over­drive cir­cuit. This has a vari­able con­trol which allows for any­thing from just a wafer of grit, all the way to bla­tant fuzz. Then our riff trav­els through a built in com­pres­sor which is con­trolled by a sin­gle knob, and is very musi­cal in use.

After that we have a gain con­trol, a shape con­trol for a selec­tion of pre­set EQ curves, and then generic con­trols for Bass, Mid, and High. Next are the con­trols for the fully bal­anced Direct Out, not sur­pris­ingly there’s a level con­trol, but of far more inter­est, there’s a con­trol to select the rout­ing, so you can choose whether the sig­nal comes directly from the input, or post com­pres­sor, post EQ, or post effects, a fan­tas­tic option! Next is vol­ume –  always handy. Then bal­ance for stereo use, and finally, as far as pro­cess­ing is con­cerned, a 10 band graphic EQ. Another genius inno­va­tion with the Kilo is the option to pur­chase a cou­ple of footswitch’s which will allow you to engage the over­drive, mute, Graphic EQ, and the FX loop on the fly. From there our sexy bass riff hits the power ampli­fiers which pump out 500 watts a side, or can be bridged to pro­vide a 1000 watt mono signal!

The Hartke Kilo is a fan­tas­tic bit of kit that sounds even bet­ter than it looks, imple­ments novel design con­cepts, offers a huge range of tones, and suits any bass gui­tar you care to throw at it. For the money, this is a no-brainer!

Price: RRP $1699
Dis­trib­u­tor: Elec­tric Fac­tory
Phone: (03) 9474 1000
Web­site: www.elfa.com.au

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