Introduced in the UK in 1997 under the lead of company founder Mark Gooday, Ashdown Engineering has developed into a serious manufacturer, from bedroom amps to full stadium rigs. Dedicated to “hard working bass players,” the new Rootmaster EVO range aims to deliver “workhorse reliability at a great price.”
A matte steel casing, slightly rounded on its edges, and much smaller in general than most of the other Ashdown amps we’ve seen, the RM-800 EVO sits at the top of the new ‘Rootmaster’ line of amps. Delivering 800 watts at 4 ohms, the head weighs 5 kgs and looks and feels tough. Passive and Active inputs at the far left of the chrome styled front faceplate are followed by the Ashdown standard VU Meter; whilst cool looking in a retro kind of way, I’m not really sure how much practical they are. An EQ section of Bass, Middle and Treble are augmented with dedicated controls for 240Hz and 1.5 KHz frequencies. Input, Comp, Drive, Sub, Output and Line Mix round out the rest of the controls with buttons for EQ In/Out, Shape, Mute, Comp In/Out and Drive In/Out. On the back of the RM-800 you’ll find two Speaker Outs, DI Out, Line In, FX Send and FX Return, and a Footswitch Out.
CATCH A CAB
Ashdown offer a range of cabs with the new RM moniker including a 112, 115, 210 and 610. The RM-115T is a 300-watt cab with a single 15” speaker and tweeter whilst the RM-210T is a 300-watt 2x10” speaker cab. Going for the staggered speaker layout, it’s a larger sized 2x10 cab, but both are much lighter than expected thanks to some construction refinements. Designed to match the Rootmaster heads, the cabs stack neatly together and feature tough corners and top handles for portability.
Flicking on the RM-800, you get a cool orangey glow from the VU meter and a slight whir from the onboard fan. Not enough to really bug you, but it does reinforce that you should be able to really crank the 800 watts as a gigging muso without any overheating. Set at, the RM- 800 has a clean, big sound with seemingly lots of headroom. There’s lots of scope EQ wise thanks to the Shape button (which adds a bass and high-end boost) and the dedicated 240Hz and 1.5 KHz controls. With these two left in the centre position, they are not in use leaving you the typical Bass, Middle and Treble controls, otherwise you can get twiddling to really hone in on frequencies. The onboard Comp and Overdrive are useful also. More aggressive styles can be evened out with Compression adding some definition and sustain whilst the valve emulated overdrive goes from edgy to more distorted. Pick players will enjoy getting some extra bite from these settings.
The RM-800 head with both the 1x15 and 2x10 is a slamming rig that really moves some air. It would be great for rock, pop, soul and heavier styles. Thanks to the added range of the 15” you can run the head with just one cab for a more compact setup. The reduced size and more modern looks are a good move in terms of aesthetics and practical use. There are a good range of tones onboard with usable additional features. Extra marks for little things too like the blue background light that pops up when the Mute is engaged, making it easy to check your amp status with a quick look. And the oversized Output knob makes it easy to locate quickly on a dark stage.
For more details on the Rootmaster series, head to promusicaustralia.com.au.
Hits and Misses
Versatile tone control
Heaps of power
Puzzling VU meter