‘Colourful’ is not a word bandied about too often where modern, or even vintage, bass amplification is concerned. Between the limitations of human hearing, engineering specifics or purely and simply the state of the room you’re playing in, there is a pretty severe set of limitations placed on the frequency range in play. The majority of amp makers take aim squarely at ‘coloured’, preferring to dictate nuance rather than offer up a bevvy of options and, while this focus has yielded some of the tastiest low-end thunder imaginable (see Motown, Bootsy et al.), it’s taken a lot of work to come to a build that offers anywhere near a full sonic spectrum.
David Eden has long been at the forefront of the charge into subsonic splendor. His amps have a reputation for being everything to every modern player and as a company they wear this medal proudly on their collective chest. The Terra Nova TN501 is their latest offering to the tone gods and it comes with a promise of portability, simplicity and versatility.
Small in footprint and stepping in the ring at a welterweight 2.45kgs, Eden has certainly knocked the portability aspect out of the park. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d picked up a box of your favourite cereal! Long gone are the days when your rig had to weigh a tonne to pack a punch, though as all 600w RMS is put to good use here. There’s plenty of power in the puny package and what it lacks in stature it more than makes up for in capability. There is an incredible amount of control on offer here, all of which is designed to come to you as quickly and easily as it possibly could, enabling you to roll with the punches on any field of battle.
Simply put, the practicality of this amp is all over its face. First and foremost you have the choice of plugging into jacks designed to harbor passive or active pick-ups before heading into tone territory. The EQ section of the preamp is astonishingly flexible. Even if you’re running everything at 12 o’clock there is enough scope in the enhance knob, which essentially acts as a presence or mid frequency focus, to find a nice home base for your tone to hit from. The bass and treble knobs give you +/-15db of range to play with but the mid range is where you can really have some fun. One channel allows you to dial in anything between 30 to 300hz while the other has from 200hz to 200khx covered. Topped off nicely with a completely transparent compression stage, which in my opinion is something that no bass player should be without, there’s just about nothing this amp can’t do. Often with this amount of options on offer other amps have a habit of falling into the ‘too fiddly’ category but Eden have managed to steer this ship well clear of that ill fate.
On top of all of that, it’s the simple, technical advantages that double the virtue of the TN501. Things like having the option of TRS or Speakon style speaker outs, isolated DI with a dedicated switch to pull signal from pre or post EQ, a ground lift for even the dingiest in venue wiring complaints, an aux in on the off chance you’re the one in charge of the walk-on song, all the finer details of life as a working bass player that you might’ve thought at some point “Gee, wouldn’t that be nice!”
It may not look flashy, weigh a tonne or take up a gregarious amount of room like some of its contemporaries but David Eden’s Terra Nova TN501 is a checked-off list of everything you’ve ever wanted in a bass head. Portability – check, tonal versatility – check, unmitigated power – check. All in all, a classy, all rounder of an amp that is sure to handle anything and everything you can throw at it.
For more details, head to elfa.com.au.
Hits and Misses
Flexible preamp EQ
Option of TRS or Speakon style speaker outs
Not as ashy looking as other bass amps