We all know Markbass and DV Mark by now. Designed by Italian amp guru Marco De Virgiliis, they’ve carved out their own space in lightweight but robust amplifiers known for their clean sound reproduction and high quality speakers. The Mark Acoustic division doesn’t have as many products on the market as their bass and electric guitar counterparts, but the range has recently been joined by the AC 801, which follows on from models like the AC 101 and AC 601, which we reviewed in these pages about a zillion years ago.
The AC 801P is a new model inspired by the DV Little Jazz combo, a super-clean yet surprisingly versatile little amp naturally geared towards the demands of jazz guitar. But the AC 801P is carefully designed to cover a broad range of acoustic instruments: not just steel string acoustic guitar but also classical guitar, mandolin, violin, banjo, et cetera. Basically if it’s hollow and comes with a piezo or soundhole pickup or an internal mic, this amp’s goal is to reproduce its sound clearly, efficiently and with plenty of volume.
The controls are extremely simple, just volume, bass, mid and high, and reverb knobs. It’s rated at 50 watts RMS with a single 8” DV Mark Custom 8 ohm speaker and a piezo tweeter, and a frequency response from 60Hz to 18kHz. Perfect for capturing the high-end air and detail of acoustic instruments while also pushing out plenty of low end, but not so boomy as to cause any fights with your bass player or drummer. Hopefully.
Other features include an aux in, headphone out, XLR line out, speaker on/off switch and an output jack for an extra speaker cabinet. DV makes a range of different cabinets that would be great for the job, including the FG 212 V Frank Gambale signature.
Like pretty much all DV amps, this baby is loud and clear. In fact, sometimes it can be hard to review their cleaner-voiced amps because they very intentionally keep the sound of your instrument as pure as possible, which is great news if you have a good-sounding guitar to begin with. But that’s also where things get tricky: if your acoustic’s preamp or pickup sounds like ass, the AC 801P will give you basic three-band EQ to make the best of it, but there are no magic buttons to turn a bad guitar sound into a good one. So if your guitar needs a little extra help then it might be worth it to invest in some kind of processor to feed into the AC 801P for the ultimate clean reproduction of your guitar-and-little-magic-box combination.
But then if you have a great-sounding guitar, you’re gonna get great results with this amplifier. That’s especially good news for those who have hybrid magnetic/piezo or mic/piezo setups because the clarity and frequency range of the amp will give you the best of everything you put into it. The reverb is good too: earlier DV amps didn’t have the most exciting reverb out there, but they upgraded their reverbs a while back and now they’re perfectly voiced to add dimension and mood without overpowering the sound.
If you’re after clean sonic reproduction with great portability and ease of use, this is the ultimate Mark Acoustic amp, with everything you absolutely need and nothing that could be considered a frivolous luxury. There are plenty of busier amps out there but they can get bogged down in their complexity. That’s not a problem with this one.
Hits and Misses
Very clean sonic reproduction
No feedback/phase control