Reviewed: MarkBass Marcus Miller CMD Amplifiers

CMC Music | cmcmusic.com.au | Expect To Pay: From $1050

Markbass is a company that has produced top-quality bass gear for decades. Their gear ranges from top-tier professional gear used by the likes of Saxon and Randy Jackson, as well as session players for Steve Vai, Slash, Eurythmics and Massive Attack. Their products are used by professionals and amateurs alike; enter the Marcus Miller CMD series of bass amplifiers, a signature series from legendary bassist Marcus Miller.

Marcus Miller is one of the most prolific bass players in jazz, having been trusted to anchor bands for Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. The Marcus Miller CMD 101 Micro 60 is the smallest in the range, being a 60W combo powerhouse that delivers startling volume and clarity for an amp with such a small footprint, all while retaining the clean and clear bottom end of your playing. At the other end of the scale is the CMD 102 500 and CMD 103, a 2X10 500W with a kickback and a 3X10 500W combo respectively.

 

The 60W Marcus Miller CMD 101 Micro 60 is a basic but very practical amp. On the main control plate, it features Gain and Master pots, as well as bass, middle and treble controls. The control plate also features a 3.5mm auxiliary input for practising along with a track or any other creative use you can imagine. A back-panel features even more, featuring and on/off for the internal speaker, and housing a handy XLR line-out for a direct sound, and an 8ohm, 1/4” external speaker output, both of which remain active when the internal speaker is turned off. The line out is an incredibly accurate reproduction of the amp and speaker’s sound, and would serve a recording well, or work well as a live bass sound.

 

The bottom end retains its size and feel, while the mids and highs are clear and present and you’d do fine using this output solely. There’s a 3.5mm headphone out which can, unfortunately, get a little noisy even on clean settings, but is fine for silent practice at home. The bigger amps in the range, such as the CMD 102’s and 103 feature these same great Gain and Master controls and tonal characteristics, but with even more options to shape your tone. You can sit back in a pocket or pop out to shine for your time, all within the one practically sized, yet powerful, combo amp.

 

 

The CMD 102’s and 103 produce incredibly powerful bass that doesn’t become muddy (unless you want it to) or messy, that can hide while being incredibly present. While less than half the size of the bigger amps, the Micro 60 produces a bigger than sound than I anticipated. At lower volume, a gainier tone can become quite noisy, but some volume remedies this as the noise floor doesn’t come up with the master volume. The control panel on all amps in the series feature a clear, blue ‘Clipping’ light, but don’t avoid clipping! The preamp breaks up nicely and can give some more note definition when pushed. With EQ dials set at 12 o’clock, the bass sound produced through the single 10” cone in the Micro 60 is transparent and clean, without sounding raw or naked like a D.I. The preamp itself rounds out the sound nicely and delivers a concise base for pedals, EQ or other effects. The EQ on all the series can be pushed quite hard without becoming unpleasant which can be a blessing or a curse - I usually like to be able to go too far with settings, so I know I have all options available.

 

Either way, the CMD 101 Micro 60’s EQ can reproduce super lows without becoming muddy or messy with too much sub, plenty of nasal honk in the mids if you need it, and sharp, definitive note attack in the highs. The lows, even at 10/5 o’clock, are resonant and full without being overbearing or dirty. The Gain control fills out the tone but retains a cleaner bottom end which is a really nice way to round out the on board controls. The bigger amps in the series include additional ‘Old School’ dials, for a more motown, less sub, more honk kinda tone, as well as a ‘Millerizer’, which effectively acts as a mid-range scoop that pushes the amp into Miller’s signature sound and tone.

 

 

Overall, the CMD series of amps are a great entry into the world-class products that Markbass produce in the Micro 60, or a new workhorse gigging bass rig in the CMD 102’s and beyond into the 500W 3X10 CMD 103. There’s something for everyone in this series. All amps are well-designed with Mark Bass’s ingenuity and years of experience producing products with the world’s best bass players, as well as Marcus Miller’s tones and experience playing for some of the most well-known names in music today. Despite its size, the Micro 60 features a bunch of handy additions for practicing at home and there’s no compromise on tone and sound quality or additions to make this amp work for you. The preamp and speaker deliver a really great tone, which the XLR line out reproduces phenomenally so there’s no tone lost when recording or playing DI.

 

What’s more, you can switch off the internal speaker completely for silent recording OR connect an external speaker and use the combo like a head - it’s certainly portable enough to do so if you don’t feel like carting around a bigger amp. Markbass has hit this one out of the park - and straight into the pocket to hold down your next gig.

Hits and Misses

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Range covers everyone

Great sounding no matter what the setting

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Headphone out a little noisy

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