Distributed by: Yamaha Music Australia | Expect to pay: $899
The world of audio and musical equipment can be a tricky one to navigate at the best of times. With so many different products, conflicting opinions and confusing reviews, it’s hard to know what’s actually the best product for your needs.
Luckily, the team at Mixdown have put in the legwork for you, sifting through the spec-sheets and putting the products through their paces to bring you Mixdown’s Picks – a new series of expansive, category defining product guides across our digital channels. Anything that has made the cut has rated highly across the board with the Mixdown staff, garnering a unanimous tick of approval from our staunch critics.
For this special, we’re turning our focus to one of the most essential aspects of any genre: the bass. Whether it’s jazz, punk, pop or beyond, it’s all about that bass, and to celebrate, we’re spotlighting the finest instruments, amplifiers, tools and effects available to the modern bassist today.
Ampeg Micro CL Stack
Key Features: One of the more sobering aspects of every bass player’s journey is the moment where you realise the direct correlation between big, thundering low end and big, thundering (see: vertebrae destroying) bass rigs. In the case of something like Ampeg’s Classic SVT Bass Head – and the 8 x 10 ‘Fridge’ style speakerboxes that usually accompany this industry standard setup – the ends have almost always fit the means.
After all, bass frequencies have a particularly unique and defined set of technical requirements in order to truly soar-often requiring greater wattage, larger drivers, and – with their complex relationship with harmonic distortion – a versatile enough preamp stage to facilitate the broad range of tonal options required for both studio and stage. It’s no surprise that these aforementioned design considerations would naturally equate to a T-Rex sized physical footprint.
For decades, this was the accepted industry standard and as a trade-off, was almost always worth the chiropractic bill for the players themselves, but as a prospect, hasn’t always played so nice with neighbours, small venue/FOH engineers and significant others.
Thankfully, Ampeg have taken everything they have learnt through their storied history in bigtime bass amp design and distilled it into some increasingly mobile options for the modern bass player, with the Micro CL Stack standing out as an obvious choice for those with a penchant for the ‘big fridge’, but who’s personal situation may not always allow for it.
Loaded with dual 50w Ampeg drivers (pumping out a total of 100w @ 8 Ohms), the 2 x 10” loaded Micro CL Stack bears all the hallmarks of a scaled down version of it’s famous forebear, with home practice/recording and small venue gigging front of mind and on that more than lives upto it’s name,
It’s ‘Micro’ in that it’s listed dimensions of 31”x 13” x 11” for the complete stack put it in the realm of the truly portable bass amps, making it a first choice for club dates, apartment living or anyone relying on a compact sedan to get them from A to gig.
Mixdown Says: The solid state circuitry found on the CL head unit also does an awesome job of replicating those classic Ampeg valve tones that made the brand famous, incorporating some cutting edge tech to give the Micro CL an impressive amount of low end reinforcement considering its petite footprint.
The presence of a classic Ampeg style minimalist three-band EQ, is also a nod the the SVT’s of yore, providing enough in the way of tonal shaping and versatility to really tailor it to a broad range of musical genres and sonic applications. Given the lack of a preamp or input gain control on the control panel, the 0dB and -15dB input options are of particular importance, and anyone running Active or slightly hotter than normal pickups will find solace in the -15dB input, allowing for best use of the Micro CL Stacks more than useable clean tones especially when paired with an overly dynamic or hardpicking player.
With headphone and direct outs for late night practice/recording sessions the Micro CL stack is really the MVP for home practice, especially for those who have grown accustomed to the layout and tonal qualities of the larger Ampeg options.
Overall: The beauty of being able to take this familiar workflow and some of the same tonal properties and apply it to the context hushed home rehearsal is a real luxury and an awesome way to add a sense of ‘controlled variable’ between practice and performance. With a short but handsome aesthetic – kind of like a young Tom Cruise – and with classic Ampeg familiarity on its side, the Micro CL Stack is the perfect choice for the budding rock-dog at home.
For more details, get in touch with Yamaha Music Australia.