Mixdown’s Picks: Hartke LX8500

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Mixdown’s Picks: Hartke LX8500

Distributed by: DI Music | Expect to pay: $1200

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.

Hartke LX8500

Key Features: Squeezing a formidable 800 watts of continuous Class-D power into an amp head that weighs in at just over four kilograms, the new Hartke LX8500 might just be one of the most powerful compact amps on the market today, and man does it pack a punch.

Featuring a solid-state power amplifier for sheer performance and a Class-A 12AX7 valve in the preamp section for the warmth and richness that tube amps provide, it should come to no surprise that the Hartke LX8500 is endorsed by none other than Victor Wooten, setting an almighty precedent for what players should expect from this amp.

With controls for Bass and Treble and a footswitchable filter Frequency and Shape control to tame the midrange, the LX8500 provides more than enough tonal possibilities to cover a myriad of styles, while a Brite button can be used to boost the high frequencies – perfect for cutting through the mix with a searing solo.

For bassists who prefer to keep their rig pure and plug straight into the amp without any pedals, the Hartke LX8500 features a pair of onboard effects to suit the needs of the modern bassist, boasting a new Drive control and a variable Compressor to dime in on the dynamics of your tone.

The Drive control, which is also footswitchable to suit the needs of live performers, ranges from just a touch of grit all the way up to gut-punching fuzz, while the Compressor section can be ramped up to balance the dynamics of your playing and play nice with a range of intricate playing styles such as slapping and two-handed tapping.

As all bass players know, a great amp for stage doesn’t always equate to a great amp in the studio, and for that reason, Hartke have included a number of features to ensure the LX8500 lives up to any occasion.

An XLR direct out with Pre and Post EQ functionality allows for players to plug the amplifier straight into a PA or audio interface, while an effects loop with send and return should please even the pickiest of pedal users.

There’s also a headphone output and an Aux In for silent rehearsals or playing along with backing tracks, and the amplifier even features an inbuilt handle on the side for easy transportation – is there anything not accounted for here?

Mixdown Says: Any bass amp that gets a tick of approval from Victor Wooten should surely imply that it’s a pretty damn good product, and the Hartke LX8500 lives up to all expectations.

The inbuilt compressor and drive circuits are an extremely thoughtful and incredibly pragmatic addition to the amplifier, and the amount of auxiliary bells and whistles on offer here provide all the makings of a modern classic.

The LX8500 provides an obscene amount of power for its size, and the tube-soaked tones are to die for: whether you’re plucking away to Motown standards with a flatwound-equipped P-Bass or working out your thumb muscles with an intricate slap bass passage, the LX8500 will keep up the pace and deliver the goods on all fronts.

Plus, if 800 watts is too much to handle, Hartke also offer a slightly down-sized 500 watt model with many of the same features, so there’s something for everyone here.

Overall: With the LX8500, Hartke have well and truly secured themselves a winner: this amplifier is worthy of all the hype it’s garnered, and the extent of tones it outputs is truly something special.

Get in touch with DI Music to find out more.