The HD-1 is rated at 300 watts and offers two ¼” outputs on the back panel for running multiple cabs if needed. A headphone out is also included for late night jamming, monitoring or situations that require an extra send. Ashdown has stuck with its VU meter in the centre of the front panel and distributed EQ into five controls – bass, lo mid, middle, hi mid and treble. Input and output controls let you balance the volume/gain alongside buttons for shape (a pre shape scooped EQ) and active/passive. A DI out is a nice (albeit almost standard) inclusion on the front panel along with an effects loop for those who don’t want to run stomps and rack gear into the front end.
I was impressed with the range of tones on offer in the HD-1. Sitting flat, you can get clean and clear rock and funk tones with the shape adding some extra scoop if needed. Bumping up the bass and lo mid adds some roundness and an extra feeling of warmth which will please players looking for more vintage tones. Slap, pick, chords, and effects all seem to run smoothly with plenty of clean headroom. Of course the DI out will please FOH guys or recording situations too. Great for anything from practise and rehearsals through to decent sized gigs, the HD-1 should hold up in many band’s settings. Then with the aforementioned DI and multiple cab outs you can run extra speakers or to FOH for more support if needed.
The mini amp isn’t anything particularly new, with many guitar and bass brands incorporating a range of small, portable amps and heads into their lines for quite some time. It’s good to see a company of Ashdown’s stature getting on board with the Mini wave. Two main aspects seem to be in line – price and tone. As ruthless as it sounds, the market is so competitive these days and with online selling straining shops, price point seems to be paramount. Price aside, you’d like to think that sound still matters (and I think it does to most musos). With a range of tones housed in the 300 watt mini head, Ashdown is on the money.