Hands-On Review:Behringer Ultrabass Series Amps and Cabinets
Behringer Ultrabass Series Amps and Cabinets
Ultrabass features and sound all grown up for the big stage
Since the last time Musician's Friend reviewed Behringer's Ultrabass Series (just over a year ago) it has grown up a lot. Back then the Ultrabass line consisted of the BX300, BX600, and BX1200 combo amplifiers. With passive and active inputs, three-band EQ with Shape function, CD inputs, an effects loop, and a headphone jack these three combos balanced the line between cost and features to deliver performance that rivaled their more expensive counterparts from the big boys of bass amp manufacturing. Of course, Behringer took care of the most important feature as well: these combos sounded great. The patented Dynamizer preamp, which carefully limits harsh peaks while bumping up the overall signal strength, made the Ultrabass series capable of pumping out solid tones.
Now the Ultrabass series has been updated with more serious amplification for more serious musicians. Those first Ultrabass amps were designed mainly for bedroom practicing, band room rehearsals, and the occasional coffee house gig. If you've been playing an Ultrabass combo in the bedroom and wishing for a bigger and more powerful rig just as feature-heavy and budget-light as it is, your wish has been granted. You can now play an Ultrabass rig that will serve you well all the way from your local discotheque to Madison Square Garden. The heart of these more professional amps and cabinets is the Ultrabass BX3000T, a 300W bass head. Behringer has also created a surprisingly diverse line of quality cabinets to give the BX3000T a voice. The cabinets are divided into two lines both constructed using proprietary Bugera speakers. One line features aluminum cones and the other paper cones. It's a big move for Behringer as they dive more deeply into the bass market and one that will definitely benefit bass players.
No head games
With a heavy, rugged-looking carpet-covered enclosure and graphically enhanced metal faceplate, the BX3000T certainly seems as though it means business. A quick look at the features list cements that impression. While it's true that it retains the Dynamizer preamp found in the other Ultrabass amplifiers, its wattage level—300 big ones—is clearly beyond its combo brethren. The host of upgraded tone-shaping tools can use that wattage to do more sonic damage than previous Ultrabass amps could. A few of the most useful are the Shape control and a five-band EQ with Bright and Deep switches. The Shape control is actually a filter that you engage with a small switch located just below the Shape knob. Once engaged you can control the frequency range of 120Hz to 1.2kHz for a very noticeable, yet musical, shift in voice that can add midrange punch, serious upper mid grind, or throaty grunt in the lower mids—whatever you're looking for.
Behringer has also made some improvements to the I/O and power amplifier sections on the BX3000T that deliver better, more flexible sound. The output section features two 1/4" jacks and a Speakon connector; and the amplification section has been beefed up with technology most likely borrowed from Behringer's successful sound reinforcement product line. The high-output torroidal transformer delivers more clean, clear power for a wider dynamic range and more low-frequency-producing headroom than a standard transformer. A PA-style limiter keeps the output signal from getting out of control and blowing out speakers or eardrums with harsh peaks. The circuitry is kept nice and cool and, therefore, running more efficiently by temperature-controlled fan cooling.
Cabs for every sound
What is most impressive about the new Ultrabass Series, in my opinion, is the incredible depth and diversity of the cabinet lineup. There's a cab for nearly every taste and budget: a single 15" cab, a dual 10" box, the de rigueur 4 - 10" cab, and a monster 8 - 10" cabinet all available with either traditional paper cones or high-rigidity aluminum ones. Also present are two of the harbingers of a good bass cabinet: solid construction and high power handling. The cabinets are constructed from marine-quality wood panels, internally reinforced, and front ported. You can tell by the weight (the BB115 weighs in at 71 pounds, the BA410 at 102 pounds) they didn't skimp on the materials. Your ears and wallet will appreciate that because heavier cabs usually sound better and last longer due to the extra internal bracing and plies of wood used. Of course, all the cabs have wheels, so your back won't mind the weight.
The cabs, whether they employ paper- or aluminum-cone speakers, are loaded with Bugera-label drivers. When Behringer was designing these new cabs at their world headquarters in Germany, they tried out lots of different speakers from different manufacturers before they came upon the Bugeras and instantly knew they had found the units for their cabs. Originally developed by a reputable German speaker-design house, Behringer loved the way they sounded so much they bought the manufacturing rights and name to ensure they would always have a supply of them. Today the Bugeras are manufactured by Behringer to the original design specs exclusively for the Ultrabass line.
The cabs also feature quality touches such as metal grilles, reinforced corners with protective caps, recessed side handles, and 1/4" and speakon jacks. One of the really smart features is the side-mounted roller wheels on all the cabs, except the two 8 x 10" models, that make it a cinch to roll them through doors and hallways without trouble. The BB410 and BA410 have the wheels mounted on the rear, a more appropriate spot for efficient handling of the sheer size and weight of these back line monsters.
If you're ready to move up to more professional bass amplification, these Behringer's should be first on your list. They keep the tone and volume up while keeping the inflated prices down.
Features & Specs:
|Ultrabass Specs||BX3000T Specs|
|BB115 Specs||BA115 Specs|
|BB210 Specs||BA210 Specs|
|BB410 Specs||BA410 Specs|
|BB810 Specs||BA810 Specs|