Hands-On Review:Peavey Tour Series Bass Amps and Cabs
The backline staple gets a modern makeover
By Oscar Sommers
For nearly 30 years Peavey has been providing bass players with big low-end sounds and legendary reliability. The company has consistently made pro features and performance affordable with their equipment offerings—just one of the reasons for its popularity. Among the longest running lines of Peavey bass gear is the Tour Series, which includes the classic TNT and TKO bass combos. These two portable, powerful amps have found homes inside garages and on club stages for decades, ably delivering the backline thunder for players who care about powerful Peavey low-end boom as much as their budget. In fact, there’s still an original-series TNT combo in my gear stable to this day.
A setup for every stage
Recently the Tour Series has grown much larger than just combos. Now you can construct your dream stack without the accompanying stack of credit card bills. Updated in 2006, the series includes the 450 and 700 bass amp heads as well as 4x10, 1x15, and 2x10 bass speaker cabinets. The new Tour Series heads are both high-power amps easily able to handle any cabinet or gig. The 450 delivers 450W at 4 ohms or 300W into 8 ohms, while the 700 pushes 700W at 4 ohms or 500W into 8 ohms. The heads feature fresh, modern cosmetics incorporating black-and-brushed-aluminum faceplates with chrome knobs. Classic Tour Series touches clothe the cabs in self-referential retro fashion, while underneath they share the same portable, high-quality construction. Both the amps and cabinets are chock-full of modern features nabbed from Peavey’s upscale Pro Series bass gear and innovations from the company’s huge line of live sound equipment. For this review I checked out the 700 head and a 410 cab.
While some of the Tour 700’s advanced features are tucked away inside its circuits, most are found right on the front panel. It has active- and passive-output bass optimized inputs with a handy Mute switch, Bright/Normal switch, Pre Gain (input preamp gain), and Contour control all in the input section. The Bright/Normal switch is an interesting option that kicks in a 10dB boost to all frequencies above 1K, and it basically takes the entire response of the amp and quickly switches it between vintage rumble and modern hi-fi. Combined with the tone control on my bass I could go from pre-’65 to 2005 in a hurry. The Contour EQ knob is an idea that’s gained popularity in recent years. Basically, it works a little like the Loud button on your car stereo: boosting highs and lows while simultaneously cutting midrange frequencies. It’s great for brightening up muddy bass without losing low-end impact.
Peavey also gives the Tour heads an extensive EQ section including a Low Cut button which reduces frequencies below 80Hz followed by low- and high-shelving EQ knobs sandwiching a 9-band graphic EQ with ±15dB control. Peavey specially contoured the frequency bands of the entire EQ circuit to match up with the most critical response points of bass guitar. It lets you achieve a defined bass sound with the precision and power to dial in exactly what you want: from Stax-soul thump to Chris Squire-style top-end crunch. You can even bypass the EQ completely if you like, using only the input controls for sound shaping.
Live sound links
Two of the features taken from Peavey’s live sound department include a Kosmos-based subharmonic generator and the SmartRail power-amp technology. The control for the subharmonic generator is labeled Octaver and located just below the Post Gain knob. This footswitchable analog octave divider synthesizes a note an octave below the note you play to deliver outrageous club- and dub-style bottom end. Let me stress to you that the Octaver is not shy. You will break something—your speakers, the stage, your mind— if you’re not careful. The SmartRail power amp incorporates thermal, current limit, and DDT speaker protection as well as a cooling fan keep the amp running at optimal conditions. The use of a modern toroidal transformer also keeps the 700 light and capable of very efficient, high-headroom power.
Peavey had three goals when designing the enclosures for the Tour Series: to carry on the super-rugged rep of the Tour combos, to be good sonic matches for the heads, and to be light. The 410 cab I checked out easily met all three of those goals. Built using highly rigid plywood and neodymium magnet drivers, the cabinet weighs only 65 lbs., about half the weight of a standard 410 cab. The four high-performance 10" speakers pump out lots of sound while the front port extends bass response for more low-frequency impact and the adjustable 1" tweeter handles everything above 4kHz. The cab feels durable and solid and has black Tolex covering, reinforced metal corners, and a steel grille. The grille is accented by brushed metal stripes, mimicing the cosmetics of my 20-year-old TNT combo. This mirroring of vintage Tour Series looks is appropriate, as this fresh batch of Tour Series gear upholds the maximum-performance-at-minimum-price values of the original, while meeting the multifaceted needs of modern bass players.
With the big, loud response of the cab and the incredible power and tone sculpting from the head, I found it very easy to coax multiple sounds from the Tour stack. Careful use of the octave circuit added bodacious heft to reggae and hip-hop inspired lines. Tweaking the Pre Gain knob brought up smoldering distortion tones for nasty metal and punk grindage. Adjusting the EQ and turning off the Bright switch gave me an articulate James-Brown-era Bootsy Collins thump. If your club gigs are calling you to step up to a stack or you’d like a versatile, flexible setup at a steal—and who isn’t?—look to the Peavey Tour Series.
Features & Specs
Tour 700 Bass Amp Head:
- 500W (8 ohms), 700W (4 ohm-minimum)
- Pre- and post-gain controls
- Bright/Normal switch
- Mute switch
- Contour control for advanced signal shaping
- High- and low-shelving controls
- 9-band graphic equalizer with bypass
- Analog octave divider (footswitchable)
- Post-EQ effects loop
- Buffered tuner send jack
- DI XLR output
- 2 input jacks (High/Low Gain)
- Rear-mounted auxiliary input jack
Tour 410 Bass Cabinet:
- 4 - 10" high-performance neodymium woofers
- 1" tweeter with level control
- 1600W handling
- Ultralight 18mm plywood
- Black Tolex covering
- Steel reinforced corners
- Steel grille
- Peavey “Silver Stripe” trim
- 2 - 1/4" phone jacks
- 1 Neutrik Speakon jack
- Recessed steel carry handles
- 65 lbs.