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Carvin BX250 Micro Bass Amp Review

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Carvin BX250 Micro Bass Amp Review
 PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 4:35 pm Reply with quote  

Joined: 18 May 2011
Posts: 2

I haven’t seen too many reviews of the BX250, so I thought I’d put in my impressions.
I’m new writing on this board (although I do a lot of reading) – years ago I was on the previous Carvn board.

I purchased this a couple weeks ago, mainly for home, recording, and jamming use. I bought the package with the amp, and the 210 cab. I’m primarily a guitarist (and have other Carvin guitars and amps) and have been using Carvin gear since 2002.

I tested the amp with my Carvin B4 (with two J99A pickups), and the BR 210-8 cabinet. I chose an 8 ohm cabinet so I could connect a second 8 ohm 1-12 cabinet if required. A single 4 ohm cab would have been the maximum connection (and minimum impedance) allowed.

The manual explains all the options quite well, so I’ll just note my additional findings.

ACTIVE SWITCH - reduces the input going into the amp by around 10db. This is good for both active and really hot passive pickups, although I found there was sufficient headroom at the input for even loud pickups (which the J99A’s are).

DRIVE - adds a bit of growl full up, and does control overall volume, by around 20 db. Increasing the drive about halfway up tends to thicken the sound nicely.

CONTOUR - scoops out the mids a bit, and tends to thin out the notes, but in a good way, almost makes them fit into a mix better. Makes them not so boomy and thick.

BASS - more than enough range here - can get some very heavy low end.

PARAMETRIC 1 and 2 - enough range in these 2 controls to cut or boost and really dial in the overall frequency you like.

TREBLE - also plenty of range on this control.

COMPRESSOR - very sensitive, turning it up to 1 or 2 (out of 12 dots) will give some light compression. Turning it up full will give a very squashed sound. The compressor appears to be in the signal chain after the Drive, Contour, and Active switch, and before the EQ section. Very dependant on how hot the pickups are. The power light glows red depending on how much compression is going on.

Phones/tuner - good sound coming to the headphones - the DI LEVEL has more than enough volume to drive headphones. Might be a little high for a connected tuner.

Pre/post switch - seems to be reversed. In the 'up' PRE position, the sound coming out the headphones and direct out is after the eq section, and is affected by both the drive and eq section; and in the 'down' POST position, the sound bypasses the drive and eq section. In the bypass mode, it’s almost like hearing a tap output off the main input.

MUTE switch - good for practicing through headphones and muting the speaker (as per manual, MUTE does not turn off the phones/tuner output). Also useful when setting the bass down (or on the stand) instead of just turning the instrument volume down.

DIRECT OUT - drives a power amp well - GND LIFT switch works well. Driven off the DI volume, not the master volume. If you had a tuner connected to the phones/tuner output, I’m not sure if running the DI volume high enough for the Direct Out would be too high for the tuner input. I can see using this for recording straight into a mixer/recorder – you can set your tone off the amp instead of trying to eq it on the board, and set a good level for recording.

All pots are mounted to the faceplate with nuts, not just sticking through from the circuit board. All the back jacks are mounted with nuts as well. The little front handles are nice, something to carry it with, as well as protects the controls from knocking into anything. I did find the handles get in the way when connecting the input jack and adjusting the master volume, but this isn’t too critical.

This amp is very light. You’d need to ensure you don’t pull it off whatever it’s sitting on by pulling on the input cord by mistake. I’d also not recommend putting this amp on top of the speaker cab, as you could bounce it off with some heavy low notes. Of course with a separate head, you can put the cabinet where it sounds best, and then put the head where it’s convenient for you.

Overall Sound - very clean and punchy - no problem hearing the individual notes, not muddy at all, even with the bass eq up full. You can easily dial in any sound you prefer, there’s enough range on the drive, contour and eq sections for this. Some might find the amp very flat with all the eq set to no cut or boost, but I just find the flat setting brings out the true tone of the instrument. I didn’t have to add too much eq (maybe +3 max on each control) to bring out a good amplified tone.

Overall Volume - with the master on 2 it’s loud enough to jam along with a stereo or just solo playing, at 4, it is plenty loud for bedroom practice. At around 6 or 7, you could compete with a Legacy on 3 or 4. With the volume more towards 10 (and the output is very linear) there is enough volume to compete with a loud guitar amp, singer and drummer, in either a rehearsal or small club environment. Connecting my second 12 inch cabinet almost doubles the perceived volume output, and gives you enough volume for a larger club, or just shaking things off a desktop.

I had no problems at all with power shut down or hiss or noise. I did NOT try running this amp with no speaker load attached. This is a very quiet amp. It gets a little warm after an hour, but this doesn't seem like an issue. (No warmer than a normal ac adaptor) I also tried my Carvin AC-275-12 through the amp, and it sounds quite good for this as well.

Anything missing? It would be nice to have a pre-out, power-in (effects loop) but this isn't critical. I don't feel I'm missing the graphic eq benefits of the larger models, the 4 eq controls can dial in any sound I need. As for no tube preamp, I don’t feel I’m missing anything there in the overall sound.

Overall I really like this amp – it’s very small and light and easy to carry around. It’s small enough to put wherever it’s convenient, and run a longer cable to the cabinet. Sound quality is excellent, and volume levels are loud enough for most applications. I’m not an extremely loud player (anymore!) so using this amp alongside a player with a 50 watt tube guitar amp would be comparable volumes.
I’d recommend this amp to anyone looking for a small, light, good sounding, reasonably loud unit for home use, band rehearsal, and smaller sized venues.
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re: Carvin BX250 Micro Bass Amp Review
 PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 11:29 am Reply with quote  
Gold Member

Joined: 04 Oct 2008
Posts: 156

Thanks for the review. I have one loaded in my MB10 and find it to be quite versatile.
How do you like the cab? They’re going for 200 bucks now, which seems like a STEAL.
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re: Carvin BX250 Micro Bass Amp Review
 PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 4:23 pm Reply with quote  

Joined: 18 May 2011
Posts: 2

The BR210 cab is great. Well built, good depth for low end, good speakers, I like the attenuator for the horn (I put mine at about -6, or 2 clicks) decent weight, metal grill, balanced handles, speakon and 1/4 input and parallel output, etc. I think the 10's give it a more hi-fi sound in comparison to a 15, but that's the sound I like - more note focused than having a low end woomph!
The older 'carpet covered' cabs are on special for $199- the newer vinyl ones are a bit more, ($279) but still, for the build quality and sound quality, you won't find any other brand as good for even twice the price.

one thing i'd add to my review - i really like the two variable midrange eq's - i wish someone would put this idea on a guitar amp, instead of just having one set frequency mid control.
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