Monday, August 20, 2012

Ashdown Electric Blue 15-180 EVO II

Ashdown Engineering has been flying the flag of the low frequencies for Britain for more than 12 years. While the company's products now include bass pedals and even a range of guitar amps, the focus is still firmly on bass amplification. This month we're happy to be running the rule over a pair of newly upgraded bass combos from two of their more affordable ranges. 
EB 15-180 
This amp is part of the Electric Blue series, which offers fewer speaker configurations, lower power ratings and more compactness than the MAGs. At 581mm high, 474mm wide and 300mm deep, the EB 15-180 is 6kg lighter than the C210T. Ashdown describes it as ‘perfect for the ambitious bass player that's just starting out' - but it only has one top-mounted handle, slightly inadequate for transportation purposes. 
The ported cab contains a single BlackLine 15" speaker, and this time there's no tweeter.

Other than 127W less power and the control panel being a rather appealing blue colour, there is no difference in the provision of dials, switches and connectivity between the EB 15 and the MAG C210T: the EQ is the same five-band type, Compression and Sub-Harmonics are both present and correct, and there's a spare Speaker Out on the back panel.

 With a little more emphasis at the business end due to the single 15" speaker, the EB is a touch warmer-sounding than the Ashdown MAG. It's still clear-sounding, and being shorn of the hyper-speed reaction of the horn it has a more natural feel. 
You can't cane the EQ to the same degree - boosting Bass uncorks plenty of booty but also gives distortion if you push it too far - but you can access the same darker sound with snappier attack from 340Hz, greater stature from Middle and a spit and polish courtesy of 1.6Hz. 

You could view the EB's lack of edge as soupier, or more retro, but that isn't necessarily better or worse, just different. ‘Different' is true of the boosted Treble sound: cut and bite abound but there's more bass substance and less of the horn-induced hi-fi character. 

The remaining features work with similar effectiveness, although you may find compression a more useful option if seriously pushing the EB close to its highest volume limits. 

These are well-built combos which will do a solid, reliable job on a variety of gigs. The MAG is good for a full-range, contemporary sound where plenty of power is required; the EB will do the trick for players wanting a trad-slanted workhorse where the quality of the bottom end at lower volumes is a more crucial factor. The prices are very appealing, and you get a lot of features for your money. Both these are worth a try, for slightly different reasons.