Ampeg BA300/210 Bass Combo
Ampeg's four new BA combos were supposed to hit the streets a year ago, but in the intervening period Ampeg's design boffins had a rethink that resulted in major tweaks to the basic design and electronics. Rather than the curved steel grille of the first version, Ampeg have opted to stick with the traditional businesslike oblong. The BA300/210 marries a 300W Class D power amp with a single 12AX7 tube preamp. The cabinet is built from 16mm Baltic birch plywood and stands 527mm high, 541mm wide and 394mm deep, while the weight is a reasonable 26.9kg (59lbs). It's dressed in robust black vinyl with steel corners, with two side-mounted handles and one of the strap variety on the top, and four detachable castors.
Porting is at the rear, and the front sports a dark grey cloth cover protecting two 10" drivers and an attenuatable HF horn.
Controls include Volume (gain) and Master Volume controls plus a three-band EQ where Bass (40Hz), Mid (400Hz) and Treble (10kHz) can be cut/boosted by up to 18dB. More variations are offered by Ultra Hi (9dB boost @ 8kHz) and Ultra Lo (+9dB @ 100Hz) switches and the Style dial, which offers four pre-set starting points and a 'flat' setting. There’s also a switchable Compressor with a Threshold control, while around the back you'll find the usual FX loop, Tuner Out and Line Out jack sockets and a handy XLR DI Out complete with Pre/Post EQ and Ground Lift switches and a Level control.
Using the simple EQ and Style control unearths plenty of options. Style setting 3 is the 'flat' one – a fat, silky tone with real valve warmth that’sperfect for old soul, rock or blues. Boosting Mid and Treble aids edge and definition, and a touch of Bass cut makes a perfect antidote for a boomy venue. Setting 1 scoops the mids at 500Hz, and lacks a little focus; the better-defined Setting 2 is great for rock with upward tweaks on the Mid and Treble controls. More bite comes from Setting 4 (a minor lift at 2kHz that responds well to a Mid hike, adding darkness and snap) and also Setting 5 (a touch off 50Hz, giving an even, conservative sound). Upping Mid here adds funk without skinniness; the horn attenuation offers degrees of zingy edge, although too much induces brittleness and a noisy fretboard. The Ultra switches will be useful antidotes to high stages or concrete floors.Verdict
The BA300/210 is rugged, with solid, dependable, valve-imbued sounds. Perhaps a more complete EQ section would be better than the Style control/three-band combo, but it's well-priced and you know it won't let you down.