Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
smuggit

Ashdown ABM Versus MAG - Experiences?

Recommended Posts

Has anyone migrated upwards (or downwards) from Ashdown MAG amps/speakers to ABM? And if so, is it worth over double the cost!?

I use a MAG EVO 300 head with two MAG 2x10 cabinets. Sound (to my ears) is very fair UNTIL you need a bit more volume (maybe half to three-quarters), at which point it sounds a bit cheap and clicky. No real warmth, though a fair bit of overall volume. I use passive Fender P.

There was an ABM 500 head going through pretty ancient Laney speakers at my rehearsal studios, and this seemed much better to me - even at low volumes. I didn't think the valve dial-in did much, nor was anything else especially remarkable. But I preferred the set up to mine.

So the question is what EXACTLY is different on the ABM series. Ashdown's website is a bit woolly on the subject. Are the MAG speaker drivers exactly the same as the ABMs? In which case I can't believe just having wood cabinets will make THAT much difference to the sound. Just a lot more weight. Does the ABM amp series have different circuitry to the MAG series, or just a few more watts and a valve pre-amp? I'm not clear at all what makes the price difference. It's pretty much impossible to try 3-500 Watt amps in a shop at mid-to-high volume so I'm stuck.

Any views/experience welcomed!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had both ranges. I couldn't tell you the exact differences, other the what's on the website. But IMHO the ABM head is worth every penny over the MAG, and felt like a proper upgrade. I think the Mag amp was good value for money, but its not intended to be top notch. The difference between speakers seemed less noticable to me. So based on that, I'd be tempted to upgrade the amp, keep the speakers. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also upgraded from MAG to ABM and the head is definitely worth the extra money. Night and day really.

The MAG 115 wasn't that meaty in terms of wattage so I also have a ABM 115 but still use the MAG 410.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Blu-Ray, that was going to be my next question - which bit to upgrade! I rather suspect the MAG series is fine if you want edgy/toppy sound at the higher volumes, but can't deliver the bass end nearly so well. I use the "traditional" sound quite a bit and find the thump and the warmth goes at higher levels. Or something does!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='Thurbs' post='1183278' date='Mar 31 2011, 01:27 PM']I also upgraded from MAG to ABM and the head is definitely worth the extra money. Night and day really.

The MAG 115 wasn't that meaty in terms of wattage so I also have a ABM 115 but still use the MAG 410.[/quote]

What he said; my old MAG300 head would run out of steam at gigging levels fairly easily, the ABM 300W I got a year or two later seemed to have bags of power in reserve. Strange as on paper they're putting out the same Wattage, but that's how things seemed...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had one of the first ABM's from new it was an ABM EVOII 300watt C110 combo with a compact 1x15 underneath. Volume wasnt an issue with the ABM but I have used some big MAG combos at jam nights and stuff and if Im honest I got some sounds that were preferable over my own rig which when you concider it was alot of money new in about 2001 (It was a UK built hand signed top model at the time) that seems odd but its true. For the same price as a good 300/500 ABM head I would rather have a Shuttle 6.0 secondhand like mine and then change the cabs at a later date if needed :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting fact - I actually asked Ashdown if the drivers in the MAG cabs were the same as the ABMs and got a friendly but fudged response. So it seems likely that, with the 2x10 for example, you're paying around £180 just to have a wood cabinet instead of fibreboard. Can this really be true?

Thanks for all the stuff re the ABM heads versus MAG. I'm pretty clear now that there is more general "meat" in the ABMs, and the tone stays more consistent as the volume increases at gigs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've got a klystron head and after trying the MAG, it came down to one thing tone, tone, tone. I loved the sound of the ABM head and the MAG head left me feeling underwhelmed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Damn you all.

I run a MAG 300 210 combo with a MAG 115 ext. I've been considering getting rid of the combo and going for an ABM EVO III and either a 210 cab or a 410 cab.

Up until reading this thread I had put the idea to bed after good comments on the sound of my bass at a recent gig.

You've provided the petrol to a smouldering ember.

Damn you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Citymariner - I feel your pain! I find no joy in endless gear swapping and am quite happy with the MAG rig in rehearsal or small, medium volume gigs. But a couple of rehearsals with an ABM head made me realise something was wrong. I now reckon that the MAG copes fine with edgy, toppy sounds and is probably perfect for slap but to keep that warmth and body as the volume increases - not so good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have both still but if I ever have the choice of which I can play I use the ABM. It just has that extra depth and warmth to the sound. Playing a 5 string bass its nice to get some punch and growl out of the low notes too. I might not be the overall best person to ask though cause I think my MAG head is also on the way out. It has developed some crackling.

But over all. ABM is definately worth it, and if I can afford a full valve Ashdown anytime soon I will probably look at that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recently had the opportunity to A/B an ABM500 Evo 2 head with 210 + 115 ABM cabs and a MAG600 Evo 3 head with 210 + 115 MAG cabs.

Started with the MAG, punchy, clear, good tone with EQ set flat, and 1.6k pot boosted really brings the sound to life. Anyhow, overall sound was pretty balanced and clean with EQ centre freqs well positioned for adjusting to almost any tone. No distortion facility (other than by sending the VU meter into the red with extreme EQ settings).

Then went to ABM and I thought something had gone wrong! Massive bass, subdued mids and little top end? With the EQ set flat the tone seemed massively mid scooped when compared to the MAG. I wondered whether the cabs were responsible so I swapped the heads over, but there was no real difference, the ABM staying very dark. Even the sales guy was surprised at how soft the ABM sounded in comparison. Valve drive was the extra tonal facility but I didn't play too much with extreme settings for distorted tones.

I had to boost the mid, high mid and high sliders on the ABM to approach the definition of the MAG. Interestingly the MAG has a lo boost button which works at 50Hz, whilst the ABM does not, almost as if this boost is part of the ABM's preset flat EQ. By switching back from ABM to MAG I was able to get the ABM to sound just as deep and round as the ABM, and was able to boost the ABM mid and top to get the MAG type sound.

The power stage of these amps is identical, the difference is in the preamp. The ABM has more EQ (7 bands) than the MAG (5 bands plus hi and lo boost buttons) and the valve drive is a benefit if you want to set a different footswitchable tone. The ABM also has a lot of extra facilities not directly linked to sound but to operation (mute, footswitchable octaver, comp, valve o/d etc).

This is where I'm going to get shot, but for me the ABM flat seemed much more suited to old school warmth, but could be EQ'd to punchier tones, whereas the MAG flat seemed much more neutral. Based on this I have now bought a MAG600 and can confirm that through my Bergantino HT112ER/EX stack it is every bit as capable as my LM3 for about half its price.

I'm hoping reliabilty of the ABM and MAG are the same as the bit that does the work and gets hot (the power amp) is the same. It usually follows that the more parts there are the more there is to go wrong, so the MAG may even have a slight advantage.

I really like Ashdown amps (I now own three) and had the ABM been at a similar price to the MAG, probably would've gone that way, but the extra £275 just didn't seem worth it as I do have a VT Bass pedal for valve type tones, but I'm still going to keep my eyes open for a used ABM500 Evo 3 all the same.

Edited by Sparky Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I totally agree mate, Like I said in my earlier post I had over £1200 worth of ABM and felt I got a better sound from mags that I had used at jams etc. The valve grind doesn't do much compared to a proper valve amp or even my class D shuttle which has one pre amp valve just like the ABM.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I currently own an Ashdown MAG300 (non evo!) and Matching 410 cab, and don't really rate it well, its decent enough, and i can coax some good tones from it, but its not to my taste.

But all the ABM gear i've used felt like great stuff, and the only thing i didn't like about the ABM set up i used (ABM 300w head, and matching 410) was the same part of the sound, which is the Ashdown sound! The ABM stuff is great but again not to my taste!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd be tempted to try your head with better cabs, loads of people seem to think that there isn't much between the Mag and ABM heads so maybe upgrading the cabs would be a better idea?

The Mag stuff is budget, but I've had good comments at gigs about my sound (70's P through a mag head into an old Acoustic 2x15 cab)

I'd at least look at swapping one of your cabs for a 15" which IMO would give you a better bottom end.

Some may disagree but I've always thought that an average amp through good speakers will always sound better than a good amp through bad speakers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='4-string-thing' post='1209013' date='Apr 23 2011, 10:49 AM']Some may disagree but I've always thought that an average amp through good speakers will always sound better than a good amp through bad speakers![/quote]

Have you ever worked in politics?

Surely the test should be a bad amp and good speakers against a good amp and bad speakers?
Or an average amp through good speakers against a good amp and average speakers?

:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I`m of the same opinion. Quality speakers will only reproduce what is put into them, but once you put what seemed like a duff amp into a great speaker cab, it can transform your opinion of the supposed duff amp.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='4-string-thing' post='1209013' date='Apr 23 2011, 10:49 AM']I'd be tempted to try your head with better cabs, loads of people seem to think that there isn't much between the Mag and ABM heads so maybe upgrading the cabs would be a better idea?

The Mag stuff is budget, but I've had good comments at gigs about my sound (70's P through a mag head into an old Acoustic 2x15 cab)

I'd at least look at swapping one of your cabs for a 15" which IMO would give you a better bottom end.

Some may disagree but I've always thought that an average amp through good speakers will always sound better than a good amp through bad speakers![/quote]

+1 about better cabs. I'm a recent convert to 12s. I realise cone size isn't supposed to be an indication of tone, but the 12's I've tried all seem to have a level of warmth that in my experience a lot of 10's don't. A good 2 x12 cab ( or 2 x 112) would be my choice unless the greater sound volume of a 410 is essential.

I think the MAG series achieve their budget price level by:-
1) using established technology and components which may be cheaper? (But maybe not for long due to thru hole parts becoming obsolete).
2) Chinese manufacturing.
3) keeping it simple (although the octaver and compression are frills not all budget amps offer)

Edited by Sparky Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gotta say I'm firmly in the MAG camp. I currently use a MAG600 - it's the uk built non evo version that was around briefly, and I run it through a klystron/classic 410. Sounds superb - it's transparent enough and yet warm enough to do what I like. Never had an issue with volume or power, but also I've never been one for overdriven crunch so couldn't really comment on that aspect.

I have frequently used ABM stuff in rehearsal rooms and elsewhere and have developed a dissatisfaction with them. For some reason the ABM heads and combos I've used always need significant eq and what not to get a decent punch. They seem to get lost in the mix as well.

I did once get to A/B an ABM500 combo (410) with my MAG600 + klystron 410 when doing a weekend lock-in prior to a big gig with my prog metal band. The difference was astounding, the ABM was weak and lifeless and failed to stand up to my mate's Mesa setup of doom, whereas my humble MAG displayed raw power and tone that punched significantly higher than its retail value.

I'd be curious to give a klystron head a whirl, and reckon it would be the middle ground as far as tone goes. The new micro (or whatever it's called) intrigues me as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='stingrayPete1977' post='1209034' date='Apr 23 2011, 11:19 AM']Have you ever worked in politics?

Surely the test should be a bad amp and good speakers against a good amp and bad speakers?
Or an average amp through good speakers against a good amp and average speakers?

:)[/quote]

Er, I probably should've said "average speakers" not "bad"..... :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='Thurbs' post='1183278' date='Mar 31 2011, 01:27 PM']I also upgraded from MAG to ABM and the head is definitely worth the extra money. Night and day really.

The MAG 115 wasn't that meaty in terms of wattage so I also have a ABM 115 but still use the MAG 410.[/quote]
How long did you play the MAG for, and why are you selling the ABM after such a short time?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a pair of MAG compact 115s that I used quite happily for a while with my SWR Workingman's 4004, but upgraded to an ABM compact 115 and 410 mainly for road-worthiness (better wood, beer resistant covering, metal corners etc.) and was sufficiently impressed with the improvement A/B-ing the 115s alone that I went back and took a punt on the ABM 500 evo3 head to complete the rig. Proudly took the matching set to our next rehearsal and duly got completely drowned out; I was expecting some guts given what I'd heard in the shop, but the thing had absolutely no power at all and there was nothing I could do with the EQ to even make it cut through. Tried it at our next gig just to be sure, and I've never been so glad to have my Sansamp to put through the PA. In short, I got rid of the head very quickly but still have both ABM cabs and use the 410 every week at the rehearsal studio, along with my trusty old Hartke HA2000 which on paper is only running about 180W into 8ohms, yet I never have to take above 4 on the master.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That`s not my experience of this amp, perhaps your valve was on the way out (I replaced mine and was rewarded with an increase in db), or your guitarists are too loud.. :)
Either way, it sounds like you had a bad`un.
MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, I wondered about that after the fact, but it was brand new straight out of the box so wasn't my first thought at the time. Plus it wasn't malfunctioning in any other way - it sounded fine tone-wise and the gain character seemed 'normal', it just wouldn't get that loud on the master. But yeah, I realise that I'm in a bit of a minority...

And of course my guitarists are too loud. . . they're guitarists :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...