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Al Krow

Please tell me why I should avoid Ashdown amps? (aka why Ashdown are just great!)

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Guys,

I'm looking for a great amp head to pair with (likely) a VK 210 MNT cab (and lots of great suggestions in the best 500W to 1000W amp head thread - for which many thanks!)

I've always been put off Ashdowns based purely on my bad experience of them in rehearsal studios where they have generally sounded very 'meh' and often felt underpowered. But this is likely to be a very unfair reflection of them - as someone pointed out to me recently "an amp that has been thrashed by a bunch of 19 year olds to within an inch of its life and played through a beat up studio rehearsal cab is never going to sound great!" Fair point. And no offence to 19 year olds - I was one, once.

The new Ashdown Doom does look gorgeous and I'm very tempted to get this when it comes out at the end of Nov and I'll hopefully get a chance to try it out in the newly opening central London PMT store.

But a bunch of you already currently own and love your Ashdown amps and others will have owned and moved them on. I'd be really interested to get your thoughts on why they are a great amp or if you disagree and don't feel they stack up against your current amp head?

Cheers! AK

Edited by Al Krow

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I was a long-term Ashdown user until about 5 years ago, when I made the switch to Barefaced cabs and (mainly) light-weight Class D heads. I have considered trying an Ashdown head with my BF cabs, but I don't really care for the EQ arrangement - I prefer 3 or 4 tone controls at most.

I suggest you pick up a used head in the BC Market Place - try it, and if you don't like it, move it on at little or no net cost.

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Simple answer: don't avoid them! I love my Ashdowns.

Their cheaper line seems to have become a staple for rehearsal studios as the old TE combos gradually give up the ghost and become more scarce. I initially never warmed to them, but I found out that the secret is to cut the bass frequencies - they tend to pump out more deep bass than you really know what to do with in a small room, but if you back it off then you can achieve a lot more clarity.

I own two of their all-valve heads (a Little Bastard 30 and a CTM-100) and, especially since I paired them with a Berg 2x12, I might have actually found my tonal holy grail. I did also use someone else's ABM-something-something at a gig in Derby a couple of years ago, and was very impressed with the tone of that.

Obviously, try a couple if you can (they also do a CTM-300 if you fancy going all-valve and could stand to drop a couple of hundred watts...) but I reckon you'll notice quite a difference between their higher-end lines and the cheaper ones that get kicked around rehearsal rooms!

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You need to try an ABM EVO IV 600 and take it from that point. I've had a CTM100, ABM EVO 111 and a Retroglide. The EVO IV is by far the most flexible and the graphic is excellent. It's also very very loud.

I'm also very interested in the new head but need to hear it getting thrashed before I make my mind up

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I've used nothing but Ashdown amps for the last ten years, no problems to speak of, currently have two Rootmaster 800s I run through Barefaced cabs.

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Thanks everyone already - that's lots of positive and no negative feedback thus far. Is the term of abuse "crashdown" completely unjustified then?

[quote name='2elliot' timestamp='1509360424' post='3398239']
You need to try an ABM EVO IV 600 and take it from that point. I've had a CTM100, ABM EVO 111 and a Retroglide. The EVO IV is by far the most flexible and the graphic is excellent. It's also very very loud. I'm also very interested in the new head but need to hear it getting thrashed before I make my mind up
[/quote]

[quote name='Mudpup' timestamp='1509277917' post='3397711']
Looks like a black ABM600 with creative knob titling to me......
And a second VU instead of a compressor
:ph34r:
[/quote]

I think Mudpup was also suggesting that the new Doom amp was basically a "prettied up" version of the ABM EVO IV 600 - so I guess that is indeed a good place to start (and I may be able to pick one of these up second hand).

The Doom is an extra £400 new above the EVO IV? But Ashdown did say on their website that the Doom has been 3 years in the making, so I'm presuming they've managed to include something 'over and above' for the money and time spent tweaking?!

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been using ashdown for years and never had a muddy sound, the higher end rootmasters are great littlw amps not lacking in heft, but word says that the ABMs are a step up

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[quote name='lowhand_mike' timestamp='1509366768' post='3398328']
been using ashdown for years and never had a muddy sound, the higher end rootmasters are great littlw amps not lacking in heft, but word says that the ABMs are a step up
[/quote]

I changed to Rootmasters after years of ABMs simply because of the size and weight, which probably isn't an issue for anyone who hasn't injured their right hand! Very satisfied with the sound and power of the Rootmaster, though.

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[quote name='FinnDave' timestamp='1509366912' post='3398329']
I changed to Rootmasters after years of ABMs simply because of the size and weight, which probably isn't an issue for anyone who hasn't injured their right hand! Very satisfied with the sound and power of the Rootmaster, though.
[/quote]

yeah perfectly happy with the sound i get from my RM800 no urge to change

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I like Ashdown amps. I've had a EB 150 combo, an ABM 500 and I presently own a MiBass 550.

I sold the ABM 500 to buy a TC Electronic 450 Classic, because it was lighter. But the TC head did not have the low mids I was looking for, so I bought the MiBass 550 when they first came out.

I now have a GK MB500 as my main amp, because it is so small, light and very LOUD.

But I still have my Ashdown as a spare head, just in case anything goes wrong with the GK.

The Ashdown speakers are not really my cup of tea but the amps are great and very reliable.

Edited by gjones

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I love Ashdown amps. Paired with a decent cab they sound better than anything else I could ever want. IMO their cheaper cabs aren’t all that exciting but the ABM cabs are very nice. These days I use an ABM with Barefaced cabs and couldn’t be happier. All I need (not want hahaha) now is another RM head and another CTM head :)

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I regularly played through a MAG300 and two 1x15" cabs between 2004 and 2009. They sounded good to me and never broke down but some people don't like them. You'll have to decide for yourself.

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[quote name='2elliot' timestamp='1509360424' post='3398239']
You need to try an ABM EVO IV 600 and take it from that point.
[/quote]

Absolutely. I think the old 'woolly sound' reputation comes from the fact that the 'shape' (i.e. scooped sound) control is activated by default and you have to be sure that it's OFF. Then the amp will be beautifully clear, articulate and powerful, with loads of (whisper it) HEFT!

The EVO IV 600 has one of the best EQ sections in the business in my opinion.

Edited by discreet

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Yep, I`ve been happy with all the different Ashdowns I`ve had, currently an ABM EVO IV 600 and MAG EVO II 600. The Rootmasters are excellent if wanting to go lightweight/small. At higher volume on bigger stages the ABM has more to it, but for regular pub sized venues the RM500 is plenty enough.

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Cheers guys.

[quote name='Lozz196' timestamp='1509374995' post='3398411']
Yep, I`ve been happy with all the different Ashdowns I`ve had, currently an ABM EVO IV 600 and MAG EVO II 600. The Rootmasters are excellent if wanting to go lightweight/small. At higher volume on bigger stages the ABM has more to it, but for regular pub sized venues the RM500 is plenty enough.
[/quote]

Maybe a newbie Q but what are the key differences between the ABM and the MAG series - I thought they were both 'Magnifier'?

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They`re eq`d slightly different, bass frequencies lower on ABM (60/65 v 100 I think), and the sliders on the ABM are at different mid-frequencies than the hi/low mid turnable ones on the MAG as well. But unset the pre-shape, and have all eqs at midday, well I`ve not heard much difference, though this is from stage use only, I`ll get to use my own MAG 600 tomorrow for the first time, so will have a better idea then.

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I played a JJB500 in PMT that I really loved the sound of. I bought a cheap EVO 500 that needed some work, and it makes a great sound. So I got one of the small MiBasses as something around the home, it its pretty rubbish. However, would be happy to get something other than one of those.

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[quote name='Al Krow' timestamp='1509375451' post='3398417']
Cheers guys.



Maybe a newbie Q but what are the key differences between the ABM and the MAG series - I thought they were both 'Magnifier'?
[/quote]

ABM is a 7 (or now 9) band EQ, MAG is a 5 band EQ.
ABMs have a valve in the preamp stage and more connectivity (eg Sub out).
The power amp stage of the ABM is a step up in design and quality from what I’ve read

The MAG no longer exists as a new range, it was replaced with the mighty awesome RM (Rootmaster) series :)

Edited by Merton

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[quote name='Merton' timestamp='1509386691' post='3398538']
ABM is a 7 (or now 9) band EQ, MAG is a 5 band EQ.
ABMs have a valve in the preamp stage and more connectivity (eg Sub out).
The power amp stage of the ABM is a step up in design and quality from what I've read

The MAG no longer exists as a new range, it was replaced with the mighty awesome RM (Rootmaster) series :)
[/quote]

Cheers - that makes it very clear thank you!

So almost no one has had a bad experience of Ashdowns (from the responses, so far, other than the MiBass)? Well that's very positive, in itself, and helpfully knocks on the head my own preconceptions!

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My Ashdown experience started out with a brand new and unmolested ABM500 evo3 which I bought to replace my SWR Workingmans head since I was already playing through an ABM410 and fancied a matching setup. It was everything that people complain about; wooly and underpowered. I stood the loss, moved it on and went Markbass with no regrets.

Purely by chance, after a period of actively avoiding anything Ashdown, I was offered an absolute steal of a deal on an ABM1000 which I took home on the grounds that I'd very likely make a little money selling it on should I dislike it. It was (and still is) an absolutely astounding amp that bore no resemblance whatsoever to the 500. Between the 500 and the 1000, probably the best and worst amps I've owned.

Since then I had a MiBass 550 which I thought sounded nice enough but I wasn't keen on aesthetically so swapped for an RM800 which is great for rehearsals. I also had a CTM30 which was alright, but the EQ did very little and the project it was bought for fell through so I sold it and bought an ABM600 that I'm very happy with for general gigging purposes; it's not the 1000 but it's still a very capable amp.

So yeah, I wouldn't avoid them these days but I certainly would have at one point based on a negative experience with an amp that hadn't been beaten by any teenagers.

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[quote name='Al Krow' timestamp='1509387588' post='3398544']
Cheers - that makes it very clear thank you!

So almost no one has had a bad experience of Ashdowns (from the responses, so far, other than the MiBass)? Well that's very positive, in itself, and helpfully knocks on the head my own preconceptions!
[/quote]

Theres a load of people who've had bad experiences with Ashdowns if you hunt around the forums and it seems mainly based around the baked in woolly low end that people have experienced with various earlier ABM and Mag models - myself included. I had an ABM500 evo3 for a few months and just couldn't get on with it. Paired with a Barefaced Big one and a Spector Euro i couldn't get away from the pillowy low end and lack of cut at the top frequencies. i came to the conclusion that they worked better with "older school" passive basses than they do with more modern clangy active ones. Gave up on it after about 6 gigs and sold it.

However, i tried a Rootmaster 800 (along with a couple of TC heads) in PMT a few years ago when i was looking for a backup to my GK 700RB and kind of liked it - the assistant said i should try the new ABM600 whilst i had everything plugged in. I'm glad i did because i found it had a load more heft about it and it didn't have that muffled sound that my old ABM had. You could dial it in if you like that sort of thing but it was easy to get rid of it - which i couldn't do with the old one. According to the guys in the shop it's due to the newer power amp in it. I bought it on the spot as it was noticeably more up my street than the Rootmaster (its a class D issue with me....)

To get a big clangy sound with a load of depth and punch you need to set the eq pretty flat without the shape switched on, cut a bit of the bass dial and also drop some 180hz from the slider - use the volume to add slam.

Switch the valve in to about 10 o'clock if you want harmonic fruit, switch it off if you want a more sterile sound.

I dont like the compressor so that stays off and the subharmonic thing seems like a gimmick so its never used.

Roger Baer also mentioned on a rival forum about using the shape switched on, cutting the bass dial right back (9 o'clock) and goose the high mids and treble - seems a bit mad and counterintuitive but it sounds huge.

I uses a Stingray, Precision and Sandberg PM with it and they all sound great - its fine with active or passive it seems. The Stingray sounds fabulous.

And there are no worries with volume - we're a loud band and it never gets over half way on the master volume even at bigger gigs.

Edited by Mudpup

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The ABM1000 is a very decent amp. If it wasn`t that I use so many provided cabs, many of which aren`t powerful enough to handle it, I`d keep mine, but invariably the cabs I plug into are 300 watts at 8ohms or 600 watts at 4ohms, and I don`t want to take the risk. So I`m offloading, which is a great shame. In an ideal world I`d keep it, but have decided anything I don`t need is on its way (once I post the ads of course).

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[font="Calibri"][size="3"][color="#000000"]Had a number of ashdown over the years right from their MAG range up to a DP200 valvce head. [/color][/size][size="3"][color="#000000"]Always liked the tone (the Spyder series in particular) but always felt they were underpowered.[/color][/size][size="3"][color="#000000"] [/color][/size][size="3"][color="#000000"]The example I always revert to is my Hartke HA2500 (250w) would eat my ABM 500 (500w) for breakfast volume wise with the same cabs/bass set up.[/color][/size][/font]
[font="Calibri"][size="3"][color="#000000"] [/color][/size][/font]
[font="Calibri"][size="3"][color="#000000"]Recently played through a CTM300, whilst it was nice it just lacked the power and balls of the Ampeg SVT. [/color][/size][size="3"][color="#000000"]Nowt wrong with the tone or reliability for me, just the lack of power/volume[/color][/size][/font]

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I appreciate you're trying to gather information to help you choose the best possible rig but what really matters is the combination of:

1. You
2a. Your bass
(2b. Your FX)
3. The amp
4. The cab
5. Your bands, their rehearsals, studio sessions and gigs
6. You

You might notice that 'you' is in there twice. That's because it's twice as important! It's about how you approach your playing and how you execute it AND about what you want to hear.

Sometimes Ashdown heads are about as good as it gets. Sometimes they're almost the worst possible. I could be talking about the exact same head in both cases, it's just the player, the scenario and the other gear is different.

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I liked my Ashdown amp until it stopped working reliably and their customer support didn't want to know.

That is enough for me never to want to have anything to do with their products ever again.

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