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Merton

NAD: Ashdown RM500 EVO II

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Now, some of you may remember me fawning over the original RM800 which Ashdown released back in 2015 - there’s a review in the relevant section to which I’m far too lazy to link! That was a solid amplifier and frankly the best class D head I’ve used. I had to sell it because of cash flow issues and regretted it ever since.

Last year I bought a Trace Elliot Elf, believing it would be the answer to my Class D needs. And in some ways it was, but I missed the RM tone, power and drive. I then heard Ashdown were releasing the EVO II which has a headphone socket, the one thing I’d have liked on the RM800.

So May this year I decided to sell the Elf, sell my little Hotone Nano Legacy Thunde bass head which I used for home practice, and find me an RM EVO II.

There have been a few little tweaks since the original RM800, such as headphone socket, second speaker out, VU meter with blue LED showing mute, separate active and passive inputs, improved drive (not that I felt it was lacking before). Plus the new 500 is lighter somehow - I haven’t looked to find out how!

Today it arrived. First impressions I’ll be honest, the new Matt anodised alloy front panel isn’t nearly as cool as the old polished stainless steel but Ashdown have their reasons for it (easier to see under stage lights apparently - I never had a problem before!). But once I was home and got to annoy the neighbours that little gripe went away, this was like an old friend coming home. Everything I loved about the original is there in spades, and it sounds amazing with my Barefaced Super Compact.

First gig is on Friday, cannae wait!

 

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Looks great, I`m now on my second RM500 and just love how portable they are, and how they have such a good sound - by far the best Class D amp I`ve used as well. I use mine for rehearsals and as a backup as it`s so easy to cart about. I really like the look of the matt finish on the EVO II version tho, I`m one of those that middle-aged eyesight has got the better of, so anything to help gets a thumbs-up from me. And great that Ashdown have listened to feedback re this. 

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31 minutes ago, Lozz196 said:

Looks great, I`m now on my second RM500 and just love how portable they are, and how they have such a good sound - by far the best Class D amp I`ve used as well. I use mine for rehearsals and as a backup as it`s so easy to cart about. I really like the look of the matt finish on the EVO II version tho, I`m one of those that middle-aged eyesight has got the better of, so anything to help gets a thumbs-up from me. And great that Ashdown have listened to feedback re this. 

I’ll swap you my matt front panel for your shiny one! 😃

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1 hour ago, Merton said:

I’ll swap you my matt front panel for your shiny one! 😃

If that`s a serious offer I`m good with that. Tho thinking about it it would probably mess up warranty issues, and things might not fit, so maybe my amp will have to remain like my scalp, shiny.

Edited by Lozz196

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I also have an RM500, which I'm very impressed with. It's one of the shiny ones. I haven't had a chance to use it much yet, but I've noticed that I need to set the 240Hz tone control to 9 o'clock - otherwise it sounds too boomy/honky. I've tried it with a couple of different speakers and compared it to other amps. It sounds to me as if the amp's frequency response is raised in this area. Chienmortbb has volunteered to measure the frequency response when I see him next, which should reveal all.

I wonder if this is the way the amp is supposed to be. Anyone else notice this?

I'd just add that the amp sounds amazing as long as I cut 240Hz.

Edited by stevie
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That’s a very interesting point Stevie, I’ve not noticed it (probably because I’m cloth-eared!) but I will have a play this evening and see what I make of it :)

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I'm sure your ears as as golden as any others on here, Merton🙂. I'd be very interested to see what you think. Just set 240Hz to 9 o'clock with everything else flat and see if you prefer it. It might be worth mentioning that I have the compressor at 12 o'clock. That could make a difference - I'm not certain. It would certainly be interesting to find out what's going on. The only sure way is to measure the frequency response - but it's also possible that other samples of the amp are not the same as mine.

Edited by stevie

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Love mine! Easy to get a good tone and it packs in to a laptop bag. 

Edited by uk_lefty

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Well I get all my eq from my Sansamp so just have the RM set with all eq at noon or eq in the off position, don`t notice any difference to the eq of my ABM600, the sound of the ABM is bigger/bulkier at much higher volumes, but in rehearsals or pub-sized venues no difference to me.

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44 minutes ago, Lozz196 said:

Well I get all my eq from my Sansamp so just have the RM set with all eq at noon or eq in the off position, don`t notice any difference to the eq of my ABM600, the sound of the ABM is bigger/bulkier at much higher volumes, but in rehearsals or pub-sized venues no difference to me.

I do like the option to disable the EQ and use a pedal if that's the preference

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So I’ve just annoyed the neighbours again, and I realised my EQ tinkering on Monday had led me to cut the 240Hz to about 10/11 o’clock already. If you look at the pic above where the RM is atop my ABM you’ll see the EQ I settled on in my practice room.

I tried flattening it all and cutting 240Hz to 9 o’clock and tbh felt it then lacked something, HOWEVER this is in my little bass room so I wasn’t giving it full beans at all and of course would expect to see more of a smiley face EQ to compensate for good old Fletcher-Munson curves!

I should clarify I was using my ACG Finn “P” through a Barefaced Super Compact, so would have expected Stevie’s observations to be repeatable - perhaps on Friday I’ll get a chance to push it all a bit more and see what occurs.

I still love it though! The drive is crazy, just a tiny little bit dialled in gives such a lovely extra dimension to the tone.

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That's interesting, Merton. Like you, I really like this amp, and having to eq it a bit doesn't detract in the slightest. There are lots of popular bass amps out there that have a "tailored" frequency response. It's just that nerds like me prefer to know what the tailoring is - if I'm not imagining it, of course.

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Thread revival! 

Out of interest, are these made in the UK or overseas? I've been looking at these with interest, maybe changing from a Markbass.....

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Posted (edited)

Well, funny story... I swapped it for an RM800 EVO which Ashdown had as B stock. No reason other than I think I prefer the power module in it. It won’t really give any extra volume but a tiny bit extra headroom. Still rate the RM500 very highly :)

Edited by Merton
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PS I suspect it’s entirely a placebo effect which makes me “prefer” the 800. In a blind test I guarantee I’d not be able to tell them apart 🤣

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I’m now on my third RM500. Bought one, moved it on, realised the mistake and bought another. Then Ashdown made the EVO II version which is half the weight but more importantly has a matt finish control panel rather than shiny, which helps on stage no end. So I got one of those and I find I use it more and more recently. On our mini tour of Germany I used it even though I had my flight-cased ABM600 with me. The stages weren’t big enough to demand the weightier sound of the ABM and the RM handled itself fine. They really are great amps, the only improvement I’d have would be a pre/post DI option.

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The Evo (not the 2) seems to be available in a few places for £349 at the mo. 

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The only differences between the EVO and the II are...:

1. Headphone output on the II

2. Lighter

 3. Polished chrome front panel replaced with matte finish

4. VU meter has not just a blue LED for when the amp is muted but yellow/green/red LEDs for showing your signal level (as well as the VU needle).

If you can live without any of that then get the EVO :)

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I used my EVO II at the weekend. A fab sounding bit of kit, as good as anything I've ever used. oh and it weighs bugger all

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Total convert to Ashdown over here. If and when my class D needs change or money and GAS happen together I shall most definitely follow the advice of those who have contributed to this thread. 

We have the perfect blend of cloth, eared, fan boy and nerd tendencies.

All bases covered. 

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A quick question for Ashdown owners : apart from the obvious design/weight differences, how would you compare to the abm series soundwise? Does the drive in the RM behave like the grind in the ABM (adding tube flavor rather than real drive)?

And maybe, does someone have experience or comparison with other vintage oriented class D heads (first one coming to mind would be the Aguilar TH series but there are a few others)

Thank you!

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Hi Sven. I have used the ABM amps a bit but own and gig an RM. I think if you want big, natural drive it's the AMB. I find the ABM is absolute perfection for a precision bass with flats rock sound. You can get there with the RM but the ABM is naturally weightier in sound (I didn't say heft but I kinda meant it). However I personally find the ABM hard to get different sounds from, like something a bit more suited to a fretless sound. That could be my lack of patience in the rehearsal room though. I just find the RM easier to manage the EQ but as I said I own the RM I just have occasional use of an ABM. Also when I use the ABM it is with ABM cabs so they will be contributing to the overall sound. 

Given unlimited time and money I'd like to experiment more with an ABM as I think it's got more of a gutsy sound which could suit the sound of a new band I'm putting together, but for me as a covers band player who goes through a whole range of styles I find the RM more flexible. 

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In addition to @uk_lefty‘s comments I would say the drive section on the RM is significantly more than just a bit of tube grind, which is what you get on the ABM. It’s more like the full on overdrive you can get from a SansAmp Bass Driver DI pedal, only I actually think I prefer the RM drive! You barely need any to go from a clean, but still full-bodied tone, into a dirty driven glorious mess :)

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