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Al Krow

Series 2 DG Amps - AO 900 & M900 Mk2

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Posted (edited)

NAD -  DG AO900 arrived safely in the post and seems to be working just fine. It's a used one I picked up in the FS for a good price but alas comes without the footswitch!

Had a few BC'ers been asking how the new models stack up against the (now discontinued) v1s. I'd say it's a significant evolution rather than a revolution. In particular:

  • The power module delivering 900 very clean watts at 4 ohms and 2 ohms is still the same.
  • The Series 2 models both sport the same clean lines of design and general form factor / size.

Key difference between the AO, and the M900 Mk2 and Mk1

AO drive vs B3K and VMT (on both the M900 Mk2 and Mk1)

  • The AO drive follows the feature set available on the Alpha Omicron, including 'bite' and 'growl' switches and the ability to blend the Alpha and Omega drives. The B3K and VMT are independent with no possibility of blending.
  • A consequential impact is that the AO900 can manage just fine with the 'intelligent' footswitch and doesn't need the 'super intelligent' footswitch to fully unlock the amp's features when using a footswitch.
  • So whether the AO is the right one for you should very much be driven (excuse the pun!) by which drive engine you prefer. If you're not into DG drives at all but you just want the excellent 900W clean and flexible EQ that's available from the power module then maybe it might make more sense to pick up a used Mk1.

However, this key difference aside, the AO900 and the M900 Mk2 have a lot of the new features in common. The following are all available on the both the AO900 and the M900 Mk2, and are the 'evolution' over the Mk1:

Improvements that are 'nice to haves' 

  • 6 band EQ vs 4 band, but the 4 band on the Mk1 comes with semi para for both low and high mids.
  • Tied in with 2, sliders rather than dials provides a neater layout, allowing space for the additional two EQ bands. Sliders should also be less prone to being knocked off desired settings accidentally.
  • Aux in and headphone out. The latter has its own vol control which is a nice touch and a choice of 3 cab sims.
  • Built in compressor (apparently based on the Hyperluminal circuit but tbc).

Other new features (will likely be less relevant to me in the short term, but maybe the opposite for others)

  • Two cab outputs so no need to daisy chain cabs
  • Both pre and post DI outputs available simultaneously 
  • IRs can be loaded
  • USB and midi connectivity 

DG M900s II.jpg

 

I'll shortly be putting my Mk1 up for sale, but in the meantime I've got them set up to A/B and I'll be particularly focusing on the difference between the AO drive vs the B3K/VMT and the 6 band EQ vs 4 band with para mids. Will report back when I've done so.

DG M900s I.jpg

Edited by Al Krow
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Very cool looking amps. I’d be tempted to go for the AO just for the colour alone lol. 

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Another difference is the master volume no longer affects the DI output level!

Useful if you want to boost the stage volume without upsetting the sound man!

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Posted (edited)
37 minutes ago, dannybuoy said:

Another difference is the master volume no longer affects the DI output level!

Useful if you want to boost the stage volume without upsetting the sound man!

That's interesting. So what level is the DI out set at?

I assume you still have the ability to upset the sound man / keep a bit of control by using the volume control on the bass or on any of your pedals if you're using the DI pre out and also the Gain on the DG preamp if you're using the DI post out. So it's just literally the Master volume that is completely post DI.

Edited by Al Krow

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It's now positioned after the gain/EQ and before the master, where it should be - there were a few complaints about the v1 DI being affected by the master.

If you set your pedals to unity gain levels you'll have no issue there. And of course nobody ever uses the volume control on their bass!

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2 minutes ago, dannybuoy said:

It's now positioned after the gain/EQ and before the master, where it should be - there were a few complaints about the v1 DI being affected by the master.

If you set your pedals to unity gain levels you'll have no issue there. And of course nobody ever uses the volume control on their bass!

Haha! Clearly I'm a nobody then 😁

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Posted (edited)

Good review. I have still never tried one of the amps but I own the Alpha Omega and B3K. Slightly preferring the B3K for lower gain settings. AO is great for higher gain overdrive. 

Looking at the pics though has caused me to have GAS for Darkglass amps, Barefaced cabs and Spector basses. Cheers!

Edited by thodrik
I can’t type accurately on my phone
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Any gig report yet and what have you found better or different about the AO over the original. You’ve mentioned some comparisons above but no solid opinions yet. You were using the MkI drive occasionally live right?

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Nope not gigged yet.

Yup I've used the Mk 1 B3K with my PJ often. Most recently at the gig posted on the Gig thread.

Funny story is that I accidentally kicked the drive on for the first few songs of the second set and it was about 4 songs in before I noticed (ear plugs, rest of the band mix etc.) and, of course, no one else had the least inkling. Made me laugh and didn't help my ongoing prejudice about the fuss we all make about our live bass tone which no one really notices that much (provided it's not crap) vs just needing to better bass players and playing with flair / groove, which they certainly do notice.

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Had a bit of time over the last few days to A/B the AO900 with the M900. My focus was on the drive tones plus the EQ.

Drive comparison

This mainly boils down to whether you prefer the AO over the B3K and VMT, or not. If you don't, stick with the M900 v1 or get the v2 for the additional bells and whistles noted in my OP which are, without doubt, a nice addition.

I've A/B'd the drive with 3 basses: a Yammy PJ (passive) and two active basses: Ibby SR Premium and a Spector Euro 5LX - at pretty decent volumes but at home rather than in a band mix.

Fortunately for me(!) I do prefer the AO over both the B3K and VMT with all three basses, although the VMT ran the AO close with my Spector. The AO has a cleaner drive tone and less top end 'mush' (VMT) or fizz (B3K) and it's good to be able to blend A & O and add bite (boosting at 2.8kHz) / growl (shelving bass boost for a fatter low end) to taste.

My current AO setting of choice is a 60% alpha 40% omega blend, with bite engaged combined with a slight EQ boost at 250Hz for added mid punch plus a slight boost at 3kHz and 5kHz for added bite. This may well change in a band mix, but I suspect this is going to cut through a fair bit more than either B3K or VMT has done on my v1.

EQ

Bass is all about the mids right? The M900 v1 has 6 EQ mid centre points to choose from which is two more than on either the M900v2 or the AO900. However on the v1 having chosen your preferred centre points you then have two mid dials you can simultaneously engage. Whereas on the v2 and AO900 you can vary four EQ mid points simultaneously. This really does give a lot of sonic flexibility and more than offsets the loss of the 750 Hz and 1kHz EQ centre points in my books.

Conclusion 

If you're a fan of the AO drive, the AO900 is undoubtedly an improvement on an already very good amp, both in relation to the drive and the EQ; and the additional bells and whistles are all welcome additions on top.

I've got a few gigs in the diary at the end of the month so will be able to try the AO900 out in the mix then, but I think that's me done in terms of comparison and I'll put my trusty v1 up in the FS shortly.

Edited by Al Krow
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...So my M900 v1 got snapped up by a fellow London bassist who popped round this evening to collect. He's recently also got himself a BF SC and, given that's my gigging cab too, he was able to hear his exact rig in action which was a very handy coincidence.

Hooked up to my Yanmmy BB 1025 frankly the rig sold itself! All I needed to do was to tweak a few dials to show the versatility of the amp from punchy clean to "touch of dirt", which added in some tasty complex harmonics, to full-blooded drive. All underpinned by a ridiculous amount of muscle under the bonnet.

Can't believe it's taken me this long to really take in just how tasty the clean sounded with the VMT drive set at 2/10, probably because I've been too focused on using the B3K drive in rehearsals and gigs. Ah well, too late now! My M900 has found its way to another pairing with a BF SC and the grin on the buyer's face was completely undisguised as he left! :) 

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1 hour ago, Muppet said:

Should I create a different thread for this? 

 

20191016_224125.jpg

Nah - you're very welcome here! (I'll amend the thread title to be inclusive of both the AO900 and the M900 Mk2)

And congrats on the new amp - looks great!! What cab are you pairing it with?

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8 hours ago, Al Krow said:

And congrats on the new amp - looks great!! What cab are you pairing it with?

BF Super Twin.   I'll write my thoughts on here similar to yours so that anyone comparing the two doesn't have to bounce between threads!

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5 hours ago, Muppet said:

BF Super Twin.   I'll write my thoughts on here similar to yours so that anyone comparing the two doesn't have to bounce between threads!

Excellent - look forward to it!

DG amp + BF cab does seem to be a pairing that just works. The un-coloured clean tone of the amp and cab really allows the tone from your bass & pups to be heard. 

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In the past, I had an early VMT pedal and then a B3K and sold them when I went down the Helix route.  Bands change and the Helix was overkill so I moved back to a traditional format but missed the Darkglass pedals that I used to have.  I tried the Alpha Omega Ultra pedal and whilst it was absolutely brilliant (and beautiful to look at) the circuits were very much distortion where I was looking for something else.  I did know this to be fair, but I wanted to try it anyway. I know, I know, I should have bought a Stomp. I probably still will. Anyway…..


So, I bit the bullet on the M900v2 and so far I’m very pleased.  The new additions over the M900v1 are really nice and these are as Al Krow sets out earlier so I won’t go in to all of them here but some I’ll cover.
There are still two channels – clean and microtubes, with the microtubes channel split between the VMT circuit and the B3K circuit, so you can think of this as perhaps three channels. Especially if you have the Super Intelligent footswitch which allows you to switch between all three. 


The compressor can be applied to the clean channel, the VMT circuit and the B3K OR any variation of these. The default is on for all three,  but you have to change it through the Darkglass Suite software, you can’t choose from the head unit alone.  I have left it set on for all three at the moment.  It’s a really nice compressor although I am far from an compressor expert and I can set it easily to get a very pleasing tone.


The cab IRs are a nice touch and the three slots can be loaded from the Darkglass Suite in the same way as the Alpha Omega Ultra pedal.  You can load third party IRs too so you’re not stuck with the Darkglass defaults. The little switch on the back is fiddily and there are tiny lights to let you know which slot is active.  The IRs are only effective though the headphones and the DI out – The headphones have a volume control and a ¼” input. Professional. 


So back to the drive circuits. The VMT as the description says, introduces more mids.  It’s more pronounced than I expected but can be controlled effectively with the blend knob and the excellent EQ section.  The B3K circuit is more pleasing to my ears. Both of these are much more subtle and less defined (you could argue woolly) than the Alpha and Omega circuits, which is perhaps what you’d expect.  You cannot blend the circuits like the AO.   The LEDs are lit in blue when the VMT circuit is engaged and change to red for the B3K.  They stay red or blue even if you switch from the microtubes channel to the clean channel.   This is a nice touch to let you know what circuit will be effective when you switch on the micortubes engine.  There’s no bite or growl button, instead you get a tone knob. 


I bought the four button super intelligent footswitch.  No real point.  This is because both circuits share the same tone shaping options and I don’t feel that there is enough of a difference between the circuits, all settings the same, to warrant switching them on the fly.  I may want to switch between circuits BUT I’d want to change the settings as well; just swapping from one to another doesn’t offer enough variation.  The supplied footswitch is more than adequate – single press switches from clean to microtubes, long press engages mute, short press disengages mute and returns to either the microtubes or clean channel, whichever you had initially engaged.

In summary, It’s expensive, very loud, has lots of useable features rather than gimmicks, and a superb clean tone. It looks very pretty but not the smallest or lightest class D head in the world.  It comes beautifully packaged with footswitch, USB cable and power cord. I’m scared of scratching it. I need a bag for it. It sounds fantastic with my Barefaced SuperTwin.  I’d love to A/B it against the AO900 and as Al Krow says, it’ll just come down to preference of overdrive/distortion circuits.  I much prefer the blue colour of the AO!

20191016_224125.thumb.jpg.db77e4bd460869d9f552fdf7259c4871.jpg20191016_183700.thumb.jpg.10c0f0bda4597a155b2570a6d75aaeb8.jpg20191017_072057.thumb.jpg.56fe3a817ebb7bc8abb4fde034d5722a.jpg20191016_194306.thumb.jpg.9a8a2e3f31f68566e08b1976a1939bf3.jpg20191016_183418.thumb.jpg.7246b225d009781cde78986b5e3b3112.jpg

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On 05/10/2019 at 17:16, Al Krow said:

NAD -  DG AO900 arrived safely in the post and seems to be working just fine. It's a used one I picked up in the FS for a good price but alas comes without the footswitch!

A short happy tale for the weekend and a BIG-up to the DG team.

As mentioned in my OP there was no footswitch with the used DG amp I bought. Looked online and couldn't find any retailers selling the AO900 footswitch as a stand-alone item (although the M900 silver ones are available for around £40 posted).

Contacted DG to see whether I could buy one of them and mentioned I was on my second DG amp having been a fan of their first one.

Very responsive and helpful client service - emailed me back within a couple of hours on a Sunday. Not only did they offer to provide one, but they couriered the footswitch across to me without charge for the pedal or delivery (despite my making it clear that my AO900 was used and not new). 

Well I'm even more of a fan of this amp now than I previously was!

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Thats really cool. I do love the design and simplicity of the footswitch.  Did I mention how much I like the AO colour!🤣

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2 hours ago, Muppet said:

Thats really cool. I do love the design and simplicity of the footswitch.  Did I mention how much I like the AO colour!🤣

Did you? Must have missed that 😂

Personally, I really like silver finish a lot! It's super classy. The closest thing to design of an iPhone in an amp. 

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