HD Bass - Worth The Wait! (Anticipating More)
on 2012-04-08 13:36:17
First, thank you Line 6 for the new HD Ampeg Portaflex tone. It's pretty sweet. I was hoping for a Mesa/Boogie or a Gallien Krueger, but I understand why the Ampeg was the go-to for the first HD Bass Amp. (Though I'm surprised it wasn't the SVT and an 8x10, but who it's not like I'm the one that has to model the thing so I guess I can't really gripe too much)
I'm very much hoping for a Mesa or GK model in the future, as well as a Mesa Boogie Mark IV (or Mark V, in the Mark IV Mode. heheh) and a Soldano SLO-100 guitar model (because I have more than enough Marshall models.)
On the POD X3 my go-to method was to do a Dual Amp patch with a California (Mesa/Boogie) Ampl and California 2x15 Cab for the highs (112 Mic or the Close-Mic'd Condensor, depending), and a California Amp with NO Cab for the lows. I would high-pass and low-pass them in post (Ableton Live 8) and do a pretty heavy mid-scoop and low/high boost in post as well. With this I could get a very similar tone to Justin Chancellor of Tool, and if I added a bit of ODB3 (Boss Bass Distortion) to the "Highs" channel in varying degrees, I could get anywhere from a Lamb Of God to Meshuggah style bass tone with very little tweaking.
For the HD I'm doing a similar thing, but with the Ampeg "Flip Top", 115 "Flip Top" Cabinet, and the 47 Condensor mic for the Highs, and No Cab for the lows. Again, I do a bit of EQ'ing and Compression in post to really get the zing in the high-end and scoop the mids.
Currently I'm using an older Ibanez Ergodyne 5-string with Circle K Strings .158 balanced tension set, tuned GCFEbBb (I play in C-Standard on 6-string guitar, and add a Low G for 7-string guitar) It has fairly low-output soapbars and an EQ system. I generally run it both pickups on full with no EQ (I prefer to do the EQ in post, generally)
Obviously, I play mostly metal and progressive/experimental. And for those of you wondering, yes, the Low G is just *barely* useable on bass. Low A is about as low as I think is really practical, but usually I write in C and just use the low G string for some Bb and Ab accent hits here and there. It's a bit thuddy, but it works more or less. When I do some Djenty Low-G stuff on guitar, I usually use the G on the third-string. About the only time I hit the low-low G is if I'm doing something more industrial, where I just need a very long, droning, huge low end with no tonal definition. It works great for that. heheheh.
My opinion overall is that the new HD Bass model is very high quality. The Ampeg does not immediately lend itself to the modern "Tool" type of tone, and by the time I get all the EQ, compression, gain, etc... to the point that it sounds how I want, there is a bit of hiss in the background which I did not have with the previous X3 Mesa models. This trade-off comes with increased touch-sensitivity, brighter pick-attack, better/more dynamics, and increased overall punchiness. By the time it's all sitting in a mix with guitars and drums, the hiss is inaudible, and if the bass is soloe'd, it's fairly easy to EQ it out or simply roll-off some of the zing and it goes away.
For those of you looking for a much less zingy high-end, I can't imagine you'll have much to complain about. It's a very versatile amp, especially when you start playing with the new Cabinet Tweaks. I'm very impressed with all of it, and while it does take me quite a bit more fiddling and quite a bit more time to get the tone I'm looking for, when I get that tone it is very pleasing and I think a significant improvement over the X3 models. I am very much looking forward to more HD Bass models. As someone who uses the HD for home recording both Bass and Guitar, this is pretty sweet.
Now for a Mesa/Boogie M9 Carbine, Mark IV, and Soldano SLO-100 models. (crosses fingers)
I've included a patch that replicates (roughly) what my final post-EQ sound is like. Keep in mind that the pickups I have in my Ibanez are about half the output of pair of EMG 40DC's. It should have just a touch of grit to the top end when you hit the D and G strings on a standard-tuned 4-string bass. If it's really distorted or extremely piercing, then roll off some volume, and if it's weak and lifeless... I don't know what to tell you but try and add some gain somewhere and use any onboard EQ if you have it.
POD HD Driver Specs:
Flash Memory 2.02