PowerBlock Report (long-ish)



Not too long ago I posted a question about the Crate PowerBlock
(http://groups.google.com/group/alt.guitar.bass/browse_frm/thread/563a3841b29fa35e).
The last response was that I should try one and report back. So... here it
is. Yup, I decided to go for it. After lots of research with online reviews,
I figured I could order it from MF at the $99 price, and that way I could
always send it back if I wasn't satisfied. Well, after a day or two of use,
I can say that I am very pleased with the PowerBlock and I'll be keepin' it.
For those who have been curious about these amps, here's what I've got so
far:

First, in response to Benj who commented that 1) he had a hard time getting
a good bass sound but it might have been the cabinet choice, and 2) the tone
controls were not well-optimized for bass, I say that 1) yes, the cabinet
choice does seem to make all the difference with this amp - I am using a
1x15 bass cab and it sounds pretty nice; and 2) it's true about the tone
controls, their center frequencies (high/mid/low) correspond to the
high/high-mid/low-mid on my combo amp. However, I always set my amp eq flat
these days and adjust my tone in subtle amounts from the bass itself. So,
the lows are there for me as much as with any other bass amp, and I can cut
the mids & highs if necessary (although so far I'm still using a flat eq).

As for some of the other issues brought up in user reviews:

Volume at 150-watts: well, all I have at the moment is a 4-ohm speaker, so I
am running out of one of the 75-watt 4-ohm outputs, but the PowerBlock
pretty @!#% loud even at half-wattage. No problems there.

Distortion: yes, the amp has an incredibly tubelike distortion available if
you crank the preamp gain. Some reviews I read said that there was so much
distortion that the amp was unusable for bass. I don't know what they were
putting into the amp, but I find no such problem. In fact, I have to crank
the gain quite a bit to begin getting distortion (I have pretty average
jazz-bass-style pickups, active but eq flat). Now, having said that, I
should add that I normally use a tubeworks blue tube overdrive to add a
touch of warm tube distortion, so I deliberately chose the PowerBlock partly
because of the many reports of very tubelike distortion characteristics, in
the hopes that I could dial in "my sound". I am very pleased with the
results - I'm a bit of a tube-snob where distortion is concerned, and I
don't fall for ad copy that promises tube-like distortion (as every stomp
box does), but this thing is really impressive.

The weird patch bypass thing: If you've read the Harmony Central reviews,
then you're familiar with the thing about running a patch cord out of the
line-out and back into the CD inputs to bypass an internal speaker emulator
(sensor readings, Mr. Spock?). Well, I am doing that, and it does indeed
seem to make a difference, so if you try one of these out, doing this might
help give a better experience of what the amp can do (that and using a bass
cab).

So, that's the scoop... I'm a happy camper so far. There are other things I
haven't even explored with it yet, so it will be a fun weekend 8^)


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