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Ashdown AL MK500 Amp Head Reviews
New model MK500, 575 Watts at 4 ohms, very sensitive 12-band graphic EQ, VU Meter, xlr and 1/4 inch inputs, line out, sickeningly cool \"harmonic emphasis\" knob, allegedly no integrated circuits and pure all-analog. This is a fairly simple head, all things considered: plug in, adjust your eq, and go. I play in a three-piece alt-rock Police meets Radiohead type of thing, and this thing hangs in there like crazy. At first glance, I was a little concerned that there was so little stuff on the head...i.e., no subharmonic generator, no eq shift, etc...but after awhile the pure simplicity of the operation was almost zenlike. If you know what I mean...Ha!
Sound Quality :
Sound quality on this thing is nothing short of superb. I\\\'m running a Yamaha BB614 active bass into it (another not well known axe, but one of the best basses I\\\'ve ever owned tonally), and the thing just sounds unbelievable. In combination, literally the best bass tone I\\\'ve ever had, period. For years I ran Musicman stingrays through high-end Trace Elliot gear, and could never tweak in the tone I got with this setup in 5 minutes. You can basically dial in whatever you want because of the tone-shaping qualities of the head: scooped mids? Got it. Big rock sound? Sure. I usually dial in a fair amount of low-mid and bass, and then top it off with the harmonic generator, which gives your tone this brilliant \\\"sheen\\\" to it. Not an EQ, as the literature says: this doesn\\\'t boost a particular freq, but bounces new harmonics off that frequency. Which means that you don\\\'t get that \\\"Klangy\\\" sound, but a smooth, bassy but snappy tone, if you know what I mean. I also paired this head with an ABM410t, which is the 8ohm 410 that Ashdown makes...great sound quality, even at high volumes. I play with a very loud drummer and guitarist, and this thing maintains sound quality. Good headroom.
Overall, a phenomenally cool looking, great sounding, simple but powerful head. In the rack case, the thing looks really badass, and when paired up with the right speaker cab -- in this case Ashdown -- has an awesome tone. Interesting that Mark King decided to go with this head over his usual Trace Rig, as there are some similarities between the two heads. Probably because he gets a crapload of these free for putting his name on them. HA! As I noted, however, this seems to give you a better tone quicker than Trace ever did, and is easier to \\\"dial in the room\\\" with. Certainly more balls than Trace had, that\\\'s for sure. I\\\'m not a huge Mark King/Level 42 fan anymore, but was really into it back in the day during my \\\"slap/pop chops\\\" phase. In any event, Ashdown Labs is doing some cool stuff. Highly recommended.