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First cut is with amp set flat, no compression. Second cut uses compression plus boosted bass and treble. Third cut uses TubeTone distortion.
|Recorded with a 1981 G&L L-1000 into the TC Electronic RH450 then the TC Electronic RS210. Cab is mic’d on the top speaker that contains the horn. Run into GarageBand via Blue Icicle.|
With the RH450 bass amp, TC Electronic—a Danish company long known for quality guitar effects and studio gear—has succeeded in that mission. To do so, the RH450 packs just about everything a working bassist could want into an 8.8 pound, 450-watt head. And it’s surprisingly easy to use, too.
Adding to that, TC Electronic has come up with a pair of cabs—a 2x10 and a 2x12—that are easy to manage and put out plenty of sound… a total package. In case you’re wondering, yes, this is the same rig that was originally introduced as the RebelHead and RebelStack. Right before introduction, TC Electronic learned there were US trademark problems and had to drop that moniker (I prefer model numbers over names anyhow!).
So What’s the Diff?
TC Electronic bills this rig as “bass amp 2.0,” suggesting a new take on what a bass amp is all about. In a lot of ways, I’d have to agree— they’ve come up with a new way of packaging familiar tools, and they’ve made those tools work more easily and sound better than most I’ve run across. And while most of these little, new-generation amps shoot for sonic transparency, the RH450 takes the spirit of a tube amp and recreates that sound and feel via lightweight solid-state design in both the preamp and the Class D power amp sections.
What’s included in the RH450 head? Four bands of EQ, a tweakable compressor, a tube amp emulator, a tuner, a headphone amp, a direct out and three user-defined presets. Those are the big things. Standard stuff, but each with a twist that takes it to the uncommon. And it all seems to be high quality, durable and without noticeable quirks. Frankly, when an amp maker tries to do something different, there’s a risk that it’ll flop. Settings might not be intuitive, a built-in effect might sound hokey, or a knob can look ready to break right out of the box. I ran the RH450 and a pair of RS210 cabs through all of their paces and couldn’t find anything that would disappoint even a picky gearhead like me.
I want to tell you that I set things up, plugged in my bass and it roared—but that would be getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you about the cabs first. At 38 lbs each (44 for their RS212 cab), these are relatively easy to haul around by the sturdy metal handles on each side. Rather than the common “rat fur” carpeting, these plywood cabs are coated with a skidproof substance like you might find on an outdoor stairway. The heavy gauge metal grilles are recessed and should withstand a lot of use while doing their job effectively. I thought the covering was a little rough on my hands, but it’s a functional design choice because TC Electronic recommends stacking their cabs twohigh on ends, but doesn’t use the usual locking plastic corners. The speakers in these cabs are, like many bass cabs these days, designed by Eminence for TC Electronic. The cabs themselves have a “Made in Malaysia” sticker on the crossover plate (the amp is tagged “Made in Thailand”).
To keep these rear-ported cabs more compact, a tweeter is located behind the top of the two woofers in each cab. And yes, the tweeter has a fully adjustable level control, not just an on/ off switch. By stacking the cabs on end, you get the focus of a line array setup while also bringing part of the stack up closer to your ears than is possible with the usual 4x10-on-thefloor setup. And it really works. With the vertical stack, I heard a clean, focused sound with a smooth middle and tight bottom. Stacking them like a 4x10 cab provided more bottom but less focus. If you’re on a wobbly, bouncy stage, I’d use a conventional arrangement so that the tower of cabs doesn’t come tumbling down. But with a decent stage, I’d say go for it! Everything lines up really neatly, and the head fits atop with grace and style.