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Carvin BX250 Micro Bass
Carvin’s BX250 Micro Bass is a tad larger in this group, but delivers a strong feature set. The front panel is decked out with two rows of controls—seven knobs and two switches on the top row, and four knobs and two switches in the second row.
Carvin came up with something a bit different on the front end. Usually, the first knob on a bass amp is the gain, which tweaks how hot the signal gets when pushed into the rest of the preamp. Turning fully down provides zero gain on most amps, but Carvin’s Drive control can be turned all the way down to achieve a more natural tone or turned up to create a more aggressive sound—with an additional level gain. Likewise, the variable Contour control can go from a flat EQ to one that’s quite scooped. A nice feature of the EQ section are two bands of semi-parametric midrange that allow you to adjust the center points from 50 Hz to 500 Hz and 200 Hz to 2000 Hz.
The front panel of the BX250 also includes an input pad for active basses, a Mute switch, and an adjustable Compressor knob. I found the Compressor control could get my tone squishy quite easily—a little went a long way. Though it’s a little unusual to find all the DI controls on an amp’s front panel, the BX250 includes all three key adjustments there with ground lift, pre/post select, and level. This makes for a clean rear panel with just a DI XLR jack, phones/tuner jack, and two 1/4" speaker outs. The front panel has a handy pair of metal U-handles for easy carrying that have plenty of space for two or three fingers.
It took me a little while to understand the contribution of the Drive control to the sound of the BX250 Micro Bass, but once I got the hang of it, I could easily go from natural to quite aggressive and beefy with just a little tweaking of the Drive and Contour, along with some fine-tuning of the EQ. At $299 plus $19 shipping direct from Carvin, the BX250 is a little pricier than the other two micro-micros, but if the feature set has what you’re after, it could turn out to be a truly handy piece of gear.