Genzler Amplification Magellan 800 and 112T Review
Jeff Genzler’s return to bass amplification with a rig offering boutique-like construction and tone, minus the boutique price.
Clip 1 - F Bass BN6 with both pickups engaged. Clean channel, flat contour, bass at 12 o'clock, mids boosted at 10 o'clock, treble at 12 o'clock.
Clip 2 - Nash P-style with Thomastik flatwounds. Drive at 2 o'clock, contour B set at 9 o'clock, bass at 12 o'clock, mids boosted at 11 o'clock, treble at 2 o'clock.
The Genz is back! That’s Jeff Genzler, the founder and former head of Genz-Benz. His latest venture, Genzler Amplification, is the new chapter in a storied amp-design career spanning over three decades. The first of his wares is the Magellan series—bass amplification that combines portability, power, and assertive tone at a competitive price. Here, we checked out the 800-watt Magellan 800 amplifier paired with two Magellan 112T cabs.
There are aesthetic similarities to the Magellan 800 and Genzler’s previous designs, but the features of his latest model reveal quite a different animal. The front panel of the aluminum chassis contains practical tone-shaping options. Players can select clean or drive channels, manipulate a simple and straightforward EQ section, and create different sonic textures with the contour control. The contour circuit manages two types of frequency curves, selectable via an A/B switch. Curve A scoops midrange frequencies while boosting the highs and lows, and curve B bumps the low mids while cutting the high mids and highs. An LED confirms which curve is engaged by illuminating blue for curve A and amber for curve B.
The rear panel is classic Genzler. This area features a DI, tuner out, aux in, a 1/4" headphone jack, effects loop, and two Neutrik Speakon outputs. If you have speakers of varying ohm ratings, you’ll be happy to know that the Magellan 800 has an impedance-selector switch and is capable of operating down to 2.67 ohms, where it can deliver a robust 800 watts.
The Magellan 112T bass cabinets are constructed from Baltic birch, and within each is a Faital 12" neodymium driver and a proprietary 1" bullet tweeter with ferrofluid infusion. According to Genzler, the cabinet’s dual-triangular porting offers tonal benefits as well as structural strength in the corners of the cabinet. The Magellan 112T houses one Neutrik jack and two 1/4" sealed jacks, and the metal corners, black-vinyl wrapping, and woven-wire grille offer eye-catching style and protection.
Genzler is no stranger to the benefits of neodymium magnets and class-D amplification, especially in terms of portability. Each 112T weighs in at a manageable 30 pounds, and the 6 1/4-pound Magellan 800 can easily be carried with one hand. Having schlepped the Genzler rig up and down multiple flights of stairs and many blocks to performances, I can confidently say it’s a rig well-suited for the bassist on the go. Be it the stout handles of the cabinet or the smooth-but-solid controls on the amp, nothing felt flimsy on the rig’s components.
I took the Magellan rig out on three gigs, with the first being a big-band show playing a Ned Steinberger EUB. This particular instrument has honking mids, but the Magellan 800’s contour section came in handy for tempering these frequencies. Simply by engaging curve A along with a clockwise turn of the neighboring knob, I was able to mellow out the artificial tendencies of the EUB. Adding a slight boost in the low mids contributed a pleasant punch to each note. These quick and easy adjustments produced a sound that was deceptively similar to a traditional double bass and timbre-appropriate for classic big-band music.
Curve B and the drive channel were explored on a jazz/fusion gig. I connected a ’64 Fender Jazz bass to the Magellan rig and dialed in the contour control enough for some added low-mid punch. Barking with authority, this sounded fantastic soloing the J’s bridge pickup. Jaco and Matt Garrison fans will certainly dig the timbres curve B can provide. It was a bit frustrating, however, that the contour knob had to be dialed back to the flat position to disengage the EQ shape. It would be helpful to have an on/off switch to preserve the contour settings and provide more on-the-fly flexibility.
For grit, the drive channel delivers harmonic enhancement, from subtle warmth to edgy grind. At lower settings, the drive channel roughs up the tone nicely, which blended well with distorted guitars. As I cranked up the level, the bass notes delivered a steely gnash that might not please the tube purist, but it’s a timbre that will satisfy more aggressive music styles.
The rig’s durability was put to the test at a blues jam where I played in the house band, wielding a Nash P-style 4-string with Thomastik flatwounds. Boosting the treble helped the burly bass effortlessly cut through the ensemble, which consisted of a guitarist really pushing a Fender Deluxe Reverb and a drummer clearly influenced by John Bonham. After confidently supporting the house band, the Magellan rig faced its greatest challenge: random jammers. Many of these bassists had overly aggressive plucking hands, which pushed the Magellan 800, but the rig fearlessly handled every player who stood in front it. At the end of the four-hour jam, the amp was cool to the touch, instilling confidence that it could handle extreme musical environments with ease.
As much as the bass community has embraced Genzler’s products over the years, his latest line of amplification is arguably the best he has developed. The Magellan 800 and 112T combination is easy to transport, ridiculously powerful, and produces pleasing tones that will suit a variety of styles. Compared to some of his earlier offerings, I found that the Magellan series delivers cleaner lows and a wider spectrum of low mids while still retaining aggressive upper mids and highs. Bassists should also be happy to know that amplification of this quality does not have to come at a boutique price point. The Magellan 800 and 112T are each below $800. If you’re looking to upgrade, enter the world of lightweight amplification, or both, this Magellan rig is worthy of serious exploration.
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