Peavey packs 1,000 watts and tone-shaping galore into a 9-pound bass head.
Clip 1 - EQ controls at noon except for the low set at 1 o'clock, crunch mode active and set at 11 o'clock.
Clip 2 - Low and high at 1 o'clock, low mid at 2 o'clock, high mid at noon, comp at 10 o'clock, crunch mode off.
Despite having 50 years under its belt, class-D amplification has been enjoying a renewed interest among guitar- and bass-amp designers in recent years. Thanks to the technology, it’s possible to pack highly efficient amplifiers with high headroom and power into enclosures small enough to fit inside the smallest gig bags. It’s especially ideal for bass amps, which have traditionally required heavy custom transformers and high-powered circuits to process the quick transients needed for smooth and transparent bass tones at high volumes.
Peavey has shown a keen interest in class D since introducing the world’s first class-D live-audio power amp nearly 30 years ago, and their new MiniMEGA bass head shows that interest hasn’t waned since. The MiniMEGA marries a custom-designed class-D power section—tuned specifically for bass guitar—with a simple EQ set, smart interface, and several useful features for both gigging and recording.
Sleek and Petite
The front panel on the 1,000-watt, 9-pound MiniMEGA is pretty straightforward. From left to right, there are controls for input gain, a built-in optical compressor with bypass switching, and a 4-band EQ with bass, treble, and semi-parametric low- and high-midrange controls. Following the EQ section is a dual-concentric control governing the sub-harmonic boosting provided by the amp’s Kosmos circuitry, a master-volume control, and a 1/8" headphone jack. A row of push buttons located underneath the dials engage functions such as a crunch mode, individual high- and low-end boosting, and a feature called “narrow Q” that narrows the bandwidth of the two midrange controls to tighten their focus.
The back panel houses two Speakon jacks, each rated at 4-ohms minimum. There’s a 1/8" auxiliary input for jamming along to recordings, a DI section with XLR and 1/4" outputs, and switches for pre/post EQ’ing, ground-pin lifting, and output-signal padding. Following the DI section, there’s an effects loop, tuner output, and MIDI jack for footswitching.
Along with the MiniMEGA, Peavey included one of their Headliner 410 cabinets for our test. They feature 18-ply construction, black-steel corners, and powder-coated metal grilles. The cabs are armed with four custom-designed 10" ceramic speakers and are rated at 800-watts program and a whopping 1,600-watts peak.
To kick off testing the rig’s mettle, I plugged in a Fender P loaded with a standard-wind Lollar pickup. After powering up the rig, the buttons lining the bottom of the MiniMEGA’s front panel lit up with a bright shade of green, which helped make them easy to see in the low light of my practice space. (You can custom-program the control-surface lighting by choosing from different color options.)
If I were to use a single word to describe the MiniMEGA’s overall tone, it would have to be accurate. Beginning with the amp’s EQ and gain controls set at noon, the master volume and compressor at 9 o’clock, and a simple blues-based groove on the lower registers of my P bass, the MiniMEGA divulged my P’s throaty midrange, thunderous low-end, and smooth and snappy highs with surprising amounts of both note and frequency separation. I did notice that the head’s internal fan was a touch noisy, but a makeshift isolation panel I made out of cardboard kept the noise from bleeding into my cab mic while tracking.
Class-D-powered amps are typically known for excelling at this hi-fi-like delivery, but what makes the MiniMEGA stand out from the pack is how effortlessly it continues to perform so well at paint-peeling volumes. The amp’s clever DDT limiter circuit kept power-section clipping at bay when I upped the master to a hair over 1 o’clock and channeled my best David Wm. Sims impression with a driving flatpicked riff. Even at this ear-bleeding volume, every frequency range shined through without muddying into each other and losing punch.
The Headliner cab’s excellent handling under both high and low volumes has helped solidify its reputation as one of the best bang-for-the-buck 4x10 cabs out there. To my ears, the treble response and low-end spread sounded full and uninhibited, and despite a little stiffness in the highs and slightly boxy mids, performance was consistent across the board.
The MiniMEGA’s EQ controls offered smooth and controlled changes to the tone throughout, with no annoying jumps or dips in their respective frequencies after slight adjustments. They’ve got a lot of range, too—especially within the high- and low-midrange controls. With careful tuning of each over the course of about 15 minutes, I was able to dial in a wide range of genre-specific sounds from soulful blues to gentle folk to jazz without even having to touch the bass and treble controls. The high- and low-midrange controls did become much more sensitive to changes once I cranked the gain and activated the crunch mode, but by simply engaging their respective Narrow Q modes, I narrowed their range and made it much easier to dial things in.
The adjustable low-end boosting—thanks to the Kosmos mode—is the ace up the MiniMEGA’s sleeve. Managed with a dual-concentric control, Kosmos A-Sub is a sub-octave synth with dynamics tracking, while Kosmos C-Psycho synthesizes high harmonics to thicken up lows on smaller cabs that may have trouble reproducing the fundamental. With both Kosmos dials around noon and a Big Muff in the mix, MiniMEGA yielded an industrial grind reminiscent of classic Godflesh and Paul Barker-era Ministry. It literally shook frames off my walls. This is a very powerful control that rewards restraint and patience, but going overboard with it could possibly blow a speaker or two pretty quickly.
In practicality, the Kosmos feature is best used for fattening up basses that suffer from weaker lows. I have an old Japanese Fernandez P-bass copy that’s an amazing player, and thanks to the Kosmos’ C-Psycho control (inner dial), I was able to thicken up its low end to match that of the Fender. Plugging in a Fender Bass VI and dialing in a moderately low setting on the Kosmos A-Sub (outer dial) brought the VI’s low-end presence up to the levels delivered by its long-scale brethren.
Peavey’s mighty MiniMEGA amplifier follows the company’s tradition of simple, high-powered, versatile amplification. Coaxing great tones out of it doesn’t require much patience and its compact chassis and included carrying bag making it a tempting option for bassists on the go. And at $599, its price reflects Peavey’s long-standing reputation for building amps within the working man’s budget. If your priorities lean towards road-worthiness, simplicity, and power, the MiniMEGA is worth a look.
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