This dual-preamp class-D bass beast boasts toughness through its build and finesse with its EQ.
Clip 1: Yamaha BB1600, neck pickup only, fingerstyle.
0:00 - solid-state pre
0:19 - tube pre
0:41 - both signals equal
Clip 2: Sandberg TM5, both pickups engaged, played in passive mode, slap style.
0:00 - solid-state pre
0:18 - tube pre
0:32 - both signals equal
Solid construction, two preamp sections, adjustable DI level.
Master volume is a little sensitive. No carrying bag included.
Ease of Use:
Taurus Amplification founder/designer Adam Kozakiewicz built the first Taurus-branded amps in the late ’70s. Though the Polish musician and entrepreneur detoured his energy towards pro-audio products for a number of years, bass and guitar amplification always remained his primary passion, which sparked the resurrection of the Taurus name in the early aughts. Today, the company continues to design and manufacture their wares in Sopot, Poland, including the new class-D Vandall-500 bass amp. It’s not the first class-D offering from Taurus, but the Vandall-500 is quite a different beast.
The moment I lifted the Vandall-500 out of its shipping container, I thought it might be one of the most solid class-D amps I have ever picked up. The Taurus is light at just a hair over 5 pounds, but not toolight to make it feel less than roadworthy. I felt like I could carry this amp into battle before I even plugged it in, and for those of us who occasionally just throw our class-D amps into gig bags or carry-ons, the importance of this feeling cannot be understated.
Thanks to the metal chassis in black and chrome, the exterior design appears to be influenced by vintage muscle cars or motorcycles. This also provides a feeling of solidity, as do the controls, which aren’t made from plastic or rubber as they are on almost every other amp in its class. It’s clear that corners were not cut in the build-quality department to keep the amp at a certain price point. Another cool aesthetic occurs when the power switch is flipped on: The front logo glows red, as does the 12AX7 tube which is displayed through a small window on the top of the amp.
Best of Both Worlds
The Vandall-500’s front panel is packed with things I’ve always appreciated from several other brands. The ultra-hi and ultra-low switches found on vintage Ampeg SVTs are represented here with boost/cut 3-way switches centered at the right frequencies (10 kHz and 60 Hz, respectively). There is also a character control, which, on many amps, is a one-stop shop for quick EQing by starting flat and scooping the EQ curve as it turns. The character control on the Vandall-500, however, is completely different. The amp features both a solid-state preamp and a tube preamp that can be engaged at the same time, and the character control on the Vandall-500 functions as a blend/mixer between the two.
The amp has a parametric midrange section with a range of 250 Hz to 1.5 kHz, and 12 dB of boost/cut available. Another standout feature of the Vandall-500 is its “MLO” (mid-level optimization) midrange system. According to Taurus, it ensures “the most accurate proportion of medium frequencies in accordance with your manual settings of bass and treble.” The system also ensures that boosting the low end won’t boost the overall volume, which is the case with many other amps.
I like the inclusion and layout of the indicator lights on the far right side of the amp, which display standby/protection, power-amp clipping, and on/mute. Around back on the rear panel, there’s a DI with ground lift, a pre/post line out, and a user-friendly DI level control.
With a Sandberg TM5 in hand, I paired the Vandall-500 with a Mesa Boogie Subway 1x15 cabinet and started out with all the amp’s tone-effecting controls at noon. My first impression was of a clean and warm sound. When I played slightly harder, I could hear the tube compressing ever so slightly and adding more warmth, but my bass still retained definition and punch.
Interestingly, the initial tone with both preamps mixed and the flat EQ projected a character very reminiscent my first pro-level bass amp: a ’94 Eden World Tour 800. A 12AX7 tube doesn’t provide the same sweetness in all amps and pedals, but with the Vandall-500, the tube is shown in its best light by providing very subtle character and equally subtle compression when not driven hard. Using the amp’s 3-way bass switch added just the right amount of sub-lows for pick playing and reggae stylings, without cutting the mids dramatically. Meanwhile, the 3-way treble switch provided modern sheen to the high end without being shrill in any way. Both switches offer excellent options for re-EQing the amp on the fly.
To go after a different kind of tone, I turned the character control all the way to the tube-preamp side and went for tube distortion instead of tube warmth. By setting the gain control to about 3 o’clock and cutting some mids, I was rewarded with a vintage, heavy, and fuzzy tone that still retained the sound of the string. With this much gain, I barely had to breathe on the master volume to get the Vandall-500 to sound muscular, loud, and even throughout the tonal range. That said, the sensitivity level of the volume control might be a littletoo much for some players.
Wanting to hear the solid-state side of the preamp on its own, I set everything back to noon except for the bass control, which I positioned at 1 o’clock. I then hit some hard and clean slapped notes, and felt a very direct and pleasant punch with a littlebit more presence than the tube side. When I added a few hard pops to the mix, I was pleasantly surprised that the 1st string still sounded exceptionally musical and not too bright. The solid-state side on its own is certainly just as usable as the tube side, which essentially makes the Vandall-500 two amps in one package. And to me, that definitely represents value for the money.
The sturdy and attractive exterior of the Vandall-500 is a worthy outfit for the soulful and multi-faceted character that lives inside. A genuine feeling of quality—much like a driving a European luxury car—is present when dialing up and playing through this amp. In the very competitive field of lightweight bass amps, the Vandall-500 separates itself from the pack with a personality all its own. It’s more than apparent that someone who actually plays many gigs was responsible for putting all the right features in this amp. That leaves me, the player on the consumer end, completely satisfied.
Watch the Review Demo:
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
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About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
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- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
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A: Nope. All sales final.
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Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.
The new finish, according to Lava Music, is “inspired by the beauty of the golden hour,” a shining time just before sunset and after sunrise when photographers covet to capture stunning pictures.
With bright and warm golden hues, the new finish adds a brilliant metallic glow to the surface of Lava ME 3, complementing its AirSonic 2 carbon fiber unibody which features L3 Preamp with FreeBoost 2.0, delivers industry-leading sounds by breakthrough acoustic technologies, and houses a multi-touch display powered by Lava-developed HILAVA system.
Speaking of the HILAVA system, Lava Music also added four new effects: Nebula, Desert Rose, Cassette, and Edge of Breakup. As unique as their names sound, they are very much different from what we normally know about effects. Programmed into the HILAVA system, each of the four is powered by the company’s latest ArctanDrive algorithm and incorporates effects like Pitch Shift, Delay, and Reverb. And every one of those incorporated sub-effects comes with various parameters that players can adjust to design unique, overdriven sounds by just tapping on the multi-touch display. That said, those effects enable users to play with overdriven tone on an acoustic-electric guitar without even plugging in any external gear.
LAVA ME 3 | Now in Golden Hour | LAVA MUSIC
Lava Me 3 in Golden Hour is now available starting from $999 on LAVA MUSIC, Amazon, and local guitar dealerships near you.
For more information, please visit store.lavamusic.com.