A 4x10 with the portability of a 2x10

“Pride of the UK, those Geezers are.” That’s what my friend from Manchester, England, tells me about Orange Amplification. More than 40 years of superior quality and innovation have earned Orange quite a name in the industry. When the company got started they dabbled in a bit of everything—drums, microphones, PA gear, and DJ gear, as well as Orange Publishing, Orange Agency, Orange Records, Orange Music, and Orange Recording Studios. These days, Orange focuses its energy on some sick guitar and bass gear—including their new SP410 Isobaric 4x10 bass cabinet. Good thing for us. Let’s take a closer look at this baby.

Deceptively Diminutive
My initial inspection of the SP410 left me thinking, “I got the 4x10 cabinet, right? I mean, seriously. I only see two speakers.” I was surprised by the ultra-compact size, as well. Orange’s standard 4x10 cabinet is quite stout at 95 lbs. and 24.5" x 25" x 18". That’s how big most 4x10 bass cabs are. But the SP410 weighs in at just 68 lbs and measures 24.5" x 16" x 15". That’s right, the SP410 is a good 25 lbs. lighter and almost half the size of a traditional 4x10 despite being made of heavy-duty Baltic birch plywood. And with a 1200-watt power-handling capacity, it still brings all the bottom end you could wish for. Cosmetically, it sports the classic orange covering, black grill cloth, and killer Orange logo. It also has metal corner covers, two heavy-duty handles on top, two Speakon and two ¼” speaker jacks, two wooden bottom rails, four lightweight neodymium Eminence speakers, and a port that runs across the bottom of the front panel. Feature-wise, the only way I could see this cab being improved was if it had a tweeter, a handle configuration that made it easier to position an amp head on top, and perhaps even some wheels.

I’ll admit I wasn’t familiar with this technology prior to receiving the SP410. Most bass cabinets I have played through are of the traditional ilk. You know—big, heavy, monster sort of things that have a wide footprint onstage. Not this little citrus buddy. Two of the 10" speakers are visible from the front panel, while the other two are situated directly behind them. Orange says the SP410’s design avoids the need for a large enclosure because the front speakers’ movement is in phase with the back drivers, which creates an isobaric chamber (that is, a chamber of constant pressure) that functions as an infinite baffle for the rear driver. The rear driver therefore maintains its minimum phase and is free of linear distortion, all while having an effective doubling of mass that lowers its resonant frequency compared to the driver alone.

If you barely followed any of that tech talk, trust me—these guys know what they are talking about. The SP410 leaves you wondering “Is all of that really coming from this little cabinet?” Indeed it does, my rhythmic friend. In fact, it sounds every bit as big as a traditional bass cabinet. And then some. Every time I had the SP410 onstage, a bass player came up during the set break to ask if it’s really a 2x10 cabinet—because that’s what it looks like.

Fresh Squeezed

I took the SP410 for a ride using a five-string Fender Jazz bass and a five-string Ibanez SR485 into an Ampeg SVT-4PRO, and let me tell you that playing through this tasty biscuit is a joy! Rich, full, mega-thick tones just pour out of it, and it moves substantial air. I mentioned earlier that the SP410 has no tweeter, just the 10" speakers for that vintage wallop. That might bother bassists who play styles I don’t, but it’s not a big deal to me. I prefer bass sounds from late ’60s and early ’70s, and the Orange SP410 definitely delivers a blast of that low tone from the past. Even at low volumes, it is as thick as an Iowa Pork Chop! (Yes. When asked nicely, sometimes bass players play at low volumes.) At moderate to high volumes, I felt like I was in front of a huge cabinet. Every George Porter bass line that I dropped on the SP410 sounded like the bass rigs of old. Again, small package—huge sound.

The Final Mojo
Isobaric technology may be a bit involved as a discipline, but it sure makes for some thick bass tone! The power-per-square-inch ratio in the Orange SP410 is through the roof—and yet you can transport it in the front seat of your car. So you get vintage sound and killer portability that’s suitable for stages of any size—and at a street price of $1249! This creamy, round sound is intoxicating and I highly recommend plugging into it.
Buy if...
you need a huge bass sound in a small package.
Skip if...
you have a small gear budget or need a tweeter.

Street $1249 - Orange Amplification - orangeamps.com

The LowDown brings Line 6''s modeling expertise to the bass community

Line 6 is best known for guitar amp modeling and onboard effects for the electric guitar, but in recent years the company has been creating the same kinds of modeling technologies for bass gear. The Bass POD has been quite popular and now the LowDown Bass Amps series is making waves, giving bass players another realm of tonal options within a single amp. So, in addition to the normal bass amp considerations—size, weight, power, sound and features—bass players can mull over the flavor-specific options that come with the purchase of modeling gear.

Roll Modeler
The amp weighs 95 pounds and comes with two heavy-duty handles and four sturdy casters that are so smooth and steady I’d almost take them down to the local skateboard park. All of the features are clearly and prominently placed on the front panel of the amp. It runs 400 watts through two 10” Eminence speakers and a compression driver horn, and has stagefriendly features like a balanced XLR direct output, a 1/4” preamp output and an onboard tuner that mutes the DI and the speaker when activated. The amp’s four-channel programmable memory allows you to save, on the fly, that perfect tone you came up with for future use. It’s practice-friendly, too—sporting a headphone out and a 1/8” CD/MP3 input. There’s also a jack for the optional Line 6 FBV Express or FBV Shortboard. Players who like running an extra cab on stage can do so with the right cable if their cab has a NL4M-series Speakon four-pole mono speaker connection.

My basses of choice for this review were a 5-string Fender Jazz Bass and a 3/4 upright bass mic’d with a Shure SM58 wrapped in foam and placed under the tailpiece.

Shake Your Head for Me, Darling Models are what Line 6 is known for so, not surprisingly, the preset amp models offer a range of bass tones that will match up with most musical styles. These are intended to give the player a wide range of versatile amp sounds while reducing the amount of gear you need. There are many fine shades and nuances to be tweaked within each setting but for the purposes of this review, I’ll focus on the preset amp models as they appear from Line 6.

Clean According to Line 6, “It’ll give you all the warm lows and punchy highs you need.” As advertised, this indeed has a warm, punchy clean tone with everything in its place. Flat wound strings on a fretless bass really complement this setting.

R&B This model pays tribute to the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and the clean, fat tones of rigs like the Ampeg ’68 B-15 Flip Top. This preset is a very useful bass tone, and I can definitely hear what they were going for as I played some classic James Jamerson bass lines. This is a very functional setting and will sound appropriate in most any situation.

Rock The ’74 Ampeg SVT was the inspiration behind this model, which reminds me of a George Porter, Jr. sound. I find that adding a little bit of drive to this preset gives me a superb rock tone.

Brit If you’re looking for ‘60s Cream and The Who kinds of tones, the ’68 Marshall Super Bass is the way to go. The Brit model definitely has that old Rickenbacker-type tone in the mix. Line 6 gets you as close as possible to the experience without actually making you drag that Super Bass around.

Grind If you put a SansAmp Overdrive pedal in front of an SVT, you get that very popular angry, clear, punchy aggression. This one is all about the power, which I definitely feel while tearing through powerful monster riffs. Mucho massive tone, and yet no pedals to drag along.

Synth For ‘70s funk and modern rock, this tone is necessary. And it’s way cool! While in the bass synth mode, the knobs reconfigure to tweak all of the parameters of the synth (drive, cutoff, resonance, envelope, attack/decay, and waveform). This gives you the ability to create an incredible variety of fat’n nasty, old-school to modern synth sounds. After operating in this setting for a while, I was able to come up with several pure synth sounds, two of which I saved in the programmable channel memory. I could have spent hours coming up with one killer synth sound after another.

Effects Some players may find the onboard effects more useful than others. With an envelope filter, octaver and chorus, you may discover that you will leave the stompboxes behind and just roll with the onboard effects of the LD400 Pro.

The Final Mojo
The LD400 Pro could solve many problems for you in the studio. For gigging musicians with versatile set lists, not having to take additional gear to a practice or a show could make up for what the amp lacks in comparison to similar- sized combos that shine in their ability to power far fewer tones at louder volumes. The LD400 Pro’s array of amp models sound pretty good, especially at lower volumes, and its output options give you the flexibility to do what you need in larger gig settings with FOH help. The Line 6 LD400 Pro really shines in terms of tonal options and useful features packed into a single combo.
Buy if...
you’re a fan of onboard effects and amp models, and want something for rehearsal or the studio.
Skip if...
you need it to be as loud as your drummer on the backline, or you have a bad back.

Street $799 - Line 6 - ddynamusic.com