Want an amp for live, unmic'd use? There are certain rules of thumb regarding the minimum wattage you need. For guitarists, anything less than 50 watts may not be enough, unless you're using something like a Vox AC30, which has almost Herculean projection. For bassists, gear rated below 120 watts may not provide sufficient headroom.
There are exceptions that prove any rule and this hefty 80-watt bass combo may be just that. It's a wholly solid-sate affair, so will offer a bright and tight tonal base, but what allows it to punch above its weight is the design of the cabinet and its speaker configuration. Not only is it loaded with a 12-inch speaker, but it also features a two-inch tweeter, with the concept being that the low and low-mids are handled by the 12-inch, while its smaller sibling handles the higher frequencies.
What's more, the face onto which the speakers are mounted has two small ports that allow air to move out from the inside of the closed-back cab. It doesn't sound like much, but this will improve not only the fullness of the tone but also its projection.
The combo also has an angled bottom face that's fitted with rubber feet that allows the entire unit to be tilted back to around 45 degrees. If you're playing in a pub or a small venue, you may not fully hear your sound if you're virtually stood on top of your backline. Tilt it backwards and your monitoring will be vastly improved.
As far as features go, the BP80 is straightforward. It provides gain and master volume pots alongside a four-band EQ that is augmented by a bright button for a heightened treble response, and a boost, which adds grunt and depth. There's also an in-built chorus effect that gets quicker as the single pot is rotated. Cool though this is, we'd liked to have seen either an effect level pot or an effect on/off switch.
As we've alluded to, there's no issue concerning the power here and with the gain and volume both set to around halfway, you have a loud, clear and, above all, bassy tone. Engaging the boost certainly fattens everything up and it's possible to temper this by slightly upping the mid-high setting. The result is a great tone for rock styles.
Playing around with the chorus is great fun and at a higher setting it wobbles and shimmers with gusto. However, if you set it to a more subtle speed, it also adds a touch of colour to your tone that will surely catch the ear. As ever, experimentation is the key, but we do miss that on/off switch.
The breadth of tone offered by speaker configuration does make any external effects you might like to use sound genuinely excellent, be it a nice, smooth delay or a gnarly fuzz. There's no effects loop here, but we don't consider this to be a major issue.
Aside from a rather crackly volume pot, we're very impressed by this combo, not least because it sounds great. It's also eminently portable, too – it fits into a modest hatchback easily. Headphones enable you to use it silently, and for gigs, rehearsals and private time at home, the BP80 is an impressively versatile unit. Mix in the frankly unbelievable price and there's little reason not to check it out.