The onward march of technology is coming for all aspects of our signal chain, and in its new Exponent 500, Darkglass Electronics may well have created a new ideal for what we might consider the state-of-the-art bass amp.
Controllable via smartphone, with 22 available effects, and onboard presets to recall them, the Exponent 500 truly is a 21st-century design, and yet it presents a simple front panel. There are just seven dials; two for input gain and master volume, and five Quick-Pots, named A-E, each fringed with LEDs to let you know where they are positioned.
By default, four of the Quick-Pots map to the onboard 4-band EQ, with the fifth assignable to a given preset. But once you bring the app into play, you can assign functions to each of these controls, et voila! The bass amp of the future.
The Darkglass Suite app offers full control of your signal chain, with drag and drop routing options, and the ability to set the levels for your effects loop, and of course, create presets. A chromatic tuner can be accessed in bypass or mute modes, with the Quick-Pot LEDs letting you know if you are sharp or flat.
Those LEDs flash red when the signal is clipping, and will tell you were the issue is depending on which Quick-Pots illuminate. And they are colour-coded depending on which effect is being used – e.g. filter effects light up cyan, compression yellow – which is handy when you are performing and don’t have your smartphone to hand.
There is also a 1/4” input, a mute switch and a five-position preset button on the front of the amp for cycling through presets and bypass – holding down the preset button pairs the Exponent 500 to your smartphone via Bluetooth.
At the rear of the amp, you’ll find a SpeakON combo jack, an XLR out with ground lift, a Midi connection, USB for updating firmware, an effects loop, and a headphones output.
The Darkglass Electronics Exponent 500 might not help anyone who is trying to cut down on their smartphone use, but it looks a formidable piece of backline kit, and quite possibly could retire your pedalboard, too. It is priced £849 / $999. See Darkglass Electronics (opens in new tab) for more details.