First impressions are so important, don’t you think? Fortunately Ashdown’s latest combo makes a tremendous one.
Relatively lightweight yet of rock-solid construction, it’s obvious from the get-go that this is going to be a formidable little beast. In fact, from here on in, we’ll simply refer to it as The Cube Of Power... oh, hang on a minute, it isn’t quite a cube, so scotch that.
We need to talk a bit more about that shape. The lower rear third has a ‘cutaway’ that allows you to kick the combo back and use it like a monitor. This is a most welcome feature - and once you’ve used it like that in a rehearsal, you’ll never want to use it any other way. There are chunky plastic feet on two of the combo’s sides, giving you several options for how you want to position it, and there’s a heavy-duty carry handle on one side too - although we would have liked a handle on the opposite side as well, to give me the option of copping hold of the unit with both hands.
This is splitting hairs, though, given the robust overall practicality of this combo. Even the control pots feel built to last, and apparently there are auto-protect voltage sensors for those of you who might plug this in overseas. There’s also an adaptive temperature-controlled fan, for those sweaty little clubs we all love, which allows this piece of kit to come with a five-year warranty. With or without that little piece of paper though, it certainly inspires confidence when you use it, and doesn’t feel the remotest bit fragile or temperamental.
Access to the power cable input and headphone socket is slightly compromised when the amp is in the monitor position, but that’s a minor gripe compared with having all those lovely bass frequencies blowing almost straight up your shirt. Everything else you’re going to need to access is right there on the front panel.
Said front panel is offset to one side, rather than extending across the whole width of the amp in the traditional manner. This allows a tweeter horn to be included in the top right corner, which gives the combo a distinctive look. This, coupled with the retro vibe of the Ashdown logo and the black finish of the metallic front grille, is almost too cool for words.
As with most Ashdowns we’ve played through, once you hit the sweet spot, this is a gloriously warm and dynamic sounding amp. It’s comparatively simple to dial in a tone. A passive/active button allows you to pad the input level by 15 decibels if you’re playing an active instrument and need to cool the signal. The VU input meter also allows you to carefully control the input power and optimise the signal, and you can use the Shape button to further boost the frequencies. Ashdown calls Shape EQ a ‘smiley face’, which means good old-fashioned scoop. You can also manually tweak your lows, mids and highs, with the additional lo- and hi-mid controls ensuring plenty of subtlety.
The end result is a bottom end that stretches as far as the eye can see, backed by an attacking middle, and a vibrant treble range that doesn’t scrimp on clarity. Whatever style you play, it’s hard to imagine this amp not being able to furnish you with what you need - it has the teeth-rattling resonance for reggae, the percussive edge for slap, and that all-important growl for rock and metal.
And there’s plenty of power in its deep little pockets too; just watch that patented Whiteline speaker as you’re moving serious air, the edges of that crisp Ashdown sound refusing to crumble even at high volumes. Well, until you stomp on your bass distortion box, that is, but that’s a different review for a different page. There’s also the option of running an 8 ohm extension speaker out of the back of this combo for even more sonic boom.
Two LEDs labelled ‘Safe’ and ‘Protect’ do exactly what they say on the tin, and let you know if you’re getting carried away (spoilsports!). Next to them is a balanced XLR DI output, and rounding out the very practical features accessible at the front of this unit is an independent send/return FX loop.
All in all, an impressive new combo from Ashdown. It has already made a huge name for itself of course, with their lush tones and solid, reliable workmanship, but tapping into the current thirst for micro-amps, the C112-300 wraps all that up into a delightfully user- and back-friendly bundle. Never has it been easier to sound killer through something you can throw on the back seat of a car.