Some bass players need the crisp and detailed sound of a solid state preamp to give them the most high-fidelity sound possible. Others need the warmth and fatness of a tube preamp to give them those growly, slightly smeared vintage textures. while others need it all wrapped up in a nice little bundle. That’s where the Markbass LM Tube 800 comes in. It’s a tiny little amp head designed to handle all of these sounds and to do it with grace and style.
There are two inputs - a Balanced XLR input (great for acoustic instruments and signals processed via effects rigs) with a 100 Kohm impedance and a regular 1/4” jack input with an impedance of 500Kohm. Each input has its own gain control, and there’s a Phantom on/ off switch for the XLR. The EQ section gives you 16 dB of boost and cut at specially selected frequencies; 40 Hz, 360 Hz, 800 Hz and 10 kHz. There are two additional tone controls which add an even greater range of flexibility. There is the VPF switch (Variable Pre-shape Filter) which gives you as much or as little cut as you need at 380Hz and the VLE (Vintage Loudspeaker Emulator) which lives in the 250Hz-20Hz range and is designed to remove ‘modern’ sounding frequencies that may be perfect for some styles but not for others. There’s also a Mix knob for varying between solid state (all the way to the left) and tube (all the way to the right) preamps. Also, the master volume control has a ‘pull to mute’ function. There’s a dedicated Line Out knob level on the front of the amp, while around the back you’ll find the Line out XLR jack with ground lift and pre/post EQ switch, the effect loop send and return and the speaker outs. The power section gives you 500W RMS at 8 ohm or 800W RMS at 4 ohm.
MIX IT UP
The first thing I did with this amp was crank the Mix control all the way to ‘tube’ to investigate Markbass’s take on vintage tube tone. I also used the VLE control to enhance the effect. Argh, heaven. I got the kind of deep, rounded, slightly fuzzy tones I was looking for pretty much instantly, perfect for vintage rock. Then I dialled back the Mix control a little to introduce some of the solid state sound into the mix for more of a modern rock attack. I found that there was a magic zone here where with careful dialling of the high mid control I could summon a whole bunch of Geddy Lee tone. Nudging the Mix control all the way to the solid state side brought out a much clearer hifi crisp tone that was great for modern pop and jazz voices.
DO YOU THINK I’M FLEXY
This is a really flexible amp that can do it all, whether you just want one really great, finely customized set-and-forget sound for a whole set or whether you need to continually adjust your tone between songs for a covers gig. It’s also capable of getting plenty loud, which is great news if you play big stages or hate your neighbours.
Hits and Misses
Handy tube/solid state mix.
Fine EQ control.
Footswitchable tube/solid state would be good.
• Weight: 2.86 kg
• Size: 25.6 cm x 27.6 cm x 7.1 cm
• Output power: 500W RMS @ 8ohm, 800W RMS @ 4 ohm
• Controls: Gain, Mix, Master, Ground Lift, Pre/Post EQ, Mute