Italy’s Markbass makes all sorts of bass amps in all sorts of price ranges, from tiny combos to impressive stacks. The CMD 121H combo is resigned to be a great multi-purpose, ultra-flexible amp for those who need the crispness of an all-solid-state design along with plenty of volume.
The CMD 121H has a single 12” speaker with a 1” compression driver (with custom horn) and a rear bass reflex port. The power section is sitting on 500 watts at 4 ohms or 300 watts at 8 ohms; if you use the internal speaker you’re rocking 300 watts, but you an beef it up to 500 watts with an 8 ohm extension cabinet like the New York 121 or Traveller 121H cab. The preamp offers plenty of control. There’s a balanced XLR input plus a regular 1/4” input (the latter with a gain control); a clip LED to let you know when you’re putting a little too much hurt on the circuit; an EQ section with Low, Mid Low, Mid High and High controls; the VLE (Vintage Loudspeaker Emulator) knob, which governs the 250Hz-20Hz range; the VPF (Variable Pre-shape Filter) knob which gives you a cut at 380Hz; then a line out knob for sending just the right amount of awesome bass power to a mixing desk. There’s also a master volume control, of course. The EQ section’s specific frequencies are cantered on 40 Hz, 360 Hz, 800 Hz and 10 kHz with 16dB boost or cut. Around the back you’ll find the speaker out, a tuner out, balanced XLR line out with a Pre- EQ/Post-EQ switch and a Ground Lift switch, and the effect send and return jacks.
This isn’t the amp to turn to if you want ratty, filthy, distorted bass tones (unless you want to throw a pedal in front of it). This is where you should look if you want clean, powerful, loud tones that really show off your bass’s natural qualities. That’s not to say that you can’t get extremely tweakable - the multitude of EQ controls, the VLE and the VPF make sure of that - but the preamp is definitely able to maintain rather than mask the things that made you love your bass in the first place. If you have an active bass you’ll appreciate just how ‘hi-fi’ your sound can be, while if you use passive pickups you’ll love the amount of articulation and dynamic range you’ll be able to coax.
THE BOLD AND THE BASSIFUL
This combo is great for those who need really crisp, punchy, bold tones without a hint of unwanted distortion. It’s not going to satisfy the rock pigs but it’s great for blues, jazz and cover bands, and it can even do a fine line in vintage style tone minus the tube growl.
Hits and Misses
Highly customizable tone.
Transparent when you want it to be.
Handy DI output level.
Not the amp to go for if you’re after rock tones.
• Speaker: 1x12”
• Impedance: 8 Ohms
• Amp Output Power: 500W at 4Ohm / 300W at 8 Ohm
• Preamp: Solid State
• Size: 59.9 (H) x 38.3 (D) x 46.4 (W) cm
• Weight: 17.9 Kg