When I think of Markbass amps, the thing that stands out to me most - apart from how light they usually are, which my spine certainly appreciates - is how effortlessly useful their VLE and VPF tone controls are. A common feature on many Markbass amps, they allow you to control specifc frequency ranges, and they’re often paired with a more comprehensive network of tone controls. But on the Minimark 802, they’re the only tone control available. This is a very, very stripped down amp for the player who either doesn’t need a huge range of tones, or uses so many different tones from different outboard units that they need an amp that can simply take all that tone and put it out into the world without undue colouration.
COVERING ALL THE BASSES
The Minimark 802 is a 150 watt solid state bass combo with two custom 8” woofers and an onboard piezo tweeter for the high end. There’s also a rear bass port for fuller low end. Aside from a volume knob, the only controls are the VLE (Vintage Loudspeaker Emulator) knob, which governs the 250Hz-20Hz range, and the VPF (Variable Pre- shape Filter) knob which gives you a cut at 380Hz. There’s an AUX in, XLR line out with ground lift, headphone out and speaker on/off switch. And that’s pretty much it! It’s a little heavier than some Markbass amps I’ve picked up, but not by much, and still noticeably lighter than virtually all of its competitors.
WOOF WOOF, TWEET TWEET
With the clean-sounding woofers and clear tweeter, Markbass has voiced this amplifer in a way that makes it equally adept at reproducing the sounds of pickup-equipped acoustic instruments as electric ones, including double bass. So perhaps the simple control layout was settled on as a way of making this amplifer more accessible to more players. Some will fnd the VLE/VPF confguration to be too limiting because it really doesn’t give you fne control over more nuanced frequencies, but they do give you all you need to quickly dial in a usable, versatile sound. And if you need something more precise there are plenty of outboard gadgets and onboard EQs to help you get there. The 802 gives you lots of volume too, and it stays clean certainly beyond a neighbour-bothering level. It also sounds full and solid at low volumes which means it’s great for teaching as well.
AN ELEGANT WEAPON FOR A MORE CIVILISED AGE
If you want the ultimate control over your tone, this isn’t the Markbass amp for you, but there are plenty of others that will do it for you. If you want a simple, easy to set up, set- and-forget amplifer that’s light, transportable and reliable and will happily reproduce any bass instrument you throw at it, this is worth a look.
Hits and Misses
Faithful sonic reproduction
Very limited tonal control
No gain control
- Speaker: 2x8”
- Tweeter: piezo
- Bass Port: rear
- Impedance: 8 ohms
- Sensitivity: 99 dB SPL
- Amp output power: 250W RMS @ 4 ohms / 150W RMS @ 8 ohms
- Frequency response: 53 Hz to 18 kHz
- Crossover frequency: 3.5 kHz
- Weight: 12.5 kg
- Dimensions: 25.5 x 49 x 38.5 cm