Preview: TC Electronic's new BG500 bass combos
(Dave Molter | Posted 2010-07-16)
Having just given TC Electronic's Staccato '51 bass amp a complete test, I'm very excited to know that I have one of the company's new BG500 bass combo amps coming for review.
Announced early in 2010, the BG500 series comes in two flavors -- two 10" Eminence special design speakers or a single 15" Eminence and an Eminence tweeter in a cab with a 500-watt head. I'll be reviewing the BG500 15 over the next few weeks, so keep your eyes on MusicGearReview.com.
The BG500 head borrows several features from the RH450/Staccato '51 heads but adds a few twists that I'm surprised other manufacturers haven't given low-end dwellers. First, everything you need is on the front panel of the amp, including a built-in tuner, an XLR DI jack and -- finally -- the new "TweeterTone" control. Although tweeters have been common in bass maps for years, if there is a volume control for the tweeter it is on the back of the cabinet. Some cabs have a simple attenuation switch while others have the typical 0-10 volume control. TC Electronic not only moved the tweeter volume control to the front panel, where you can actually reach it during performance, but added a touch of EQ the the circuitry, which TC bass guru Uffe Hansen says allows you to control tweeter volume in a "musical" way. The front-mounted stereo line in RCA jacks (for practicing with an iPod or other device) and headphone jack also save you bending over or turning the amp around just to practice, and the front-mounted DI jack is a handy thing as well. It can be set to pre-or post-EQ.
TC also includes a single self-adjusting input to accommodate active and passive basses, the very effective SpectraComp multiband compressor, which looks at each string individually rather than focusing on the loudest string, and a TubeTone control, which allows you to dial in the level of overdrive you prefer. There's also a built-in tuner with mute, although it is not a chromatic tuner but instead displays on BEADG, a fairly common tuning for five-string basses. The tuner display doubles as a compression amount monitor.
Rather than allow users to pick midpoints for the amp's four-band EQ, as on the RH450 and Staccato, the BG500 has two preset contour pushbuttons to help with tone shaping. But the BG500 does include one of the features I like most -- three user definable presets, which save all front panel settings except for master volume and mute -- a godsend for those who use more than one bass or need instant tone switches on a live gig. The BG500 does not have an optional footswitch as do the RH450 and Staccato, so user will have to be content with using a free finger to switch presets -- not a big deal in my book.
At 70 pounds, the combos are not light, and there are no casters included. However, a luggage cart can be had for around $25, so I don't view this as a major drawback. TC has also covered the unit in carpet, which will please those who say that the standard painted TC cabs are prone to scuffing. I look forward to getting my test unit, and we'll let you know as soon as the review is live.
Street price on the BG500 combos averages $650 USD.
For more information on the BG500 and TC Electronic amps and effects, visit www.tcelectronic.com
Dave Molter is Managing Editor and Bass Guitars Editor at MusicGearReview. Send question or comments to Dave at dave@ musicgearreview.com