Review: Traynor DB300 Stirs Up Some Competition

(ShackMan | Posted 2010-08-31)

Review: Traynor DB300 Stirs Up Some Competition

When so many products try to do everything these days, and many wind up trying to handle so many various tones that they wind up a "jack-of-all-trades" with mediocre sound across the board. This was definitely not the case when I opened up the Traynor DB300. Traynor kept it simple in shipping: power cord, amp, and a printed out and stapled manual, packaged tightly into a cardboard shipping box. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it, so I took it to a gig that very night.

Crisp. Clean. Deep. Punchy. Those are the first words that come to my mind to describe the way the DynaBass 300T sounds. I plugged in my Godin BG-5 and left everything flat and the pickup blend knob in the middle between the two Seymour Duncan Basslines pickups and went to town on some melodic lines. The little Traynor held it's own easily amid swirls of guitars and drums, and I never turned it up past 5 on the master knob once. Even on later dates playing live with various hard rock bands with no direct input to the PA system, I still only needed half of the volume this little amp could provide.

Before I get into the tone section, I noticed right away that there was a feature I was missing, which all the combo amps I've bought since my very first Peavey almost 15 years ago have had: kickback. Since this combo is so compact (and VERY light for a 12” driver and tweeter I might add, a fact which is only helped by the perfectly placed metal carrying handles on both sides) I really wanted to be able to tilt it back and get a more room-balanced sound and, for larger gigs, make use of the amp as a kickback monitor. It's a feature I didn't know I would miss until I didn't have it, although I would hardly say that it was anything very detrimental to the amp's overall performance, just a feature I would have liked on an amp this size.

On the front panel we have one input each for passive and active basses, and here Traynor only opted for a -6 dB pad on the active input, so as to keep that punchy high gain tone. We have next a clip light and mute switch (hurray for both), followed by Gain and shelving EQ and a sweet “Scoop” knob that does exactly that (described below). Last are the Master Volume, Limiter switch, Line Out pre/post EQ switch, Tuner out, and Headphones jack. That's all well laid-out and great, but it's the shelving EQ setup that really gives this amp its character. Take a look.

Bass @ 65 Hz +/- 15 dB
Low Mid @ 250 Hz +/- 15 dB
High Mid @ 1 kHz +/- 15 dB
Treble @ 6 kHz +/- 15 dB
Scoop @ 450 Hz -0 to -24 dB

The bass and treble frequencies are somewhat high for the gamut of bass amplifiers, and there's a rather wide spread between the Low Mid and High Mid controls. The Scoop control's massive 24 dB cut potential makes it clear from there that this amp is entirely designed for a little “scooped” or “smiley-face” EQ action, which is exactly what I was talking about in the first paragraph. Reader be advised: there are few amps on the market, vintage, or otherwise that pull off the “scooped” sound as perfectly as the Traynor DB300, but also know that this doesn't just cover slapping and popping. Just a touch of the low mid control to about one or two o'clock, and I was in heaven with the warm underpinning it created in my tone. My bass notes seemed to sit just above the floor of the whole room for the audience to lay on and groove and that was without PA support! Even my upright sang through the mix on a jazz gig, with every note impeccably round and warm. I got several rounds of compliments on how present my bass sound was as compared to the dull “thud” so many were used to hearing. I would also imagine this was in no small part due to seriously punchy speaker and tweeter combination. Response was fast and tight from the pair, and I was surprised to get this kind of performance from lightweight Neodymium speakers.

ABOVE: That kind of good tone comes with a well-shielded and clean interior, too, not just well-placed tone controls. Note the upward-blowing fan as well: this is not an amp on which you can place an effects rack. On the other hand, the head is easily unscrewed and removed from the cabinet and can be used as a standalone head outside of the combo – definitely cool!

Moving around to the back panel we have a jack that I very rarely see, but one that I find useful on occasion, a Monitor Input, with gain knob, for use with PA systems and monitoring keyboard or vocal signals through your amplifier. It's a nifty little trick and it saves on potential feedback issues with adding monitors. Then there are the standards: Effects Send and Return, Line Out, Tweeter On/Off switch, and Extension Speaker outputs for extra cabinets. Traynor went the extra mile in this case and offered the option of a regular 1/4” jack or a Neutrik Speakon output, which is quickly becoming, if it hasn't already, the standard for cabinets due to incredibly low resistance as compared to 1/4” cables. It also left me a bit curious as to why Traynor didn't just use a Speakon output to hook to the cabinet on its own combo amplifier in the first place. Strange.

I have to admit: I'm overall reluctant to send the Traynor DB300 back to the manufacturer. If I had the extra cash, I would just as easily send a check instead of sending the amp back. At around an $850 street price, this is an amp that is, in my opinion, a viable contender against any offerings from Ampeg, SWR, Gallien-Krueger, T.C. Electronic, Ashdown, Fender, or other name brands. Apart from a few wishes (kickback design, Speakon rather than 1/4” pre-connection) and one potential design problem (upward-blowing fan), I can honestly say that this is one of the best-sounding amplifiers I have ever had the pleasure to play through.

James Rushin is a bassist, keyboardist, writer, and composer living and working in the Greater Pittsburgh area. He has studied bass with Jeff Mangone and Andrew Kohn, and has performed with Selmer artist Tim Price, Curtis Johnson, guitarists Ken Karsh and Joe Negri. His compositions have been featured at West Virginia University and Valley Forge Christian College. His contest winning essays and short stories have seen publication in and around the Tri-State area.

Feel free to e-mail James with comments, questions, concerns, at

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