TC Electronic BH500
“A Close to perfect amp that is very easy to use.”
When you invest in new gear first impressions somehow always set the tone for what’s to follow and the TC Electronic BH500 is no exception. When I opened the box I was very impressed with what I saw; a very important requirement for me in a bass amp is the layout of the controls. The BH500 immediately get’s a ten out of ten for visibility and ease of use. I also couldn’t hope but notice that the amp head as well as the BC210 2×10 Cab is also lighter than most 500 Watters I’ve experienced. So I guess you could say that first impressions do count as visually this is a very handsome package and it does not break one’s back unpacking.
Layout from left to right
First up is a 1/4” jack input that can take either passive or active basses. There is no pad-switch or separate inputs for Hi and Low impedance but I can’t say I missed this as this can actually be controlled with the gain control. Directly above this jack you’ll find the On and Peak Led’s; a good idea to have it directly above the Gain control. All the control knobs are solid and easy to get to. The Spectracomp Compressor is not bad at all. It sounds like a type of multi-band compressor and is one of the most controlled built-in compressors I have come across. It handless every playing style very well.
Directly above the compressor is a built in tuner which can also act as a mute switch. I highly recommend silent tuning so this is the way to go. Unfortunately the designers of the amp did not consider myself, John Patitucci and Steve Bailey, as the tuner does not cater for the high C on a six string bass, or alternate tunings. You only get B, E, A, D, G notes, but to be fair this is fine for 95% of the bass players on the planet.The 4-Band EQ section is very well laid out; Bass, Lo-Mid, Hi-Mid and Treble. Above the EQ section are 2 predetermined Contour presets that allow you to quickly get to that “scooped” sound.
BASS: Centre Frequency 100Hz | LOW MID: Center Frequency 335HzHIGH MID: Center Frequency 900Hz | TREBLE: Center Frequency 1600Hz
The next section is the Tweetertone that controls how much tweeter sound you want. In Centre position it is flat. Left cuts, right boosts. It’s great to have this control in front of the amp and not at the back of the speaker Cab. The Tubetone section gives a surprisingly good tube-like sound. One of the better tube simulations I have heard. It replicates both a full pre-amp, a power amp to create old school tube warmth and you can even get a happening overdriven sound without losing punch.
Another great feature is being able to store 3 sounds to Memory. This makes it easy to change your tone on the fly. My only objection is the lack of a foot-switch to change the preset easily in mid-song. You can store all front panel controls except Mute and Master Volume. The Master level control is next in line. There is also an AUX (RCA Left/Right)-in for connecting iPods, computers etc to rehearse with.
The headphone amp sounds great too and speakers are muted when inserting headphones. The Balanced Output has a Pre and Post EQ switch; a very useful option, as not every mixing desk or engineer will be able to please you. At the back of the amp you will find the power switch (with thankfully a standard kettle chord plug connection) and speaker output via Neutrik Speakon connectors.
This bass amplifier sounds great; Lots of power, punch and definition! It looks great too. Since first seeing the legendary SWR Redhead amp, I’ve started liking the look of red amps… maybe because it reminds me of a Ferrari.You can use the BH500 for virtually any style of music and playing. They even give you a chart with some lay-outs to dial into a sound nice and quickly.The 2×10 BC210 Cab supplied with the test model could be considered pretty lightweight and is a great match too for this amp.I highly recommend the BH500 to any serious bass player, irrespective of your style.Unfortunately I did not try it on upright bass, but I believe it could work very well with this too. In a nutshell: A close to perfect amp that is very easy to use.
Supplied by Prosound (Pty) Ltd | 0861 4SOUND | www.prosound.co.za
Suggested Retail Price (incl. VAT): BH500: R 7, 848.90 | BC210: 4,801.68