IF I WERE A BETTING MAN (AND MORE than a few fruitless casino encounters prove I’m not…), I’d wager powered cabinets become the next big trend in bass gear. Though the Neo revolution and the Class-D uprising continue to dominate developments in the world of bass amplification, there’s a growing tide of amp makers building power amps directly into their cabinets—Roland, QSC, and ISP Technology, to name a few. For years, Illinois- based Bag End has been leading that charge. BP’s Jonathan Herrera seemed to really dig the company’s 2x10 PD10BX-D when he reviewed it in November 2009, so I was more than a little curious when Mr. Postman dropped off this 1x18 PS18E-D.
Though ultra-light cabs have become overnight sensations among the gigging set, some manufacturers have been reluctant to cut too much mass from their drivers and cabinets, noting that many of those weightcutting measures result in lightweight tone. Wrestling the nearly 74-pound PS18E-D out of its shipping container left no doubt in my mind where Bag End’s philosophy lines up. But considering the incorporation of a power amp into the cabinet itself saves the hassle of handling another piece of gear, the weight didn’t bum me out in a major way.
Nestled into the back of the red-carpeted 1x18 enclosure is Bag End’s Minima One power amp, which draws its power via a Speakon cable. The Bag End’s combo input jack accepted both XLR and ¼" cables, so I was able to plug a bass in straight away. Any preconceived notions I had about a colossal 18" driver sounding more muddy or sluggish than a smaller speaker evaporated in short order as I played up and down the bass’s neck. The swift sub spoke loud and clear when I plumbed the lower reaches of my 5-string.
Plugging a range of basses into the Bag End was a thrill—it felt as if I was listening to the pure tone of each instrument without the coloration that comes from running it through a mess of preamp circuitry. Of course, the Minima’s minimal tone control— which consists of a 3-position hi-pass filter—means a preamp would be necessary for most applications. Pairing the Bag End with Fender TPB-1 and Demeter VTBP- 201S preamps allowed me to leverage a luscious array of tones against the Bag End’s unflappable, fundamentally massive sound. Though I haven’t yet had much luck wrestling Eden’s new WTDI preamp/DI pedal away from BASS PLAYER Web Director Max Sidman (whose review of the pedal you’ll fi nd on page 54), you can bet I’ll soon be packing that pocket-sized preamp in my gig bag and running it through the PS18E-D. Wish me luck.
Pros Super-fast, flabfree low-end handling
Minima One power amp
Power rating 500 watts @ 8Ω
Power amp topography Class D
High pass filter -6dB @ 8Hz, 50Hz, and 95Hz
Speaker 1x18" Bag End subwoofer
Construction 7-ply poplar with metal grille and dual recessed handles
Covering Red carpet
Dimensions 22" x 22.5" x 18.5"
Weight 73.5 lbs
Made in U.S.A.
Warranty Electronics, 2 years; cabinet, 6 years