Many of us choose our bass rigs based on their sonic signatures and the character they bring to our signal path. For players who want to hear their strings, their fingers, and their instruments first and foremost, however, hi-fidelity bass gear offers the tantalizing promise of true transparency without tone coloration. And few companies build bass gear as hi-fi as German manufacturer Glockenklang, whose two-rackspace Blue Soul head, released in 2012, debuted a portable, lightweight version of the company’s signature approach. The Blue Sky continues this direction while bringing just a bit more power, an EQ with semi-parametric mids, and a Class A input stage to the Blue Soul template.
The Blue Sky is packed with juicy features: separate inputs for normal and high-output basses/piezo pickups, with a pre-gain trim control; an effect send/return that can be used with an mp3 player; switchable output impedance via internal “dip” switches; and an EQ section consisting of bass, lows, treble, mid gain, and mid frequency. Around back are Speakon outputs, a q” headphone output, footswitch input and output, balanced DI out with ground lift and pre/post switching, a loop/mp3 switch that activates the stereo mp3-in function instead of the mono return, and outputs for the mp3 player/effect send/return. On the amp’s left side panel is a screwdriver-adjustable control for DI out level.
Of all the Blue Sky’s 21st-century touches, though, perhaps none is as apparent as its weight. Like many Class D amps with a switch-mode power supply (SMPS), the 700-watt amp weighs only 11 pounds, a boon that can be appreciated by anyone who’s ever had to load out a mountain of gear after a long gig.
Through headphones and small cabinets, the Blue Sky revealed nuances of an Elrick Gold-series 6-string sometimes lost or exaggerated by more “flavorful” amps. In rehearsal and onstage through Ampeg SVT-410HLF 4x10 or SVT-810 8x10 cabinets, the Glockenklang delivered muscular clarity that was immediately noticeable by the rest of my five-piece band, who confirmed that although the Blue Sky lacked earthquake lows or glassy highs, the tone of my Elrick rang through the mix like a bell. The EQ section, especially the mid-shaping controls, was crucial.
Bobby Vega wasn’t as impressed, though. As a serious Glock fan for the past 19 years, he owns Heart-Core, Soul, and Bass Art heads and frequently uses a Bass Art Classic, all with a handful of Glockenklang Acoustic Art, Heart-Core, and Bass Art cabinets. Disengaging the EQ section, hooking up his Glockenklang Acoustic Art 1x10, and plugging in his passive 1961 Fender Jazz Bass, Bobby A/B’d the Blue Sky against the flat tone of a Glockenklang Soul head and found the review amp cloudy, muffled, and compressed—until he engaged the EQ section and dialed in the mid-dB and frequency controls.
Players familiar with the company’s crystalline sound may likewise blanch at the Blue Sky’s un-EQ’d tone, and mere mortals might think twice about the price (and the dearth of certified Glockenklang technicians). But if you’re ready for a new relationship to clarity, and you’re in the market for a lightweight head with every possible bell and whistle, you’d have to have your head in the clouds to not check out the Blue Sky.
Pros Compact, lightweight, razor-sharp EQ
Cons Can sound dark until EQ is engaged
Bottom Line This portable Class D powerhouse is packed with modern goodies, but you’ll need the EQ to get close to that Glockenklang sound.
Power rating 475 or 700 watts into 4Ω or 2.7Ω, 240 or 350 watts into 8Ω
Preamp topology Class A
Power amp topology Class D
Power supply Switch mode
Outputs Two Speakon, XLR balanced line out (pre/post eq), q" headphone out, q" tuner out
Controls bass ±15dB @ 60Hz; Low ±12dB @ 130Hz; mid ±12dB @ 200Hz–4kHz; treble ±15dB @ 8kHz
Dimensions 12.6" x 11” x 3.5"
Weight 11 lbs
Made in Germany