Review – Wayne Jones Audio WJBA & WJBA2 Amplifiers and WJ 2×10 Cabs
Wayne Jones Audio WJBA & WJBA2 Amplifiers and WJ 2×10 Cabs Review…
A while back, Bass Musician Mag reviewed a couple rigs from Wayne Jones Audio, including some of their exceptional bass preamps and powered cabinets. I remember being struck by the build quality, feature set, and above all, killer tone of Wayne’s gear. Well, he’s at it again, and true to form, he’s blowing the roof off with a line of incredibly powerful and feature laden bass amplifiers and speaker cabinets. The WJBA and WJBA2 amps offer bassists well thought out features and options that leave professional players wanting for nothing in terms of volume, flexibility and tonal options. He also sent over a pair of his new passive WJ2x10 cabs to check out, which incorporate some smart updates from his line of powered cabs, and similarly (and most importantly), have tone for days. I am as blown away by this rig as I was the first batch of Wayne Jones Audio gear, and it’s nice to see the more conventional approach of powered amplifiers and passive cabinets, since most of us are more accustomed to this configuration. It’s pretty obvious from the get-go when you unbox and power up Wayne’s gear that he’s not messing around here. The rig looks serious, feels serious, and sounds very serious. Let’s take a closer look.
Wayne Jones WJBA and WJBA2 Amplifiers
The flagship of the new line is the formidable looking WJBA amp, a 2 channel, 2000-watt bass amp monster that at first glance can appear a little overwhelming.
Designed in collaboration with, and incorporating feedback from Wayne Jones Audio endorsees Andre Berry (David Sanborn, Brothers Johnson, Peter White) and Scott Colley (Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker, Jim Hall), the WJBA has been designed to meet the demanding volume and flexibility needs of working professionals. Once you spend a little time with the amp, it becomes clear that Wayne’s extensive history as a pro bassist has helped him develop equipment that serves players with smart features and flexible signal routing, to help support even the most demanding gig needs. Calling its power output “robust” would be a bit of an understatement. Under the hood of the WJBA is dual 1000w Pascal amplifiers, which allow the amp to deliver 2000w at either 4 or 8 ohms. You can run the amp: in mono with one bass, with 2 basses (each with a dedicated channel and EQ), with stereo output basses like some Rickenbackers, or in true stereo, to accommodate stereo effects, via its stereo FX loop. Each channel features an optical compressor, 6 bands of active equalizer, and a 30 Hz boost switch. The EQ points are designed to correspond to the fundamental frequencies of each string, allowing you to balance the instruments output for an even response. However, you can also use it as you would a conventional EQ, shaping the highs, mids and lows to taste with 6 bands of control. The output section includes a pan control, to adjust the relative volume of each output/cabinet, as well as a master volume control for the amplifiers overall volume level. As with his previous products, there is ample LED metering on the front panel for the input gain (of each channel) and output level of the power section. This helps with proper gain staging to make sure you have the signal optimized for headroom and clarity. Additionally, channel two offers a dual input for XLR or 1/4” inputs, and selectable 48v phantom power for upright microphones. Truly, this is a great option for doublers who need both a solid one-stop solution for taking full advantage of amplifying their upright, as well as a slamming no-compromise electric bass rig.
Moving to the back panel, you’ll find all the connectivity you could ever want for signal routing options and flexibility, including: XLR and ¼ output for each channel, “preamp outputs” for each channel (ideal for using powered cabinets), a stereo FX loop, Speakon connections for each channel, 1/4” and 1/8” aux inputs, a headphone output with level control, and a dedicated DI output with a level control and a ground lift switch. It can also accommodate 115 or 230 volts, for ease of use Stateside and abroad.
The WJBA2 amplifier is essentially a 1 channel version of the WJBA2, and offers up 1000w bridged into 4 or 8 ohms, in a slightly smaller and lighter package, and without the XLR input and phantom power.
WJ 2×10 Passive Cabs
When I reviewed the powered Wayne Jones 2×10 cabs in the past, I was struck by how incredibly big, quick and clean they sounded. They were certainly remarkable sounding for a 2×10 and sonically dwarfed a whole lot of 2×10’s I’ve owned or played. At the time, my only issues had to do with the form factor and challenge of carrying of the cabs. The handle placement made it difficult to pick up and move, and their extra depth (20.4”) made it a little awkward to carry. Wayne updated the new passive WJ 2×10’s with handles on the top and bottom, and improved the handle design to make them more comfortable to hold. This dramatically improved the schlep factor, and despite their size and 64 lb. weight, I find these to be much easier to cart around. Additionally, he moved the control/input panel from the top of the cab to the back of the cab which allows these to be stacked in a vertical fashion, whereas the powered cabs had to be stacked horizontally, due to the panel/jack location. Wayne also omitted the built in wheels and telescoping handle found on the active cabs, shaving some weight. The only other change is the new smooth vinyl covering, now used on all cabinets in the product range. The vinyl looks sharp, but was more prone to scuffs and scrapes than the carpeted covering. Getting covers for them would be a wise investment, to avoid minor damage that can happen when loading in/out.
Capable of handling 700w, and with a frequency response of 40 Hz to 20 KHz (extending down to 28 Hz), the Kevlar impregnated drivers with massive magnets are capable of providing tons of output and slam. Dual attenuators on the back panel allow you to cut up to 12Db of highs and mids (mids in the 300-600Hz range) for further tailoring.
Overall, the 2×10 performs stunningly well, and fills out the entire frequency range beautifully from top to bottom. They are extremely clean and linear sounding throughout the midrange, with no blurriness or congestion, lending them to be excellent options for all flavors of modern bass tone. But considering the awesome tone shaping ability of the WJBA heads, they can be EQ’d to deliver all kinds of great sounds. The low end extension is remarkable, capable of hitting subwoofer-like lows that many bass cabs can’t quite achieve, especially with some judicious use of the bass knob and the 30Hz boost switch.
To wrap up, the new gear from Wayne Jones represents a very high degree of engineering, design and performance for bass players.
While players who gravitate towards vintage inspired equipment may prefer simpler and more traditional sonic and aesthetic offerings, when it comes to high performance, high output, no-compromise bass amplification, Wayne Jones continues to create a high water mark for what a bass amp can do. Players inclined towards modern tones are sure to be blown away by the rigs sheer capacity for volume and extension. I brought the big rig out on a couple gigs and it provided an effortless playing experience, translating every sonic nuance of my playing, and delivering massive headroom and horsepower. It’s one of those rigs you have to hear to truly appreciate.
For more information and pricing, visit Wayne Jones Audio’s website.