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Sonic Farm Tantra 2500w Bass Amplifier Review

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Sonic Farm Tantra 2500w Bass Amplifier Review

Review of the Sonic Farm Tantra 2500w Bass Amplifier

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a highly respected pro audio company designed and built a bass amp from the ground up?  Have I got an answer for you. The Sonic Farm Tantra is the brainchild of pro audio sorcerers and childhood friends Zoran Todorovic and Boris Drazic, who have been designing and building professional audio equipment together for more than 30 years. 

In the engineering and mastering community, Sonic Farm is held in the highest regard for the build quality and incredible fidelity of the equipment they make.  Their award-winning gear can be found in the hands of the finest and most demanding audio engineers on the planet.  

I first learned about Sonic Farm when my friend and bass amplification big kahuna Mike Arnopol (of Michael Arnopol Soundworks) hipped me to their 2Di4 Tube Direct Box, which I reviewed for Bass Musician Mag a handful of years ago, and have been using faithfully and without fail ever since. The 2Di4 is my go-to DI/preamp for stage and studio and it always sounds exceptional, regularly acquiring praise from engineers and FOH soundpersons for its wonderful tone. 

In that review I gushed over the 2Di4, remarking how “without a trace of brashness or harshness, it was effortlessly present, warm and articulate”.   I remember thinking, man if these guys ever design a full-blown amp for bass, its gonna kill. Well folks, here it is.  Designed in conjunction with Mike Arnopol himself,  initially, the Tantra was sold as a preamp, then as an integrated head with a 1000w Pascal Class D amp module.   This newest version includes an option for a 2500w Pascal Module and boy does it deliver the goods.   

Upon first glance, the Tantra is a LOT to take in and is quick to catch people’s eyes with its bright red chassis and cream-colored knobs. 

When asked about it, I like to joke that it was ‘pulled from a space shuttle cockpit’. Its front panel is loaded with more features and controls than most of us are used to seeing in a bass amplifier, and even as someone who thinks of themselves as fairly technologically savvy, I initially found it quite complicated.  The good news is that despite its somewhat overwhelming layout, most of its features and options are defeatable and can be bypassed, making the Tantra a very simple and straightforward bass amp. 

The audio purist in you wants just a Gain control and Master Volume? Done.  Need to add a little compression? You got it.   Maybe a little bass boost? Sure thing. Playing in a funky sounding room that needs some surgical parametric EQ maneuvers?  Say no more.  You can actually make this amp as simple or intricate as you want or need it to be.   

The Tantra includes much of the 2Di4’s feature set up front, with a gain knob, switches for Hi and Lo boost and its wonderfully useful Pentode/Triode tube mode switch. 

The Hi and Lo boost have trim pots on the front panel to control the amount of low or hi boost they provide, and the Tube Mode switch chooses between Triode (less gain and cleaner, more polite sound) and Pentode (more gain and subtle saturation) tube operation from the amps EF-86 preamp tube. I mainly found myself using the more full-throated Pentode mode, however, on my 2Di4 I have found a number of uses for both Pentode and Triode mode, depending on the bass, the rig and the band.  At the top left, you’ll notice the H2 and H4 knobs.  These are the Tantra’s “Harmonic Generators”.

The H2 and H4 controls are particularly unique and interesting, adding in 2nd and 4th harmonics to your sound.  In a nutshell, the H2 knob adds in some subtle low mid growl, and the H4 knob imparts some mid/upper mid push to your sound.  Neither are earth-shatteringly potent, but they do shift the overall voicing of the amp in some very neat ways, and I found myself putting a little of either or both on my sound from time to time to make things cut through or pocket in the right ways. 

The Tantra’s exceptional 1-knob compressor delivers very smooth compression, is great at fattening up your sound, and adding presence while gently reigning in the transient peaks.  I never heard it pumping/breathing and found a great ‘always on’ setting at around 30-40%.  Sonic Farm notes that the compressor has a ‘fixed compression threshold’, so it’s important to drive the input gain to an optimal level in order to get the best results with the compressor.  I agree, as lower input gain settings resulted in a noticeable noise floor increase with the compressor engaged, but with the gain knob set just below where the input was clipping, the comp was dead quiet and functioned beautifully.

The Tantra’s EQ section really shines and deserves an honorable mention.  In addition to Bass and Treble shelving style controls, the Tantra offers a lovely fully parametric 3 band EQ, allowing you to surgically carve up your tone.   I was impressed by how powerful and accurate the parametric EQ was, and that it introduced hardly any noise when boosted.  

One of the Tantra’s more interesting features is its Overdrive circuit. 

This one gets a little complicated with its numerous controls, however, the OD Gain and Blend controls allow you to blend in a variable amount of overdrive with your clean signal.  A 3 position OD high pass filter switch delivers 3 distinctly different overdrive profiles with different amounts of high and low-frequency content, allowing you to further tailor the grit to your liking. 

One feature that’s not new to pro audio gear, but is relatively new to bass amps is the Tantra’s Variable High Pass Filter (HPF). 

It has 3 fixed frequency points, beneath which it sharply attenuates signal, cutting subsonic boom and helping to curb speaker excursion.  Users can choose between 28, 40 and 60 Hz via the 3-way switch, or defeat the HPF altogether.  I have found that an HPF is a crucial ingredient in solid, fat bass tone, and the Tantra’s works great. I mostly set it at 28 Hz, but occasionally used the higher settings in boomier environments and it helped tighten up the low end and reduce the rumbly thunder that can sometimes occur in those rooms.

The rear panel of the Tantra is pretty feature-rich as well, with separate power switches for the amps preamp and power amp section, dual Speakon connectors, a ¼” effect loop, XLR power amp input jack, and dual XLR outputs for DI out (mic level, transformer balanced), and line out (line level), as well as a dedicated tuner output and a footswitch jack (1/4”) for toggling the amps overdrive circuit.

I had a real blast testing this amp, and can say with conviction that every feature and option on the Tantra is very well thought out, supremely executed and musical in nature. 

With its studio-quality tube preamp/DI, exceptional EQ section, onboard compression, variable overdrive, harmonic generators and (prepare for understatement) massively powerful 2500w Class D amplifier module, the Tantra is a bass amp for those who demand precisely zero compromises.

Now that I’ve said that, I will say that this amp may not be for everyone. 

Between the price point, its massive power payload, and the complexity of its layout, this is a lot more amp than a lot of players need or want.  But for many of us, it checks a lot of necessary boxes.  For example, I have a compressor, parametric EQ and overdrive on my pedalboard, and the Tantra has all 3 features built-in, and then some.   The coolest thing to me is that none of these features is an afterthought or add on.  Everything is designed and implemented with the highest degree of audio fidelity and design integrity in mind.   There is something really rewarding about that, and it makes the Tantra feel like the wonderfully illegitimate lovechild of a boutique pro audio channel strip and a really ballsy bass amp.   

My only gripes with the amp have to do with layout and usability.  

Granted, I am mildly colorblind, but the thin red lines that connect each parametric EQ band to its corresponding gain, freq control and Q knobs didn’t jump out at me when making adjustments.  I found the layout and labeling confusing, but I submit that if each control was labeled fully and accurately, it would be a lot of wording to take in. Similarly, the knob layout is a function of the amps incredible amount of componentry elegantly squeezed into its chassis.  Ultimately, this is an amp that a user has to spend some time getting to know and becoming familiar with. The good news is that said user will be rewarded handily for their time and energy with one of the most flexible and great sounding amps on the planet.   I played several gigs with the Tantra, and features and options notwithstanding, it just performed beautifully, with tons of clarity, warmth, articulation and depth. 

The 1000w Tantra sells for roughly $2,250 USD, and the 2500w version clocks in around $2390 USD.   Check out Sonic Farms website to learn more! 

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Review: Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB

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Review: Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB

Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB…

Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB – Hearing protection has always been front and center on my mind because I love music so much, I cannot imagine my life if I were unable to hear.

You might remember back in 2021, we had a good look at the Minuendo Lossless Earplugs featuring adjustable protection. This system has a lot of very good features but there was always the question of how much sound attenuation to choose.

Now, the great folks at Minuendo have come up with a new version of their earplugs that has a set 17dB noise reduction. You still get a lot of the great features of the adjustables but you just don’t have to think about the specific sound level. In addition, this new version of earplugs comes at a very attractive price point.

For more information, visit online at Minuendo.com

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Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

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Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp: A Tribute to 90’s Iconic Sounds

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the realm of bass preamp/DI pedals, capturing the essence of iconic tones from the 90s can often feel like an elusive pursuit. However, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp emerges as a great option for bass players seeking to replicate the signature sounds of that era, particularly the revered tech21 SansAmp. With its robust feature set and compact design, the Tidal Wave offers a faithful homage to classic rock tones and low-gain distortions, all while providing modern conveniences for today’s bassist. Let’s delve into why the Joyo Tidal Wave stands out as a versatile and budget-friendly tool for both stage and studio.

Specs:

Measuring at 130 * 110 * 50 mm and weighing 442g, the Joyo Tidal Wave strikes a balance between portability and durability, making it ideal for gigging musicians and studio enthusiasts alike. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Tidal Wave ensures reliable performance in a variety of settings.

Controls:

At the heart of the Tidal Wave’s versatility lies its comprehensive control set, allowing bass players to sculpt their tone with precision. Key features include:

– Level: Sets the overall output volume of the pedal.

– Blend: Blends the dry signal with the cab-emulated signal, offering seamless integration of the pedal into any setup.

– Presence: Controls the dynamics of the high upper-mids, crucial for shaping drive tones.

– Drive: Introduces low-gain distortions and classic rock sounds into the clean tone.

– Treble, Middle, and Bass: Provides a 3-band EQ with frequency selectors for bass (40Hz – 80Hz) and mids (500Hz – 1KHz), offering ample control over tonal shaping.

– Middle Shift and Bass Shift: Allows for further fine-tuning of midrange and bass frequencies.

– Ground Lift: Helps eliminate ground loop noise in certain setups.

– DI Attenuation Switch: Adjusts the level of the DI output signal.

– LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal.

Performance:

True to its inspiration, the Joyo Tidal Wave excels in delivering classic rock tones and low-gain distortions reminiscent of the tech21 SansAmp. Whether you’re seeking gritty overdriven sounds or pristine clean tones, the Tidal Wave offers unparalleled flexibility and sonic versatility. The inclusion of a headphone out, XLR DI out with cab simulation, and throughout for the original bass sound make the Tidal Wave a versatile tool for both stage and studio applications. From practicing silently with headphones to crafting quality recordings in an ampless setup, the Tidal Wave delivers on all fronts with clarity, definition, and unmistakable character.

Pros:

The Tidal Wave boasts an array of advantages that set it apart from its direct competitors:

– Headphone Out: Transforms the pedal into a convenient practice tool.

– Size and Weight: Compact and lightweight design for easy transportation and setup.

– Rugged Construction: Durable build quality ensures longevity and reliability.

– DI and CabSim: Offers professional-grade direct recording capabilities with authentic cab simulation.

– Familiar Tones: Faithfully replicates the classic rock sounds of the tech21 SansAmp.

Cons:

While the Tidal Wave excels in many aspects, it does have a few drawbacks:

– Plastic Knobs: Knobs may feel less premium compared to pedals with metal controls.

– Cab Simulation Only on XLR Output: Limited cab simulation functionality may require additional routing for certain setups.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of classic rock tones from the 90s. With its faithful homage to the tech21 SansAmp, comprehensive control set, and modern conveniences like headphone out and XLR DI with cab simulation, the Tidal Wave offers bassists a versatile  tool for sculpting their sound with precision and finesse. Whether you’re seeking to replicate iconic tones from the past or forge new sonic territories, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp is sure to inspire creativity and elevate your playing to new heights.

Available online at Amazon.com

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Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Scylla Compressor

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Review: Joyo Scylla Compressor

Joyo Scylla Compressor: When Quality meets Budget-Friendly

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the diverse landscape of effects pedals for bass guitar, finding a compressor that strikes the balance between performance, versatility, and affordability can often feel like a daunting task. 

However, amidst the sea of options, one pedal stood out as a true diamond in the rough – the Joyo Scylla compressor. Despite its wallet-friendly price tag, the Scylla boasts a great array of features and controls typically reserved for pedals with much higher costs. Let’s take a closer look at why the Joyo Scylla is turning heads and earning praise among bassists on a budget.

Specs: The Joyo Scylla compressor measures in at 109 * 72 * 48 mm and weighs a mere 234g, making it both compact and lightweight – perfect for gigs or studio sessions where space is at a premium. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Scylla is efficient and versatile, compatible with a wide range of pedalboard setups.

Controls: What sets the Scylla apart from its direct competitors is its comprehensive control set, offering bassists a good amount of flexibility in shaping their sound. With six knobs, the Scylla allows for a very precise adjustment of key parameters:

  • Input Gain: Adjusts the amount of signal being fed into the compressor.
  • Output Volume: Controls the makeup gain after compression, ensuring consistent output levels.
  • Compression Ratio: Unlike traditional compressor pedals with preset ratio options, the Scylla features a continuous knob, allowing for seamless adjustment from subtle compression to limiter-like effects.
  • Attack and Release: Determine how quickly the compression engages and releases, offering a range of tonal possibilities from punchy and aggressive to smooth and subtle.
  • Output Tone Control: A unique feature not commonly found in compressor pedals, the tone knob adjusts the coloration of the compressed signal, adding warmth or brightness to your bass tone.
  • LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal, adding a touch of visual flair to their setup.
  • Performance: In practice, the Joyo Scylla delivers where it matters most – in sound quality and performance. Whether you’re aiming for a tight, punchy bass sound or smooth, sustained notes, the Scylla excels in providing transparent compression that enhances your playing without sacrificing dynamics. The granular control offered by its knobs allows for precise tailoring of compression settings to suit a wide range of playing styles and musical genres.
  • Pros: The Scylla’s strengths lie in its granular control, versatility, and compact design. Its sturdy build quality and diminutive size make it a welcome addition to any pedalboard, occupying minimal real estate without compromising on functionality. However, perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Scylla is its price point. Despite offering professional-grade features, the Scylla remains accessible to bassists of all budgets.
  • Cons: While the Joyo Scylla excels in many areas, it’s not without its drawbacks. One notable omission is the lack of metering, which may pose a challenge for users seeking visual feedback on compression levels. Additionally, the plastic knobs, while functional, may feel somewhat less premium compared to other pedals. 
  • Conclusion: In conclusion, the Joyo Scylla compressor emerges as a great option in the world of budget-friendly effects pedals for bass guitar. Its comprehensive control set, transparent compression, and compact design make it a compelling choice for bassists seeking professional-grade performance without breaking the bank. From its intuitive interface to its thoughtful touches like the tone knob and customizable LED lighting, the Scylla delivers a level of versatility and functionality that belies its modest price tag. For bassists looking to elevate their tone without compromising on quality or affordability, the Joyo Scylla compressor is a clear standout.

For more information, visit online at joyoaudio.com/product/265.html

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Bass Videos

String Instrument Humidifiers

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String Instrument Humidifiers

String Instrument Humidifiers

After living in some very humid parts of the country for decades, we moved to a dryer, much sunnier location. As a result, I started noticing some fret sprout on my string instruments and recently did a video on fret sprout correction.

It occurred to me that I should take a more preventative approach to string instrument humidification. Of course, I turned to my instrument maintenance experts, Music Nomad Equipment Care, for a solution and they suggested their Humitar series. (Note: They sent two press samples and I purchased the remainder online.)

Join me as I look at these useful tools for keeping my string instruments in tip-top condition.

The Humitar series is available online at Music Nomad Equipment Care, as well as Amazon.com

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Bass Videos

Review: CrystalBright Rombo Picks

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Review: CrystalBright Rombo Picks

CrystalBright Rombo Picks

PR Sample

Playing bass with a pick is still a touchy subject in our community. I believe you should be able to use whatever you need to get your sound. Even though I mostly play with my fingers, I like to check out innovative new picks that might have something new to offer, sonically speaking.

Judith and Carlos from Rombo recently contacted me about a new material called CrystalBright that they have been researching for the last 12 months and offered to send some prototype picks. After trying them out, I put together this video with my findings.

For more info check out @rombopicks

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