Markbass Little Mark 58R and MB58R 104 PURE…
Markbass’s commanding presence in the bass amp market has been steadily growing since Marco De Virgiliis founded the company in 2001 with an aptitude for relentless innovation. The company was on the leading edge of the neodymium driver and class D amplifier revolution and has been pushing the boundaries of size, weight, and portability. I remember well when the Little Mark II hit, making a huge splash in the market and becoming a benchmark for lightweight, high-power, great-sounding bass heads. Decades later, they have become omnipresent in clubs and venues as the brand of choice for many working players and backlines. The brand’s availability and popularity mean that for most of us, somewhere, sometime, we’ve played a Markbass rig or heard one on stage. But to be honest, the thing I think of when it comes to Markbass is how versatile the brand has become. I don’t know of another bass amp company that manages to keep happy such a wide stylistic variety of players. Slap kings Andrew Gouche, Mark King, and Marcus Miller? Check. Fingerstyle virtuosos Hadrien Feraud, Richard Bona, and Evan Marien? Yup. Alain Caron, Michael League, Joe Dart, Tom Kennedy? Yessir. There really, honestly, truly seems to be something in their line designed for just about every playing style and tone preference.
In keeping with that relentless innovation and anticipation of their customer’s desires, new from Markbass is their MB58R line, including a wide range of almost incomprehensibly lightweight 10”, 12” and 15” based cabinets, and their Little Mark 58R head. The MB58R line of cabinets includes the “PURE” series, with Markbass neodymium custom speakers and a special new hi-fi tweeter (very focused with sweet and rounds highs), the “ENERGY” Series, with Markbass neodymium custom speakers and 1” driver with horn (warm low mids that sweeps evenly into a punchy, clear, honest, accurate sound) and the “P” Series, (Markbass ceramic custom speakers and a new piezo tweeter, for classic sound in a lightweight package).
Markbass sent over their new Italian-made Little Mark 58R head and MB58R 104 PURE cab for testing and, I have to say, as someone who has been away from Markbass gear for some time, their new offerings showcase the evolution and development they’ve been working hard at for many years.
Little Mark 58R
The Little Mark 58R is reminiscent of my old beloved Little Mark II/III amps, but with some obvious changes and refinements in design. Most notably, all of the in/out jacks (aside from the speaker output) reside on the front panel. A 3-way rotary-switch allows a Flat, Scooped or FSW (Footswitchable) EQ options, and a variable “Old School” control rolls off the highs and thickens the mids, kind of like their classic “VLE” (vintage loudspeaker emulator) knob. The well-voiced 4-band equalizer is present, as well as a mute switch (which when in mute mode, causes the transparent casing for the ¼” input jack to flash on and off as handy status indicator).
Since the front panel features almost all of the i/o jacks, the spartan rear panel only contains the IEC power socket, a single Speakon output and two ¼” speaker outputs.
MB58R 104 PURE
Lifting the 35 lb. 4×10 out of its shipping carton, I had to double-check that they remembered to put the drivers in it. The lightweight neo drivers and composite enclosure honestly feel like you’re lifting an empty cardboard box. Markbass really nailed the portability goals for what feels like an impossibly light 4×10 cab. The rear porting of the cabinet allowed for a smaller front panel footprint and a diminutive cube-like stature, since there is no need for additional real estate for porting, and between the size and weight, the 104 feels easier to schlep than some of the neo 310’s I’ve maneuvered. 3 switches on the rear of the cab offer several different tweeter settings (-15dB, -9dB, -6dB, 0dB) for the cab’s hi-fi tweeter.
In testing, the Markbass “58R” rig delivered big, full-blooded sound, that didn’t sound nearly as light as the gear itself. This setup is capable of achieving a range of tones from big aggressive slap tones, textured midrange “P bass heaven” sounds and everything in between. For a 500w-rated head, the Little Mark 58R and 104 are super loud and punchy with great headroom. The 3-position tone control knob and “old school” control offer more than enough global tone shaping, and with some additional fine-tuning via the 4-band EQ, I was easily able to find a number of great sounds to fit my instruments and the band mix. And of course, when it comes time to move it, it’s a dream come true. I was super impressed with the rig’s “power to weight ratio” and would happily drag this out in settings where I would normally begrudge myself to drag a 4×10 around. Oops, Markbass did it again.
The MB58R 104 PURE retails for $949.99 and the Little Mark 58R $599.00. For more information, visit Markbass online at markbass.it