Swedish bass amp maker EBS has finally unveiled its first Class D head - the pint-sized but potent Reidmar mini stack. Was it worth the wait? Dan Veal donned his Viking helmet and prepared to do battle.
Swedish bass amplification and effects master EBS has already established itself in the bass gear market with a long list of credible bassists as endorsing artists. However, it has taken until now for EBS to take its first foray in to the 'D Class amplification' market.
Why? Well, the design specification of the Reidmar, (whose name interestingly is that of a dwarf in Nordic mythology) was to bring out a D Class amplifier to compete in the market, not to be the lightest or the most powerful on paper, but to actually deliver the same power and girth as the other amplifiers in the EBS range. Owing to the space and weight savings of D Class technology, it would mean that the amplifier could shave off pounds and inches, making a more compact and portable unit.
Setting up in the studio was a total breeze. We rapidly had everything hooked up and ready to go with my usual six string Shuker custom bass plugged in. The Reidmar's pristine sounding preamp is all analogue with no DSP sections. The front panel is tidy and very easy to operate including a 'mid scoop' pre-shape control and by-passable four band EQ. A simple, but musical, EBS compressor with just a single control is on board to control transients or just to make your bass sound lovely and squishy at more extreme settings! The four band EQ is a nod to the controls on Reidmar's siblings, featuring bass, semi-parametric mids, treble and bright controls. It's musical and great sounding, with just the right EQ frequency centres for most instruments. The mid control has a frequency knob that can be swept from down in the bass range at 100Hz all the way up to 6kHz, meeting the point at which the treble control takes over. The bright control allows you to add some real sheen and air to your bass sound, making new strings sound extra zingy!
I really liked disabling the EQ altogether in favour of using just the pre-shape function instead. Much like the Session 60 combo I reviewed in an earlier edition of Guitar Interactive, as I think that the frequency curve for the pre-shape for each of these models is actually spot-on! In my previous review I mentioned how I thought it made the combo sound much bigger than it actually was. No surprises to hear that the same effect was noticed with this mini stack too!
The Reidmar isn't about growly tube tone, nor does it pretend to be a hot rod bass monster, but what it does do is reproduce your bass tone faithfully with lots of power. I felt that playing through the stack with my normal bass, my notes were controlled without flappy subs or incoherence. Some would call this a 'tight' and 'clean' sound. I'd agree.
Round the back of the amplifier, the 'clean and tidy' theme continues, with an effects loop and D.I. output (with pre/post EQ switch and ground lift) and also a Line Out and Headphones socket. There is, unusually, only one Speakon output socket and it is not a 'jack combination' type either. So, if you have a pair of cabinets, you will need to connect the amp to one cabinet, then, in the case of the EBS CL112, daisy-chain a Speakon lead from the link (parallel) socket on the same cabinet out to the next cabinet. This will set you up with a 4 Ohm load to match with the Reidmar's minimum load to give you maximum output wattage.
The amplifier features no limiting and to that end you are afforded as much of the power amplifier's output as possible before it clips. EBS says that when the amplifier does finally push into clipping, it does it in a musical way. I have to say though, when we cranked the levels, the cabinets gave in to the crazy volume levels before the amplifier showed any signs of breaking a sweat! It's pretty loud for a standard 12" speaker pair I have to say!
EBS quotes this amplifier as having a 250W RMS output stage with a 'dynamic output' at four Ohms of 470W. In EBS marketing videos, the heads are said to be comparable to the output power of competitors' 500W rated heads. We were unable to test these claims.
We loved this wonderfully compact rig in the studio. The head sits comfortably and substantially upon the pair of EBS CL112 cabinets featuring a single EBS 12" bass speaker and 2" tweeter. We left both tweeters switched on in the review, preferring to use the EQ controls to adjust the tone and top end. To be honest though, the sound was incredibly well balanced and even with my reasonably bright bass, I chose to leave the EQ mostly flat, but boosted the low end a bit to add depth to the sound.
Each of the CL112 cabinets has a rating of 250W at 8 Ohms, paired together giving you a 500W mini stack at 4 Ohms. This is a perfect configuration for the Reidmar as a small modular rig - but make no mistake, the Reidmar would be very happy powering EBS's much larger cabinets comfortably.
Interestingly, despite EBS not wishing to compete in the race for the lightest amplifier, the Reidmar still weighs in at a tiny 3.2Kg! It's really not going to be a problem popping it in a bag and throwing over your shoulder with the bass hanging off your other shoulder! Some of the other small high power D Class heads will slip in to a front pocket of a bass soft case, however you may prefer the added protection of a dedicated amp case/bag for the Reidmar as it is a little larger than some rivals.
The construction of the head and the cabinets is absolutely flawless - no marks or ill-fitting cabinet covering - and these units were packed well and inside their sealed factory bags so clearly hadn't been selected specially for this review. Tick in the box EBS!
I think the rig will suit a wide range of players, mostly those not needing to fight Mr 5150 with his stonking 4x12! The Reidmar rig is loud, but probably not ideal for ear-splitting gigs. It's a great versatile piece of kit that rewards you with an honest and faithful reproduction of what you put into it. And when you really do need more volume? The Reidmar head could happily sit on larger EBS cabinets when the time comes to 'see off' your fellow guitarist's rig - and at a fraction of the weight!