Acoustic B15 Bass Amp
A practice amp with bigger ideas
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted – 12-17-2012
When I bought my Sterling S.U.B. Ray4 Bass I also needed a compatible amp. I had done some research and noted that the offerings from Acoustic consistently received good marks from users. Then when I was looking in the local music store the Acoustic B15 Bass Amp was recommended as a good amp for my purposes. That made it nearly unanimous so I bought one.
The Acoustic B15 Bass Amp is a 15W (at 8 Ohms) that generates its bass sounds through a single 10”-diameter, 16W, 8-Ohm speaker. The amp overall is 13.8”-tall by 10.4”-deep and 18.1”-wide and weighs a stout 23-lbs.
The front panel is simple but gives you access to some not-so-ordinary features in an amp this economical. First is the standard ¼” input jack for the guitar cord. Then the Acoustic B15 Bass Amp has a (Master) Volume dial next to a selectable Overdrive circuit with Overdrive and (Overdrive) Level controls. The Overdrive dial controls the amount of pure overdrive while the Overdrive Level controls the mix of overdriven signal to clean signal. A pushbutton between them lets you turn the Overdrive section On and Off.
Next is the Shape pushbutton that enables the three-band EQ section. Each of the Low, Mid and High dials let you choose the amount of that frequency range needed to get the sound you want. There isn’t a lot of fanciness here, just simple function which works better in an EQ anyway.
Next is a pair of 1/8” plug ports. The first is and Auxiliary IN that lets you play along with tunes on players like your IPod, phones and similar devices. Then comes the Headphones plug that kills the speaker when the headphone jack is inserted. Aside from simple silent practice, you still hear whatever is plugged into the auxiliary jack as well.
The rear of the Acoustic B15 Bass Amp is unremarkable except for the speaker being fully enclosed. The hard wired power cord also exits at the rear.
I have to admit that going into this review I really did not understand why a bass amp would have an overdrive channel. However, after exploring Overdrive in this amp a bit I see why it is there. The Acoustic B15 Bass Amp sounds great in the total “clean mode” with the Overdrive and EQ features disabled but you can do so much more with those features even if you do not go to their possible extremes.
Without the additional features the Acoustic B15 Bass Amp produces great traditional bass tones and can do that at volume levels that are a bit surprising out of such a small looking cabinet. For my purposes of rocking my office and doing some recording for web site music, the Acoustic B15 Bass Amp is more than adequate.
When I first started messing around with the Overdrive circuitry I tried it out on the famous Jethro Tull Aqualung lead in. Playing that clean and then with some grit dialed in shows that Overdrive is not wasted on a bass in the right situation.
The EQ feature is also very handy because it lets you dial in a huge range of tone even when your bass is not equipped with active controls like my Sterling S.U.B. Ray4 Bass is. I also find that the EQ feature is nice for customizing the bass tone to better match the guitars with which the bass is playing along. You can easily make the bass “fit in” better by manipulating the Bass, Mid and Treble bands the bass guitar is creating.
Another important point is that you can use the Overdrive and EQ features individually or together. Used together you have a ton of tone range possibilities to get the precise sound you want out of this little powerhouse amp.
The Acoustic B15 Bass Amp certainly is not the best choice for a stage amp but for just about everything else it is more than capable. It is great for learning the bass or practicing. Put a decent microphone in front of it and you can record full-toned tracks with the sound you want.
With a street price of just $99.99 (12-7 2012) it is hard to imagine a better value in modern musical equipment. Whether you need a learning amp or one for practice and maybe even recording the Acoustic B15 Bass Amp deserves a long hard look. Everything I can see about this amp is quality and its function is wide-ranging at the very least. If you like bang for your amp buck you need to see the Acoustic B15 Bass Amp.