Monday, June 3, 2013

TC Electronic RH750 Bass Amplifier Review


I have long been a fan of TC Electronic effect pedals, and I think their tuners are pretty top-notch too. But I have never had the chance to play one of their bass amplifiers until recently, and I have to say that I was impressed by their RH750 bass head.

In case you are not familiar with the company, T C Electronic has been around since 1976, and I have had great experience with their amplifiers and effect pedals. Their products are solid and reliable, and are a definitely a good value. The RH750 is no exception.

The RH750 is the beefier 750-watt version of their very good 450-watt RH450. And, when designing this unit they did not go with the currently chic hybrid tube/solid state architecture that many manufacturers are using, instead is class D power amplifier coupled with a solid-state preamplifier.

If you are familiar with the appearance of the RH750 will not surprise you, and its size is comparable with the offerings from other manufacturers. It measures a mere 12 x 11 x 3 inches, and it comes in around 8 ½ pounds (a bit heavier than its competitors). It carries over the visual and structural themes too, with an anodized aluminum front plate and a black steel chassis with a built-in carry handle. They thoughtfully built it with feet on the bottom and on one side so that it can be mounted horizontally or vertically.

For a modern-day amplifier, the RH750 is not terribly complicated to use, so after getting it out of the box it should only take a few minutes of set-up and then you are good to go. On the back is a single Speakon / ¼-inch speaker output (4 ohm minimum), and a socket for the IEC power cord. The power switch is also back there (boo), as well as the 5-pin DIN remote socket, stereo RCA AUX in jacks, a 1/8-inch headphone jack, a balanced XLR out, and effects loop and a pre-post pre-amplifier switch. There is also a digital out for running the signal straight into a recording workstation.

On the front there is a single active/passive instrument input, 3 user preset switches, a four-band EQ, gain and master volume controls, a mute switch, and a shift switch. There are also two knobs for Spectracomp and Tubetone. Oh yes, and a tuner display and a gazillion red LEDs.

This is all really neat stuff. It is handy to have the three different memory settings if you are planning on taking a few different basses to your gig. The memory positions will save all setting except for mute and master volume. The memory settings can be controlled and the built-in chromatic tuner can be viewed with the optional RC4 footswitch.

The Spectracomp is a variable compression feature and the Tubetone provides a synthetic tube emulator of both pre-amp and power tube sections.

I like the way all of this stuff works – I tried it out with two different TC Electronic cabinets: the RS 210 and the RS 212, as well as a 12-inch Genz Benz Shuttle cabin and my 410 Ampeg. I use the different set-ups with my passive P Bass, my Active Stingray and my 60 Jazz Bass re-issue to get as many different sounds as possible.

For starters (and probably most importantly), the RH750 is very loud. It is easily on par with the Genz Benz 900-watt amplifiers, and it seems louder than the Tonehammer. And it sounds really good, too. It has a great clean tone that really cuts through the mix if you need it to. I was able to twiddle with the EQ to get the tones I needed, and have no complaints with its range. This thing has great mids and a powerful bottom end if you use enough speaker.

The tuner is intuitive (heck, it is always ON), and the menu structure is not confusing if you take a minute to look at the manual. The memory presets are fabulous, and I like that they included the LEDs so you can see what the levels of each knob are. By the way, the LEDs are powerful enough that they show up well in more conditions that just dark stages.

The Spectracomp does a nice job of calming things down when popping. The Tubetone does an ok job of replicating the tube sound, but it was not close enough o the real thing for me, so I would probably not use it in the long run. You can get some overdrive with it, though…

This unit works nicely as a headphone practice amp. I hooked up my iPod through the RCA jacks, and it sounded great through a pair of quality headphones. By the way, it was nice that they included a note on the back of the unit that says it is ok to use this head without a speaker load.

This head feels like a solid unit, and the handle works well. TC Electronic backs this made in Thailand unit with a 2-year warranty, should troubles arrive. That is a nice piece of mind.

I did notice a few quirks, though. I think that having only one speaker output is kind of a big drawback, and I don’t know why it is necessary to mute the speaker out when plugging into the RCA jacks.

But, all-in-all, the TC Electronic RH750 is a great amp, and their engineers did a good job of putting together a compact amplifier that will work well for bassists that need something durable and good for their gigs. It does not have enough power to fill huge halls, but in those cases you will probably be going though the PA anyway. The only real reason to stay away would be if you just have to have real tube sound. With a list price of $1604 and a street price of $999, this thing is a real contender.


1 comment:

  1. Nice review, thanks!
    Currently I own the BG500 which is already very loud, but bulky. I do like the TC tone and features, so I'm considering an upgrade and buying the Combo 750. I'm just not sure if the 2x10 gets the job done, but I prefer portability over a but more tone. (Not hauling 4x10's around anymore!). Then again, I can always hook up another speaker.