an effects pedal. The power output of a bass
amp depends on the speaker load it sees.
In general, a cab rated at 8-ohm impedance
draws less power out of an amp than a 4-ohm
cab. For the BX500, that means you’ll get 300
watts from an 8-ohm cab, the full 500 watts at
4 ohms (either one 4-ohm or two 8-ohm cabs).
If you’re a slapper or play with a heavy attack,
you’ll appreciate the one-knob compressor that
lets you get the most out of the amp without
distortion. I found the compressor to be reasonably smooth and effective. With just one
knob, it’s easy to adjust on the fly.
Carvin found a way around this, with a switch
that lowers the voltage sent to the amp so that
you can run the amp at 2 ohms safely. Set up
this way, the top power rating is still 500 watts,
but if you happen to own a couple of 4-ohm
cabs, you really can use them both together. I
have never seen another company adopt this
made of the same material inside for better stiffness. Carvin chose a relatively unusual
sealed cab design, which produces a smoother
sound spectrum, usually at the sacrifice of some
low end and efficiency. (Carvin rates the cab’s
efficiency at 106dB at 1 watt, but I’ve yet to
find a cab rated that high and would just say
that it’s “reasonably efficient.”)
Very few amps are rated for operation below
4 ohms, because they tend to overheat—a
2-ohm load is very demanding on an amp.
A Four-Ten Cab To Go
The review amp came with Carvin’s BR410N
cab, which uses Neodymium speakers and is
rated at 4 ohms and capable of 1000 watts of
power handling (an 8-ohm cab is also available).
Happily, the construction is all birch plywood
rather than the super-heavy, less durable MDF
or particleboard. There are front-to-back braces
The front grille of this cab is made of sturdy
perforated steel, and the cab is covered with
a tough, vinyl material that comes in various colors. Unlike most cabs, Carvin chose
old-school metal corners. More common are
plastic corners that lock for stacking cabs. The
metal corners don’t lock, but can take a lot
of punishment without cracking. There is a
beefy metal carrying handle on each side that
will no doubt hold up through years of hauling, although the carrying position felt a little
awkward. Caster sockets are already installed
at the factory, so if you prefer to roll your
cab, just add a set to your order. At a spec’d
65 pounds, this cab is relatively easy to manage either way. Many conventional 4x10 cabs
weigh in at 90-plus pounds.
The back panel has plenty of places to plug
in, with two 1/4” jacks and two Speakons.
In addition, the panel includes a six-position
Attenuator switch ( 5 levels plus off) for the titanium horn tweeter.
Dialing In For Live Action
What does this rig sound like? Set flat,
without the tube or drive, the amp sounds
clear, but not particularly deep, and not
adding anything distinctive to the sound
coming out of the basses I tried it with. To
give it a close listen, I first plugged in a set
of studio headphones (no speakers) and
worked with the EQ sections. The headphone jack doubles as a tuner out and as
such, a few parts of the amp are out of the
circuit, including the master volume, graphic EQ, effects loop and the mute switch.