Acoustic Amplification B10 Bass Practice Amp

GENERAL IMPRESSIONS:
I'd been wanting to try out one of the 'new' Acoustic bass amps for some time, and when I got a Guitar Center giftcard for Christmas, I got the opportunity. I've been needing a tiny bass practice amp for home...one that wouldn't cause my wife & daughter to holler "Turn that #$%@ thing down!" every time I wanted to get in some practice. I needed one that would give me good full tone at very low volume levels, so I checked out the Acoustic B10 at G.C., and found it to sound big & full. I pulled a Squier Modified Jaguar bass off its stand there in the store and plugged in, and was really blown away with the sound of this little amp! That said, however, once I got the new-in-box unit home with me, I got a bit of a disappointment. I don't think the one I took home has the same driver in it that the one in the store had. For one thing, it looks a little different thru the grill cloth. For another, gone was the deep, full low-end that the floor demo unit in the store had. Now, these were on sale at $79.99, down from their usual low price of &99.99, and I have to wonder if maybe GC had acoustic make up a batch with a cheaper driver for that sale event.
One thing I noticed right away when I removed the grille and the driver was that there is no acoustic damping material at all inside the cabinet. That just astounds me, that amp mfr's. don't do this even on their low-end products. I added a piece of 1/2" foam rubber just in the back of the cabinet to prevent reflections off the back panel from coming back out thru the cone and causing phase cancellations, and that immediately made some improvement. But again, the driver in this unit is not what I'd call a bass driver at all. The cone suspension is super-stiff, for one thing, and when you hold the driver up, outside the cabinet, and tap the cone, it's obvious that the free-air resonant frequency of the driver is well above where it should be for a bass driver....at least an octave. Back in the cabinet, even with the foam damping, it still has no real low-end 'oomph' like the store demo unit had. The speaker is SO bright-sounding, in fact, that I have to turn the amp's "high" control all the way DOWN to bring it to a tonal balance at all, and even then, I still get enough treble that even 'pop-n-slap playing' has as much highs as I want.
OK, so I know that it's probably not the amp itself that lacks low-end and has too much high-end, because the store demo unit sounded fine and I detected a visual difference between thr driver in it and in the one I took home. So I took out the stock driver and dropped in one that I had lying around, to see what happened. Right away, the bottom sounded 100% fuller, deeper, and just generally better, and the highs were brought under control nicely. So I figure a decent 10" bass driver would make this little amp work a lot better. Also, new drivers need some break-in time to loosen up their cone suspensions, and maybe the stock 4 Ohm driver would eventually warm up a lot. But those piercing highs just don't work for me. Having to turn the treble knob all the way down to obtain some semblance of tonal balance just ain't right.
So, now that I've appeared to diss this little amp thoroughly, let me try to point out the good things about it.

SPECIFICATIONS: (from the Acoustic Amplification website)
The Acoustic B10 is the perfect starter amp for beginning bass players or anyone else who needs a compact rehearsal amp for personal use. Delivering the legendary Acoustic tone in an easy-to-use, no frills package, this amp will get you up and running in no time.
Featuring a single instrument input, this 10 watt amp comes housed in a closed back cabinet designed to maximize projection of the 10", full frequency speaker. With preamp gain control and a three band EQ, you can dial in an impressive range of tones, from clean and simple, to dirty and mean. An 1/8" stereo headphone out on the front panel lets you practice silently, and the 1/8" stereo aux input right next to it lets you play along to pre-recorded accompaniment from an MP3 or CD player.
The Acoustic legacy is alive and well in the B10 - a seriously fun amp for serious bassists.
Features:
Power : 10 W
Speaker : 10"
Channels : 1
EQ : 3 Band
Dimensions : 20"H x 16.8"W x 13"D
Weight : 23 lb
The build quality of this amp is excellent. Very high-density fiberboard (MDF) is used for the cabinet; quite solid. The Tolex covering is very neatly applied. The cabinet handle is really nice; a strap-type with enough width to it and a rubbery, grippy strap so as not to give you hand-fatigue when carrying it around. Everything fits very snugly and cleanly, and it looks very clean and neat. It has that light-blue accent color on the front panel, with the 'acoustic' lower-case logo, the same as in the old days, and the blue power indicator light jewel you'll remember from the 'old' Acoustic amps. It truly has the 'Acoustic' vibe, all over.

CONCLUSIONS:
This amp (even if it drives up the price a few dollars) needs a much better speaker in it! And, it needs acoustic damping material inside the speaker chamber. Given those two things, it would probably be THE best bass practice amp out there. All the others in this power/price range have either an 8" or even a 6-1/2" speaker in them. None of them that I've heard give me the bottom-end response I'd want in a practice amp. The Peavey MicroBass probably comes as close to 'good enough' as I've heard. But this little Acoustic B10 with a good driver in it would be head & shoulders above the rest. I plan to find a good 10" bass driver to use in it, and to put some acoustical damping in the cabinet, to bring it up to where it should (and COULD) be in terms of tone. Some may say that doing all this to a cheap amp is like 'polishing a turd', but I think I'll have a really nice little practice amp when it's done.
So, to Acoustic Amplification:
Please, build these with a real BASS driver in them, and for cryin' out loud, put some damping in that cabinet!

UPDATE!!!
I added some 1" fiberglass insulation in the speaker chamber; the back, sides, top & bottom. This deepened the low bass a definitely perceptible amount, and smoothed out the overall frequency response of the speaker. Before, it had a low-mid/upper bass 'honk' (peak) in it that I found very annoying. I suspect that was partly due to standing waves in the cabinet, and the damping material pretty much cleaned that up. Also, the high overtones as heard when playing 'pop-n-slap' style are not so harsh and gritty as before; much more focused and clear. In general, the insulation 'darkened' the tone of the speaker somewhat and to a large degree, took out the peaks and dips in the frequency response. And I believe the driver itself is beginning to get 'broken in' as well, because it seems less stiff, and a good deal warmer-sounding than it was at first, even before putting the fiberglass in.
Again, it amazes me that amp manufacturers omit the damping in their speaker cabinets. It makes such a huge difference!

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