Review: Warwick BC 40 and BC 150 bass combos

Warwick’s new BC-series of bass combo amps is a fruit of their collaboration with Swedish bassist Jonas Hellborg. The basic idea was to transplant as many of the innovations of the top class Hellborg-series into a range of less expensive Warwick amps.

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The Warwick BC-40 (current price in Finland:170 €) comes from the smaller end of the BC-range. This 40-watter comes loaded with a 10-inch speaker and a two-inch treble horn.

The Chinese combo is sturdily built – the carpet-covered cabinet will surely take some knocks without any negative effects, and the speakers are well protected by a chunky metal grille.

The BC 40’s power switch and power cord connector have been placed in a surprising spot, near the bottom of the combo’s back wall. This isn’t Warwick trying to make life difficult for us bassists – quite the contrary! By placing the power transformers as far away as possible from the preamp’s sensitive electronics, hum and interference are kept at a minimum, keeping noise out of the bass signal.

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Simple is beautiful: The Warwick BC 40 offers two inputs – one for active and the other for passive instruments – a three-band EQ section and the master volume knob. There are two mini-jacks situated on the front panel, with one being an input for your mp3-player and the second being a headphone out for quiet practising (the speakers are switched off automatically when you connect your headphones).

Two features, which come straight from the Hellborg-series, are hidden from sight: The preamp runs as a low-noise Class A -circuit, and it also includes Warwick’s DDL-technology. DDL stands for Dynamic Distortion Limiter and keeps the signal virtually free from distortion or clipping, even with the combo turned all the way up (the knob goes to 12).

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The Warwick BC 40 packs a surprising amount of punch for such a small bass amp. Listen closely to the Reggae- and plectrum-soundbites, and you’ll hear the practicing studio’s lamps rattle along to the vibrations. The volume knob was only half-way up…

But it’s not only the volume – this little combo also sounds much larger than it actually is.

The following soundbites have been recorded using a bass with a MM-type humbucker and passive electronics:

Warwick BC 40 – fingerstyle

Warwick BC 40 – plectrum

Warwick BC 40 – Reggae

Warwick BC 40 – slap

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The BC 40’s big brother – the Warwick BC 150 (current price in Finland: 414 €) – is large enough for many live and studio applications. It offers 150 Watts of power going into a 15-inch woofer and a 4-inch treble horn.

Even though the BC 150 is quite a compact and light (25 kg) combo, I still would have loved to have seen side handles alongside its single top handle. This would have made heaving the combo into you car’s boot much easier.

As is the case with all BC-combos, the BC 150 is not fan-cooled – again, the idea is to keep noise levels down. The combo uses the air flowing inside its bass-reflex cabinet for cooling.

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The larger amp has also been endowed with a few additional features: The BC 150 sports a four-band EQ, as well as a level knob for the auxiliary input. An LED-indicator informs you of the automatic compressor’s status. At the far right of the front panel you’ll find phone jacks for the effects loop, as well as the line level output.

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In addition to the larger sound pressure, this combo’s increased size also results in a deeper and more transparent tone. The four-band EQ also adds a little bit more flexibility to proceedings.

The soundbites use the same set-up as before:

Warwick BC 150 – fingerstyle

Warwick BC 150 – plectrum

Warwick BC 150 – Reggae

Warwick BC 150 – slap

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I feel this is the way things should always be done, with improvements in top-of-the-line products trickling down into more affordable product ranges. Warwick have really succeeded in this respect – the bass-for-the-euro-ratio stands tall, especially due to both combos’ dynamic and clean tones and powerful voices.

Furthermore, I was positively surprised by the silky sounds emanating from both combos’ treble horns. Here the horn contributes a pleasant sheen to proceedings without ever sounding harsh or abrasive.

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Warwick BC-series bass combos

Finnish distributor: Musamaailma

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Warwick BC 40

Current price in Finland: 170 €

Pros:

+ value for money

+ sturdy build

+ sound

+ power

+ clean tone

+ low weight

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Warwick BC 150

Current price in Finland: 414 €

Pros:

+ value for money

+ sturdy build

+ sound

+ power

+ versatile

+ clean tone

+ no fan

Cons:

– no side handles

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