Review: Carvin MicroBass MB 10

Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – control panel

Carvin’s series of extremely compact MicroBass bass combos is built using the company’s lightweight BX 250 MicroBass amplifier sunk into four differently-sized speaker cabinets. Thanks to some clever design work – as well as lightweight modern bass speakers – even the largest of the MicroBass-combos, the MB210 (equipped with two 10-inch speakers and a horn tweeter), only weighs 16 kilos.

Kitarablogi received the smallest member of the MicroBass-family for testing. The MB10 is small enough to take with you on public transport, should the need ever arise.

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Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – front view

Carvin MicroBass MB10 (current price in Finland: 577 €) is compactness incarnate:

The combo’s dimensions are only 47 x 33 x 28 cm (h/w/d), and it weighs in at just below 12 kilos!

Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – side view

Despite its diminutive size the Carvin’s build is roadworthy and sturdy.

The 10-inch speaker and the horn tweeter are safely tucked away behind a chunky metal grille.

Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – back view

You can use the MicroBass MB10 both with the cabinet standing up and lying on its side, thanks to two sets of rubber feet installed to the closed-back cabinet.

Carvin MB10 colour options

Black vinyl is the MB10’s standard livrée, but if you feel more flamboyant you could also get your small Carvin in, say, fake snake hide for a small surcharge (40 €).

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Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – control panel – large

Small it may be, but Carvin’s BX 250 MicroBass amplifier comes fully equipped:

Carvin’s preamp section runs in Class A with satisfyingly low levels of hiss. Adding more Drive to proceedings will fatten up your tone and add a little bit of grind, but you shouldn’t really expect any Metal-style distortion from this combo.

The Contour-knob allows you to apply a loudness-type pre-EQ curve to your signal, which will boost both the bass and treble frequencies, while attenuating the mid-range slightly. Contour works nicely in cleaning up a crowded mid-range, as well as adding a bit of punch to your overall sound.

The EQ-department on the MicroBass is very well equipped, too. In addition to the shelving Bass and Treble filters Carvin has added a lot of flexibility in the guise of two semi-parametric mid-frequency filters. There’s ample boost and cut on tap to satisfy any bass player.

The amp also includes a nifty bass-optimised one-knob compressor. A red light in the middle of the amp’s blue jewel light gives you nice visual clues about the amounts of compression applied to your signal. Carvin’s compressor works in a very musical fashion, and it helps the player to get the most out of this little bass combo. Even small amounts of compression will go a long way in helping to clean up the MB10’s output, helping you to get even more volume out of the Carvin.

Using only the built-in speakers, the MicroBass’ Class D power amp will dish out 200 watts of power, adding a compatible extension cab will give you 50 watts more.

In addition to the speaker output, there’s also a headphone output that doubles as a tuner out, and a balanced DI-output (XLR). The output levels for the headphone and DI-output are controlled by the DI Level knob. Using the Pre/Post switch you can decide, whether to send the input signal directly to the output, or whether you’d prefer to use the preamp signal, complete with compression and EQ.

Lovers of warm vintage sounds will be pleased to hear that you can dim the Carvin’s tweeter, using a mini-switch.

Because writing about sound always seems somewhat futile, I’ve prepared different audio clips to give you an idea of the Carvin MicroBass MB10’s versatility. All clips have been recorded with a microphone:

Jazz Bass – EQ-controls in neutral

Jazz Bass – light bass boost, Tweeter-switch set to Dim

Jazz Bass – played with a plectrum, a little bit of Contour added

Jazz Bass – slapped, Contour set to 12 o’clock

Höfner 500/1 – plectrum, Tweeter set to Dim

Rickenbacker 4003

Rickenbacker – plectrum

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Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – front view 2

If you’re holding down the bass in a loud-as-f*ck Metal band, or if your usual gigs include 20,000-seater stadiums, Carvin’s little combo probably isn’t the right choice for you. The MicroBass MB10 is a loud amp – for its size – but it can only go so far…

But: The Carvin MicroBass MB 10 is a fantastic choice for the majority of us bassists, who play in small clubs, in restaurants or in pubs. In venues such as these the Carvin will be just the ticket, its tiny footprint and big sound making it a gig machine. The recording studio is also a place where a high-powered bass stack can be counterproductive, due to issues such as audible bleeding into drum mics, making a high-quality, moderate-power combo, such as the MicroBass MB10, a great choice. I’d also reckon that this little Carvin will find a place in the hearts of many Unplugged-, Folk- and (acoustic) Jazz-players.

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Carvin MicroBass MB10

577 €

Finnish distributor: Musiikki Silfverberg

Thanks to Vantaan Musiikki for the loan of the review combo!

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Pros:

+ compact size

+ lightweight

+ versatile

+ easy-to-use compressor

+ sound

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