As printed in Bass Player Magazine

Although they’re fairly rare, powered cabinets open up myriad new signal-chain options, particularly the possibility of using a “channel-strip” studio preamp for flexibility or a fave ID for unadorned, nearly straight-wire tone, Illinois-based Bag End has long made well-regarded high-end cabinets and drivers in nearly every audio category. Its designs always show a thoughtful attention to engineering a significant innovation. Its new PD10BX-D cabinet pairs its stalwart 2×10+coaxial tweeter D10BX with a modular Class D/SMPS amplifier, the Minima One. The same amped-up treatment is available with the other configurations in Bag End’s bass cab line.

The PD10BX-D was exceptionally well constructed. Its void-free Baltic birch cabinetry was well braced, with one large cross member extending from the front to rear baffle. The red carpet is not only a distinguishing feature, but also a particularly hardy example. The grille was solidly attached and rattle free. Two well-placed spring-loaded handles allow fairly comfortable lifting, although the cab is well into the heavy side of the 2×10 spectrum, here compounded by the Minima One’s additional 5.5 pounds.

To accommodate the amp, a rectangular square is cut out of the Bag End’s rear baffle. The connectivity is minimal, with a female XLR jack handling input and a male XLR functioning as a THRU jack for parallel output. A 3-position switch controls a low-frequency roll off at 8, 50, or 95Hz. AC input is via Speakon, not the vastly more common IEC standard. No doubt Speakon is a more robust connection, but the world has yet to get with the program. Thus, my biggest gripe with the Minima One: Should you misplace or forget your power cord, you’re pretty much done for. (Bag End responds: “Good Point! We’re going to look into including two power cables.”)

The Minima One needs to see a line level input at the +4dB standard to do its thing and get loud. It’ll work with a bass plugged-in directly (courtesy a q” to XLR adapter), but it will only be loud enough for private practice. What this means, essentially, is that you can’t plug a DI directly into the Minima One, unless it’s active and offers a ton gain (a DI’s output is the low “mic level” standard). Even active basses, despite their onboard preamp, don’t offer a good signal level for direct interfacing with the PD10BX-D. You can, however, use any of the bajillion preamps that output a balanced line-level signal. This includes stand-alone bass preamps, although you’ll want to use the main output (often a Q” jack) rather than the DI output.

I tried the PD10BX-D with a number of cool preamps, including the Millennia Media Origin and TD-1, a Kern IP-777, and even the unusually high-gain output of a Gallien-Kruger 1001RBII’s DI. The cabinet sounded incredible: Fast, natural, thick, and supportive, with creamy smoothness in the midrange, a natural and bouncy lushness in the lows, and a beautiful textured uppermidrange/treble voice. The Bag End managed to simultaneously be sizzly and slap-able without any edgy brittleness. In short, it sounded superb. It was capable of stage-sufficient volumes, particularly with preamps that were well gain-matched with the input.

The PD10BX-D was seriously killer. It’s a bit expensive, and I wish the amp offered more bass-friendly features, but nevertheless, the resulting tone is well worth exploring. It was a blast being able to pull my nice preamps out of their long-held spots in my home-studio rack and take them out for a night on the town.



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