Mesa/Boogie is no stranger to the virtual pages of MusicPlayers.com. They make some of the finest all-tube guitar amplifiers used by countless professional musicians worldwide. It was only in recent years that the company turned its attention to the needs of bass players, and the question on everybody’s mind is, “Can Mesa/Boogie give bassists something as good as what they make for guitarists?”
The Mesa/Boogie Big Block Titan V12 can be summed up in one word: WOW! The 1,200 watts of power provided by Mesa/Boogie’s simul-state power M-Pulse circuitry are superbly clean, and overall, the sound of the Titan was amazing. The tone quality produced in all ranges was pure and precise, a true representation of the bass itself. The characteristics of the bass came through with very few adjustments to the EQ, and when we did play with the EQ settings to create more a more growling tone or to produce a nice high end punch for funk style, the Titan gave us everything we wanted and then some.
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|OVERALL RATING = 4.0, which earns it a WIHO Award.
3.6 stars or better: Outstanding, WIHO Award
3 stars or better: Worth considering
2 stars or better: Suited to specific needs
1 star or less: Not recommended
The Titan is as rugged as it looks. Metal knobs ands solid switches make the Titan a great choice for the working musician. We appreciate the fact that this unit is available in both head and rack-mount configurations.
The matching V212 cabinet along with the Titan produced incredible deep low-end tones without being muddy, and crisp high end pops that were bright without being glassy.
Our overall rating and score were a perfect 4 Stars across the board — a feat not yet achieved by any product from any bass-related manufacture! We loved the look of both the amp and the speaker cabinet but we really loved the sound that we were able to get from it. This amp gives you all the features that you could want in a pro level bass rig. It delivers power to spare and outstanding tone reproduction. Your cool bass lines won’t be heard well if the sound isn’t clear, and this amp will reproduce them crystal clear. If you’re shopping for a new bass rig, we highly recommend this setup, so much so that we’ve already put our old gear up for sale — we can’t imagine having to send this amp back to Mesa/Boogie!
The Mesa/Boogie Titan V12 offers every standard feature we can think of, plus several “extras” that we enjoyed. First, is the power section: 1200 watts of simul state power. Mesa/Boogie’s web site describes this power section as follows: “The heart of the M-pulse hybrid circuitry which uses vacuum tubes for signal amplification right up to the final output devices which are custom made MOS FET’s specially made in England.”
The Titan has two separate (and footswitch selectable) inputs for two different bass guitars, and two channels of gain and EQ. This made it easy to maintain up two independent tone settings for one bass with active electronics and one bass with passive pickups.
Each channel has its own gain, parametric EQ settings and output volume controls. The Bass control gives a 6db boost up to 321Hz and a 6db cut down to 20Hz. The passive Mid is useful, but for stronger mids the Titan has an Active mids control for a brighter mid range boost up to 15db. The Active mids gain is controlled by the Frequency knob which allows you to set a sweep between 200Hz and 2Khz. The Treble control works like the Bass control, giving a 6db boost or cut between 723Hz and 20Khz.
The Titan V12 also has (via a pull-out knob) a bass overdrive feature, and a master volume control. There is also a cool feature called SOLO. Just like with Mesa/Boogie’s guitar amps, this feature boosts the volume (user adjustable level) when it’s time to feature a bass solo or just a really cool riff in a song. Both the overdrive and solo features can be activated by the included footswitch.
Not many bass amplifiers have a standby switch — not even many high end models, but Mesa/Boogie has one just below the power switch. It’s a nice touch.
The rear panel has several inputs and outputs for:
Slave units to power multiple cabinets, or for just more power (if you need more power than this amp provides, talk to us about an interview).
If you don’t want to use the supplied foot controller, there are eight 1/4” footswitch jacks for easy integration with other switching systems you may want to integrate with.
A direct out with ground and pre and post selects for the mix you are sending to the board. This is a really nice feature as it will allow you to have one sound on stage while the sound man can have another, or blend between your stage miked sound and a direct, non-EQed tone.
An Effects loop for you effects pedal or effects modules. The loop is wired in series, post-EQ, and although it lacks a level control, it does offer true bypass for purists who can’t bear the thought of unnecessary circuitry getting in line with their instrument signal.
Oh, and not to be overlooked, both the front panel and the back feature dedicated inputs for your tuner, so whether you’ve got one in your rack-mount setup or a small one that you just plug in and set on top of the cabinet, you’re covered! Further, when using the supplied footswitch, there is a Mute button — handy for silent tuning (without access to the footswitch, you can put the amp in standby mode for silent tuning).
The beauty of the Titan V12 is more than skin deep. The front panel just doesn’t look rugged, but it is! The knobs are metal, and are easy to operate and see even in low light conditions. All of the metal toggle switches feel solid, too. Power & standby indicators are very bright and easy to see at a glance. Other lights for channel selection and channel Overdrive indicators are also bright and easy to spot without hunting for them. We really appreciated that there were no plastic parts — this amp is constructed to withstand serious use.
The matched V212 speaker cabinet is a perfect match for the Titan amp. It is fairly light weight for its size but it packs a punch when it come to sound. thanks to two twelve inch bass speakers and a horn for the high frequencies. The cabinet has built-in recessed handles for easy moving or lifting, and also includes heavy-duty casters that are removable.
The back of the cabinet provides the usual inputs and then some. Besides the 8 ohm output is a Parallel Out for connecting another cabinet (maybe a 15 or 18 if you wish) and crossover switch for adjusting frquencies sent to the horn. You can switch it from 4K Normal to 3K Bright or 5K Sheen. There is also a 2db boost or cut control knob for the high range. And just in case you push the horn a bit too much, there is a circuit breaker protection feature to reset if you get carried away.
The Big Block Titan V12 was very easy to set up and use right away. Even before completely reading through the well-written manual, we were able to get a great sound through this amp. The Manual helped us to achieve the best sound quality, though, and utilize our effects and other toys to their best potential.
We liked the ease of use in this full-featured amp. The features and controls were laid out in a logical manner, knobs and switches were solid to the touch and well spaced, and integration with our pedals and tuner was a simple affair. Just set the EQ to your liking, adjust the overdrive, set your solo volume boost level, plug in the footswitch, a bass (or two), and play!
We were hoping that maybe for this review we could push it up to five stars, but four is as high as we go.
A car engine with high horsepower helps the performance of the car even at normal speeds. In the case of the Titan V12, its 1200 watt “engine” is not just focused on creating tons of volume (although it certain offers that) — it gives the player the power and flexibility to have a smooth clean tone that blends well at all volume levels. Of course there’s still enough power to shake the floor and be recorded by a seismologist miles away.
Playing with the EQ settings and gain controls, we were treated to an incredible tone that was deep but not booming, and super-clean highs that didn’t sound glassy or bring out too much string noise. It was also very easy to set the two channels for significantly different tones. Through one channel, we had a vintage Fender Jazz bass that we set for a cool funky R&B sound. We were able to get a solid bottom end with clear mids and just enough highs to get the funk slap and pops that are signature sounds from this bass.
Through the second channel, we plugged in another popular bass — the Music Man Stingray five-string. With this bass we were looking for a heavier rock tone, and it was also very easy to dial in our preferred sound. We went a little heavier on the low end, but the sound stayed clean and focused even with the lower frequencies of the low B string delivering a strong bottom end. We then punched up the mids a bit more and added some of the overdrive for a truly impressive rock sound.
The Vintage Powerhouse V212 cabinet features two 12” speakers plus a high-frequency horn in a cabinet that is close to a typical 4x12 enclosure in size. Mesa/Boogie designs their own speakers, and the cabinet features proprietary triangular-shaped ports, user selectable crossover points (3k, 4k, or 5k), and an adjustable high frequency attenuator. All of this added up to a stellar sounding cabinet that reproduced everything we could throw at it.
The tone quality even at softer volumes was extremely clean, and we didn’t hear any loss of resonance or desired harmonics at lower gains. At higher volumes the same was true. With the exception of some buzzing from other items in the room (such as pictures, snare drums and other stuff), louder gain settings were responsive and just as clean as the quieter ones.
We also tried the Titan V12 with a speaker cabinet that had a fifteen-inch Black Widow speaker and a high-frequency horn. Those results were very impressive, too. Although we found the sound of Mesa/Boogie’s V212 cabinet clearly superior, it was clear to us that playing the Titan V12 amp through our old speaker cabinet sounded significantly better than our previous bass amp paired to the cabinet.
Documentation and Product Support
The Owner’s Manual for the Titan V12 is very well written, and provides excellent descriptions of all features and controls. Mesa/Boogie even supply sample settings for different styles of playing: Warm, R&B, Scoopy Slap, Tight Finger Style, Sparkling Clean and Overdrive. There is also a page where you can write in your own settings if you need to remember a particular tone for a different sound or bass. With so many great sounds at your disposal, we’d suggest photocopying that page, or print it from the electronic PDF manual that can be downloaded from the Mesa/Boogie website.
Every control is discussed in detail and includes an illustration of the section of the front or back panel for quick reference. Hooking up a second cabinet, pre-amp, or effects device were all explained clearly.
As with Mesa/Boogie’s outstanding guitar amp documentation, we strongly suggest making time to read the manual front to back to make sure you don’t miss any of the great features that the Titan has. The packet of information you receive with the amp also includes a current Mesa/Boogie price list (since you’ll no doubt be hooked on their products and want to purchase another cabinet or slave amp), a list of Mesa/Boogie repair shops throughout the US and Canada, and a five-year transferable warranty/registration card.
Product support is, well – it’s a Mesa/Boogie, which means a helpful person on the other end of your telephone call to Petaluma, California! Support is available through phone, fax, mail and e-mail via the Mesa/Boogie Web-Site (which happens to be a pretty informative site, and it has PDF documentation for all of the products as well as some additional technical papers for those of you who want to learn more about tube amps).
The Big Block Titan V12 comes in two flavors: The Titan Rack (three rack spaces) version sells for $1,599.00, and the self-contained version in a standard black box that sits atop a cabinet for $1,749.00
This is an excellent price for a bass amplifier with so much to offer. Other pro bass amps sell for more but do not typically include all the features or power that you’ll find in the Titan V12. It’s definitely a good bang (and we do mean BANG) for you bass bucks.
The Mesa/Boogie V212-AB cabinet sells for $739.00.
Right out of the box this was a great amp and speaker cabinet to play through. The looks, ease of use, and totally incredible sound quality make this a great choice for bassists looking for a strong and versatile rig.
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