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The HandBox Amplification thread


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#1 wateroftyne

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 11:15 AM

Hi all

As some of you might have realised, I like investigating stuff that's not generally known in the UK.

I've had the amp itch for a little while - I love my Walkabout dearly, but you know how it is - and while hunting for information on something else, I happened across a Polish audio company called HandBox. They do loads of stuff, including a line of amps - one of which, the R-400 caught my eye. It's 400w, fairly small & light, with a traditional power section and simple controls.

I exchanged a few emails with Leszek, the owner, who really seems to know his stuff. To cut a long story short, it landed on my doorstep this morning.

(Disclosure: I'm just trialling this amp. I've paid the shipping for it to come over here, and I'm just going to share my thoughts about it with the BC community. I could end up buying one, or if I decide to keep my Walkabout, I'll return it.)

First impressions:
  • It was very well packed. Even thought the amp itself is in a flightcase-style box, it still has a fitted case with pockets.
  • I'm not sure what the flightcase finish is - it's cool looking with subtle distressed look (other styles are available), and a tactile feel.
  • The amp's knobs are solid, with a little bit of a 'clicky' feel as you turn them (I'm not sure what the technical term is!).

I have to dash out now... more soon...!

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Basses: Fender '71 Precision Fretted (rosewood) | Fender '71 Precision Fretless (rosewood) | Maruszczyk Jake P/J (x2)
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#2 JapanAxe

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 11:22 AM

We need to know about the HEFT!
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#3 discreet

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 11:24 AM

Yes, for God's sake - is it HEFTY or not?? :D

#4 wateroftyne

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 11:28 AM

Time will tell :-)
Basses: Fender '71 Precision Fretted (rosewood) | Fender '71 Precision Fretless (rosewood) | Maruszczyk Jake P/J (x2)
Amplification: HandBox R-400 head | TKS Engineering S112 & S212 cabs | Ibanez Promethean P5110


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#5 discreet

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 11:28 AM

You tease!

#6 BassBunny

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 11:30 AM

Like the look of it. Subscribed. Can't wait to hear what you think of it.
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#7 spyder

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 12:03 PM

Looks great. I really love the simple layout .
But how does it sound....

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#8 Merton

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 12:10 PM

Intriguing! Looks great and I love the simplicity it :)
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#9 Beer of the Bass

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 12:26 PM

Looking at their website with Google translate, they have some intriguing looking amps. The rackmount 100 watt valve amp on their home page could probably tick a box on a few peoples wish lists.

https://translate.go...t-text=&act=url

#10 deksawyer

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 12:55 PM

Some very interesting gear there. Damn you!! :(

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#11 wateroftyne

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 12:56 PM

OK - the kids are safely installed in the softplay, so here's a bit more about it, mainly from what I've asked Leszek.

There's a drive switch at the input which bumps the signal for passive basses, and a bright / dark switch, too. I think we can guess what that does, but I don't know the specifics. I'll ask.

The EQ is a James / Baxendall tone stack, as used on the Ampeg Portaflex, etc. The lack of a mid knob worried me at first, but I did a bit of revision and I can see that it's possible to boost mids if needed by rolling back the bass and treble.

Leszek replied to say he didn't want to use any semiconductor filters on the amp (this is a bit technical for me, but it sounds like a good thing), and assured me that the mids were nice and clear in the first place, so apparently I needn't worry.

I asked him why there's no ground lift on the DI, and he replied that it's not needed as the DI is on the audio transformer, not an integrated circuit (again, I can't pretend to understand what this means).

As mentioned, there is a 120W valve version of this which is the same dimensions but 3U, and is (I think) 13kg. It sounds interesting.

The amp is available in a few styles, including a vinyl covering and a full flightcase.

I've got a gig on Friday, and an all-day rehearsal on Saturday, so I'll have lots of time to A/B it with the Walkabout...
Basses: Fender '71 Precision Fretted (rosewood) | Fender '71 Precision Fretless (rosewood) | Maruszczyk Jake P/J (x2)
Amplification: HandBox R-400 head | TKS Engineering S112 & S212 cabs | Ibanez Promethean P5110


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#12 wateroftyne

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 01:04 PM

Oh, some more info from another email - there are three tubes in the pre (full-voltage only- there's no starved plate stuff) and the limiter is optically controlled.
Basses: Fender '71 Precision Fretted (rosewood) | Fender '71 Precision Fretless (rosewood) | Maruszczyk Jake P/J (x2)
Amplification: HandBox R-400 head | TKS Engineering S112 & S212 cabs | Ibanez Promethean P5110


Bands: The Lindisfarne Story | The Caffreys | Rosie & the Hips

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#13 Happy Jack

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 01:20 PM

Yes, but what about the handles? And the feet?
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#14 wateroftyne

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 01:23 PM

View PostHappy Jack, on 11 April 2016 - 01:20 PM, said:

Yes, but what about the handles? And the feet?

Reassuringly solid :-)
Basses: Fender '71 Precision Fretted (rosewood) | Fender '71 Precision Fretless (rosewood) | Maruszczyk Jake P/J (x2)
Amplification: HandBox R-400 head | TKS Engineering S112 & S212 cabs | Ibanez Promethean P5110


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#15 warwickhunt

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 04:25 PM

I may be knocking at your door to have a skeg. ;)
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#16 Matt P

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 05:19 PM

that looks rather nice, if you don't decide to keep it then I wouldn't mind a go with it, I had a look at the prices and they seem very good value (provided that my google conversion of the price was right!)

If you are going to keep he Handbox I might make a bid for your Mesa!

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#17 wateroftyne

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 09:33 PM

View PostMatt P, on 11 April 2016 - 05:19 PM, said:

that looks rather nice, if you don't decide to keep it then I wouldn't mind a go with it, I had a look at the prices and they seem very good value (provided that my google conversion of the price was right!)

If you are going to keep he Handbox I might make a bid for your Mesa!

Matt

Of course - anyone around Newcastle who wants to see / try it is more than welcome. Just give me a shout.

Here's some more bit and pieces, starting with an EQ plot:

Posted Image



And here's the 120w tube version:

Posted Image
Basses: Fender '71 Precision Fretted (rosewood) | Fender '71 Precision Fretless (rosewood) | Maruszczyk Jake P/J (x2)
Amplification: HandBox R-400 head | TKS Engineering S112 & S212 cabs | Ibanez Promethean P5110


Bands: The Lindisfarne Story | The Caffreys | Rosie & the Hips

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#18 Bigwan

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 07:29 AM

That tube version looks VERY interesting...

Edited by Bigwan, 12 April 2016 - 07:31 AM.

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#19 Matt P

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 11:37 AM

I think I've found the website.

https://translate.go...-bin%2Findex.pl hopefully the translated version

any idea what the differences are between the amps shown are? some have pushbuttons, some toggle switches an there seem to be different layouts as well but they are all on the R400 standard page

a test of this amp would be ace, maybe if enough people want to try it we could book a couple of hours at a rehearsal room and give it a test with different cabs and basses, I'd be happy to chip in for the room hire.

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#20 wateroftyne

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 12:06 PM

View PostMatt P, on 12 April 2016 - 11:37 AM, said:

I think I've found the website.

https://translate.go...-bin%2Findex.pl hopefully the translated version

any idea what the differences are between the amps shown are? some have pushbuttons, some toggle switches an there seem to be different layouts as well but they are all on the R400 standard page

a test of this amp would be ace, maybe if enough people want to try it we could book a couple of hours at a rehearsal room and give it a test with different cabs and basses, I'd be happy to chip in for the room hire.

Matt

AFAIK the differences are all cosmetic...
Basses: Fender '71 Precision Fretted (rosewood) | Fender '71 Precision Fretless (rosewood) | Maruszczyk Jake P/J (x2)
Amplification: HandBox R-400 head | TKS Engineering S112 & S212 cabs | Ibanez Promethean P5110


Bands: The Lindisfarne Story | The Caffreys | Rosie & the Hips

See all my basses here | Watch video clips of them here | Hey! I've got feedback!

#21 wateroftyne

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 04:54 PM

...and here's what the switches do:

Bright / dark switch...
Off: flat
On: +3dB @ 100Hz / -3dB @ 750Hz / +2dB @ 10 kHz

Contour knob...
0 to -12dB @ 1kHz
Basses: Fender '71 Precision Fretted (rosewood) | Fender '71 Precision Fretless (rosewood) | Maruszczyk Jake P/J (x2)
Amplification: HandBox R-400 head | TKS Engineering S112 & S212 cabs | Ibanez Promethean P5110


Bands: The Lindisfarne Story | The Caffreys | Rosie & the Hips

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#22 Passinwind

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 05:20 PM

So what is the actual size and weight please? I couldn't find that in a quick look at the website.
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#23 ahpook

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 05:21 PM

Looks very impressive, thanks for all the info.

#24 wateroftyne

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 05:44 PM

View PostPassinwind, on 12 April 2016 - 05:20 PM, said:

So what is the actual size and weight please? I couldn't find that in a quick look at the website.

It's 375 x 108 x 315mm, and 7.5kg..
Basses: Fender '71 Precision Fretted (rosewood) | Fender '71 Precision Fretless (rosewood) | Maruszczyk Jake P/J (x2)
Amplification: HandBox R-400 head | TKS Engineering S112 & S212 cabs | Ibanez Promethean P5110


Bands: The Lindisfarne Story | The Caffreys | Rosie & the Hips

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#25 Passinwind

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 05:51 PM

View Postwateroftyne, on 12 April 2016 - 05:44 PM, said:

It's 375 x 108 x 315mm, and 7.5kg..

Thanks, hope it works out well for you.
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#26 spyder

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 06:11 PM

But how does it sound....

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#27 wateroftyne

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 07:59 PM

I'll know better this weekend, but it's passed the living room tone-test with flying colours... lovely and organic.
Basses: Fender '71 Precision Fretted (rosewood) | Fender '71 Precision Fretless (rosewood) | Maruszczyk Jake P/J (x2)
Amplification: HandBox R-400 head | TKS Engineering S112 & S212 cabs | Ibanez Promethean P5110


Bands: The Lindisfarne Story | The Caffreys | Rosie & the Hips

See all my basses here | Watch video clips of them here | Hey! I've got feedback!

#28 wateroftyne

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 09:20 PM

OK.. I've just spend an hour or so tinkering with the R-400, and comparing it to the Walkabout.

They both have very different starting points. The Walkabout defaults to that classic warm and smooth tone, but it's possible to get brighter with a bit of EQ.

With a flat EQ, the R-400 is much, much brighter, clearer and glassier. Rolling the treble knob back quickly warms things up, and as you increase the gain knob, you can really hear it fatten up even more. It's a lot of fun to play though.

Of course this is just plunking away at practice volume - it'll be getting a good run out on Friday and Saturday...

Posted Image

Posted Image
Basses: Fender '71 Precision Fretted (rosewood) | Fender '71 Precision Fretless (rosewood) | Maruszczyk Jake P/J (x2)
Amplification: HandBox R-400 head | TKS Engineering S112 & S212 cabs | Ibanez Promethean P5110


Bands: The Lindisfarne Story | The Caffreys | Rosie & the Hips

See all my basses here | Watch video clips of them here | Hey! I've got feedback!

#29 wateroftyne

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 11:31 PM

First gig with it tonight. It's early days so I'm not trying to get too excited, but... it just fantastic.

I'll put some sound clips up tomorrow if they've come out OK...

Posted Image
Basses: Fender '71 Precision Fretted (rosewood) | Fender '71 Precision Fretless (rosewood) | Maruszczyk Jake P/J (x2)
Amplification: HandBox R-400 head | TKS Engineering S112 & S212 cabs | Ibanez Promethean P5110


Bands: The Lindisfarne Story | The Caffreys | Rosie & the Hips

See all my basses here | Watch video clips of them here | Hey! I've got feedback!

#30 wateroftyne

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Posted 16 April 2016 - 08:51 AM

Here's a short snippet from the gig:


Basses: Fender '71 Precision Fretted (rosewood) | Fender '71 Precision Fretless (rosewood) | Maruszczyk Jake P/J (x2)
Amplification: HandBox R-400 head | TKS Engineering S112 & S212 cabs | Ibanez Promethean P5110


Bands: The Lindisfarne Story | The Caffreys | Rosie & the Hips

See all my basses here | Watch video clips of them here | Hey! I've got feedback!





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