Peavey Max 250 Bass Amplifier
By Phil O'Keefe |
Peavey Max 250 Bass Amplifier
Pump up your bass tone to the max…
by Phil O'Keefe
I have to admit to having a bit of a soft spot in my heart for Peavey bass amps. I've owned a few of them over the years, and they've always been punchy sounding, flexible, powerful, and best of all, affordable and reliable. However, some of the Peavey bass amps I've used in the past have been rather heavy beasts. For example, I had a Combo 300 in the 1980s that I loved the sound and features of, but it weighted about 90 pounds, making it a bit of a chore to haul around. Of course time and technology have marched on since those days, and today's amps are much lighter and more easily portable, so when I was presented with an opportunity to try out a new Peavey combo bass amp, I jumped at the chance to review it. Let's take a closer look at the new Max 250 bass combo amplifier and see how it stacks up.
What You Need To Know
- Part of Peavey's line of Max bass combo amplifiers, the Max 250 is one of the larger amps in that series - both in terms of physical size and wattage - but it's still a fairly compact combo amp that measures 22" H x 19" W x 16" D.
- I don't have a scale here that is capable of weighing it accurately, but Peavey states that the packed shipping weight of the Max 250 is 56 pounds, so it's actual weight is probably a few pounds lighter than that when it's unboxed.
- The Max 250 is a 250W 1x15 combo amp. While it's not going to be loud enough by itself to handle arena-sized gigs, it should easily hang with all but the most maniacal of drummers, and with the built-in DI output, you can also use it along with the PA in just about any live situation.
- The amp is covered with a tough looking gray colored Tolex type material, with black corner protectors at all four corners, and a single black handle located at the top of the amp.
- The front metal grille is also black, appears to be reasonably sturdy, and is sporting a vintage style Peavey logo near the top. The top of the grille curves and wraps over and on to the top of the amp a bit. More about this in a moment.
- The Peavey Max 250 is equipped with a 15" speaker as well as a separate tweeter, which is located in the upper-left corner of the amp when you're looking towards the front grille. The lower two corners have fairly large-sized round bass ports.
- While it's next to impossible to get a good photo of it through the Max 250's grille, the speaker baffle inside the amp is angled back so the speakers face slightly upwards, which is why the grille itself wraps up and over the top of the amp by around four and a half inches so that the sound can pass through it and isn't blocked. I estimate the angle of the speaker baffle to be about 15 degrees or so. The angled baffle throws the sound upwards so that you're better able to hear yourself when you're standing in front of the amp and playing.
- The metal chassis of the amp is also black, in keeping with the gray and black color theme. All of the knobs are black too, with easy-to-see white pointers. The controls are top-mounted and situated towards the rear of the amp, and the white labels are not only easy to read against the black background, but the labels are also oriented in such a way that they appear upright instead of upside-down when viewed from the player's perspective when standing in front of the amp.
- You get two 1/4" inputs - one designed for passive pickups (with 15dB of extra gain), while the other is suited for use with basses with active electronics.
- The first knob is a Gain control. This not only sets the input level to the preamp, but also determines the amount of overdrive you get when you kick on the amp's built in TransTube Overdrive circuit, which can be done with the pushbutton switch located directly below the Gain knob.
- The sound of the built-in overdrive is quite good. You don't lose all of the bottom end when you kick it on, and it's designed so that you don't get boost in volume when it's engaged either - just the expected grit. The amount of grit you get from the overdrive will depend on how high you set the Gain control.
- The next knob is the Bass EQ control. This is a shelving type EQ that is capable of boosting or cutting up to 15 dB at a center frequency of 50 Hz.
- Directly below the Bass EQ knob is a button labeled Contour. When depressed this gives you a pre-set "smiley face" or scooped-type EQ setting, with the bass and treble boosted, and the midrange cut a bit.
- The Middle control adjusts the midrange peaking EQ circuit. The Mid Shift button right below it offers you a choice of having the Middle EQ set at 600 Hz when the switch is in the out position, and 250 Hz when it's depressed, giving you a bit more control over the crucial midrange frequencies. Like the Bass control, there is a total of 15 dB of boost or cut available, and the EQ is "flat" when it's in the 12 o'clock position.
- The final EQ control is the Treble control. The Treble EQ is a shelving type, and it has 15 dB of boost or cut available at a center frequency of 6 kHz.
- Directly below the Treble knob is a Bright switch. This gives a 10 dB boost to frequencies above 1 kHz when it is depressed.
- The Volume knob can be thought of as a master volume control for the amp that adjusts the overall output level, and should be set after you have adjusted the Gain control for the best tone and the amount of overdrive you want.
- Just below the Volume control is a Kosmos-C button. When depressed this gives a significant boost to the low end by way of Peavey's Kosmos-C bass enhancement circuit, which adds harmonics to notes in the lowest octave, making them more easily audible.
- The Peavey Max 250 bass amp also has a built-in chromatic tuner that is specifically designed to handle low frequency bass instruments. It also has enough range to handle five and six string basses too. Depressing the Tune / Mute button below the chromatic tuner's display mutes the amp and turns the tuner on, while three LEDs show you when you're sharp, flat, or in-tune.
- The rear panel has a line voltage selector switch for 100-120V or 220-240V operation. An IEC power receptacle is located right below that, and an IEC power cable is included with the amp.
- The Peavey Max 250 is fan-cooled, and the fan is located on the rear of the amp, along with some additional vents for air flow. The fan runs continuously.
- You also get an effects loop, with separate 1/4" send and return jacks, as well as a XLR DI output for feeding the PA or for recording direct. The DI has a ground lift switch to kill any ground hum that you might encounter when connecting to other gear.
- A 1/8" Aux In jack is provided so you can plug your smart phone or media player in and jam along, and a 1/8" headphone jack with a built-in speaker defeat switch is also included so you can do it without anyone else hearing you when you need to.
- While the footswitch itself is an optional purchase (Peavey part number 03022910), it's worth the investment. The connection jack for it is included on the rear panel. The optional footswitch allows you to turn the overdrive on or off, as well as turn the tuner on and off.
- A combination 1/4" / twist-on (Speakon style) connector allows you to add an external speaker cabinet to the Max 250. The minimum load is 8 ohms, and 300W RMS power-handling capacity is recommended.
- The Max Bass 250 features Peavey's DDT speaker protection.
- There is a slight popping sound whenever the Mid Shift and Kosmos-C buttons are depressed or released. It's not terribly loud, but it is audible through the speakers.
- There is a modest amount of fan noise. The fan ran continuously for me, and there's no switch to defeat it (it's almost certainly necessary to leave it running in order to keep the amp running cool), but the noise level from it was not a major concern, even when I miked the cabinet up with a RE20 for some recording experiments.
Modern, lightweight and highly efficient amplifier technology, along with clever design and the use of lightweight woods has resulted in a powerful bass combo amp that is significantly lighter in weight and easier to cart around than some of the Peavey bass amps I used when I was younger, yet the Peavey Max 250 retains the solid build quality and ruggedness that Peavey is well known for. Despite its lighter weight (which makes it easy to take with you), it still looks like it will hold up well to the rigors of the road.
The angled baffle inside the cabinet is a great idea. While I still preferred tilting the cabinet back some (by setting the front edge on a 4" wooden wedge), it's not nearly as necessary as it is with most smaller combo amps, and the angled baffle really does help throw the sound up towards the player's ears more and less at your knees - especially if you stand several feet in front of the amp instead of right next to it.
Peavey has also provided other modern features that bassists will appreciate, such as an onboard tuner, effects loop, headphone out and aux in, so the amp's just as useful for quiet practice sessions as home as it is for holding down the bottom end with power and authority at rehearsals and gigs. And if you need a bit "more", you can add an optional second cabinet to it - which is a capability that not all competing amps in this price and wattage range offer. If you're looking for a reasonably portable bass amp with good sound that you can rely on night after night, check out a Max Bass 250 at your nearest Peavey dealer. Once you do, you might develop a soft spot in your heart for Peavey bass amps too. -HC-
Want to discuss the Peavey Max 250 bass combo amp or have questions or comments about this review? Then head over to this thread in the Bass forum right here on Harmony Central and join the discussion!
Peavey Max Bass 250 Bass Combo Amp ($499.99 MSRP, $449.99 "street")
Peavey's Max Bass series web page
Peavey's Max 250 product web page
You can purchase the Peavey Max Bass 250 from:
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.