December 4, 2016

The Eich Amps Bass Board Review – Gimmick or Super Flippin Awesome?

Recently I’ve noticed a few fellow low-enders doing away with their bass amps and rocking up to gigs or rehearsals with an intriguing bit of gear – the Eich Amps Bass Board. In an effort to try and explore ampless solutions and develop a consistent on-stage sound that i’m happy with, regardless of the venue, I thought I’d join team bass board and give it a go.

If you haven’t already seen the Eich Bass Board, they basically look like a small, 4″ riser with Bass Board written on it – here’s a picture of mine:

So what do they do, how much do they cost and are they any good? These are the important questions right!

Before I go any further, it’s worth mentioning that I’m not in any way affiliated with Eich Amps (although I am good friends with Peter – their EU artist rep) – this review is my unbiased opinion of the board having road tested it fairly extensively over the last 8 weeks.

So what is the Bass Board? In short the concept is pretty simple, it’s a panel that you plug your bass (or any audio signal) into and you stand on it while it amplifies the signal as vibrations. It’s essentially like standing on top of a sub-woofer, but, instead of speakers inside, it uses some pretty industrial-strength transducers to vibrate the board and give you the experience of feeling the bass. The big selling point to this bad boy is that it is practically silent (obviously since it’s vibrating it’s going to make some sort of noise as it’s still technically moving air. #physics) – so if you’re working on in-ears, then this is a great way of adding the physical punch back in that you miss when not using an amp.

The board comes in 3 sizes (S, M & L), small being good enough to stand on and do a very conservative 2-step, medium is good if you like to lunge while you play and, if you live in London you could pretty easily advertise the large board on Air BnB and make yourself a bit of extra rent (it’s huge). It is pretty needy however, drawing a serious 500 Watts of power over 8ohms! You could, in theory drive it from any old amp head – but you must be certain that you have this power available at the correct impedance, otherwise you risk blowing up your head…which would suck pretty bad.

Calm down though, since Eich do offer a solution to this mamouth drain on power, in the form of their very own range of amps (which are excellent by the way). Say hello to the T-500, T-900 and T-1000

This range of super clean, shiney looking amps are perfect for driving the bass board – so although you could drive the board from your current amp (providing the power rating is right), if you’re going to buy a board you may as well do it right and get the amp that was built to drive it…mixing and matching makes me feel uncomfortable. It’s worth noting that the T-1000 has two, individual 500 Watt power amps (wtf!!) built in – this means you can drive a cab AND the board…you know, just incase you want to rip a hole in the space-time continuum!

Having spent some time playing through the T-900 head, there is 1 (fickle) downside, 1 thing I personally wasn’t so keen on, and 1 thing that perhaps I’ve missed

  1. The fickle thing – It’s not rack mountable.
    This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine as I like things to be racked away and be all nice and neat. But even aside from my rackmount obsession, I can’t understand where this is supposed to physically sit if it’s not made for a rack…as such, I just let it sit on the floor…because where else would it go?UPDATE 07/12/16:
    After chatting with the guys at Eich, it does look as though they provide rack ears for this amp (hurrah!!). It would be nice t see a full rack version at some point, but this is a good solution for rack junkies like me!!
  2. The thing I’m not so keen on – It’s incredibly clean!!
    Probably the cleanest amp i’ve ever played through infact! This really shouldn’t be listed as a downside because it’s awesome – a truley untarnished sound. However, I like a bit of character from my amps, for as theoretically and techinically awesome as this amp is – it’s one fault perhaps is that it could be accused of being too clinical?I must emphasise though that this is just my personal preference – the amp is beautifully clean, but if you want a bit of dirt, you might need to consider some sort of preamp solution too.
  3. Did I miss something?? There is only 1 input
    Previously, Eich had a product called the rocket 500 (before that, Eich were called Tecamp and the same product was called the Pleasure Pump…lol). This was a great piece of kit dedicated to driving the board, and what I liked about it was there were 2 inputs (with 2 seperate gains), so you could have one dedicated for bass, and one dedicated to a seperate monitor feed (for example) or an aux input such as an ipod, iphone or Nokia N-Gage. Each channel had it’s own gain so you could blend to your hearts content.From what I understand, the 3 amps do have a second line in (aux and 1/4″ jack line in) – but only the T-1000 has the ability to blend the two – this does decrease the amount of flexibilty you have in terms of what you can pump into your feet.The previous Rocket-500/Pleasure Pump also had a really cool high cut filter which allowed you to cut out a lot of noise coming into the board from higher freuqencies, essentially allowing you to just single out bass frequencies…I liked this feature and it’s a shame it’s not on the amps.

    Personally, I think the amps need a more dedicated control section for board users that has gains for both inputs, as well as the cool high cut filter.

Right, enough of my downsides, let’s quickly talk about how awesome the board is though, here are my thoughts:

  1. It’s super responsive
    The board picks up every little nuance of your playing, it really feels like the bass is inside of you (when you try it out, you will know what I mean). It’s not simply just a dull shaking, it’s very accurate and very precise, every dead note, slide, slap and pop can be felt in all it’s glory – it’s really an amazing playing experience.
  2. It’s bloody loud!
    That is, loud in terms of how fiercely it vibrates rather than amplitude. 16 year old me thinks this is well good, nearly 30 year old me is concerned about my knees!! In all seriousness though, I have never needed to turn the master level above a third! I did a stretch of rehearsals where I stood on this board for a straight 10 hours and afterwards I felt like I had run a marathon…great for toning up your calfs! But I do wonder if there are any actual health risks involved with it…gosh, when did captain lame get here!! If you do plan to go and practice your slam dunks the next day though, I probably wouldn’t go above half!

So what’s the cost? Well, thanks to Brexit it’s not super cheap! There are UK stockists, here is where I got mine:

Board prices as follows:
Small – £399
Medium – £450
Large – £489

If you’re lucky you will find yourself one of the previous dedicated drivers in a local dealer – the Rocket 500 will set you back £579 (It could act as a decent preamp too – which helps jusitfy the cost a little though). You could also search around for the last remaining Tecamp Pleasure Pumps – they are exactly the same but just branded under the old company name. If you manage to find one in a shop, it’s likely it will have been purchased pre-Brexit so you could get a good deal (Bass direct advertise them for £450 – so you can save yourself over £100…which you could put towards buying some rack ears!!!).

If you’re going down the amp route, I would recommend the T-1000 – obviously it’s the top shelf model, but it will be the most flexible in allowing you different setups, from the conventional amp/cab situation, to amp/board and amp/board/cab – there is also a built in compressor as an added bonus.

Prices for the heads are as follows:

T-500 – £625
T-900 – £725
T-1000 – £1150

So you’re looking at around £1000 – £1500 to get yourself set up. If you’re thinking of going for it, my advice would be, decide if you want your amp to be an Eich amp, or whether you just want to add the board to your setup. If it’s the latter, Get the board and the T-500 (use that as a replacement for the previous Rocket 500/Pleasure Pump), if you’re going all in and want to embrace the Eich sound as part of your audible rig then get yourself the board and the T-1000 head…and you may aswell grab yourself an Eich 610 cab too 😉

So, in conclusion. This is a great great great bit of kit, I love how responsive the board is and how well it internalises bass. It has revolutionised my home practice as I can go as late as I like without disturbing the family/neighbours. It feels great on an ampless stage too, however, if people don’t know what it is, they will assume you have just bought yourself a riser for your ego (yup, that happened to me). I’m also not so keen on the extra 4″ of height it gives me (which, if you use synths, you will have to raise them up too). There are a few features that I think are missing from the amps (that were on the previous drivers) and it would be good to see these come back in future developments.

The playing experience when using this board is like nothing else – it’s truly unique and amazing. When it comes to playing live though, for me, if the venue has good subs and decent side fills, this wouldn’t be the top of my buy-list. Having said that, this board has genuinely changed the game – what I’d love to see is an even smaller board specifically designed for home use that you just rest a foot on, and a driver the size of a pedal (and a price tag maybe half the cost!) – I think that would be an amazing addition to an already brilliant lineup of products!!