We simply had to translate this review of the EBS Reidmar from German to English, so we could share it with all of you! It was originally published in German magazine Bass Quarterly. Enjoy!
THE KING OF DWARFS – EBS Reidmar!
By Heiko Jung, Bass Quarterly Magazine (translated from German)
According to a Nordic saga, “Hreidmar“, a peasant with magical powers and King of the Dwarfs, was given a treasure by the Gods in compensation for the murder of his son Otter. However, among the bulk of gold was a cursed ring which was to bring death to its possessor. And so it came to pass that the greedy king was murdered soon after by his two sons Fafnir and Regin who demanded their share of compensation. When naming their new Class D bass head with analogue preamp, the EBS company remembered this tale and hence the little black box answers to the name of Reidmar. Indeed the Swedes succeeded in building a “blue-blooded“ representative among the amp dwarfs which most probably, if not certainly, should have a longer lifespan in the highly competitive digital amp business than its mythologic namesake.
While other manufacturers have been offering “pocket-size“ bass amps for quite some time, the EBS people took some more time for their market launch of a genuine Class D head. The sound aesthetic of the EBS amplifiers has always relied on a natural and unaltered transmission of the instrument sound. According to the product description, it was the biggest challenge for the designers to achieve this with purely digital amplification and never their ambition to build the world’s lightest or smallest amp.
Visually the matt finished housing leaves a rather plain impression. While numerous other products from the EBS catalogue feature a colour combination of black and deep blue as corporate identity design, a serious black and white look dominates with the Reidmar. As an eyecatcher the upper edge of the front panel was bevelled with a 45 degree chamfer and the resulting area decorated with mythological dragon graphics in the background and the name logo in a Nordic looking type in the foreground. Furthermore the top side boasts a big, oval aluminium plate with the manufacturer’s name on it so that you still know where this machine comes from, despite the striking lack of blue. On the whole the body shows flawless workmanship and leaves a very sturdy impression. The large vulcanite feet ensure a safe foothold on the speaker cabinet, and with a total weight of a mere 3.2 kg, the flexible strap handle mounted on the side will probably never have to prove its actual carrying capacity. All around there are numerous venting slots, those on the upper side being protected from inside by a thin foam pad against the intrusion of solid matter. For the front pocket of the gigbag this thing is clearly too big. Nevertheless, we can call this a true lightweight amp and ideal tour companion which we may even take on board of a plane as hand baggage.
The attractively designed shell is complemented by identical “inner values“. Owing to the extensive list of features, the EBS offers quite a bunch of connecting options, although the front panel has only one jack input socket for hooking up the bass. Yet the rear panel does already offer a bit more variety. Needless to say, we find a mains socket for connecting the supplied power cord including fuse and on/off switch (“Power“), plus a Speakon socket (no combi type) for connecting the speaker cabinet. In addition to a practical headphone output and a line output for slaving the complete processed signal through to another power amp, the effects send-return loop allows to insert effects devices into the signal path. In order to link the head directly to a mixing desk, EBS has fitted the Reidmar with a separate balanced output in the form of the common XLR socket. Using two toggle switches the signal can either be tapped before (PRE) or after (POST) the EQ and the system isolated from the circuit earth to avoid ground loops.
To deal in-depth with the controls on the front panel now, I’ll need my bass. The ready state is indicated by a bright red old-school light, the only “retro“ detail on the otherwise filigree and modern looking Reidmar. For the adjustment of the instrument level to the preamp, we have the gain control and the red peak LED indicator, which make this procedure a piece of cake. Without moving the other pots out of their neutral positions, I’m turning up the volume control and must admit that I had underestimated the 235 watts (at 8 ohms cabinet impedance “only“ half of the 470 watts maximum power is available). The volume level would easily be sufficient for any club gig and medium-sized stages. Now I’m going for it and hook up a second cabinet to unleash the full output power at 4 ohms impedance. As if it was nothing, the Reidmar is now driving eight 10“ speakers, and I can’t think of any situation right away where the available sound pressure level would not be sufficient. Soundwise the amp impresses me with the typical EBS virtues: crystal clear, with a very in-the-face attack, all notes of my 6-string are reproduced. The B-string sounds utterly tight and unfurls an enormous punch. Even with high volume levels the amp remains steadfast and transparent across the whole fretboard. The basic sound is obviously one of that kind you would describe as modern. Speaking of the basic sound: as an alternative to the pure instrument sound, the “Character“ switch can be used to produce a distinctive boost of low and high frequencies. The second stage of the signal path is the built-in compressor/limiter. It works only on request and even when cranked up, it will gently but efficiently smooth your playing dynamics. Furthermore, the “Filter Active“ switch can be used to either kick in the EQ or bypass the entire tone control section. I decide to go for the first option and can thus enjoy a wealth of sound variants created by the perfectly tailored 4-band EQ with parametric mids. In all frequency ranges the equalizer features an extremely efficient functionality without jeopardising the overall sound. If desired, the midrange control can also be used as a notch filter. Single annoying frequencies (e. g. with feedbacks) can thus be eliminated very fast from the overall signal. Finally a high pass filter which is controlled via the “Bright“ pot, provides a lot of freshness in the uppermost frequencies. In the brimful band sound this can significantly improve the locatability of the bass tone on stage and breathe life into somewhat worn out strings again. If the “Bright“ control is turned fully counterclockwise and all other controls are set to neutral, the Reidmar can even create sounds with a vintage appeal.
All in all the Reidmar is definitely a full-grown EBS bass amp which may well rank among the best that are currently available in the Class D amplifier sector. With regard to technology and sound, the “little black one“ excels by the typical EBS qualities, and taking its relatively modest price into account, it’s probably only a matter of time before it pretends to the throne among the “midget amplifiers”.
More info and reviews to be found at www.ebssweden.com