Friday, August 19, 2011

TC Electronics power ratings

If you frequent any of the regular bass forums, you'll probably notice a bit of a flap about the TC Electronics amps and their published power ratings. A recently-published article in Bass Gear magazine Issue #6 thoroughly reviewed and measured the TC Electronics RH450 Rebel head. It's an excellent magazine and I would heartily recommend that you sign up for the free subscription. Say "hi" to my friend Tom Bowlus while you're there.

The article in question reviews the RH450 and determines that the amp actually puts out 236 watts. However, the magazine also goes into great detail on the Advanced Power Management (APM) scheme that TC Electronics uses in these amps. It's a fair and unbiased review.

How important is the specification? This is an interesting problem. On one hand, the measurement of wattage using a sine wave at (a) given frequency(ies) is standard practice. On the other hand, TC Electronics has truly innovated and their APM method does yield an amp that, in real world conditions when driven by a bass guitar, not a sine wave, competes with many if not most of the 450 watt amps out there. But, there is compression involved and that is certainly a factor. My initial knee-jerk reaction was to remember the "Accu-switch" on Accugroove cabinets.

What a dilemma. I would probably not have considered looking at an amp that was only rated at 236 watts, however the RH450 holds its own and I've never found it lacking in power. In combination with the features of this amp, which are so convenient, I would not rethink this purchase and continue to recommend the amp. But if the specs are important to you, you need to be aware of TC amp power ratings and Advanced Power Management. Remember too that your signal will be compressed. Check out the review at Bass Gear magazine, form your own opinion, but do yourself a favour and check out the amp before you dismiss it based on the wattage ratings.