Behringer ACX 1000 Acoustic Amp

When my musical partner and friend Jim Mandich died in 2010 I lost not only my friend, my guitarist, my recording engineer, but also Jimmy provided our PA system as we were moving into the clubs.  He had a nice Bose PA single column type.  Sounded great.

But in July 2010 I found myself with gigs to do and no PA.   I found this Behringer acoustic amp, an ACX 1000 at Humboldt Bay Traders for $200 and I bought it.   I used it at three farmers markets that year, and I have used it at a half dozen other venues as well, inside and outdoors.

It works.  It does what it says it will do, what it was designed to do.

This particular model (size) seems to be discontinued, but there are other models in the line still in production, a 90 watter and a 180 watter.

I stopped using it though, for several reasons.   For my own shows in most venues I started using little amps, like a 30 watt bass amp, or a 40 watt keyboard amp, pushing a mixer into it for vocals and preamp.   A 40 or 50 watt amp is plenty loud for a solo artist in a little bar.  Its just right!

Then again I started producing larger shows indoors and outdoors and for these bigger venues the Behringer just wouldn’t cut it.   For these I bought a bigger mixer and a couple of big old keyboard amps with horns and 15″ woofers.

But I started off the new year with the idea I would keep an open mind so last week we brought it out to do three street concerts here in Eureka.

 

This was an outdoor venue that is in a plaza near a restaurant with outdoor seating about 100 feet away from our stage.  Our goal is to provide an awesome musical experience for the diners.   We are musicians.  We are proud of our art and our skill and want to make a good presentation.  We need to be loud enough for the music to be enjoyed but not so loud as to be oppressive.   There is a Goldilocks spot there and we aim to find it.

The Behringer ACX is a good example of why you should learn something about your equipment.   It is designed (and functions) somewhat differently that what I had assumed.  I figured this out after I read the manual.   The ACX 1000 is nominally a 120 watt amp, but Behringer lists it as a 2 x 60 watt sterero amp – 60 watts to the guitar channel and 60 watts to the vocal channel.

It really is a stereo amp.   It has two 8 in woofers that have slightly different dispersions and you get a slightly different stereo sound picture as you cross sideways in front of the amp.

At Clarke Plaza I angled the amp to get the music in the air (it has convenient built on tilt back legs ) and I cranked it pretty good and the sound level 100 ft away at the tables was about perfect.  You could hear and enjoy the music but you could still have a conversation and talk to the food servers.  There were some occasional unpleasant overtones with this amp that prob could be fixed with a bit of compression.   So for an outdoor venue of up to a couple hundred people (like a wedding or something) this would be fine.   It ran easily for 3 hours on my 12 volt system, prob could have gone 6.  So it doesn’t draw as much as a real 120 watt amp might.

There are a couple of things about the Behringer to get the most out of it.  I have never been completely happy with how much sound I could pull out of this beast (its 70 lbs or so)  but it turns out the tone (eqs) are a bit different.   Start them off almost dimed (almost all the way) to get the full volume out of this beast, and dial them back for “tone”   Most eqs in the world are cut/boost but these seem to be all cut and there are a few amps built this way.   The hint in the manual:  If you have all the eqs turned to 0 you will get very little volume.  On the vocal channel both the “enhance” and “warmth” have to be pretty well cranked to get much out of the vocal channel.

Another thing is that the amp has a limiter in it.   So you can push it pretty hard without too much fear of damaging the speakers or getting outrageous distortion.    I like it but it probably has to do with the frustration I was feeling about not being able to pull the sound out.

I don’t have a footswitch.  There are 99 presets for effects, in three groups, parallel, single and dual.  The parallel (roughly 40 of the presets) applies the selected effects chain (delay, reverb, chorus, vibe) to both channels. the single applies it to one channel and the dual (79-99)  puts reverb on the vocals and reverb or a different effect on the guitar channel.    You can scroll through the preset with a little wheel its easy and then you can program one of four buttons to go to your four favorite presets.   When you first switch to a new effects preset the display will blink then use the “effects” knob on each channel to set the level of each effect.  They usually kick in with a “level” in the 20s for most effects.

The effects are so – so.  In a live music situation they are ok but they sound mushy to me, I have been spoiled by state of the art effects and also I have never been a fan of in amp effects so I am biased.   The chorus is nice and sweet on guitar and I like the vibe (99).

The amp doesn’t work so well if you try more than one guitar and one mic.   The mic should have an xlr cable the other input not so much on vocals.

So in three years plus I have come full circle and beyond with this amp.   I bought it and used it and it worked but I was never completely happy with it.   I ended up gigging with a little 30 watt Randall bass amp and the Zoom A3 for a mic and guitar pre-amp and now I am using a 45 watt bass amp or a 40 watt keyboard amp for my gigging, with the zoom A3.

One reason is the speakers.   In the Behringer these are 2 8 in woofers, and they are heavy duty for sure.  The bass amps and keyboard amps I am using now have a single 10 in woofer (the keyboard amp has also a tweeter)  and I just like the sound better of the larger speaker, and its a lot easier to “hit the back of the room” with a 10 in speaker.   I like to hear some “growl” come out of the speakers when I am singing and playing and the small speakers in most acoustic amps (8 in or 6.5 in.) are all kitten to me.  So you see I am biased.

Then I learned more about the Behringer and was able to get more out of it, but I still like my newer rigs better using the Zoom A3.

I am not a Behringer hater.  Some people see this as a company putting out cheaply made stuff.  I have 2 little Behringer bass amps (BXL450s) that I am using for mini PAs right now with mixers and they work great.   Behringer is a company that was started in Germany but has now relocated to China.   Its interesting, they didn’t just outsource production they moved the whole company and all their products are made in one facility.

 

 

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