The GR700+ is the flagship bass amp from the Italian brand GRBass and combines an unusual wide range of features in a tiny class D amp housing – and all that for a still very reasonable price.
Since the most digital amps follow a rather minimalistic concept to keep size and budget low, it’s very surprising to see one that kinda “has it all”. The unit measures 24x20cm and the whole thing weighs only 2.1 kg, perfect to fit in the front compartment of your bass bag.
The GR700+ delivers 700W at 4 Ohms and 350W at 8 Ohms. Since many manufacturers probably “guess” the power handling of their amps, let me tell you – this one right here is loud – VERY loud. If you’re planning to use it in your bedroom, better don’t even try. It’s clearly not designed for that. Dial the master just 1 mm up and you’re already at a semi-quite rehearsal room volume.
On the front we find a quarter inch input jack with a 10dB pad switch. The input doesn’t distort even with high input levels, the Pad will probably never be needed. Then follows an Aux in, that allows you do connect any phone, music player or drum machine to jam along. The 3-bd EQ is accompanied by a mid frequency selector that let’s you choose between 400 and 800Hz. This is great to either emphasize you low mid pressure or get better through your band mix. The Subs Filter following on the right is an interesting option. It cuts low basses in the style of a shelf filter. You can’t really hear what it’s doing but Gianfranco Rizzi, the designer at GRBass, says it takes a lot of stress off the speakers. For the full enjoyment of your tone, don’t use it. But in a complicated room with lots of bass resonance, it can be very useful. Next control is a volume for the DI out and headphones, followed by the master volume and a Mute switch with status LED. On the far right there’s no political statement here, but a 3.5mm headphone jack. On top of the controls sits an LED chain that visualizes what’s going on inside – like a fancy VU meter. If you find this annoying, Gianfranco can unplug it for you.
On the back are sitting 2 Speakon outs to connect your speaker walls. Then comes a switch to engage the internal fan manually, which is a great option for studio use. Nothing is more annoying than a fan, when you want to mic an amp. Next to it, there’s a DI out with pre/post switch followed by a serial effects way with a send and a return jack. Then comes a tuner out and a switch to select 2 different modes for the LED chain on the front. Next feature is a bit unusual – a 9V out for effects. This is neat if you’re using “always on” pedals on your amp. It provides enough power for 4-5x 9V units if daisy chained.
Tons of options are nice to have, but at end the most important feature is sound quality. The GR700+ is on the clean and natural side of things. With very little compression and a wide dynamic range it sounds and “feels” more or less like a decent solid state amp. It’s not designed for a specific style, no matter if you’re playing smooth jazz or the heaviest of metal, the GR700+ will do its job. The EQ is easy to use and there’s really nothing I can criticize here. It’s all well thought through and intuitive to use. If you’re into the sound of rather modern amps, you’ll most likely dig it. If you’re rather a Vintage Ampeg B15 guy, guess what…. get a B15!
Worth to mention
GRBass is a small shop, based in Monopoli/Italy. Gianfranco Rizzi is not running a massive company and builds his amps with passion, by hand and in small badges – means there’s some room for customizing. You can have custom prints on your amp or get the whole thing in a fancy color – and if you ask nicely, there’s probably even more possible.
I own a good bunch of class D amps and the GR700+ could easily become my go to. I like the clean tone, that allows me to shape it the way I want my bass to sound with pedals, playing techniques, etc. If you’re coming from a Glockenklang/SWR kind of background as I do, you’ll love it. Many class D amps (not as many as it used to be, but still…) sound very… umm… let’s say “class D like”. Compressed, limited, somehow sound-bits-stealing. Gianfranco worked his way around this and put out a stunning piece of gear. No wheel-reinvention here, but maybe it got once a again a little rounder.
Find out more on the GRBass website: http://www.grbass.com/
written by Gregor Fris, August 2016