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Laney Digbeth DB500H and DBV212-4 cabinet review

Laney's new range of heritage-inspired amps, speakers and FX offer a great deal of versatility and at a decent price, too

Laney Digbeth DB500H Amp, DBV212-4 Cabinet
(Image: © Laney)

Our Verdict

There is much to recommend this setup. Laney has come up with a well-featured amp that delivers a considerable amount of tonal flexibility, giving the player real options.

For

  • A whole host of tones and features in a portable setup.

Against

  • May not suit you if you don’t like distortion.

Lyndon Laney started producing bass amps back in 1967, and some 54 years later, this new Digbeth-branded range celebrates the company’s beginnings and heritage. 

With two amplifiers, three cabinets, and several FX pedals on offer, there’s something to suit most budgets and playing requirements. We’ve matched the more powerful of the two amps with the new 2x12 cabinet for a portable partnership that should suit more or less any working bassist.

Build Quality

The cab is covered with a rugged black vinyl and white piping, finished off with a tough cloth grille to protect the speakers: the same material has been used on the amp for a uniform visual. The amp is well-proportioned, making it easy to carry and transport without being overly heavy, weighing in at 15.7 pounds. 

A securely attached rubber carry handle is situated on the top of the amp and there is venting on the underside and rear. Deeply recessed carry handles have been incorporated into the speaker design and the ‘high instead of wide’ cabinet design makes carrying the cabinet a more comfortable prospect.

Be aware that although this cabinet isn’t ‘old-school’ heavy, at 63 pounds it isn’t ultra-light either – so portability in tight spaces may be an issue. In terms of features and functions, the cabinet has two rear vents and two function switches – one to call the tweeter into play and the other to select between half and full operation: there’s nothing too complicated going on there.

Laney Digbeth DB500H Amp, DBV212-4 Cabinet

(Image credit: Laney)

The Speakon socket is also of the ‘combi’ variety, allowing a 1/4-inch jack connection if required. The amp is a fully-featured box of tricks, offering a full 500-watt output and two channels featuring FET and valve preamps. These are footswitchable, although a footswitch isn’t included. The controls are all securely attached and turn smoothly, while the switches give a significant clunk as you change settings.

The two preamps are quite different tonally: whether you want a clean delivery or the more richly colored sounds that the valve section can offer is at your discretion, and there’s the option of mixing them together as well. The three-band EQ incorporates a mid-section with four individually voiced presets, all of which sound quite different from each other, so there is scope for some tonal tinkering in that department.

The Tilt control has a similar effect to adding presence to your signal, making it spikier and more pronounced. The rear control panel features all the usual inputs and outputs that you would expect to see on an amp of this calibre, and it’s pleasing to see level controls added to the headphone output and auxiliary input for external media connection.

Sounds

Armed with several active and passive basses, with a five-string among them, my first line of investigation is to determine the performance of the FET stage. With the EQ on the amp set flat, the amp provides a clean and powerful response, with a very solid bottom end.

The throaty character of the passive basses is projected well, with the 2x12 speaker format conveying a fine mix of lows and mids. The highs are a little restrained until the horn is brought into play, which gives a more articulate display in the upper register.

The active basses benefit from the extra range afforded by the horn, and the mid-EQ presets on the amp are very useful, offering a defined character with each setting. The five-string bass demonstrates how well the FET stage conveys the low-end performance, particularly when entering the extended range of the low B string.

The cabinet also puts in an impressive display, offering a defined response without sounding woolly or flappy. Switching over to the tube preamp, the tone changes, and suddenly valve drive and warmth are the order of the day.

Laney DBV212-4 Cabinet

(Image credit: Laney)

There’s no disputing the quality of the tone coloration on offer, and the passive basses benefit from the grit and drive – so grab a pick and dive in. The Tilt control comes into its own with the passive basses, making the tone pronounced, with a degree of clank, should you require it.

One of the active basses gained a very impressive rasp and grind to its tonal character when running through the valve stage: this was carried through when combining the valve and FET stages, giving that bass a fine mix from both channels. This setup has a lot to offer and will appeal to players of all styles.

For those players who prefer clean tones but occasionally need to throw some valve grind into the mix, this amp will offer a suitable solution.

Any slappers and tappers who frown upon such sounds may dismiss this amp out of hand, but I strongly suggest that they audition it before settling on that opinion. This combination of amp and cabinet will suit a lot of players, and it is capable of covering all your gigging needs without incurring physical transportation injuries.

Conclusion

There is much to recommend this setup. Laney have come up with a well-featured amp that delivers a considerable amount of tonal flexibility, giving the player real options. 

The cabinet is no slouch either, and offers a midway point between a 2x10 and a 4x10 – but with the added roundedness and heft offered by two 12-inch speakers. Well worth checking out. 

Specs

Laney Digbeth DB500H

  • PRICE: $749 / £449
  • MADE IN: China
  • POWER:  500 watts @ 4 ohms (minimum load 4 Ohms)
  • FEATURES: Input, FET volume, FET/Tube selector switch, Tube Drive, Tube Volume (push/pull for FET Mix), Bass, four preshape Mid selector, Mid, Treble, Tilt, Run/Mute selector switch, Speakon/jack combi output socket, Tuner output, Remote input, Send/Return sockets, FX loop level switch, 3.5mm Aux In and level control, Headphone output and level control, Line Out level, Emulated output/DI output selector, Balanced XLR DI output socket, Ground/Lift switch, pre/source/post EQ output switch
  • DIMENSIONS: 8” (H) x 16.5” (W) x 8.7” (D)
  • WEIGHT: 15.7 lbs

Laney Digbeth DBV212-4 cabinet

  • PRICE: $749 / £499
  • MADE IN: China
  • POWER: 500 watts @ 4 ohms Impedance 4 ohms
  • SPEAKERS: 2 x 12-inch HH Black Label ceramic drivers, 1 x LaVoce DF10 compression driver (with Horn on/off/Half/Full selector switches)
  • CONNECTIONS: 1 x 1/4-inch Speakon/jack combi socket
  • DIMENSIONS:  28.3” (H) x 19.7” (W) x 15.4” (D)
  • WEIGHT: 63 lbs
  • CONTACT: Laney