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MESA/Boogie’s bass systems have always delivered great flexibility in sound and usually came in large, heavy, “need-a-roadie”-sized packages. The brand’s Subway D-350 has the sound and tonal options that they are known for (and that you WANT) without the need for a road crew.
Clocking in at three pounds, two ounces, the form factor is small, with a solid-state preamp section and a Class D power amp that provides 350 Watts at 4 Ohms or 175 Watts at 8 Ohms (depending on speaker configurations). There is a single channel of controls with an expanded EQ; Bass, Low-Mid, High-Mid, and Treble. MESA/Boogie gear always has options galore, with a bank of mini toggles for muting (great for re-tuning without the audience having to hear it), active or passive bass option, and a bright switch. The rear panel has two locking speakON output jacks, a 1/4-inch aux input, a 1/4-inch headphone jack, and a USB power outlet. There is also an XLR DI output with the ability to utilize the sound before or after the preamp section, a ground lift, and a mic-level or line-level output. A well-made carry bag is included, with plenty of room and a pocket for your accessories—a very nice touch.
Running a couple of test basses into it (a Yamaha J bass and a Sterling Short Scale), the results were pretty impressive. It’s clear and articulate throughout, while the “Bright” switch just adds in a bit of extra clarity―it’s noticeable enough, but not overbearing where the player would have to re-do their EQ to compensate. Speaking of EQ, it’s quite flexible—in our experience usually small format units forgo amp-like EQ for a more Hi-Fi type sound, but this stays in its lane. Pushing the top end still kept everything musical, and the mid controls are quite punchy and allow for that kick to go through a mix to avoid any mud or flub during a gig.▼ Article continues below ▼
The voicing switch is an active EQ sweep. It’s flat at the counterclockwise position, and as it is cranked up, the highs and lows get pushed up while altering the midranges to shift into higher frequencies. M/B says that full clockwise rotation gives a vintage EQ flavor, and it certainly does have a fuller and overall warmer response at just past noon―it’s a nice blend. For aggressive bass tones, cranking up the input gain adds a nice amount of grit that gets noticeable after the one o’clock position. It stays in the classic tube bass amp zone, not too fuzzy to lose articulation. This gain stage is J-FET-based and maintains clarity while getting overdriven. There’s that classic M/B bass flavor, but it’s flexible enough for rock and funk players to find their space easily. Jazz players will like the ability to push the lower, warm end without getting muddy.
Running this into a variety of cabinets achieved great results, with plenty of volume to annoy the band practicing four rooms down the hall, but the DI signal really was impressive. Running into a DAW interface and getting a great bass tone without plug-ins was a treat. The headphone jack was equally nice, allowing for silent practice and getting a pleasing bass tone without annoying anyone nearby.
For players who might be running backing tracks, a USB jack allows for powering an iPhone, while the aux-in for the audio signal made this an all-in-one box where a bassist might be running a keyboard sound on an iPad (or some bass drops/loops/samples) through their rig.
Fly rigs are often just basic necessities, but this is a live rig that moonlights as a fly rig. The included gig bag is smaller than most messenger/laptop bags, and even when the amp is loaded, it has enough room for the necessities. Overall, it’s got a great, flexible EQ, and with the size, there’s no chance of having to skimp on tone and features when back-lining at a gig or bringing your own cabs to a gig in your hometown.
For this price, it can’t be beaten.
Flexible EQ, great overdriven tone, small, powerful.