Wayne Jones AUDIO WJBA & WJBA2 AMPLIFIERS
IN MY JANUARY 2018 BASS PLAYER review of the Wayne Jones Audio WJBPII preamp and WJ 2×10 passive cab, I described the gear as ex-pensive and eclectic, but also among the best out there. I finished the re-view with the editorial equivalent of a cliff-hanger: “Wayne also has a head in the works — stay tuned for a re-view.” Little did I know then that the follow-up review I promised would appear in an entirely publication, but nevertheless, I’m happy to de-liver with this month’s review of the WJBA and WJBA2 heads.
The design brief for the WJBA was simple: Start with the two-channel hi-fi hybrid preamp that is the WJBPII and mate it to a super-powerful Class D/SMPS power section. The WJBA delivers up to 2,000 watts with its stereo 1,000-watt power section. The WJBA2 is a one-channel variant with a mono 1,000-watt power section in the form of a bridge-able 2x 500-watt power amp. Read More ►
Given that the WJBA and WJBA2 feature the same circuit as the WJBPII I’ve already reviewed, a quick recap of the preamp is in or-der. The WJBPII is an unusually feature-packed preamp that features two discrete signal paths, making it ideal for those who use two basses on a gig, double on synth and bass, or use an upright with a pair of pickups or a pickup and a mic (there’s even a phantom-powered XLR jack on hand for powering a condenser mic). Additionally there are balanced outputs, extensive I/O capabilities, a built-in compressor, and foot switchable muting. One would be hard-pressed to name a feature the preamp design lacks, and thus the WJBA and WJBA2 heads deserve the same plaudits. Additionally, the multi-hued LEDs indicating input gain and output level make it easy to govern gain staging, essential on a head with so many EQ and compression options.
The construction of the Wayne Jones Audio heads is competent and clean, with a mixture of sur-face-mount and through-hole components dominating the large preamp, power supply, and amplifier circuit boards. A single generic Chinese-made 12AX7 is present in the WJBA2, while a pair are offered in the two-channel WJBA. A plethora of opamps look to be handling gain and other voltage-amplification duties throughout the circuit. As I pointed out in my review of the WJB-PII, I don’t think the front-panel text is as clear as it could and should be, especially because the numerous features and filters are all accessed with identical knobs. That said, it’s likely something a player would adjust to after spending time with the heads.
DOWN UNDER SOUND
I tested the Wayne Jones Audio amps with a variety of cabinets, including a passive Wayne Jones 2×10, a Bare-faced Big Baby II 1×12, and a Bergantino HT322 2×10 + 1×12 cabinet. As I have had the heads for a while, I was able to use them on a number of gigs and in my studio.
Overall, the WJBA and WJBA2 deliver exactly what they were de-signed to do, adding a lightning-fast, phenomenally loud power amp to the successful WJBPII preamp de-sign. As I noted in my review of the preamp, the overall tone is on the dry and clinical side, despite the presence of a 12AX7 tube in the preamp. Those more compelled by the grit and dirt of, say, an Ampeg SVT pushed hard ought to look else-where — but the rest of you, particularly if you want sharp, precise, and fast transient response, would be well served to check out one of the Wayne Jones Audio heads. The EQ is effective and thorough, and the abundant I/O proved useful in a number of tricky in-studio situations. As a frequent bass/synth doubler, I am always appreciative of heads like the WJBA, which make easy the often-confounding task of amplifying both sources at the same time through a single amp.
What used to be a rare luxury is now the norm, with 1,000-watt-plus Class D/SMPS heads dominating the market. It’s refreshing to see a unique take on the design — especially one from a designer who al-ready has an excellent reputation for hifi sound thanks to his universal-ly beloved cabs. If you can manage to find a Wayne Jones Audio amp (hint: it won’t be at your local Guitar Center), it’d be well worth your time. Moreover, Wayne Jones himself is affable and responsive, and I know he will work hard to get one in your hands. Drop him a line.
JONES-SCANLON Studio Monitors
~ Doug Johnston and Mike MacArthur, All Access Recording
At All Access Recording, our purple Jones-Scanlon monitors have consistently impressed our producers, engineers and clients, and are the centerpiece of our recording rig. Most importantly, mixing on them grants a confidence that our mixes translate to any other listening environment. People from all walks of life listen, and hear the proof. Musicians, engineers, fans, and critics alike all agree, “These speakers are amazing!” Clarity, detail, power and a bit of magic make these monitors the best we have ever heard. Thank you Wayne, for being so personable, friendly and involved in the process from day one.
JONES-SCANLON Studio Monitors
~ Matt Leigh, Studio Manager | Head Engineer
The Tracking Room Studio
The Jones-Scanlon monitors are incredible! I was immediately blown away by the width and accuracy of the stereo imaging. It is hard to find clarity this good in any studio monitor, let alone at this price point!
JONES-SCANLON Studio Monitors
~ Krish Sharma (Rolling Stones Recording Engineer)
Don Was (Producer) & Krish Sharma (Rolling Stones Recording Engineer)“I first used these speakers with the Rolling Stones, there is no more demanding a situation for a speaker than reproducing a Stones tracking session at volume. I usually would only do a tracking playback for these players on the large studio main speakers, but I happened to have the Jones-Scanlon’s on as the band and producer Don Was walked in and as they liked the sound I continued playback. We were so pleased that when we moved to another studio we kidnapped the speakers and brought them with us!”
“The Jones-Scanlon Studio Monitors are hands down my new favorite monitors. They are unicorns in that they not only are accurate both for frequency and transient response but they have punch and headroom to communicate raw takes with power. While being amazingly accurate, they do not sacrifice musicality.”
“Mixes come together very easily on the Jones-Scanlon Studio Monitors. I find myself needing to switch between speakers much less and I am able to balance very quickly because the speakers are accurate and musical at all volume levels. Working with the Rolling Stones, I need a speaker that can reproduce dense arrangements of stringed instruments accurately and without coloration and these achieve that goal effortlessly.”
“The Jones-Scanlon Studio Monitors have the detail and accuracy for low volume mixing and also the power to rock the house with musicality. They are a great studio solution and accomplish multiple roles without compromise.”
“After hearing these speakers quite by accident, I knew I had to have them. I tracked down the manufacturer unsolicited.”
“Translating Every Sonic Nuance Of My Playing”
BASS MUSICIAN MAGAZINE REVIEW BY JAKE WOLF
A while back, Bass Musician Mag reviewed a couple rigs from Wayne Jones Audio, including some of their exceptional bass preamps and powered cabinets. I remember being struck by the build quality, feature set, and above all, killer tone of Wayne’s gear. Well, he’s at it again, and true to form, he’s blowing the roof off with a line of incredibly powerful and feature laden bass amplifiers and speaker cabinets. The WJBA and WJBA2 amps offer bassists well thought out features and options that leave professional players wanting for nothing in terms of volume, flexibility and tonal options. He also sent over a pair of his new passive WJ2x10 cabs to check out, which incorporate some smart updates from his line of powered cabs, and similarly (and most importantly), have tone for days. I am as blown away by this rig as I was the first batch of Wayne Jones Audio gear, and it’s nice to see the more conventional approach of powered amplifiers and passive cabinets, since most of us are more accustomed to this configuration. It’s pretty obvious from the get-go when you unbox and power up Wayne’s gear that he’s not messing around here. The rig looks serious, feels serious, and sounds very serious. Let’s take a closer look.
Wayne Jones WJBA and WJBA2 Amplifiers
The flagship of the new line is the formidable looking WJBA amp, a 2 channel, 2000-watt bass amp monster that at first glance can appear a little overwhelming.
Designed in collaboration with, and incorporating feedback from Wayne Jones Audio endorsees Andre Berry (David Sanborn, Brothers Johnson, Peter White) and Scott Colley (Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker, Jim Hall),Read More ►
Moving to the back panel, you’ll find all the connectivity you could ever want for signal routing options and flexibility, including: XLR and ¼ output for each channel, “preamp outputs” for each channel (ideal for using powered cabinets), a stereo FX loop, Speakon connections for each channel, 1/4” and 1/8” aux inputs, a headphone output with level control, and a dedicated DI output with a level control and a ground lift switch. It can also accommodate 115 or 230 volts, for ease of use Stateside and abroad.
The WJBA2 amplifier is essentially a 1 channel version of the WJBA2, and offers up 1000w bridged into 4 or 8 ohms, in a slightly smaller and lighter package, and without the XLR input and phantom power.
WJ 2×10 Passive Cabs
When I reviewed the powered Wayne Jones 2×10 cabs in the past, I was struck by how incredibly big, quick and clean they sounded. They were certainly remarkable sounding for a 2×10 and sonically dwarfed a whole lot of 2×10’s I’ve owned or played. At the time, my only issues had to do with the form factor and challenge of carrying of the cabs. The handle placement made it difficult to pick up and move, and their extra depth (20.4”) made it a little awkward to carry. Wayne updated the new passive WJ 2×10’s with handles on the top and bottom, and improved the handle design to make them more comfortable to hold. This dramatically improved the schlep factor, and despite their size and 64 lb. weight, I find these to be much easier to cart around. Additionally, he moved the control/input panel from the top of the cab to the back of the cab which allows these to be stacked in a vertical fashion, whereas the powered cabs had to be stacked horizontally, due to the panel/jack location. Wayne also omitted the built in wheels and telescoping handle found on the active cabs, shaving some weight. The only other change is the new smooth vinyl covering, now used on all cabinets in the product range. The vinyl looks sharp, but was more prone to scuffs and scrapes than the carpeted covering. Getting covers for them would be a wise investment, to avoid minor damage that can happen when loading in/out.
Capable of handling 700w, and with a frequency response of 40 Hz to 20 KHz (extending down to 28 Hz), the Kevlar impregnated drivers with massive magnets are capable of providing tons of output and slam. Dual attenuators on the back panel allow you to cut up to 12Db of highs and mids (mids in the 300-600Hz range) for further tailoring.
Overall, the 2×10 performs stunningly well, and fills out the entire frequency range beautifully from top to bottom. They are extremely clean and linear sounding throughout the midrange, with no blurriness or congestion, lending them to be excellent options for all flavors of modern bass tone. But considering the awesome tone shaping ability of the WJBA heads, they can be EQ’d to deliver all kinds of great sounds. The low end extension is remarkable, capable of hitting subwoofer-like lows that many bass cabs can’t quite achieve, especially with some judicious use of the bass knob and the 30Hz boost switch.
To wrap up, the new gear from Wayne Jones represents a very high degree of engineering, design and performance for bass players.
While players who gravitate towards vintage inspired equipment may prefer simpler and more traditional sonic and aesthetic offerings, when it comes to high performance, high output, no-compromise bass amplification, Wayne Jones continues to create a high water mark for what a bass amp can do. Players inclined towards modern tones are sure to be blown away by the rigs sheer capacity for volume and extension. I brought the big rig out on a couple gigs and it provided an effortless playing experience, translating every sonic nuance of my playing, and delivering massive headroom and horsepower. It’s one of those rigs you have to hear to truly appreciate.
New Rig for Euphoria Studios NYC Studio 1
Wayne Jones AUDIO is the best bass gear we’ve ever used in our rehearsal studios. You’ve got to try it.Euphoria Studios
WJBA2 1000 Watt Stereo Power Amp
6 band EQ built right into the head and 1000 Watts into 4 or 8 Ohms!
WJ 2×10 Passive 700 Watt Bass Cabinet
700 Watt @8 Ohms, Compact, High End, Crystal Clear, Full Range 2×10 Bass Cabinet (40 Hz – 20 KHz)
“The Wayne Jones Cabs Are As Good As It Gets”
BASS PLAYER MAGAZINE’S REVIEW BY JONATHAN HERRERA
Australian bass player and amp designer Wayne Jones has long existed in a rarefied space in the amp world, first making his name in 2001 with a 2×10 cabinet that beguiled the BP staff as much as any we had then reviewed. More recently, he coupled his prodigious cab-design know-how with the proliferation of lightweight, high-powered built-in amps. The results were no less impressive, as I surmised in my July ’15 review of his WJ 2×10 powered cabinet. Paired with a great preamp, the WJ powered cabs were a formidable addition to the powered-cab market segment.
In the couple years since, Jones has gone a step further. First, he’s updated his line of powered and passive cabinets. Even more substantially, he’s released his first preamp, the two-channel WJBPII. The feature-laden WJBPII is the result of an extensive R&D process undergone in conjunction with top players like Scott Colley and Andre Berry. Read More ►
The WJBPII is one of the most feature-packed preamps out there. Most integral to its design is that it features two separate channels with entirely separate EQ paths. The advantages of this are legion, whether it’s wanting to use two basses on a gig, double on synth and bass, or use an upright with two pickups (one of the channels includes an XLR jack and phantom power for a pickup or mic that requires it). There is an optical compressor onboard, as well as six bands of EQ. Players can choose to switch between either inputs or have both active, and the output can be blended between the two inputs. There are also stereo balanced XLR outputs, a stereo/mono effect loop, footswitchable muting, a headphone output, and an aux jack for playalong with audio tracks. In short, it has it all.
Its construction is also superb, although I found the front-panel design a bit cluttered and tough to decipher, especially on a darkened stage. Partly it’s a consequence of packing so much into a relatively small space, but there’s probably room for improvement in the shade and size of some of the labeling. Used in conjunction with one of the WJ powered cabinets or as a standalone preamp in a recording rig, the WJBPII is super clean, transparent, and dry-sounding. Fans of a precise, full-frequency response with zippy transients and abundant clarity will love the WJBPII, either in a rig or in front of a recording interface. Its two-input flexibility was also just the ticket for a lot of my gigs, since I often double on bass and keys.
WJ 2X10 CABINETS
As we reviewed the powered 2×10 in 2015, I won’t go too deep into it here. Jones made a few improvements that bear mentioning. First, he made the cab lighter by moving to lightweight poplar ply. He uses the same massive 70mm ferrite-magnet-equipped kevlar-impregnated drivers, but he’s now moved to JBL tweeters. He also incorporated a cool pull-out handle that allows for schlepping in the style of a roll-along piece of luggage. I just wish it were a bit longer, as the cabinet’s narrowness and prodigious weight could make movement a bit awkward.
The design is thoughtful and seeks to address any of the potential hazards of including a big amp in the same box as a pair of speakers. Connection to the powered cabinet comes courtesy a female xlr jack. While this makes sense given the output of many preamps, having a balanced tip-ring-sleeve ¼” jack would have further enhanced its flexibility to mate with a variety of front-end gear.
Wayne Jones also provided a passive 2×10 for testing. It was no less impressive than its powered sibling, and it offered the opportunity to try other heads that I was more familiar with. It sounds much bigger than its configuration would suggest, and it’s capable of fairly extreme sound-pressure levels without losing its breath.
While the Wayne Jones gear is some of the more expensive and eclectic out there (you’re not going to find it in your local music supermart), it’s also some of the best. It’s huge-sounding, full-throated, and seemingly capable of limitless volume and room-filling intensity. Wayne also has a head in the works—stay tuned for a review.
Pros A hi-fi two-channel preamp that pretty much does everything
Cons Front panel a bit hard to decipher
Bottom line A top-shelf front end for a powered cabinet, and a worthy addition to any studio where clean and flexible bass tone is in order.
WJ 2×10 Cabinets
Pros Some of the best cabs in the biz, with full-range frequency response and impressive endurance
Bottom line The Wayne Jones cabs are as good as it gets.
Made in Australia & USA
Jones-Scanlon Studio Monitors
Testimonials / Quotes
Listening to these speakers made me realize that there was more to sound than I thought. I’ve mixed 90% of all of the work I’ve produced (Jennifer Hudson/Tito Jackson) and many more. I’ve never heard anything that even comes close to these!!! These are great for sound design, scoring, mixing, recording, and writing. All around great product!!! I’m truly grateful to have met Mr Jones and a huge thanks to Garrett Body.
VP General Manager
(Beyonce, Busta Rhymes, Christina Aguilera, John Legend, Kanye West, Keyshia Cole, Snoop Dog, Syleena Johnson)
Bass Musician Magazine’s Review, by Jake Wolf
If you’ve been following the boutique bass world since the 90’s like I have, the name Wayne Jones Audio might ring a bell.
I first heard about Wayne’s cabs a couple decades back, and although I never had the chance to hear one in person, I was very intrigued by their interesting specs and their relative rarity in the market at that time. Wayne was selling cabs here in the US until shortly after 9/11, at which time, Wayne says, “everything changed”. Cab sales in the US dropped sharply, and Wayne went back to his busy career gigging as a top call bassist. So when I saw Wayne’s gear resurface in the last couple years, I was again intrigued. His current offerings include powered 1×10 and 2×10 cabs, as well as his own stereo tube preamplifier (At NAMM 2017, Wayne introduced a good old passive 210 as well as a 2 channel version of his pre. More below). I reached out to Wayne and he couldn’t have been more gracious or generous with his time and gear. He promptly sent me an array of cabs and his preamp to check out, and I’ve been having a blast with all of it.
Before we get to how the gear works, let’s look at the equipment itself.
At 24” tall, 16” wide, and 22” deep, the 210 dimensions are fairly unique for bass cabs. I asked Wayne about the extra depth of the cabs (both the 210 and 110), and he responded that the depth allows him to not only achieve a desired cubic volume, but also the distance between the driver and the back wall is very intentional, in order to achieve certain performance goals. As a result, the 210 is a somewhat odd form factor. Luckily, it has a built in telescoping handle and tilt back wheels, making the schlep pretty easy. All the gear is covered in a very high quality black carpet, which seems better than a lot of the cab covering I see (Wayne responds: future cabs will use High end automotive leather look Vinyl covering). The preamp had a very nice build quality: all the knobs and switches felt solid and had nice resistance to the pots, thus reducing the risk of bumping controls mid-gig, and boding well for the gears overall lifespan. From a fit and finish perspective, the Wayne Jones gear is simply top notch. Read More ►
The cabs are powered by a 1000w Pascal power module, which dishes out an incredible amount of tone, fidelity and raw power. The 210 cab gets the full bridged signal of the amp, while the 110 cab can either be run bridged or stereo (allowing for true stereo operation at 500w per side with a pair of the 110 cabs). This is especially hip for users wishing to get the full impact of their stereo reverb, delay or chorus-type effects.
WJBP Stereo valve preamp
The cabs are powered by a 1000w Pascal power module, which dishes out an incredible amount of tone, fidelity and raw power. The 210 cab gets the full bridged signal of the amp, while The WJBP was as impressive as the cabs, and performed flawlessly for me. Wayne is a fan of the Avalon preamps and the venerable Avalon 737 as a reference point when designing his own preamp. Not only does it borrow from the Avalon’s elegant aesthetics, and superior build quality, it does indeed have that high end tube feel that I remember about the Avalon 737: Tubey, rich and 3D, but super quick, and incredibly clear with ample warmth and fidelity.
The WJBP has a built in defeatable compressor, a 5 band EQ, a low boost, a pan knob (for stereo use) and both an input gain and master volume control, enabling excellent integration with Wayne’s powered cabs. It also features an input pad and built in tuner.
The back panel is fully featured, including a studio grade DI with level control, 2 XLR and 1/4″ outputs, headphone jack and aux input, and a jack for the included footswitch. The 8 stage LED indicators help dial in your preferred gain staging. Generally speaking, I found the WJBP to be super clear and warm, with loads of presence and articulation, and it has that high fidelity depth and weight to each note that I love. It doesn’t do gritty or heavily colored tones, although the powerful 5 band EQ does allow for some serious tone shaping. I really like the broad bass boost, which adds some heft and weight to your overall sound, without muddying things up. Also the onboard compressor, while limited in its parameters, is quite nice. I don’t hear it squashing or pumping, it actually does what it should, which is rarer than one would think, regarding onboard compressor circuits.
WJ 2×10 powered 210 cabinet
It’s hard to accurately convey the performance of the WJ210. I could say things like “It is the fastest cab I’ve ever heard”, or “sounds like a cab 3 times its size”, or “effortlessly quick and muscular”, but what does all that hyperbole that actually mean? Let me just say: the WJ210 is simply breathtaking in its performance. I’m not saying every single player will find this to be the ultimate sounding bass cab, BUT, you’d be very hard pressed to find one that is more capable at dishing out tone and volume of this caliber. The 210 excels at that wonderfully elusive characteristic I like to call “slam”. For lack of a better definition, (to me) slam is: effortless low end delivery, that is both taut and massive, and a seemingly endless power reserve to dish out transient peaks. It’s one of those cabs that makes you want to play slap lines just for the fun of it. Compared to some other 210 cabs that I really like the slap tone of, the WJ was a clear standout. When playing percussive palm-muted thumb lines, the WJ sounded insanely thick with a super articulate top end that doesn’t have a trace of harshness. The integration of the woofers and tweeter result in a seamlessly tight and clear sound that is aggressive without being brash or harsh in the slightest. All of this results in a powered cab that can handle the demands of a much larger cab, with exquisite tone and composure, in a meticulously constructed box. I seriously can’t imagine opening up a pair of these on a gig, as they put out SO much oomph. Wayne also released passive versions of the 210 cab at NAMM this year, allowing users to stick with their own amplifiers.
WJ 1X10 powered and passive 1X10 cabs
In addition to the amazing 2X10 cab, Wayne sent a pair of his 1X10 cabs for me to check out. I was particularly interested in these not only because I love small modular rigs, but also because of the ability to run TRUE stereo effects without some kind of modified rig. The preamps stereo FX return can be configured to send L/R signals to the pair of cabs, while using just the WJBP, a couple XLR cables and an additional speakon cable. As a reverb and delay junkie, I have to say, I was in hog heaven. I never bother to run my effects in stereo as it always requires some extra gear and produces finicky results. The 1X10 pair on the other hand sounded clear and spacious, with tons of definition. On the gig with the cabs spaced 3-4 feet apart behind me, I was enveloped in 3 dimensional reverb and delay sounds which made chordal and melodic playing seem to jump out in a highly satisfying way. With the pair of 1X10 cabs stacked on their sides (the only way they can stack, with the input jacks and attenuators on the tops of the cabs), the rig sounded similar to the 210, but perhaps a little smoother and less huge in its delivery. I detected a somewhat leaner and less mid-forward tonality out of the 110 pair. The same power module is at play, the 1000w Pascal, but is configured in stereo (500w x 2) which allows one to run true stereo efx or to be run in dual mono, thus maximizing the configurability of the cabs. Like the 2X10, the 1X10’s have attenuators for the mid and high control, which is a nice added level of adjustability and helped me fine tune my sound.
OK…. What are my list of gripes (you know I have to complain about something)?
Well for starters, the top mounted jack plates mean that you can’t vertically stack the cabs, and you can’t easily put a rack on top of the cabs. I have heard from users who bought 90 degree IEC, XLR and Speakon jacks and use large rubber feet to create enough clearance, but for my money, I’d like to see amp plates elsewhere on the cabs, to maximize stacking options and not relegate one to custom cables. (Wayne responds: Future cabs will include recessed control plates on all models) I should be mentioned that the WJBP fits squarely on top without any modification needed, so this gripe only applies to those using other preamps or racks. I really prefer to stack 210’s vertically, for a “line array” effect, and the cab layout doesn’t currently allow for that. Also, the powered cabs are XLR connect only, so make sure you bring your XLR/mic cable. Similarly, the WJBP has an external power supply, with a proprietary (non-IEC) connector to the preamp. Don’t leave that power supply at home, or you’re in trouble. (Wayne responds: This was done purposely to Isolate the power supply for complete studio noiseless operation) My only other issue was the limited handle placement. The 210 is not impossible to pick up, but would really benefit from a couple more strategically placed handles, in order to increase its maneuverability in and out of the car and onto the stage.
So what is was my lasting impression of the Wayne Jones gear?
Well. Let’s put it this way: Can you find a simple rig? Yes. Can you find a cheaper rig? Definitely. Can you find a rig that is quicker sounding with more slam and definition? I’m not aware of one! The Wayne Jones gear exceeded my expectations for a truly high performance bass rig, that stands out amongst the crowd of others touting similar results. There is something so compelling about the lightning fast quickness and the massive low end delivery of the WJ rig that remains clear and coherent when other cabs literally start to crumble. The overall tone is extremely clear and linear, but leans toward a forward voicing character that has plenty of teeth to cut through a mix and give your sound some serious weight. I should mention that Wayne has been getting a lot of buzz from guitar and keyboard players as well, which speaks to the gears overall sonic neutrality and flexibility. I would wholeheartedly recommend the WJ gear to anyone looking for unparalleled performance from a bass rig, and specifically for funk, modern R&B and gospel players, seeking a balanced modern tone with lots of edge and, well, slam. All the WJ gear performed beautifully for me on jazz, Latin, fusion, and solo bass gigs, and I’m holding back tears as I prepare to return it! It should be mentioned, that Wayne Jones Audio is based in Australia, but these cabs are proudly “Made in the USA” and shipped from Wayne’s Kentucky based distribution center.
“It’s seriously epic – Insanely well made
I want one, I want two! – It sounds AWESOME”
Scott Devine of
N.B. Competition mentioned in video was for November 2016 and no longer running.
“THE BEST POWERED CABS I’VE HEARD”
BASS PLAYER MAGAZINE’S REVIEW BY JONATHAN HERRERA
I WAS 23 WHEN I STARTED AT BASS Player in 2002, so no matter how precocious I thought I was, to say I learned on the job is an under- statement. Fortunately, I had the bass journo All Star team on hand to whip me quickly into shape. I leaned hard on each of my more experienced col- leagues, but early on there was no one I needed more than Terry Buddingh, whose knowledge and abundant patience I frequently put to the test as a nascent technical editor. Terry is genuinely passionate about audio gear and has the wizened aspect of a guy who’s played, taken apart, and repaired thousands of basses and amps. When Terry really liked something, I took it seriously; nobody sliced through marketing hype better. I can recall long discussions about innumerable pieces of gear that came through the office, but few stick out as much as his deep and abiding love for an esoteric 2×10 made by a bass player in Australia, Wayne Jones. BP glowingly reviewed the Wayne Jones 2×10 in 2001, just before I arrived, so for me the cab was the stuff of legend. Plus, its extreme scarcity meant I couldn’t pop down to the local Guitar Center and give one a spin. Regardless, the cabs went out of production in the mid 2000s.
Read More ►
Now that I’m a slightly more grizzled old hand, my nostalgia kicked in when I got an email from Wayne Jones saying he was manufacturing an upgraded line of cabinets featuring his original drivers, but in totally redesigned cabinets that included Class D power amps. I was further pleased to hear that his inspiration for getting back in the cab biz was Buddingh himself, who over the years had pestered Jones for an update. Soon after a trio of boxes arrived, containing a powered 2×10 and powered and passive 1x10s. Finally I’d get to hear for myself what Terry ’s seldom-wasted adoration was about.
When Wayne Jones, a first-call bass player and solo artist on the Australian scene, decided to reintroduce a line of cabinets, he knew he wanted to make them lightweight and powered. His design philosophy is a mixture of no-compromise fidelity and real- world utility, and to him, weight and transparency are the key variables. To shed pounds, Jones initially experimented with neodymium drivers, but was unable to find a design he liked as much as the Lorantz Audio 10s he used in his origi- nal 2001 model. I can see (and hear) why he didn’t fix what wasn’t broken. The Lorantz speakers were beautifully constructed, blessed with huge ferrite mag- nets, a large voice coil capable of extreme excursion, and frequency response and distortion specs that elevate them above the off-the-shelf pack. Given that the speakers were going to stay relatively heavy, Jones directed his attention to the cabinet. The new cabinets are a total redesign, using lightweight poplar ply as opposed to the more typical (and heavier) baltic birch ply.
Being the sort of player most attracted to hi-fi rigs that minimize coloration, Wayne Jones designed a powered rig that allows players to use studio-grade preamps and DIs or, in the case of an active bass, no preamp at all. The 1,000- watt Pascal Class D stereo amp is a well-regarded favorite, and it has impressive bandwidth and distortion specs. The 2×10’s xlr input jack is ideal for interfacing with the balanced output of a pro-level preamp, but a parallel unbalanced q” jack would have made the cab more flexible, as the near line-level output of many active basses would be sufficient to drive the amp’s input. The top panel includes two L-Pad attenuators governing the high and midrange frequencies. It’s interesting to have midrange attenuation, and I found it a cool means of coaxing new sonic color.
The cabinets’ assembly was generally excellent. The deep and durable black carpet covering felt tougher than average, and the hardware, including the quick-lock corners, telescoping handle, tilt-back casters, and side-mounted handles were all high quality. The WJ 2×10 is unusually deep, which—combined with the telescoping tilt-back handle and dolly-style casters—makes wheeled transport slightly awkward (the cabinet is a little too narrow to feel planted in transit). I almost regret mentioning this, because the mere inclusion of the handle and casters is an unexpected blessing. I also wished that Jones had recessed the top-panel attenuator knob, as its protrusion makes it difficult to stack anything on top of the cabinet in transit or when used in a vertical playing position. The 1x10s are a great deal more portable, although the handle position at the cabs’ corners makes them a touch more awkward than a top-mounted handle might have been.
The powered 1×10 offers an interesting addi- tional feature that the 2×10 lacks. Both cabs use the same stereo amp module, but in the 2×10 it’s bridged to send 1,000 watts to the internal speakers. The 1×10 uses only one side of the 2×500-watt amp for its internal speaker, but the jack panel includes an additional input and a speaker output jack, allowing one side of a stereo input to come through the powered cab and the other to be separately powered and sent to the passive 1×10. Even without a stereo input, I could link the two inputs on the 1×10 and still use the other side of the amp to power an external cab separately.
THUNDER DOWN UNDER
One of the most fun things about powered speaker cabinets is the ability to use a wide variety of preamps, some of which aren’t purpose-built for bass, but sound great nonetheless. Among the esoteric preamps I tested with the Wayne Jones cabinets were a Neve Portico 5017, Tube Tech MEC-1A, a Noble, and a Vintech VA573, as well as bass-specific models like a Kern IP-777, Ampeg SVP-CL, and a Demeter HBP-1. I also made use of the preamp in an F Bass BN5, a Fodera Standard Classic, and a Citron AE5-Swallow to connect directly to the Wayne Jones’ input (with the help of a q”-to-xlr adapter, of course).
First, I tested the 2×10, the cabinet most similar to the model that made Terry Buddingh gaga. Having spent a good deal of time with it, using both bass guitar and synth, I can clearly see why Terry was such a fan. It’s one of the best 2x10s I’ve heard. Its overall sonic impression conveys depth and strength, but also beautifully balanced presentation through the whole frequency spectrum. It is capable of extraordinary volume and transient response, and it has the palpable force of a high-headroom amp, but it doesn’t lose any of its natural and beguiling clarity. The facility to use no-less beautiful-sounding preamps like the Neve and Tube Tech make it an excellent platform for coaxing luscious and authoritative sound that transcends the abilities of many integrated bass heads. The Wayne Jones was loud enough for any stage, and it never seemed to break a sweat. I also dug the smooth high- frequency response, which didn’t have the clacky bite of some lesser tweeters. The 1×10 is similar to the 2×10 in its strong-but-sweet personality, but it obviously moves less air. Coupled with the passive 1×10, it’s an excellent solution for stereo players or those seeking to send a monitor feed to a drummer. Both cabs also benefited from some break-in time, warming up and getting a touch more plush as I put in some hours.
It was a long time coming, but thanks to my old mentor Terry, I finally got my hands on a Wayne Jones. While his distribution is insignificant in the States, perhaps a lot of demand will make his special cabs more widely available. Take it from two generations of BP tech editors—you have to try one of these. BP
“THEY ARE SIMPLY SOME OF THE BEST SOUNDING CABS ON THE PLANET”
BASS GEAR MAGAZINE’S REVIEW BY TOM BOWLUS IS NOW OUT
Wayne Jones WJ 2×10 And WJ 1×10 Bass Cabs
So many times, the things which fascinate us – sometimes to the point of obsession – are the things which are the least obtainable. This definitely holds true for bass gear, and for some time, one of the best examples of “unobtainium” in the bass world were those mysterious 2×10 cabs from some guy named Wayne Jones. Nobody was really sure just who he was, or if he even existed, but rumor had it that he was some foreign land, like Atlantis, or Australia, or something. Combined with what we didn’t know about Wayne Jones was that what we did know was that everyone who had actually heard them seemed to fall madly in love with them. So, of course, I had to have a pair of these cabs for myself!
I was lucky enough to snag two Wayne Jones 2×10’s on the used market, and sure enough, they lived up to the hype. Yes, they wanted a good bit of power to sound their best, but if you paired them up with an adequate amplification, they provided deep, powerful tone for days. So, mission accomplished; having secured these cabs, the mystery was over, right? But rumors are funny. Just when you think the story is done and over, new wrinkles break the surface. Terry Buddingh first piqued my interest by claiming that he actually knew Wayne Jones. “Really? He’s a real dude, and not just some made up brand name?” Then, Terry goes on to tell me that he’s trying to convince Wayne to start making cabs again. “That’d be great!” Oh, and this time around, he’s going to make them powered cabs ” Uh oh … I’m getting sucked back into the mystery!”Read More ►
Terry did, indeed, put Wayne and I in contact, and before I knew it, Wayne was shipping me two of his WJ 2×10 powered enclosures, plus one each of his Active and Passive WJ 1×10 cabs. All three of these cabs use the same 10″ drivers which made Wayne’s former 2×10’s so formidable. Wayne did make a definite attempt to make the new cabs lighter (those older cabs are quite heavy), but he chose to shave the pounds on the enclosure side of the equation, as opposed to the drivers.
He considered using neodymium-based drivers, but as the older drivers were made to his specs and worked so well, he figured, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” He did opt for a new JBL/Selenium tweeter, though, and this new tweeter definitely pairs up well with the “old” drivers.
The 2×10 cabs are equipped with a 2-channel Pascal amplifier that is bridged to put out 1,000 watts into an 8-ohm load. This works great with the two 16-ohm 10″ drivers, which are each rated to handle 600 watts, continuous. For thermal control, there is a heat sink plate mounted into the rear of the enclosure (and protected by its own powder-coated metal grill). The amplifier employs a high-pass filter which rolls off the lows below 30Hz, and the enclosure is tuned to 40Hz. The same amplifier module is used in the 1×10 Active Bass Cabinet, except not in bridged mode. It functions as two separate 500-watt amps. When you are only using a single Active 1×10, only one side of the amp is working. The other 500-watt amp is connected to the Speakon® speaker out, which is intended to drive the Passive WJ 1×10.
The enclosures, themselves, are covered in really nice, high-grade carpet, and employ larger, stacking-style plastic corners. The handle configuration on the 2×10 is unique. There is a retractable pop-up handle on the rear of the enclosure, which is designed to work in conjunction with the casters built into the bottom rear edge of the cabinet. Just pop up, tilt back, and roll! The handle retracts into the space right behind the heat sink plate, but inside the grill; very neat and tidy. When rolling isn’t an option, the cab has two nicely sized handles built into what would be the top/side edges of the cab when it is laid down horizontally. I found these to be a little awkward to use when carrying the cab, especially while going up/down steps. The 2×10 cab is just light enough to allow for a one-hand carry, but the handles aren’t placed well to allow for this. On the 1×10 cabs, there is no pop-up handle (and no need for one) and two smaller edge-mount handles on the top/side edges of the cab (when viewed in its vertical orientation). These handles certainly look very cool, and are space efficient, but the fit is a little tight for my big(ger) hands. Now, these cabs are definitely light enough to carry in one hand, but the cabs also don’t balance all that well when held by just one handle. They are very easy to carry using both handles, though.
The powered 2×10’s have a control plate mounted on the top of the cab (when stood up vertically) which contains a single balanced XLR input, LEDs showing status for power on, clipping on channel 1, clipping on channel 2, and bridge mode. In addition to the IEC power receptacle, fuse and on/off switch, the control plate also has the Mid and High attenuators. The Mid attenuator cuts up to 12dB in the 300Hz to 600Hz range. The High attenuator also cuts up to 12dB before it heads to the tweeter. Wayne Jones suggests a starting point of 3 o’clock on the Mid attenuator and “noon” on the High attenuator. I am a bit concerned about the fact that the knobs for the attenuators stick up above the side of the enclosure. If possible, I would like to see them recessed, or otherwise protected. Wayne does tell me that the cabs will ship with a padded cover, which will help to protect the attenuators during transport. I would have also liked to have seen an unbalanced 1/4″ input and a pass-through connection for daisy chaining multiple cabs. Wayne did solve this latter issue by supplying a Y-cable, which allowed me to plug the balanced output of one preamp into both powered 2×10’s. The control plate on the powered 1×10 has two balanced XLR inputs, for Input 1 and Input 2. These can be used as independent, or stereo, inputs, or you can employ the “Input Link” button to – what else? – link the inputs. On the passive WJ 1×10, the control plate features just a Speakon input jack and the Mid/High attenuators.
Wayne Jones History 101: The Man, Himself
While he is currently based in Melbourne, Australia, Wayne is originally from Wales. When he was 11 years old, his family immigrated to Australia. He started playing drums when he was 13, but at age 17, he suffered an industrial accident, which caused the loss of the use of his left thumb. At this point, he took up the electric bass, and he has never looked back. In addition to designing and producing some fantastic bass cabs, Wayne is primarily a solo bass player, writer and producer, and has his own record label. He explains, “I have CD’s out and on radio in the smooth/ contemporary Jazz markets in USA, Europe & more. They feature top USA players Rick Braun, Philippe Saisse and Mike MacArthur. The Australian contingent is myself, Fallon Williams and Ron Peers. Prior to this, for over forty years, I was a sideman in the Australian music scene, touring, sessions, etc. I did master classes and taught at various colleges.”
Okay, but how did he get started producing his own line of bass enclosures? Again, Wayne explains, “I was also a product advisor and clinician for major bass amp bass guitar import companies in Australia. One of them was Music Link, who at the time Imported Trace Elliot. I did a lot of bass clinics and demonstrations promoting Trace Elliott and Status Basses. I got to know Clive Roberts and Mark Gooday from Trace Elliott. One day, I asked, ‘Why don’t you split your 4×10 cab in half,’ as they were so heavy. They said they had already done something like that, but when I saw the result, it was a small extension cabinet. That’s when I decided to go off and design my own cabs.”
Wayne Jones History 201: Wayne Jones Audio [As told by Wayne Jones]
“In 1996, my first cabs were WJ 2Paks (2×10’s) and a single 15″cab, with two piezo tweeters in a separate box. I asked the people that made the cabinets for me to ask the speaker manufacturer for my specific speaker requirements in a custom-made speaker. I found out later that they just used off-the-shelf speakers. For off-the-shelf speakers, they still were far better than most others available. They came from the same speaker manufacture that makes my current drivers, Lorantz Audio. The cabinets were successful and fairly inexpensive. In my search for the best bass sound to cater for all my needs as a pro player, I decided to redesign the cabs to the highest quality with no compromise. I went to see Michail Barabasz of Lorantz Audio and asked him if he could design the drivers that I initially asked my first cabinet manufacturer for. He did. Thus came the next Wayne Jones speaker cabinets; the ones that Bass Player magazine gave me that excellent review of in June 2001.
Things looked really good with the cabs going all over the world. Then September 11 happened.
My orders virtually stopped. The economy was severely affected, and people were not spending on such high-end expensive products. So, I stopped making them and kept on being a pro bass player. In 2012, Terry Buddingh (the person that gave me that review in Bass Player magazine) inspired me to get back into it, and so after two years of development, here I am with my new range of high-end, highpowered cabs. Regarding future designs, I will always try to better what I design with creative vision and new technology. Then again, I won’t be changing what works. I plan to add to my range as I progress. The Wayne Jones Stereo Bass Pre- Amp is in its final stages and is ready for production.”
Put to the Test
I was able to try the powered cabs with a variety of instruments and preamps. One of the things I have found when dealing with powered enclosures is that matching up an appropriate input signal is not always as intuitive as you might like. Attention must be paid to both the output of the preamp and the input trim on the powered enclosure in order to create a good match with the best headroom. Drive one or the other too hard, and you can introduce unwanted distortion. Set the levels too low, and you might not be getting all of the headroom that would otherwise be on tap. But get it right, and boy howdy! Some of my favorite units to place in front of the Active WJ cabs was the Demeter HBP-1, Millennia TD-1 and Sonic Farm 2di4.
The best way to get a feel for what these new cabs could do was to compare them to my older Wayne Jones 2×10’s. The older cabs always stood out for being very deep, but unlike many cabs that have a deeper, powerful low end, the Wayne Jones cabs are also very balanced from top to bottom, with a sweet, clear top end. To try and minimize the impact of the ancillary gear, when I compared the older cabs to the new powered enclosures, I used the same preamp each time, and powered the older cabs with my Demeter Minnie 800D power amp. The newer cabs sounded a bit more crisp and clear, while the older cabs were a tad more warm/round. The newer cabs had more dynamics in the lows, and seemed to move more air when pushed hard. In contrast, the older cabs seemed a bit more solid in the upper low end, up through the mids. Some of this could have been the difference between the Pascal amp modules in the new cabs and the ICEpower module used in the Minnie. However, I did notice that as I spent more time playing the newer cabs (and breaking them in), they started to sound more and more like the older cabs.
At the end of the day, I slightly preferred the tone of the newer cabs to that of my older ones, and that is saying a lot!
I was a little disappointed, though, that the newer WJ 2×10’s cannot be stacked vertically. This is my preferred way to stack my older WJ cabs, and it makes for a “line array” style setup, with drivers/tweeters up closer to your ears, great horizontal dispersion, and all with a minimal footprint on stage. The positioning of the control panel and attenuator knobs on the new cabs just don’t allow for this. However, Wayne explains that most of his players – of both the older and newer cabs – prefer to stack their cabs horizontally.
The combination of the Active and Passive WJ 1×10’s packs a lot of punch in a compact package. Of course, the pair ends up sounding an awful lot like a single WJ 2×10, but with a tad more “air” and clarity up top. In addition to having two tweeters with the double 1×10 stack, the crossover points are a tad different, as well. The WJ 2×10’s are crossed over at 4kHz, whereas the 1×10’s (both Active and Passive) are crossed over at 3.5kHz. With the two 1×10’s, you also have the option of placing the cabs in different locations on stage (one monitor for you, and one for the drummer, perhaps?). As a comparison tool for the Active WJ 1×10, I first turned to the powered Bergantino IP112, which of course, is a 1×12 enclosure, so it’s not exactly apples to apples. The enclosures are of similar size and power, though. In comparison, the WJ is more clear, open and airy up top, and was more detailed, overall. The IP112 is more full and meaty, bigger down low, and definitely sounded warmer. The tweeter on the Bergantino was not as apparent; or maybe it was that the WJ’s tweeter drew so much attention to itself – but in a very good way. My notes read, “The tweeter in the Wayne Jones is amazing!” It is super clear and detailed, but still smooth, and not remotely harsh. And of course, if you so desire, you dial it back by 12dB.
Moving on to the Passive WJ 1×10, I also looked to a Bergantino cab for comparison – in this case, the HT110. Once again, the Berg was more warm/round down low, whereas the WJ proved itself to be amazingly articulate in the lows, while still sounding full. Overall, the midrange balance and focus is quite similar between the two. The WJ is a tad more aggressive, and the HT110 is a bit more laid back and smooth. Similar to the Active cab comparison, the WJ’s high end stands out a bit more, whereas the Bergantino’s highs have some extra “meat” behind them. All told, I would rate this as a dead heat between the Passive WJ 1×10 and my previous top dog of the 1×10 world, the HT110. I spent a good bit of time listening to the Passive WJ 1×10 in both horizontal and vertical orientation, and there is a very noticeable difference between the two. Laid down horizontally, the tone is more balanced from top to bottom and more full (more like the HT110, in fact). Stood up vertically, the tone is more clear and articulate, and the tweeter really gets your attention.
The Bottom Line
I was very excited when I first heard that Wayne Jones might be producing bass cabs again, and I have to say, after spending some time with these cabs, I am even more excited. Yes, I do wish that they would accommodate vertical stacking, and yes, I do worry about those attenuator knobs sticking out there, but other than these minor nits to pick, I am extremely impressed. In terms of tone, volume and dynamics, these cabs are second to none. If you missed out on the fun with Wayne’s prior 2×10’s, or if you found them to be a bit on the heavy side, then these new cabs are just what the doctor ordered.
Whether you choose the “stereo pair” with the Active and Passive WJ 1×10’s, a single Active WJ 2×10, or the 2,000- watt double-stack of WJ 2×10’s, these new cabs from Wayne Jones are no mystery. They are simply some of the bestsounding cabs on the planet.
Wayne Jones Passive Wj 1×10
This technical review will focus only on the Passive WJ 1×10, as our current bass cab testing procedures are not intended for use with powered enclosures. However, this cab is sold as part of a pair, and the pricing information listed above is for the matched set of one Active WJ 1×10 and one Passive WJ 1×10.
The layout and configuration of this enclosure is a little different, compared to more conventional small cabs. In either configuration (vertical or horizontal), it is deeper than it is tall or wide. There are no feet installed on the cab, but (except for the side with the L-pad attenuator knobs), the plastic (stacking-style) corners have enough height to keep the rest of the cab off the ground. The enclosures are covered very nice, dense but soft, black carpet. Even the front baffle is covered in carpet, which is a nice touch. The two edge mounted handles installed in the middle of where the top and sides of the enclosure meet are very cool and very stylish.
However, they are not very comfortable (at least not if you have bigger hands, as I do) and they are not very practical. The dimensions and overall weight of this cab (just over 36 lbs!) Encourage a one-hand carry, but the handles are not very good at facilitating this. The (large hole) perforated metal grill is held in place by four wood screws, and the metal frame edge is bent down to serve as its own standoff. This simple but elegant solution works very well, especially with that nice carpet on the front baffle.
The custom-made woofers (produced by Lorantz Audio, in Melbourne, Australia) are held in place by eight wood screws. As I have stated in many previous reviews, I prefer bolts going into (well-secured) threaded inserts over wood screws, as the wood can tend to strip out and loose grip after multiple insertions/removals. Most folks will never experience any difficulties along these lines, though. I did like how the front baffle was routed out slightly to make a recessed “seat” for the driver to sit in, and the use of a gasket seal around the rim of the driver made for a very good seal. The cast-frame 10″ drivers are a thing of beauty, with their shiny backs and screw-down, color-coded binding posts. Rated for handling 600 watts of continuous power, this is one serious driver! With a driver this nice, any tweeter you put up against it better be up to the task. Fortunately, Wayne has opted for the very nice JBL/Selenium ST200 Super Tweeter. The ST200 was secured by four wood screws. Inside of the enclosure, we find nicely applied, thicker, fairly dense acoustic batting all around. The crossover board is located on the bottom of the cab, with medium-gauge wire used throughout.
The single Speakon input and the L-pad adjusters for Mid and High frequencies are located on the top of the enclosure (in vertical configuration; this would be the side of the cab, if laid down in the horizontal orientation). The attenuators are cut only (of course), to a maximum reduction of -12dB. While it is unique to have an attenuation option for the midrange frequencies as well as the highs, I am concerned about the fact that the knobs for these attenuators are rather exposed and stand out further than the edge of the corners. My preference would be to have these controls recessed, or somehow protected. While we are at it, I would also like to see them relocated, perhaps to the back panel. As it stands, you are severely limited in regards to real estate for placing a bass head when the cab is positioned vertically. Of course, this passive 1×10 is primarily intended for use with the companion powered 1×10, and Wayne has designed these cabs to be stacked when in their horizontal position. But, it would seem like a fairly simple tweak to relocate the input and attenuators, and then, players would have greater choice when it comes to stacking and with regard to which bass heads will easily sit on top of the cab(s).