Monday, January 18, 2016

Amp Throwdown! MM vs. HG2

Two years ago in his blog Adam Gussow challenged me to an amp “Throwdown” between the new Memphis Mini amp and his Harpgear HG2 amp, both small “Champ” style amps.  He wanted me to ship him an amp so he could do a comparison test.  I declined for two reasons:  I didn’t have any spare MM amps to send to anyone, and since Adam is an official endorser of the HG2 amp I didn’t expect an unbiased result.

A few months ago Ronnie Shellist asked me to co-sponsor a Blues Harmonica Workshop he and Adam would be presenting at Ziggies in Denver on January 16.  I wasn’t certain that Adam would be bringing his HG2 amp since he was flying in for the event, so I didn’t expect the throwdown to happen.  But, as soon as I walked in and carried the MM amp to the stage some of the attendees at the event started yelling “Throwdown!”  It was on!

Ronnie Shellist is an official endorser of the Memphis Mini, and Adam endorses the HG2 so this was a level playing field.  Both are monster players, and the room was full of enthusiastic and talented  harp players attending the event.    It was perfect.

In my opinion both amps are excellent, both have great vintage tone, but there are some notable differences.  You cannot hear all the differences in the video, which tends to compress the audio signal.  To my ear – and to most of the attendees who spoke to me later -- the MM amp sounded much bigger and punchier, with more crunch and presence.  The MM also had significantly more volume before feedback.  The MM seemed more giggable.

Some people will prefer the HG2 amp, and for good reasons.  I was very proud of the comparison, and gratified by the enthusiasm of the players in the room.  The bottom line is this:  The MM amp sells for more than $400 less than the HG2, and it sounds at least as good.  I booked several orders that day.

One of my favorite parts of the video is when Ronnie wondered if perhaps the HG2 amp has a little more bottom end, and most of the people in the audience immediately disagreed with him.  You can hear them on the video.  The discussion is funny.  BTW, when you are standing close to your amp, as Ronnie was, it is hard to hear the low end. 

I am grateful to Ronnie and to Adam for doing this.  I didn’t direct it at all:  They ran with it themselves spontaneously, chose their own amp settings, and I think they tried hard to wring out the similarities and differences in the two amps.

I hope you enjoy the video.