Custom Sound 710 Bass Combo
Back from the brink
Contrary to the doom and gloom that currently surrounds a very depressed U.K. industry generally (and the musical instrument side of it in particular) it's refreshing to be able to report to MUSIC U.K. readers that Custom Sound, long makers of some of the best budget-priced amplification on the market, have a new lease of life. Recently the company went through severe financial problems and it looked, for a while, as if their range of equipment would be with us no longer. Certainly the old Oswestry-based Custom Sound Solid State Technology Ltd. company is no more, but the name has been taken over by the giant publicly owned Audio Fidelity group, as have the services of previous Custom Sound bossman Barry Phillips and his able assistant David Gutteridge.
As a result, the complete Custom Sound and Trucker ranges of gear are still available through retailers up and down the country, as are spares and accessories, fortunately all at prices exactly the same as before the original company crashed.
From an already more than satisfactory standard, the Custom Sound product range will now be expanded by the facilities of a very large company which includes considerable financial backing, plus manufacturing resources 'in house'. Without going into the technicalities of all this, it means that we can expect to see some very exciting new developments from this U.K. manufacturer in future months, now armed with the backing of a large group which is saying it will keep the quality high, the prices low and the new products both well developed and manufactured.
But, for the time being, the old Custom Sound line remains as it was and we've chosen to look at one of their best-selling amps, the 75 watt 710 bass combo which is a potential purchase for bass players needing a powerful yet small bass combo at a reasonable price.
Cosmetically speaking the 710 is a rather dumpy and yet attractive looking unit — almost cuddly! It shares a lot of typical Custom Sound features, including that excellent kick-proof metal grille they use to cover the 15" speaker fitted within the completely sealed enclosure.
Shifting the 710 around is very easy by the standards of bass combos with this sort of power rating. It sports recessed plastic side carrying handles plus a top strap and doesn't weigh a crippling amount. Given a reasonably large car (although you might just get it on the back seat of a Mini) the 710 could be the ideal combo for ease of transportation.
In terms of facilities the Custom Sound is very much equipped for a life on the road with a hard working band. All of its ideas are sensible and frills haven't been added for the sake of making it look ultra-flash. It's very much a working man's amp and is provided for accordingly.
On the back of the sturdy little combo you have an input for a mains lead (an IEC connector as featured on most amps these days) plus the usual fuses, a jack socket for an eight ohm extension speaker socket (100 watts into 4 ohms being the total required loading level), a pre-amp output (for a stage mixer or studio desk) and a very useful headphone output.
"...EXCITING NEW DEVELOPMENTS FROM THIS U.K. MANUFACTURER..."
On the top panel of the 710, the rest of the facilities are more than sufficient. The combo offers you high and low gain inputs, volume, bass, middle and treble controls, plus a small switch which you can use to select basic tone curves marked as 'normal', 'sharp' and 'blunt'. These are fairly self-explanatory, but I'll go over them later when I get around to commenting on the overall sound capabilities of this unit.
The output rating of this amp is actually around 75 watts, driving through the onboard Fane 15" speaker. It isn't fantastically loud but would be very much more than sufficient for the average smaller venue of the club/pub type. It would also be more than adequate for all but the most insane of rehearsal sessions and most recordings where the player preferred to use an amplified sound for recording rather than a direct injected one.
Take the 710 out on bigger gigs, however, and that facility of having an extra speaker 'out' could become particularly useful. Reducing the load down to 4 ohms means that the output power becomes a true 100 watts and, if the amp's owner if sensible, he'll use the 710's built-in 15" unit for his bass end sound and a smaller 2x12" or even 2x10" enclosure to deliver the top end. O.K. it may not be fed from crossover, but the resulting sound will still be very impressive, as we found with our test sample.
Tonally speaking the Custom Sound is a very fair contender for your money. The sounds range from an almost string bass, roundness and warmth with the tone contour switch set to 'blunt', but with a very Punk-type attacking toppy sound when that switch is thrown over to the setting marked 'sharp'. Normal is much what it says, seemingly there to let the rotary pots set the sound to run straight through the speaker without any alteration of their natural sound.
In terms of value for money, this Custom Sound combo seems to be a very good buy. It certainly isn't the World's best sounding bass combo, but it sells for a price which most players can afford and offers them a very versatile, nice sounding unit suitable for the average round of rehearsals and gigs which we all have to endure.
"...EASILY TRANSPORTED COMBO WHICH WOULD ENABLE YOU TO COPE WITH LIFE AT MOST LEVELS..."
The nice thing is that this combo will cover such a wide range of work, from basic 'weddings and socials' right up to those rare gigs when at long last, you get the chance to play your own material! It's the sort of easily transported combo which would enable you to cope with life at that sort of level.
On top of its more than reasonable sound and sheer basic usefulness, the Custom Sound 710 is particularly nicely made so that, with care, you should get a few years' fairly hard life out of it and then still be able to sell it for decent money when you look around for something more adventurous.
Overall, then this is a typical very honest value for money Custom Sound product, and one which you could do a lot worse than to buy for your first decently powered bass combo.
It was the possibility of losing products like this which made the demise of Custom Sound so tragic. Now they' re back and we understand that a new programme of R&D has been started to take this line further. We'd like to wish this maker the best of luck (they deserve it for always having treated the working musician fairly in terms of price and quality of their products) and say that as soon as Custom Sound release any newly developed products we'll be in there first, with luck, to bring you our view of them.
In the meantime the 710 looks fine, well worth any MUSIC U.K. reader checking-out for himself if he needs a good value bass combo with plenty of power and basically good sound.
RRP £224.25 inc.VAT
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