BC Audio Amplifier No 7

December 1, 2010

gp1310_gearamp_3499In recent years there have been a slew of adorable little “lunchbox” amplifiers gracing stages and studios—some are boutique builds while others are lowercost, mass produced models. BC Audio’s Amplifier No. 7, is squarely in the former camp. Although it’s available in a traditional wood cabinet, our test Amplifier No. 7 came in an olive-colored ammo box. Turns out BC Audio founder Bruce Clement got the idea rummaging around an army/navy surplus store as a teenager. The ammo can is a head-turner to be sure—don’t be surprised to see bar patrons reaching for their firearms when you load into the gig—but it’s not a look that everyone wants to cultivate. Besides, BC Audio’s cabinets are really hip looking.

Amplifier No. 7’s beauty is more than skin-deep, however, as the interior of the 16-gauge powder-coated steel chassis demonstrates. Inside is a class A cathodebiased circuit immaculately laid-out with what BC Audio dubs as “true point-topoint” construction, with all of the amp’s components chassis-mounted and nary an eyelet or turret board in sight. The sonic difference may be debatable, but the aesthetic difference is striking, as Amplifier No. 7’s construct is truly a sight to behold. But in the end, the audience doesn’t care what the inside of your amp looks like, they’re more concerned with how it sounds, and you should be too.

00gp_edpick_1Armed with my Fender Telecaster and Gibson SG, I ran Amplifier No. 7 through open-back 1x12, 2x12, and 1x10 cabs (loaded with a Weber Classic Alnico, Naylor Special Design 12s, and a Weber Blue Pup, respectively) and a Marshall 4x12 loaded with Celestion Vintage 30s. Simply put, Amplifier No.7 was a joy to play through every cabinet and speaker configuration. There aren’t many three-knob amps that are capable of delivering the tone, soul, and dynamics that the No.7 does. Whether it’s gushing chime-y, belllike clean tones that exhibit the sweet compression of a Vox AC30, or if it’s turned up and slightly grinding, imparting the toughness of a blackface Fender— Amplifier No. 7 sounds like every amp you’ve ever heard, yet something all together different with its own character and vibe. Mixing the Bright and Normal Volume controls is the key to unlocking what the BC is really capable of, as the Normal Volume is fat and warm while the Bright Volume gives you a keening, ultra-musicalyet- extended treble slice. Simply dial in to taste, and you can focus on playing rather than turning knobs. The Presence control is subtle, and useful for fine-tuning after you’ve found the satisfactory balance between the Volume controls. Even when both Volumes are cranked, the BC stays focused with a finely manicured grind, a singing, musical midrange, and a taught bottom end. What’s most impressive is the amount of treble detail sans any harshness.

Finally, you can choose between two types of power tubes. With two 6V6s in the power section, the BC is mighty loud— enough for most bar/small club gigs. The amount of clean headroom is perfect, and even fully cranked, I could back off my guitar’s volume control a tad and be right back in the clean zone. With a pair of 5881s installed in the power section, the BC’s basic tone stays the same, just louder with even more headroom. Nice. Amplifier No. 7 is impressive in more ways than one, but its most remarkable attribute is its tone. Bravo!

More from this Roundup:

5 Mid-Power Amps
Carr Artemus
Fryette Memph
Randall RT-50C
Vox AC30C2X
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