Test Drive: BC Audio Amplifier No. 8

August 22, 2012
imgFeaturing a meticulous point-to-point circuit inside a 16-gauge powder-coated steel chassis, Amplifier No. 8 is a beautifully slick, streamlined tone machine. The class A design, with its dual-5881 power section and octal preamp tubes, aims to offer clean chime, gutsy grind, and all-out scream. But rather than buttons, boosts, and other bells and whistles, Amplifier No. 8’s ticket to total titillation is its interaction with your guitar and your dynamics as a player. 
I tested Amplifier No. 8 through its accompanying BC Audio 2x12 cabinet, as well as a Fender 2x12 loaded with an Eminence Patriot and Celestion greenback, a 1x12 Fender cab with a Weber P12NT, and a Marshall 4x12 with Celestion Vintage 30s. I also used a variety of Gibson SGs and Fender Telecasters.

With its red/black color scheme, Amplifier No. 8 doesn’t just look like a racecar running to redline, it sounds like one too. The amp sports a ton of frothy gain, and even in extremely high settings its tones never smear into an unruly, unmusical mess. In fact, Amplifier No. 8 will take the gnarliest, mashed-up dissonant intervals you can muster and make sense of them—not an easy feat when running a lot of gain. Clean to mean, Amplifier No. 8’s string-to-string clarity is breathtaking, and every tone contains a rich, musically compressed, chimey treble and upper mid response. And it does this with single-coils and humbuckers, which is pretty sweet.

The Amplifier No. 8 is very touch-sensitive, a must for a single-channel beast such as this. At 25 watts it offers plenty of volume for a wide variety of gigs, and the BC Audio 2x12 cab complements it particularly well for smaller rooms. If loud and clean is your thing, it may not be a perfect fit, but if highly manicured clean and lead tones are what you’re looking for, Amplifier No. 8 is a slam dunk.
CONTACT BC Audio, (415) 310-3087; bcaudio.com
MODEL Amplifier No. 8
PRICE Head $1,895 direct; Ammo can head $1,795; 1x12 combo $2,095
CONTROLS Presence, Volume, Drive
TUBES Two 5881 power tubes, two 6SL7 octal preamp tubes, GZ34 rectifier
POWER 25 watts
EXTRAS 8Ω/16Ω speaker jack
WEIGHT 17 lbs
KUDOS Dynamic, touch-sensitive lead tones with sublime, dirty-ish clean sounds.

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