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Only One Can Survive

EBS Classic Session 120, Ibanez Promethean P3115 and Peavey Max 115 Comparison

Imagine for a moment that a fellow dressed as the mailman shows up at your door when you are about to start playing your favorite instrument: "Ding-dong! It's the mailman! I've got a parcel for you!," says an affable figure, all sweaty, with a tone that is meant to be cheerful.

Since you are a bassist, and thus a gentleman, and you have a fridge full of beer, you kindly offer him one. He gulps its down, burps in flat A and buzzes off on his bicycle. You watch him disappear in the horizon while he waves at you. It's beautiful, like the end of a western. And you don't even stop to think about how on earth was he able to lug all that: three 40 plus lbs parcels the size of a small size fridge each. And your fridge in the kitchen works fine. You are positive because the beer is cold and you personally control its temperature every day. You didn't order anything, nor did your girlfriend, because you are single now. And incidentally you play better the blues since she's gone. There's a small note attached to the parcels and since you are a literate bassist, you read it: "Dear AFriend, you have 24 hours to choose one of these products and send us back the other two." (This message will not self-destruct, so don't forget to place it in the garbage can and think about the environment: recycle!). You don't lose any time and open all three boxes in a frenzy, with the same excitement as a twelve-year old would (must I remind you that you're a bassist?). And voilà! Santa has arrived early! It's three bass combos ...Funny, you were just in the market for one.

The guys at Google aren't that bad after all...

Stop dreaming, my friends

 EBS Classic Session 120

In real life the guy who received these famous parcels and has to live with such dilemmas is Yours Truly. And that's the reason why I owe you all an explanation. This time I have to review three combos costing less than $500. Why less than $500? Because that's as much as we can spend on a rehearsal amp that can also be used in small stages. Three combos that I tested thoroughly and will compare for you. My criteria will be those of a potential buyer: logistics (weights and format, ergonomics and usability), output power, sound quality (performance and correction options available), manufacturing quality, and all the extras (effects, connections).

To the test: EBS Classic Session 120Ibanez Promethean P3115 and Peavey Max 115


When it comes to format and weight, all three combos exhibit ideal figures to be transported. The EBS being the most compact but not for much. The Ibanez, weighting 17 kg (37 lbs) wins in terms of weight, since the EBS weighs 21 kg (46 lbs) and the Peavey almost 23 kg (51 lbs). All three have a carry handle so they can be manipulated in the same way. The EBS has the advantage of its wedge design, so it can be tilted.

Output power

Ibanez Promethean P3115

On paper, the EBS (120W) is far behind the Ibanez (300W) and the Peavey (300W), which have the same output power. From what I was able to observe during this review, the EBS really lays its cards on the table, while the Peavey and Ibanez state higher values than they actually have. Let me be clear: the EBS is clearly a 100W combo, while both others provide around 200 Watts. I personally judge the Ibanez as being the most powerful of the three, and the speakers (12" for the EBS and 15" for the two others) also play their part in this loudness difference.

Sound quality

For those of you who want to concentrate on the low bottom end, a big sound with lots of lows, I would recommend the Ibanez and the Peavey, which have 15-inch speakers and make the best of this format. The Promethean has a more linear sound than the Peavey, which has a vintage touch.

I know, the expression is worn out but what can you do, it must be said with words that connect us all. The EBS has a slightly less rounded sound but offers a really transparent amplification. I also believe that the Classic Session's correction options are the most effective to shape a sound that can truly fit all styles.

Manufacturing quality

Peavey Max 115

While all three challengers feature the same overall finish (tolex, assembly, etc.), the EBS is far ahead of the Peavey and Ibanez when it comes to the quality of the pots. On the other hand, only one of the amps offers a usable direct output, and that's the Ibanez. On the EBS, as on the Peavey, the signal coming out of these outputs is quite mediocre. Is that a defect that can be observed on budget amps as a general rule? The question is open.

The extras

If we do a quantitative assessment of the options provided, the Peavey comes ahead with a tuner that works perfectly well, a gain boost and an enhancer (which for me are less pertinent, but so be it). The Ibanez offers a Phat control while the EBS features a semi-parametric EQ.

Which will I send back?

If I have to choose one (because in real life I have to send all three amps back), I'd go for the EBS Classic Session 120. I love the sound of 12 inches in general and also because I've always liked the brand's sound signature.. But if you have read well, this conclusion reflects a very personal choice. Depending on your own needs, it might be that you will lean more towards the Ibanez Promethean or Peavey Max 115. The debate is open and you should make up your own decision. Whatever it is I'll raise my glass to it!

"Ding-dong!," the door's ringing...

Ibanez samples

Mix 7 Creux
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  • Mix 8 Slap 00:23
Peavey samples
Bosse médium
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  • Slap00:23
  • Mediator00:31
EBS samples
Exemple 3 Mix
  • Exemple 3 Mix 00:27
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  • Exemple 9 Mix 00:43