The Classic 300 is a tube amp in all its glowing glory, but Markbass integrated some characteristically clever technology to improve on the archetypal concept. Similarly, the CL108 is an 8x10, but its neo speakers and compact design represent a distinctly modern take on the old backbusting fridge.
The Classic 300 was well built and felt rugged, plus it looks the part, with a front-panel vented stout case, hardy steel corners, and little bits of flair, like Markbass's trademark yellow text and piping. The Classic 300 sounded buttery and thick, but not congested. Its unmistakably syrupy attack was tube-y indeed, but it was still dynamically sensitive and responsive to transients. Paired with the CL 108 8x10 is was easily capable of volume enough for any stage. It�s naturally a bit hirsute, with a furry edge to high-volume notes, but for dramatic effect, the preamp can be pushed into clipping by playing with the GAIN/MASTER volume balance. True-to-form, low-frequency response was admirably big and lumpy, but it�s not the hugest-sounding tube head�more rich and detailed than others, with a colorful midrange and balanced response.
The CL 108 is the cutest little 8x10 I�ve seen, and its light weight is a trip�it felt like someone forgot to install the last four speakers. I dig Markbass�s concept with the 108: Save weight with neo, but keep the cab sealed like an old SVT, adding a deafeatable tweeter for cats that like a little tinkle in their low-end tickle. Its focused note envelope highlighted its well-developed midrange, accenting the 108�s sublime clarity and pitch definition. The stage spread was still large�as was its sound pressure level capability�but the 108 spoke evenly throughout the room.
The Classic 300 and CL 108 rig is a natural evolutionary step in tube amp design. Coupling modern diagnostic technology to a design that screams for automated maintenance just makes sense, and the resulting setup loses no mojo but gains tons of reliability and gives peace of mind.