Type: combo, single channel
Power Rating: 400W
Drivers: 10″ downfiring (!) woofer, 5″ midrange drive, 1″ Tweeter (with on/off switch), Three-way sealed speaker System
Features: Molded Polymer Enclosure, Three-Band EQ Preamp Section, Combo Jack Input (Either 1/4 in or XLR), Phantom Power on XLR Input, Input and Master Level Controls, Effects Loop with Return Level Control, Switchable Notch/Low Cut Filter, Balanced Direct Out with Ground Lift, Mute Switch and Pre/Post EQ for Direct Out, Switchable Dual Voltage Operation (115/230V), fitted slip cover with cord storage pocket and shoulder strap
Size: 12″H x 15″W x 13″D
Weight: 20 pounds
Since their launch of the series I in the late 1990ies, these amps became very popular among double bassist. They deliver a powerful, very natural and acoustic sound. The unusual downfiring woofer design produces an omnidirectional output of the the lower frequencies to achieve a natural reproduction of a bass instruments’ sound. The high impedance input is suitable for piezo pickups; external preamps are not needed.
The Contra has one channel, the Coda models offers an additional microphone channel with phantom power. For guitarists, all amps are offered with additional reverb effect.
Type: combo; same as above, but dual channel (for e. g. microphone; with phantom power)
Type: amp head
Size: 10.2×8.2×3.5 inches, Weight: 5 pounds
same as Contra/Coda, but a amp head without speaker enclosure.
same as Clarus, but 800W
2 x 10 Combo, 800W, with removable head
I love the second channel of my AI Contra series II which is great for using a microphone. The notch filter and high pass is also a great feature not found very often with other amps.
The AI sounds good in most rooms, but is really difficult to handle in “bad” rooms.
My series 2 Contra sounds great at low volumes, but when competing with a reasonably loud drummer and guitarist, it gets lost on stage, although the sound out the front may be fine. I have taken the amp off the speaker (you can’t do this with the series 3) and am using the amp with an EA Wizzy M-Line speaker. This is a great combination.
This amp is my choice! I play the series II contra. It sounds very good and is able to produce a full (approximate) acoustic sound. I was lucky to get a (second hand) extension cabinet (actually, a speaker dismounted from anonther contra amp). With both speakers attached, this amp is loud enough even to rehearse with a bigband (for gigs in large rooms, I use the direct out to connect with the PA). Besides the extraordinary sound of this amp, I also appreciate its versatility particulary due to its small size and weight.
(tip: The contra amp perfectly fits into a 14″x14″ tom bag, in case you don’t want to spend a lot of money to buy the original case/bag).
In “bad” rooms try to take the AI off the floor, just a few centimeter. Don´t put it on a chair, thats too high and the AI looses its bass-sound.
These days AI presents a splitable Cabrio Combo. You can take the amp away like in the older serie 2. Moreover there is a model with an additional 10″ in the front, instead of 5″ and tweeter. Have a look at
Had the new Ten2 for a trial period.
In case, You are interested in my test result (conclusion):
after testing various rooms, bands, basses, also comparing other speakers and amps – in my opinion the amp´s sound features “low mids” pretty (too) much, thus does not sound sufficiently “natural”. I don´t get “my sound”.
The “bass knob” adds even more of these, giving then a sort of “muddy” attitude to the overall sound. But this bass sound does not really “carry the band” (my old AI Contra does!).
The “mids knob” indeed reduces a sort of “not nice” element of the bass sound, if it is turned down to some extend (somewhat in the sense of an element of “telephone sound” – which would occur in case the knob would be turned up) But then, by reducing the “mid”, the sound loses “clarity”, also a lot of volume, and the overall upright bass sound becomes even more “electric” than it is anyway.
The “high knob” imo. seems to work in a too high freqency range; it has little effect to the sound at all. So does the tweeter; there´s rather very small difference in sound in having it switched to 0db or -6db or off.
The “cut” and “notch” feature are not very relevant to what they are planned for – the cut and/or supress elements of the sound, which I would rather like to keep. But this is maybe even more a question of instrument itself, matter of taste, acoustics and whatever more than the sound control (I preferred to have them switched off anyway).
The sound control (bass, mid, high) seems to work in a not too effective frequency areas for bass (also electric bass guitar). Too high up.
Well, sorry, that´s not really an “acoustic image” – any more. They seem to have that sound since the 2. model – I had a 2. generation Contra for a trial period: same problem already. My old 1. Contra sounds much better, imho.
But the speaker cabinet combined with other amps (on top) works amazingly nice. One of the amps I tried has been a “Walter Woods”. It sounds a lot better than the AI. Unfortunatly I don´t own one…
But then I found the Euphonic Audio iAmp Doubler – well, that´s it. Works great; I stopped searching, roger. I combine it with that AI Ten2 EX (Speaker Cabinet). Sounds just great.
In my opinion the AI amps sound very different on different cabinets.
I found the filter even more effective than the control bass, mid and trebel. Thus I set them to zero before I set the filter cut or notch. In the end I mix bass, mid and trebel with gusto. Therefore the filter should be in the left of the control buttons, I suggest.
All in all the AI amp is not perfect, but alright. I wish it would have different input impedances. And I have never used the effects.
The downfiring AI cabinets I have never been able to manage. Too boomy and hard to handle. Every frontfiring cab is better.
Acoustic Image combos are very transparent, so there it just reproduces the signal coming in with little coloration, this is a much different philosophy than bass guitarist are used to where coloration and equalizing is needed (thus all of those amp emulators are so common). It will not make up for deficiencies in your pickup, bass or technique nor will it sound better than the signal coming into it. If your sound doesn’t sound good straight to the recording console it won’t sound good coming out of the Acoustic Image.
I run the amp flat most of the time with the BassBalsereit pickup and the sound coming out of the amp sounds like the bass. Sometimes some EQing is used when a room or stage is less than ideal for performances, but it shouldn’t be needed in most situations.
So which is the better amp if you play electric “and” upright? the AI Claris? or the EA Doubler???