Following on from my original review of the Fender Pasport Pro 300 posted on this site back in November 2012.
I originally bought the little Passport 300 to act as PA for my vocals and an acoustic guitar (played by A N Other). It was a great solution but following some “artistic differences” things have now taken a different direction.
I’m now rehearsing a duo with an old friend from the late 70s who plays rock guitar with backing tracks. It’s going to be an eclectic mix to say the least with a set comprising of numbers by Paul Carrack, Gary Moore, The Cars, Reef, Oasis, Whitesnake, Foo Fighters, Van Halen , Bryan Adams, Robbie Williams and a whole lot more!
This move to a far more rocky set has necessitated some careful thought!
Obviously, playing this sort of stuff is LOUDER and will not be performed in such intimate surroundings as the original acoustic material was intended to be.
That said I still love the portability of the Fender so I was loathe to even consider trading it against an alternative PA.
We rehearse in a VERY small room at a local club, it’s only as big as a regular bedroom might be, this means that I can get away with using the Passport for vocals and backing tracks.
Rather than look at changing the whole system I decided I would look at reinforcing the Passports 300W output. Buying a Subwoofer was ruled right out. Not because a Sub wouldn't enhance the Passport(it certainly would) but because performing as a Sub is all a Sub can do!
No! I decided full range was the better option.
With this in mind I turned up at a local music shop Fender in tow and laptop full of rock backing ready to rumble! The owners very kindly let me link up a 12” active PA cab to the line out of the Fender.
Although the cab was not of a high end manufacture it was clear that it still made an enormous difference to the bottom end sound of the PA as well as increasing the volume significantly. Had the shop owner been willing to discuss a reasonable price for the pair of cabs he had in stock I would probably have parted with money there and then but to say his price was expensive would be an understatement! Armed with this research I decided to have a look around at what decent active cabs could be bought at a reasonable cost.
After going around in circles for a few days I decided on a pair of Alto Truesonic TS112A cabs.
At £439.00 the pair they were not only £120 cheaper than the cabs offered by the music store but substantially better made and, if all of the internet reviews were to be believed,they were the dogs danglies when it came to overall sound with great bass and middle.
Having a pair of additional self powered cabs gives you a great choice of options, your PA is sooo much more versatile.
For very small house parties or rehearsals just take the Passport, for small to medium size venues take the Passport and ONE cab for extra bass, middle and volume, for larger venues take the Passport and BOTH cabs. Oh! And of course if you just need to run an Ipod party or talk to folks at a small gathering or maybe a quiz forget the Passport altogether and just take one active cab with a microphone and plug your Mic and Ipod/phone/laptop straight into the cab! (The Altos have two XLR/1/4” Jack inputs with two separate volume controls so you can balance your voice against the musical input).
Some folks on the forums are buying full range active cabs and plugging them into the Fenders "Sub Out" socket which is fine except you don't benefit from all of that extra mid range punch the cab could provide as those frequencies are filtered out by the Passport before the signal gets sent to the cab which then just acts as a subwoofer. Remember though! Because a two way active cab is designed to be a "full range" solution it isn't designed or optimized to be a true subwoofer and therefore it won't actually work as well as a true subwoofer either! Much better to let it do what God made it to do and give it the full line out signal!
To connect up the cabs to the line output of the Fender you will need a small assortment of adapters/cables you can either buy adapters or solder up your own solutions.
For one additional cab you will need a 3.5mm stereo jack (male) to plug into the PA, both the left and right stereo channels from the 3.5mm Jack need to be combined and wired to a ¼” MONO Jack plug (male) or XLR.
Two cabs will give you stereo sound so you will need a lead with a 3.5mm stereo (male) jack for the PA with the left and right channels wired to two separate ¼” MONO Jack plugs/ XLRs .
As I stated in my original review I was a little disappointed that there is no way to defeat the reverb on the Passport 300 for talking between songs.
Fender kindly let me have the schematic for the Passport 300 and with the help of an “electronics savvy” brother in law I intend to fit a jack socket that will allow me to fit a latching guitar footswitch to achieve this. You can buy everything you need (except the switch) to carry out this modification for less than £5.00.
Remember though MODIFYING YOUR PA MAY VOID YOUR WARRANTY, however my PA was bought "pre-loved" and is now out of warranty so I’m not too worried about opening it up!
If anyone wants details of what to buy and where to fit it to do this mod I will email on request once I’ve had a chance to give the mod a really extensive and intensive testing!