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 Post subject: FENDER PASSPORT 300 PRO - UNBIASED REVIEW
PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 6:45 am 
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Fender Passport 300 Pro – an unbiased review! :D

As a vocalist with 40 years experience (man & boy! :lol: ) I’ve been in many bands and used a wide variety of PA systems both active and passive.
Having recently sold an 1100 watt active system because of its physical size, complexity and my present lack of storage facilities I needed a replacement system, that would suit a duo playing acoustic and hard rock numbers that could be stored easily.
I did the usual internet trawl looking for reviews on compact systems and looked at several options. I decided that a 300W system would probably be a good compromise as the units I looked at were neat and compact. Having read around 5 reviews I decided that the Fender Passport 300 Pro looked like a good contender but at around £600 it wasn’t the cheapest option. :roll: So I did what we all do and looked on Ebay! Lo and behold there was a listing for the exact system, used but described as mint condition at a buy it now price of £400. I contacted the seller and asked if he would agree to £350 and to my surprise he did! :D So the next morning, wad in hand I set off to collect the unit. True to its description the unit was in perfect cosmetic and working order, the guy even threw in a pair of aluminium stands! :lol:
Last night was the first rehearsal of the new duo.
We started off with a few acoustic ballads and I have to say I was blown away by the fantastic quality of the PA! Despite its small size and only having 8” speakers it has plenty of rich bass tone and the clarity of the vocals is superb! The reverb is lovely – no need for any extra vocal effects here! :)
My partner in crime patched in to a channel and the guitar sound produced was fantastic.
He is also very experienced and owns a pair of Mackie 450s with additional Mackie 150 monitors, he commented that he could not believe what he was hearing! :shock:
Following the acoustic numbers we moved on to some hard rock material with backing tracks. The PA coped admirably with the higher volumes and I would say that for most pub sized gigs this system will do the business.
Don’t be put off by the Passports seeming lack of features – most rivals boast hundreds of built in FX ( trust me you’ll never use them!), the Passport has one simple good quality reverb.
Most others have at least 3 stage EQ and possibly a graphic, the Passport has only a high and low tone control on each channel and a overall master tone control, simple but stunning sound!

I have only two very small criticisms:
• You cannot patch in a footswitch to kill the reverb on the vocals for talking in between songs. :?: :idea:
• It would have been nice to have had the direct to USB recording feature that the systems bigger brother the Passport 500 has.

In summary, if you need a stylish compact PA system that’s easy to move and store and has a GREAT sound then look no further than these Fender Passports! :D


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 Post subject: Re: FENDER PASSPORT 300 PRO - UNBIASED REVIEW
PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 6:54 pm 
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Great review. I also recently purchased a Passport 300. I have the same opinion as you. I wanted to add a couple of things for others considering buying the unit. I use it for my solo sax act. I remember the first time I played it outside of home it was in a fairly large church hall. I had been reading how a number of people had considered or had actually bought a powered subwoofer for their Passports, given the 300 and 500 units have a dedicated powered subwoofer connection on the mixer. Before I tested the unit in the hall, I was leaning heavily towards getting an external subwoofer. When I played it in the hall I, like you, heard the deep rich bass. I immediately said to myself, "this thing doesn't need a subwoofer!" Then, rather than leave well enough alone, I continued to read how a few passport owners had augmented their units with a powered subwoofer and then I got to thinking "maybe I should get a subwoofer after all." Well, I shelled out almost $400 for a powered 15 inch Gemini Subwoofer, a very nice unit, but in all honesty, it really does not make much of a difference in the quality of the sound. The Passport woofers on the 300, although only 8 inches, really put out a nice bass sound on their own even when pumping out CD dance music. So I would suggest anyone seriously thinking their Passport needs a powered subwoofer, may want to go to a music store and try one out on a Passport first to see if its really worth the cost. It does make your system louder, given that with the powered subwoofer attached, the passport diverts most, if not all, of its wattage to the higher ranges, but not really better sounding, if that is what you are looking for.

Also, while having the 500's ability to record may be convenient, when I want to record my playing I just use my tiny $100 stereo H1 Zoom recorder which reproduces very high fidelity sound. If I want, I can immediately hook it up to the Passport and play the recorded sounds back or download the audio file into a computer just like any other storage device and it sounds great.

Just my two cents!


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 Post subject: Re: FENDER PASSPORT 300 PRO - UNBIASED REVIEW
PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:04 am 
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Thanks for the advice on the Sub.
I had been thinking of buying something but maybe I'll get a few more gigs under the Passports belt before I do it. I'd be looking to keep it small for portability and I'd also be looking at pre-owned to keep costs down! :lol:
Funnily enough I bought a Zoom H1 yesterday with a view to recording by connecting with a lead to the Passport. Do you use the "Auto" level setting? I tried a little recording last night using the built in mics, I played a backing track on my laptop through a little powered speaker and stood the H1 quite close to it then just sang (no mic or reverb) over the top. After a little tweaking with a WAV editor to add some reverb to the full track I have to say it sounds pretty good! :D

Dave


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 Post subject: Re: FENDER PASSPORT 300 PRO - UNBIASED REVIEW
PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:54 am 
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Just a small comment on the lack of a mid-range EQ control:

You can adjust midrange EQ by turning the overall volume level up or down, then adjusting the high and low EQ appropriately. In other words, if you want low midrange, lower the volume and turn up the high and low. If you want high midrange, raise the volume and cut back on the high and low.

Mostly, I wind up leaving the EQ flat, anyway. The sound is best that way, though I do cut back on the low and boost the treble on callers so the consonants are clearly discernible and they can be understood well.

I may adjust instruments somewhat to taste, but it's always good to start with flat EQ. I need a reason to change the EQ from flat.


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 Post subject: Re: FENDER PASSPORT 300 PRO - UNBIASED REVIEW
PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:59 am 
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On the issue of whether I use the "auto" setting on the H1 Zoom, I usually use the manual setting of 50. I find that this setting works a tad better than the auto for me. However, you should experiment and find what works best for you.


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 Post subject: Re: FENDER PASSPORT 300 PRO - UNBIASED REVIEW
PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:12 pm 
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Thanks, I'm going to experiment with the built in mics recording some Blues vocal then adding reverb to the dry voice with software. Then I'll have a go at linking it up to the PA by cable. :)


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 Post subject: FENDER PASSPORT 300 PRO - UNBIASED REVIEW - ADDING ACTIVE CA
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:04 pm 
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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. :lol:
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! :roll: 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. :D
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. :P
Having a pair of additional self powered cabs gives you a great choice of options, your PA is sooo much more versatile. :idea:
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! :D
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! :lol:
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!


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