CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE: AMPS

AMPLIFIER DEALS

‘Tis the season for giving, and for letting the people around you know that you appreciate them. This recognition and confirmation of the strength of your relationships can come in many forms, but when it comes down to it, most musicians would prefer to get their hands on a new piece of gear. To that end, we have put together our annual Mixdown Xmas Gift Guide, to help you find the perfect gift for the music loving people in your life. On this page, let’s look at some of the amplifier specials we’ve had our eye on…

 

AH-Freestyle Laney Audiohub

DISTRIBUTED BY: Australasian Music Supplies

EXPECT TO PAY: $339

RECOMMENDED FOR: The streetwise performer, sonic explorer or bedroom shedder alike.

SOUND/VERSATILITY

One thing that a lot of all-rounder style amps suffer from is a lack of attention to detail in the tone department. Often flat and uncharacteristic, the Laney AH-Freestyle Audio bucks that trend by offering a broad frequency range garnished liberally with a healthy dose of onboard delay that fills the cone of the 10” speaker with enough throw and presence to stop anyone dead in their tracks.

USABILITY

There are options aplenty here. You have three isolated input stages, one XLR mic input, one stereo TRS and one mono all with switchable sends to the delay stage. That 10” speaker is safely tucked away behind a steel grill and either the AC adaptor provided or 6xAA batteries power the whole affair. There’s even a strap and grommets provided so that if you have to walk the children out of Hamlin, you can do so with the greatest of ease.

CONSTRUCTION

While the housing is solid enough to handle just about anything you can throw at it (or throw it at) you won’t need to hire Sherpa’s to lug it around for you.

OVERALL

A sturdy and reliable way to get any musician to go OUT rocking in the free world.

 

 

ASHDOWN TOURBUS 10 BASS AMP

RECOMENDED FOR

Bass players wanting a small practice amp for home rehearsals.

SOUND/VERSATILITY

The Tour Bus 10 has a simple and easy to use ‘plug and play’ design, made to be a no-fuss bass amp that can deliver a quality sound with a strong core tone. The Tour Bus 10 also features a headphone output for practising without disturbing others, and an MP3/CD input to allow you to play along with backing tracks or songs you may be learning.

USABILITY

With just a simple volume, bass and treble controls this amp is designed to make it easy to get a great sound and get playing immediately.

CONSTRUCTION

The Tour Bus 10 packs essential features into a super small box with a 10W power amp and a 6.5” driver with 8 Ohms impedance. Weighing in at just 4.25kg, this will neither take up much space at home, nor be a burden to travel with.

OVERALL

A great and affordable option for bass students to use for rehearsal in private at home.

 

For more information head to austmusic.com.au

 

 

MARSHALL MS-2 MICRO AMPLIFIER

EXPECT TO PAY: $79

DISTRIBUTED BY: Electric Factory

RECOMMENDED FOR: This is the perfect stocking stuffer for the guitarist who has everything. From beginners to seasoned veterans, the MS-2 micro amp is going to find use as a practice tool for any guitarist.

SOUND AND VERSATILITY

It’s not the biggest amp on earth, in fact, this is only the half-stock model, so you won’t be ripping up a stage with it, but as a sidekick to the travelling musician or as a bedroom practice tool these deliver a pretty neat sound.

USABILITY

As well as Volume and Tone controls, you can also switch between a clean and an overdriven sound on these little guys, so there is plenty of variety to be found in the sound it can create. You can even run pedals in front if you are keen!

CONSTRUCTION

The compact plastic box isn’t built for stage use, but it is tough enough for the intended purpose. The controls feel firm and well mounted and the battery compartment it easy to access and seal.

OVERALL

These have been around for years now and continue to prove popular because they have that cool factor. After all, what guitarist wouldn’t want a Marshall stack, even if it is only 6 inches tall?

 

For more information head to elfa.com.au.

 

 

ENGL GIGMASTER

DISTRIBUTED BY: Drumpartner/Musicpartner

EXPECT TO PAY: $1199

RECOMENDED FOR: Guitarists looking for tonal flexibility in unexpected places.

SOUND/VERSATILITY

Just about every amp on the market talks about the myriad of tonal possibilities housed within, few however stray very far from the path that they themselves have beaten. ENGL have for a long time flown the heavy music banner almost exclusively, however in the Gigmaster 15 they have added incredible body, depth and sensitivity to the clean stage without sacrificing the all-important grunt factor.

USABILITY

The front panel lays forth all the usual suspects EQ wise with the added option of a mid-boost switch which is less about ‘presence’ and more about girth. Input Gain allows you to serve up anywhere from delicate cleans to burnt black overdrive while the separate output level for the Lead channel allows you to balance the two stages evenly. The back panel offers a choice of the full 15, 5 or 1-watt RMS as well as silencing the speaker out altogether, which is great for silent recording via DI.

CONSTRUCTION

The Gigmaster 15 is built from all the same toughened materials as its more hefty counterparts, all the way down to the 12AX7 power tubes; it just leaves more room on top of the cab for the rider.

OVERALL

A powerful, gig ready amp with a gruff exterior that hides unprecedented sensitivity.

 

For more information head to drumpartner.com.au.

 

 

THE SUPRO 1600 SUPREME

DISTRIBUTED BY: Dynamic News

EXPECT TO PAY: $2499.00

RECOMENDED FOR: Guitarists after a classic

SOUND/VERSATILITY

The name Supro is already written into rock’n’roll history, instrumental to the sound of classic ‘British Invasion’ rock bands likes of Led Zeppelin and The Stones. This tribute amp to the original Supro 1600 follows its predecessor’s design with an all tube tone and a clear, punchy sound with unrivaled clarity. Just like the original 1600, this is perfect for dirty blues, hard rock, clean country twang and even warm jazz.

USABILITY

Part of what made the Supro 1600 so popular was its flexibility, but thankfully this new model has not added a load of newfangled gadgets to appease the market. Instead the 1600 Supreme keeps it simple with the classic Class-A 6V6 tone, which can be heard thanks to the 1600 Supreme’s power section, providing a distinctive attack and natural tube compression.

CONSTRUCTION

The output stage features a custom, high-powered 10” driver and generally remains true to the workings of the original 1600. There is no beam blocker in front of the 1600 speaker, facilitating maximum throw and crystal-clear treble response from this vintage inspired tube amplifier.

OVERALL

An update on a classic amp that could previously only be bought for a small fortune is now available for all to own.

 

For more information head to dynamicmusic.com.au.

 

 

EDEN MICROTOUR AMP

EXPECT TO PAY: $119

DISTRIBUTED BY: Electric Factory

RECOMMENDED FOR: From the beginner to the advanced player, the Eden Micro Tour offers something for every bass player looking for a compact and portable practice solution.

SOUND AND VERSATILITY

Delivering 2W of power through its custom designed speaker and tuned and ported cabinetry the MicroTour serves to provide bass players with a true micro version of a bass amplifier with good bass response and volume whilst keeping size to a minimum for portability.

USABILITY

It’s pretty simple, this super mini bass stack has just a tone and a volume control, so you don’t need to fuss over pulling a good sound. Just dial in the EQ setting to suit your needs and enjoy the tone of an Eden amp, only smaller.

CONSTRUCTION

It’s a rigid little box that is going to go the distance, especially as one can see this become a hotel travel companion for many touring bass players. It’s isn’t built for the stage, but that doesn’t matter, it is built tough enough.

OVERALL

Finally, a micro amp solution for bass players, and one that sounds pretty good too. Now, the bass player has no excuse for not know the songs in your set as they can always practice, anywhere and at any volume.

 

For more information head to elfa.com.au.

 

 

MARSHALL CODE 50 AMPLIFIER

EXPECT TO PAY: $549

DISTRIBUTED BY: Electric Factory

RECOMMENDED FOR: This seems to be the 'must have' device for guitarists this year, as demand continues to grow. Whether you are starting out and want an amp with plenty of options, or if you’re an experienced player looking for classic tones on a smaller scale, the Code 50 has what you need.

SOUND AND VERSATILITY

With classic Marshall amp modelling, the Code 50 offers you all the sounds of those big amps that you can’t find or can’t use in most situations. They sound pretty spot on too, for a compact combo.

USABILITY

As well as great amp sounds and a host of effects, you can also stream audio via Bluetooth to your Code and play along. This takes the Marshall amplifier to the next level.

CONSTRUCTION

These are a solidly built combo, but they are not too large or heavy. Easy enough to cart it to a rehearsal, yet rugged enough to handle a few bumps along the way. And of course, they have that classic Marshall look to the grill and vinyl, only with a modern edge.

OVERALL

These were probably the most talked about amplifier of the last 12 months, so it is a sure bet that the guitarist in your family is likely to have this on their Christmas list.

 

For more information head to elfa.com.au.

 

 

ASHDOWN ENGINEERING WOODSMAN PARLOUR 25W 1 CHANNEL ACOUSTIC PRE AMP 1 X 8"

DISTRIBUTED BY: PRO MUSIC AUSTRALIA

EXPECT TO PAY: $399

RECOMENDED FOR: Ashdown Engineering have made a name for themselves in acoustic amp design, raising the standards of vocal and instrument amplification for many years. Their latest line is the Woodsman series of amplifiers, designed for acoustic performers and vocalists who require both quality amplification and affordability.

SOUND/VERSATILITY

The Woodsman features a clear, acoustic tone as well as several other features designed to assist live performance and minimise your setup. These include tuning, phase reversal and feedback-eliminating notch filters.

USABILITY

With inputs for both microphones and acoustic guitar, Woodsman amps are made for both solo or duo acts.

CONSTRUCTION

There are three compact models in this range, being the - 25W Parlour, the 40W Classic and 65W Jumbo. Each model features a custom-designed 8” Celestion driver. The Classic and Parlour model also feature a horn for increased full-range sound. The 25W Parlour model features a mic channel with independent volume control, a guitar channel with volume, bass, mid and treble controls, digital reverb, and a master volume. At only 4.5kg, this amp will be an easy gig companion for the solo performer.

OVERALL

This is a clear sounding, easy to use acoustic amp that will enhance your solo or duo performances and not break the bank.

 

For more information head to promusicaustralia.com.

 

 

PIGNOSE 7100 BATTERY AMP

DISTIBUTED BY: Seltaeb Music

EXPECT TO PAY: $129

RECOMENDED FOR: Players looking for something truly unique to add to their bag of tricks.

SOUND/VERSATILITY

Originally dreamt up as a cheap, portable practice amp, the now legendary Pignose 7-100 has since become the ace up the sleeve of producers and guitarists the world over, looking for a gnarly little secret weapon. Infamous for its fuzzy, maxed out oink, it is anything but a one trick pony as there is an astonishing amount of clean tone that rivals even the rarest, vintage tube heroes.

USABILITY

While it may only have one combined volume/tone knob, the trick with this little bugger is in what you throw at it. The 5” speaker can be cranked and cranky or dialed back to a cool shimmer. Throw it over your shoulder with a guitar strap and go for a wander or plug in an AC adaptor and sit still while it tells you your own stories. It’s an incredibly unassuming yet versatile workhorse.

CONSTRUCTION

Leatherette clad wooden housing opens up like a book to reveal some extra ambience and attitude. Also, try not to chortle as you dial in tones using the distinctive snout shaped knob just below the speaker.

OVERALL

The secret weapon behind a bunch of your favourite records, the Pignose 7-100 is a surprisingly great sounding, charmingly ugly, endless bag of magic tricks that will never cease to amaze.

 

For more information head to seltaeb.com.au.

 

 

VOX VT20X AMPLIFIER

DISTRIBUTED BY: VOX AUSTRALIA

EXPECT TO PAY: $349.99

RECOMENDED FOR: Guitarists looking for a smaller amp to practice, record, or perform smaller gigs with.

SOUND/VERSATILITY

This is a 20 watt combo amp that comes equipped with a new modeling engine, which give you the choice of 11 amps to replicate the sound of, including many old favourites such as the Vox Ac30, Tweed 4X10, the Brit 1959 and more. The amp also features a multi-stage tube preamp, which incorporates authentic analogue circuitry to give you the warm tones of a tube amp. The sound is very responsive and versatile; the clean signal is clean and delicate, but there are also some nice ‘edge of overdrive’ tones that speak particularly well when turned up loud. The chorus sounds great on the clean sound too, which doesn’t always happen with amps like this. The dirty tones are appropriately grungy and complex, and sound great in those crucial mid-gain regions. The high gains are downright brutal, in all the best possible ways, with a satisfyingly natural saturation and articulation.

USABILITY

This is as simple and easy to use as any other Vox amp, with the added flexibility of the Tone Room software included. To add to this flexibility, there is also an auxiliary jack, headphone jack, footswitch and USB Type B mini port.

CONSTRUCTION

This is made using a tightly sealed cabinet and a proprietary bass-reflex, designed to deliver deep, powerful resonance.

OVERALL

Consistently reliable and great sounding, ValveTronix’s new modeling engine sound better than ever and is a very well made update to an already impressive budget line.

 

For more information head to voxamps.com.

 

 

ENGL EN212VHB Pro 2x12" Vintage 30 Speaker Cabinet

DISTRIBUTED BY: Drum Partner / Music Partner  

EXPECT TO PAY: $1399.00

RECOMMENDED FOR: Guitarists who want a detailed sound with a big, heavy low end. This cab in perfect for heavier music and has been favoured by Tommy Iommi and Ron Thal of Guns n’ Roses.

SOUND/VERSATILITY

The ENG EN212VHB has a very warm and full midrange tone, with a tight bass sound and a surprisingly detailed top end. This is thanks in no small part to its Celestion Vintage 30 120W speakers.

USABILITY

As simple to use as plug in and play.

CONSTRUCTION

The cabinet itself is constructed of 14-fold Siberian birch, which is not only durable but adds to its resonance. At 33kg, the Eng is quite heavy to move but does not feel delicate, and so is suitable for the gigging musician.

OVERALL

A very versatile cab that suits a variety of styles but is also particularly useful for fans of heavy rock. This cab will give you a detailed sound with a precise bass reproduction whilst still being affordable for your everyday musician.

 

For more information head to: drumpartner.com.au.

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