The Crate CPB150 PowerBlock Stereo Guitar Amp is the amp to buy if you use a multi-effects processor. 150W mono/75W stereo guitar amp weighs only 4-1/2 lbs. and has a special FlexWave preamp that can be overdriven just like a tube amp.
Jestersage, on may 12, 2008 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Price paid: $ 79
Purchased from: second hand
Features: The Crate Powerblock is an attempt by Crate to cash in on the modeller market, back when it seems like the new shat before everyone went back to tube. Therefore, it only have one input channel, with five front mounted controls on gain, treble, mid, bass, and level (master volume); it also have a headphone output for the nighttime practice. In it's back it has a XLR Lineout with adjustable volume, two RCA in, two mono in, with one of them can be splitted into a preamp-out/poweramp-in, and can be used as an effect loop. The preamp, based on Flexwave "modelling" technology, is fed into two class D solid state power amp. It has have three speaker output: 1 mono output rated at 8ohms(bridgeable) with 150w RMS output, and two 4 ohm outputs, one for the right channel and one for the left, with each outputing 75w RMS. Aside from the amplifier itself, it also comes with a padded shoulder bag, with a compartment for storing speaker cables and the power cable it provided. What made this solid state amplifier remarkable is that it is one of the few solid state amplifier that is geared for portability with high output; I can easily carry it with my guitar and hop on a public transit. While it is slightly bigger (but much more heavier) than my Metal Muff, it contains the power transformer right inside the chassis. // 7
Sound: When I first got it, I run it direct from my Ibanez SA120 to the Powerblock, and plug it into my stereo 4x10 cabinet, and it was, simply put, quiet for a 150w amplifier, even if accounting that it is a solid state amplifier. Worrying that there was some issues with it, I actually took it to a music store and test it out, using mono output through a 4x12 Marshall MC412 cabinet. It opens up a lot and become louder, matching or even exceeding the volume my Blues Junior can provide. However, I still expect it to be louder. Like many solid state amplifier, it's tone is stertile clean at best and thin at worst. The "gain" knob should be more properly called "sustain", because it only provide a slight distortion (up to AC/DC level but no more), it can make the note sing for hours. The reason this amplifier have such issue is due to the fact that it is designed for a modeller; more precisely speaking, it mainly functions as a power amplifier, and let the modeller or whatever you have in front of the powerblock handle all the tone and volume. For example, when I plugged in the Metal Muff into it, it instantly become Dimebag's Warhead, letting out chainsaw like sounds with loud roaring volume. It was so loud that, in the soundproof booth I am testing my stuff, the manager forced me to turn down the volume on both the metal muff and the powerblock. Same boost in tone and volume when I tried out a Line 6 POD. I have yet to try out tube preamps or tube distortions on it, so I do not know whether it will help retain the warmth characteristic of the tubes, but I suspect so, base on the imitation the POD had let out. So as a guitar amplifier, it's tone is medicore. However, plug in something, be it a distortion or fuzz or modeller or even a tube preamp, and you will have a very loud and nice sounding amplifier system. // 8
Reliability & Durability: I have heard bad things about Crate, but so far, my only concern is that it is not outputing an appropriate amount of volume. I have tested it first by trying only the left output, then the right output, through my speakers; sounds came out at a moderate level, no too quiet but not too loud. I may have to investigate this further. As to whether I would depend on it: not as the main rig, but I would definitely use it as a backup. // 8
Overall Impression: So let me first stae my playing style: I am an all-around; fusion, if you will, but oriented toward classical, blues, and metal. Is it the best amplifier? Not by a long shot. Without a modeller or effect pedal, the Crate is much quieter; my Blues Junior can easily overwhelm it, and the combo also have better tone. But when you throw in a modeller, preamp, or a distortion pedal, this amplifier truly shines, in that it does not color much of the sound from those units. Perhaps this is one of the reason why Dimebag played through the Warhead before using Krank, as it allows an extremely harsh distortion that will not be warmed up by tubes, while retaining clarity in the notes. For a solid state amplifier, it is definitely toward a correct place in the market, one that boost portability with a loud volume; with the increasing gas price and my 5 ft 4 frame, portability is getting more and more important. And hey, with the original price tag of $300, to current refurbish/second hand price of $100, I am not complaining. Still, the fact that my Blues Junior is even more portable (do not need to lug the 4x10 cab) and have better tone, would makes me think that unless volume is needed, I would only use it as a backup. If I lost it, and if I can find one selling up to $200 bucks, I would definitely buy it. Otherwise it could be better to find class D power modules and build an equally portable but louder unit. Remember, the CPB150 Powerblock's selling point is that it is designed for modellers/pedals, and it is highly portable. If you are not looking for either one of them, save up that $100 for something else. // 8
macheted01, on may 11, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Price paid: $ 100
Purchased from: Seller on ebay
Features: Let me start of by saying this is extremely lightweight and portable. Seems bulletproof. Have had it now for three years, no problems what'soever. Packs a wapping 75 watts per channel in stereo mode at 4 ohms and 150 watts in mono mode at 8 ohms.
From the manual:
The front panel features three bands of equalization, a gain and level control, and a headphone jack for private practice sessions. The rear panel of the PowerBlock is loaded with speaker output jacks (for stereo or mono use), a balanced XLR Line Out jack with level control, CD input jacks, and dual purpose line in / effects loop jacks for adding external effects or for patching an external line level signal into the PowerBlock. The PowerBlock also features speaker simulation circuitry for enhanced sound at each of the audio outputs.
Now I never have tried the effects loop, so I can't tell you about that. I treat as I do my old Ampeg V2, everything straight into the front. Obviously there is a ton of stuff that others may want or need. There is no reverb or multiple channels. Pretty staight forward amp head, but I feel it offers alot. // 7
Sound: While I am not a Marshall owner I have played through my friends Marshall on several occasions. I am not gonna compare the two, but I would say that the Powerblock could be an easy backup. I can easily achieve and AC/DC Drive and tone with this.
I use an ESP LP style guitar with coil tapping in the pups, mainly. I can pull off many styles with this setup. Clean tone, bluesy edgier to classic rock with the guitar and amp alone. I run a Rocktron Valve Charger (compared side by side with a Tube Screamer) in front to get a little more when needed. Also a Zoom G3 for everything else. Sometimes a Slash Crybaby in there as well.
While the wattage ratings may be questionable, I still have no problem keeping up with the band, (3 or 4 piece, blues and classic rock) practice or live. I run my Powerblock into 2 single Genz Benz 12's. I have ran this into multiple 4x12 cabs including some Marshall cabs with great success. // 9
Reliability & Durability: Funny. Backup amp gone to main squeeze amp and has been there ever since. Actually bought another Powerblock for backup, but never have needed it. I would totally depend on this thing and take it to a gig without a backup. You would be surprised to see what else you may be able to use this amp for. I have used it as just an amp to power my monitor section. Great little package. // 10
Overall Impression: Really don't understand why something similar has not been put out. Well, I guess we now have micro tube amps, but... Great amp for about anything, unless you are looking for rectified high gain type distortion. If is was lost or stolen would definitely replace it. I love the tone of this thing. I wish it had some reverb. All in all, alot of bang for the buck. // 8
unregistered, on january 21, 2013 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Price paid: $ 100
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Features: One channel. Knobs: input gain, treble, mid, bass, master volume. Fx loop (which is. Stereo or bridgeable-mono speaker outs (with differing ohm needs and wattage outputs). Xlr line out. Rca inputs for a CD player. Speaker simulator built in. No reverb, no second channel, not much extra stuff. This is a really basic, straight-ahead amp. That is not a bad thing in any way. Personally, I think built-in effects (excluding a decent reverb tank) always sound like garbage. If anyone os going to color my tone it should be ME, not some crap digital fx processor in an amp. So Crate gets points for excluding that nonsense. The speaker simulator though...
I'm still not clear on whether this simulator is applied to all outputs or not. I've read forums where people claim to be able to bypass it with a certain cable configuration. I tried it and heard no difference. If there were no speaker sim, and a footswitchable fx loop, I'd give this a 9. // 7
Sound: I use an Epiphone G400 SG with a Duncan PhatCat in the neck and a GFS Mean 90 in the bridge. Also, a metric f^*#ton of pedals. Unlike a lot of people, I want my tone to be shaped primarily by my guitar and my pedals. My amp; s job is to reproduce those sounds faithfully and provide broad eq for adjusting to the room I'm in.
Given those parameters, I couldn't ask for too much more than the PowerBlock. It's hella loud, even without cranking the input gain to breakup. Not that there's a whole lot of breakup; The gain knob is more of a presence control up until about 1 o'clock. You can get some light overdrive out of it, but no faces will melt. On the other hand, there's no no noisy crappy fizzy solid state gain sound either. The thing stays fairly musical, even at high levels.
I think of it as essentially a power amp with a presence and eq section. A graphic eq pedal will change this amp dramatically, and I highly recommend one. Don't expect to plug in a guitar with nothing else and love the tone. That's not what this is for. I love gnarly fuzz, like Black Flag or QOTSA or even ZZ Top. This amp LOVES pedals.
My "preamp" pedal chain: SG -> Boss Graphic Eq -> Washburn Blues Overdrive -> Swollen Pickle MKII.
From there it hits a tuner, then several pitch shifters, delays, and other goodies. Tone is mostly in your hands. After that, it's about gain-staging. This amp lets me stack pedals without them turning into mush. When my fuzz is on, and I add the OD, I can hear it. Some amps can't say the same. // 8
Reliability & Durability: How's this for reliability and durability: I have it velcroed to my pedalboard. Never had a single problem with it, it doesn't even get terribly warm. All I need is my pedalboard, my cab, and my guitar. The pedalboard is built into a protective wooden "coffin" for transport, so the amp rarely faces any type of danger or exposure. It will likely outlive me. It used to be the backup for my tube head, until that died mysteriously. Once I realized I was getting the tone I wanted out of this...
The other guitar player in my band got one too. He also uses it for bass in his post-punk band. We love them! We use different guitars and pedals, and these amps are very transparent, so there are no issues with sounding too similar. You can still hear your guitar through everything, unlike a Triple Rectifier for instance. // 10
Overall Impression: I've been playing guitar for 17 years, and touring now and then for ten of those. I have no plans to take another amp on the road with me. If you're the type whose only "effect" is the amp, this thing might not be for you. All alone, it's not terribly impressive. Perfectly functional, and not at all bad... Just nothing special. If you're a pedal person, this amp is absolutely worth gambling on. Find one cheap on eBay if you can. This amp puts out what you put into it. For someone like me, this amp is a long-sought-after solution. If you're the type whose only "effect" is the amp, this thing might not be for you. All alone, it's not terribly impressive. // 8