Price paid: $ 226.8
Purchased from: The German Ebay
Features: Engl 20 Tube Preamp has 2 channels, clean and lead. Overall gain, plus extra lead channel gain. 4 tone controls govern both channels. Mid-boost and brigth switches govern both channels. Lead channel has it's own boost. Separate master volumes for each channel. Stereo return effects loop and stereo outputs.
Russian made 12AX7's are stock but I want to try out Tesla ECC83's
It has a midi option and a tiny built in poweramp 2x1,5 watts if I'm not mistaken, you can even power a 1960b cab in stereo mode and still have it at bedroom like volume (not great though, but thats logical huh). // 6
Sound: I use this preamp with a Jackson rg-750 with a seymour duncan invader in the bridge mainly, I also play it with a tokai strat with an s-d hotrail in the bridge position.
The preamp itself is not really noisy, it has the normal ammount of hum you get from any tube amp, if you're not standing in front of your amp catching feedback it is really not noisy at all, nothing to complain about.
This thing has such simple features yet such a wide sound pallete, I can get any distortion I want from it, I play all sorts of modern rock and the occasional jazz and this baby packs it all! from Anthrax to Zao and from AC/DC to ZZ top and from there back to BB King! this thing really is versatile, I just wish it had a seperate EQ for the clean and the mean channel, the later versions of the preamp have it though, also the bigger 3 channel brother of the 620 (the 530 and the new model).
The cleans are really warm and tubey like, you can hear the difference between an SS clean and a tube clean in an instance, great sound, but most tube amps have great cleans so I won't waste anymore time on this part ;)
The distortion is as brutal as you want it to be, you can get really tight distortion if you use the right guitar/pu's, it stays tight at high volumes too, which is really important for me. // 8
Reliability & Durability: I've bought it used from a guy in Germany, from the german Ebay, I haven't had trouble yet but my guess it that its prolly gonna need some new tubes in the future since the previous owner didn't replace them lately.
It's build really sturdy though, solid knobs, they don't turn like they're are crap, even the knobs feel sturdy if you turn them, even after all those years there is no noise coming from them either, metal front plate and solid switches.
Also, Engl has GREAT service, really kind guys and they will ship you spare parts if you ask them, good website with all the manuals, even of the older models. I've been to Germany to try out the Engl Powerball at the dealership, cool guys, really helpfull and laid back, they really let you enjoy the amp (not just push you into buying one). // 10
Overall Impression: I've been playing for a fair 6/7 years, I also play bass and own a load of random gear.
I tried the JMP-1 and the triaxis, the JMP-1 wasn't my thing at all, I didn't like the distortion nor the interface, I'm not a big Marshall fan anyways, I thought the poweramps weren't good, well the preamps are worse, takes ages to find the tone you're looking for... nothing against Marshall though, they used to make great amps ;) (JCM900).
The triaxis was way better but its in a completely different price range, it also took me ages to get the tone I wanted, but once you find it you don't wanna leave it unplayed, awsome preamp, though a bit too high-tech for me.
Some of you might know that the JMP-1 and Triaxis only have tubes in them to 'colour' the distortion, in some ways they're not true tube preamps, I'de like to get my hands on a Mesa Quad someday, king of the preamps...
But for now, my Engl will do just fine and for the cash theres nothing else I would want...
If you want a SIMPLE yet super effective (and most of all affordable) preamp, get the Engl 620, you won't be dissapointed!
Oh and if it would be stolen I'de find the bastard and rip off his head. // 10