MTS 3200 review by Carvin

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  • Features: 8
  • Sound: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.2 (11 votes)
Carvin: MTS 3200

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Features — 8
It is a two channel amp with one channel for cleans and one for gain. The clean portion (Clean 2) features bass, mid, and treble knobs along with a Lead 1 (gain channel) presence button which adds crunch to the clean channel. The gain portion (Lead 1) has identical controls with the addition of a gain knob. Both channels are assigned separate volume knobs and there is a channel indicator button used to switch channels. A master reverb knob is also included with a Lead 1 presence knob that adjusts the Lead 1 presence feature. Being a tube amp, a standby switch is found next to the power switch. The MTS 3200 is designed to use 6l6 or El 34 output (or power) tubes, alongside with 12AX7 preamp tubes. The rear of the amp includes 2 speaker outputs, a 3 way speaker impedence switch (4, 8, 16 ohms), 2 way watt selection switch (50 or 100 watts), a tube bias switch (6l6 or El 34), a cabinet voiced line out jack, a footswitch jack, and send and return jacks for an effects loop. It should be noted that when the 50 watt option is selected, the amp will use only 2 of the 4 power tubes, thus wearing the tubes unevenly.

Sound — 9
It may not compare to a Marshall JCM or Mesa Boogie, but it definitely holds a special place in any shop. Carvin amps are known for their superb cleans, and this one is no exception. It is very clear and articulate, with a nice crisp ring to it. The gain channel is decent, but because my style is metal and heavy rock, I found it necessary to use my MXR Fullbore distortion pedal. Controls are very responsive, and it handles pedals and effects very well. I am currently using it with an Acoustic Lead Series cab, and it sounds very rich and the bass is very bold. Paired with the right cab and careful choice of tubes, it can give some of the high end amps a run for their money.

Reliability & Durability — 10
It has very sturdy construction and will take the normal abuse that is natural with any piece of gear (bumping of walls, scratches, etc.) Tube amps are more delicate than solid states and so this amp should be handled with extreme care, but an occasional slip up shouldn't affect any of the interior components. For live players, it should endure just as good as any reputable amp, within reasonable boundaries. The outer "skin" is made of a thin textured plastic coating which seems to be difficult to leave a mark on. The corners are covered with metal corner pieces and the handle on top I would trust with my life. Definitely an amp that means business at a lower price tag.

Overall Impression — 10
The only appropriate way to describe this amp is as the solid foundation of my future rig. Having bought both the amp and cab used, I have encountered some sound issues and have spent a good amount of money on trying to resolve the issue but with no success. I will probably take it to a tech and I can't stress enough that those with issues should consult a tech BEFORE buying any expensive components. As far as satisfaction, it meets my standards for a good metal tone. With 3+ years playing experience, I'm not all that fussy yet about my gear requirements. I will say that it would've been better if they had put a master volume knob for less clutter and confusion. Also, it would've been more economical if the 50 watt mode wore down all 4 tubes evenly allowing them to be replaced as a complete set. Also, there is no guarantee that the bias switch will completely bias the tubes and so it is recommended that a tech is consulted. But the bottom line is, this amp is ideal for anyone looking for a versatile tone from a reputable brand without breaking the bank.

1 comment sorted by best / new / date

    I've had the MTS head in mind for a while as a modding platform. I gig with Carvin amps due mainly to the clean channel. I carried a Twin Reverb along with whatever amp I was into for dirt for years but once I discovered Carvin I found amps that they do great cleans and OD. (Bogner XTCs and a few others do it too but for 5 times the cost). The MTS has great potential, it's already shares similarities to the X100b (very JCM-800 sounding drive channel) and the Legacy (drive channel is very similar to the XTCs red channel) and I've seen them show up for $200-250. Which is unbeatable for a 100w tube head, even if you just use the clean channel and pedals. I have heard the MTS amp with just the diodes removed and resisters put in their place and that by itself is a huge improvement. By far the best deal around (the trannies are worth the price of one) on a all tube head.