MTS 3200 Review

manufacturer: Carvin date: 02/18/2014 category: Guitar Amplifiers
Carvin: MTS 3200
This amp is not for everyone. All tube, 2 channels, separate Treble, Mid, and Bass controls for each channel.
 Sound: 8.7
 Overall Impression: 9
 Reliability & Durability: 9.3
 Features: 8.7
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reviews (3) pictures (2) 2 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 8.3
MTS 3200 Reviewed by: Taint McGooch, on july 25, 2012
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Price paid: $ 300

Purchased from: Elderly Music, Lansing, MI

Features: Let me start my review by saying this amp is not for everyone. All tube, 2 channels, separate Treble, Mid, and Bass controls for each channel. No Master Volume on this amp, which became a problem for me later (I'll explain why below). Separate gain control for each channel (or "pre gain"). Master Reverb and effects loop. 2 speaker outs switchable from 4, 8, and 16 ohms. Bias switch for 5881's (which it came with), 6L6GC, or EL34's. 2 button footswitch (included) controls channel switching with one button, and reverb activation with other button. Now that that is out of the way, I really wish that this amplifier had a Master Volume. Feature-wise, this is my only gripe. // 9

Sound: I'm currently running a Schecter Blackjack EX with a coil-tappable Seymour Duncan JB/59 combo. This amp has a practically flawless clean channel with headroom for miles. Beautifully crisp highs, solid lows, and plenty of mid-range control make this easily the best clean channel in an amp I've ever owned (I would even say it blows my old Mesa Boogie Roadster's clean channel away). But that's not where the problem in this amp lies. The problem is in the distortion channel. For some reason, when I got this amp, the distortion channel sounded horribly fuzzy, and lacked any sort of definition. I found out later that the reason for this is that Carvin decided to add a solid state clipping diode in the preamp's signal path, and once you turn channel 2's gain beyond about 9 o' clock, it kicks in, and you lose all the rich tube warmth and get nothing but a solid state massacre. There's no real way to describe the sound other than awful. I play mostly metal and hard rock, and made the mistake of not reading much into this amp before I bought it. It was an impulse buy because it was cheap and I wanted a tube amp. I rectified this problem by putting an AMT Electonic R-1 preamp into the effects return to bypass the amps preamp. This is where my issue with no master volume comes in. With no master volume on the amp, there is one volume with the preamp bypassed, and it cannot be modified when the R-1 is turned off (in bypass), once activated (for my distortion), you can modify the volume, but unless you keep it at halfway, there's a drastic volume difference between bypassed and activated. But, bypassing the preamp has gotten rid of the solid state clipping diode, so I'm not complaining too much. I just have to get a volume pedal now, also. Points would be higher if I didn't have to get other things to make the sound remotely workable for my style. On the other side of this, however, now that I have everything set up, this monster screams like a banshee. She sounds beautiful now and I have begun to second guess my original decision to find a replacement amp. // 7

Reliability & Durability: I would absolutely use this amp in a gig without a backup. The one good thing about this amp is that it is built to Carvin's quality standards. The only problem I've had with it is if another bandmate handles it, they tend to be a little on the rough side of things, and the tubes have come slightly unseated before as a result. However, other than that, 0 problems with reliability. Nice rugged tolex and solid knobs, along with an easily accessible back for on the spot repairs make this a trustworthy and gig worthy amplifier. // 9

Overall Impression: I've been playing for about 10 years now, and have owned countless amps and guitars, and this is definitely not my favorite amplifier of all time (I still miss my old Mesa Boogie), but sometimes life gets in the way and you gotta sell your stuff to pay the bills (not so much anymore though). If you're looking for a nice clean amp, this is your amplifier. The clean channel is worth the original $600 USD sticker price alone. I do wish I had decided to bring my gear along and play it before I bought it, though. I had to spend an extra $200 to make the lead channel workable. If it were lost/stolen/broken, I would probably not buy it again unless I had no other choice. Part of that is because of the nightmare the lead channel induced, and part of that is that I'm always on the lookout for something new and interesting. Hope this review is helpful! // 8

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overall: 9.3
MTS 3200 Reviewed by: metal_church101, on may 17, 2013
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 350

Purchased from: ebay

Features: 2 channel amp, has effects loop (non-footswithable to turn on and off), master reverb which is footswitchable. With this amp, I play thrash/speed/death metal. Impedance switching to match the ohms of the amp cabinet that you have. 5 preamp tubes, 4 power tubes with bias switch (5881/6L6 to EL34) and a 100watt to 50watt switch. I do wish there was a footswitchable effects loop or even a volume boost channel, but Oh well, improvise :-) BTW - this is one of the few amps that sounds great while leaving the mids at 12 o'clock. // 9

Sound: The sound of this amp is killer. Best clean channel in a tube amp out there. Better than a Peavey JSX, Peavey 5150, Peavey Valveking, Marshall AVT150, Marshall TSL 100, Marshall DSL 100. Like any tube amp, with a little volume and saturated tubes, it sounds pretty damn good. I put EL34 power tubes in it for an additional snap in the sound (hard to explain). It did sound pretty nice with 5881 power tubes, but those were used and I haven't put new ones in it. Putting a Tung Sol 12ax7 in V1, high gain JJ 12ax7 in V2 and a Sovtek LPS in V5 (phase inverter) will turn this amp into a metal machine in a half. I use an EQ in the effects loop as my volume boost for my leads. Good ol' Randy Rhoads trick. Master volume would have been nice, but once again, I make due. // 10

Reliability & Durability: This is my second one of these. I regret having to sell my first one, but we all know about starving musicians having to sell precious gear for rent money. I had to play around with tubes to figure out what I liked, but it was my favorite tube amp that I have ever owned. My first one was $500 used. Since the Carvin V3 has come out, this amp has dropped in price and a great bang for the buck. Getting this second one at $350 and knowing what tube configuration I want is great. Sound wise, it turns some heads as well, in a good way. // 9

Overall Impression: This is a very versatile amp. Only 2 channels, but killer tone for the price. Yes, a volume boost channel would be great, as well as a footswitchable effects loop, but for $350 used, you can't beat it. Getting the right tube combo and an EQ or some other effects in the effect loop will make up for everything else. Having the ablility to switch between 100watts and 50 watts as well as tube bias (5881/6L6 and EL34) is also killer. All that, minus the features I wanted, but add in the killer clean channel and lethal distortion channel when giving it some volume, all for less than $400 leaves me with a 9 for a grade. // 9

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overall: 9.3
MTS 3200 Reviewed by: 15vreelk, on february 18, 2014
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Features: 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. // 8

Sound: 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. // 9

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 10

Overall Impression: 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. // 10

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