E530 Tube Preamp Review

manufacturer: Engl date: 12/03/2007 category: Guitar Amplifiers
Engl: E530 Tube Preamp
This 4 channel preamp has much more to offer than just being the heart of a modern Rock rack system. Beside the convincing clean, crunch and lead tones, a balanced recording compensated output helps you to lay your parts straight into the hard drive.
 Sound: 9.4
 Overall Impression: 9.2
 Reliability & Durability: 9.2
 Features: 8.8
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 Reviewer rating:
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reviews (5) pictures (2) 7 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9.3
E530 Tube Preamp Reviewed by: pinch_king, on december 03, 2007
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Purchased from: Thomann

Features: This is just a straight up rock and metal 1U tube preamp (it utilises 2 tubes). On the front panel there is an instrument input, all your clean channel EQ (Bass, Mid and Treble)and the clean volume and gain. There is also a little swich called bright, which when depressed boosts the mid and treble frequencies slightly. The dirty channel also has volume, gain and EQ, but there is also an extra frequency band. It still has bass and treble but the mid's are split into low mids and high mids for larger tonal control. This channel also has a button that when depressed boosts the mids and highs but is called contour. There are 3 extra push buttons on the front which control channel switching, gain hi/low for each channel(when used on the clean channel switching the gain to high gives a nice mildly overdriven blues sound)and a pre-amp defeat Switch, this feature just routes the guitars signal directly to the output. There is also a stereo headphones output with a built in 1.5 solid state power amp. On the back panel there is an auxiliary instrument input, an instrument output which doubles as an fx send, 2 fx returns, 2 line outs, 2 frequency compensated line outs and 2 inputs for footswitching. One input controls the pre-amp defeat function and the contour Switch, whilst the other controls channel switching and gain hi/low. // 9

Sound: I use this preamp in conjuction with a VHT 2/90/2 power amp and a Framus 2x12 cab loaded with V30's. The main guitar I use with this is a Schecter C-7 Blackjack fitted with Seymour Duncan JB/59 humbuckers. This preamp has superb distortion and will handle a lot of your modern rock needs. I found that with a 6 string guitar in standard tuning the preamp could do modern metal extremely well and also had a very nice Dream Theater (Images & Words) sound, but when playing a 7 string there wasn't enough gain for the low B. To overcome this problem I used my Maxon OD-9 overdrive pedal on top of the preamp distortion and now it sounds unbelievable. This preamp is quite noisy on high gain settings but it's nothing a noise gate can't sort out. The contour Switch on this amp is something I never use as I feel it gives a too nasally sound, for me that function is pretty pointless. I wasn't really a fan of the clean channel to begin with (probably due to me poorly EQing it)but after several days of fiddling with the EQ it has a really nice glassy quality to it than suits itself well to crisp arpeggiated chords when the bright button is pressed and nice smooth jazzy chords when not pressed. // 9

Reliability & Durability: I have owned this preamp for about 6 months now and it has not even hinted at being unreliable. I am yet to gig it but I am sure that it will survive and there won't be any need for a backup. The knobs on the front panel are also really sturdy and look as though they could take a beating. // 10

Overall Impression: For the price this is a very good piece of gear and as an introduction into the world of rack and tube amplification I highly recommend this preamp. It is very simple to use and is very much a plug in and play amp. I had to put this preamp in my solid state Laney's FX loop when I first bought it as I had no power amp it but it still excelled. I do wish this unit had MIDI capabilites though as it would be really nice to be able to Switch channels via MIDI, to decrease having to 'Tap dance' over various pedals for different sounds. // 9

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overall: 9.5
E530 Tube Preamp Reviewed by: mavis3293, on march 24, 2009
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 540

Purchased from: World Guitars

Features: 2008 model, nothing different from any of the older models. It's got two channels with 2 gain stages, or gain amounts, per channel, giving you four channels to play with really. It's also got a preamp defeat button and a contour button, which boosts the mids and volume and if great for soloing. It's got the two 12ax7 tubes, which is a massive sound improvement, even through a solid state poweramp compared to my modelling gear of old. The back panel has both 4x12 modelling outputs as well as standard outputs, as well as an effects loop, and the two jacks for channel switching, gain hi/lo switching, contour and defeat. I do wish it had midi, but this can be easily overcome using midi jack switchers, like those found on the Behringer midid footswitch. // 9

Sound: I am using it with my Washburn X50 Pro with SDs and my Ibanez RG7321 seven string, with it's stock pups. They both sound amazing through this thing, giving me tones I've never had before and both, with much more gain than I could ever need. The clean channel is awesome as well, considering this is a high gain preamp. The contour gives a great boost when needed, and gives a much more mid-focused tone. I play mostly metal, from thrash to death and everything in between, and it gives the different tones I need to play those styles. I would however recommend a noise gate for your guitar, and if you play at very high volumes, one for the effects loop, as on the highest distortion level there is some hiss, and any noise introduced to the signal is amplified greatly. I found that the hiss I was experiencing was coming from my pickups, so a gate has sorted that for me. // 10

Reliability & Durability: I've had it for around 7 weeks, but I have used it every day since I bought it, and there has been no sign of it giving way. It's solidly built (it's german and it's Engl) so I don't think there is much chance of any reliabilty issues. I've got it in a case, which I reccomend you do if your going to move it around, so the chance of damage is minimised. I would give it a 10 but I haven't had it long enough to get a really good impression. // 9

Overall Impression: As I have mentioned above, I play most styles of metal, and it suit's it perfectly. I've been playing for a little over 5 years, and this the first major peice of gear I have purchased. I got it mostly as I am in a band, and needed a better sound both Live and in the studio than my digital multi effects. If it were stolen, I wouldn't hesitate to get another, unless I had more cash, in which case I would probably get an E580 preamp, as it has a gate and midi, but has a massive price difference. I bought this having only read reviews and listened to sound samples, and was thoroughly impressed with my purchse. As I said, I would love it to have midi switching, but this problem is easily overcome with either the dedicated Engl switcher, or the behriger midi footswitch. // 10

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overall: 9
E530 Tube Preamp Reviewed by: S McAllister, on august 12, 2011
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 400

Purchased from: Digital Village

Features: Two channel tube preamp with hi/lo gain switching on each channel. Contour mid boosting option. Usual complement of connections round back of unit - stereo left and right out, frequency compensated connections for DI sends, fx send / return, aux in, solid state power amp for small cab or headphones. Standard layout for eq controls on front. Leds show switching Status of channel and gain boost settings. // 9

Sound: This is labelled as a "modern rock" preamp. It does have plenty of bite in the lead channel. The gain switching and contour switching options really open up a range of different tonal options for you in this unit. The clean channel is a nice bread and butter clean. Engage the gain Switch and you can push it into crunch/blues territory. You can put distortion pedals in front of the clean channel and it copes fine with them. On low gain settings the lead channel picks up from where the clean leaves off when boosted to high gain as a crunch channel. On high gain settings it is indeed an out and out lead channel. You would get away with the lead set at high gain and you wouldn't need to use a booster pedal or od pedal in front of it to get real lead sounds. A word to the wise here. The high mids on the lead channel really punch through much more strongly than the settings on the high mid dial would have you believe. For the most part 4 or 5 works fine for the other settings on the eg dials in the lead channel. I found that the high mids were so prominent I had to back the dial for the high mid control down to around 2 to take quite an edge off the sound. Any higher than two and it was overly cutting, harsh and cranky. Also I found that things balanced better with the contour Switch engaged which would seem odd as the contour Switch boosts specific frequencies in the mid range so you would think that for errant high mids you would fare worse with it on? I can only think that low mids are boosted more than the high mids so they sit better in the overall mix as a result. I think the level of bite you have on offer here would be very useful if you had very dark sounding guitars and I think that the edgey sound on this preamp might suit some folk looking for a particular type of sound. Once you get a lid on the high mids you end up with a nice cranked preamp sound. It put me in mind of nuno bettencourts guitar sound on extremes pornograffiti album. No bad thing at all. // 9

Reliability & Durability: I have only had this preamp for a few months so I can't comment on the long term durability as such but from my observations everything seems belt and braces and all of it seems well put together. These preamps are built in germany and the germans know a thing or two about quality control and manufacturing so I wouldn't expect any problems with this preamp in the future. All the dials seem like they are very good quality. They track smoothly and silently without crackle. The Engl footswitch I got as an extra for this also hinted at the type of build quality Engl churn out. It looked like it was machined out from a solid lump of steel. Absolutely bomb proof. The only thing I would have suggested would have been an access panel to make tube changes a bit easier. Potentially if a tube went mid gig you would need to take the whole thing out the rack to access the tubes. To be fair most of the rack preamps I have had required you to do this. My Mesa kit has open access to the tubes round the back and I like that alot. Looking at the rear panel of the Engl it is quite busy so I don't know how they would condense these down the connections to allow inclusion of an access panel to get at the tubes. Maybe it would be nightmarish to design one in. // 9

Overall Impression: I bought this as a backup preamp to use in case my triaxis failed. I play mostly rock music but I cover a rnge of material that goes from duran duran all the way through to satriani, gilbert and vai so I needed a preamp that would cover alot of different sonic ground and this preamp does that no fuss. At first I was a bit unsure about the distortion sounds on this preamp but once I got the high mids reeled in it really started to work for me and I would be happy to gig the thing. As I said. Start at 2 on the high mid dial as a starting point and engage the contour Switch and you should fare ok. On the whole I'm happy with this. Inclusion of midi switching would have been the icing on the cake for this preamp. The E580 however does offer this from what I gather though. A good effort from our german amp building cousins. // 9

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overall: 8.5
E530 Tube Preamp Reviewed by: Shady Weezul, on october 31, 2011
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 599

Purchased from: Music123

Features: I bought the preamp brand new from Music123.com. I've had it for about a week and have logged about 15 or so hours fiddling with it. I'm currently running it through a Peavey Classic 60/60 stereo power amp loaded with 6L6 tubes. The E530 is very robust in it's features and build quality which is evident by it's massive weight, heft of the knobs, and the amount of inputs/outputs in the rear panel. I would say that it covers quite a range of sounds but that's all in the ears of the player. I've read some reviews saying that this is a "one trick pony" with it's insane amount of gain whereas others like myself will claim that it pull off pretty much any sound you want. One feature that I really like is the fact that the engineers at Engl decided to split the mid EQ into two separate parts, low mid and high mid. It's one of those things that you never really knew you needed until you use it, it gives you quite a bit of tonal control that you wouldn't have had otherwise unless you added an EQ to your loop. The EQ is very reactive and allows you to manipulate the sound to a pretty large degree. If you see other reviews from other Engl amps, you'll generally hear positive comments about it's clean tones which I will reiterate here. I'm a HUGE fan of the Engl cleans and will vouch for them all day long. Of course this depends a bit on the power amp you use in the end, but to my ears, they are nice, bright, and shimmering. Let's talk about what everyone wants when they buy an Engl, it's gain. Yes, there is enough gain for damn near anyone. I've played through a handful of high-gain amps and there are some that certainly match the Engl, but it's at a price that leaves most of us out of luck i.e. the Framus Cobra or the Bogner Uberschall. To clarify, I've never OWNED any of those amps, just had the good fortune of playing through them at other people's houses and whatnot. The gain stack is very, very tight which is perfect for for your chugging or palm muting riffs. To me, the gain never becomes floppy or muddy at high volumes or higher gain settings like other amps that I've ran into. It's a two channel amp that people claim is a four channel amp because each channel has a hi/low switch to increase it's gain levels. I typically play on the the lead channel with the low switch on. That provides all the gain I need. Anything beyond that and it throws you into a world of sonic mayhem you probably didn't know existed in a 1U preamp. On the back panel, it has an stereo emulated cabinet out for direct recording, an instrument out, stereo effects loop return, footswitch input, alternate input, and a few other gadgets. My biggest complaint is that to my knowledge (and the owner's manual never addresses this), is that there is no way to run the preamp in mono, only stereo. Fortunately for me, why whole rig is stereo so it fit right in. Just a word of warning for those who may want to invest in this, make sure to get a spitter or something to cover this. It also has a small built in solid state power amp (which sounds like a solid state power amp) and I think it's something to the tune of 2.5W or something. It's nifty though because you can just hook up headphones to the front of the pre and practice relatively silently. Just make sure to switch it on the back of the pre for headphone use. I'm rating this an "8" because of the lack of ability to play in mono and no onboard reverb. The reverb isn't a big deal because I use a Midiverb for that, but for those that don't a have a reverb unit and are not looking to play death metal with this, it may have been a nice little feature. // 8

Sound: My main guitar (and the one I've used in the pre since I bought it) is my Jackson Super Lightweight Soloist with EMG 81/85 pickups. It's a pretty standard rock/metal guitar. This amp matches it rather well except that on super high gain settings, it's got a little bit of noise/hiss. It's nothing that a noise suppressor can't take care of, but I just don't like using those in the first place. The noise doesn't really come into noticeable effect (at least on my rig) until you are in Lead/Hi with the gain at about 2 o' clock. Anything before that and you're good to go without any kind of noise suppression or you can just man up and love the noise that comes from the amp. The clean channel has quite a bit of headroom from the pre and I haven't really noticed any distortion on it, but typically I play the cleans at more manageable volumes with a fatter, jazzier tone for some fusion stuff. I already talked about the distortion in the "Features" section, but it bears mentioning again. We all know that the name Engl is synonymous with "DISTORTION/GAIN" and I can't Drive that point home enough. In my opinion, I feel that this pre is superior in gain/dist that the famous 6505/5150, Marshall JVM series, Krankenstein, and Mesa Rec. The Uberschall and Cobra are certainly in the same ballpark as the Engl, however. In a nutshell, if you play any kind of hard music and don't have a small inheritance to spend on an amp, this is certainly your best bet. Again, it's all in the ears of the player, but if you're looking at an Engl, I think I have a pretty good idea of what you're looking to play. // 9

Reliability & Durability: Yes, I appears to be pretty durable. I've mentioned that already. It even came with an extra ECC83 preamp tube that is matched to the pre. Very nice. The knobs have that very reaffirming and satisfying resistance to them when you turn them, they are loose or spin freely. A definite sign of quality in my opinion. I haven't had it long enough to comment on it's longevity but I've heard good things about Engl's build quality which I think shows through in this preamp. I gave it an "8" only because I can't comment about it's durability in the long run, but I'm sure there won't be any problems. // 8

Overall Impression: I typically play shred guitar in the style of Paul Gilbert and Rusty Cooley. I do dabble in bebop jazz and jazz fusion as well. I don't do a whole lot (or any) country or pop music. This amp suits my needs very well in those regards. I've been playing for about nine years and have a Marshall JCM900 half stack, a Marshall JCM2000 DSL half stack, and a Peavey 3120 half stack. I'm currently selling off the JCM900 however. My main guitar is my Jackson SLSMG and my backup is an Ibanez S570EX. For my main rig, I use a RR-13 power supply, two Midiverb 3 units, a rackmounted BBE Sonic Maximizer 482I and my Engl E530 Preamp, and a Peavey Classic 60/60 power amp. The only thing that I wish I would have known about this pre is that it only runs in stereo to my knowledge. // 9

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overall: 9.5
E530 Tube Preamp Reviewed by: Tubetinkerer, on april 03, 2013
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 499

Purchased from: Thomaan.de

Features: See other reviews. I'd like to add though, that the contour switch really makes it come alive. Switched off, it all sounds very flat and fuzzy. Not bad for metal, but not for me. I bought this pre, because it withheld me from building one myself. It has all the basic flexibility and controls that I was looking for, but I knew in advance that I was going to change it. And after only some minor mods, it made a great pre even greater, or more to my wishes anyway. The only minor downside that I have found is the preamp-defeat. I would rather have seen a remotely switchable leadboost or effects loop. Oh well, anything can be modded, right? // 9

Sound: I've had it for a week now and I played it (blues, rock, grunge, metal) with an American Standard Strat, an Ibanez S320 with DiMarzio's (TZ & PP), Ibanez AS93 and Vintage Lemon Drop into the effects return off a Koch Classictone 2x10. The general sound of the machine is just plain great, although not entirely to my taste. It is very, very quiet and it has very flexible gain and tonal control, added with brightness and contour switch. But it's a bit of a two-headed beast; on one side there's the very clear and near bell-like Fender sound, and on the other hand there's the vorocious gain that just doesn't end. Thing is that the cleans are perfectly suited for single coils while the distortions work better with HB's. SC's are just a bit too bright for symmetrical clipping tubes. That's one of the things I changed and that also loses some of the gain and the fizz, but I don't need all that gain anyway. Other mods I did were some RC adjustments in the clean Tone Controls, to match it to Fender specs. In the lead channel I replaced 2 resistors; 1 for Bass tone improvement, and one for the bias of a Drive stage that works for hi-gain clean and hi-gain lead. That beefed the sound up a tat. My rating is including these mods. Running an MI Super Blues Pro before it though, or any other transparent booster, is absolute heaven. // 10

Reliability & Durability: Can't say; I only had it for a week. But the construction is sturdy and it looks very well and neatly built on the inside. The lid screws are a bit soft though and worn already. // 10

Overall Impression: Like I wrote, I wanted to build a preamp that would suit my wishes. Great, brittle cleans with a little grudge to it, a dirty dynamic Drive that works with SC's as well as HB's. And one that could complement my old and trusty (and heavily modded) JMP-1 and GX-700. So instead of building one, for the same price (and a lot less headaches) I got myself a great base to start from. Right now it has it all, but I won't know for sure until I run it full throttle through a massive tube poweramp and a 4x12. For now you'd have to kill me to take it from me. // 9

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