Sound — 9
I tested this amplifier with the following guitars: Schecter C-1 Hellraiser FR - EMG 81/89 Schecter C-7 Hellraiser - EMG 707s PRS Custom 24 - Stock 59/09s Breedlove Atlas 12 - Fishman Pickups (clean channel, of course) This amplifier suits a wide range of sounds, but is mainly suited for metal in my opinion. The lead distortion channel with the lead boost activated gets close to the tone Jeff Loomis had on several Nevermore albums as well has his solo record. A slight EQ tweak will obtain a tone similar to Fear Factory. With the presence and treble up higher, the amplifier comes close to the sound of a Mesa Rectifier, but with slight obvious differences. An untrained ear would most likely not notice the difference. The amplifier is only noisy when the gain is cranked up in both the individual channel and lead boost. I had a major problem with A/C hum and RF interference due to a horribly placed antenna array in our neighborhood. I power conditioner took care of this problem and reduced the noise down to just that caused by the amplifier. The noise is no worse than any other amplifier I have used with comparable levels of gain. With a slight noise gate either pre-amp or in the effects loop, the noise levels drop considerably. However, an ISP Decimator or similar unit might be the best option to consider. At lower levels of gain, any basic noise gate or suppressor will perform just fine. The clean channel only becomes slightly crunched when the gain is above 5. This break-up occurs only on my guitars with active pickups. The PRS's pickups colored the clean channel beautifully. Turning down the tone knob and coloring the signal with delay and chorus gave me quite an amazing range of tones. I am extremely happy with how versatile this often-overlooked channel is. The distortion is the reason why I bought the amp. I was torn between the Mesa Triple Rectifier, Mark V, Powerball II, and Savage 120. The determining factor was ultimately how "tight" the distortion could be at low frequencies. The Savage lends itself perfectly to "djenty" tones amazingly well when compared to the other options. Fast picking on the lower strings doesn't turn the signal into an unintelligible mess. However, the Rectifier and Mark V have a more distinguishable "organic" tone regardless of how close the Engl can get. The Powerball II was the only other choice, and I read/heard from PBII owners that they preferred the sound of the Savage for various minor reasons. The Savage is also not as much of a "tweaker" amp when compared to other high-gain amplifiers on the market. The sound that this amp delivers is incredible to me. As I mentioned several times, I love coloring the signal with various effects and running side-chains for Devin Townsend-style synth-esque effects. Alone, the amplifier is ok, but with slight chorus/reverb/delay, it is amazing.
Overall Impression — 10
I mostly play various genres of metal. I know that genre is a very touchy subject, so I will simply list my main influences: Jeff Loomis (Nevermore), Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth), Devin Townsend (SYL, DTP/DTB), John Petrucci (Dream Theater), Pete Witchers (Soilwork). I have been playing the guitar for 13 years, and own/have owned a decent amount of gear. I did my due-diligence and homework before purchasing this amplifier and I am extremely happy with the product on the whole. I always chuckle at the "if it were stolen/lost" question. I would never lose this amp because it doesn't leave the house. If someone attempted to steal it, they would get shot in the process. End of story there. This is an excellent amplifier that serves a wide range of musical styles and desired tones. Of course, my favorite part about it is the djenty "Engl" tone from the A# string on my C-7. Overall, I'd rate the Engl Savage a 9.5/10 for the reasons listed above. Normally, I'm the one poking fun of the items unfairly rated at 9+, but this amplifier certainly deserves an exemplary rating. You will not be disappointed.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I do not have enough time spent with this amp to be able to determine how long it will last. As I mentioned earlier, the construction is excellent. Functionality wasn't sacrificed for aesthetics- both were top priorities to Engl. I have had no issues with the amplifier, but again I don't have enough experience with it to make a solid conclusion. The amplifier came with two extra pre-amp tubes. From the many reviews/testimonies I have read, this amp is extremely durable and the tubes last for years if properly warmed up prior to use.
Features — 9
I am reviewing a 2011 model Engl Savage that I recently purchased from Musician's Friend. My initial impression of this amplifier was that it was extremely well-built both structurally and aesthetically. The amplifier has four main channels - Clean, Crunch 1, Crunch 2, and Lead. The channel switching is dual-binary: Button 1 = Left/Right channel, Button 2 = Top Channel, Bottom channel. Clean = Top Left Crunch 1 = Top Right Crunch 2 = Bottom Left Lead = Bottom Right There are two effects loops with a wet/dry pot as well as various MIDI controls and other features as well. This amplifier has quite an arrangement of signal-shaping features such as buttons for brightness, contour, lead boost, etc, as well as two separate master volumes and two presence pots. The presence pots also have a "depth boost" option that really fills the sound out beautifully. Initially, I wasn't really impressed with the sounds I got from the amplifier (please read on to understand why). It felt very bland without reverb for my taste. The gain was excellent but the overall tone just didn't feel right regardless of my settings. However, as soon as I colored the tone with a slight delay and chorus, it was absolutely amazing. The number of tonal combinations are seemingly endless - I can easily achieve the quintessential "Engl" sound, a djenty distortion, a Rectifier-esque organic sound, and everything in between. The clean channel is amazing as well. The amp spends most of its time in the Lead channel, due to my love for metal. However, the crunch 1 and 2 channels are excellent for obtaining a variety of rock tones. Turning down the volume pot on any of my guitars allows me to get a nice Clutch-reminiscent tone in Crunch 1. Crunch 2 lets me get a tone similar to a slightly-overdriven Diezel heard in some songs by Tool. I am very impressed with the versatility of this amplifier. As for power... I have owned only a few tube amplifiers, but have tried many. Lower end amplifiers really need to be cranked before the distortion is desirable. That is not the case with the Engl. I can turn down the channel and master volumes to near nothing and still obtain an excellent sound for practicing - less than 70db if you can believe it. There seems to be a threshold where the volume fills in nicely, but below that threshold it is still excellent and well-suited for low-volume practice. I shouldn't have to note that this is a tube amplifier, but I would like to point out that the layout and aesthetics are beautiful. There are two LEDs that light up the two large power tubes centered in the amplifier. I wouldn't have minded seeing a built in reverb, but honestly it's probably best that I use reverb in the effects loop so the signal isn't fully saturated. I wouldn't have minded seeing a built in reverb, but honestly it's probably best that I use reverb in the effects loop so the signal isn't fully saturated. I also would have liked to have seen a visual indicator for the tube circuits like the Powerball II has. If the Special Edition E670 would be a 10 in features, the Savage 120 would be a flat 9 in my opinion.