Price paid: € 850
Purchased from: friend
Sound — 8
I always make sure to get a few weeks of playtime before I write reviews. Often you will absolutely love the novelty of new gear just to realise it's shortcomings later down the road. This is my current setup: Schecter C1 classic with EMG81/85 straight into the Engl Blackmore. This is a mahogany bodied guitar with a 25.5 scalre neck. I use medium GHS boomer heavy bottom strings since I play in D standard. I have a TC Electronics G-sharp in the effects loop. I run an extra line out from the TC Electronics to a Behringer BTR2000, so this tuner isn't actually in my chain and does not affect my sound. I have my effects loop on true bypass using a home made a/b selector box. This way I get to bypass my entire loop, this eliminating most of the problems coming with not having an on/off Switch for an effects loop. Even with the true bypass in the effects loop, you do get some tone loss when you use it. I suspect this is due to the cheap cables I use rather than the effects loop itself, but I can't be sure. I play my Blackmore through a Framus 2x12 with Vintage 30 speakers. This is a very cheap cabinet (cheapest I could get with Vintage 30s) so I have No Doubt the amp would sound better with a better cabinet. However, at this time the cabinet suits my needs. ENGLS are naturally very tight amps, and the Vintage 30s are very tight and middy speakers. This is absolutely great if you love tight and punchy sound that cuts through the mix like a hot knife through butter. However, if you prefer very boomy loose low end you should probably go with celestion G12-75 speakers instead. Personally I am leaning toward replacing one of the Vintage 30s with a G12-75 so I have the best of both worlds. Still contemplating on this though. In general this amp should go very well with either setup, it depends on your personal style. My musical style is sort of varied. I play melodic trash/deathmetal in my band, but I also love playing metalcore in the vein of new As I Lay Dying. I can't tell you how much this amp shines when I play The Sound of Truth on their latest album. Especially with a tad of delay from the G-sharp. This amplifier is not noisy what so ever. It is very tight, defined, articulate and silent no matter what. Granted, if you crank the gain and volume and you stand right in front of it with EMG pickups you're going to get feedback but that's to be expected. In general even if I max the gain and keep the level at reasonable volumes, it is very quiet. There is some humming, but it is very little compared to the Peavey 5150. The Engl Blackmore I find a lot like the swiss army knife of the Engl family. The Engl fireball goes from fendery cleans to bone crushing deathmetal without doing anything in between. The Blackmore is more balanced out, and can do anything you want it to do. The cleans are a bit warmer and the distortion is somewhat darker than the fireball. That being said, the Blackmore has amazing cleans, and it can do pretty heavy distortion. I don't need an OD for playing As I Lay Dying which should give you an idea. Do note that the Engl wouldn't take well to an OD if I wanted to use one. I gave it a try with my Bad Monkey OD and it did very little. The gain increased a little bit, but it didn't tighten up the low end. This is mostly due to the fact that this amp is incredibly tight to begin with. You couldn't make it loose and boomy if you tried. This is NOT a beginner amp. It takes considerable time to dial it in, and because it is so tight, defined and articulate you WILL hear your mistakes. It took me a good week to get the sound I wanted out of it. This is mostly due to the sensitivity of the dials and versatility of the treble and presence. This amp in my setup has only one limitation: you cannot get it loose and boomy even if you tried. It is so rediculously tight and articulate, nothing is going to change that. If you do like a boomy loose low end, stop reading and find yourself a Mesa Boogie. I had to experiment a great deal with this amp to get the sound I liked because it is so sensitive. For example, the presence knob adds gain, but only on the higher frequencies. If your amp sounds muffled you turn this up a bit. Turn it up too far, and it sounds fizzy. Finding the right balance between the amount of treble and the amount of gain on the high frequencies took me some time. I can't say this enough, this is a very sensitive amplifier. If you want amazing sound right off the bat go away. This amp takes tweaking because it's just so sensitive. You can absolutely love it with bass7, middle6, treble 4, presence 3 and absolutely hate it with bass7, middle5, treble4, presence 5. Adjusting anything a little bit goes a long way, especially with the presence. The clean channel is well, clean. ENGLs are known to have great cleans and this amp is no exception. The Blackmore cleans are voiced a lot like Marshall cleans, whereas the firebal is voiced more like Fender. It stays clean very well, even though I use EMGs. Just dial back the volume on the guitar a bit if you have to. The distortion is tight, very tight. Tight seems to be a key word when describing this amp really. This amps distortion is very natural and tight sounding, but not necessarily very raw. It is pretty hard to describe, it's just an Engl thing. It has ENGLs distortion, that's the only way to accurately describe it. Very tight, natural sounding distortion that has something about it really unique to ENGLs. Love it or hate it. This amp has two shortcomings when it comes to sound. The first is the effects loop I mentioned. However, the tone loss may be due to my shitty cables so I'm on the fence about this one. The second is the incredibly tight distortion. It is amazingly brutal cranked but you can't get it to sound loose and boomy. Normally a good thing but you never know. This might be due to my Vintage 30 speakers though, I'm sure an oversized 4x12 with G12T-75s wouldn't have this issue. All in all, amazing articulate sound with extremely sensitive controls that take tweaking. Has amazing cleans and pretty intense distortion. Not boomy, and ODs wont do it much good. You either love it or hate it, that's just how it is. Try any Engl and you'll get a feel for it.
Overall Impression — 8
All in all this amp is a good match for my music. Sounds great clean and distorted. Sometimes I would have liked it a bit boomier but that's mostly due to my speakers. I've been playing for 5 years now, I currently own a Schecter C1 Classic with EMG81-85 and a TC-electronics G-sharp. I also have a bunch of tuners and pedals, but Those do not affect my sound since I have them in a seperate output (tuner) or do not use them (pedals). I used to play a B-52 AT 112 with a bunch of pedals including a Line6 compressor and a DigiTech Bad Monkey OD. My Engl doesn't take those well, they make very little difference. Not that it matters much, the Engl doesn't really need an OD or compressor anyway. If it were stolen or lost I would probably want the same thing, but I wouldn't be able to get it. I got an amazing price on it... 850 euro including the footswitch. This would have costed me 1700 euro new. I compared it to a Peavey 5150 and a mesa tripple rectifier when I got it. I ended up getting the Blackmore because it sounded fuller and more agressive than the Mesa, and it was clearer and more defined that the 5150. ESPECIALLY at low volumes. This Engl is really incredible to be so clear and defined even at bedroom volumes considering it's 100 watts all tube. My favorite feature about it is the distinct Engl distortion. My least favorite feature is the parralel effects loop. I would have preferred a normal loop with an on/off Switch. In retrospect I would also have gotten a different cab, so I could get it boomy if I wanted it to. All in all I would give it an 8. It is an incredible amp, both in tone and versatility. But it isn't for everyone. The distortion is very distinct, and it may not be for you. It also doesn't take well to pedals in that they don't affect it all that much (ODs and compressors that is). Try it out is my advice. It is an amazing amp, but not for everyone.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This is a 4 year old amp which still uses the stock tubes. Even the tolex is in mint condition. Extremely durable amp, I'd gig with it any day. I would bring a backup though, tubes could break down due to various causes not related to the amp. Bad power supply, rough handling, etc.
Features — 7
My particular Blackmore was made in 2004, and it still has it's stock tubes. Looks absolutely mint, showing just how rugged the tolex covering is. My main style is metalcore/trash metal, but I occasionally venture into rock territory. Right now I'm tinkering with the new As I Lay Dying CD, where I pretty much nailed the tone. This amp essentially has 4 channels: low gain clean, high gain clean (crunch) low gain heavy (rhythm) high gain heavy (lead). Setting these up however is tricky since they share the EQ. However, you do get independent channel volume controls (one for clean one for heavy) and 2 master volumes. I highly recommend you get the Z5 footswitch to go with this amplifier, to allow for easy channel and feature switching. If you don't operating this amp Live might be cumbersome. It has a parralel effects loop, where you can adjust the amount of effects loop in the mix. You can basically go from 100% dry (all amp tone) to 100% wet, where the effects loop is pretty much run in series rather than parralel. I personally tend to use around 40% of the effects loop in order to preserve it's natural sound more. I have one problem with the parralel effects loop. You can dial in how you want it, but you do not have an easy Switch to turn it off/on. I would have loved this feature since there is a significant difference in sound between the amplifier with an without it's effects loop engaged. I use the amp mainly at home for personal use, but it does have plenty of power and versatility for Live applications. A great feature this amp has, along with the other ENGLS is that it sounds very good even at low volumes. When you get say a Peavey 5150, it'll sound thin and fizzy at low volumes. The Blackmore sounds tight and defined at any volume (ofcourse it does sound better at high volumes). This amp has a ton of features, including the two master volumes, independent channel volumes, parralel effects loop with dry/wet mix knob. The only real beef I have is the effects loop. I would have liked an on/off switch for it since engaging the effects loop takes away from it's natural sound somewhat.