DH15H Darkhorse Review

manufacturer: Traynor date: 07/17/2013 category: Guitar Amplifiers
Traynor: DH15H Darkhorse
For recording and playing at home this amp is splendid. The wide spectrum of sound is really a pleasure. With the amp in 15 watt mode you can get plenty loud for small venue gigging.
 Sound: 8.5
 Overall Impression: 9
 Reliability & Durability: 9.5
 Features: 9
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reviews (2) pictures (1) 2 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9.3
DH15H Darkhorse Reviewed by: TEKarma, on may 11, 2012
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: C$ 499

Purchased from: Long-McQuade

Features: The Darkhorse is a 15/2 watt switchable tube amplifier. It has 2 12AX7 tubes in the preamp, and either 2 6v6 power tubes in 15 watt mode, or 1 12AU7 power tube in 2 watt mode. It has a Gain control, Bass and Treble, and a Master volume. It also has a Brit/Pure/USA 3-way switch that allows you to change where in the circuit the tone stack comes in, or to remove it from the circuit altogether. It has one channel, no effects loop and no reverb. This is a straight-ahead tube amp, but it really covers a lot of sonic range. The 2 watt mode is particularly useful for recording or playing at home, but don't let the 2 watts fool you: cranked it gets loud. I play it through the matching Darkhorse cab with a 12" Celestion Greenback. // 9

Sound: I use the Darkhorse almost exclusively in 2 watt 12AU7 mode, both for home recording and for practicing and playing around. I play the following guitars through the Darkhorse: American Standard Strat and Tele, an Epiphone Les Paul Studio, a Hagstrom Viking, and a PRS SE One Korina. I love the sound of the Darkhorse for rock and blues-rock. It really gives you a nice crunch. What it doesn't do is metal-type really high gain. With my fenders on the USA setting, the Darkhorse stays bright and clean, only beginning to break up with the gain near the max. Switch it over to Brit and the tone stack moves from after the preamp (USA) to the middle of the preamp (Brit) and you get more breakup. The fenders still tend to hold their cleans for most of the range. The Pure mode takes the tone stack out of the equation entirely, giving you a gain and mid boost in the bargain. Switch over to humbuckers and you get some really good overdrive crunch. In USA mode you can get some nice creamy cleans with the gain down around 9 o'clock or so, but crank the Darkhorse and the breakup is warm and harmonic. The sound with the gain and master both dimed is terrific. And loud. Switch to Brit and the Drive gets a bit fuller and fatter. In pure mode the humbuckers sound like little monsters. The P90 in the PRS just loves the Darkhorse, with a crunchy clean available in USA mode, right up to punk-rock snarl in pure mode. I'll mention that the 6v6 mode fattens up the sound just a touch, and gets loud. Very loud. It comes with a little hum from the transformer, which is absent in 12AU7 mode. In 15 watt 6v6 you can dial up a nice clean humbucker sound with good volume. I just don't use the 15 watt mode much, though, because I love the sound of the Darkhorse completely cranked, and it is a bit too loud in 2 watt mode already. // 9

Reliability & Durability: I've had this amp for a little over a month, so I can't comment on the long-term reliability, but it's a solid little amp. It has an all metal chassis, with an easily removable cage surrounding the tubes. It has a 2-year full warranty, and from what I've read, Traynor stands behind their amps. It also came with a padded carrying bag for the amp. // 10

Overall Impression: I play rock and bluesy punk-rock. I play at home in a spare room/studio that has no walls shared with neighbors, so I can play loud. For recording and playing at home this amp is splendid. The warmth and crunch, and the wide spectrum of sound you can dial up are really a pleasure. With the amp in 15 watt mode you can get plenty loud for small venue gigging, or just mic the Darkhorse for any size gig. This amp is affordable and has a terrific tone to it, and I'm very satisfied with it. Now and then I wish it had built-in reverb, but it takes pedals very well, so I can just add on to the front end. // 9

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overall: 8.8
DH15H Darkhorse Reviewed by: Jonathanccwong, on july 17, 2013
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 399

Features: The Traynor Dark Horse is a beautiful little amplifier. 15W/2W switchable amp with 2 - 12AX7 preamp tubes and 2 6V6 Power tubes with the 15w setting and the 12Au7 is used with the 2W setting. A very simple amp, single channel, no FX loop, no Footswitch, reverb, etc. The Front Panel has a Gain knob, a Bass Knob, a Treble Knob, a switch for the 3 tone control, and the master volume. 15W sounds little but in fact it's quite loud. This amp is easily giggable over a drummer and the weight is very manageable. Now if you have a crew hauling your stuff and you play at a stadium without micing your amp then 15w is not enough. But since I almost always mic my amp at gigs so it's perfect for me. // 9

Sound: I run my Schecter Tempest Custom with a Jazz/59 hybrid neck and JB bridge into the input. The Traynor is connected to my 1x12 cab with a Blackshadow MC90 speaker. I also run it with my Celestion Greenback from time to time. Before this I've played the Line 6 Spider II, Peavey Valve King, the Vox Night Train, Orange Tiny Terror. I also own a Mini Rectifier and a Fender Princeton Chorus so I am familiar with how different amps sound like. One of the biggest features for the Traynor Darkhorse is the 3 switchable tone modes. For a 15W lunchbox, it's surprising how much headroom you have (I'll get to that in a minute). The cleans are immaculate in the American mode. In this mode, you get the Fender like tone that works really well for blues and jazz. There is a very nice sparkle and as you turn up the gain and volume, the amp stays clean with that nice glass like quality. It's not as chimey as the Vox (which I actually really like). In the British setting we get the rough aggressive growl that we associate with a Marshall. Now I must say, in the British setting, the amp does a fairly convincing job of a Marshall like tone, but it's not dead on. As you turn up the gain and volume, the amp doesn't crap out on you and sound flabby. In Pure mode the tone stack is completely bypassed and you get the raw tone from the preamp section directly going into the poweramp section. It's really nice to have this feature and really makes this amp very versatile. Prior to this amp I was playing the Tiny Terror. The Tiny Terror is a very nice amp. It's aggressive and has a HUGE attitude. One thing about the TT though is that it's lacking in the clean department. Now I know, why would you care about cleans if you are playing a tiny terror? Well again, though the TT has a really NICE aggressive tone, the problem with the lack of cleans is it that it's hard to be dynamic in a song. To be able to cut through my drummer and other guitarist I have to crank it to where it's already breaking up before I do anything. The reason I wanted the Traynor is the headroom it has, even at 15w. How don't get me wrong, I still don't play sparkly cleans (if I did, I would have kept the Night Train). The Darkhorse allowed me to dial in my tone and volume JUST before break up. I can use my picking dynamics and strumming to vary the distortion I get from the amp. Distortion wise, the Darkhorse is very nice. Even when the amp is pushed, you can hear your tone without being muddy. Dialing in the tone in British mode allowed me to get it close to the Tiny Terror's aggressiveness. It really outshines the TT in terms of Bass delivery. Although the Darkhorse isn't over the top aggressive, it's still very beastly. The amp is very versatile but it still has character. The Vox Night Train is also versatile but lacks character, it's not very good at any one thing. The Traynor however, is really good at cleans and in all the respective categories (American, British, Pure). Here's how I would compare the amps that I've owned: ---------------------------------------------- Vox Night Train - Too Sterile, the Chimey-ness is so prevalent. Orange Tiny Terror - Great Distortion tone, low headroom for cleans, that's why some classifies this amp as a 1 trick pony. Mesa Boogie Mini Rectifier - Awesome modern metal tone, nice pushed tone, and a fairly good clean tone. (but seriously why would you want to play clean through a Mini Rectifier?) Traynor Darkhorse - a Great amp that's very versatile. The cleans are really nice, and the distortion has a very good bite. // 8

Reliability & Durability: The amp is built very nicely and it seems very rugged. I don't see any flaws with it so I will definitely gig with out a backup. The thumb screws that holds the Tube cage can be lost, but the only other alternative is to use screws, which means you can't easily replace your tubes. Traynor also includes a very detailed users manual as well as the amp schematic online. So any amp repair guy can look at it and fix the amp, should I need it repaired. I've done some research online as well and it seems like Traynor has great customer service. So I'm pretty confident that I won't be disappointed. // 9

Overall Impression: My band plays rock and metal. The Traynor definitely fits the bill. I run a pedalboard with a Compressor, a Keeley Blues Driver, a Keeley Pro Co Rat, a LPB-1 booster and a Deluxe Memory Man. I used to be a pedal head but then I saw the light and learned to use my amp's distortion. The Traynor takes pedals real well but also has it's own character that allows me to shape my tone. If This was stolen I would probably buy another one, but since there are so many other lunchboxes out there, I might try something else. I was on the fence about this amp for a while since I loved my Tiny Terror so much. But after playing it, I must say, it really fits the bill and opened up a lot more possibilities for me tonally. I wish it had a foot switch though to switch between the USA, British, and Pure modes. But I can live without it too (Coming from the TT, which is the simplest Lunchbox amp there is, anything more is really just bells and whistles). // 9

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