Purchased from: Musos Corner
Features — 10
My particular little unit was made last year (2013) in China. The thing is, it comes with exactly the right amount of features, and everything you have heard about those features is true. Let me go through these for you:
Eight channel/amp settings:
Before we begin: the following channels/settings emulate the circuitry style and response of the stereotype amps they are named after, and not the direct amplifiers themselves.
- Power - this is confirmed (Andertons review) to be styled after the circuitry of an Engl Powerball. The 1 setting sounds like Channel 2 with the Lo - Gain setting on, while the 2 setting sounds like channel 3 with the Hi - Gain setting on. Do not take this one lightly just because it is the "lowest gain setting" on this amp, because you can still get metal tones out of these channels.
- Brown 1 - the signature sound of Eddie Van Halen's Marshall stacks with the sh*t cranked out of them. Put all the knobs to full and nail his early sound. I think this sounds like a modern hot - rodded JCM2000 TSL100 head through a 1960A cabinet cranked to full on the 'Lead' channel.
- Brown 2 - this sounds like E.V.H.'s sound while he was with Peavey. Put the Phaser on to the lowest setting to nail that signature "Phase 90" sound. Think a bit more in the way of a Peavey 6505+.
- Southern Hi - this is purposefully made to sound like a solid - state version of a Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier to blend and merge the Dimebag sound with the high - gain Rammstein/Metallica sound. It does a fairly good job of this, but it sounds either a bit too quiet or a bit too loud with all of the Gain and Master up in my opinion, but it may just be me trying to crank the highest gain setting on the amplifier.
- Clean - this is the same as the Deluxe on the THR10C. Think a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe on the 'Clean' channel with the 'Bright' switch on. It puts too much low - end on this sound, so pretty much the 0 setting on the bass will be somewhere around 3 on the actual thing. More about this later.
- Bass - this is modelled after an "all - tube design with dynamic bass response." I guess this means circuitry, because too many amps spring to mind straight away that fit the bill. Does a good job, and a bass through it sounds even a bit "bassier" than what it should. You can also get mildly distorted bass sounds out of this setting. It sounds fairly interesting with guitar, much like the 4x10 cabinet setting on the regular THR10, but with no fuzz and instead the gain sounds like power tube saturation instead of actual distortion, and there is less of it.
- Flat - contrary to common belief, this does not kill the equalisation. Instead, it attempts to purify the signal, and allows one to mess with the other effects freely. This should be used with acoustic guitars (not the Acoustic setting on the other THRs as that is a mic simulator), and other non - guitar sources (yes, it is all right to do that, the speakers are not actual guitar speakers - they are more of your P.C./P.A. high fidelity type speakers designed by the respective department at Yamaha). It is important to note that your auxiliary input will always sound as if it is being put through this setting.
Next up are the knobs themselves:
- "Master" - this should be re - named "Channel" as it responds just like what a channel volume knob on a tube amp does.
- Gain - self explanatory (adds more volume saturation on the Flat setting).
- Standard 3 - band E.Q.
- Chorus - sounds just like a MXR Stereo Chorus to me (though a bit more limited, even using the software).
- Flanger - no specific pedal springs to mind, though the word 'Boss' does. Very good quality.
- Phaser - Phase 90. Nuff' said.
- Tremolo - I am not very familiar with many tremolos at all, though it does sound like Vox AC30's built - in one to me.
- Reverb - sounds fairly authentic, although even the highest Hall setting still does not cut for extreme setting Arena or Church tones.
- Delay - plain and simple digital delay, and sounds like one. The tap - tempo is reserved solely for this.
- Delay/reverb - uses a slightly reduced version of a Hall reverb with the delay. Turning the knob clockwise adds both depth and mix levels to the reverb, and more time to the delay. The delay is locked at a ~55% mix/feedback ratio. A bit hard to nail the tones you might want from this, but the software helps a lot.
- Compressor/Cabinet simulation/Noise Gate (Editor only) - very good effects with lots of options that will help with sound shaping.
NOTE: the effects indeed are "studio quality," and are just a little bit worse than their real life counterparts.
- Guitar - this is the actual "Master" knob, as it controls the total output volume coming in from the 1/4 inch Input jack.
- Auxiliary - this controls the output volume coming in from the 1/8 inch Aux input jack. This will only ever reach about 1/3rd of your maximum instrument volume, and it responds to the channel selection to try to compensate for the frequencies you are occupying i.e. if you switched from Power I to Power II it would add more low end to the sound and make it just a tad little bit louder. Use with Clean for classical and perfectly clean music, Flat for pop and rap, Bass for blues and jazz (do not ask how this works, I do not know, it just does), Power I for heavy blues and lighter rock, Brown I for heavy rock and such, and of course, Southern Hi for Metal and harder for the best results.
- THR Editor: In - depth control of every parameter but the Chorus and Tremolo, allowing you to store an unlimited amount of presets on your computer (until you run out of hard drive space). Saving presets is kind of gimmicky: first, you have to save to library and then you have to File> Save As> (overwrite the previous library file or create a new one), just to save the preset(s). This occupies about 50KB of H.D.D. space for a full 100 patch library. To save the presets with the options not available on the amp (such as cabinet simulation) to the amp's direct five presets, just hold the preset button down while you have it connected to the computer and have the preset you want to save selected.
- Cubase AI6: Steinberg's software. Lacks some features, but has everything you need to record directly in high quality. Fairly easy to use. Setup and using it with the unit is a bit complicated though, and is personalised to every computer, not just the different operating systems it was designed for. While you are recording you can also cancel the stereo of the amplifier for mono tracks by holding the tap - tempo/tuner button.
This unit includes all of the cords and cables you need for all of the connections, except for the 8 AA batteries. When you are using it with power plugged in while it has batteries inside and you unplug it, it switches to battery power without even disrupting the signal (I think I may have heard a little fuzz one of the five times I did this), but it needs to restart after you just plug it straight back in, and I do not think it is safe doing the latter.
The tuner is superb. It is sensitive enough for live rehearsal situations, but not sensitive enough to force your O.C.D. to force you to tune your guitar perfectly, and is simple to use. It also kills your volume. The unit is a bit larger and much heavier than what I thought. It is about 1.5 decent supermarket bread loafs in size, and weighs 4.5 kilograms with the batteries inside.
Last but not least is the styling. The opinions on this differ, but the THR10X is made to look like a World War 2 era Japanese military portable radio. The writing does look really good, but it is a bit hard to see in darker environments.
Sorry for the ridiculously long section, but this thing does have a lot of features that need in - depth explanation. Some things could be improved just a little bit, but the sheer amount of the features and their value for money forces me to give this a 10.
Sound — 9
The one thing this amp does for sure is prove that you do not need tubes, an expensive amp & effects, or a lot of volume & big speakers to sound good. Since this amplifier was designed to be portable, I believe it was also designed to sound good everywhere. It also nails the response of tube amps, and even plays as if the rectifier was tube on the emulated channels (except for Southern Hi).
You see, I think if someone is eying the THR series, I think they should go for this one, because you cannot put more gain onto something that does not inherently have it without some other piece of equipment, but you can clean up even the most distorted tones. I recommend trying the Southern Hi setting with the gain at 9 o'clock, Master at 12, and your guitar volume at 3. It will still sound solid - state, compressed and tight, but it will be clean until you start hitting your strings hard.
With all of this, the #1 problem is that the unit has too much low - end in my opinion. While metalheads need this kind of low - end response, it is hard to clean up most sounds, especially clean ones. However, it is doable and not too much of a complaint. The enclosure might be part of the problem.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This thing is built better than a T-34 combat tank, and this is coming from a Russian. The only thing that might ever happen to you is that your batteries run out. Apart from that, you can put your life on the line for this little unit. The front and top are solid steel, while the bottom, rear, sides and knobs are made out of a very sturdy plastic. I would not recommend dropping this thing though, but I have kicked it around a little to find a single scratch on the metal below the front as it is visible dead on. It is not meant for live play, but other amplifier manufacturers should look at this as a textbook reliability example in my honest opinion.
Overall Impression — 9
I mainly play your heavier distorted stuff such as heavy rock and lighter metal, but from time to time I go to either extreme because I have only been playing for around 4 years and I am still learning. This amp is a perfect match for me as its main focus is the same as mine, but at the same time it is able to produce authentic tones that are out of my interest range.
Although I do not own any other good gear save for my guitar (it can be found on my profile page), I have tried all of the gear mentioned above in the past few months to see the general direction I need to take in upgrading my equipment and sound. While I was at it, I compared it to a Blackstar TVP:30 and the Vox VT40+, which as you can see, I found this one better than either because of the portability and the durability.
Lastly, there are a couple of features missing that would have made this a great package that I would not mind paying a bit more for: an Android App (THR Session), a metronome with drum loops, a built - in looper, and the ability to lock the total unit volume in a preset.
P.S. There is no way this would ever get stolen (yes, yes, it is worth the second, and the third, and even the fourth investment etc.).