Engl Retro Tube 100 Head E765

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a nuclear powered JCM800. riding a dinosaur.
dheim, 07.03.2017
The ENGL retro tube is a 2 channel amplifier powered by 4 EL34 valves, designed to be a "classic voiced" addiction to the range of high gain, modern sounding amps the german manufacturer is well known for.

The front panel sports the usual on/off and on/standby switches, a backlit (albeit quite dimly) retrotube logo, a master volume A (on the back panel there's a master volume B, that can be used - for example - as a footswitchable solo boost), a channel selecton and a gain boost (both can be controlled by footswitch).

Channel 1 and 2 have independent 3 band EQ, gain and volume, and ? while channel 2 has a "tone" switch (footswitchable as well), channel 1 has a "bright" switch that can just be operated directly on the amp. On the back panel the controls are completed by a noise gate (that can be engaged with a footswitch or simply turned off sliding the knob to 0) and a mix knob for the fx loop (that can be activated or bypassed via footswitch ? an awesome feature of all ENGL amps)

Going straight to the tone, channel 1 ranges from glassy, fender-ish cleans to bluesy dirts. A good way to get both tones is setting a low gain (2-3) and engaging the gain boost (i'll spend more words on the boost later). I find the break up of the unboosted channel with higher gain levels just a bit more pleasant, but then you'll lose both the cleaner end of channel 1 and the somewhat-less-cool-but-still-cool dirt tone provided by the gain boost (using it with higher gains creates a slightly compressed distortion pedal effect that i find quite uninspiring)

Channel 2 ranges from a highly dynamic classic rock distortion to full metal, again thanks to the built in gain boost.
I already submitted a review of this amplifier, and after a couple of years i have to admit i got it completely wrong... I used healthy amounts of gain, no boost (because when turned on things got a bit messy and definitely muddy), lots of mids in the EQ and no mid boost, and honestly i struggled to cut through the mix without a tubescreamer.
Then i found that this was the wrong approach.
Going back to a flatter EQ (with some mid and treble added, but not too many), engaging the mid boost, cutting the gain to 5-6 and letting the gain boost do its magic did the trick.

This way i get a full, aggressive voice that doesn't get lost even along the most obtrusive fellow guitarists, and can unboost channel 2 to get a fourth ? perfectly usable ? tone

To summarize, the retro tube sounds as tight and aggressive as every ENGL amp (don't be fooled by the whole vintage thing...) when needed, with a delicious "pissed off JCM800 on very nasty steroids" vibe mixed with a recognizable ENGL character "a-la Savage", has a great sounding clean channel that can double as a bluesy overdrive, and can cover classic rock tones as well ? maybe not as effortlessly as a classic Marshall but definitely well enough ? all with a couple of stomps on the footswitch!

Note: Regarding the foot control, i'm using a custom built 6 switch unit that works also on my Gigmaster 30, but any combination of stereo footswitches (or of course the original ENGL stompbox) can be used. Sadly there's no pedal included
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Engl Retro Tube 100 Head E765

1 599 € 6 837,56 zł
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