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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Review: Marshall DSL15H Head



Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we're going to talk about an amp that has really surprised me: the Marshall Dsl 15 H head!

In these recent years we have witnessed a trend in amp making: besides the classic 100w heads, manufacturers have started to produce more and more low wattage versions of their tube amps (from 5 to 20w), to satisfy the needs of the average player, which wants to play home with a good tone (and a 100w tube head, if played at 0.1 volume, doesn't provide it) and with enough power to be used also in the rehearsals room.
Besides the tone quality, another thing that modern players crave is a reduced size and weight: the 2017 guitar player doesn't want to carry around an extremely large head weighing 23kg (on an average) to have a good tone.

We are talking about tube amps because we know that solid state and digital amplifiers don't have this problem: a 100w transistor amp, for example, will sound the same at any volume, so it's usable in any situation without sound degradation.
With a tube amp is different: according to the amp, the bias, the transformer, we have a sweet spot, an ideal volume to use it, and if we keep the volume too low the tubes will not be driven enough to thicken the sound, if we turn the volume too loud the tubes will be overdriven, and not always this is a wanted result.

As we have said in our article "tube amps vs transistor amps" there are several elements in play, so for lower wattages, so far, I have always preferred the transistor ones (from 30w up, otherwise my experience is that they are completely covered by the drums), but lately I have played in a rehearsal room using this Marshall DSL 15H Head, a 15 w tube head loaded with four ECC83S in the Preamp section and two 6V6 in the power amp, and, damn, this little amp is loud!

The head is a smaller version of the 100w Marshall Dsl Head, it features 2 channels (clean and overdrive), and the overdrive is switchable for ultra gain, it has a Deep control that adds more Bass frequencies and a switch to choose between 7.5w (a good home volume) and 15w (for the rehealsal room and live). 
So far I have never played a 15w tube amp capable of delivering a good metal tone, driving easily a 4x12 cabinet and stand out in the mix so well: the sound is crisp, clean and the size and weight are the half of a 100w marshall Dsl.
Of course it will have less headroom, a little less Bass frequencies (in this the deep switch is very useful), but for the first time I find the tone extremely usable and credible, compared for example with the Mesa Boogie Rectifier mini, which struggles much more in delivering a good tone at higher volumes.
I would say that if you're on a tight budget or a home player and want a classic tube Marshall sound, this amp is a good choice, and probably it is the best in its category (less than 20w tube amps).

Give it a try!


Specs taken from the website:


- CHANNELS: 2
- WATTAGE: 15W
- CONTROLS: VOLUME x 2, GAIN x 2, PRESENCE, BASS, MIDDLE, TREBLE, DEEP, TONESHIFT, PENTODE/TRIODE SWITCHING
- VALVES: PRE AMP VALVES 3 x ECC83, POWER AMP VALVES 1 x ECC83, 2 x 6V6
- WEIGHT: (KG) 10.2

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