Saturday, February 1, 2020

Review: Hughes & Kettner Attax 80 combo

Hello and welcome to this week's article!

Today we're going to review a very interesting combo produced from 1998 (then after five years the serie got revamped with the name Vortex), now discontinued but that still can be found easily and for dirt cheap in the street market: the Hughes & Kettner Attax 80 combo!

This amp was in the rehearsal's room where I was practicing with my band few years ago, and in the same room there was a Marshall Valvestate 65w: the Attax was just so much more powerful and with more low end than the Marshall that in the room it was always the fist choice.

Why was it (and still is) better?
Because of several reasons: the fact that it's half closed back, which makes the sound much darker and "bigger" for such a small combo compared to an open back one like the Marshall, the fact that it's 100w transistor instead of 65, and the fact that it features a tight, high gain lead channel that offers a decent, "solid state thrash metal" tone without the need of extra overdrive pedals, which is very good.

The combo features a Celestion RockDriver Vintage speaker, which has a voicing oriented towards the low mids similar to a Vintage 30, 2 channels (Clean and Lead, with the lead one that can switch between a "British" voicing and a more "American" one), fx loop, a speaker emulated output (which was not very common back then) and a pretty compact size, compared with other combos of the era (but it's not particularly light).

Sound wise this amp comes from an era in which the tube amp modeling was still not very advanced, so it has some of the downsides typical of the 90s transistor amps: the clean is super clean but not particularly warm (even if by raising the gain above 12 o'clock it can be turned basically into a crunch), and the distortion is very tight (something similar to the 80's Anthrax sound) but doesn't have a lot of harmonic richness.
On the other hand, both channels sounds quite good, there are good tone shaping possibilities (the 2 voicings of the lead channel), it sounds nice and it's very usable, both in studio (especially for metal) and live, since it's more than capable of cutting through a live drumset and it can also be connected to an external speaker.

I consider this amp one of the best rehearsal rooms workhorses, because it's extremely solid and reliable and can take countless hours of stress without any problem, and for this reason I give to it my:

Thumbs up!


- PREAMP SECTION: CLEAN + LEAD solid state channels

- INPUT: -10 dBV/ 1M ohms

- FX-RETURN: -10dBV/ 47 k ohms

- FX-SEND: 0 dBV/ 2.2 k ohms

- REC.OUT: 0 dBV/ 800 ohms


- 'CURRENT FEEDBACK' solid state power amp

- Output Power: 80 W rms into 8 ohms

- 100 W rms into 4 ohms

- PHONES: 0,5 W, 600 ohms

- Frequency response: 20 Hz - 40 kHz (into 4 ohms)

- Speakers:  CELESTION RockDriver Vintage, 12“, 8 ohms

- Dimensions: 556 x 480 x 280 mm (W x H x D)

- Weight: approx. 38 Lbs./ 17 kg

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