How to Get the DSL20 to sound like a DSL15

Seventh Son

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Whenever I do an A/B with the DSL15 against the DSL20, holding all variables other than the amp constant, I always end up preferring the DSL15 on recordings because it sounds tighter and more mid focused. Another way I would describe it is, stiffer and drier. As for what might account for the difference, I recalled that Marshall describes the DSL15 as having "a high-gain, mid-boosted tone based on a hot-rodded JCM800 2203." Because "mid-boosted tone" sounded a lot like a TS9 to me, I decided to put a TS9 as a clean boost in front of the DSL20. The result was that the amps sounded near identical. Obviously, due to the TS9, the DSL20 sounded a bit livelier, with maybe just a touch more saturation and gain, but the midrange and low end definition were almost the same. Personally, I thought the DSL15 sounded a bit more natural (less metallic and aggressive) in the low end, but the difference could also be used to create subtle contrast in recordings. So, if you have a DSL15, I think that amp is already good to go as is. The DSL20, however, needs a boost, in my opinion. Without the boost, it is too fizzy and tubby, in my opinion. But, then again, that might be just what is needed for certain styles and applications. It's all about knowing the gear well, and using it deliberately to achieve the desired result.
 
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Seventh Son

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I was looking for a DSL20 for small venues. Got a deal on a used DSL15H about a month ago...damn thing rocks!
Good choice. I think the DSL15 sounds thicker/fuller in the low mids than the DSL20. The DSL20HR can get there, but it needs a mid boost. The DSL15 is a great amp for home recording, as it sounds great at low volumes, especially in the half-power mode. I will be posting some A/B recordings in the coming days, so anyone reading this thread can benefit from the comparison and hear for themselves what I am talking about.
 

scozz

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Whenever I do an A/B with the DSL15 against the DSL20, holding all variables other than the amp constant, I always end up preferring the DSL15 on recordings because it sounds tighter and more mid focused. Another way I would describe it is, stiffer and drier. As for what might account for the difference, I recalled that Marshall describes the DSL15 as having "a high-gain, mid-boosted tone based on a hot-rodded JCM800 2203." Because "mid-boosted tone" sounded a lot like a TS9 to me, I decided to put a TS9 as a clean boost in front of the DSL20. The result was that the amps sounded near identical. Obviously, due to the TS9, the DSL20 sounded a bit livelier, with maybe just a touch more saturation and gain, but the midrange and low end definition were almost the same. Personally, I thought the DSL15 sounded a bit more natural (less metallic and aggressive) in the low end, but the difference could also be used to create subtle contrast in recordings. So, if you have a DSL15, I think that amp is already good to go as is. The DSL20, however, needs a boost, in my opinion. Without the boost, it is too fizzy and tubby, in my opinion. But, then again, that might be just what is needed for certain styles and applications. It's all about knowing the gear well, and using it deliberately to achieve the desired result.
I thought you sold your Dsl20 bro?

Man, you’ve been going back and forth with these two amps for a while now. It seems all around, you really prefer the 15, but there’s something in the 20 that you can’t shake.

Is that close SS, or am I on another planet? :D
 

Seventh Son

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I thought you sold your Dsl20 bro?

Man, you’ve been going back and forth with these two amps for a while now. It seems all around, you really prefer the 15, but there’s something in the 20 that you can’t shake.

Is that close SS, or am I on another planet? :D
I sold the DSL20CR and got the head version to save space and because I thought it looks sexier. I also like the convenience of a loop and variable Resonance control, but when it comes to sound, the DSL15 is the better amp.
 

Gene Ballzz

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The DSL15 sounds a bit different, but the DSL20 has a loop and the two channels are a bit less disparate when sharing the same EQ settings. Also, the DSL15 actually uses 6V6 tubes that I believe are fixed bias, as opposed to cathode bias. So the power section responds a bit differently. I have a DSL20 and used to have a DSL15, but am not absolutely sure of the fixed bias if the DSL15.

And @Seventh Son , I think you'll find that the 6V6S power tubes will help the 20 sound and respond a bit more like the 15. I tend to ride the tonal line between Tweed Fenders and Marshall, and the DSL 15 does a very good job of that, but no loop really sucks, for me!

Just Noticin'
Gene
 

Seventh Son

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Below are the promised tracks, in the following order:
1) DSL15
2) DSL20, same settings
3) DSL20, same settings, but with mids bumped one notch
4) DSL20, same settings, but with the TS9 as a clean boost

All other variables (guitar, cable, cab, speaker, mic, mic placement) were kept the same, except for the different performances and a little less volume on the DSL20, since it is louder than the DSL15. Volume was at 3 on the DSL15, about 2 on the DSL20. MX112 with V30, mic placed at cap-meets-cone, straight on, on the grille. Presence was at 3 on both amps. Resonance off on the DSL20. Deep switch disengaged on the DSL15. Reverb off. Tone shift off.




 

LPman

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My main amp is a 69 JMP but I also have a DSL 15. I can dial in the little DSL head to sound almost identical to the real deal. When I got it I did that one resistor clip mod which made the amp even better sounding.

The only difference is the DSL's tone is a little more "synthetic" compared to the natural tone of the JMP. On the other hand the DSL has nice additional gain.
 

Seventh Son

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My main amp is a 69 JMP but I also have a DSL 15. I can dial in the little DSL head to sound almost identical to the real deal. When I got it I did that one resistor clip mod which made the amp even better sounding.

The only difference is the DSL's tone is a little more "synthetic" compared to the natural tone of the JMP. On the other hand the DSL has nice additional gain.
I totally believe you. The DSL15 fills out very nicely, even at lower volumes. It definitely does the Super Lead thing well, but with a modern character.
 

scozz

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I prefer the 15,…
 

Seventh Son

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Here are my observations on the recordings provided above.

The DSL20 has more bass and sounds a little cloudy compared to the DSL15. The bass on the DSL20 is a bit tubby, more like a classic JCM800 than a JVM410. Whether that is because the DSL20 has more bass, or because the bass is tubbier, is hard to say. Could be both.
The DSL15 seems to be more compressed/less dynamic. Recorded tracks benefit from this, as they are easier to sit in a mix when the tracks are more even.
The DSL20 is definitely a little scooped in the mids, but I think that by raising the mids from 7 to 8, I got pretty close to the DSL15. Instead of raising mids, a TS9 can also be employed, but I found the result a little too metallic/aggressive on the palm mutes. What I did like a lot, was the grind and high end roll off that the TS9 imparts on the tone. However, I think the DSL15 gets a similar and more natural result without the need for a boost. Perhaps an SD-1, which has a more aggressive high-pass filter, would be a better pairing with the DSL20 and sound less intrusive on the palm mutes.
What is interesting to me, is that when the latest generation of the DSLs was released, Marshall claimed that one of the revisions was that they shaved off the excess top end because of the complaints that the previous generation was too fizzy. To my ear, I really don't hear any significant difference there. If anything, the newest DSLs actually sound a little fizzier, due to the slight mid scoop compared to the previous generation. However, I do hear a certain smoothness/creaminess in the fizz. Maybe that is what Marshall is referring to. To me, the DSL20 sounds very '90s, whereas the DSL15 has a contemporary, compact sound.
 
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