- Dec 13, 2011
- Reaction score
- Seattle, Washington
I had a thread recently asking for some suggestions on a new amp, unfortunately I got pretty busy the past week or so and didn't get to reply as much as I wanted. I had my initial plans but just wanted to see if there was anything else I may not be as aware of that might interest me. I ended up narrowing it down to the PRS HDRX 20 and a Ceriatone JTM45/100 clone, I actually came so close to putting my order in with Nik but my adult side stepped it for once... 100 watts even with a MV is just WAY more than I ever could use... I'm sure I'd rarely take it above 2 in a NMV set up... I "want" 100w but I'll never need it and rarely get it anywhere close to the sweet spot. I contemplated just using an attenuator with it to justify it but rationality won me over...
So the PRS HDRX 20 was the only other amp I was GASing bad for but was hesitant due to being a PRS... Nothing against PRS but in general I usually see "meh" responses from those that have owned or tried one of PRS previous amps. I haven't seen a PRS amp in person in about 8+ years, last time I saw one Guitar Center had a BIG PRS section that is now long gone... But the whole concept of the HDRX 20 was PERFECT for me and to be honest was almost like it was made for me.
What won me over was first the Hendrix "inspired" circuit, the larger 50 and 100 versions had copied the West Coast Organ and Amplifier mods (Dave Weyer's modifications) for Jimi's 1969 Superleads... To what extent? Idk, it could be only a gimmick or... maybe not? (I'll express my opinion further) then the 5881 power section, honestly every amp I've played with 5881s I have just LOVED the clean and driven tones. I didn't initially know the HDRX 20 was loaded with 5881s or I'd been drooling over it a lot sooner, I love these tubes. Next is the master volume... As much as I love the sound of a cranked NMV amp (I do believe they sound a little different) it just isn't practical and I really discovered that with the SV20H, I thought I could get away with it more than I really could and realize how beneficial a MV is for my application. The size! I love the size of the SV20H for quick grab and go to a buddy's or to an open jam, the HDRX 20 might be slightly smaller than the SV20H which makes it again a very practical and easy to lug amplifier.... It's a little Plexi! I've been wanting a low wattage Plexi for years and I was so PUMPED for the SV20H but... I really grew to not like it, I've found the SV20H really lacking in some Plexi qualities and can't get past them as they are my favorite qualities.
So, I decided to go for it and ordered the HDRX 20...
BLOWN AWAY, MIND BLOWN, TONAL NIRVANA, I FINALLY FOUND THE END OF THE RAINBOW, I FOUND THE SOUND IVE BEEN CHASING FOR 20 YEARS...
Sorry for the caps but holy F*(k is this amp what I've been searching for to a T... My signature amp, this is exactly what I'd ask for... I am beyond ecstatic, giddy, high, happy, relieved and inspired by going with the PRS... They NAILED it AND for under $1000!
This amp is what the SV20H should have been imo, the HDRX can switch from plain Plexi to Jimi's mod (mid high boost) and both sound incredibly accurate. The amp has the chime, the chime I so associate with the vintage plexis both Superleads and JTMs. The first time I plugged into a 1959 full stack nearly 15 years ago, I'll never forget that chime combined with that amazing edge of break up, almost clean, slight grit... The HDRX does it, this was my biggest disappointment in the SV20H. The SV20 is extremely strident and very trebely like the big Superleads but it just had no chime/jangle to my ears, no matter what speakers I used I just couldn't get my favorite sound out of it.
The HDRX sounds SOOO beautiful clean and so MASSIVE when pushing the power tubes. It 100000% has Hendrix's sonic DNA in it and I am really shocked as I truly figured it was a gimmick. I actually only watched 2 official PRS previews of the amp and read only the official description. I wanted NOTHING to skew, influence or bias my personal perspective of the amp. The 2 official videos I watched weren't THAT great to be honest BUT I heard the potential, I knew if there is any decent plexi voicing in that amp and/or a true Weyer inspired circuit, I could dig it out better than the official demos. In my hands I am getting some of the best Jimi tones I've ever achieved, I'm just constantly blown away every time I turn on this amp. I've had for about 4 days now and just finally pulling myself away from it to check into the forum.
I was initially going to buy the matching 1x12 but honestly, I'm not paying $400+ for a little 1x12 with a V type... I found a beautiful all ply custom 1x12 locally for $100, made it into a closed back and threw in my Eminence Wizard, sounds amazing too! I also ordered a Scumback H55-PVC which should be arriving soon. I can't wait to hear the HDRX 20 thru the Scumback, I'm already blown away
Only knock I could really find with the HDRX 20 is the lack of an effects loop. I'm not too concerned as I only ever used a loop for reverb and even then that was rarely.
I'm sure for some people the fact the amp is made in Indonesia could be a turn off. I haven't checked out the internals yet but everything feels NICE, nice quality, solid, sturdy, no slop or play in the controls or switches, all the preamp tubes have proper covers... Just over all a beautiful and solid feel. I really don't concern myself with country of origin anymore because either way all the parts are made in China.
I could go on and on and on and on, just feels like a dream come true. The sounds I've been chasing and trying to perfect, all exsist in this amp and I couldn't be any happier. I highly suggest anyone that wants a 20w Plexi should seriously consider the HDRX, you don't have to be a Hendrix fan to appreciate the beautiful Marshall tones in this amp and for being almost half the price of a brand new SV20H I say it is a no Brainer...
*Colombo voice* ah yes, one more thing!
The master volume on this amp is the best I've ever heard. I have no idea how they did it but it sounds beautiful even at VERY low volumes (sub TV volume). Where most amps sound dull, flat and thin below a certain volume, this amp retains all it's character. Do know that even tho this is a MV amp, it still behaves more like a NMV. Diming the channel volume will give you preamp break up but it's fairly low gain and if you really want some crunch you'll have to get the power section in on the action. Don't fret as the 5881s break up beautiful at decent volumes... Loud but not quite as deafening in comparison to say the SV20....
Oh man there is so much I am missing!... The layout is excellent, both channels are internally bridged but you still have the 2 volume controls ala a plexi + the MV. You have a bright switch that can tame the bright cap when playing at lower volume (this is such a great feature!) And then of course the "High Mid Gain" switch which makes it sound like Jimi's 69' modded Superleads. With this switch on the amp has this beautiful boost in high mids that beautifully morph into the trebles creating this just amazing clear, beautiful and unique sound. I have ALWAYS wondered about Jimi's amps post '69 as they are clearly Marshall's but I've never thought they sounded like a typical plexi, I always thought they sounded way brighter and way more upper middy than the common plexis... When I discovered Weyer's post then did all of it start to make perfect sense.
I'm getting carried away... If you come across one of these CHECK IT OUT, if you want a low watt tube plexi CHECK IT OUT. I HIGHLY suggest this over the SV20H, just play it without the mid high gain switch and you got classic plexi.
Now if you'll excuse me, I must be on my waaaay