The overall feeling from the DT-50 is that it is really set up for the modern, tone-hungry player. The flexibility and the range of configurations and options is something that you wouldn't find in a classic valve amp, but there is no compromise when it comes to tone and sheer gut-busting power.
A quick look at the spec tells you this instantly:
- 4 Valves (2 EL34s, 2 12AX7s)
- 4 amplifier voicings (based on 4 classic amps)
- 2 speakers (Celestion Vintage 30, Celestion G12H90)
- Class A or Class A/B switch
- Pentode or Triode switch
- Standby switch
- Channel A/B switch
So the voicing system is initially based in the HD modelling of the digital pre-amp, this gives you a choice between American Clean, British Crunch, British Chime, and Modern High Gain. American clean gives you a beautiful Fender Twin sound, British Crunch offers the classic rock tone of an early Marshall, British Chime sounds remarkably like an AC30, and Modern High Gain gives you all the chunky power of a Mesa Boogie style amp. The tone and gain controls are incredibly responsive on all of these voicings.
It's when your signal begins to go through Reinhold Bogner's analogue circuitry that the DT50 comes to life. By using pentode/triode and amp class to switch the configuration of the valves and circuits, you can get a wider range of sounds, and also personalise your sound further, making the amp much more than a modelling amp.
Fixed bias, AB, 50W operation - has more clean headroom and is generally brighter and louder as compared to Cathode biased, 25W Class A mode, which breaks up easier and has a different distortion characteristic.
Pentode Mode is generally the most common configuration for output tubes – it’s brighter and louder, whereas Triode Mode has less apparent loudness and is “rounder” in the treble frequencies.
Parameters can also be dynamically configured to get very different tone. Setting the amp to Voicing I, Class A/B, Pentode mode can render some great Fender Blackface tones. Setting the amp to Class A, Triode mode on the same voicing can yield something more reminiscent of Fender Tweed tones.
You can engage Class A mode if a little more ‘dirt’ is required at a lower volume level. Triode mode can help push the volume down a little bit further also, and then the Low Volume Mode (by pulling master volume knob out) scales the volume down to not hit the output tubes as hard and engages the “full” amp model associated with the preamp and tonestack Voicing.
The over riding theme here is that you can crank the gain and get a beautiful overdrive, but not have to deafen yourself to do so. This makes the DT50 a great recording amp (not that it isn't also great for live settings). With two different speakers, and such a range of sonic options, you can bring one amp into the studio but get the sounds of multiple classic valve amps, and the authenticity of this sound can't be emphasised enough. For guitarists who might want to have a Marshall JCM, a Vox AC30 and a Fender Twin, but can't afford all three, the DT50 is a much more cost-effective option for expanding your sound.
Once you've recorded this, you then face the challenge of flicking quickly between this completely different tones in a gig. Well not really, you can use a midi controller or a POD HD pedal to save your presets and switch between them. The channel switching is on a relay system, and even if you change amp classes from one channel to the next, it will remember what amp class was being used on the previous channel and restore those settings once you switch back to it.
For those valve purists who haven't considered modelling before, the DT50 provides a very intuitive playing experience, and the quality of the sound really can't be denied. For those who are looking to make a switch from digital to valve, then this is a very good way to discover how valve technology works, and which set-ups work for you. We reviewed the DT50 212, which has a street price of £1349.
For those who want to go for a stack set-up then the price on the DT50 head is £999, and the 4x12 cab is £569.