Yamaha THR-10 Modelling Amplifier

Combo, recording interface, boombox      17/04/12

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13:12 mins    

When I first heard about the Yamaha THR, it was through the medium of Youtube. At the time nobody really seemed to know what the hell it was, the best bloggers from the shredosphere had never heard of it.
 
We later found out that this was partly due to a long-term marketing strategy, and partly due to a problem in sourcing the power supply, but alas, the THR was ready to be shown to the world at the 2012 NAMM show.

If anybody saw my video/news item on the amp from the show, then you’ll know that I’m in love with it for a number of reasons, but let me first just get a few things straight:

  • The Yamaha THR is not a valve amp
  • Yes, the orange valve glow is just for show
  • It sounds as great in real life as it does on the Youtube advert
  • It models analogue circuitry rather than the sound of a valve amp, in doing so, it has some of the most authentic tube modelling I’ve ever heard
  • THR stands for ‘Third’, it is designed as your third amp

 


Just to expand on that last point, you might have a big Mesa amp for the stage, an old Fender combo for the studio, and the Yamaha THR is designed for your house. It doubles up as an interface, so it’s also perfect for home recording.


As you can hear from the video review, it sounds really (really really really) good. For the price of the damn thing you just can not go wrong, you might be wondering why I’m so excited about it, but my job sees me exposed to a lot of modelling equipment, and none have come so close to sounding like the real thing as the THR has.

It responds like a valve amp, the gain and master knobs change the signature of the tone as they would on a valve amp. Obviously you don’t quite get the character of an analogue circuit, but Yamaha more than make up for this with the range of distortion tones on offer, as well as the high quality effects.

The crunch setting is my favourite, it sounds authentically British, I could stand at the front of a stage, strum one chord, and it would shake the rafters (if it was miked up properly of course). There are no nasty harmonics in any of the distortion voices, in fact, the only odd harmonics come from the modern high gain setting. The small speakers simply can’t carry the low-end sufficiently, so you get the effect of a double distortion in the sub frequencies. At lower volumes this problem disappears though.

The British high gain setting sounds great on Gary Moore style solos, if you’re a fan of the squeaky bluesbreaker sound then you will have a big grin on your face when you plug into the THR. It really just makes you want to jam out.

I could talk about each individual voicing, but there really isn’t any point. You would be better off listening to the demonstration of each voicing in the review and making up your own mind, I think you’ll sympathise with my creepy and slightly worrying love for the inanimate object.

Basically, plug into one, turn your back to it, and imagine you are playing on your favourite amp. The response is there, the break up changes with your dynamics, it’s got the goods.

On to the effects, they’re all great, enough said. Haters might say that they could be more flexible, but these are effects nabbed from some high-end Yamaha mixers, at least they sound good, and they are enough to inspire a riff or two. Anybody who wants to use effects seriously will have their own rig anyway. No need to discuss that point any further.

Did I mention that it’s also an interface? Yes I did, but I didn’t say that it comes bundled with a version of Cubase, so that you can plug directly into your computer via USB and track your ideas down into a DAW.

There is also an editor for the THR, you can download the editor and programme your own sounds, Yamaha really do have all bases covered. Add this to the auxiliary input (complete with its own volume dial) for plugging in MP3 players, the three band EQ, on board tuner, and the fact that you can also plug a bass or an acoustic guitar into the amp, and you’ve got yourself a pretty impressive little amp for £299.99.

There is only one issue, but I guess the amp would have to sell for considerably more if this issue were to be fixed. A speaker output would mean I could gig this amp, and after lugging around some hefty amps in my time, it would make a nice change to carry around a 4kg amp.

They’ve designed it to be pretty, so that your significant other will let you have it in the living room, but this also means that it would look cool on stage, sitting on top of a 1x12 cab. Please Yamaha, please make one with a speaker output!

Yamaha have nailed the sound, they’ve nailed the functionality, and they’ve nailed the size of the little fella, but the speakers are just a bit teeny. Whilst they sound phenomenal on some settings, it’s not an amp for chugging drop C riffs, but would you expect something that looks like a valve radio to be good for death metal?

If you are looking to buy, then this is a recommended purchase in its category.

 

Available now THR-10 £299.99/ $469.99 - street price significantly less.

 

 

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23 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
?    Said...

too much quick camera movement

17-Apr-12 03:41 PM


Velocipede    Said...

Nice review, Rich! How does it sound just for ipod playback? Is it as good as a typical "made for iPod" portable speaker setup? If it is any good, this would make it easier to set up in the living room.

17-Apr-12 04:24 PM


Velocipede    Said...

Nice review, Rich! How does it sound just for ipod playback? Is it as good as a typical "made for iPod" portable speaker setup? If it is any good, this would make it easier to set up in the living room.

17-Apr-12 04:45 PM


Amped    Said...

Hi Velocipede! Yes it sounds good for iPod playback, certainly doesn't sound like plugging an iPod into a normal amp. The speaker quality is far better than in most iPod docks, but there is a stereo field effect, which does make your music sound like it has a wider stereo field than it actually does!

17-Apr-12 05:04 PM


Velocipede    Said...

Nice review, Rich! How does it sound just for ipod playback? Is it as good as a typical "made for iPod" portable speaker setup? If it is any good, this would make it easier to set up in the living room.

17-Apr-12 05:41 PM


Velocipede    Said...

Nice review, Rich! How does it sound just for ipod playback? Is it as good as a typical "made for iPod" portable speaker setup? If it is any good, this would make it easier to set up in the living room.

17-Apr-12 06:27 PM


Boris    Said...

Nice review, but I think it failed to mention that the THR also has the ability to store 5 user presets AND when using the USB as an interface, it sends both the wet AND dry signal to the DAW (great for re-amping). I would have loved to hear the direct sound from the headphone jack (as opposed to miking) as I think that's how most people would use it when not utilizing the speakers. All in all, nice job and thank you.

18-Apr-12 03:15 PM


Amped Editor    Said...

Hi Boris. In the review I said there would be a separate review focussing on the THR as an interface. It's all coming mate, don't worry. It's just too much to put into one review, sign of a good product!

I also touch upon all these things in the written part of the review, such as the editor function. Thanks for your comment though, mate.

18-Apr-12 03:57 PM


skyphenomenon    Said...

For not much more, I can buy Amplitube 3. Strictly based on the quality and realism of the modelled sounds, which would be better?

18-Apr-12 06:57 PM


Gianfranco    Said...

Hi, thanks for the review. As regards the Cab Out, I believe the best coupling would be with a PA or with a FRFR system, like the RCF NX12-SMA. You can use the Line Out for the purpose. Like the KPA or the Axe-Fx, the simulation of the interaction between the poweramp and the cab is taken care in software. So, the best service you can make for your THR and yourself would be IMO to amplify it with a linear system. After all, THR's little speakers do are - within their own limits - a FRFR system: just listen to a flac or wav file through them...

18-Apr-12 07:42 PM


gianfranco    Said...

Hi, thanks for the review. As regards the Cab Out, I believe the best coupling would be with a PA or with a FRFR system, like the RCF NX12-SMA. You can use the Line Out for the purpose. Like the KPA or the Axe-Fx, the simulation of the interaction between the poweramp and the cab is taken care in software. So, the best service you can make for your THR and yourself would be IMO to amplify it with a linear system. After all, THR's little speakers do are - within their own limits - a FRFR system: just listen to a flac or wav file through them...

18-Apr-12 07:43 PM


gianfranco    Said...

Hi, thanks for the review. As regards the Cab Out, I believe the best coupling would be with a PA or with a FRFR system, like the RCF NX12-SMA. You can use the Line Out for the purpose. Like the KPA or the Axe-Fx, the simulation of the interaction between the poweramp and the cab is taken care in software. So, the best service you can make for your THR and yourself would be IMO to amplify it with a linear system. After all, THR's little speakers do are - within their own limits - a FRFR system: just listen to a flac or wav file through them...

18-Apr-12 07:44 PM


Nick B    Said...

We talked to the folks on the Yamaha stand at Musik Messe and they were taking the headphone output into the PA - obviously would be better to get an impedance matching thing in there somewhere for best results. But the h/p is the only way out of the THR, apart from the USB.

19-Apr-12 09:41 AM


Gianfranco    Said...

Sorry for the multiple post, the system is apparently not clear about when the post is actually sent/received... Yes, the h/p out feeding an active cab should work better than any guitar cab. If something has to be added, I'd rather say add a "real" Line Out. No sense in driving a guitar cab IMO :)

19-Apr-12 08:15 PM


Amped    Said...

There is a point if you already own a 2x12 you adore the sound of! :)

20-Apr-12 03:12 AM


Gianfranco    Said...

I feel you Amped, but what you adore IMO is an actual *amp* through your 2x12, not - let's say - your home stereo, don't you? X) The THR's sound is just not meant for a guitar cab, because all the non-linearities we happen to love in guitar sound are already taken care of in software. IOW, the cab is already *in* the sound. It would be like mic-ing a guitar cab and listening to the mic through another guitar amp.

Try it in your PA, and you'll be amazed by it!

20-Apr-12 02:00 PM


JCS    Said...

Do you know of any reason why I couldn't use the THR10 as an interface and run into my laptop using an older version of ProTools? Thanks.

02-Jan-13 01:26 PM


Amped Bot    Said...

Hi JCS,

It depends which version of Pro Tools. Which version is it?

25-Jan-13 11:47 PM


Richard    Said...

This amp is a ridiculously good value. I used it recently at a small gig (solo electric). It killed through 2 SM57s. Can't say this would work in a band setting, but it sure worked for me. I've been playing through a '65 Princeton Reverb for years. No more.

20-Jul-13 10:32 AM


KJSFA    Said...

Is it better to mic the THR10, or simply take the line out for direct recording?

If cabinet simulation is already factored into the signal, what's the point of using a real mic?

24-Feb-14 07:31 AM


KJSFA    Said...

Is it better to mic the THR10, or simply take the line out for direct recording?

If cabinet simulation is already factored into the signal, what's the point of using a real mic?

24-Feb-14 07:31 AM


greenm01    Said...

Is it better to mic the THR10, or simply take the line out for direct recording?

If cabinet simulation is already factored into the signal, what's the point of using a real mic?

24-Feb-14 07:32 AM


Shonita    Said...

Hi, I was wondering which version you would go for for your archtop? The vanilla ten or the 10c? I wasn't so keen on the clean sound, but it's really fun chugging dirty on an elegant archtop?

09-Jun-14 08:55 AM


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