Super Dallas tone report
I haven't seen a solid Super Dallas tone report on any forum, so I thought a thread would make it easier for others to share their experiences and draw from mine.
My SD is new to me as of about a week ago. But it sat in the original owner's studio in a flight case and was there as a backup and never used. So for all intents and purposes, it's a new amp. It's completely stock but has a tight/bright switch that attenuates the bottom end for "higher gain situations". We'll see...
In the interim, here's my initial impression...
Perspective is everything. Mine is from comparison with a 1989 Mesa/Boogie MkIII in class A mode (25 watts) tweaked to sound as Marshall Plexi-ish as possible. Speaker cab is a PRS pine 2x12 w/ V30s. At first you might ask, "if you've been attempting to sound like a Plexi, why not just go with the HXDA...the über-Plexi?". Good question, and the answer, after some serious tonal soul searching, is that I want to sit uniquely in the mix, differently than the other guitarist's Marshall DSL40C. He's dialed in at the upper mid-centric zone where it cuts nicely, but has zero low end. That's where I want to thrive, similar to a Grissom-like growl but with flexibility to gig a P-90 equipped guitar exclusively. I don't strive to match the original artist's tone, for the most part, so being unique is the big objective. It's all about monster tone since I am predominantly the rhythm player.
At a Glace: A little note about the appearance and physical inspection. The post shipment inspection tells a lot about PRS' amp department and how they approach their craft. After removing the back panel and disconnecting the fan cable, the attention to detail is immediately apparent. Being spoiled by Mesa/Boogie for over 20 years, this stuff speaks volumes for potential longevity of the product. Cable routing is clean and logical, chassis construction is smooth and precise, and everything is screwed/bolted down solidly. Yes, one of the transformers is lifted off of the chassis slightly because the foot isn't square, but that's not a big deal (my equipment neat-freak tendencies want everything exactly in place and perfectly composed) and due to the way transformers are made. Everything is quality, meticulously assembled, and well designed. Oh, and the Stealth look with a matched amp and cab is freakin' awesome! A huge thumbs-up to Doug and company. :cool:
Initial Tone: The immediate impression upon firing on the standby switch is the bottom end. WOW! Having played a Twin for decades too, I'm no stranger to huge bass, but this is a whole new dimension. Tight-ish, but not Twin-like. It starts to growl the V30s pretty early with the SE One. Very VERY touch sensitive at all settings. Had to dial back the bass solidly, but pushed the mids just over 12:00. Treble is cut to about 11:00. The Boogie remains a bit glassy with the P-90s regardless of how much I cut the treble or which cab I use. The SD has tamed that almost brittle attribute. And here's the real shocker...it's silent. I mean, it's so quiet you could hear a fish fart. :o The P-90s still pick up a little noise, but the amp is SO much quieter than the Boogie. That's an accomplishment and a compliment.
Low Volume: Even at the lowest audible setting of the master volume the amp's tone is stellar. My experience shows that the master volume is also a tone control that tends to stifle the amp at low settings. Not here. Appeasing my wife in the other room was no problem and I maintained an ear-to-ear grin the whole time. Expectations far exceeded. And it's the same dynamic range as higher MV settings, except for the crushing lows.
Pedals: Part of my requirements for a new amp includes accepting a wide variety of pedals. I rely upon a couple of dirt pedals to give me the tonal variance needed for our set list. Nothing too fancy or elaborate, but it needs to go thru the front of the amp only...no FX loop. The SD shines here. The EP Booster is the perfect compliment with its standard treble boost, giving more definition and a little chime to the P-90. Add the Kalamazoo or the Keeley TS-9 (or both) and the input buffer doesn't sag the signal or become over saturated. Even the MkIII had this problem in ch3. The Pickle Vibe and Carbon Copy come across fully defined. Excellent!!
Full Volume: A separate installment will detail my experiences from the trenches after the New Year's eve gig. But from what I hear at the house, it's HUGE sounding. Using the guitar case to baffle the cab is definitely expected, but that won't block the bass. This may be where the 'tight/bright' switch gets some testing. But that aside, this is an amazingly musical amp, in all ways. Each tone control is fully usable in any location of its range. I've never experienced this. Without changing the tone controls much, I started switching guitars. The One responded exactly as I expected...touch sensitive, clean top end with awesome bloom with pick dig, responsive bottom end that rattles the floor when hit hard or palm muted. Open chords ring with definition but that bottom-end bloom is apparent everywhere. I needed to wipe up the drool.
I heard that the amp doesn't fully breathe until it's past 2:00 on the MV. To a degree I can confirm this, but lower volumes with hot pups work very well too. Having the pedals to push the amp extends the utility at lower volumes. In all, it is addictive having such power at your finger tips. Again, I'm familiar with 100W amps and big cabs, with big SPL, but this is different...the best word is probably organic (I hate jumping on the adjective bandwagon but this is probably what 'they' mean by this term). This is very much a 50W amp and can take your tinnitus to the next level, but it doesn't have to. My definition of moderate output may differ from yours. YMMV.
More to come...
Test with ES-335, the Mo' Lester, and the Cu24.
Thanks for this report. Very informative. As an owner of a Custom Dallas (tone stack lift and gain boost differentiate this combo from a non-custom production example) would you (or anyone) be kind enough to describe the differences between the "Super Dallas" and the stock production model? I'd be very curious to learn what the differences are.
Great post! Very in-depth and nicely done!
Much of what you've posted also applies to the HX/DA; the build quality (from the insides right down to the application of the trim and tolex); the quietness (that I think helps one's tone a great deal because a note comes out of a black background instead of a wash of noise); the useful controls.
Definitely gives me the urge to get another PRS amp.
The important question is does the SD visit Canada or does the MDT visit Indiana?
My experience is pretty limited with the Dallas, so I don't think I'm not properly qualified to make that comparison. The original Dallas reminded me a lot of my Twin, both in clarity and power...which is what initially drove me away from this model. But after spending some time with Chris' SuperDuper Dallas, I reconsidered what an EL-34-based version might accomplish. The 6L6 powered Dallas was a chip off of the classic Fender block, to me. But with beefed-up gain, it rocked. The killer, for me, was the immense headroom and inability to achieve power stage saturation at non ear-bleeding volumes. The SD Dallas is blisteringly loud.
Originally Posted by docbennett
The crowning epiphany was during the Grissom amp clinics at EXP2012 where he pretty much talked me into either the SD or the HXDA.
Thanks, Les. Yeah, this is a slippery slope. I see tangible reasons for having both the SD and HXDA. My wallet just puckered.
Originally Posted by LSchefman
I like the way you think, Pete. :cool: There's a beautiful paisley pine 2x12 in BF Egypt that would love some attention. ;)
Originally Posted by veinbuster
These amps just sound so good, and are so beautifully crafted, that they're an almost irresistible package. Just like the guitars.
Originally Posted by Boogie
I try to be rational and stick to my production needs, and it's very hard indeed.
*Post Gig Update*
Summary (in case you don't want to read any farther): Smokin' good! Filled in well with the other guitarist's Marshall DSL40, remained tonally flexible between guitar changes, and growled like a beast all night. :cool:
Details: The venue is a small bar with low ceilings and was packed to capacity. Our guests were seated in the back, so we got accurate volume reports throughout the night. The other guitarist, Bill, and I were stacked right next to each other and his DSL40 was on a stand, blasting my brains out all night. But as a result of his EQ, I was asked to turn up twice...
As you can see, the tone settings were pretty neutral except the bass was completely defeated. And MV was at nearly 2:00 all night. Note bloom was stellar on both low and high notes, and pick dynamics alone let me adjust my cut thru the mix. The ZZ Top material sounded pretty darned tasty, if I do say so myself, as did the AC/DC and Allman Bros stuff. Everything else went fine, too, but these tunes seemed to go over really well...warm, growly, authoritative, very touch sensitive. Bill on several occasions turned to me and said, "that sounds really good". That's good enough for me. :cool:
I could elaborate more, but there's no point. This is a solidly good gigging amp for classic rock, weekend-rocker applications. If you're considering a PRS amp for this purpose, I recommend auditioning both the Super Dallas and the HXDA since they offer different tonal emphasis (IMO, you could probably also get a good SD rendition from the HXDA in DA mode). YMMV but not by a bunch. I've not been able to coax a bad sound out of this amp. The Super Dallas gets a Boogie approved 9/10.
I need to start gigging out instead of just playing at church...I cannot justify these amps in my current situation. I need hook up with a band that needs a solid rhythm guitarist that will allow me to have a tuner, delay and amp.... just plug and play baby! Boogie I would like to say to you: curse you for throwing fuel on my amp fire....
Thanks for the update Boogie.
It appears you have a winner.
I'm thinking you should update your profile "SUPER D" Boogie .....
Doesn't anyone else on these boards have a Super Dallas? I can't be the only one. It would be great to hear from someone else that has kicked the tires in a gig setting and could elaborate on their experiences.
Dane, you are going to be really ticked when you hear the One thru the SD. Just giving you a heads-up. ;)
Super D Boogie...that has a nice ring to it and I'd have a middle initial! :cool: :p