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.
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. 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.
Last edited by Boogie; 12-30-2012 at 11:28 AM.