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Thread: HX/DA or MDT?

  1. #1
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    HX/DA or MDT?

    I know this has kind of been asked before and I've seen aristotle's helpful videos. But just was curious for any more observations.

    I guess I'm trying to see if the HX/DA switches ultimately make it a more flexible amp? I love the core tone of the MDT and it cleans up well. It seems to be punchier in the lower mids than the HX/DA, and possibly has more gain? That I can't quite tell.

    I dig what the HX/DA does, it replicates some really benchmark tones in rock history amazingly well. I guess I'm concerned that it is too vintage, whereas it seems like MDT is kind of its own particular thing, especially in the fat, singing lead tone department.

    But I really like both and you all seem to rave about both. I'm not sure i can find a shop to try both.

    Anyways, I've given you a topic, discuss (again, please)

  2. #2
    Here's the good news: both amps are great. I haven't got an MDT to compare, but I have an HX/DA that I've been using in the studio for about 6 months.

    It's my feeling that it's a good idea to choose an amp based on whether you like the core tones. Changing things up with the switches, knobs, and so on is more or less a secondary issue if the core tones aren't happening for you. One thing is that 6L6s like in the MDT distort a little differently from EL34s like in the HX/DA. It's a subtle distinction, but the texture and frequency emphasis of each tube is a little different when it breaks up.

    One caveat about choosing an amp based on video or audio clips is that these amps have a ton of variety in the controls. We all set our amps up differently, use our guitar's controls differently, and play different things. When I play my HX/DA, it doesn't sound like Aristotle's HX/DA, because I go for different sounds. The same is really true for many amps, but these amps are not "find the sweet spot and it's a one trick pony" amps.

    The HX/DA has an incredible range of tones; I can't find a bad sound in it. Compared to, say, my old Mesa Mark V, which is a great amp, too, with the Mesa, each channel had a range that worked, and you could dial things in and basically that was where it sounded great. With the HX/DA, it's more of an infinite choice thing with variations on its core tone, where with the Mark V, it was more core tones with less variation on each one. I hope that makes sense, it's a little difficult to explain.

    The switches on the HX/DA give you a lot of variety, but these have to be evaluated in combination with the dual gain controls. The HXDA gain and the bass gain actually work like a jumpered Plexi. The two controls affect how the amp breaks up, and change the tone accordingly. They are very powerful in combination! The switches can be all set to either HX or DA, or they can be used in various combinations. I set all these controls up depending on the tune, and the guitar I'm working with. Each switch affects the tone of the amp. Combined with the twin gain controls, you have an infinite variety at your fingertips.

    Example: with a CU22 type guitar, for a classic kind of overdrive tone, I set the switches DA, HX, HX. But for a creamy bluesy tone with a 408 pickup, I set it DA, DA, HX. For gainier stuff with a Singlecut, I go HX. HX, HX. For classic Allman brothers tone, It's DA all the way. Etc. And that's just three switches. I haven't even described the interactive gain and tone controls, or the ability to dime the master and use the gain controls for volume, or vice versa.

    And...the amp sounds really great, and very recordable with the master set pretty low; I've recorded with it with the Master set as low as ten o'clock. Do that with some very fine amps, and you get only fizz from the preamp tubes, and they're not recordable, you have to crank the amp loud. Not so with the HX/DA. I actually get nice tone in the room with the master as low as 8:30 o'clock, but I like to get the speakers in the cab pushed a little harder for recording.

    But -- that doesn't necessarily mean it's the amp for you if the core tone of the amp isn't your thing!

    The HX/DA is absolutely NOT limited to classic rock tones. In fact, it's not limited to mid gain, high gain, or any gain. It plays beautifully clean, which was a big and wonderful surprise when mine came. It'll do what I consider very high gain, but of course, that's within the context of its design parameters, i.e., it's not going to be a Diezel or Uberschall unless you want to goose it with a pedal.

    It IS important to work either amp with your guitar's volume and tone controls. This is not only the traditional way to use these amps in shows, it's something most of the pros still do with any amp; a good example is that it's mentioned by Dave Navarro in a recent interview, and you'll read that in many others as well - it's something most great players do with any amp. Dave Grissom does the same thing, so does Bonamassa, so does Clapton. Etc.

    Another thing to think about is that the 100 watt versions of these amps are going to sound a little different from the 50 watt versions; they'll have a little tighter low end, and a few other differences to think about. I'm not talking volume, necessarily, I'm talking about tonal differences and headroom.

    Note: I'm not saying to get an HX/DA over the MDT. That's a very personal choice that I'd do over the core tone preference. But based on what I've heard about these amps, talking to my dealer who had both, and clips and so on, I made my own choice. I would guess that the controls on both amps work equally as well, and it's a matter of picking the right core tone for you.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 03-01-2013 at 09:39 AM.

  3. #3
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    That the long answer. here is the short one.

    I have both. My MDT is the CAD version....the TGS 410-B. same head, in a combo with some additional tweaks over a standard.

    that being said...

    go for the HX/DA...best amp I've ever owned, and that includes Soldano SLO; Cornford Hellcat; Elmwood 3100; Bogner XTC, Mesa Mark 1 and many more. I love this amps versatility and I love the fact that while the clean is great...you get fantastic distortion and overdriven tones at very low volume if you want.

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    I'm a little curious to hear how Paul's new MDT amp compares now to the HXDA? I know they have put a lot of R&D time into it and made it a little more flexible than the standard MDT. I'm guessing it still is gonna have overall tonal differences than the HXDA just because the different tubes.

  5. #5
    Member dsenoj's Avatar
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    According to the web site, the MDT and Paul's MDT both use EL34 tubes, the same as the HX/DA.

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    I'm the contrarian. If I had to pick between the two, I'd go for the MDT. I agree that it's not as flexible as the HX/DA, but the MDT has more magic (for my tastes and preferences). And speaking of flexibility, for many applications, the MDT is pretty flexible. At gig volumes, it can be set so that it's bassman clean (not perfectly clean) with the guitar volume full on and cleans up from there, as you roll back or it can be set to be a hot-rodded all-gained-up plexi-style amp, or set to be anything in between.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by dsenoj View Post
    According to the web site, the MDT and Paul's MDT both use EL34 tubes, the same as the HX/DA.
    That may be a recent switch. Last year they used 6L6s I'm pretty sure. I could be very wrong on this, though! Am I confusing it with the Blistertone? Pretty sure one of them uses 6L6...

    I know I almost bought an MDT that did have 6L6s, but that may have been a one-off.

    Quote Originally Posted by aristotle View Post
    I'm the contrarian. If I had to pick between the two, I'd go for the MDT. I agree that it's not as flexible as the HX/DA, but the MDT has more magic (for my tastes and preferences). And speaking of flexibility, for many applications, the MDT is pretty flexible. At gig volumes, it can be set so that it's bassman clean (not perfectly clean) with the guitar volume full on and cleans up from there, as you roll back or it can be set to be a hot-rodded all-gained-up plexi-style amp, or set to be anything in between.
    I'm Switzerland on this, as I hope my first post clearly indicates; I'm neutral.

    I like what I have, for me, BUT I also think folks need to decide this kind of thing for themselves.

    Aristotle, does your MDT have 6L6 or EL34 tubes?
    Last edited by LSchefman; 03-01-2013 at 02:54 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dsenoj View Post
    According to the web site, the MDT and Paul's MDT both use EL34 tubes, the same as the HX/DA.
    Yea I've totally been under the impression they both use EL34's. That's one of the reasons they're in my mix of possibilities as I don't have an EL34 amp right now.

    Thanks for the thoughtful feedback! I plan on keeping my Mark V because it is just so flexible, so while the flexibility of the HXDA seems great, I'm definitely looking for something that's really got a certain core magic to my personal ears, that I can just set, forget and alter my tone with my guitar controls. I agree both have sufficient gain for my needs and I probably can't go wrong either way.

    With the dizzying options of the Mark, these days i am finding it more fun to just plug into a great amp and take off with minimal adjustment. Kinda like when i was a kid and first plugged into my friend's JCM 800.

    Now, I need to go to take some time and play a bunch of amps....
    Last edited by Skeeter; 03-01-2013 at 07:08 PM.

  9. #9
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    Great thread guys!

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Skeeter View Post
    Yea I've totally been under the impression they both use EL34's. That's one of the reasons they're in my mix of possibilities as I don't have an EL34 amp right now.

    Thanks for the thoughtful feedback! I plan on keeping my Mark V because it is just so flexible, so while the flexibility of the HXDA seems great, I'm definitely looking for something that's really got a certain core magic to my personal ears, that I can just set, forget and alter my tone with my guitar controls. I agree both have sufficient gain for my needs and I probably can't go wrong either way.

    With the dizzying options of the Mark, these days i am finding it more fun to just plug into a great amp and take off with minimal adjustment. Kinda like when i was a kid and first plugged into my friend's JCM 800.

    Now, I need to go to take some time and play a bunch of amps....
    Best way to decide, IMHO. Both are superb amps.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    Aristotle, does your MDT have 6L6 or EL34 tubes?
    EL34's. I wasn't aware that they made them with 6L6's. In spite of that, at low gain settings, the MDT sounds more like a bassman or JTM to my ears...but I'm easily confused...

    Quote Originally Posted by Skeeter View Post
    With the dizzying options of the Mark, these days i am finding it more fun to just plug into a great amp and take off with minimal adjustment. Kinda like when i was a kid and first plugged into my friend's JCM 800.....
    I don't have the MarkV, but I do have a Roadster 100W head. That amp is, hands down, the most flexible amp in the world (well...except maybe for the Roadking, which you can load with both EL34s and 6L6s and switch on the fly...) There is nothing not to love about the Roadster. Really.... It goes from spanking clean to Fender tweed to plexi to death metal and all shades in between, easily controllable via footswitch. And I can't for the life of me understand why I prefer to gig the MDT over the Roadking....but like you say, there is somthing really satisfying about dialing a single base tone and using the guitar controls and maybe a bit of dirt pedal from time to time to shade from there.

  12. #12
    Senior Member cosmic_ape's Avatar
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    I played the MDT at GC for an hour not too long ago. Holy crap, what an amp!!! I would love to play a HX/DA. I am afraid of the strain that experience will put on my marriage, though...

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic_ape View Post
    I played the MDT at GC for an hour not too long ago. Holy crap, what an amp!!! I would love to play a HX/DA. I am afraid of the strain that experience will put on my marriage, though...
    Oh, marriage, shmarriage!

    A good amp is hard to find!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    Oh, marriage, shmarriage!

    A good amp is hard to find!
    Hahaha!! And a good wife will recognize the sheer importance of superior ampage. Speaking from a purely empathetic perspective, of course (and fortunate to have the best wife on the planet). It's a symbiotic relationship...this quasi-rocker/marriage thing.

    A Boogie MkV would be in my living room if funds were unlimited. After 23 years with the same old Boogie tells me that the MkV is even more flexible. But yes, it can take a long time to coax those sounds from it (read: years!) where my experience with the PRS amps proves that it only takes minutes. Granted, the range of tonality per amp model is limited compared to the Boogie, but the usability of that range is 100%. Not so with the Boogie, as was already explained.

    Case in point. Yesterday, I didn't have a lot of time to noodle around but plugged in the Cu24, turned everything off on the pedalboard and neutralized the tone controls. After completely changing the volume and master settings from what I've used for the last 6 gigs, I started to fine tune the tone. There wasn't a right or wrong...good or bad...just different. The guitar volume further worked as a treble bleed on anything lower than 10. Kicked in the EP Booster to bring real meaning to touch sensitivity. And when I switched over to P-90s, the character remained intact (that never happened before with the Boogie). My dirt pedals now are used more for tonal variance and lead boost than grit. I'm a little louder than I was before, but that can be masked with finger dynamics. All this happened inside 10 minutes. Similar exercises took days on the MkIII.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by docbennett View Post
    HX/DA...best amp I've ever owned, and that includes Soldano SLO; Cornford Hellcat; Elmwood 3100; Bogner XTC, Mesa Mark 1 and many more. I love this amps versatility and I love the fact that while the clean is great...you get fantastic distortion and overdriven tones at very low volume if you want.
    You are spot on in your description, Bennett! I can't compare it to the MDT, but it really is a great amp.

    My favorite of all time, starting in 1966!

    That's a LOT of time, and a lot of great amps over the years, including MANY highly regarded classics and boutique models.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 03-03-2013 at 09:43 AM.

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