ENGL E530

Discussion in 'Gear Reviews' started by El Caco, Mar 1, 2009.

  1. El Caco

    El Caco Djavli te ponesli Contributor

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    Considering how much I rave about this thing it is about time I do a review. I have had my E530 for some time now and anyone who has been here for a while knows I love it however until now I have not felt that I have enough experience as a guitarist to give a fair review. There are a number of gear reviews online that in my opinion are full of shit, if I write a review I want it to be helpful and I want it to be one that if you buy or decide not to buy a piece of gear based on my review that you can be confident you made the decision based on sound advice.

    For reference I have only been playing for a short time in comparison to a lot of guys here and I haven't owned a lot of gear but I have a decent set of ears and I understand what I want from my Rig. This review will hopefully be thorough enough for you to decide if this is the right piece of gear for your needs.

    EASE OF USE

    For the money this is a feature packed preamp that remains easy to use, the feature perform as you would expect them to and the EQ reacts predictably, for example if you change your Hi Mids you will not need to change your other settings. When I first purchased my E530 I had my tone dialled in very quickly and although I often experiment with my EQ it always ends up back where I first dialled it in which should give you an idea how easy it is to dial in my preferred tone.

    FEATURES

    This is why you should buy the E530, this thing is feature packed.
    • 2 channels Clean and Lead with a High Gain switch effectively giving you 4 channels.
    • 3 band EQ on clean, 4 band EQ on Lead.
    • Bright switch on clean, Contour switch on Lead.
    • Relay switchable Channel select, Gain, Contour and Preamp defeat.
    • Separate Stereo line out puts and Freq Comp outputs.
    • Great FX Loop but not switchable.
    • Built in 2 x 1.5w SS poweramp with stereo output on front that can be used for headphone practice or direct to cab with freq comp switch on back.
    • Preamp defeat

    What this translates to is one piece of gear that does it all. It is effectively a 4 channel preamp with two similar voices that compliment each other but it can also be used as a standalone practice rig with a cab or headphones and direct recording is also possible from the Freq Comp outs.

    If I want to be picky my wish list would include the headphone output on the rear for connection to a cab, Bright switch to be relay switchable, a switchable FX loop and Midi. ENGL obviously decided not to compromise this budget model with half assed features and fully implements those feature on the E580 with the ability to save settings as presets. However the E580 is 6 times more expensive then the E530.

    RELIABILITY

    It is a tank. I have never had a problem and through stupidity I have dropped this twice, picked it up and continued to play.

    VALUE

    This one is a no brainer, if there is another tube preamp that gives you this much at this price I have not seen it.

    EXPRESSIVENESS/SOUNDS

    Clean channel provides warm fat pristine cleans that are perfectly voiced for what I want (my EQ remains close to 12 o'clock but I have the bright switch activated). You can get a little breakup by adding gain but the pristine cleans mean that even with the high gain switch activated and the gain up all the way you will not get that ballsy crunch tone with the clean channel without boost.

    Lead Channel is mislabelled in my opinion, there are more great tones to be found here but without a good boost or pre EQ a buttery Satriani lead tone is not one of them. Without the Gain switch activated you can go from a great crunch tone right through to Metal gain, in the low Gain mode the Gain is loose and quiet, it will never be as loose or messy as a Mesa etc but if that is what you are chasing this is not the Pre for you. With the Hi Gain activated the Gain tightens up, it's brutal, it's noisy, it's :metal: The E530's Rhythm is where it's at, it is my favourite Rhythm tone, it is exactly what I want and it is what I play most of the time. The E530's Rhythm is the one thing that would make it incredibly hard to ever part with.

    Ignore the comments that say this pre can not do modern Metal. This is a modern compressed preamp, if you want fizz go somewhere else, the E530 is capable of anything from Modern Rock to Brutal Modern Metal and more. Yes you can get an 80's Metal tone out of this and the clean channel can probably be used for a great jazz tone as well but Modern Rock/Metal is what the E530 does best

    The contour switch is a great addition, it can be used to add a bit to leads but this isn't where it shines IMO, I'd prefer to use a boost pedal for that as the lead tones of the E530 are my one gripe. Where the contour switch shines is getting over the top in a mix, set your EQ where you like it playing by yourself and when you play with a band hit the contour switch and you will probably never need to touch your EQ. I like to tweak but I keep coming back to the same settings the difference is the contour switch for me.

    If you throw in the right boost pedal (preferably one that has some decent gain and EQ control) the versatility of the E530 is pretty incredible. With some boost the clean channel's slightly different voicing can be used to add some variety and for me I need boost to get a lead tone that I like because my taste in lead tones is not as Modern as my taste in Rhythm.

    To be fair I am still not happy with my Lead tone and am working on improving that. I am probably being overly harsh with the 4/5 rating because like I said the Rhythm tone is incredible, the lead tone is a good modern lead tone and with boost can be a good usable lead tone for a number of styles but to me a 5/5 indicates incredible tone and the lead tone is not an incredible tone in my opinion on it's own. I guess it's not fair to rate something slightly lower for something it wasn't designed to do but I have done so to highlight that if you are looking for an open loose Soldano, Mesa etc. type of gain this is not the does every tone, never need another piece of gear unit and it doesn't pretend to be.

    OVERALL RATING

    If you haven't worked it out already I love my E530. Since buying it I almost never bother turning on my Pod X3 Live because the ENGL delivers without fuss. Yes I can get a good lead tone out of my Pod and I have not got what I want in regards to Lead tone from the ENGL but the great cleans and brutal rhythm is where I spend most of my time and the ENGL delivers. I have considered selling it and buying something more flexible for variation such as an Axe FX but my biggest fear is I will never achieve the Rhythm or Clean I love with the new piece of gear.

    If I sold, lost of broke it I think it's safe to say I would get another.

    The E530 gets 5 Mopar Girls from me.

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  2. renzoip

    renzoip I Am the Table

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    Awesome, I love my E530 too! :hbang:
     
  3. Demeyes

    Demeyes SS.org Regular

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    I like mine too. I'm going to start using it with a 2nd footswitch for using the contour as a solo boost. With this setup it should be very handy for live use. I also really like the 4 band eq on the lead channel. It makes the unit a nice bit more tweakable than the usual 3 band.
    I find the tone to be a bit fizzy at times though. I use it for playing prog metal with some heavier and lighter moments. It's a very handy piece of equipment for recording. I've been able to track with it late at night silently and use impulses to good effect with the unit.
     
  4. guitarplayerone

    guitarplayerone SS.org Regular

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    i DIYed myself a 4-button footswitch for around 25 dollars (including 15 dollars of stereo cables) which fits into my ibanez case. the whole shebang is just two stereo jacks which short the signal to ground when activated. so it works the same way any other jack-type footswitch works, except this one is stereo, so you'll need a stereo cable. i wired up a mono cable version for a get-together (using a wonton container at work an hour before the jam), and it left the other channels un-switchable via the preamp, and obviously un-switchable with the one-button switch).

    total costs were: approx 4$ for the buttons, $10 for a project box, $15 for cheapo stereo cables from amazon

    i still don't like it's 'shrilly' characteristics and the in-between distorted sounds sound a little too compressed for me.

    one of my favorite modes is actually preamp defeat (transistors?), which gives a really round and soft clean sound (so you can leave your clean to 'bright' setting on the amp), giving you yet another mode. the trick is to balance the volume of this mode with the gain volume.

    i can't overstate the above, i use the pre to add warmth and character to my DI bass recording.

    however, FWIW Metal Amp Room is cheaper, sounds better for many things, and would be #2.

    also, this preamp definitely does lack in bass :(
     
  5. PirateMetalTroy

    PirateMetalTroy The Tooth Fairy

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    I noticed that this little guy is a bit lacking in the bass department. When i record it direct, i had to roll the bass off, and it made me go "WTF, so much BASS!!!" but when I got it running through the power section of my XXX, all of the sudden I found my bass maxed out and my low mids near 3 O'clock. I have a lot of pedals and alternate means of EQ so it's not a big deal in any way. But I definitely noticed it has a lot less bass than my Peavey XXX head. In the long run, it's probably a good thing when you take it's tone into a band setting, where the kick drum and bass need space in those frequencies, and let it slice through in the mids/upper mids.

    it has a SHITLOAD of gain. Seriously, WTF?! I almost don't need my boost anymore. It's actually kind of ridiculous. The more you crank the gain, the more compressed it gets, but unlike the XXX, it's still half-assedly tight with the gain on 11. I still run my gain at 9:00 with my Maxom OD808 as a boost.

    I'm still working on a lead tone. A lot of people have said it, and the lead tone IS lacking. It needs extra help to be coaxed out of this box. I'm hoping that the combo of my g-system + pedals can make my ideal lead sound come out of this badboy, because I'd hate to have to replace it.

    Can't beat thing things for the price. If it were destroyed, lost, or stolen, I'd first look for an axe-fx, but if I cold get one, I'd buy another e530.
     
  6. Fionn

    Fionn SS.org Regular

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    yep nother satisfied customer here, love the little thing, sounds way more expensive than it is!!!
     
  7. Ill-Gotten James

    Ill-Gotten James SS.org Regular

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    I played on the E530 for a few hours one day and fell in love with its tone. I want one really bad, but do not feel like spending $600 USD for a new one. I am hoping I can pick on up used soon. They are a great piece of equipment.
     

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