ENGL Powerball V1

Discussion in 'Gear Reviews' started by LordOVchaoS, Mar 29, 2007.

  1. LordOVchaoS

    LordOVchaoS NUDE MAN! Forum MVP

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    Price Paid : $1450 shipped - used

    Features : 9

    Even though this thing is PACKED with features I'm giving it a 9 because one feature isn't very good.

    Let's start with the bad... the built in noisegate. It makes the amp dead silent when you're not playing but it has about a full second of lag time before the gate closes when you stop playing. I'm using a Boss NS-2 in front of it so this doesn't really cause a problem but without the Boss it sounds like ass when you are trying to do some tight start/stop riffing. From what I hear this has been improved on the newer V2 version of the amp so that says something for the company. They realized people didn't like it and they fixed it.

    Noisegate aside this amp is LOADED with useful features! It has 2 mid shapings, open and focused. I prefer focused by a long shot but I can see where somebody else would prefer open. Then there's the depth punch and presence. I like the depth punch feature! Most amps have a presence knob to adjust the high end in the power section but I've never seen one that lets you adjust the low end. You have to be careful with it because it can get boomy and muddy real fast if you abuse it but used correctly you get wonderful sounding low end. Presence... nearly useless but I'm glad they put it there so you can dial it out! I like it no higher than 9:00. Any higher than that and there's just too much fizz. Then there's the bottom buttons for each channel. I find these work like a loud button on a car stereo. It makes it sound better at low volumes! A lot better! For practice or gigging volumes it needs to be off though. It's just too much bass. All this, 4 channels, and 2 master volumes = VERY versatile amp!

    Sound Quality : 9

    9 again... no amp is perfect. I'm going to base this part of the review on the two lead channels as I have spent very little time with the clean and crunch.

    Let me start by saying that they did something right with the input gain of this amp! I've used a boost in front of all tube amps as long as I can remember and I actually thought that all amps were useless to me without one. Not the case here. I think it sounds better without one! It's almost like there is a built in boost between the guitar input and the preamp section. I will experiment more with boosting it eventually but for now I'm plugging straight in with nothing more than my NS-2.

    High Lead: My favorite! Instant death metal tone as soon as you hit the first note no matter how it's dialed in. After dialing it in to my taste it's the smoothest, tightest, most vicious sounding distortion I've ever had the pleasure of creating. It's not tricky to dial in at all which is a BIG relief after being a recto guy! So long as you don't abuse the bass or scoop the mids I don't think you can make this channel sound bad. I started off by finding a balance between the depth punch and bass knob then cranked the mids to about 2 o clock. Almost there! Then I dialed down the presence per zimbloth's recommendation... WAY down! Then cranked the treble up to about 2:30 to make up for the lack of presence. There it is! The tone I was looking for!

    I might also add that there is TOO much gain available on this amp! I'm playing death metal that is more brutal than you could imagine and even after putting a gain reduction preamp tube (5751) in it I'm STILL running the gain at just above 9 o clock. I do highly recommend putting this tube in though! It warmed the amp up a bit and took away some of the unwanted sizzle. Now I've got smooth, articulate distortion.

    Low Lead: Haven't spent near as much time here as I have with high lead. Don't let the name fool you, there's still a fuck-ton of gain here. I find this channel similar to high lead but a little smoother with a touch more mids. I'll be using it for leads when I get off my ass and write some for my new band. I'm pretty sure Engl intended for this to be the rhythm channel and the high lead to be for leads but I've always done things backwards and this will be no exception.

    Now I'd like to yell for a minute to get a very important point across:

    THERE IS A LOT OF TALK OF THIS AMP SOUNDING PROCESSED LIKE A MODELER. YES, IT DOES IF YOU HAVE THE GAIN AND PRESENCE TOO HIGH. YOU CAN'T DIAL IT IN LIKE MOST AMPS WHEN IT COMES TO THESE TWO KNOBS. THE AFOREMENTIONED 5751 PREAMP TUBE IN V2 ALSO HELPED MAKE THIS AMP SOUND A BIT MORE ORGANIC. DON'T OVERLOOK THIS AMP BECAUSE YOU'VE HEARD THAT 1,000,000 TIMES! IT'S NOT TRUE IF YOU DIAL IT IN RIGHT!!!

    there, had to get that out.

    Reliability : No Opinion

    The amp is at least a few years old and has no issues but I haven't had it long enough or abused it enough to say how reliable it is. I've heard some horror stories and seen some pics of the guts of some of the cheaper Engl amps that almost made me want to vomit but I've been told by a very reputable amp tech that everything Powerball and up in the Engl family is built very solid. I had it open to bias it and everything looked clean and neat inside.


    Customer Support : N/A

    Emailed them a couple of questions before I biased it and never got a response. That kind of urked me but they probably don't want just anybody probing around inside their amps. A simple "take it to a tech" response would've been sufficient. I had my questions answered for me elsewhere so I doubt I'll ever have any reason to contact them.

    Overall Rating : 9

    I've been playing for 16 years. Started out with a guitar and amp that cost $90 for the pair at a pawn shop! Over the years I have sold stuff, thrown in a couple hundred here and there, and upgraded looking for that holy grail of tone. The last couple of years have been the worst :lol: I think in two years I've been through 7 amps. This is my favorite thus far but I highly doubt my little quest is over. If this were stolen from me I'd save up and buy an Engl SE 6L6 which is next on my list anyway but VERY expensive. I hope to have one by this time next year. I was an Engl hater before trying this amp mainly because they have some extremely annoying fanboys over at that other site and the horrible gutshot pics didn't help. I wish I'd have ignored all that and tried one long ago because it is a killer sounding amp!!! I went from what some consider to be the holy grail of rectos (Racktifier) to this and I don't regret it in the least.
     
    ohio_eric and zimbloth like this.
  2. Alpo

    Alpo ... Contributor

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    Cool review. :yesway:

    I've never played a Powerball, but I still have wet dreams about the Blackmore. :drool:
     
  3. Jeff

    Jeff Banned from Reality

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    Goddamnit Joe, where's the clips!? One more review like that without clips and you're fired! :lol:
     
  4. Karl Hungus

    Karl Hungus You're no daisy. Contributor

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    Great review, and agreed totally about the sounding processed bit. ;)
     
  5. Matt Crooks

    Matt Crooks User Contributor

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    I put a NOS mullard 12AX7 in V1 and it made a HUGE difference.
     
  6. Loserchief

    Loserchief Rokuban Taicho

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    your assumption about the noisegate is 100% right. The V1 gate didn't shut without a lag, in the V2 version like i have one it shuts isntantaneously.
    I use A JJ ECC803s Goldpin in V1. i smooths up the amp a little and makes it sound warmer and more natural.
     
  7. Shaman

    Shaman SS.org Regular

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    The 6505/5150 has one too, the resonance knob.

    I would love to get my hands on a PB too... maybe later this year ;)
     
  8. zimbloth

    zimbloth Nick // Axe Palace Vendor Forum MVP

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    The VHT has it, as does the 5150.
     
  9. Brord

    Brord Furor Teutonicus

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    Yeah the PB slays!!!!

    Could you also describe how it differs from the rectifier,racktifier (and perhaps even from te madison)? Just for us europeans, we are not so lucky over here to find a lot of those...
     
  10. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    As does the TSL, but it's a simple push-button on/off. Personally, I didn't like it - it sounded cool when you were playing alone, but in a mix it sort of clashed with the bass a bit.
     
  11. sakeido

    sakeido Contributor

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    So do Soldano Hot Rod 50+'s

    But yeah - clips! Clips clips clips!
     
  12. LordOVchaoS

    LordOVchaoS NUDE MAN! Forum MVP

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    Somebody's borrowing my mic, stand, and cord! I've been trying to get ahold of the guy and so far have failed. :mad:

    All in due time.
     
  13. LordOVchaoS

    LordOVchaoS NUDE MAN! Forum MVP

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    Never been lucky enough to play a VHT and I try my hardest to wash the 5150 memories out of my head :agreed:
     
  14. jtm45

    jtm45 SS.org Regular

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    Didn't you get on with the 5150 then,or are you sayingyou did and you miss it ?

    I've been really gassin' for an Engl (Fireball or Powerball) but then i hear so much good stuff about the 5150's and they're a bit more available on the used (slightly more affordable) market.

    What do you think ?
     
  15. LordOVchaoS

    LordOVchaoS NUDE MAN! Forum MVP

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    They're very affordable and are good for their price but I can't stand them personally. I tried my first 5150 almost 10 years ago and I've had bouts with several since then. Hate em. Some people love them but I'd recommend a lot of other amps over it. I can't say they suck, I'm not the god of tone, but I personally hate them. Try it, you may like it and save some bucks but I myself would pay double the going price for a Recto or Powerball than half the going price for a 5150.
     
  16. Hellraizer

    Hellraizer SS.org Regular

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    yea i want a powerball really bad......
    just lacking the funds right now
     
  17. LordOVchaoS

    LordOVchaoS NUDE MAN! Forum MVP

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    You have no idea how much stuff I had to sell to get this and the new cab :D No money came out of my pocket, all gear sales.

    They're completely different animals. Rectos and Madisons are both excellent metal amps but if your tastes are like mine I'd say stick with what you've got. I loved my rectos and my madison but I do prefer the Powerball now after spending a few weeks with it.
     
  18. Jerich

    Jerich Contributor

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    If anyone needs how great Engl's can and will sound check out Chris broderick on youtube playing at Engl's NAMM booth...he alone speaks worlds for these amps....My only down fault with Engl amps they are a pain in the ass to repair and get parts for them it takes weeeeks to get the right parts at times. But reliability on the amps in general seem really good. I have been retubing a few guys amps by Engl with Tung-sols/Mullards/EH/Soldano tubes....
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=X75VYYnHbrI

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=PBAdmjMrRAw

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=FGebpBZtUSE this ones a Chet song man is this insane to play!!!

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=8hU_AmPcDNo



    and if you think Chris cannot play "I will eat your socks"
     
  19. 7StringofAblicK

    7StringofAblicK Contributor

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    So do you like the tone more than your rectos? Does this 'slay' a recto, per se, or is it just a different spectrum/approach?

    I have no reason to sell my recto right now; i love the midrange voicing and cut through the mix like never before. With that said, i've never tried an Engl but they sure do look pretty :wub:

    Good review :yesway:
     
  20. 7StringofAblicK

    7StringofAblicK Contributor

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    Edit:

    Have you tried a 5150 lately? I've ab'ed it with my dual rec (both with boosts) and the lead channels get damn close; you may not hate them as much (considering you've not played one in a decade :lol:)
    Not trying to sell you on a 5150 of course; hell, i just sold mine. But it might be worth trying out again now that you've had some time to adjust your mindset on what tone you like :yesway:
     

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