Crate Pro PowerForce PFR-15 | CSM-1402

October 3, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

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Crate Pro Audio PowerForce Speaker Series. The self-contained PowerForce PFR-12 and PFR-15 Speaker systems offer high reliability and power handling with an extraordinary feature array. Versatility being one of those key features, each model functions as a self-contained PA system, main speaker or monitor. Read more

The Little Amp That Could

September 15, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Who says heavy-duty sounds only come in big, expensive packages? Three solid-state challengers prove size isn’t everything.

Crate Taxi

Crate TaxiThe closest the Crate Taxi will get to a studio is the sidewalk. But from there it can surely hold it’s own against the cruelties of the street life, with its rugged wedge-shaped cabinet and 30-watt RMS solid-state amp.

Powered by a rechargeable internal battery, 12-volt adaptor and optional cigarette lighter adapter; this is an amp designed for quick road trips, block parties and pre-concert tailgate jams. Read more

Crate GX15 Gain and Volume Issues Q&A Tech advice

September 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Crate GX15Q&A:

I have a Crate GX15X, which has a gain channel and a lead channel with a built-in graphics EQ. I wasn’t pleased with the amp’s distortion, so I bought a Danelectro Fab Tone fuzz pedal. Now I can get decent distortion when practicing on my own, but I can’t get a suitable tone when I crank up with my band. Any answers?


Gain, or distortion—whichever you prefer to call it—can be tricky. Over the years I’ve learned that increasing the level of distortion in a signal reduces the definition and punch of the source tone. This is especially true with amps that have a rather limited power rating, like your Crate GX15, which pumps out a meager 12-watts RMS. And although distortion usually sounds quite pleasing on its own, a highly overdriven tone can get lost within a full band. Read more

Johnson Marquis JM60 Guitar Amp Review

September 28, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

Johnson Marquis JM60Johnson’s Millennium amplifiers have set a good standard for what a digital modeling amp should be. While the Marquis is something of a scaled-down version of the Millennium, it retains much of what makes the amp noteworthy, resulting in a user-friendly amplifier with excellent voices overall and flexible, wide-ranging functions.

The Marquis eschews the Millennium’s multiple LED and LCD screens for a single LED readout showing which preset is on call. Good old-fashioned knobs—master volume, gain, treble, mid, bass and level—remain, along with dedicated buttons with which to scroll through the amp voicings and effects, and platform editing chores. The amp voicings have been reorganized into three groups of six (American, British and Johnson), the built in tuner is gone and the effects-processing circuitry has been simplified too: one 12AX7 does the work of the Millennium’s two, and the power output has been scaled down to 60-watts in mono or 120-watts in stereo. Surprisingly, MIDI implementation is gone as well, leaving you with 27 editable factory presets recallable from the front panel rotary knob via optional foot controllers.

As mentioned before, the JM60 comes with a single Eminence 12-inch speaker and delivers 60 mono watts in this configuration. By plugging in the J112 satellite speaker cabinet, the output is double to 120 watts stereo. The headphone jack, like the Crate’s, doubles as a speaker compensated direct output. It won’t automatically shut of the speakers, which is smart, since using it as a direct output usually means that you’ll still want to hear what you’re playing. Instead, the speakers are disabled with a recessed switch. The effects send and return points are accessed with two stereo ¼-inch phone jacks and, at 680 ohms out and 15k ohms in, are intended for use with rackmount effects.

The Marquis’ 27 presets show off it excellent modeling circuitry and adds enough effects to demonstrate how wide ranging and detailed its possibilities are. The onboard effects consist of three groups (Mod/Pitch, Delay and Reverb) that, like the amp voices, are accessible by scroll buttons. The chorus was somewhat weak, but the tremolo and vibrato were quit usable. The phaser and flanger both dishes out plenty of thick psychedelic swirl, while the pitch/detune went a long way toward beefing up some of the more aggressive settings as well as providing that trademark Digitech parallel harmony. (Johnson and Digitech are both owned by Harmon International.) The delay flavors consist of a high-frequency-suppressed analog, a clear and amazingly regenerative delay and “Ping Pong,” which sends the delay bouncing back and forth in hard stereo separation. The reverbs (plate, hall and spring) are all excellent.

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The Marquis’ amp modeling is largely excellent and earns high marks for nailing some of the more difficult tube tones. This could have something to do with the fact that they’ve chosen to keep one 12AX7 tube in the circuit. For example, the “Class A Clean” and Class A Dirty” both had the warm, fuzzy bottoms and grainy mids one would hope for, and the “Boutique” (based on a Matchless DC30) was nothing short of jaw-dropping in its huge range of dynamics via pick attack. The Fender clones were spot on, although a little more grain from the “Tweed” would be nice. The aggressive metal voicings, including the Soldano-inspired “High Gain,” the requisite Marshall models and Johnson’s own “Saturated Tube,” “Overdrive” and “Metal” settings, all had punch to spare. In fact, Johnson’s forte is in the bottom, where notes are felt in the groin rather than heard. The only setting which seemed to suffer form over-bodacity was “High Wattage” (based on a Hiwatt S50LC), which never quite mustered the high-end crackle of the original.

Special mention should be made of the Marquis’ noise gate circuit, which is subtle, kind and adjustable. The adjustment is “hidden” within the amp model selector switch and preset selector knob, but a quick read of the well-written manual will unleash as much or as little gating as you please, and provide a cool backward-attack sound, too.

End Note
The Marquis delivers a heap of high quality and tones and effects in a very attractive package. If you don’t miss the MIDI implementation, the Marquis could be your pro-level workhorse.

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Crate DX-212 Guitar Amplifier Review

September 28, 2008 by · 10 Comments 

Crate DX-212With its brushed copper front panel, big black knobs and jellylike, illuminated keypad, Crate’s digital DX-212 looks like a Sixties vision of the future. The knobs (Master, volume, gain, bass, mid, treble. Channel level, effects adjust, reverb level, and reverb depth) are arranged as on any amp. In addition, the amp has one rotary knob for the 16 different amp models and another for the digital effects. The Star Trek meets mood ring keypad on the right lets you choose from the 10 factory presets, set tap tempos for time based effects and bypass the presets altogether. Simply tweaking the appropriate knob lets you instantly alter that particular preset parameter, so creating custom settings is a breeze. Read more

Crate and Johnson Marquis Guitar Amplifiers

September 28, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Johnson Marquis Guitar Amplifiers
The ascension of digital modeling technology in amplifier design continues. The latest entries in the tone-cloning competition come from Crate and Johnson, who bring out the contest remarkably similar packages. Both the Crate DX-212 and the Johnson Marquis JM60 arrive in combo format, with easy to tweak knobs in addition to digital keypads, begging to be played live in the studio or taken out to gigs. Both amps serve up a popular selection of models (the Crate offers 16, the Johnson 18), nine effects plus reverb, and comparable wattage, with Crate delivering 100watts stereo and Johnson 120 watts stereo. It should be noted that Crate’s DX-212 comes in a 2×12 format, while the Johnson Marquis JM60 ships with a single 12-inch speaker putting out 60 watts mono. To cash in on the stereo sound and the extra 60 watts, the review model was hooked up to the company’s J112 satellite cabinet as an option only. When will the amp makers learn that you can’t play guitar and switch panel settings at the same time?

Stay tuned for the review of the Crate DX-212 and the Johnson Marquis JM60 REVIEW